The Best MTB Glasses of 2024 | Expert Reviews & Ratings

Selecting the best MTB glasses involves considering factors such as coverage, lens type, frame design, and fit. It’s essential to try on different glasses to ensure a proper fit and evaluate the comfort and stability of the frame materials.
mountain bike glasses

If you’re someone who loves mountain biking, you know that squinting against the sun or battling rogue bugs can really cramp your style. Fear not, because 2024’s MTB glasses lineup is here to save the day with performance, comfort, lens quality and durability – it’s like the superhero upgrade your eyes have been waiting for!

In this blog post, we’ll sift through the coolest mountain bike sunglasses of the year, dive into lens technologies, and even sprinkle in some expert tips on pampering your precious eyewear. Ready to gear up for an adventure that won’t leave you picking bugs out of your teeth? Let’s go!

Short Summary

     

      • Expert-recommended MTB glasses for 2024 include Smith Wildcat, Oakley Sutro Prizm, Tifosi Sledge and more.

      • Optical technology such as photochromic, polarized & mirrored lenses should be selected based on individual riding conditions.

      • When purchasing, consider coverage, lens type, peripheral vision & frame design when choosing the best mountain bike sunglasses.

      • Maintain with anti-fog spray and store in a protective case.

    What are the best MTB Glasses for 2024?

    A pair of mountain bike glasses with interchangeable lenses for different light conditions

    When it comes to mountain biking, the sunglasses you choose are really important for both your performance and safety. The best mountain bike sunglasses offer coverage, amplify your vision and provide a comfortable fit so that your eyes are well protected from harmful UV rays, dirt and wind.

    So what are the top-rated MTB glasses for 2024? We’ve put together a list of five options that each are a fine balance of performance, comfort and durability in their unique way. Our top choices for the year include the Smith Wildcat, Oakley Sutro Prizm, Tifosi Sledge 100% S2 and Rudy Project Spinshield. These sunglasses have been thoughtfully selected based on recommendations and extensive testing to ensure you head out on your off road adventures wearing a premium pair of shades.

    Smith Wildcat

    Pros & Cons

    Pros:

    • Excellent coverage and comfortable fit

    • Sturdy and flexible frame & scratch resistant lens

    • UV protection and remarkable lens clarity

    Cons:

    • Potential dust protection concerns

    Key Benefits

    • ChromaPop color-blocking technology for excellent coverage

    • High-quality frame with sturdy yet flexible construction

    • Megol-coated arms for a secure grip regardless of head shape

    • UV protection and remarkable clarity in lenses

    Pricing: $205.73

    The Smith Wildcat are top-performing MTB shades that boast excellent coverage, sharp optics, and a high-quality frame, making it a favorite among riders. What sets the Wildcat apart is its ChromaPop color blocking technology, providing excellent coverage and a comfortable fit. The frame is sturdy yet flexible, and the arms are coated in a soft, bio-based thermoplastic known as Megol, ensuring a secure grip. Additionally, the lens used in the Smith Wildcat protects against harmful UV rays and offers remarkable clarity and peripheral vision.

    Although the Smith Wildcat performs well in various conditions, it’s worth noting that dust protection may be an area of concern. Nevertheless, the Wildcat is recommended for riders of all levels and terrains, with some models featuring a Zeiss lens for enhanced optical performance. If you’re looking for a reliable and comfortable pair of MTB glasses, the Smith Wildcat is an excellent choice.

    Oakley Sutro Prizm

    Pros & Cons

    Pros:

    • Excellent optical clarity and generous coverage

    • Stylish design and wind protection

    • Prizm optics with interchangeable options – Prizm technology enhances colors and contrast to provide enhanced detail that help in fast-paced sports such as MTB

    Cons:

    • May not fit wider heads as comfortably

    • Potential concerns with sweat management

    Key Benefits

    • Stylish design with Zeiss lens for great optical clarity

    • Ample coverage and large field of view for trail focus

    • Prizm Road lens with 20% VLT, some models with interchangeable lenses

    Pricing: $119.99 (price may vary depending on lens choice)

    The Oakley Sutro Prizm is not only stylish but also offers great optical clarity thanks to the quality Zeiss lens, making it a popular choice among riders. These sunglasses provide ample coverage and a large field of vision, ensuring that you can focus on the trail ahead. The lens is a Prizm Road lens with a 20% VLT and some models come with three interchangeable options for different lighting conditions.

    One of the potential drawbacks of the Oakley Sutro Prizm sunglasses is that they may not fit wider heads as comfortably, and they are not as effective in managing sweat as some other alternatives. However, their excellent optical clarity, generous coverage, and wind protection make them a solid choice for riders who prioritize style and performance.

    Tifosi Sledge

    Pros & Cons

    Pros:

    • Maximum coverage and effective protection

    • Versatile choice with three included lens options

    • Affordable price for top-notch performance

    Cons:

    • Lens may experience fogging

    • Lens swapping can be challenging

    Key Benefits

    • Comfortable fit, especially for larger faces

    • Maximum coverage and ergonomic face-fit

    • Three interchangeable lenses for various lighting conditions

    • Effective protection against wind and dust

    Pricing: $79.95

    If you’re looking for a cost-effective choice the Tifosi Sledge is a more-than-solid option. These sunglasses provide excellent vision and effective protection against wind and dust giving you top notch performance at an affordable price. With three lenses included you’ll always have the lens for all daytime lighting conditions.

    Although its important to mention that the lens may fog up when you stop and the process of swapping them can be a bit challenging, these are quite minor issues. Overall, the Tifosi Sledge earns its place on this list for its quality and value, and they are ideal for cyclists who want high quality eyewear without exceeding their budget.

    100% S2

    A close-up image of the 100% S2 mtb glasses designed for mountain biking enthusiasts.

    Pros & Cons

    Pros:

    • Excellent breathability and fog prevention

    • Impressive clarity and comfortable fit

    • Clear lens included for low light conditions

    Cons:

    • Limited dust protection and airflow behind the lens

    Key Benefits

    • Large, high-coverage lens with excellent breathability and fog prevention

    • Impressive clarity and comfortable fit

    • Clear lens included for riding in low light

    Pricing: $149.02 (price may vary depending on options)

    The 100% S2 MTB glasses feature a large, high-coverage lens with excellent breathability and fog prevention, making them ideal for riders who prioritize performance and comfort. These shades offer great coverage and impressive clarity, providing a comfortable fit and a clear lens included for dimmer light conditions.

    One potential issue with 100% S2 sunglasses is limited dust protection and airflow behind the lens. However, their high-performance design and focus on comfort make them a popular choice for riders who want the best of both worlds.

    Rudy Project Spinshield

    Pros & Cons

    Pros:

    • Comprehensive eye protection and clear vision

    • Comfortable, sticky nose bridge

    • Stylish design and lightweight construction

    Cons:

    • No polarized lens options

    Key Benefits

    • High-quality MTB sunglasses with excellent coverage and clear vision

    • Comfortable, sticky nose bridge for a secure fit

    • Wide wraparound lens for comprehensive eye protection

    • Lightweight design and cutting-edge look

    Pricing: $174.99 (price may vary depending on options)

    The Spinshield, by Rudy Project is a top notch pair of sunglasses for MTB riders that is loved for its coverage and crystal-clear vision and a snug nose bridge. With its lens that wraps around it provides eye protection while still maintaining a lightweight design and a modern look.

    These sunglasses not only offer style, they also come with a lifetime guarantee ensuring they will accompany you on many rides to come. The Rudy Project Spinshield is the choice, for those seeking performance and comfort in their MTB sunglasses.

    Lens Technology and Performance

    A person wearing mountain bike glasses with photochromic lenses that adjust to different light conditions

    When it comes to lens technologies, it’s important to understand how they differ and how they can affect your riding experience. In this section we’ll explore the optical technologies used in MTB sunglasses, including photochromic polarized and mirrored lens optoins.

    Each type of lens has its advantages and disadvantages. So it’s crucial to consider your riding conditions and personal preferences when choosing the right lens technology for your MTB adventures. Now lets delve deeper into these lens technologies and see how they can enhance your MTB experience.

     

    Photochromic Lenses

    Photochromic tech has revolutionized the game for mountain bikers who encounter varying conditions. This type of lens automatically adapts its tint based on the intensity of the lighting environment, ensuring quality vision and protection. This eliminates the need to switch out a lens or carry different pairs of glasses during your ride.

    The advantages of using a photochromic lens are numerous, including improved contrast, enhanced visibility and reduced eye strain when faced with changing conditions. If you frequently ride in fluctuating lighting situations it might be worth considering investing in a pair of MTB sunglasses equipped with a photochromic lens for a versatile riding experience.

     

    Polarized Lenses

    Polarized optics in sunglasses is specifically designed to minimize glare and enhance contrast, which makes them perfect, for bright conditions. They work by blocking light while allowing vertical light to pass through greatly improving visibility on trails and reducing eye strain caused by sunlight.

    Polarization is particularly beneficial for mountain bikers who often ride in environments where glare can be a problem. If you frequently find yourself squinting or struggling to see while out on a ride, polarized lenses could greatly enhance your riding experience.

     

    Mirrored Lenses

    Mirrored lens technology features a reflective coating that reduces glare and provides additional protection from bright sunlight. These lenses are available in various tints and can improve contrast, making them ideal for riders who frequently encounter intense sunlight on their rides.

    While mirrored sunglasses typically come with a higher price point, they can be a worthwhile investment for mountain bikers who consistently ride in bright conditions and wish to prioritize eye protection and visibility. If you often ride in sunny environments, consider adding a pair of shades with mirrored lenses to your gear collection.

