Riding into unknown terrain is the true definition of fun. The thrill you get cannot be compared to cycling on familiar roads. However, venturing into the unknown can be very scary without having a clear path ahead. This is where mountain bike GPS comes in.
A GPS cycling computer provides more than just direction. Most of them come equipped with a heart rate monitor that checks on your heart. They also sync all your performance data to PCs and phones left at home.
As you can see, these devices can improve your riding experiences. You’ll no longer guess your progress. Rather, you’ll be able to know how far ahead or behind you are in your riding sessions. Here is a brief section that will educate you on the importance of having the best mountain bike GPS.
Why You Need Mountain Bike GPS?
Most old school riders would fancy riding blindly because there is fun in getting lost and tracing your way back. However, that’s not exactly having fun when you keep wasting multiple hours riding in the wrong direction. Furthermore, you could end up flying over a cliff or even ride into dangerous territories.
You need a mountain bike GPS to track your progress, get clear directions, and avoid getting stuck in the woods. With plenty of performance data, GPS devices make one a better rider. It shows you where you need to improve and the sections that you have aced.
Most GPS cycling computers are not stand-alone devices. They can be linked to a heart rate monitor, mobile phone, PC, riding app, or online cloud service. These secondary services receive (and interpret) synced data so you can review it later on.
Some devices are extremely interactive in that they connect you with other riders or riding services. For instance, through a riding GPS tracker, you can get daily riding courses to sharpen your skills for individual or competitive riding. On other occasions, shared data lets you know how you are performing against fellow riders.
Unfortunately, there are too many MTB GPS on the market. Some are small, and others are too big. They also heavily vary in terms of performance, display, battery capacity, compatibility, syncing ability, and much more. As you can see, there is a huge possibility of buying an improper tool.
Were you planning to do an exhaustive R&D? Well, you don’t need to. After reading this article, you will be able to find an affordable Mountain bike GPS that is full of valuable features. And the good news is, the device can fit on any bike including the mountain bikes under 500.
Out of all the choices reviewed in this piece, Garmin Edge 830 ranked better because of stellar mapping, wide connectivity, and compatibility. Furthermore, it is moderately priced.
Best Mountain Bike GPS
As MTB GPS gain popularity among beginner and experienced riders, it becoming a must to have one. Here are some of the widely acclaimed offers that will make riding safe and more fun:
1. Garmin Edge 830
No navigation device can make you feel safer other than Garmin Edge 830 Cycling GPS. This GPS cycling unit offers more than you could ever ask for. You can get valuable insight into the recovery plan, VO2 max, nutrition needs, hydration, and much more (when paired with other sensors).
This device provides readings that include temperature, speed, distance, time, navigation, calories, gears, altitude, heart rate, power, cadence, and much more. All these data metrics are displayed on a fairly wide and bright screen. It’s also easy to read, set, and understand maps and navigation features.
Garmin 830 cycling GPS works with many other sensors so you can get as much data as you wish. Its touchscreen ability is also more impressive than Garmin 820, but it doesn’t outshine Garmin 1030.
Garmin Edge 830 Cycling GPS is widely compatible. It works with Garmin Varia, Vector power meter & bike trainer, ANT+, Shimano Di2, and ANT+ shifting. Furthermore, it comes with mounts to attach it on any ride, including the any budget mountain bikes. The downside; the device is a bit clunky, and its on-device calculation is somehow imperfect.
- Incident detection
- Bike alarm
- Group messaging
- Garmin cycle map
- Variant rearview radar
- Popularity routing
- Fully touchscreen
- Parable with many other sensors
- 20 hours of battery life
- Track jump count
- Of-course recalculation
- Connectivity: Bluetooth, WiFi, USB, and BLE
Garmin Edge 830 Cycling GPS reads virtually every type of training data you can think of from speed to heart rate. Its colored touch screen makes it easier to discern what’s happening. When you pair it with other apps and sensors, you can get even more helpful training data.
