This is a gear review about the Best Bike Computers for Touring, Bikepacking, and Mountain Biking 2023.
Paper maps and the old-style basic bike speedometer that worked off the size of the front wheel are being replaced by bike computers. While Smartphone Cycling Apps are OK, a good GPS Cycling computer is much better at tracking your location, speed and so much more.
The best cycling computer for Cycle Touring, Bikepacking, and Mountain Biking are super tough, able to give turn-by-turn navigation, and have long battery life that will last all day.
I’ve been using a bike computer for years and in this bike gear review, I’m checking out some of the best bike computers for 2023.
Best GPS Bike Computers 2023
The Best GPS Bike Computers in 2023 are:
- Garmin Edge 540 Solar
- Garmin Edge 1040 Solar
- Garmin Edge 530
- Garmin Edge 830
- Garmin Edge 1030
- Wahoo ELEMNT Roam
- Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt
Best Bike Computer 2023 – Overall
> Although not cheap it represents good value
> Very long battery life
> Touch Screen Option and non-solar option
> No touchscreen, but this is not really a negative!
The Garmin Edge 540 Solar offers the best balance between features and price.
The newly updated Edge 540 comes with buttons to change screens and navigate the features. If you need a touch screen then the new 840 is for you.
The solar glass option to assist in charging the battery is a winner and a good option. While it adds to the cost it represents a good option and makes this unit a better alternative to the top-of-the-range 1040 solar.
As with all the other Garmin units I like the solar option. Especially when bikepacking and bike touring where multiday battery life starts to become more important than a day cyclist that can easily recharge their GPS every day after use. Having said that, the features on the 540 are above and beyond what most Bikepackers and cycle tourers might need.
I like the map options and the option to customize your screen with whatever options you want to see when cycling. So whether you are a road cyclist, mountain biker, commuter, or bikepacker this unit has you covered.
There is also one of the best color screen GPS displays. Whether you are looking at maps or just the general front screen of the GPS it looks great.
Overall, the Garmin Edge 540 Solar is the best bike computer for 2023.
Best Cycling Computer – Runner Up
> Up to 45 hours of battery life or 100 hours in battery saver mode
> Solar charging glass
> Good display
> Great for bike touring and Bikepacking where battery life is important
> Not the cheapest
The Garmin Edge 1040 Solar is one of the newer Garmin GPS Devices for your bicycle. And one of the better features is the long battery life thanks to the built-in power glass solar charger.
It has almost all the features of the Garmin 1030 but with a bit better battery life.
It has every conceivable option that every other Garmin device has and more. It includes the power guide which lets you know how much power is needed to keep pace. And links with other devices via bluetooth and Ant +. It really is at the top end of the market for 2023.
Overall, the Garmin 1040 Solar is the best cycling computer for battery life and well suited to anyone who wants this feature above all others.
Best Bike Touring Computer
> Very affordable, reasonably priced & great value for money
> You can buy compatible mounts and sensors for it
> Measures such things as your VO2 max, hydration, altitude acclimation and the smoothness of your MTB descents
> Safety features include group messaging and tracking
> Excellent 20-hour battery life
> Like all Garmin they are patchy and slow to patch software issues
The Garmin Edge 530 has been replaced by the updated 540 but that means that this version now represents very good value for money.
It is the best bike computer for Bike Touring and Bikepacking. If you are cycle touring or Bikepacking this is the best budget bike computer for you and the price makes it even better.
The Garmin Edge 530 offers the feature set of the more expensive units and still has excellent GPS tracking. This works well for accurate distance traveled, alongside performance monitoring. I love how I can have my current speed right alongside my average speed, great when I want to get an idea of how I’m going for the day.
Like all the Garmin GPS Computers in this review, you can pair the Garmin Edge 530 with several different sensors. You can track your heart rate, VO2 max, hydration, altitude acclimation, and more with Bluetooth connectivity features. It also links with the Garmin Connect app to find routes.
Mountain Bikers will love the MTB tracking on this bike computer. It will track jump distance, jump count, ride difficulty, and the smoothness of your descent.
The maps bring up popular routing, and off-course recalculation if you ever make a detour. I also like how you can customize it with a range of free apps and widgets if you choose to do so.
Safety features include an alarm, and group messaging and tracking, which can come in really handy if you’re cycling with a group and they get split.
It has a very good battery life and will last up to 20 hours with the GPS turned on. But if you need it to go on for longer, you can always pair it with a Garmin Charge power pack for an extra 40 hours of battery life or to any good battery power bank.
If you were to buy the device alone, you also have the option to add on a dual heart rate monitor, a standard sensor, or a speed and cadence sensor if that is something that you want.