     

    Comfort and Fit

    A top-notch lens is only as good as the comfort and fit of the glasses that hold it. That’s why it’s crucial to find MTB glasses that are comfortable, lightweight, and well-ventilated, ensuring the lens quality does not go to waste. Factors such as adjustability, nose pads, and temple grips can significantly impact the overall comfort and fit of your MTB glasses.

    When selecting a pair of mountain bike sunglasses, look for a rubber nose piece with adjustable features, ear stocks with adequate length that do not obstruct the helmet’s retention system, and grippers on the ear stocks. By considering these factors, you can ensure that your MTB glasses not only protect your eyes but also provide a comfortable and secure fit throughout your ride.

     

    Frame Design and Features

    A person wearing mountain bike glasses with frame design and features

    When it comes to mountain bike sunglasses you’ll find numerous styles of frames to choose from. Half frame, full frame and frameless options. Each design has its advantages and disadvantages so it’s important to think about your riding preferences and requirements, before deciding on a frame style.

    Frame and full frame designs are generally known for providing stability and durability. On the other hand, frameless options offer a minimalist appearance while minimizing any obstruction to your field of vision. Moreover, some frames come with multiple lenses well as adjustable nose bridges and arms allowing you to customize the fit according to your needs and adapt to various lighting conditions.

    By taking these factors into consideration you can know ahead of purchase the types of frames that suit you best, allowing you to select a pair of MTB Shades with a frame design that perfectly matches your riding style and specific needs.

     

    Lens Swapping and Customization

    A person wearing mountain bike glasses with lens swapping and customization

    Certain mountain bike glasses offer the convenience of lenses and customization, allowing you to assemble your eyewear according to conditions and personal preferences. This feature is especially beneficial for riders who frequently encounter chageable lighting conditions or have vision requirements.

    When choosing mountain bike glasses that have the capability for lens swapping, it’s important to ensure that the process of changing lenses is straightforward and that the optical clarity is exceptional. By selecting a pair of glasses that allow for easy lens swapping and customization you can enjoy the versatility and adaptability of your eyewear during all your MTB escapades.

    Budget-Friendly Options

    Not everyone wants to spend a fortune on sunglasses for their mountain bike adventures, and luckily there are options that still deliver good performance and value. The Madison Crypto and Toolfreak Spoggles are both choices for MTB glasses that won’t break the bank.

    While these budget-friendly options may not have all the features of expensive models they still provide sufficient protection and performance, for riders on a budget. By considering your needs and budget, you can easily find a pair of MTB glasses that offer a combination of performance, comfort and affordability.

    How to Choose the Right MTB Glasses

    Selecting the best MTB glasses involves considering factors such as coverage, lens type, frame design, and fit. It’s essential to try on different glasses to find a proper fit and evaluate the comfort and stability of the frame materials. Don’t just settle on the first pair that feels good, you need to try on a good selection of eyewear and compare them.

    Additionally, consider the lens technology that will best suit your riding conditions and preferences. Amber or brown lenses are ideal for a wider range of conditions, and having one lens for brighter conditions and another for darker conditions can be beneficial.

    By taking these factors into account, you can choose the right pair of MTB glasses that will enhance your riding experience and protect your eyes.

    Expert Tips for Maintaining Your MTB Glasses

    To keep your MTB glasses in good condition and performing at their best it’s crucial to take care of them. One important step is using a fog spray to prevent fogging and maintain clear vision. Additionally cleaning the glasses with dishwashing soap and a soft cloth will help keep them free from dirt and grime, and preserve the lenses.

    When you’re not using your MTB glasses make sure to store them in a case to avoid any damage. It’s also important to keep them away from prolonged sunlight or extreme temperatures. By following these recommendations you can ensure that your MTB glasses are long-lasting and provide optimal performance during your rides.

    Did You Know?: 6% of cycling injuries are eye related?

    Summary of the Best MTB Glasses of 2024

    In conclusion, finding the perfect pair of MTB glasses for your adventures involves considering factors such as coverage, lens technology, frame design, and fit. With so many options available in 2024, you’re sure to find a pair that meets your needs and enhances your riding experience. By following the tips and advice provided in this blog post, you can confidently select the best MTB glasses and enjoy a clear, comfortable, and protected ride, no matter where your mountain biking adventures take you.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Are all mountain bike (MTB) glasses compatible, with helmets?

    In general MTB glasses are compatible with helmets. However it is recommended to try them on to ensure a fit and avoid any discomfort. Some helmets will make uncomforatable and potentiall damaging contact with your shes depending on both their shapes. Checking before buying will make sure that the glasses fit comfortably and securely with your helmet.

    Is it okay to use sunglasses for mountain bike riding?

    While regular sunglasses may offer some protection it is advisable to invest in eyeweasr specifically designed for the demands of MTB riding.

    How should I clean my MTB glasses without scratching the lenses?

    To clean your MTB glasses without scratching the lenses use a cloth along with dishwashing soap or a cleaning solution. Gently wipe them to avoid any scratches. Afterward, rinse the glasses thoroughly with water to remove any residue from soap.

    Are there budget-friendly MTB glasses that still provide performance?

    Absolutely! There are budget options for MTB glasses that offer good performance. Madison Crypto and Toolfreak Spoggles are two choices for riders on a budget.

    Can I use any lenses in all riding conditions?

    Leneses with photochromic tech offer fantastic versatility for varying light conditions. However, it is still important to consider your riding environment and personal preferences when selecting lenses.

    When selecting a lens, it’s important to take into account the kind of terrain you’ll be riding on how much time you spend in the sun and the light conditions you will come across. Pay attention to the tint of the lens and the level of protection it offers.

    •  
    Best Garmin For Mountain Biking: Computers

    GPS bike computers are a varied bunch. Your mobile phone can be a bike computer. There isn’t much that can match a dedicated GPS bike computer mounted on your bars though, and Garmin’s pedigree speaks for itself.

    There is significant overlap in functionality with their wearables, but the benefits of Garmin’s bike computers are worth considering:

      • Much larger screen real estate
      • Information more clearly presented
      • Offers a few features that aren’t possible on watch displays (eg: Climb Pro)
      • Offer a disconnect from data and analysis when you’re off your bike, which is very important to some riders
      • Consistently accurate readings/recording and performance monitoring when paired with a compatible heart-rate monitor (HRM), while a watch on the wrist can experience hiccups while on rough MTB trails
      • Full accessibility to the advanced features available from modern GPS units – the watches are catching up but there still is a slight advantage to having a bike computer

    The above is why many consider a cycling computer to be their go-to GPS device for mountain biking. Let’s see what they have to offer and what has put the Garmin Edge line-up among the best bike computers you can find today.

    Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar

    Best Garmin For Mountain Biking: Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar - front and back

    In a Nutshell

    Price: Solar – $749 | Non-solar – $599

    Launched in 2022, the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar is the creme de la creme of the company’s bike computer stable and, for Garmin aficionados, the best in the cycling world at the time of writing. And they have a compelling argument for that claim.

    The 1040 launched with a screen that matched that of its predecessor, the Edge 1030 (which is still well worth considering among bike computers of any brand), at 3.5 inches but comes with an overhauled user interface (UI) and some significant strides in terms of functionality when used out in the real world.

    Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar: Side Profile

    Inside Look

    Selected specifications and characteristics:

      • Solar model has 64GB storage, non-solar has 32GB

      • Redesigned User Interface

      • 3.5 inch screen

      • 133 gram weight

      • Excellent battery life with a max of 45 hours (with Multi-Band GPS on and Solar)

      • USB-C connection/charging

      • Polar Glass on solar version puts solar panels across the entire front surface
          • Outer edges have 100% solar capability while the screen has 15%

      • Metal backmount

      • Multi-band GPS (ie dual frequency) option for increased GPS accuracy (uses more power)

      • Pre-loaded maps
          • Garmin’s entire catalog of downloadable maps is accessible

      • Improved operation/calculation speed over prior models

      • New searchable option for “Bike Shops” and “Water Stops”

    Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar: Display and graphics

    In the Real World

    The Edge 1040 allows for courses/routes to be preloaded into the device, which will then give riders the ability to see what is coming up ahead of them in terms of climb/descent intensity and gradient. 

    With previous Garmin bike computers, if you find yourself without a preloaded route, nothing was displayed about what’s ahead. The software has been leveled up and now even if you don’t have anything loaded, the 1040 will give you a heads up about what is coming up, if you so choose to ride that way. 

    Then when you cross what it deems to be the beginning of a climb, it will load in the gradient and elevation stats so you see the full shebang. This is a very good upgrade/evolution to a function known as ClimbPro, and it’s a real win in our book.

    This “auto route selection” works almost every time. On climbs where there is a clear end and the trail keeps going in one direction without any other choice, it nails it. But when there is choice and you decide to follow an alternate route, the computers may choose incorrectly and things get messy for a bit. It does this by choosing the most likely route you will take from shared ride data, and Garmin have said that they will be fine tuning the function over time. Overall, still a good and needed step for the company’s GPS devices.

    Other great features include the ability to search for climbs nearby (Climb Explore function), even during a ride, and filter your results by search radius, terrain type, difficulty and more. 

