November 27, 2019

7 Best Garmin Watches for Cycling 2020 (Review)

Best Overall

Garmin Forerunner 945

Premium Pick

Garmin Fenix 6 Pro

Vaue for Money

Garmin Forerunner 45

Serving buyer's guides for all the interested
November 27, 2019

Garmin—a brand well-known for its GPS devices—penetrated the smartwatch market after releasing its wearables technology line. For the average cyclist, finding a suitable fitness tracker can be quite difficult given the wide array of choices from the Garmin catalogue. In this guide, we explored the best Garmin watches for cycling for 2020.

Our team at the Spring Bar collated several of the highest-rated smartwatches from the Garmin wearable technology line. These particular smartwatches have several important functions that can come in handy for the regular biker: GPS services, pulse oximetry capability, and a heart rate tracker to boot. As all of the watches in this guide are from the Garmin brand, the specifications of most of them run along a similar track. 

As such, the major considerations for our choices revolved around their battery life, readability, and watch functions. These particular factors seem trivial at the onset, but these will determine how long the watch will last and how well it can do its job as a cycling watch.

In this guide, the Spring Bar compiled all the information necessary for one to make an informed purchase, tabling the basics, specifications and key features of each watch. We have also listed each one’s pros and cons in order to help you decide which Garmin watch for cycling best suits your needs. 

7 Best Garmin Watches for Cycling for 2020

Variants/Products/ItemsPriceKey Features
Garmin Forerunner 945$500.79- Moderately priced
- Has updated Garmin functions
- Pulse oximetry capable
Garmin Fenix 6 Pro$699.99- Most advanced smartwatch
- Best water resistance (100m)
Garmin Forerunner 45$193.99- Best value
- Basic watch functionalities
Garmin Forerunner 235$219.99- Highly affordable
- Basic cycling functionalities
Garmin Forerunner 645 Music$449.99- Music player
- Functions comparable to Forerunner 945
Garmin Venu$399.99- Beautiful AMOLED display
- Pulse oximetry capable
Garmin Vivosport$122.80- Affordable fitness tracker
- Easy to use

1 Garmin Forerunner 945

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The Forerunner 945 is one of the latest Forerunner models released, and its specifications rival even that of the Fenix models. It is capable of the most basic functionalities for cycling, and ups that with advanced training analysis and the capability to play music.

Its fibre-reinforced polymer casing and Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX crystal add the needed durability to withstand the roads. Not only does it have the basic Garmin additions of GPS/GLONASS/Galileo map tracking and the wrist-based heart rate system, but it also has the capability of measuring pulse oximetry. The Forerunner 945 is leaning toward the expensive side, but its capabilities definitely make it a watch worth buying.

The Basics:

Brand: Garmin
Model: Forerunner 945
Price: $500.79

Reference Number: 010-02063-00
Diameter: 47mm
Thickness: 13.7mm
Case Material: Fiber Reinforced Polymer
Water Resistance: 50m
Strap/Bracelet: Silicone
Crystal: Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX

Additional: 240 x 240 colored display resolution, Multiple outdoor modes, GPS/GLONASS/Galileo Watch, Garmin Elevate™ wrist-based heart rate monitor

The Movement/Specifications:

Caliber: Digital (Smartwatch) 
Functions: Hour, minute, seconds, date
Diameter: 47mm
Thickness: 13.7mm
Display Resolution: 240 x 240
Weight: 50g

Additional Details: 

  • GPS/GLONASS Watch
  • Colored display
  • Sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) display
  • Up to 2 weeks battery life (Smartwatch mode); 10 hours (GPS + Music Mode)
Key Features:

Brand: Garmin
Model: Forerunner 945
Price: $500.79

Reference Number: 010-02063-00
Diameter: 47mm
Thickness: 13.7mm
Case Material: Fiber Reinforced Polymer
Water Resistance: 50m
Strap/Bracelet: Silicone
Crystal: Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX

Additional: 240 x 240 colored display resolution, Multiple outdoor modes, GPS/GLONASS/Galileo Watch, Garmin Elevate™ wrist-based heart rate monitor

+PROS

  • Top-class smartwatch
  • Tough exterior (Reinforced polymer case + Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX crystal)
  • Capable of HRV stress test

-CONS

  • No power-saving mode

2 Garmin Fenix 6 Pro

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The Garmin Fenix 6 Pro lies on the more expensive spectrum of Garmin smartwatches. Hosting all of the features that the Forerunner 945 has, the Fenix 6 Pro is definitely the premium pick of Garmin cycling watches. This beautiful piece is both classy and sporty, and contains a better display than the Forerunner 945.

