Sports monitoring technology has been reaching new heights in last few years when it comes to precision and convenience of use. As new features and capabilities of sports watches have been added, prices have been steadily rising. Latest and greatest GPS watches can easily go over $600 nowadays, sometimes even more when you add accessories. Luckily, there are still available options that can be had for a lot less, so you can invest the remainder in what really moves you on the road, the bicycle or yourself.
Garmin has been the leader in the field, and it’s not known for many budget options. On the other had Garmin is one of the rare technology companies that offers older models alongside newer models. Our first entry on the list and the best option for budget conscious cyclist is Garmin Fenix 5 Plus.
Even though Garmin Fenix 5 Plus has been out since 2018 it still outperforms many of the newer models from other manufacturers. Why? Maybe because Fenix 5 was Garmin’s top of the line model at that time, so it was a great model to begin with. They also kept updating the software for it and the watch stayed relevant in the Garmin ecosystem. It doesn’t lack on the features or looks compared to newer models, in fact it still looks attractive and badass in 2021 as it did when it first came out. Some of the features include: GPS (battery will hold about 18 hours in GPS mode), Wrist based heart rate, Music (will store about 500 songs independently – no phone needed whatsoever), Strava Live Segments Supported (you can track and measure your achievements live in real time as you ride).
If you want a more rugged watch, that has better battery life than take a look at SUUNTO 9 Watch. This watch misses Strava Live Segments, but it has great battery life clocking in at 25 hours in gull GPS mode. It features Wrist Heart Rate, and it comes in some cool colors and different straps. We always liked the straps and colors available for Suunto watches and Suunto 9 is no different, if you choose to, you will make a fashion statement with this watch. This watch is also the cheapest on the list, so it is a great value for your money.
Last entry on our list of budget cycling GPS watches is Polar Vantage M. In our opinion this watch matches all the features in Garmin and Suunto watches, it doesn’t have live Strava segments, just like Suunto 9, but where this watch shines is the looks and style. We really like the looks and feel of this watch, it just sits comfortable on the wrist and it is very easy to use. Battery lasts 16 hours in full GPS mode and it has wrist heart rate.
All 3 of these watches are a great choice, so you can’t really go wrong with either of them, but each of them has its strengths and weaknesses. If Strava Live Segments is your priority then go with Garmin Fenix 5 Plus, otherwise Polar Vantage M and Suunto 9 are more than equal, if not in some regards better match for your needs.