Back in the day, bikers had to go through a lot to keep track of their data.
Handle-mounted computer GPS systems used to be the only way mountain bikers could see their metrics, but with today’s technological advancements, things have been made much easier.
Instead of those complicated GPS systems that cost a lot of money and take a lot of effort to set up, we now have smartwatches and fitness trackers to bring our biking experience to the next level.
But if you’re like me, you’d want to make sure you have the best watch for mountain biking out there.
And with all the options out there, making the choice can be very tough.
If you’ve been struggling with choosing the best fitness partner for when you go out on the trails and bike, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we take a look at the best watches for mountain biking available today.
Read on to find out more.
The Best Watches For Mountain Biking – Quick Comparison
Related watch collections:
Reviews of the Best Mountain Biking Watches for Your Money
1. Garmin Instinct
|Garmin Instinct, Rugged Outdoor Watch with GPS, Features...||$299.99 $199.00||Buy on Amazon|
Kicking off our list is a timepiece from one of the top fitness watch brands out there, Garmin.
The Garmin Instinct is a smartwatch built for the toughest environments, which is why it sports a rugged case that comes in a host of different colors.
Whether you want a simple earth-toned model or a bright yellow one, Garmin has the options for you.
The case is up to U.S. military standards, with shock, thermal, and water resistance up to 100m.
So if you’ve been worried about your watch getting damaged while riding your bike, this may be the right option for you.
It also has a 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter, a GPS system, along with a heart-rate monitor and activity tracker to help you keep track of your progress and push you to your limits.
And if you also want a watch that can keep you up-to-date with your notifications, this one has that covered too as it can sync to your phone and send you smart notifications as needed.
All in all, this is a great and tough timepiece ready for any environment you throw at it.
- Water-Resistant up to 100m
- Built-in heart-rate monitor
- Smart notifications
- Great battery life
- The watch cannot store music
- Learning the ins and outs of the software can take some time
2. SUUNTO Ambit 3
|Suunto Ambit3 Peak HR Monitor Running GPS Unit, Black||$297.59||Buy on Amazon|
Next up, we have a watch with a sleeker design from SUUNTO.
This watch contains all the necessary components of a great fitness tracker: GPS, a built-in heart rate monitor, an altimeter, a barometer, and a compass.
So if you plan to take this with you when mountain biking, it can be a great way to keep track of your route and keep you moving at the right pace.
It has one of the best batteries available today, lasting up to 200 hours on a single charge and staying accurate up to 1 minute.
It also has different modes for different activities such as biking, swimming, and running, and it even has bike power support that connects via BlueTooth.
And if you want to make sure you’re going on a ride on the right day, it even has a weather tracker to make sure you won’t get stuck in the middle of a trail because of the rain.
Aside from all that, it also connects to your phone so you can get notifications on-the-go, making it a great everyday watch as well.
- Connects to the phone
- Built-in heart-rate monitor
- Displays a lot of fitness metrics
- Stylish and can be worn every day
- Doesn’t have the most accurate temperature readings
3. Garmin Fenix 5
|Garmin fēnix 5, Premium and Rugged Multisport GPS...||$499.99 $349.99||Buy on Amazon|
This is one of the top models from Garmin, and one look at the watch and its features will instantly show you why.
It has a modern and sleek design, with a black case that can go with almost any outfit.
This watch is also a very high-quality fitness tracker, with multi-sport options that include biking, swimming, and running.
You can also easily switch between sport modes, which is great for those who do a lot of different fitness activities.
It has a large screen, which can allow you to easily read metrics while on the move, which is very valuable when you’re biking through the mountains and trails.
All the key stats you’ll need will be available right at your fingertips with this model.
On top of that, it also comes in a very tough case with fiber-reinforced polymer and a stainless steel case back.
Aside from connecting to your phone and sending you smart notifications, the watch can also be used to upload your metrics straight to the Garmin Connect online fitness community, which allows you to share your data and progress with other fitness-heads.
A great option for the modern mountain biker.
- Sleek design
- Easy to read display
- 100m of water resistance
- Can track a lot of different metrics
- Battery life isn’t the best
4. Garmin Forerunner 235
|Garmin Forerunner 235, GPS Running Watch, Black/Gray||$329.99 $162.57||Buy on Amazon|
This option is for those looking for a much simpler fitness partner.