Leaning towards the heavy side, the added weight makes up for it in durability and added water resistance. A big difference between the Fenix 6 Pro and the Forerunner 945 is its power-saving mode, which makes the battery last up to almost 48 hours in this mode. The Fenix 6 model is available in a Sapphire crystal setting and a choice of a wider or shorter case diameter.

The Basics:

Brand: Garmin
Model: Fenix 6 Pro
Price: $699.99

Reference Number: 010-02158-01
Diameter: 47mm
Thickness: 14.7mm
Case Material: Fiber-reinforced polymer with metal rear cover
Water Resistance: 100m
Strap/Bracelet: Silicone
Crystal: Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX

Additional: 260 x 260 colored display resolution, Multiple outdoor modes, GPS/GLONASS/Galileo Watch, Garmin Elevate™ wrist-based heart rate monitor, Compatible with Android and IOS

The Movement/Specifications:

Caliber: Digital (Smartwatch) 
Functions: Hour, minute, seconds, date
Diameter: 47mm
Thickness: 14.7mm
Display Resolution: 260 x 260
Weight: 72 – 83g

Additional Details: 

  • GPS/GLONASS/Galileo Watch
  • Colored display
  • Sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) display
  • Up to 2 weeks battery life (Smartwatch mode); 10 hours (GPS + Music Mode)
Key Features:

Brand: Garmin
Model: Fenix 6 Pro
Price: $699.99

Reference Number: 010-02158-01
Diameter: 47mm
Thickness: 14.7mm
Case Material: Fiber-reinforced polymer with metal rear cover
Water Resistance: 100m
Strap/Bracelet: Silicone
Crystal: Corning® Gorilla® Glass DX

Additional: 260 x 260 colored display resolution, Multiple outdoor modes, GPS/GLONASS/Galileo Watch, Garmin Elevate™ wrist-based heart rate monitor, Compatible with Android and IOS

+PROS

  • Has a power-saving mode
  • Better water resistance (100m compared to usual 50m)
  • Capable of HRV stress test

-CONS

  • Expensive
  • Very comparable to Forerunner 945

3 Garmin Forerunner 45

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The Garmin Forerunner 45 is a highly affordable yet very reliable Garmin smartwatch. Released in April 2019, the Forerunner 45 is highly comparable to the more popular Forerunner 235. The major difference between the two would be the 45’s smaller frame and slightly lower battery life than its predecessor. The 45, however, holds more functionalities than the 235.

The Forerunner 45 has Galileo sensors and is capable of all-day stress tracking, just two of the other functionalities that the 235 does not have. In terms of cycling functions, however, the two watches are hardly any different, with both being very basic in that regard. Because of these differences between the two, the 45 has made it to be the most value-for-money pick that our team can recommend.

The Basics:

Brand: Garmin
Model: Forerunner 45
Price: $188.99

Reference Number: 010-02156-05
Width: 42mm
Thickness: 11.4mm
Case Material: Plastic
Water Resistance: 50m
Strap/Bracelet: Silicone
Crystal: Chemically Strengthened Glass

Additional: 208 x 208 colored display resolution, Multiple outdoor modes, GPS/GLONASS/Galileo Watch, Garmin Elevate™ wrist-based heart rate monitor, Compatible with Android and IOS

The Movement/Specifications:

Caliber: Digital (Smartwatch) 
Functions: Hour, minute, seconds, date
Width: 42mm
Thickness: 11.4mm
Display Resolution: 208 x 208
Weight: 36g

Additional Details: 

  • GPS/Glonass/Galileo Watch
  • Colored Display
  • Sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) display
  • Up to 7 days battery life (Smartwatch mode); 13 hours (GPS)
Key Features:

Brand: Garmin
Model: Forerunner 45
Price: $188.99

Reference Number: 010-02156-05
Width: 42mm
Thickness: 11.4mm
Case Material: Plastic
Water Resistance: 50m
Strap/Bracelet: Silicone
Crystal: Chemically Strengthened Glass