    Performance feedback features on the Garmin Edge 1040 include:

      • In-depth customization of what information is displayed

      • Navigation and elevation is very accurate

      • A revamped Training Status function that calculates:
          • Your VO2 Max and Acute Load stats

          • Your Cycling Ability, categorized into Anaerobic Capacity, Aerobic Capacity and Aerobic Endurance
              • Cycling Ability can be applied to courses that are loaded or saved on your device
                  • Estimated times, splits, power output during the course and more, all adjusted for your “goal effort” slider setting to indicate how hard you want to push

          • Create events and set up a training regime leading up to that event (eg: a race)
              • The device creates daily workouts for you in phases

    Pros of the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar:

      1. Impressive Battery Life: The Garmin Edge 1040 offers excellent battery life, with a maximum of 45 hours, especially when using Multi-Band GPS and Solar features. This means you can go on long rides without constantly worrying about recharging.

      1. Solar Charging Option: For those opting for the Solar model, you get the added benefit of solar charging. The Polar Glass on the solar version features solar panels across the entire front surface, with 100% solar capability on the outer edges and 15% on the screen.

      1. Redesigned User Interface: The device comes with a revamped user interface (UI), providing a more intuitive and user-friendly experience.

      1. Detailed Maps and Navigation: Pre-loaded maps and access to Garmin’s full catalog of downloadable maps make navigation a breeze, ensuring you won’t get lost on your rides.

      1. Auto Route Selection: The Edge 1040’s auto route selection feature is a game-changer. Even without a preloaded route, it provides information about upcoming climbs and descents, enhancing your ride planning.

      1. ClimbPro Function: The ClimbPro function offers real-time data on gradient and elevation, helping you tackle climbs with more confidence.

      1. Training Insights: The Edge 1040 provides detailed training statistics, including VO2 Max estimates, Acute Load stats, and Cycling Ability, enabling you to track your progress and optimize your training regime.

      1. Customization: You can personalize the information displayed on the device to suit your specific needs and preferences.

    Cons of the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar:

      1. Higher Price Tag: The Garmin Edge 1040, especially the Solar version, comes with a premium price. While it offers top-tier features, it may not be budget-friendly for all cyclists.

      1. Solar Model Weight: The Solar version is slightly heavier due to the solar panels, which might be a concern for those looking for the lightest possible setup.

      1. Occasional Auto Route Selection Inaccuracy: The auto route selection feature, while generally reliable, may occasionally choose routes that don’t align with your preferences. Garmin is continuously refining this function, but it can still lead to minor inconveniences.

      1. Competition from Smaller Models: Garmin has introduced smaller, more affordable models like the Edge 540/840, which offer similar features to the Edge 1040. If portability and cost are priorities, these smaller models might be more attractive.

    In the End

    So, is Garmin’s flagship bike computer still a winner the year after its initial launch? The answer is a resounding YES. However, there is a big caveat to that, because as you’ll see below, Garmin has given its big dog some direct in-house competition from the Edge 540/840, which pack all the features of the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar into smaller packages and smaller price points. 

    Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar

    Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar: Front & Back

    In a Nutshell

    Price:

    Edge 840

      • Solar – $549.99

      • Non-solar – $449.99

    Edge 540

      • Solar – $447.29

      • Non-solar – $349.99

    The Garmin Edge 540/840 can easily be considered the best value for money bike computer, definitely within the current selection of Garmin bike computers and arguably across all brands. The reason is because, in terms of features and software, it is identical to the top-of-the-line 1040 but comes in at a much lower price point while only “sacrificing” size. 

    Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar: Side Profile

    Inside Look

    Selected specifications and characteristics:

    The Edge 540 and 840 have the same dimensions and seven-button setup, the only difference is that the Edge 840 has a touch screen.  

    Garmin has created some heavyweight contenders disguised as middleweights here, because these cycling computers punch well above their apparent power. Buy an Edge 540 or 840 and you’re getting all the software and functionality of the big boss Garmin Edge 1040 Solar in a smaller form factor. 

    Having the same buttons on the touch screen version is new for Garmin, who usually have fewer buttons on touch-enabled models. We see this as very positive and it actually works in favor of the 840 because when you’re on the move the buttons offer a much more tactile and precise alternative to the touch screen. Then, when you’re moving slowly or stopped, the touch screen’s ease of use shines. 

    The smaller units do not share the same metal mount on the back of the devices, but they have made it so the plastic mounts are removable via a pair of screws. So, if you break a mount somehow, it can be replaced.

    Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar: Display & Graphics

    In the Real World

    Like their more costly 1040 sibling, the 540 and 840 allow for courses/routes to be preloaded into the device, which will then give riders the ability to see what is coming up ahead of them in terms of climb/descent intensity and gradient. 

    All cycling computers in the 540/840 range benefit from the updated features and performance feedback functions that come with the Edge 1040, including:

      • ClimbPro activation showing upcoming climbs even if a route is not loaded

      • Auto route selection based on shared ride data – an imperfect development but still welcome

      • Climb Explore function that lets you search and filter nearby climbs

      • Display layout customization

      • Accurate GPS tracking and elevation

      • A revamped Training Status function that calculates:
          • Your VO2 Max and Acute Load stats

          • Your Cycling Ability, categorized into Anaerobic Capacity, Aerobic Capacity and Aerobic Endurance
              • Cycling Ability can be applied to courses that are loaded or saved on your device to analyze how you would perform, providing:
                  • Estimated times, splits, power output during the course and more, all adjusted for your “goal effort” slider setting to indicate how hard you want to push

          • Create events and set up a training regime leading up to that event (eg: a race)
              • The device creates daily workouts for you in phases

    In the End

    It’s a tough debate. Buy a Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and have a bigger screen and more battery life, or save up to $200 and have the same functionality but in a smaller package? 

    If you ask us, we think the Garmin Edge 540 and 840 take the cake among bike computers. They have all the tricks and the smaller display does not impact usage much in our experience. BUT, and it is a big but, there is no substitute for comfort out on the trail. If the 1040 was priced $500 higher, we’d say go for the smaller computers all day long, but the difference is not that large if you like what the bigger one has to offer.

    We really are spoiled for choice when it comes to cycling computers in 2023, and the mind-blowing thing is that this article only focuses on one brand!

    Pros of the Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar:

      1. Value for Money: The Garmin Edge 540/840 offers exceptional value for money. It provides the same features and software as the top-tier Garmin Edge 1040 Solar but at a significantly lower price point.

      1. Feature Parity: Despite the lower cost, these models retain all the software and functionality of the premium Garmin Edge 1040 Solar. You get powerful features without breaking the bank.

      1. Compact Size: The Edge 540 and 840 have a smaller form factor compared to the Edge 1040, making them more portable and user-friendly.

      1. Affordable Solar Option: With solar editions available for $450 (Edge 540) and $550 (Edge 840), these models provide solar charging at a reasonable price, extending battery life without a substantial cost increase.

      1. User-Friendly Buttons: Both models feature a button-based interface that offers tactile and precise control, making it easier to use while on the move.

      1. Customizable Display: You can customize the display layout to suit your preferences, allowing you to focus on the data that matters most to you.

      1. Reliable GPS and Elevation Tracking: Just like the Edge 1040, the Edge 540/840 provides accurate GPS tracking and elevation data, ensuring you have reliable ride metrics.

      1. Training Insights: These models come with training features, including VO2 Max estimate, Cycling Ability, and event preparation tools, helping you optimize your performance.

    Cons of the Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar:

      1. Smaller Screen: While the smaller size is an advantage in terms of portability, it does mean a smaller screen. Some users may prefer a larger display for better visibility.

      1. Imperfect Auto Route Selection: The auto route selection based on shared ride data, while welcome, may occasionally make sub-optimal route choices, which could be inconvenient during rides.

    Fun Fact: The GPS bike computers market was valued at around USD 542.5 million in 2021, and it is expected to reach USD 768.0 million by 2027, registering a CAGR of about 6.0% during the forecast period (2022 – 2027).

    Best Garmin For Mountain Biking: Watches

    Wearables. Smart Watches. Precursor to the Borg. Whatever you wish to call them, watches geared toward athletes these days are fantastic tools. They’re a body sensor, scientist and nagging trainer/coach rolled into one then wrapped around your wrist. For many, a modern wearable GPS unit is a far smarter choice than any of the cycling computers on the market.

    You don’t have to be an elite athlete, as long as you’re serious about your health, performance and the great sport of Mountain Biking, your life will be changed when you buy a Garmin watch, even outside of your mountain biking adventures. They have surprisingly detailed maps that belie their screen size, match or even exceed the capabilities of most GPS computers, some come with in-depth health tracking features, and exceptional battery life in most cases (especially when compared to any Apple Watch), the list goes on and on. Then, link your Garmin watch to any pairable cadence sensors and power meters and they firmly land among the best bike computers out there.

    If you’re on the fence because you like having something mounted to your bike while you ride, aftermarket watch mounts are an easy solution, which will necessitate the use of an HRM to get heart rate data.

    With a breadth of models to choose from, which is the best Garmin watch for mountain biking and for you?

    There is a lot to consider:

      • Functions

      • Ease of use/User Interface

      • Size

      • Weight

      • Battery life

      • GPS tracking accuracy

    The pride of the fleet is currently the Garmin Enduro 2, a bulky but well-designed watch stacked with features that easily rival Garmin’s best bike computer, the Edge 1040. Riders shouldn’t let the 1040’s bright lights (it does have a very capable flashlight) blind them to the rest of the options. If you choose to buy any Garmin watch that fits your needs, it will be capable of taking your life into new territory.

    Garmin Enduro 2

    Garmin Enduro 2_ Smart Watch

    In a Nutshell

    To understand how Garmin wanted their new flagship watch to stand out from the crowd, you don’t even need to turn it on. In the box, just like with the original Enduro, you’ll see that there are two bands included. Is that a big deal? Yes. 

