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.

 

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QUICK ANSWER: THE BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE GPS

1. GARMIN EDGE 1000

2. POLAR V650

3. POLAR M450

4. GARMIN EDGE 820

5. GARMIN EDGE 520

6. LEZYNE MICRO COLOR

7. BRYTON RIDER 310

8. CATEYE STEALTH EVO PLUS

9. MAGELLAN 505

10. BRYTON RIDER 100E

 

 

 

 

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO FIND THE BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE GPS

PICTURE
GPS
BEST USE
COLOR SCREEN?
DISPLAY SIZE
BATTERY LIFE
WEIGHT
PRICE
RATING
PICTURE
GPS
BEST USE
COLOR SCREEN?
DISPLAY SIZE
BATTERY LIFE
WEIGHT
PRICE
RATING
Garmin Edge 1000
Overall
Yes
3.0"
15 Hours
114.5g
$$$
4.2
Polar V650
Overall
Yes
2.8"
10 Hours
120.0g
$$$
3.4
Polar M450
Competition
No
1.9"
16 Hours
51.0g
$$
4.3
Garmin Edge 820
Competition
Yes
2.3"
15 Hours
67.7g
$$$$
3.9
Garmin Edge 520
Competition
Yes
1.9"
15 Hours
59.6g
$$$
4.3
Lezyne Micro Color
Budget
Yes
1.4"
14 Hours
29.0g
$
2.8
Bryton Rider 310
Budget
No
1.8"
36 Hours
56.0g
$$
3.5
Cateye Stealth Evo Plus
Budget
No
N/A
10 Hours
50.0g
$
3.7
Magellan 505
Budget
Yes
3.0"
12Hours
129.0g
$$
3.2
Bryton Rider 100e
Budget
No
1.6"
25Hours
40.0g
$
3.6

 

 

MOUNTAIN BIKE GPS 101

 

8 THINGS TO CONSIDER TO FIND THE BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE GPS

 

1. BATTERY LIFE

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.

 

2. 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.

 

3. 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.

 

4. 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.

 

5. 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.

 

6. MOUNTING

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.

 

7. 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.

 

8. WEIGHT

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.

 

best gps to have for mountain bike

Photo by istockphoto.com/portfolio/highluxphoto

 

MOUNTAIN BIKE GPS REVIEWS

 

MOUNTAIN BIKE GPS FOR OVERALL USE

GARMIN EDGE 1000

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Seasoned adventurers who want full color maps and mid-ride routing tools

SCREEN TYPE: Color Touch

DISPLAY SIZE: 3.0″

BATTERY LIFE: 15 Hours

WEIGHT: 114.5g

PROS: Speakers, software, display, included sensors

CONS: Price, weight, size

 

 

 

POLAR V650

Check out the latest price on:
AmazonJenson USA

BEST FOR: Anyone seeking a well-designed and easy-to-use GPS

SCREEN TYPE: Color Touch

DISPLAY SIZE: 2.8″

BATTERY LIFE: 10 Hours

WEIGHT: 120.0g

PROS: Display, heart rate monitor, barometric sensors

CONS: Weight, price, battery life

 

 

 

 

BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE GPS FOR COMPETITION USE

POLAR M450

Check out the latest price on:
AmazonJenson USA

BEST FOR: Budget racers who don’t mind black and white

SCREEN TYPE: Mono

DISPLAY SIZE: 1.9″

BATTERY LIFE: 16 Hours

WEIGHT: 51.0g

PROS: Barometric sensors, weight, price, fitness tests, heart rate monitor

CONS: Display, unintuitive interface

 

 

 

GARMIN EDGE 820

Check out the latest price on:
AmazonJenson USA

BEST FOR: Racers who want a GPS that talks to Strava, their phone, and even their electronic shifters

SCREEN TYPE: Color Touch

DISPLAY SIZE: 2.3″

BATTERY LIFE: 15 Hours

WEIGHT: 67.7g

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 520

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Racers who gave up on the 820’s touch screen issues

SCREEN TYPE: Color Touch

DISPLAY SIZE: 1.9″

BATTERY LIFE: 15 Hours

WEIGHT: 59.6g

PROS: Strava and other live features through phone, display, fitness tools and apps

CONS: Price, no WiFi, no sensors included

 

 

 

 

BEST MOUNTAIN BIKE GPS FOR BUDGET USE

LEZYNE MICRO COLOR

Check out the latest price on:
AmazonJenson USA

BEST FOR: Budget riders who want a color screen and hard buttons

SCREEN TYPE: Color

DISPLAY SIZE: 1.4″

BATTERY LIFE: 14 Hours

WEIGHT: 29.0g

PROS: Light-weight, price

CONS: Mount, sensor glitches, screen

 

 

 

BRYTON RIDER 310

Check out the latest price on:
AmazonJenson USA

BEST FOR: Riders who want the best battery life and high-end features in a budget unit

SCREEN TYPE: Mono

DISPLAY SIZE: 1.8″

BATTERY LIFE: 36 Hours

WEIGHT: 56.0g

PROS: Light-weight, battery, price, display, heart rate monitor, barometer

CONS: Poor support, file format to share rides, unintuitive settings

 

 

 

CATEYE STEALTH EVO PLUS

Check out the latest price on:
AmazonJenson USA

BEST FOR: Riders who want a simple, no-fuss unit with a basic screen

SCREEN TYPE: Mono

DISPLAY SIZE: Not Available

BATTERY LIFE: 10 Hours

WEIGHT: 50.0g

PROS: Light-weight, price, display, reliability

CONS: Battery, hard to upload data

 

 

 

MAGELLAN 505

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Budget riders who need a full color touch screen

SCREEN TYPE: Color Touch

DISPLAY SIZE: 3.0″

BATTERY LIFE: 12 Hours

WEIGHT: 129.0g

PROS: Screen, electronic shifter integration, WiFi, phone integration

CONS: Incompatibility issues, battery, weight

 

 

 

BRYTON RIDER 100E

Check out the latest price on:
AmazonJenson USA

BEST FOR: New riders skipping the bike computer and going straight to a GPS

SCREEN TYPE: Mono

DISPLAY SIZE: 1.6″

BATTERY LIFE: 25 Hours

WEIGHT: 40.0g

PROS: Price, weight, battery

CONS: Unreliable build quality, low quality charging ports, export functionality

Best Mountain Bike GPS - Best Mountain Bike Gear Articles – MTB Equipment and Accessories for Men, Women and Kids – Mountain Biking Products Articles and Reviews
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