This watch is designed as a running watch, so it tracks all the important metrics such as distance, pace, heart rate, and time.
All of these metrics can also be very valuable when biking, and the simplicity of everything can keep you from getting distracted while on the trail.
It also includes GPS and smart notification systems to keep you on track and updated all the time.
Since it’s a simplistic model, it also sports a very laid-back design that doesn’t demand too much attention, so you can wear this on you whether you’re on the trail or out to get a cup of coffee.
It lacks some of the other features that complex smartwatches have, but sometimes, the simpler the watch is, the better.
- Easy to use
- Easy to read display
- Built-in heart-rate monitor
- Contains advanced metrics such as VO2 max
- Lacks some of the more complicated features of a smartwatch
5. Polar M430
|POLAR M430 GPS Running Watch, Black (90066335),Medium/Large||$199.95 $144.77||Buy on Amazon|
Following up the previous entry on this list is another simple GPS fitness watch that can keep you on track when on the trail while also recording valuable metrics.
It has a wrist-based heart rate monitor, integrated GPS, and it can also track your activities 24/7.
This is a great option for those who would like to keep track of their health all day, not just when on a ride.
On top of that, since it’s a fitness watch and not a smartwatch, it isn’t loaded with features that can sometimes confuse some people and just get in the way of the watch’s functionality.
It comes with a large display, so you can easily view the time and whatever other metrics you’re tracking at any given moment.
It also has a very comfortable strap that won’t distract you when biking, in fact, if you wear this watch the whole day, you’ll find that it’s one of the most comfortable fitness trackers out there today.
If you don’t need any of the complicated features that come with most smartwatches nowadays and are looking for a simple and easy-to-use fitness tracker, this may be the one for you.
- Wrist-based heart rate monitor
- Initial set-up can be complicated
6. Fitbit Ionic
|Fitbit Ionic GPS Smart Watch, Charcoal/Smoke Gray, One Size...||$249.95 $195.00||Buy on Amazon|
Fitbit is one of the most trusted fitness tracker brands out there, and that’s partly due to the fact that they consistently deliver great products.
The Fitbit Ionic is no exception.
It has multi-sport modes, a built-in heart-rate monitor, GPS, and is packed with many more features that make it one of the best watches for mountain biking available today.
It also comes with personal coaching options that can help you bring your training to the next level.
And if you’re a person who likes to listen to music, this is a great option as you can store up to 300 songs on the device through Pandora.
While it may look like it isn’t the most durable watch out there, it actually holds up pretty well, despite the sleek and modern design.
It’s definitely on the more expensive side of smartwatches, but considering all the features it comes with and the sheer quality of the watch, it’s an investment that’s well worth it.
- Heart-rate monitor
- Multi-sport modes
- Personalized coaching
- Can even be used as a sleep tracker
- Syncing the device to your phone can be troublesome
7. Apple Watch Series 5
|Apple Watch Series 5 (GPS, 44mm) - Space Gray Aluminum Case...||$429.00||Buy on Amazon|
Wrapping up our list is one of the most popular smartwatches out there: the Apple Watch Series 5.
It is one of the most feature-loaded smartwatches out there with a lot of specialized applications available for just about anybody.
So you can surely find something to help you augment your mountain biking experience with this watch.
It is also one of the best-designed smartwatches out there, which means you can wear while on a ride, at a meeting, or even going for a jog.
The watch has a large screen so readability is no problem at all, and it’s also swim-proof.
So if you’re worried about getting your watch wet and ruining it, this might be the best choice for you.
- Packed with features
- Heart-rate monitor
- A lot of applications are available for the device
- Easy to sync up (especially with iPhones)
- May not be the cheapest of options
How to Choose a Good Watch for Mountain Biking
One of the best ways to make buying a watch easier is to know what to look for.
We get into a couple of things to look for when buying a mountain biking watch in this section.
Mountain biking is a tough sport.
It involves a lot of action, and you need a timepiece that can stand all of that.
So make sure that you look for watches made of high-quality materials that are scratch-proof so that one fall won’t ruin your watch altogether.
2. Size And Readability
When buying a fitness tracker or a sports watch, you need one that won’t distract you while doing activities.
Watches with small displays tend to be hard to read, and that can cause some trouble if you’re trying to read it while biking, running, or even just walking.
To avoid that, make sure that the display of your watch is large and clear enough to be ready easily.
It’s important to stay on the right track while biking, that’s why you need a watch with good navigation tools.
Depending on your needs, this can mean either having GPS, a compass, barometer, altimeter, or better yet, all of these things available as tools on your watch.
Some people will need more navigation tools than others, and that all depends on your personal tastes, preferences, and needs while biking.
4. Fitness Options
Aside from being navigation tools, mountain biking watches should be able to keep track of certain metrics while biking.
This includes heart rate, speed, distance, pace, and whatever else you’d like to keep track of.
More complicated and complex watches will be able to track more complicated metrics such as VO2 max, so if you like having a lot of statistics and metrics displayed for you, make sure to check if the watch you’re getting has all those features available.
5. Battery Life
Finally, another important aspect of a good mountain biking watch is a quality battery.
You don’t want your watch to die on you while on a ride, and you can avoid that by making sure you get a watch with great battery life.
1. What Is The Best Watch For Mountain Biking?
This answer will depend on who you’re asking, but one watch that a lot of people point to as the best for mountain biking is the Fitbit Ionic.
That’s because the watch is great for beginners, novices, and advanced rider alike.
With its amazing set of features, ease of use, and compatibility with a lot of phones, it’s easy to see why this is one of the top watches.
2. Is The Apple Watch Good For Mountain Biking?
Yes, the Apple Watch can be used for mountain biking, especially the series 5 model.
It has a lot of great navigation and health features, and on top of that, it’s one of the brands most durable models to date.
That being said, there are other watches out there that are designed specifically for physical activities that may perform better than the Apple Watch.
3. How Does The Fitbit Recognize Biking?
The Fitbit is now able to track bike rides with great accuracy.
It can do this by measuring and comparing the acceleration data from the 3-axis accelerometer built into the device.
By using the data from the accelerometer, the Fitbit will then apply its very complicated algorithm to determine what type of activity you’re doing.
That’s why it can detect when you’re running, walking, jogging, or even biking.
4. Does Strava Work On The Apple Watch Without A Phone?
Yes, Apple Watch users can now sync their device to Strava without the need for a phone or third party.
5. Which Garmin Is The Best Watch For Mountain Biking?
Probably the best Garmin Watch for mountain biking is Garmin Forerunner 235.
This is because it’s durable, has a large and easy to read display, has features designed specifically for biking, and has features that are “future-proof” and designed to stand the test of time.
Aside from that, it has a great battery life, being able to last up to 200 hours with heavy usage.
This watch can also be used as a sleep tracker and make sure that you are getting the right amount of rest relative to the amount of work you’re putting in.
6. Can I Put A Tracker On My Bike?
Yes, you can.
This is a great way of recovering a lost or stolen bike.
To do this, you’ll most likely need the tracker itself, which comes in the form of an accessory, and a phone.
The reason you’ll need a phone is that that’s where you can see the data that the tracker is storing and transmitting.
Not all trackers on the market perform up to par with the rest and expect to pay a bit more money for the higher quality trackers out there.
7. What Is The Best Watch For Strava?
By far, the best watch for Strava users is the Garmin Fenix 5.
It is considered by a lot of runners, bikers, and fitness enthusiasts as the best Strava-compatible smartwatch available today.
This watch has an interchangeable strap, a large and clear display, and even the option to store valuable training data and metrics from your activities.
It has three different biking profiles, these are biking, indoor cycling, and mountain biking.
That makes it Strava compatibility all the more impressive, and considering how well it performs, it’s no wonder this a favorite of outdoor athletes everywhere.
Mountain biking is an incredibly fun activity that can greatly improve one’s health.
And one of the best ways one can augment that experience is using a fitness tracker.
Gone are the days where you basically had to install a computer on your bike to do that, in this day and age, you can simply get that by using a smartwatch and your phone.
In fact, other times, it doesn’t even have to be a smartwatch.
But there is no singular best mountain biking watch, as everyone has different tastes, preferences, and needs.
And as long as the watch you’re using when on the trails can handle all your needs and suits your tastes, then you surely have the best mountain biking watch for you.
So if you’ve been on the hunt for a quality mountain biking watch and have been having a hard time, this list can help you narrow down the search.
All that’s left to do is make the choice.