    You get one silicone band that is pretty standard but of good quality that you would expect from Garmin, while the other is the UltraFit band, a supremely designed and well thought out nylon strap. It is very comfortable, stays securely fastened, has just the right amount of stretch, seems to repel odors, and weighs 20 grams less than the silicone band. Anyone who tries the UltraFit band tends to fall madly in love with its feel and quality. As of yet, while Garmin does sell the UltraFit separately, it does not come in alternative sizes/widths other than 26 mm.

    This search for peak performance extends throughout the Enduro 2’s advanced features, not to mention the longer battery life it has over Garmin’s other wearable GPS units.

    Garmin Enduro 2: Side Profiles

    Inside Look

    Comparing the Enduro 2 to its predecessor, the Enduro 1, is an impractical exercise because the two are worlds apart. The OG Enduro lacked the map functions that emerged in the Fenix 6 series onward. 

    The Enduro 2 watch is essentially a Fenix 7X – which is no slouch itself – and has “base” features/characteristics that include:

      • Excellent battery life upwards of 34 days (46 days using solar) if using the base smartwatch functions, upwards of 150 hours in GPS-mode, 81 in Multi-Band

      • Music

      • Garmin Pay

      • WiFi

      • Downloadable maps
          • Skiing and golf maps are preloaded

      • Touchscreen

      • Built-in solar

      • Multi-band GPS (dual frequency)
          • Often not necessary for good accuracy, and leaving it off helps extend battery life

      • Sapphire glass

      • 17mm case thickness

      • Flashlight (twice as bright as the Fenix 7X)

    In the Real World

    Garmin added other quality-of-life features that make it a substantial leap forward over the first Enduro, which have subsequently made their way into other model lines such as the Fenix 7 and Epix. Useful developments you’ll find on the Enduro 2 include:

      • There are now chevrons (arrows) that show the direction of travel along the selected map course – a small but very welcome addition

      • SatIQ – a function that chooses the most suitable GPS settings for you depending on location/signal strength, which can greatly improve battery life when Multi-Band GPS is not necessary

      • Auto Rest Timer that starts/stops automatically when you come to a stop during a ride
          • What’s really cool is if you manually go into rest mode with a button press, when you start again, the watch will continue automatically! Thumbs up, Garmin!

      • Grade Adjusted Pace adjusts your pace depending on trail gradient, a common feature with other software but new to Garmin at the time

    Garmin Enduro 2: Front & Back

    Pros of the Garmin Enduro 2:

      1. Dual Band Compatibility: The Enduro 2 comes with dual-band GPS (Multi-Band GPS), which can enhance GPS accuracy in challenging environments, making it a valuable tool for outdoor enthusiasts.

      1. Extended Battery Life: The Enduro 2 boasts impressive battery life, with up to 34 days of usage on a single charge or 46 days when utilizing solar power. For GPS activities, it can last up to 150 hours, ensuring you won’t run out of power during long adventures.

      1. Comfortable UltraFit Band: The inclusion of the UltraFit band in addition to a standard silicone band provides a comfortable and stylish option for users. The UltraFit band is lightweight, well-designed, and repels odors, making it a favorite among wearers.

      1. Map Functions: Unlike its predecessor, the Enduro 2 offers map functions, enhancing navigation and location tracking. Preloaded maps for skiing and golf add to its versatility.

      1. Sapphire Glass: The device features sapphire glass, providing a high level of durability and scratch resistance for the display.

      1. Quality-of-Life Features: Garmin has introduced several quality-of-life features, including chevrons showing the direction of travel on selected map courses, SatIQ for optimizing GPS settings, and an Auto Rest Timer for convenience during activities.

      1. Grade Adjusted Pace: The Grade Adjusted Pace feature, which adapts your pace based on trail gradient, is a notable addition for trail runners and hikers.

      1. Flashlight: The built-in flashlight is significantly brighter than previous models, providing added safety and functionality in the dark.

    Cons of the Garmin Enduro 2:

      1. Premium Price: While the Enduro 2 offers a range of advanced features, it comes with a premium price tag that may be a significant investment for some potential buyers.

      1. Complexity for Beginners: The watch offers a wealth of features and settings, which may be overwhelming for users who are new to Garmin’s ecosystem or smartwatches in general, but after the initial learning curve, using a Garmin watch becomes intuitive.

    In the End

    the Garmin Enduro 2 is a top-tier smartwatch designed for outdoor and fitness enthusiasts. It excels in terms of battery life, comfort, and advanced features. However, the price and potential complexity of the device may not suit everyone, particularly those looking for a more straightforward or budget-friendly smartwatch.

    Garmin Fenix 7 Pro

    Garmin Fenix 7 Pro: Front

    In a Nutshell

    The Garmin Fenix 7 Pro series adds 3 additional watches to an already stacked Fenix line up. One may think this makes it even harder to choose the right Garmin watch for you but in actuality, maybe not. 

    With the added features we’ll talk about below, we feel that Garmin has almost made the decision for us, and if we were leaning toward the Enduro 2 to begin with, the new Pro series of the Fenix and Epix lines are a clear clarion call to reconsider. 

    Let’s check out why.

    Inside Look

    Garmin’s Fenix 7 Pro line is essentially the Enduro 2 with shorter but still great battery life, but in addition to the great navigation, performance feedback functions and comprehensive smartwatch features, the Pro brings some pretty robust upgrades.

    Sizing:

    Fenix 7S Pro – 42mm

    Fenix 7 Pro – 47mm

    Fenix 7X Pro – 51mm

    Note: the 7 Pro and 7X Pro come in both stainless steel/gorilla glass and titanium/sapphire versions.

    You will get all the smartwatch functionality that can be found in the existing Fenix 7X model.

    Garmin Fenix 7 Pro: Maps & Graphics

    In the Real World

    Useful additions to the Fenix Pro line include:

      • All 3 sizes get a new and improved LED flashlight, a feature only on the top model previously – the new one is brighter
          • This flashlight may seem like a gimmick, but it is very useful

      • New Endurance score added to performance feedback features, adding to VO2 max and training load
          • Analyzes multiple data points to give you a rating 

      • Hill Score metric added which analyzes your climb performance but this doesn’t apply to cycling (We thought we’d include it for the multi-disciplined outdoor warriors out there)

      • Map overlays
          • Shading the maps to visually distinguish terrain height differences, which can be easier to read than using the contour lines

          • Weather function can overlay rain, temperature, or wind direction onto the map
              • Only accessible through the weather widget and cannot be viewed during workouts

          • New layouts that allow split screen and also perimeter positioned information displays

      • All Pro models get Multi-Band GPS, solar charging and 32GB of storage, as opposed to the varying specs in previous Fenix 7 lines

      • New 5th-gen heart rate sensor with 6 LEDs (up from 2 in previous gen)
          • Uses 2 LEDs during normal usage

          • Uses all 6 LEDs during workouts to give noticeably improved accuracy over previous models

          • Metallic contacts are present which seems to indicate Garmin wants to add other sensor functionality pending approval from health authorities

      • Next generation display
          • Brighter but also more energy efficient, which means it shouldn’t impact battery usageGarmin Chroma Display (Memory In Pixel) reflects ambient light and sunlight for great visibility outdoors and better energy efficiency compared to LED displaysGarmin Fenix 7 Pro: Front & Back

    In the End

    On its own, the Fenix 7 Pro line is eye-catching and an attractive upgrade. But consider this: all the upgraded software features such as map overlays, endurance score and more will be rolled out as updates for all the existing Fenix 7 models, which are seeing price reductions across the board alongside the rollout of the Fenix 7 Pro models.

    This is actually a win. If you want a fully capable watch with all the latest Garmin software gizmos, you can get significant savings when you buy Garmin Fenix 7 models outside the Pro line up. If the flashlight, next-gen heart rate sensor and Multi-Band GPS are all something you want, then the Pro line is where you will land. 

    Now, the real competition may come from another model entirely. The new Epix Pro also comes in 3 sizes, and essentially shares every function of the Fenix 7 Pros but has a crispy bright AMOLED display that some riders may prefer. More on that below.

    Garmin Fenix 7 Pro: Side Profiles

    Pros of the Garmin Fenix 7 Pro:

      1. Variety of Models: The Garmin Fenix 7 Pro series offers a variety of models with different sizes and materials, allowing users to choose the one that suits their preferences and style.

      1. Improved LED Flashlight: All three sizes of the Fenix 7 Pro now feature an improved LED flashlight, which can be quite useful in various outdoor situations.

      1. Endurance Score: The addition of the Endurance score to the performance feedback features provides users with a comprehensive rating based on multiple data points, helping them gauge their fitness and training progress.

      1. Hill Score Metric: The Hill Score metric is a valuable addition for outdoor enthusiasts, offering insights into climb performance. While not applicable to cycling, it caters to a broader audience of outdoor adventurers.

      1. Map Overlays: The Fenix 7 Pro introduces map overlays, which enhance navigation by visually distinguishing terrain height differences and overlaying weather information onto the map.

      1. Next-Gen Heart Rate Sensor: The watch features a new 5th-generation heart rate sensor with six LEDs, improving accuracy during workouts and suggesting potential for additional health-related sensor functionality.

      1. Brighter Display: The next-generation display is not only brighter but also more energy-efficient, ensuring great visibility outdoors without significantly impacting battery life.

      1. Multi-Band GPS: All Fenix 7 Pro models come equipped with Multi-Band GPS, providing more accurate and reliable location tracking.

      1. Chroma Display: The Garmin Chroma Display offers excellent visibility in various lighting conditions and better energy efficiency compared to LED displays.