And when it comes to connectivity, there are multiple ways you can upload/transfer your data. How cool is that? Last but not least, this beast is heavily recommended by other users.
2. Garmin Edge 530 Mountain Bike Bundle
Garmin Edge 530 will be a bundle of joy to an extreme rider. This mid-budget cycling GPS will help you navigate every turn like a local. This is made possible by the preloaded Garmin map that displays common roads that have been used frequently by other riders.
Should you get lost, this device recalculates a new route in a speedy manner, so you don’t have to stop. Furthermore, it can lead you back where you came from in case you get lost. Like most navigation devices, it notifies you when you need to make a turn.
Garmin Edge 530 comes laden with Trailforks, which is part of the Garmin cycle map that lets you know what lies ahead. This is a preloaded program with riding routes from over 80 countries. The routes include things like topographic info, interesting zones, trail conditions, heatmaps, and much more. This undoubtedly makes riding easier and fun.
Want to own every stunt you pull so you can brag about it later? Guess what; Edge 530 captures all brag-worthy stats with all the epic details from jumps to hang time. Such records inspire one to perform even better.
It should be a relief to note that this gear comes with a speed sensor and a bike mount that can fit on any ride, including mountain bikes for beginners.
- Popularity routing
- Dynamic performance monitoring
- Dynamic track jump
- Ability jump count distance
- Comes with a bike mount and speed sensor
- Several cycling safety features
- 20 hours of battery life with GPS switched on
- Of-course recalculation
Garmin Edge 530 Mountain Bike Bundle goes beyond mere data collection. Rather, it offers an informative and comprehensive insight into your training so you can become a better rider. No matter how far you are from your phone, tablet, or PC, this gear can sync data seamlessly for you to browse through later.
So what is the difference between Garmin 530 and Garmin 830? 830 is touchscreen-enabled, and 530 is not. This means you cannot type an address or browse the map in 530, as is possible in 830. However, the two models are excellent when it comes to connectivity and compatibility with other apps and devices.
3. Bryton Rider 530 GPS Cycling Compute
Bryton Rider 530 GPS gives you a heck lot of features at a price that makes you go like “is this for real?’’ this is a high-end product with a 2.6’’ display screen and multiple top-end features that appeal to serial riders on a budget. But you can always throw it on the hybrid bikes under 1000 for a grand experience.
The screen is auto-lit, so you don’t have to keep pressing it to wake up. There are 7 fully customizable screens, each with an ability to display up to 12 data fields. If you multiply the two, it means this GPS can display up to 84 different data fields. That’s quite a lot if you would ask us.
You can easily scroll down from one page to another. If you want to view large fonts, then make sure each page has few data fields. For proper data viewing and analysis, you need to download the Bryton app and create an account. Your data will be automatically synced and then displayed in simple-to-view formats.
Bryton Rider 530 GPS allows you to plan a trip and upload it to the Bryton server. It’s possible to upload previous track files (including GPX tracks) if you don’t want to plan something new. Once the GPS comes on, you will be able to ride like a local. The device provides active notifications a few seconds before you make a turn.
- High-sensitivity GPS
- Strava Auto Upload
- Compatible with multiple sensors
- IPX7 waterproof
- Large display
- Built-in compass
- Built-in barometer
- Over 70 functions
So many people have taken Bryton Rider 530 GPS Cycling Computer for a spin, and it has exceeded their expectations. It has wide connectivity and compatibility. The data upload, analysis, and sharing happen seamlessly without too much hassle. The fact that it is water-resistant makes it a must-have for both beginners and experienced bikers.
4. Garmin Edge 25 Cycling GPS
Garmin Edge 25 GPS is compact. The beauty of such smaller devices is that they can survive a crash, unlike bigger ones. But it’s too tiny, does it work effectively? Yes, it does. This GPS’ screen can record speed, distance covered, calories burned, and heart rate. For the latter, you need to link it to a heart rate monitor.
