Smartphones are great for a lot of things. Using it for directions while riding a bike is not one of them.
This is where having the best mountain bike GPS like the ELEMNT Roam GPS Bike Computer comes in.
This mountain bike GPS comes with a 2.7-inch Gorilla Glass colored screen that makes it easy to see where you are and where you’re going. The screen also automatically adjusts its backlighting and LED lights depending on whether you’re outdoors and indoors. Plus, it’s got a 17-hour battery life.
8 Best Mountain Bike GPS
Best Overall Mountain Bike GPS
There’s a lot to love in the ELEMNT Roam GPS Bike Computer from Wahoo.
This GPS bike computer comes with a laundry list of cycling-specific functions. In fact, the ROAM makes routing so convenient. This is because it has this feature where you can navigate without using a smartphone.
It even lets you reverse routes to make it easier to find your way back. This GPS’ll also automatically recalculate your route in just case you find yourself off-course.
This is very much unlike in other bike computers where you’ll need a smartphone to do this. Perhaps, more importantly, the Roam has these little features that only avid cyclists will notice.
Take, for example, the 2.7-inch color display with automatic adjusting backlighting.
When you’re out in the sun, nothing is worse than glare. You’d love to see where you’re going and where you are, but the sun can get in the way. That’s not a problem with the ELEMN ROAM GPS.
The buttons are also very big and user-friendly. Not to mention, this bike computer has seamless integration with popular mapping platforms.
To top it all of, this GPS bike computer comes with a battery life that lasts a good 17 hours before needing a recharge.
- High-contrast and legible display
- Intuitive software
- Not cheap
Wahoo strikes gold once again with the Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt GPS Bike Computer.
A more affordable alternative to the ELEMNT Roam, the Bolt is the best mountain bike computer with GPS for smartphone users.
Wahoo missed the Bolt’s strength a bit when they marketed it as an aerodynamic alternative to its competition. Instead, they should’ve focused more on its more evident selling points.
This includes its functionality, battery life, and seamless smartphone integration. Best of all, it has an attractive price tag.
The Bolt mtb GPS has all the basics covered. It also comes with premium features. This includes turn-by-turn navigation, Live Tracking, as well as Strava Live Segments.
It even has this feature that lets you use your phone to find a destination. Then, once set, the Bolt basically guides you to that spot.
The six buttons are great for daily use. You can also configure the LED lighting for training alerts and to help you navigate.
The Bolt might not have more features compared to the Roam, but it packs more value.
- Affordable compared to the competition
- Smartphone integration
- User-friendly set-up
- Free companion app
- Relies too much on smartphones
Best for Screen Quality
Due to its rivalry with Wahoo, Garmin constantly seeks to find an edge (get it?) against its competition.
The Garmin Edge 1030 is an upgrade to the Edge 1000. It learns from the clean and modern design of its little brother, the Edge 820, but comes with elite features.
It can display up to ten customizable fields of data per page. It also has detailed maps for better navigation, with detailed turn-by-turn instructions. It’ll even warn you when there’s a sharp turn coming.
Garmin also made sure to outdo the competition with the 1030. They’ve upped the battery life to a whopping 20 hours.
The bike GPS also got a much better screen compared to other bike computers, albeit not exactly as good as that of a standard smartphone.
Packed with as many features that a cycling computer can have, the only downside here is the high asking price.
- Comprehensive data and information
- Large, bright, and responsive display
- Ridiculously feature-packed
- Very expensive
Best Garmin Bike GPS
Garmin’s selection of bike computers is ridiculous. They’ve got everything for everybody.
However, while they have elite and flagship products, those aren’t exactly the best. At least, not in terms of price-to-performance ratio.
That honor belongs to the more affordable Garmin Edge 530 mountain bike GPS.
The 530 is not cheap, by any means. It’s just more reasonably priced. It also does away with things that most people could live without. Like, for example, touchscreen.
But, at the same time, it has all the necessities. This includes external buttons, a crisp colour display, and a wealth of data for better performance tracking.
Enthusiast and hardcore riders will find all of their needs, and more, met with the 530.
- Straightforward and user-friendly
- Vivid color display
- Optional added sensors
- Setting up can be time-consuming
Best For Those on a Budget
The Garmin Edge 130 is the best GPS for mountain biking for beginners. It gives you access to all the basic metrics. This includes speed, time, distance, heart rate, elevation, and other important data fields.
It’s also quite compact and weighs just 33g. This is rounded out with its 15-hour battery life.
Going back to the data, the 130 is no slouch. It’s not just all about the basics. It even has a built-in barometric altimeter. This makes it easier to read elevation more accurately.
However, as far as advanced metrics go, the 130 is a bit thin. But, then again, that’s not exactly what you’re buying it for.
The 130 would have benefitted from getting a base map or the Garmin Cycle Map. The breadcrumb-style navigation works well, but it’s rudimentary, at best.
If it’s any consolation, the 130 is a tad more affordable compared to other bike GPS computers.
Plus, it comes with ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity for your smartphone and additional sensors.
- Won’t overwhelm you with advanced (and sometimes useless) features
- Rudimentary navigation
The Garmin Edge 830 is a strong contender as the best MTB computer.
Yes. It’s expensive. But, at the same time, the 830 is near-perfect. It’s got an impressive feature set that makes it ideal for recording performance stats, fitness conditions, and trail navigation.
It even benefits from having the “Garmin Cycle Map” features. This gives it access to some 80 countries and their topographies for excellent navigation detail.
