Buying Guides

The 7 Best Bike Computers You Can Afford Today

Dann Albright 09-09-2016

Most think of cycling as a low-tech activity; you just jump on your bike and go. But some great devices can show you data about your ride, like current speed and the distance of your ride to your exact location or the number of watts you generate per kilogram of bodyweight. There are a lot of great options out there, but seven stand out.


One quick note: you can get a lot of information from cycling apps on your phone Bike Different: The Best iPhone Cycling Apps Whether you're cycling for fitness, to beat the traffic on your daily commute or you love exploring the world on two pedal-powered wheels, your smartphone is the new number one cycling accessory. Read More . But that often requires strapping your phone to your handlebar or stem Want To Mount Your Smartphone On Your Bike? It's This Easy When was the last time you left home without your phone? We're in the age where we take our phones everywhere, and that includes while biking. Read More , which looks a little goofy and doesn’t seem like the safest place for an expensive phone. But it’s certainly an option.

1. Sigma Sport BC 5.12

Sigma Sport BC5.12 Wired Bicycle Computer Sigma Sport BC5.12 Wired Bicycle Computer Buy Now On Amazon

Sigma Sport BC 5.12

Best for new riders or those wanting only the basics.

If you want just the basics when it comes to riding statistics, and you don’t want to shell out a lot of money on a computer you won’t fully appreciate, the Sigma Sport BC 5.12 is a great option. Its screen displays speed, distance, total distance, ride time, and a clock — it’s about as simple as it gets. With auto-off and only a single button, once you get this computer set up, there’s very little you need to do other than get on and ride.


The BC 5.12 isn’t rechargeable, so you’ll need to replace the battery. Even so, reviews indicate that it could last up to a year, so it’s not something you’ll need to worry about much. There’s also an optional USB docking station that allows you to download your data.

2. Cateye Velo 9

CAT EYE - Velo 9 Wired Bike Computer, Black CAT EYE - Velo 9 Wired Bike Computer, Black Buy Now On Amazon $32.95

Cateye Velo 9

Best for beginning riders who aren’t afraid of a few more numbers.


The Velo 9 is a great option for riders who are getting ready for an event or just like to know more about their ride. Current, average, and maximum speed; trip and total distance; elapsed time; calorie consumption How Do Fitness Apps Count Calories? Did you know apps can count calories as well as keep track of your exercise? How do apps calculate the calories you've burned? Read More ; carbon offset; and a clock are all available on this nine-function computer. It still only has a single button, making operation easy.

A small lithium battery powers the Velo, and will last up to three years with around one hour of riding each day. The pace arrow is a nice touch and lets you know whether you’re currently above or below your average speed for the ride.

3. Cateye Micro Wireless

CAT EYE - Micro Wireless Bike Computer, Black CAT EYE - Micro Wireless Bike Computer, Black Buy Now On Amazon

Cateye Micro Wireless


Best for riders looking for easy setup or a backlight.

While setting up a corded bike computer isn’t too much of a hassle, it’s definitely easier to get a cordless one working (though some people find they have occasional transmission problems). If you’re looking for a good cordless option, Cateye’s Micro Wireless will get you set up for less than $50, with nine functions (current, max, and average speed; two trip and total distances; elapsed time and stopwatch; and a clock) and a customizable display that shows you two different pieces of information at once.

The Micro Wireless also packs a backlight, which is great for low-light riding in the morning and evening. The computer and the sensor both use the same type of lithium battery How a Battery Works and 3 Ways You Can Ruin It The modern battery is featured in so many of our favourite technologies that you could almost be forgiven for not spending time learning about their workings. Read More , which is convenient, and they’ll last about a year before you have to replace them.

4. Sigma BC 16.12 STS Cadence

Sigma Sport BC16.12 STS CAD Double Wireless 16 Function Bicycle Computer with Cadence Sigma Sport BC16.12 STS CAD Double Wireless 16 Function Bicycle Computer with Cadence Buy Now On Amazon


Sigma BC 16.12 STS Cadence

Best for riders who want to maximize efficiency in their training.

Monitoring your cadence is a great way to make sure you’re using your legs as efficiently as possible and the Sigma computer makes cadence tracking easy. The double wireless sensors make setup simple, and sixteen different functions mean you’ll have all the information you could want.

With the ability to work on two different bikes — and automatic recognition of which one it’s on — the BC 16.12 is great for multi-bike athletes (or those who aspire to buy another bike!). Its weatherproofing, backlight and optional docking station for data download round out this high-value computer.