It is important to keep in mind that the Garmin Edge 530 is like all Garmin products, they tend to be a bit slow to update any software patches for their bike computers. Some people will not like this, even if you are tech-savvy, Garmin is not very good at being user-friendly. Garmin is not Apple or Google!
Overall, the Garmin Edge 530 is the best bike touring computer or mountain bike computer on the market in 2023. It is also the best budget bike computer that is still very high quality.
Best Mountain Bike Computer
> Measures such things as your VO2 max, hydration, altitude acclimation
> Excellent MTB tracking, including the smoothness of your descents
> Safety features include group messaging and tracking
> Excellent 20-hour battery life
> Garmin lack of speed to update any connectivity issues or software glitches
The Garmin Edge 830 certainly has a lot in common with the Garmin Edge 530 we reviewed for you earlier. I used the earlier model of this one, the Garmin Edge 810. This upgraded model is much better than what I have used in the past.
As you may imagine the Garmin Edge GPS tracking is excellent, giving you highly accurate readings for distance travelled, as well as all the dynamic performance monitoring that runs alongside it, such as current speed vs average speed.
You can pair the Garmin Edge 830 with various sensors in order to track such things as your heart rate, VO2 max, hydration levels and more.
If you are into mountain biking, you will love the MTB tracking. It can track jump difficulty, jump distance, and the smoothness of your descent.
Another great thing is how it offers off-course recalculation in case you split for your riding group to make a quick detour. And the safety features are pretty neat, too, with group messaging and tracking, and an alarm.
The battery life is very good. It lasts up to 20 hours in GPS mode. But if that’s not quite long enough for you, you can always pair it up with a Garmin Charge power pack or what I like to do is use a Lightweight Power Bank to charge the device.
The key difference between the Garmin Edge 530 and the Garmin Edge 830 is that the 830 features a touchscreen, whereas the 530 uses buttons. This brings the cost down to a reasonable price.
It is important to keep in mind that the Garmin Edge 830 is like all Garmin products that they tend to be a bit slow to update any software patches for their cycling computers. Some people will not like this, even if you are tech savvy Garmin is not very good when it comes to a user interface that is friendly. Garmin is not Apple, or Google!
Overall, the Garmin Edge 830 is one of the best cycle computers for mountain biking and people cycle touring will also love this cycle computer.
Other Bike Computers to consider
> Very large 3.5 inch full color touchscreen
> Preloaded with Garmin cycling maps
> You can use it to message your fellow cyclists
> Displays your performance stats clearly
> You can buy compatible mounts and sensors
> Premium product at a premium price
The Touchscreen Garmin Edge 1030 has been replaced by the newer Garmin Edge 1040 model. But for many people that does not represent a significant upgrade. If you can find any of the Edge 1030 you will find they are now offered at a tempting discount.
It is still one of the best cycling computers on the market at the moment. As it is Garmin, you know the GPS signal is going to be good.
It has a very large 3.5 inch full color touchscreen and it comes preloaded with an excellent Garmin cycle map. It can provide you with turn-by-turn directions as you go but I found Google Maps to be much better at turn by turn navigation than Garmin.
The Garmin Edge 1030 will track your performance data, including not only your speed, distance and time, but also your VO2 max and your training load. This may not be as important if you are bike touring but if you are competitive and racing then this is for you. I love the barometric altimeter when bike touring and spending time in the mountains, I also like to look of the color display of the maps.
At any point you can switch between a road screen, navigation screen, training screen, history screen, or your stats.
You can also find the most popular routes using Garmin connect app, and you can message other riders in your group so that no-one ever gets lost.
If you decide to buy the Garmin Edge 1030 you might want the bundle, including items to help mount the device, additional sensors and a heart rate monitor. But not everyone will want so much tech when cycling.
This is a premium product with almost every possible cycle training option available. Not everyone will want to receive so much data. If you are a complete gear nerd, this is for you. If not, look at one of the cheaper entry level bike computer options below.
It is important to keep in mind that the Garmin Edge 1030 is like all Garmin products that they tend to be a bit slow to update any software patches for their bike computers. Some people will not like this, even if you are tech-savvy, Garmin is not very good at being user-friendly. Garmin is not Apple or Google!
Overall, if you want the best bike computer for cycling then the Garmin Edge 1030 is it. Whether you are road cycling, mountain biking or cycling around the world this is the Best Garmin Bike Computer on the market in 2023. But be quick as there are not a lot available!
> Preloaded with maps for all over the world
> You can filter for the shortest route
> You can receive smartphone notifications
> Wide range of software & hardware integrations
> Rechargeable battery with up to 17 hours of battery life
> Not a touchscreen
The Wahoo Fitness Elemnt Roam GPS Bike Computer is very popular and features a full color screen and comes preloaded with maps for countries all over the world. It is a great bike touring computer. You get on-demand route generation, and you can save waypoints as you go along.
