TOP CYCLING & FITNESS GARMIN SMARTWATCHES – BUYERS GUIDE

Shaun George BOTS Guides, Reviews, Triathlon

The rapid technological advancements in recent years have led to popularity of smartwatches. Just as smartphones did, sport smartwatches also intend to simplify your life. Athletes of all kinds these days base a lot of their work off of data and certain parameters. Wouldn’t it be great to have access to all of this and more when you’re out running or cycling? We think so.

WHAT ARE SMARTWATCHES?

A smartwatch is essentially a wearable computing device that closely resembles a wristwatch or other time-keeping devices.

In addition to telling time, almost all smartwatches are Bluetooth-capable. You truly make the most out of your smartwatch when you pair it with your daily-use smartphone. When you do this, you can use the watch’s interface to initiate/receive phone calls from your smart device, read email and text messages, get a weather report, listen to music, dictate email or text messages.

Most smartwatches these days even offer GPS and heart rate tracking capabilities. Features such as these are especially beneficial for cyclists and runners who can track their distance, speed, times, averages, cadence, heart rate, etc. There’s a lot to offer that can vastly improve your life from a fitness aspect.

WHY GARMIN?

Garmin is one such super successful manufacturer of fitness trackers and smartwatches. You’ve probably heard of Garmin before – They’re an American multinational technology company founded way back in 1989.

Back then Garmin was only producing car or boat navigation devices. Now the company offers a full array of fitness trackers and smartwatches to complement its automotive and marine navigation devices. Garmin has wearables for a wide range of activities including aviation, hiking, maritime activities, and fitness activities. Some are big, some are small, some are powerful, and some are basic. No matter what you need, Garmin likely has a wearable to suit you.

These days Garmin is known for their outdoor watches with their rugged exteriors, multisport activity tracking, and abundance of navigation features. Each watch in the series has almost everything you would need for a successful trip into the backcountry.

FEATURES TO LOOK OUT FOR

Considering that you are going to use the watch primarily for cycling/running. The key features we’d recommend are a heart rate monitor and a GPS tracker – ideally used in conjunction with the Strava app.

It’s important that your smartwatch can accurately track your activities without you having to worry too much. Here is a list of features we thought that’d be important to look out for in your next smartwatch.

  • SENSORS – GPS/GLONASS, Bluetooth, HRM, Touchscreen. These are just a few of the sensors that you must look out for. GPS is a must-have feature that can make a world of a difference especially if you’re into running and/or cycling. Almost all smartwatches these days have a wrist-based heart rate monitor which does the job just fine. If you’re seeking a little more accuracy then you can look at a smartwatch that supports Bluetooth and ANT+ device pairing. This will open up a lot more in terms of your overall workout experience.
  • BATTERY – Good battery life is crucial, a smartwatch is expected at last at least five days of battery life before requiring charging. GPS watches tend to have a 2-3 day battery life under heavy usage but that’s something that is acceptable. More basic watches also come with a normal watch battery that can last up to 2 years after which the batteries can be replaced.
  • USER INTERFACE – Must be easy to use and should allow for quick and simple navigation around the device.
  • DURABILITY – A good durable watch body is important to ensure that the watch stays intact even after years of daily usage wear and tear.
  • STRAPS AND COLOURS – These are a personal preference but it’s worth buying one of a darker shade as constant usage can cause it to get dirty considerably fast.

TYPES OF SPORTS SMART WATCHES

1. ENTRY-LEVEL (FITNESS-FOCUSED LIFESTYLE WATCHES)

Most beginners would look to begin at this segment of entry-level watches especially if they’re just getting into the active lifestyle. These basic smartwatches have pretty good functionality too. It caters to most people’s requirements of calculating steps, distance, calories, averages, and maybe even heart rate data. Additionally, these watches will be able to track sleep data and provide you with access to your notifications (if connected to your phone).

If you’re usually into jogging or running short distances and maybe working out in gyms, these kinds of devices are great for you. It’s simple and easy to use. These watches also serve the purpose of being all-day causal wear too. You could wear it all the time and it would be quite useful to you – messages, incoming calls, calls, music, mails and a lot more could simply be viewed through your smartwatch.

Smartwatches in this category usually come in at around the Rs.6,000 – 12,000 range. Small variations such as screen size and touch screen capabilities are responsible for the slight price variations.

TOP PICK

GARMIN VIVOSMART 4

The Garmin Viovosmart 4 is their latest iteration of the famous, budget-friendly Vivosmart series watches. This watch is one of their cheapest offerings but also packs quite a punch.

It’s a super small, sleek looking fitness tracker that wouldn’t look out of place on your hand for 24/7 wear, especially if you opt for one of the more subtle colors.