    Cons of the Garmin Fenix 7 Pro:

      1. Price: The Garmin Fenix 7 Pro series comes with a premium price tag, which may be a deterrent for budget-conscious consumers. The cost can increase significantly when opting for the titanium/sapphire versions.

      1. Complexity: The watch offers an array of advanced features and settings, which can be overwhelming for those new to Garmin’s ecosystem or smartwatches in general, but after the initial learning curve, using a Garmin watch becomes intuitive.

      1. Competition from Other Models: The introduction of the Epix Pro with a crisp AMOLED display may divert potential buyers, as it offers similar functions but with a different display technology.

    Garmin Epix Pro

    Garmin Epix Pro: Front

    In a Nutshell

    Okay, so it’s time to take a look at the Epix Pro line up. Let’s start off by saying the Pro ranges of both the Fenix and Epix have the same core ingredients with different seasonings. But just because you’ve had one chicken dinner recipe, doesn’t mean you’ve had them all. The devil is in the details when you’re after a watch that suits who you are.

    Garmin really aren’t just lazily stuffing the same tech into all their wearables and trying to paint over the similarities. Once you get down to the nitty gritty, you can see their nuanced approach that allows everyone to have amazing functionality in their watches, with key differences that make each line stand out for their own particular reasons.

    Garmin Epix Pro: Graphics

    Inside Look

    Like the Epix models released before it, the Epix Pro is about offering an AMOLED display, which, to us, make it one of the prettiest GPS units of any kind, though it does lead to shorter battery life.

    There are three sizes under the Pro moniker, all with the new and improved heart rate sensor and the updated flashlight, the latter being a function that sounds gimmicky but turned out to be very useful and popular enough that Garmin is now throwing it into new models as a must-have.

    Sizes:

    They are all called simply Epix Pro with no name differentiation across

      • 51mm

      • 47mm

      • 42mm

    All the sizes come in stainless steel/gorilla glass and titanium/sapphire versions. The GPS/GNSS chipsets do not differ across stainless steel and titanium this time, all come with Multi-Band GPS and 32GB of storage.

    Garmin Epix Pro

    In the Real World

    With identical features and functionality between the Fenix Pro and Epix Pro lines, it really does come down to a preference in how you want your Garmin watch display to look. Now, while the Epix may have crisper colors and a clearer look to it, this does not mean the Fenix Pro watches are less clear. Remember, they have the updated Garmin Chroma Display (Memory In Pixel) which uses ambient light and has great contrast. 

    The difference you’ll see will be in the richness of colors and a crisp digital look the Epix Pro displays have that differentiate them from the Epix Pro. It is a simple question of what you feel better using.

    The AMOLED displays on the Epix Pros do draw more battery, with Garmin claiming the following numbers:

    Epix Pro 42 lasts up to 10 days just using smartwatch functions, down to 4 days with Always On Display (AOD) turned on.

    Epix Pro 47 lasts up to 16 days just using smartwatch functions, down to 6 days with AOD turned on.

    Then there is the Epix Pro 51, which jumps up to 31 days using just smartwatch functions, down to 11 with AOD turned on. This is thanks to the implementation of the big boy battery from the Enduro 2.

    Epix Pro models do not benefit from solar technology due to the AMOLED screen real estate taking up the whole front, but funnily enough it is this lack of a solar layer and the thinner cross section of the AMOLED that allows the Enduro 2 battery to go into the Epix Pro 51.

    Remember that the battery life will plummet to a matter of hours if you turn on any of the navigation functions, with Multi-Band GPS pulling the most energy. 

    However, with real use, having a daily workout that lasts about an hour or so, with AOD activated, the numbers turn out to be quite accurate, with some feedback showing the 51mm lasting 10-11 days. Everyone except riders who go on days-long expedition-like rides will be absolutely fine using the Epix Pros.

    Garmin Epix Pro: Profile

    Pros of the Garmin Epix Pro:

      1. AMOLED Display: The Epix Pro features a vibrant AMOLED display, making it one of the most visually appealing GPS watches available. The AMOLED screen offers rich colors and excellent clarity.

      1. Variety of Sizes: Garmin offers three different sizes for the Epix Pro (42mm 47mm, 51mm), allowing users to choose the one that best fits their wrist and preferences.

      1. Upgraded Heart Rate Sensor: The Epix Pro comes with an updated heart rate sensor, improving accuracy during workouts and daily activity tracking.

      1. New LED Flashlight: The inclusion of an improved LED flashlight is a practical feature that can be handy in various outdoor situations.

      1. Long Battery Life: Despite the energy-hungry AMOLED display, the Epix Pro offers respectable battery life, especially in its larger 51mm size. Users can enjoy extended use with the convenience of Always On Display (AOD) turned on.

      1. Multi-Band GPS: The watch features Multi-Band GPS for precise location tracking, enhancing its navigation capabilities.

      1. Storage: With 32GB of storage, users have ample space for storing maps, music, and other data.

    Cons of the Garmin Epix Pro:

      1. Shorter Battery Life with AOD: While the Epix Pro offers good battery life, the usage duration decreases when the Always On Display (AOD) is turned on. In the smaller sizes, it can be as short as a few days.

      1. Lack of Solar Technology: The Epix Pro models do not feature solar charging due to the AMOLED screen taking up the entire front of the watch. This means users must rely solely on standard charging methods.

      1. Navigation Functions Drain Battery: Activating navigation functions, especially Multi-Band GPS, significantly reduces battery life, which may be a concern for extended outdoor adventures.

    In the End

    So, if the AMOLED rings your bell, you’ll have to sacrifice some battery life, but practical testing shows that this won’t matter except for the really adventurous who are out in the boonies for days/weeks on end. 

    All the bells and whistles, plus a gorgeous display. What more could one ask for?

    In Conclusion

    One thing is for sure, you can’t go wrong with Garmin GPS devices.

    They have some stiff competition from other manufacturers but with the quality of their navigation and continuous refinement of every feature and design they offer, we at Promountain Bike have grown to have great confidence in all Garmin devices. 

    With that in mind, while we have covered the top models above, we highly recommend at least having a quick look at the entire range of Garmin mountain bike products. Their quality is high enough across the board that you are sacrificing very little by going for something smaller or cheaper. 

    If you ask for our honest opinion regarding the best Garmin for mountain biking covered above, we definitely have favorites.

    The Garmin watch we would choose:

      • Garmin Fenix Pro (whichever size suits you) : Packed to the gills with the very best Garmin features and functionality, the only thing the Garmin Enduro 2 flagship model has over this is longer battery life, and the Fenix Pro line up is still outstanding in that category anyway. Fenix Pros also beat out the Garmin Epix Pro series for us due to integrated solar charging. Who needs a bike computer when you have one of these?

    The Garmin bike computer we would choose:

      • Garmin Edge 840 Solar : Software functions on par with the bigger 1040, we feel the screen size is not enough of a draw to spend more on the flagship model. The 840 also wins over the 540 because it has a touch screen alongside the exact same button layout, giving you more versatility in operation. We have no reservations saying that when it comes to cycling computers in 2023, the Garmin Edge 840 Solar is top of the pile.

    No matter what you choose, you’re going to have a major mountain biking GPS unit strapped to your wrist or handlebar, and combined with the Garmin Connect App on mobile or web, you’re going to have fantastic insight into your performance, progress and recovery.

    Related Article: Other Mountain Biking Accessories

    FAQ’s

    1. How do I choose the best Garmin for mountain biking in 2023?

    – This depends on various factors, including your preferences and needs. The first question to answer is whether you prefer a wearable device or a bike-mounted computer. For both types, size is a consideration, but for wearables/watches independently, screen brightness, battery life, and more come into play.

    2. Are there specific Garmin models recommended for beginners in mountain biking?

    – Garmin’s ergonomics and ecosystems across all their devices are well designed and intuitive. Even for a beginner, after the initial familiarity stage, you’ll find using a Garmin wearable or bike computer to be a breeze.

    3. How do I determine the right size for a GPS watch for mountain biking?

    – The best way to do this is to try on something with similar dimensions and weight, which you can find among more conventional watches. From there, it’s almost completely personal preference. Some of our team members have small wrists but like big watches and vice versa.

    4. What are the essential features to consider when selecting a Garmin GPS device for mountain biking?

    – Factors such as battery life, GPS accuracy, dual-band GPS, ride data, and more should be considered. It provides insights into how these features can impact your mountain biking experience.

    5. How can I make an informed choice between a Garmin GPS watch and a cycling GPS computer?

    – There are many reasons to choose one over the other, but the crux of the decision will lie in

    1. If you want to track your fitness and progress while off the bike – which means getting a watch, or you just want to leave all the stats with your bike rides, which means using a GPS computer/

    2. If you like having all your info at an easy glance during a ride, which tends to push a rider toward computers due to the larger screen sizes.

    Please note that Garmin watches can be mounted on handlebars too.

    6. Do the recommendations in the article include options for different budget ranges?

    – Yes, there is a significant difference between the prices among models of both Garmin bike computers and watches, allowing riders to find something in their budget range.

    7. Is there information on where and how to purchase the recommended Garmin devices for mountain biking?

    – Promountain Bike offers direct links to reliable online retailers who offer the products reviewed in this article. Purchasing through these links will not affect the retail price of the products

    •  
    Best Garmin For Mountain Biking: Computers

    GPS bike computers are a varied bunch. Your mobile phone can be a bike computer. There isn’t much that can match a dedicated GPS bike computer mounted on your bars though, and Garmin’s pedigree speaks for itself.