You can also filter for the shortest route if you are in a hurry. There’s a page for every element of your ride, such as a workout view, a map view and so on. What’s more, all of the screens are fully customizable.
We also love how it’s compatible with a wide range of third party apps, including the likes of Strava, Ride with GPS, and Komoot.
And in addition to software integrations, there are hardware integrations to take advantage of too, including electronic gear shifters, muscle oxygen sensors, and power meters.
And that’s not all – you can use it to receive your smartphone notifications too. The battery life is also really good. It uses a rechargeable battery which can provide up to 17 hours of battery life.
Overall, this is another one of the best bike computers for bike touring, mountain biking and road cycling
> Good Battery Life at 15 hours
> Good budget bike computer
> Good integration with bluetooth
> No Touchscreen
The Wahoo Fitness ELEMNT Bolt GPS Bike Computer has a lot in common with the Wahoo ELEMNT Roam, but is a basic cycle computer at a far more affordable price.
Of course, at this lower price, it doesn’t have quite as much to offer, but I felt it was still worthy of a place on our shortlist for those who don’t need everything. This is a good basic GPS cycling computer with everything most people will ever need in a bike computer.
You get automatic route downloads, compatibility with about 10 different third-party apps, like Strava, Ride with GPS, and Komoot, and those all-important turn by turn notifications. It also has color display mapping and navigation.
You can pair it with your smartphone for messaging, and get all kinds of workout data up on screen.
What’s more, the data is particularly clear and easy to read on screen – you won’t need to fish around for your reading glasses. The battery life is about 15 hours.
It comes complete with both a front mount and a stem mount.
Overall, thw Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt is another of the best cycling computers for those wanting a budget bike computer.
More Cycling Computers to consider
Here are more options that will be added to the list as soon as they have been evaluated and reviewed.
- Hammerhead Karoo 2
- Lezyne Enhanced Super GPS
- Garmin Edge 130 plus
- Lezyne Mega XL
Here are the things you will need to know about bike computers before you buy. Whether you are using your cycling computer for road cycling, mountain biking, bikepacking or bike touring let’s take a look at everything from battery life to turn by turn navigation.
The mapping function of the modern GPS cycling computers are one of the main reasons to shell out your hard earned money. The GPS computers on these units are better than what you get on your phone when using google maps. So the mapping and navigation accuracy is very good. All have some form of mapping software or a choice of maps you can add to these GPS cycling computers.
While the GPS is batter on a bike computer, the maps are not. Garmin and Wahoo have a lot to go to catch up to the mapping quality and technology of Smartphones. If only they had better maps!
Turn By Turn Navigation
Turn by turn navigation on a GPS computer for cycling is great for navigating around towns and further afield. If using a Garmin bike computer I can tell you from experience that their turn by turn navigation is not as good as Google Maps.
Once, when I was cycle touring in Alaska the turn by turn navigation on my Garmin instructed me to turn off the main road and into a lake. I suspect this lake was the home of an Ice Road in winter, but Google never sent me into a lake.
Cycling computers have great GPS tracking which is great for recording your tracks of where you have been. You can also download map tracks and upload them to your bike computer and follow these tracks.
Whether the tracks are from other people, or from a GPX track you made or a third party app you can upload and download them from all the GPS cycling computers in this review. Either way, the tracking features on the GPS cycling computers are a great thing. I have well over 20000 miles of GPX tracks saved from my bike computer and downloaded to my home computer.
Bike computers do a good job but most people will look at some sort of accessories. Some might look at a better handlebar mount but there are so much more. There are bluetooth accessories such accurate heart rate monitors, power meters, cadence sensors and more. They increase the functionality of cycling computers, specially for those interested in the data that can analyse your training.
Most bike computers have some form of basic handlebar mounting or mount system for the steering stem. They also use a locking mechanism that locks them in place. Great for mountain biking, bike touring and bikepacking which can be on really rough trails as times.
All the best bike computers have some form of connectivity with third party apps and devices to monitor your fitness, speed and power. When you are finished with your ride you can upload to Strava, Garmin Connect and more if you choose.
Bluetooth ANT+ connectivity
The best bike computer will sync with multiple different bluetooth devices. All the best cycling computers will connect via ANT or Bluetooth Smart connectivity, but most will connect using both. Everything from Bluetooth connection to your smartphone app to connecting to external sensors for your power data is via these methods. Gone are the days of a USB cable.
Third Party Apps
Most high end and even budget bike computers can sync with third party cycling apps such as Strava, Map my Ride and more.
Most competitive cyclists want to monitor their heart rate, cadence and power levels. To get the most of the high end cycling computers they require extra accessories. Most of these can be purchased with the GPS unit in a bundle. These often save quite a lot of money.
