Written by Julie

What sports watch do I need for cycling?

Sports watches designed for cyclists have different functionalities. For instance, there are sports watches with heart rate sensors and watches that can be connected to a cadence sensor. Which watch is suitable for you depends on what you want to measure. In this article, I'll discuss the different options, so you'll know which cycling watch is right for you.

Why measure speed and distance traveled?

sports watch speed

You're on your bike and riding at a good pace. Without even being aware, you've already done quite a few kilometers. How many exactly though? If a sports watch has a distance measurement, it'll show you how many kilometers you've traveled. You decide to take it up a notch. Thanks to the speed sensor on the sports watch, you can see at 1 glance how many kilometers per hour you're going. That means you won't have to fumble with your phone when you're flying through a busy intersection at top speed.

Do I want to know my cadence?

sports watch cadence

Your cadence is the number of revolutions made by your feet when cycling. A cadence sensor is a separate sensor you can attach to your bike frame. When traveling long distances, it's better to make more revolutions by shifting to a lower gear. Because you'll have to use less effort than when cycling in a high gear, your muscles won't tire as quickly. Note that you can connect the sensor to your sports watch using a Bluetooth or ANT connection.

Do I want to see which routes I rode?

sports watch route

Because a GPS sensor determines your exact location, the measurements are more precise than that of a distance measurement and speed sensor. In addition to registering your speed and distance, the GPS sensor also tracks the route you take. After cycling, you can calmly go over where you've been by looking on your smartphone.

Do I want to monitor my heart rate?

sports watch heart rate

When you're cycling above your average heart rate for too long, there's a chance that you will hit the lactate threshold; a buildup of lactic acid in your leg muscles. When you ride longer routes or plan to enter races, that's something you want to avoid. During training, you want to know what your heart rate is at the time you get to your lactate threshold. Thanks to a heart rate sensor, you can see your heart rate with 1 glance at your watch. During long rides, try to keep your heart rate below that of the moment you reach your lactate threshold.

Do I want to see incoming calls and messages during exercise?

sports watch making calls

Different sports watches let you receive messages, phone calls, and emails. That allows you to see who's trying to reach you at 1 glance. That way, you won't have to stop for something unimportant. Except if it's your cycling buddy who wants to join you of course. Make sure you have your smartphone on you so it can connect to your watch via Bluetooth.


When you want to buy a sports watch for cycling, it's important to ask yourself what information exactly you want to read on it. Want to know the number of revolutions per minute your feet make? Go for a watch that can connect to a cadence sensor. Want to train more specifically so you can go further distances? You need a heart rate sensor. When you want to discover new routes, or are just curious about the distances you've traveled, make sure the watch has a GPS sensor.

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