    There is significant overlap in functionality with their wearables, but the benefits of Garmin’s bike computers are worth considering:

      • Much larger screen real estate
      • Information more clearly presented
      • Offers a few features that aren’t possible on watch displays (eg: Climb Pro)
      • Offer a disconnect from data and analysis when you’re off your bike, which is very important to some riders
      • Consistently accurate readings/recording and performance monitoring when paired with a compatible heart-rate monitor (HRM), while a watch on the wrist can experience hiccups while on rough MTB trails
      • Full accessibility to the advanced features available from modern GPS units – the watches are catching up but there still is a slight advantage to having a bike computer

    The above is why many consider a cycling computer to be their go-to GPS device for mountain biking. Let’s see what they have to offer and what has put the Garmin Edge line-up among the best bike computers you can find today.

    Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar

    Best Garmin For Mountain Biking: Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar - front and back

    In a Nutshell

    Price: Solar – $749 | Non-solar – $599

    Launched in 2022, the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar is the creme de la creme of the company’s bike computer stable and, for Garmin aficionados, the best in the cycling world at the time of writing. And they have a compelling argument for that claim.

    The 1040 launched with a screen that matched that of its predecessor, the Edge 1030 (which is still well worth considering among bike computers of any brand), at 3.5 inches but comes with an overhauled user interface (UI) and some significant strides in terms of functionality when used out in the real world.

    Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar: Side Profile

    Inside Look

    Selected specifications and characteristics:

      • Solar model has 64GB storage, non-solar has 32GB

      • Redesigned User Interface

      • 3.5 inch screen

      • 133 gram weight

      • Excellent battery life with a max of 45 hours (with Multi-Band GPS on and Solar)

      • USB-C connection/charging

      • Polar Glass on solar version puts solar panels across the entire front surface
          • Outer edges have 100% solar capability while the screen has 15%

      • Metal backmount

      • Multi-band GPS (ie dual frequency) option for increased GPS accuracy (uses more power)

      • Pre-loaded maps
          • Garmin’s entire catalog of downloadable maps is accessible

      • Improved operation/calculation speed over prior models

      • New searchable option for “Bike Shops” and “Water Stops”

    Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar: Display and graphics

    In the Real World

    The Edge 1040 allows for courses/routes to be preloaded into the device, which will then give riders the ability to see what is coming up ahead of them in terms of climb/descent intensity and gradient. 

    With previous Garmin bike computers, if you find yourself without a preloaded route, nothing was displayed about what’s ahead. The software has been leveled up and now even if you don’t have anything loaded, the 1040 will give you a heads up about what is coming up, if you so choose to ride that way. 

    Then when you cross what it deems to be the beginning of a climb, it will load in the gradient and elevation stats so you see the full shebang. This is a very good upgrade/evolution to a function known as ClimbPro, and it’s a real win in our book.

    This “auto route selection” works almost every time. On climbs where there is a clear end and the trail keeps going in one direction without any other choice, it nails it. But when there is choice and you decide to follow an alternate route, the computers may choose incorrectly and things get messy for a bit. It does this by choosing the most likely route you will take from shared ride data, and Garmin have said that they will be fine tuning the function over time. Overall, still a good and needed step for the company’s GPS devices.

    Other great features include the ability to search for climbs nearby (Climb Explore function), even during a ride, and filter your results by search radius, terrain type, difficulty and more. 

    Performance feedback features on the Garmin Edge 1040 include:

      • In-depth customization of what information is displayed

      • Navigation and elevation is very accurate

      • A revamped Training Status function that calculates:
          • Your VO2 Max and Acute Load stats

          • Your Cycling Ability, categorized into Anaerobic Capacity, Aerobic Capacity and Aerobic Endurance
              • Cycling Ability can be applied to courses that are loaded or saved on your device
                  • Estimated times, splits, power output during the course and more, all adjusted for your “goal effort” slider setting to indicate how hard you want to push

          • Create events and set up a training regime leading up to that event (eg: a race)
              • The device creates daily workouts for you in phases

    Pros of the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar:

      1. Impressive Battery Life: The Garmin Edge 1040 offers excellent battery life, with a maximum of 45 hours, especially when using Multi-Band GPS and Solar features. This means you can go on long rides without constantly worrying about recharging.

      1. Solar Charging Option: For those opting for the Solar model, you get the added benefit of solar charging. The Polar Glass on the solar version features solar panels across the entire front surface, with 100% solar capability on the outer edges and 15% on the screen.

      1. Redesigned User Interface: The device comes with a revamped user interface (UI), providing a more intuitive and user-friendly experience.

      1. Detailed Maps and Navigation: Pre-loaded maps and access to Garmin’s full catalog of downloadable maps make navigation a breeze, ensuring you won’t get lost on your rides.

      1. Auto Route Selection: The Edge 1040’s auto route selection feature is a game-changer. Even without a preloaded route, it provides information about upcoming climbs and descents, enhancing your ride planning.

      1. ClimbPro Function: The ClimbPro function offers real-time data on gradient and elevation, helping you tackle climbs with more confidence.

      1. Training Insights: The Edge 1040 provides detailed training statistics, including VO2 Max estimates, Acute Load stats, and Cycling Ability, enabling you to track your progress and optimize your training regime.

      1. Customization: You can personalize the information displayed on the device to suit your specific needs and preferences.

    Cons of the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar:

      1. Higher Price Tag: The Garmin Edge 1040, especially the Solar version, comes with a premium price. While it offers top-tier features, it may not be budget-friendly for all cyclists.

      1. Solar Model Weight: The Solar version is slightly heavier due to the solar panels, which might be a concern for those looking for the lightest possible setup.

      1. Occasional Auto Route Selection Inaccuracy: The auto route selection feature, while generally reliable, may occasionally choose routes that don’t align with your preferences. Garmin is continuously refining this function, but it can still lead to minor inconveniences.

      1. Competition from Smaller Models: Garmin has introduced smaller, more affordable models like the Edge 540/840, which offer similar features to the Edge 1040. If portability and cost are priorities, these smaller models might be more attractive.

    In the End

    So, is Garmin’s flagship bike computer still a winner the year after its initial launch? The answer is a resounding YES. However, there is a big caveat to that, because as you’ll see below, Garmin has given its big dog some direct in-house competition from the Edge 540/840, which pack all the features of the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar into smaller packages and smaller price points. 

    Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar

    Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar: Front & Back

    In a Nutshell

    Price:

    Edge 840

      • Solar – $549.99

      • Non-solar – $449.99

    Edge 540

      • Solar – $447.29

      • Non-solar – $349.99

    The Garmin Edge 540/840 can easily be considered the best value for money bike computer, definitely within the current selection of Garmin bike computers and arguably across all brands. The reason is because, in terms of features and software, it is identical to the top-of-the-line 1040 but comes in at a much lower price point while only “sacrificing” size. 

    Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar: Side Profile

    Inside Look

    Selected specifications and characteristics:

    The Edge 540 and 840 have the same dimensions and seven-button setup, the only difference is that the Edge 840 has a touch screen.  

    Garmin has created some heavyweight contenders disguised as middleweights here, because these cycling computers punch well above their apparent power. Buy an Edge 540 or 840 and you’re getting all the software and functionality of the big boss Garmin Edge 1040 Solar in a smaller form factor. 

    Having the same buttons on the touch screen version is new for Garmin, who usually have fewer buttons on touch-enabled models. We see this as very positive and it actually works in favor of the 840 because when you’re on the move the buttons offer a much more tactile and precise alternative to the touch screen. Then, when you’re moving slowly or stopped, the touch screen’s ease of use shines. 

    The smaller units do not share the same metal mount on the back of the devices, but they have made it so the plastic mounts are removable via a pair of screws. So, if you break a mount somehow, it can be replaced.

    Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar: Display & Graphics

    In the Real World

    Like their more costly 1040 sibling, the 540 and 840 allow for courses/routes to be preloaded into the device, which will then give riders the ability to see what is coming up ahead of them in terms of climb/descent intensity and gradient. 

    All cycling computers in the 540/840 range benefit from the updated features and performance feedback functions that come with the Edge 1040, including:

      • ClimbPro activation showing upcoming climbs even if a route is not loaded

      • Auto route selection based on shared ride data – an imperfect development but still welcome

      • Climb Explore function that lets you search and filter nearby climbs

      • Display layout customization

      • Accurate GPS tracking and elevation

      • A revamped Training Status function that calculates:
          • Your VO2 Max and Acute Load stats

          • Your Cycling Ability, categorized into Anaerobic Capacity, Aerobic Capacity and Aerobic Endurance
              • Cycling Ability can be applied to courses that are loaded or saved on your device to analyze how you would perform, providing:
                  • Estimated times, splits, power output during the course and more, all adjusted for your “goal effort” slider setting to indicate how hard you want to push

          • Create events and set up a training regime leading up to that event (eg: a race)
              • The device creates daily workouts for you in phases

    In the End

    It’s a tough debate. Buy a Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and have a bigger screen and more battery life, or save up to $200 and have the same functionality but in a smaller package? 

    If you ask us, we think the Garmin Edge 540 and 840 take the cake among bike computers. They have all the tricks and the smaller display does not impact usage much in our experience. BUT, and it is a big but, there is no substitute for comfort out on the trail. If the 1040 was priced $500 higher, we’d say go for the smaller computers all day long, but the difference is not that large if you like what the bigger one has to offer.

    We really are spoiled for choice when it comes to cycling computers in 2023, and the mind-blowing thing is that this article only focuses on one brand!

    Pros of the Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar:

      1. Value for Money: The Garmin Edge 540/840 offers exceptional value for money. It provides the same features and software as the top-tier Garmin Edge 1040 Solar but at a significantly lower price point.

