Ever wonder what’s over the next ridge? Want to record your rides? You need a dedicated GPS unit for your mountain bike. The best mountain bike GPS devices have full-color maps, touch screens, ride logging, heart rate monitors and other built-in fitness tools.
Most smartphones can log rides, but not as well as a dedicated device. Adventures don’t follow cell towers. Phone GPS tends to be inaccurate off-road, and poor data coverage will drain the battery quicker, leaving you with a dead phone and a poorly logged ride.
One of our goals at The Adventure Junkies is to help you find the right tools for your own adventures. We’ve prepared this guide to set you on the right path to the perfect GPS for your next ride.
For more of our top mountain biking gear recommendations, check out the Best Bike Computers.
Quick Answer - The Best Mountain Bike GPS
- Garmin Edge 830
- Garmin Edge 1030
- Garmin Edge 530
- Lezyne Micro Color
- Polar V650
- Bryton Rider 420
- Cateye Stealth Evo Plus
Comparison Table - Best MTB GPSFor the best experience turn your device horizontally
|Name||Color Screen||Display Size||Battery Life||Weight||Price||Rating||Review|
|Garmin Edge 830||Yes||2.3"||15 Hours||67.7g||$$$$||3.9||Read Review|
|Garmin Edge 1030||Yes||3.5"||20 Hours||114.5g||$$$||4.2||Read Review|
|Garmin Edge 530||Yes||2.6"||20 Hours||75.8g||$$$||4.3||Read Review|
|Lezyne Micro Color||Yes||1.4"||14 Hours||29.0g||$||2.8||Read Review|
|Polar V650||Yes||2.8"||10 Hours||120.0g||$$$||3.4||Read Review|
|Bryton Rider 420||No||2.3"||35 Hours||70g||$$||3.5||Read Review|
|Cateye Stealth Evo Plus||No||N/A||10 Hours||50.0g||$||3.7||Read Review|
|Name||Color Screen||Display Size||Battery Life||Weight||Price||Rating||Review|
Reviews - The Best GPS for Mountain Bikes
Garmin Edge 830
BEST FOR: RACERS WHO WANT A GPS THAT TALKS TO STRAVA, THEIR PHONE, AND EVEN THEIR ELECTRONIC SHIFTERS
PROS: WiFi, Strava Live, heart rate monitor and sensors, Garmin group riding app and fitness apps
CONS: Price, touch screen glitches and bugs
Garmin Edge 1030
BEST FOR: SEASONED ADVENTURERS WHO WANT FULL COLOR MAPS AND MID-RIDE ROUTING TOOLS
PROS: Speakers, software, display, included sensors
CONS: Price, weight, size
Garmin Edge 530
BEST FOR: RACERS WHO GAVE UP ON THE 820’S TOUCH SCREEN ISSUES
PROS: Strava and other live features through phone, display, fitness tools and apps
CONS: Price, no sensors included
Lezyne Micro Color
BEST FOR: BUDGET RIDERS WHO WANT A COLOR SCREEN AND HARD BUTTONS
PROS: Light-weight, price
CONS: Mount, sensor glitches, screen
BEST FOR: ANYONE SEEKING A WELL-DESIGNED AND EASY-TO-USE GPS
PROS: Display, heart rate monitor, barometric sensors
CONS: Weight, price, battery life
Bryton Rider 420
BEST FOR: RIDERS WHO WANT THE BEST BATTERY LIFE AND HIGH-END FEATURES IN A BUDGET UNIT
PROS: Light-weight, battery, price, display, heart rate monitor, barometer
CONS: Poor support, file format to share rides, unintuitive settings
Cateye Stealth Evo Plus
BEST FOR: RIDERS WHO WANT A SIMPLE, NO-FUSS UNIT WITH A BASIC SCREEN
PROS: Light-weight, price, display, reliability
CONS: Battery, hard to upload data
HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE GPS
How long will this thing last? Bike GPS systems can run for 10 or more hours at the lowest end, and more is always better. You will occasionally forget to charge your unit after a ride, and the bonus time a longer-lasting unit offers will come in handy.