5. Garmin Edge 20

Garmin Edge 20 Cycling GPS Garmin Edge 20 Cycling GPS Buy Now On Amazon

Garmin Edge 20

Best for riders who want GPS capabilities without spending hundreds of dollars.

It used to be that you had to spend a significant chunk of money to get a GPS-enabled bike computer, but Garmin has been pushing their prices down for years, and the Edge 20 is their most affordable unit. It’s also one of the smallest, weighing in at less than an ounce. It can track your current and average speed, total time and distance, and calories burned, and it’ll also show you your current location on the screen.

While the Edge 20 doesn’t give you many features, it’s the most affordable way to get an industry-standard GPS from Garmin (the computer also uses GLONASS, a positioning system similar to GPS GLONASS - The GPS Alternative You Never Knew Existed Did you know there's more to location services than GPS? There's another satellite navigation system which you might not have heard of, but you're probably already using. It's called GLONASS. Read More ). The diminutive size is impressive, and the ability to plug it into your computer with the included USB cord to upload your data is very convenient.

6. Garmin Edge 520

Garmin Edge 520 Bike GPS, Base Garmin Edge 520 Bike GPS, Base Buy Now On Amazon

Garmin Edge 520

Best for competitive riders or serious fitness enthusiasts.

If you’re a serious rider, you probably already know about Strava The Best Collection Of Tools For Your Strava Cycling Kit Cycling and running enthusiasts know that Strava has changed their athletic activity. Thanks to Strava, an ecosystem of websites and apps are adding to the innovations Strava introduced. Read More — it lets you compete over specific road segments with other riders using the app. The Edge 520 allows you compete on live segments, which can help boost your motivation and give you more information to track (just be careful; KoM attempts have resulted in a lot of crashes). Beyond that, you’ll get all the cycling information you could want: everything about your speed, time, mileage, cadence, heart rate (for strapped sensors), and even power if you have a power meter on your bike.

If you use both a power meter and a heart rate monitor, you can get a ton of information. For example, your functional threshold power, suggested recovery intervals, and VO2 max estimates. You also get notifications from a paired smartphone, which is cool; you shouldn’t answer your phone on your bike, but you can see who’s calling and pull over if it seems like it might be substantial. It’s pretty much everything you need a bike computer. (The Edge 520 Bundle includes a heart rate monitor, cadence sensor, speed sensor, and a couple of other useful accessories for $386.)
Garmin Edge 520 Bike GPS (includes Heart Rate Monitor Strap, Cadence sensor & Speed sensor) Garmin Edge 520 Bike GPS (includes Heart Rate Monitor Strap, Cadence sensor & Speed sensor) Buy Now On Amazon

7. Garmin Edge 820

Garmin Edge 820, GPS Cycling/Bike Computer for Performance and Racing Garmin Edge 820, GPS Cycling/Bike Computer for Performance and Racing Buy Now On Amazon

Garmin Edge 820

Best for gearheads for whom money is no object.

Garmin says this GPS is “competitors and serious achievers,” and they aren’t kidding. It has all of the features of the Edge 520, plus a load of other cool stuff, like a touchscreen, the ability to track other riders in your group, the capacity to download custom apps and data fields, and longer battery life. If you have a heart rate, cadence, or power sensor, you can hook those up too (if not, you can grab the Edge 820 bundle that includes heart rate, speed, and cadence sensors for $500).
Garmin Edge 820 Performer Bundle, GPS Cycling/Bike Computer for Performance and Racing, Includes Additional Sensors/Heart Rate Monitor Garmin Edge 820 Performer Bundle, GPS Cycling/Bike Computer for Performance and Racing, Includes Additional Sensors/Heart Rate Monitor Buy Now On Amazon $449.99

If you’re thinking about buying something in this price range, you probably don’t need me to tell you: this is the best way to go. Garmin has a reputation for being one of — if not the — best GPS brands out there, and their cycling computers are well-built and work phenomenally well. If you have the money and want all of the information, you can’t top the Edge 820.

Which Will You Buy?

These seven bike computers run the gamut from the very straightforward and affordable to professional-level, both in features and price. All of the companies possess excellent reputations with track records for high-quality cycling electronics. All that’s left to do is figure out how much data you want!

Will you be buying a cycling computer soon? Will you buy one of the ones listed above? Or something else? Share your cycling thoughts in the comments below and we’ll talk!

Related topics: Fitness, Gadgets.

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