Most people bike touring and Bikepacking want good mapping and navigation with not much else, so some of these functions might be overkill.
The bigger the screen the better it is to view and the more visual features you can fit on the screen. Specially for visually challenged people like myself that find my eyes are not as good as they once were.
Big data screens equals big bucks in many cases. And as the screen gets bigger it also gets heavier, not something anyone wants with their GPS cycling computer. Most people are surprised just how big these screens are in real life. It appears some people want smaller screens nowadays.
All-day cycling is a must for cycling computers. For most people, 5-6 hours is a very good day in the saddle. For some, it is much longer. Fortunately, modern cycling GPS computers have very good battery life. Several things will affect the battery life such as screen brightness, BlueTooth connectivity, wifi connectivity, sensors, temperature, and more.
When I look for the best GPS cycling computers I want at least 12 hours of battery life when using all the features. And when I’m finished riding I can recharge and download the data from the GPS computer overnight.
I’ve tried using a GPS enabled hiking watch as a cycling computer and I find they just don’t do a good job. There was a time not long ago when the battery life on a GPS watch was nowhere near as good as dedicated GPS enabled cycling computers. Times are changing quickly with GPS watches getting much better. But when cycling it is rather annoying to look at your wrist for details. I even mounted one around my handlebars and it was still rather average.
Handheld Hiking Computer
Before I started using GPS bike computers I was using a Handheld Hiking GPS with a bike mount. It was able to tell me my speed, direction of travel, and it had decent battery life. But it wasn’t able to do everything that even the most basic cycling computer can do.
Overall, it was a good introduction to the possibilities. If you have one of these hiking GPS devices, try it out. After a while, you will probably do the same as me and get a dedicated basic cycling computer.
Smartphones cycling Apps are not quite there when it comes to being used as a cycling computer. But they are getting close. Probably within the next 5 years, we may be using smartphones a lot more as cycling computers!
Smartphones don’t use the same GPS technology as a GPS cycling computer. The GPS signal is not as strong or accurate, especially when away from wifi, cell phone towers, and cell phone signal. They are good, but not as good. Also, the battery life is not as good as any dedicated GPS cycling computer. Keep in mind that the basic computer on a budget GPS cycling computer is better and more accurate than a smartphone.
A smartphone can be connected to the cycle computer to take advantage of weather updates and more.
Having said that, I suspect that with a couple of years Smartphones will catch up and replace even the best bike computer on the market. Watch this space to find out if I’m right!
How much money do you want to spend. The best bike computer is not cheap. Sure it comes with a lot of functionality but do you need it all. For most people reading this review a good cycling computer with decent battery life and a good mapping function will be enough.
Unless you are a competitive cyclist or a gear nerd who loves the data then the best bike computer is not always best. If you are bike touring or bikepacking you probably don’t want all the features that increase the price of the cycling computer.
So, the biggest factor influencing your decision on which one to buy will probably come down to the price tag. And just how many functions do you need on your bike computer. If you want the best you will have to pay a lot of money.
The Best Bike GPS Computer for touring, road cycling, and mountain biking in 2023 is:
- Garmin Edge 540 Solar
- Garmin Edge 1040 Solar
- Garmin Edge 530
- Garmin Edge 830
- Garmin Edge 1030
- Wahoo ELEMNT Roam
- Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt
Frequently Asked Questions
With built in mapping, turn by turn navigation, long battery life and all the basics such as speed, elevation and distance they are worth it. The Garmin and Wahoo are certainly worth it as a good bike computer
Yes and No. A smartphone will have most of the features of a basic bike computer but will not be as good when it comes to battery life or accuracy. Bike computers have a much more accurate GPS than smartphones.
A bike computer is great for bikepacking. It can tell you where you are with great mapping features and tell you how far to the next waypoint such as your planned campsite for the night. You can also upload maps and GPS routes form other riders and follow their routes.
BikeHikeSafari Gear Review Process
The author, Brad McCartney from BikeHikeSafari is a small independent adventurer and outdoor gear tester who owns and runs BikeHikeSafari.com.
BikeHikeSafari is not part of a large blog network and is proudly independent. All reviews on this site are independent and honest gear reviews of outdoor products by the author.
The author, Brad McCartney is a very experienced triple crown thru-hiker, adventurer, and bike tourer having spent 1000s of nights sleeping in a tent and sleeping bag (Read more). He was a manager of an outdoor retail store and is very experienced in what is important when using and testing gear for reviews like this.
BikeHikeSafari will never receive any money for reviews and they do not accept sponsored reviews on this website. All the comments about the gear reviews are from the author based on his years of experience. Hope this independent review was helpful for you.