Additional: 208 x 208 colored display resolution, Multiple outdoor modes, GPS/GLONASS/Galileo Watch, Garmin Elevate™ wrist-based heart rate monitor, Compatible with Android and IOS

+PROS

  • Highly affordable
  • All-day stress tracking
  • Galileo sensor

-CONS

  • No higher cycling functionalities
  • Can’t play music on its own

4 Garmin Forerunner 235

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The Garmin Forerunner 235 is lauded by many users and reviews to be one of the most value-for-money Garmin smartwatches in the market. Cheap, durable and efficient, this smartwatch released in 2015 is still garnering attention from people looking for a reliable watch.

Hosting the basics of Garmin technology like the GPS/GLONASS tracking and Elevate™ wrist-based heart rate monitor, the Forerunner 235 is a simple, affordable and straightforward Garmin wearable watch. Unlike the Fenix 6 and the Forerunner 945, its cycling mode only holds the basic functionalities and tracking. Another drawback is that it can’t play music, although it can control your smartphone music via Bluetooth. Unfortunately, it is currently in limited production to make way for newer models.

The Basics:

Brand: Garmin
Model: Forerunner 235
Price: $219.99

Reference Number: 010-03717-54
Diameter: 45mm
Thickness: 11.7mm
Case Material: Plastic
Water Resistance: 50m
Strap/Bracelet: Silicone
Crystal: Chemically strengthened glass

Additional: 215 x 180 colored display resolution, Multiple outdoor modes, GPS/GLONASS Watch, Garmin Elevate™ wrist-based heart rate monitor, Compatible with Android and IOS

The Movement/Specifications:

Caliber: Digital (Smartwatch) 
Functions: Hour, minute, seconds, date
Diameter: 45mm
Thickness: 11.7mm
Display Resolution: 215 x 180
Weight: 42g

Additional Details: 

  • GPS/GLONASS Watch
  • Colored display
  • Sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) display
  • Up to 9 days battery life (Smartwatch mode); 11 hours (GPS Mode)
Key Features:

Brand: Garmin
Model: Forerunner 235
Price: $219.99

Reference Number: 010-03717-54
Diameter: 45mm
Thickness: 11.7mm
Case Material: Plastic
Water Resistance: 50m
Strap/Bracelet: Silicone
Crystal: Chemically strengthened glass

Additional: 215 x 180 colored display resolution, Multiple outdoor modes, GPS/GLONASS Watch, Garmin Elevate™ wrist-based heart rate monitor, Compatible with Android and IOS

+PROS

  • Very affordable
  • Has the basic Garmin functionalities

-CONS

  • Watch model in limited production
  • Can’t play its own music from the watch

5 Garmin Forerunner 645 Music

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The Garmin Forerunner 645 Music is a strong alternative to the Forerunner 945, and marginally cheaper than our team’s best pick. It sports a stainless steel bezel, and its smaller and lighter frame make for a sleek and classy business look. The biggest difference between the two watches would be 645’s missing Pulse Ox feature.

A huge drawback that would make the Forerunner 945 a better option than the Forerunner 645 would be the 645’s significantly lower battery life, as well as its bigger music storage. Despite this, its cycling functionalities are almost at par with the newer releases, and would definitely be a good choice for cyclists who are seeking a cheaper yet efficient alternative.

The Basics:

Brand: Garmin
Model: Forerunner 645 Music
Price: $449.99

Reference Number: 010-01863-20
Diameter: 42.5mm
Thickness: 13.5mm
Case Material: Stainless Steel
Water Resistance: 50m
Strap/Bracelet: Silicone
Crystal: Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3

Additional: 240 x 240 colored display resolution, Multiple outdoor modes, GPS/GLONASS/Galileo Watch, Garmin Elevate™ wrist-based heart rate monitor, Compatible with Android and IOS

The Movement/Specifications:

Caliber: Digital (Smartwatch) 
Functions: Hour, minute, seconds, date
Diameter: 42.5mm
Thickness: 13.5mm
Display Resolution: 240 x 240
Weight: 42.2g

Additional Details: 

  • GPS/GLONASS/Galileo Watch
  • Colored display
  • Sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) display
  • Up to 7 days battery life (Smartwatch mode); 5 hours (GPS + Music Mode)
Key Features:

Brand: Garmin
Model: Forerunner 645 Music
Price: $449.99

Reference Number: 010-01863-20
Diameter: 42.5mm
Thickness: 13.5mm
Case Material: Stainless Steel
Water Resistance: 50m
Strap/Bracelet: Silicone
Crystal: Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3

Additional: 240 x 240 colored display resolution, Multiple outdoor modes, GPS/GLONASS/Galileo Watch, Garmin Elevate™ wrist-based heart rate monitor, Compatible with Android and IOS

+PROS

  • Classy steel design
  • At par with Garmin’s latest cycling functionalities
  • Case and crystal material are durable and tough

-CONS

  • No pulse oximetry measure
  • Limited music storage (compared to Forerunner 945)

6 Garmin Venu

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The Garmin Venu is definitely one of the more casual watches to be included in this list. Aside from being quite affordable, the Venu’s beautiful AMOLED touch-screen display makes it a good choice for a casual watch. Its Pulse Ox and cycling features also make it a highly competitive sports watch.

The Venu’s cycling features are a little below the capabilities of the Forerunner 645 Music, but its Pulse Ox function can make it a better choice. The biggest drawback would be in its AMOLED screen, which could make it difficult to see under intense sunlight as compared to the other Garmin watches’ sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) display. The Venu is definitely a better choice for those looking for a more casual piece.

The Basics:

Brand: Garmin
Model: Venu
Price: $399.99

Reference Number: 010-02173-11
Diameter: 43.2mm
Thickness: 12.4mm
Case Material: Fiber-reinforced polymer with polymer rear cover
Water Resistance: 50m
Strap/Bracelet: Silicone
Crystal: Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3

Additional: 390 x 390 AMOLED colored display resolution, Stainless steel bezel, Multiple outdoor modes, GPS/GLONASS/Galileo Watch, Garmin Elevate™ wrist-based heart rate monitor, Compatible with Android and IOS

The Movement/Specifications:

Caliber: Digital (Smartwatch) 
Functions: Hour, minute, seconds, date
Diameter: 43.2mm
Thickness: 12.4mm
Display Resolution: 390 x 390
Weight: 46.3g

Additional Details: 

  • GPS/GLONASS/Galileo Watch
  • AMOLED Colored display
  • Touch-screen Capable
  • Up to 5 days battery life (Smartwatch mode); 6 hours (GPS + Music Mode)
Key Features:

Brand: Garmin
Model: Venu
Price: $399.99

Reference Number: 010-02173-11
Diameter: 43.2mm
Thickness: 12.4mm
Case Material: Fiber-reinforced polymer with polymer rear cover
Water Resistance: 50m
Strap/Bracelet: Silicone
Crystal: Corning® Gorilla® Glass 3

Additional: 390 x 390 AMOLED colored display resolution, Stainless steel bezel, Multiple outdoor modes, GPS/GLONASS/Galileo Watch, Garmin Elevate™ wrist-based heart rate monitor, Compatible with Android and IOS

+PROS

  • Very high display resolution
  • Affordable compared to other Garmin Watches

-CONS

  • Low battery life
  • AMOLED screen may make it difficult to see under intense sunlight

7 Garmin Vivosport

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The Garmin Vivosport is a smart fitness tracker that covers all the basic functions of a Garmin smartwatch. The Garmin Elevate™ wrist-based heart rate monitor and its battery longevity bring this model a cut above most fitness trackers. Its spartan silicone design makes for a good all-around sporty look.

As a smartwatch, the Vivosport leaves much to be desired. However, its very basic functionalities contribute to its very low price. Its cycling mode is limited to one cycling profile and no further advanced functionalities. Despite this, the Vivosport is an economical choice for those looking for a basic fitness tracker.