Maybe you never forget to charge your device or call mom on her birthday, but battery life still matters. Even if you’re perfect, the device isn’t. Some units may perform under average; others may lose battery capacity with time.
Maybe a particular route drains the battery quicker, or there was an issue with the charging connection. Sometimes, a ride just goes places you didn’t expect and a short hop home becomes an odyssey. For all these reasons, it’s best to look for the highest battery life possible even if you’re not planning an all-day ride.
INTERFACES AND ADD-ONS
Modern GPS units have ANT+ compatibility. According to BikeRumor, this is the technology of the present and the future, quickly replacing the similar but less efficient Bluetooth standard. ANT+ works with everything from exotic heads-up-displays on sunglasses to your typical heart rate monitors and speed and cadence sensors.
The best units come with the fitness devices, and many of them can even link to your smartphone. This makes updating software or using third-party services and apps easy.
AUDIO AND ROUTING
One big advantage to a dedicated GPS device is audio cuing and navigation. While any smartphone will give here to there directions, the best GPS devices have complex mapping and routing systems that work on or off road.
Popular cycling smartphone apps like Strava even work with GPS devices, providing turn-by-turn directions on any compatible dedicated device. Best of all, your display won’t be interrupted by a call from the office in the middle of a complicated stretch of turns.
SCREEN SIZE AND STYLE
Size is straightforward. A bigger screen will display more information and is easier to read at a glance. The downside will be in battery life and cost, both of which are heavily affected by screen size. At the high end, the screen may double as an interface, working like your smartphone touch screen.
This may pose a problem for foul weather riders. The screens use the same capacitive touch screen technology as smartphones. Because of this, they may not work well in rain or with full finger gloves.
Some of the best GPS units have add-on remotes which mitigate this problem. Most manufacturers claim that their device works with any gloves in any weather, but very few riders have had that experience.
Riders who plan to ride in foul weather may want to skip the hassle and stick to units without a touch screen. These devices will be controlled by multiple buttons or a multi-use single button.
TRAINING TOOLS AND SOFTWARE
The best fitness apps are on smartphones, but GPS fitness tools aren’t far behind. They also offer sophisticated training profiles and data that cost a premium on the phone.
Best of all, modern GPS units sync up with most smartphone apps, like Strava or MapMyRide, and many can use them directly from the device itself.
Some of the Garmin devices even work with live segments, a popular premium Strava feature, to give you real-time information on how quick you are compared to other riders. Most devices can save multiple bike profiles, even for your spinning bike at the gym, and sync that data separately.
When looking at a GPS, make sure it has the features and software you want, and double-check that it’s fully compatible with your phone model. The budget models will perform worst with exporting and compatibility.
Mounting the GPS unit will vary greatly by brand. BikeRadar gives Garmin the edge in this category; the overall popularity of Garmin means a wide array of aftermarket mounts are available for any position on the bike.
HOW YOU’LL USE IT
At the highest end, the devices work for planning routes as much as they work for logging them. Competitive LCD displays offer full-color topographic maps, letting you plan ahead on course, or even create a whole route at home.
Of course, these are the devices that cost more and have worse battery life. So, it’s worth asking yourself if you really need all that functionality.
Most cyclists just want a reliable recording, something they can upload to a fitness app and share with friends. Thankfully, all the devices do this well, even at the lowest end. The upgrade in battery life for the simpler devices makes them a great choice for most riders.
GPS unit weight isn’t crucial unless you’re racing. As Velonews reported, a 3-pound reduction in bike weight could mean as little as a seven-second advantage. If you’re racing, that could mean the difference between winning and losing so you’ll want to look at the lighter-weight units we ranked as best for competition.
Most of the units we evaluated were around 50 grams, but even the heaviest at 129 grams isn’t going to cut into your finish.
For more of our top mountain biking gear recommendations, check out these popular buyer's guides: