What would the ultimate cycle computer be like? Well, first you need all of the functions and options that you would expect on high end cycle computers (speed, distance, times, cadence, altitude, heart rate monitors), then add GPS routing, mapping and tracking data...
Now, on top of that, many of today's bike GPS units include options to race a virtual competitor, store routes and course data and download all ride data to your home computer or to various internet sites to store, review and/or share with others!
The latest models for 2013 (the Edge 510 and Edge 810) also give you live online tracking (via a bluetooth connection to your smartphone) and the current weather (with wind speed and direction).
There is almost too much GPS information online and you can end up spending a large amount of your time learning about how GPS works or about tons of features that are really not that relevant to cycling.
Even if you are looking specifically at cycling GPS units, you will still need to consider what you really want from your GPS unit. For example, are you primarily interested in basic ride and workout information or are you interested in routes and navigation in addition to ride and workout information.
Recommended GPS Resources
When you are looking for the ultimate bike computer (a bicycle GPS unit) or even a handheld GPS for your bike, here are some good online resources for additional information and some of the lowest prices online.
Recommended Bicycle GPS Online Suppliers
GPS and GPS accessories at REI for a very good
selection of GPS receivers and bicycle GPS packages and plenty of information and help. REI gives you FREE Shipping on most of their GPS units (and accessories).
See GPS Receivers at Amazon for some of the lowest
prices, overall, and a good selection of bicycle GPS receivers. We recommend Amazon as a starting point (the specific models and series above link to Amazon) because they usually have the best deals but we also recommend the merchants below for comparison. Amazon also offers Free Shipping options.
Best Buy Bicycle GPS Systems
You can find the latest Garmin GPS models and bundled packages and most older models (all described below) via the link buttons above.
The links above and information below are designed to make the process easier for you. We have reviewed and summarized the best cycling GPS units and have included links to some of the best resources.
As for the top brand of GPS systems, we recommend Garmin. We have found the following Garmin GPS units to be the best and most popular Bicycle GPS systems with our fellow cyclists.
Note: When shopping for the Garmin Edge Bike Computers online you will not usually find much of a price difference for the unit alone (not including the bundles) at various online stores however some online merchants (like Garmin) charge for shipping while others offer Free Shipping.
Our selected online resources carry the best selection of Garmin GPS Bike Computers, Maps and related GPS accessories and also offer FREE Shipping.
Also Note: The "Bundled" GPS Bike Computer packages generally cost more than buying the GPS unit alone and the options that you want separately. Plus you can select exactly which options you want (HR monitor, cadence sensor, maps) rather than just getting what is include in the Bundled Package.
The Garmin Edge 510, Edge 500 (and the legacy Garmin Edge 305) Bike GPS units are reasonably priced and designed as advanced cycle computers, with GPS to capture ride data and for training and workouts more so than for navigation. Ride data can be uploaded and downloaded to your home computer or the internet.
The Garmin Edge 510 is the New and Latest Technology model for ride, training and workout data. This is a touch-screen model that includes an interface to your smart phone for current weather and real time tracking of your current location as you ride.
The Garmin Edge 500 is the older ride, training and workout model that includes most of the same features as the Edge 510 with the exception of the touch-screen and smart phone interface. The Garmin Edge 305 is the older Legacy model for ride, training and workout data.
The Garmin Edge 810, Edge 800 (and the legacy Garmin Edge 705) are the high-end GPS bike computers that can be used for ride, training and workout information and also include more advanced options for mapping, navigation and training.
The Edge 810 is Garmin's New and Latest Technology Touch Screen model with smart phone interface for live tracking and current weather (including wind speed and direction).
The Edge 800 is the older version for Routes and Advanced Navigation in addition to ride, training and workout data that includes the same features as the Edge 810 with the exception of the smart phone interface.
Note: The Edge 810 and Edge 800 give you the option to include additional mapping software (i.e. City Navigator, TOPO maps, Rails-to-Trails) and you may want to include a heart-rate monitor and/or cadence sensor but the "Bundled" versions of these units are usually much more expensive than base units with the individual options purchased separately.
The Garmin Edge 200 is the most affordable Bike GPS Computer from Garmin. When you want more advanced features than most magnet based bike computers but do not need all the extras of the higher end Garmin units (such as HR monitor, cadence sensor and barometric altimeter) the Edge 200 will be a good affordable choice.
The Garmin Edge 200 is the New and Latest Technology model for basic ride, training and workout data.
Handheld GPS units with Handlebar Clips
Not long ago bike GPS receivers were really just small portable handheld GPS units with functionality needed for hiking and cycling and often times with handlebar clips and/or GPS holsters that you could buy separately.
You can still use one of these devices independently of a normal cycle computer if you prefer, however today's bike computers come with GPS that is fully integrated with all of the cycle computer features that you need.
When your preference is the handheld or wrist band GPS units for cycling and/or mountain biking, see "Garmin GPS for the Trail ~ and Cycling" for a good selection of the Garmin eTrex, Montana and Forerunner units at the REI link below.
These GPS units can be used for multiple purposes (like hiking) in addition to cycling ~ just as bike GPS units can be used for other activities.
Background on GPS and Bike GPS systems
Understanding GPS is not "Rocket Science"... or on second thought it really is!
GPS (Global Positioning Systems) use a collection of satellites, owned by the US government, to provide highly accurate, positioning and navigation information by constantly transmitting the satellite's precise time and position in space. GPS receivers (the units that you buy) listen for the information received from multiple satellites and, from that, determine the precise location of the receiver, as well as how fast, how far and in what direction it is moving.
You can find much more detailed information on GPS technology online (Wikipedia will give you more technical GPS info than you will most likely ever need), but I will limit the definition here to the summary above and some of the benefits to bicycle GPS receivers.
The original bike GPS systems were just handheld GPS units with handlebar clips. Today's GPS functionality is completely integrated with many bike computers that you can get with a wide range of options (and at a wide range of prices) depending on your own particular needs.
The technology behind Global Positioning Systems is here to stay and a bicycle GPS unit can be a great accessory to have for your bike whether you are primarily a road, bike path or mountain bike rider.
Bicycle GPS units (or portable GPS devices in general), like most consumer electronics are getting better (and usually smaller and lighter) every year. Unfortunately, the hand held GPS unit that you get today (just like the PC, camcorder, digital camera, etc.) will probably be better and cheaper next year.
Does this mean that you should wait until next year? Probably not! It will be the exact same thing next year and you will not have gotten into it until a year later... besides, they are already very reasonable priced now.
My preference (and recommendation) with these types of things is to get at least a moderate mid-ranged or high end unit. I have tried the lower end models and found that, aside from not having many of the nicer features of the more expensive units, the cheaper ones can be much more difficult to operate and can be very frustrating.
Whether you choose a handheld GPS unit mounted on your handlebars (and available for use for other activities (hiking, boating, etc) or a fully integrated Bike Computer with GPS and all of the other options that meet your needs, we've researched a number of electronics and bike sites for online GPS sales and have found the web sites referenced here to have the best selections, lowest prices and to be helpful, informative and provide some good cycling GPS packages and GPS accessories.
Garmin Edge 800 Bike GPS Review - The Garmin Edge 800 is the top of the line, touch-screen GPS Bike Computer with mapping, navigation, programmable screens and external device integration.
Garmin Edge 500 Bicycle GPS Review - The Edge 500 is the mid-range GPS Bike Computer from Garmin and gives you the most features and benefits for the price.
Garmin Edge 200 Bike GPS Review - The Edge 200 is easy to use and the most affordable GPS Bike Computer from Garmin but does it give you all the features that you want or need?
Location, Location Location!