As tiny as this device is, you can download and save new routes just as you do with bigger screen gadgets. After this, you’ll need to split the screen so it can provide you with the reading you are interested in. However, when using the map, only the direction and distance covered will be available. The rest stay hidden.
GPS +GLONASS powers Garmin Edge 25. This technology links up with the satellite in a slip second to record your performance even when you are under a dense forest cover. This device, alongside Edge 20 are the only two smallest devices with GLONASS technology. So yeah, it’s a big deal.
To get heart rate, speed, and cadence, you will have to connect this MTB GPS to sensors that perform those functions. What about connectivity? Edge 25 can be paired with Garmin Mobile Connect from where you can share your experience with friends on social media.
- It’s one of the smallest GPSes in the world
- ANT+ compatible
- Runs on Garmin CONNECTTM
- Responsive GPS + GLONASS
- Can be paired with Garmin Connect Mobile for live tracking
If you desire is to have a basic, less complicated GPS with live tracking, Garmin Edge 25 is the way to go. This is a pretty cost-saving device that will track your performance in terms of speed, distance, calories burned, and altitude. When you link it to Garmin Connect, you can share your record with friends and fellow riders. It’s a solid grab for those on a budget.
5. Polar M460 GPS Bike Computer
Given the multiple GPS bike computers on the market, you might wonder where Polar M460 GPS Bike Computer fits in. Well, let’s demystify that. This gear is a worthy competitor to Garmin Edge 520-for those who use it. They bear slight differences, but if you go for M460, you’ll save between $50 and $100.
With Strava Live Segments, you can get notified when you come close to a starred segment/point of interest. Not that there is no notification for every segment. Rather, it’s only for those you marked. Once you are close to the end, you will get results on how you have performed against your peers or your previous personal record. You need to be connected to the Strava app and have a membership to enjoy it.
The best part about Polar M460 GPS Bike Computer is that it comes loaded with a razor-sharp GPS and a barometer for measuring precise altitude ranges. This does away with the need to purchase speed sensors. And thanks to the robust battery, you can enjoy many hours of training.
This MTB GPS is water-resistant and comes with a heart rate monitor. Furthermore, it packs advanced power metrics for tracking Intensity Factor, Training Stress Score, and Normalized Power. Put simply, this device can track all the data you are interested in.
- Strava live segment
- Stylish buttons
- IPX7 water-resistant
- Smart notifications
- Extended connectivity
- Extensively compatible
- Advanced cycling metrics
- In-built barometer
Polar M460 GPS Bike Computer is not a show-stopper, but it bags a heck lot of cool features. Both its connectivity and compatibility are awesome and allow it to work with multiple other third party services.
6. Wahoo ELEMNT GPS Bike Computer
Wahoo ELEMNT GPS Bike Computer is the ultimate choice to consider if you value group rides. This minicomputer can fit on any bike-including some of the folding mountain bikes. Its display and resolution capability are among the best in its class.
The worst experience while riding to have your hands tied. That’s why this device goes a notch higher to give you a few bits of every vital training metrics. It’s compatible with multiple third-party apps like RideWithGPS, Strava, Komoot, MTB Project+, and Best Bike Split. This means there is no way you will be limited.
Besides wide compatibility, Wahoo ELEMNT GPS is easy to configure and pair with other apps. Once a connection has been established, everything from download and uploads become automated until you switch or disconnect an app. Data transfer happens through Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and ANT+.
It’s tedious to carry phones while riding. But for some of us, some calls and emails have to be responded to. This Wahoo GPS syncs with your phone to deliver phone notifications of missed calls, emails, and messages. It uses either LED or pop-up notifications to get your attention.