The 830 even comes with an AI system. This helps guide you through the more efficient routes by voice.
The 830 GPS also has a group messaging application. This is something that you can and should use often while on the road. It’s great for safety reasons, especially if you’re in the lead and want to warn the others.
Even if you’re not, being able to message other bikers will come in handy in more ways than you can imagine.
- Detailed map and topography of 80+ countries
- Comprehensive performance data monitoring
- Sensitive and responsive
- Monitors heartbeat
- Route creator doesn’t always work well
Best GPS Smartwatch
The Garmin Fenix 6 is the new smartwatch to beat. It also comes at a premium that most people can’t afford. Even those who could afford it will have reservations. This paves the way for the more affordable and slightly older Garmin Fenix 5.
Naturally, you’ll have to give up a couple of things. This includes dedicated battery saving modes, which can be a bit of a bummer.
Other features notably absent on the Fenix 5 is a Pulse Ox sensor, as well as Garmin Pay. But, they’re not exactly deal-breakers. This is especially when you consider what you’re getting.
For a few hundred dollars less, the Fenix 5 covers most if not all the essentials just as well.
The Fenix 5 has onboard GPS, in-depth tracking capabilities for multiple activities, and a built-in altimeter, with a barometer, and a 3-axis compass.
It also has different sport modes for you to choose from and heart-rate monitoring. It’s also water-resistant to some degree. Additionally, the battery life is rated to last for two full weeks.
TLDR; The Fenix 5 is proof that newer doesn’t always mean better.
- Onboard GPS
- The battery lasts for two weeks
- Detailed activity tracking capabilities
- A number of sport modes to choose from
- Very, very expensive
The Bryton Rider 320E mountain bike GPS is perfect for those who have no need for mapping or training features or even a color display.
A strong but affordable offering, the Rider 320E does everything exceptionally well. If you need data, it can fit up to 8 data per page to its 2.3-inch screen.
Sure, it’s black and white, but it’s also very clear. It even has an adjustable contrast with a powerful backlight. This guarantees that you can see the data output anytime and anywhere.
The Rider 320E has 72+ functions for you to choose from and support a 5-satellite system. This results in a faster and more reliable start-up.
It even supports BLE 5.0 for better data transfer. This is then topped off with excellent compatibility with sensors and meters.
Finally, you get to enjoy integration with popular fitness tracker apps with the Rider 320E. This is something made even better since you can set-up new devices and view results via the Bryton Active App.
- Competitive pricing
- 35-hour run time
- Highly customizable display
- No mapping or training features
Mountain Bike GPS Buying Guide
GPS and Mapping
The best mountain bike GPS has access to satellite networks with pre-installed base maps. The latter is an exceptionally useful feature.
This is because it allows for better navigation, including turn-by-turn directions, and more. Some also go as far as to let you create new routes and courses using the device itself with no help from smartphones.
Of course, mapping is not always a given. The more basic mountain bike GPS computers don’t really have a base map. This isn’t to say that they’ll not come in handy with navigation.
Rather, instead of something detailed, you’ll get nothing more than a line guiding you through the proper route.
Tracking Sensor Compatibility
If you’re into fitness and/or use your bike to workout, you’ll want a GPS unit with excellent sensor-compatibility.
Integrated and supported wheel sensors can help you keep better track of your bike activity. This includes everything from the speed you’re traveling at, how much you’ve traveled, and how many calories you’ve burned.
Think of cadence sensors like a pedometer or a speedometer. They’ll let you maximize your effort because they allow you to measure your energy output. This lets you tweak your output properly to achieve the best speeds with minimal effort. (1)
Heart Rate Monitor
Exercise safely and efficiently with real-time monitoring of your heart rate with a heart rate monitor. (2)
The HRM, as it is sometimes referred to, is an excellent tool for analysis. It helps measure how you currently are, and later on, how you’ve progressed.
This allows you to fine-tune and tweak your activity levels according to what’s a healthy heart rate.
Connectivity and Apps
Most bike computers will support either ANT+ or Bluetooth connectivity. However, in many cases, the more affordable computers won’t support additional accessories and apps. The most common that are left out are power meters.
The main reason why connectivity is important is data access. The more connectivity options your bike computer has, the more useful data you’ll have available.
Luckily, battery life is not as big of an issue with bike computers today as it was before.
Most mountain bike GPS computers can last for at least a dozen hours. This should give you plenty of time to access important data without needing a recharge.
This is more of a personal preference thing. Some prefer larger screens with touchscreen functionality. Others prefer more traditional buttons. But, either way, what’s important is that the screen of the computer is able to display the data properly.
Mountain biking is a fun way to blow off some steam at the end of a hectic workweek.
The sheer thrill of climbing up and down trails, along with the beautiful scenery, make the toll on your body and wallet worth it.
If you bike out a lot and want to track your progress, a mountain bike GPS is a must-have.
It’s great for not just measuring your performance, but also for added safety. Getting lost is near-impossible with a proper mountain bike GPS.
The latter is slightly older technology. It’s basically the predecessor of the former. However, both are plenty capable of providing you with necessary biking performance data.
If you prefer to save even money, Bryton Rider 320E is a great value purchase. It has many features most average riders and even enthusiasts will need. The best part? It doesn’t come with a premium price point.
All in all, we do recommend giving each mountain bike GPS on our recommendations a look.
Spend enough time and you’ll find the best mountain bike GPS for your taste, budget, and preference, in no time. Additionally, I have recommended some of the top hardtail mountain bikes in the market in case you are looking to buy a new mtb.