      1. Feature Parity: Despite the lower cost, these models retain all the software and functionality of the premium Garmin Edge 1040 Solar. You get powerful features without breaking the bank.

      1. Compact Size: The Edge 540 and 840 have a smaller form factor compared to the Edge 1040, making them more portable and user-friendly.

      1. Affordable Solar Option: With solar editions available for $450 (Edge 540) and $550 (Edge 840), these models provide solar charging at a reasonable price, extending battery life without a substantial cost increase.

      1. User-Friendly Buttons: Both models feature a button-based interface that offers tactile and precise control, making it easier to use while on the move.

      1. Customizable Display: You can customize the display layout to suit your preferences, allowing you to focus on the data that matters most to you.

      1. Reliable GPS and Elevation Tracking: Just like the Edge 1040, the Edge 540/840 provides accurate GPS tracking and elevation data, ensuring you have reliable ride metrics.

      1. Training Insights: These models come with training features, including VO2 Max estimate, Cycling Ability, and event preparation tools, helping you optimize your performance.

    Cons of the Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar:

      1. Smaller Screen: While the smaller size is an advantage in terms of portability, it does mean a smaller screen. Some users may prefer a larger display for better visibility.

      1. Imperfect Auto Route Selection: The auto route selection based on shared ride data, while welcome, may occasionally make sub-optimal route choices, which could be inconvenient during rides.

    Fun Fact: The GPS bike computers market was valued at around USD 542.5 million in 2021, and it is expected to reach USD 768.0 million by 2027, registering a CAGR of about 6.0% during the forecast period (2022 – 2027).

    Best Garmin For Mountain Biking: Watches

    Wearables. Smart Watches. Precursor to the Borg. Whatever you wish to call them, watches geared toward athletes these days are fantastic tools. They’re a body sensor, scientist and nagging trainer/coach rolled into one then wrapped around your wrist. For many, a modern wearable GPS unit is a far smarter choice than any of the cycling computers on the market.

    You don’t have to be an elite athlete, as long as you’re serious about your health, performance and the great sport of Mountain Biking, your life will be changed when you buy a Garmin watch, even outside of your mountain biking adventures. They have surprisingly detailed maps that belie their screen size, match or even exceed the capabilities of most GPS computers, some come with in-depth health tracking features, and exceptional battery life in most cases (especially when compared to any Apple Watch), the list goes on and on. Then, link your Garmin watch to any pairable cadence sensors and power meters and they firmly land among the best bike computers out there.

    If you’re on the fence because you like having something mounted to your bike while you ride, aftermarket watch mounts are an easy solution, which will necessitate the use of an HRM to get heart rate data.

    With a breadth of models to choose from, which is the best Garmin watch for mountain biking and for you?

    There is a lot to consider:

      • Functions

      • Ease of use/User Interface

      • Size

      • Weight

      • Battery life

      • GPS tracking accuracy

    The pride of the fleet is currently the Garmin Enduro 2, a bulky but well-designed watch stacked with features that easily rival Garmin’s best bike computer, the Edge 1040. Riders shouldn’t let the 1040’s bright lights (it does have a very capable flashlight) blind them to the rest of the options. If you choose to buy any Garmin watch that fits your needs, it will be capable of taking your life into new territory.

    Garmin Enduro 2

    Garmin Enduro 2_ Smart Watch

    In a Nutshell

    To understand how Garmin wanted their new flagship watch to stand out from the crowd, you don’t even need to turn it on. In the box, just like with the original Enduro, you’ll see that there are two bands included. Is that a big deal? Yes. 

    You get one silicone band that is pretty standard but of good quality that you would expect from Garmin, while the other is the UltraFit band, a supremely designed and well thought out nylon strap. It is very comfortable, stays securely fastened, has just the right amount of stretch, seems to repel odors, and weighs 20 grams less than the silicone band. Anyone who tries the UltraFit band tends to fall madly in love with its feel and quality. As of yet, while Garmin does sell the UltraFit separately, it does not come in alternative sizes/widths other than 26 mm.

    This search for peak performance extends throughout the Enduro 2’s advanced features, not to mention the longer battery life it has over Garmin’s other wearable GPS units.

    Garmin Enduro 2: Side Profiles

    Inside Look

    Comparing the Enduro 2 to its predecessor, the Enduro 1, is an impractical exercise because the two are worlds apart. The OG Enduro lacked the map functions that emerged in the Fenix 6 series onward. 

    The Enduro 2 watch is essentially a Fenix 7X – which is no slouch itself – and has “base” features/characteristics that include:

      • Excellent battery life upwards of 34 days (46 days using solar) if using the base smartwatch functions, upwards of 150 hours in GPS-mode, 81 in Multi-Band

      • Music

      • Garmin Pay

      • WiFi

      • Downloadable maps
          • Skiing and golf maps are preloaded

      • Touchscreen

      • Built-in solar

      • Multi-band GPS (dual frequency)
          • Often not necessary for good accuracy, and leaving it off helps extend battery life

      • Sapphire glass

      • 17mm case thickness

      • Flashlight (twice as bright as the Fenix 7X)

    In the Real World

    Garmin added other quality-of-life features that make it a substantial leap forward over the first Enduro, which have subsequently made their way into other model lines such as the Fenix 7 and Epix. Useful developments you’ll find on the Enduro 2 include:

      • There are now chevrons (arrows) that show the direction of travel along the selected map course – a small but very welcome addition

      • SatIQ – a function that chooses the most suitable GPS settings for you depending on location/signal strength, which can greatly improve battery life when Multi-Band GPS is not necessary

      • Auto Rest Timer that starts/stops automatically when you come to a stop during a ride
          • What’s really cool is if you manually go into rest mode with a button press, when you start again, the watch will continue automatically! Thumbs up, Garmin!

      • Grade Adjusted Pace adjusts your pace depending on trail gradient, a common feature with other software but new to Garmin at the time

    Garmin Enduro 2: Front & Back

    Pros of the Garmin Enduro 2:

      1. Dual Band Compatibility: The Enduro 2 comes with dual-band GPS (Multi-Band GPS), which can enhance GPS accuracy in challenging environments, making it a valuable tool for outdoor enthusiasts.

      1. Extended Battery Life: The Enduro 2 boasts impressive battery life, with up to 34 days of usage on a single charge or 46 days when utilizing solar power. For GPS activities, it can last up to 150 hours, ensuring you won’t run out of power during long adventures.

      1. Comfortable UltraFit Band: The inclusion of the UltraFit band in addition to a standard silicone band provides a comfortable and stylish option for users. The UltraFit band is lightweight, well-designed, and repels odors, making it a favorite among wearers.

      1. Map Functions: Unlike its predecessor, the Enduro 2 offers map functions, enhancing navigation and location tracking. Preloaded maps for skiing and golf add to its versatility.

      1. Sapphire Glass: The device features sapphire glass, providing a high level of durability and scratch resistance for the display.

      1. Quality-of-Life Features: Garmin has introduced several quality-of-life features, including chevrons showing the direction of travel on selected map courses, SatIQ for optimizing GPS settings, and an Auto Rest Timer for convenience during activities.

      1. Grade Adjusted Pace: The Grade Adjusted Pace feature, which adapts your pace based on trail gradient, is a notable addition for trail runners and hikers.

      1. Flashlight: The built-in flashlight is significantly brighter than previous models, providing added safety and functionality in the dark.

    Cons of the Garmin Enduro 2:

      1. Premium Price: While the Enduro 2 offers a range of advanced features, it comes with a premium price tag that may be a significant investment for some potential buyers.

      1. Complexity for Beginners: The watch offers a wealth of features and settings, which may be overwhelming for users who are new to Garmin’s ecosystem or smartwatches in general, but after the initial learning curve, using a Garmin watch becomes intuitive.

    In the End

    the Garmin Enduro 2 is a top-tier smartwatch designed for outdoor and fitness enthusiasts. It excels in terms of battery life, comfort, and advanced features. However, the price and potential complexity of the device may not suit everyone, particularly those looking for a more straightforward or budget-friendly smartwatch.

    Garmin Fenix 7 Pro

    Garmin Fenix 7 Pro: Front

    In a Nutshell

    The Garmin Fenix 7 Pro series adds 3 additional watches to an already stacked Fenix line up. One may think this makes it even harder to choose the right Garmin watch for you but in actuality, maybe not. 

    With the added features we’ll talk about below, we feel that Garmin has almost made the decision for us, and if we were leaning toward the Enduro 2 to begin with, the new Pro series of the Fenix and Epix lines are a clear clarion call to reconsider. 

    Let’s check out why.

    Inside Look

    Garmin’s Fenix 7 Pro line is essentially the Enduro 2 with shorter but still great battery life, but in addition to the great navigation, performance feedback functions and comprehensive smartwatch features, the Pro brings some pretty robust upgrades.

    Sizing:

    Fenix 7S Pro – 42mm

    Fenix 7 Pro – 47mm

    Fenix 7X Pro – 51mm

    Note: the 7 Pro and 7X Pro come in both stainless steel/gorilla glass and titanium/sapphire versions.

    You will get all the smartwatch functionality that can be found in the existing Fenix 7X model.