The sensors inside this device are capable of keeping tabs on all kinds of things, including your fitness activities, your heart rate, all-day stress tracking, VO2 max, and Garmin’s Body Battery energy monitor. It tracks sports like, walks, runs, strength training, yoga, and even pool swims.

We would’ve loved to see the inclusion of GPS but at this price point it’s a device that you just cannot miss out on.

2. MID-RANGE (CYCLING/RUNNING/TRAITHLON)

These smartwatches would fit into the enthusiast level category – someone who is quite active and likes to keep a log of all of his/her activities on a regular basis.

When you enter the price range of about Rs.14,000 – Rs.40,000 you’re looking at a smartwatch that is very advanced and can offer a lot of features that you will find handy once you learn how to use them properly.

One of the biggest inclusions in this price range would be GPS and full colour screens (maybe even touch screen). GPS is a huge benefit for runners and cyclists as you can track, record and follow maps and ride/run routes. GPS systems are super accurate and will enable you to accurately track each and every ride/run of yours without any dependency on your smartphone.

You will also get super crisp, large, full-colour screens that will have the ability to display a lot of information at one glance. The need for ever taking out your phone will have completely gone over time.

Apart from this, the device itself will also be a lot more rugged and versatile. Water proofing will be of a much higher level so you don’t need to worry about going for a swim with it. Increased battery life, a super accurate Heart Rate monitor, etc. There’s a lot more bang for your buck at this price range – ideal for a amateur athlete.

TOP PICK

GARMIN FORERUNNER 235 

The new Forerunner 235 is personally one of our favourite mid-level fitness trackers. It’s thinner, lighter, and has a higher resolution display than that of its predessor the Forerunner 225. This watch adds all-day heart rate tracking, smartphone notifications, music controls and access to Garmin’s Connect IQ app store.

A super cool feature that we found was that even though this watch is primarily for running, you do have the ability to pair ANT+ speed and cadence sensors – that is super beneficial for the cyclists out there. The in-house wrist-based heart rate sensor is also accurate. The Forerunner 235 will last you about 11 hours with an active GPS signal. That time drops to under 9 hours if you use both GPS and GLONASS. Pretty good if you ask us!

At a price point of around Rs.20,500 we think that the Forerunner 235 is the perfect companion for a runner and/or a cyclist.

3. HIGH-END (ADVENTURE & MULTISPORT)

Smartwatches at the higher reaches are made to cater to the super serious athletes. These watches come loaded with some of the industry-leading features that have never been seen on smart devices before let alone smartwatches. Smartwatches here, fall in the Rs.50,000 – 1,10,000 range.

Most of the watches in this segment cater to the multi-sport user rather than an athlete who is devoted to only one sport. These are watches that can do everything and do it well.

In this segment, watches are usually made of much higher quality parts and materials. You get multi-app compatibility, better battery life, touch screen, and a plathora of different sensors that can actually be quite overwhelming. Cyclists, hikers, runners, swimmers, mountaineers and many more kinds of adventurists will find watches of this kinds very beneficial.

TOP PICKS

FORERUNNER 945

The Forerunner 945 is a premium GPS running/triathlon fitness tracker that offers you personalized statistical insights and data on your performance.

The flagship Forerunner 945 offers everything a serious runner/triathlete should need from a wearable and then some. You’ll probably never get to utalize all of its features, but if running is your focus and you’re training at a high level, then this is the watch for you. Even though it’s primary focus is on runners, the 945 is a very capable cycling GPS watch too.

What we found to be super helpful was its map routing accuracy. The watch comes with full-color maps, as well as the ability to seek and set running routes within your vicinity. You can set how far you want to go, and the map will provide some suggested routes. Great way to build up motivation.

The only drawback we found with this watch is it’s price. A tad bit too steep for some of up. That hefty pricetag however, is fully justifiable if you’re super serious about your sport.

FENIX 6X

If you’re looking for a rugged yet sophisticated, feature packed do-it-all kind of watch, the Fenix 6x is the watch for you. This military theamed multisport/lifestyle smartwatch is one of Garmin’s most feature loaded devices.

PulseOx, Race Time Prediction, Performance Condition, Training Effect, Aerobic Training Effect, Anaerobic Training Effect, Body Battery, heat acclimation and altitude acclimation, VO2 Max, etc. Just a handful of the premium features you get along with this beast of a watch. If any of those mentioned parameters mean anything to you then you can fully benefit from this watch.

The maps and navigational features of the Fenix range have always been one of the key tools that make the Fenix stand out from the other conventional fitnesstrackers.


That’s it folks! A few of our pointers and suggestions on some of the best Garmin wearable devices that suit your sporting requirements.

Most sports-oriented smartwatches these days, especially those by Garmin are capable of multisport tracking so there’s never a watch that doesn’t suit you. A few specific features may differ here and there – usually targeted at the serious athletes who need the most amount of data from their smartwatches.

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