The Basics:

Brand: Garmin
Model: Vivosport
Price: $122.80

Reference Number: 010-01789-11
Width: 21mm
Thickness: 10.9mm
Case Material: Polymer
Water Resistance: 50m
Strap/Bracelet: Silicone
Crystal: Chemically Strengthened Glass

Additional: 72 x 144 colored display resolution, Multiple outdoor modes, GPS Watch, Garmin Elevate™ wrist-based heart rate monitor, Compatible with Android and IOS

The Movement/Specifications:

Caliber: Digital (Smartwatch) 
Functions: Hour, minute, seconds, date
Width: 21mm
Thickness: 10.9mm
Display Resolution: 72 x 144
Weight: 24.1 – 27g

Additional Details: 

  • GPS Watch
  • Colored Display
  • Sunlight-visible, transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) display
  • Up to 7 days battery life (Smartwatch mode); 8 hours (GPS)
Key Features:

Brand: Garmin
Model: Vivosport
Price: $122.80

Reference Number: 010-01789-11
Width: 21mm
Thickness: 10.9mm
Case Material: Polymer
Water Resistance: 50m
Strap/Bracelet: Silicone
Crystal: Chemically Strengthened Glass

Additional: 72 x 144 colored display resolution, Multiple outdoor modes, GPS Watch, Garmin Elevate™ wrist-based heart rate monitor, Compatible with Android and IOS

+PROS

  • Simple and easy to use fitness tracker
  • Highly affordable
  • Lightweight

-CONS

  • No advanced cycling features

Best Garmin Watches for Cycling Buyer’s Guide and FAQs

Key Features to Consider In Buying a Garmin Watch for Cycling

In this guide, we compared the best options that fall under Garmin Watches for Cycling in terms of battery life, readability, and watch functionalities.

  • Battery Life: The battery life of the watch is one of the biggest factors in choosing a Garmin watch. The battery life would be one of the prime markers of how long you can stay on the biker’s trail. Without a good battery life, your watch (and your corresponding cycling data) might not be as reliable, as it could die on you at any time. 
  • Readability: The screen display and its readability is another key factor when deciding on a cycling watch. Although the display resolution is one thing, the capability of seeing it in intense sunlight or the darkness of shade would be another variable to consider in your watch. Having poor visibility in your watch would render it useless when you’re out on the road.
  • Watch Functionalities: The differing watch functionalities are definitely highly important when considering a cycling watch. As all the watches on this guide are from the same brand, a large range of their functionalities would be the same across watches.

In this guide, as all watches contain Garmin’s Elevate™ wrist-based heart rate monitor, the capacity to check your heart rate was no longer a major factor. Instead, the functionalities that were taken into consideration were the capability of measuring stress, how advanced the cycling mode options are, and the capability for pulse oximetry.

  • Music Playing Capability: Although seemingly a minor consideration, a cycling watch’s capability to play music can also be considered a factor in choosing a watch. As many athletes prefer to have music playing in order to maintain a rhythm, a watch that can play its own music outside the realm of your cellphone would definitely be a huge bonus. 

Why use a Smartwatch or a Fitness Tracker?

Using a smartwatch or a fitness tracker is definitely not considered a necessity for most people, but having one during exercise or playing sports is a definite boon on the user. Having a device to track activities is a direct measure of one’s progress, and can point to how to improve moving forward. With those results in hand, it can also be used to track one’s health and capabilities, which can ultimately bring better results in the future.

What is pulse oximetry?

Pulse oximetry is a non-invasive test that measures the amount of oxygen saturated in the blood. This result determines how well oxygen is sent throughout the parts of your body. Normal readings range between 95 to 100 and anything lower than 90 is considered to be a low reading.

Garmin’s Pulse Ox capability is a definite plus for watches, as you can monitor your body’s oxygen saturation on a regular basis. This way, you can determine how your body reacts to different situations and can determine how healthy you are.

I’ve just started cycling, what’s the simplest Garmin watch I can start with?

The Garmin Forerunner 945 is definitely the best overall pick because of its advanced functionalities and relatively attainable price range. However, many beginner cyclists may not be willing to shelve out a huge investment in a smartwatch just yet and would be looking for a cheaper alternative. As such, the best Garmin watches for beginner cyclists would be the Garmin Forerunner 45 and the Garmin Vivosport.

The Forerunner 45 is the most value for money choice we have on our list, and its functionalities are enough to get a beginner cyclist started. It’s good battery life and GPS/GLONASS/Galileo tracking are definitely a worthy choice for a starter watch.

The Vivosport fitness tracker, on the other hand, contains the basic of the basics of a Garmin smartwatch. Its very straightforward functionality puts it as a primary choice for athletes who don’t want to get things too complicated.