- Automatic route downloads
- Hassle-free automatic pairing process
- Widely compatible
- LED and pop-up notifications
- Strava Live Segments
- 100% wireless
- Largest class display
- Call, email, and text alerts
- Have view zoom feature
- SNAP/KICKR Control
You will appreciate Wahoo ELEMNT GPS if you value features like Strava Live Segments, wide compatibility, extensive connectivity, phone alerts, faster sync, and hassle-free configuration. The only setback is that it’s not touchscreen-enabled and has a smaller screen. Nevertheless, at its price point, this GPS is arguably a sweet deal.
7. LEZYNE Micro Color GPS Bike Compute
Albeit being pretty minimalistic in construction, LEZYNE Micro Color GPS Bike tracks altitude, distance, heart rate, speed, and many other key training metrics. In an effort to give it the same effectiveness as other larger LEZYNE GPSes, this unit packs a punch. It connects to the satellite to transmit data ASAP even when you are under a thick cover of trees.
This device can be connected to external sensors like heart rate and cadence to provide more data. It comfortably pairs with GLONASS, Bluetooth, and ANT+ to transmit data. Most of the functions happen wirelessly apart from charging (which is done via a USB cable).
LEZYNE Micro Color GPS Bike stands apart when it comes to displaying results in full glamor. This tiny baby will make your bike not only become more functional but look good as well. Here is the juiciest part; it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Put it on the quality cheap mountain bikes, and you have yourself the cheapest yet effective combination.
- Wireless data transfer
- Loaded with odometer and barometer
- Rechargeable battery
- Connectivity: ANT+, Glonass, and Bluetooth
- Full-color screen
- Displays three fields per page (you can get more, but it will be hard to read)
LEZYNE Micro Color GPS Bike is a nice and functional minimalistic GPS. For those who ride on familiar territories, this one will cut on costs and bulkiness of bigger mapping devices. Performance-wise it doesn’t hold back.
On the downside, it lacks the mapping function. So if you decide to go for this piece, make sure to have another sophisticated GPS for tracking serious training sessions.
What To Consider When Buying Mountain Bike GPS
If you are a serious cyclist who is obsessed with tracking every move made, then you need the MTB GPS. Frankly, every shop (whether offline or online based) stocks top end, average, and crappy mountain bike GPS trackers. Since sellers don’t have the time to explain to every buyer which device is the best and which is worst, you’ll have to do your research on your own.
Here is a checklist of the things you need to consider before investing in an MTB GPS:
What’s the essence of buying a GPS that shuts down in the middle of your ride? Can you get satisfactory results from reviewing incomplete data? No, you can’t. This means that before swiping your credit card on an electronic biking device, you need to be sure it has longer battery life.
On average, a GPS that can hold power for 8-9 hours while the screen is partially or fully lit is a real deal. A 10-hours+ device would be great for extreme riders. In case you forget to charge it, the extra power will be valuable during the next adventure.
No matter how long your device runs, it is bound to lose power. This is why you must know the best ways to save power. You can do this by keeping the screen, Bluetooth, and live to log off. Basically, turning off some unneeded apps will give you a few extra ounces of power to last you longer. It’s also a good practice to download maps and use them offline.
If all the features are essential, then the last option would be to power on the go. There are so many portable power banks and other charge storing devices on the market for long-distance riders.
Weather remains to be just as unpredictable as life itself. You live your place when it is sunny, and before you know it, it’s raining. With a water-resistant GPS, a heavy downpour doesn’t threaten its functioning. If anything, the ride gets more fun.
There is a maximum level of time or depth a GPS can stay in the water. This is indicated by a rating plastered at the back of the unit. Most devices have a protection rating of 7. This means they can keep working when immersed in 1-meter deep water for about 30 minutes.
This is quite pretty easier to understand. To see better in dim-lit arrears and in darkness, you need widescreen MTB GPS. They are super easy to read whether you are wearing glasses or not. This is important as struggling to read a screen while riding can lead to a sudden crash.
The downside to bigger displays is that they suck the life out of your battery. Additionally, there is a higher price to pay for widescreen size devices. Not that they suffer the same problem as phones-rain. If you keep them wet conditions for long, they’ll conk out.
So if you choose to go for bigger screens, make sure to finish your riding adventures in sunny conditions or seek refuge when it starts to rain.
It’s not ideal for keeping looking at the screen for readings when your eyes should be on the road. That’s why you need the best mountain bike GPS computer with audio notifications. When a turn is to be made, you’ll hear it say “turn left” or “turn right.” Audio support is a vital element to consider when buying an MTB GPS.
A more responsive touchscreen executes an order right away and minimizes the chances of crashing. Non-responsive units, on the other hand, can be detrimental to operate. If you keep fussing with it, you might lose track of direction and hit into objects.
Touchscreens are also intuitive and easier to use. They make using complicated menus a walk in the park. Biking GPS come with physical buttons as well. They allow you to select amongst available options with tactile feedback. Neither a touchscreen nor physical button GPS unit is bad; it’s all about preference.
Navigation App Compatibility
You may have the beginner road bike and an expensive GPS computer, but if the latter is not compatible with the apps you use frequently, then you may not be able to enjoy riding fully. So before you settle for a GPS, you need first to check if it works with your favorite apps.
Some of the common apps for cyclists include Strava Live Segment, Kommot, MTB Project, RideWithGPS, Best Bike Split, amongst others. These apps allow you to upload and share your experience with your peers.
There is also the issue of connectivity. This is how a device links up with others for data transfer. Most GPSes come with ANT+, WiFi, and Bluetooth. These are the most common channels.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
This section contains some of the common questions both beginner and experienced GPS users grapple with. We will also provide reliable answers, so you don’t have to remain in the dark anymore. All right, let’s keep moving.
Q. Can A GPS work properly under a dense tree cover?
A. Yes, it can if its GPS is super strong. However, most low budget devices display weak signals when you are hidden under trees. So if you ride in areas with a dense forest cover, be sure to insist on highly sensitive GPS units.
Q. How can I improve my Bike GPS accuracy?
A. Bike GPSes are bound to provide inaccurate data in case of thick trees, cloudy skies, bridges, and tall buildings. However, no matter the device you use, you can improve its efficiency by keeping it on the handlebar, away from tall buildings, metal structures, tunnels, power lines, and forest cover.
It’s also advisable to keep it away from electronic devices like phones to avoid them drifting. If you have the tendency of keeping the GPS unit in your backpack or pocket, then make sure it’s to the top-not hidden under other objects.
Q. Why do I keep getting the “error” message when downloading routes for offline use?
A. Offline map downloads can be huge. So when you bump into slow downloads or timeout sessions, then you could be using a slow Wi-Fi connection. The option here is to switch to a stronger connection and proceed with the download. Make a habit of downloading maps before you leave for the trail.
Some IOS users suggest keeping both the phone and the GPS device’s screen awake to hasten downloads. You could try that too.
Q. What are the most common Bike GPS brands?
A. Garmin, Wahoo, LEZYNE, Bryton, and Polar. These brands are notoriously known for equipping their devices with large display screens, stronger GPS signals, wide compatibility, longer battery life, multiple buttons, and faster syncing. However, if you are good at R&D, you can come across other lesser-known brands with tip-top functionalities.
Bike riding will never feel complete without the best mountain bike GPS. GPS devices help to tell calories burned, distance covered, riding altitude, the turn to take, speed, and much more. They help riders to venture into new places without getting lost.
Advanced bike computers can link you to group rides via websites and apps like Strava Live Segments. This will allow you to compete with a peer and thus not feel alone. Furthermore, all the data collected is uploaded to either an app (to see how you are doing against other cyclists) or to a phone/PC for reviewing.
Not all MTB GPS computers are going to be the same. Some have larger displays, and others have smaller ones. There are those with touchscreens, while others use buttons or a combination of both. When it comes to features, there is a heck of a lot of them.
So basically, if you have a lot of bucks or desire to have the best, then nothing will stand in your way. If you are on a budget, however, then you may have to compromise on some features.