    Garmin Fenix 7 Pro: Maps & Graphics

    In the Real World

    Useful additions to the Fenix Pro line include:

      • All 3 sizes get a new and improved LED flashlight, a feature only on the top model previously – the new one is brighter
          • This flashlight may seem like a gimmick, but it is very useful

      • New Endurance score added to performance feedback features, adding to VO2 max and training load
          • Analyzes multiple data points to give you a rating 

      • Hill Score metric added which analyzes your climb performance but this doesn’t apply to cycling (We thought we’d include it for the multi-disciplined outdoor warriors out there)

      • Map overlays
          • Shading the maps to visually distinguish terrain height differences, which can be easier to read than using the contour lines

          • Weather function can overlay rain, temperature, or wind direction onto the map
              • Only accessible through the weather widget and cannot be viewed during workouts

          • New layouts that allow split screen and also perimeter positioned information displays

      • All Pro models get Multi-Band GPS, solar charging and 32GB of storage, as opposed to the varying specs in previous Fenix 7 lines

      • New 5th-gen heart rate sensor with 6 LEDs (up from 2 in previous gen)
          • Uses 2 LEDs during normal usage

          • Uses all 6 LEDs during workouts to give noticeably improved accuracy over previous models

          • Metallic contacts are present which seems to indicate Garmin wants to add other sensor functionality pending approval from health authorities

      • Next generation display
          • Brighter but also more energy efficient, which means it shouldn’t impact battery usageGarmin Chroma Display (Memory In Pixel) reflects ambient light and sunlight for great visibility outdoors and better energy efficiency compared to LED displaysGarmin Fenix 7 Pro: Front & Back

    In the End

    On its own, the Fenix 7 Pro line is eye-catching and an attractive upgrade. But consider this: all the upgraded software features such as map overlays, endurance score and more will be rolled out as updates for all the existing Fenix 7 models, which are seeing price reductions across the board alongside the rollout of the Fenix 7 Pro models.

    This is actually a win. If you want a fully capable watch with all the latest Garmin software gizmos, you can get significant savings when you buy Garmin Fenix 7 models outside the Pro line up. If the flashlight, next-gen heart rate sensor and Multi-Band GPS are all something you want, then the Pro line is where you will land. 

    Now, the real competition may come from another model entirely. The new Epix Pro also comes in 3 sizes, and essentially shares every function of the Fenix 7 Pros but has a crispy bright AMOLED display that some riders may prefer. More on that below.

    Garmin Fenix 7 Pro: Side Profiles

    Pros of the Garmin Fenix 7 Pro:

      1. Variety of Models: The Garmin Fenix 7 Pro series offers a variety of models with different sizes and materials, allowing users to choose the one that suits their preferences and style.

      1. Improved LED Flashlight: All three sizes of the Fenix 7 Pro now feature an improved LED flashlight, which can be quite useful in various outdoor situations.

      1. Endurance Score: The addition of the Endurance score to the performance feedback features provides users with a comprehensive rating based on multiple data points, helping them gauge their fitness and training progress.

      1. Hill Score Metric: The Hill Score metric is a valuable addition for outdoor enthusiasts, offering insights into climb performance. While not applicable to cycling, it caters to a broader audience of outdoor adventurers.

      1. Map Overlays: The Fenix 7 Pro introduces map overlays, which enhance navigation by visually distinguishing terrain height differences and overlaying weather information onto the map.

      1. Next-Gen Heart Rate Sensor: The watch features a new 5th-generation heart rate sensor with six LEDs, improving accuracy during workouts and suggesting potential for additional health-related sensor functionality.

      1. Brighter Display: The next-generation display is not only brighter but also more energy-efficient, ensuring great visibility outdoors without significantly impacting battery life.

      1. Multi-Band GPS: All Fenix 7 Pro models come equipped with Multi-Band GPS, providing more accurate and reliable location tracking.

      1. Chroma Display: The Garmin Chroma Display offers excellent visibility in various lighting conditions and better energy efficiency compared to LED displays.

    Cons of the Garmin Fenix 7 Pro:

      1. Price: The Garmin Fenix 7 Pro series comes with a premium price tag, which may be a deterrent for budget-conscious consumers. The cost can increase significantly when opting for the titanium/sapphire versions.

      1. Complexity: The watch offers an array of advanced features and settings, which can be overwhelming for those new to Garmin’s ecosystem or smartwatches in general, but after the initial learning curve, using a Garmin watch becomes intuitive.

      1. Competition from Other Models: The introduction of the Epix Pro with a crisp AMOLED display may divert potential buyers, as it offers similar functions but with a different display technology.

    Garmin Epix Pro

    Garmin Epix Pro: Front

    In a Nutshell

    Okay, so it’s time to take a look at the Epix Pro line up. Let’s start off by saying the Pro ranges of both the Fenix and Epix have the same core ingredients with different seasonings. But just because you’ve had one chicken dinner recipe, doesn’t mean you’ve had them all. The devil is in the details when you’re after a watch that suits who you are.

    Garmin really aren’t just lazily stuffing the same tech into all their wearables and trying to paint over the similarities. Once you get down to the nitty gritty, you can see their nuanced approach that allows everyone to have amazing functionality in their watches, with key differences that make each line stand out for their own particular reasons.

    Garmin Epix Pro: Graphics

    Inside Look

    Like the Epix models released before it, the Epix Pro is about offering an AMOLED display, which, to us, make it one of the prettiest GPS units of any kind, though it does lead to shorter battery life.

    There are three sizes under the Pro moniker, all with the new and improved heart rate sensor and the updated flashlight, the latter being a function that sounds gimmicky but turned out to be very useful and popular enough that Garmin is now throwing it into new models as a must-have.

    Sizes:

    They are all called simply Epix Pro with no name differentiation across

      • 51mm

      • 47mm

      • 42mm

    All the sizes come in stainless steel/gorilla glass and titanium/sapphire versions. The GPS/GNSS chipsets do not differ across stainless steel and titanium this time, all come with Multi-Band GPS and 32GB of storage.

    Garmin Epix Pro

    In the Real World

    With identical features and functionality between the Fenix Pro and Epix Pro lines, it really does come down to a preference in how you want your Garmin watch display to look. Now, while the Epix may have crisper colors and a clearer look to it, this does not mean the Fenix Pro watches are less clear. Remember, they have the updated Garmin Chroma Display (Memory In Pixel) which uses ambient light and has great contrast. 

    The difference you’ll see will be in the richness of colors and a crisp digital look the Epix Pro displays have that differentiate them from the Epix Pro. It is a simple question of what you feel better using.

    The AMOLED displays on the Epix Pros do draw more battery, with Garmin claiming the following numbers:

    Epix Pro 42 lasts up to 10 days just using smartwatch functions, down to 4 days with Always On Display (AOD) turned on.

    Epix Pro 47 lasts up to 16 days just using smartwatch functions, down to 6 days with AOD turned on.

    Then there is the Epix Pro 51, which jumps up to 31 days using just smartwatch functions, down to 11 with AOD turned on. This is thanks to the implementation of the big boy battery from the Enduro 2.

    Epix Pro models do not benefit from solar technology due to the AMOLED screen real estate taking up the whole front, but funnily enough it is this lack of a solar layer and the thinner cross section of the AMOLED that allows the Enduro 2 battery to go into the Epix Pro 51.

    Remember that the battery life will plummet to a matter of hours if you turn on any of the navigation functions, with Multi-Band GPS pulling the most energy. 

    However, with real use, having a daily workout that lasts about an hour or so, with AOD activated, the numbers turn out to be quite accurate, with some feedback showing the 51mm lasting 10-11 days. Everyone except riders who go on days-long expedition-like rides will be absolutely fine using the Epix Pros.

    Garmin Epix Pro: Profile

    Pros of the Garmin Epix Pro:

      1. AMOLED Display: The Epix Pro features a vibrant AMOLED display, making it one of the most visually appealing GPS watches available. The AMOLED screen offers rich colors and excellent clarity.

      1. Variety of Sizes: Garmin offers three different sizes for the Epix Pro (42mm 47mm, 51mm), allowing users to choose the one that best fits their wrist and preferences.

      1. Upgraded Heart Rate Sensor: The Epix Pro comes with an updated heart rate sensor, improving accuracy during workouts and daily activity tracking.

      1. New LED Flashlight: The inclusion of an improved LED flashlight is a practical feature that can be handy in various outdoor situations.

      1. Long Battery Life: Despite the energy-hungry AMOLED display, the Epix Pro offers respectable battery life, especially in its larger 51mm size. Users can enjoy extended use with the convenience of Always On Display (AOD) turned on.

      1. Multi-Band GPS: The watch features Multi-Band GPS for precise location tracking, enhancing its navigation capabilities.

      1. Storage: With 32GB of storage, users have ample space for storing maps, music, and other data.

    Cons of the Garmin Epix Pro:

      1. Shorter Battery Life with AOD: While the Epix Pro offers good battery life, the usage duration decreases when the Always On Display (AOD) is turned on. In the smaller sizes, it can be as short as a few days.

      1. Lack of Solar Technology: The Epix Pro models do not feature solar charging due to the AMOLED screen taking up the entire front of the watch. This means users must rely solely on standard charging methods.

      1. Navigation Functions Drain Battery: Activating navigation functions, especially Multi-Band GPS, significantly reduces battery life, which may be a concern for extended outdoor adventures.

    In the End

    So, if the AMOLED rings your bell, you’ll have to sacrifice some battery life, but practical testing shows that this won’t matter except for the really adventurous who are out in the boonies for days/weeks on end. 

    All the bells and whistles, plus a gorgeous display. What more could one ask for?

    In Conclusion

    One thing is for sure, you can’t go wrong with Garmin GPS devices.

    They have some stiff competition from other manufacturers but with the quality of their navigation and continuous refinement of every feature and design they offer, we at Promountain Bike have grown to have great confidence in all Garmin devices. 

    With that in mind, while we have covered the top models above, we highly recommend at least having a quick look at the entire range of Garmin mountain bike products. Their quality is high enough across the board that you are sacrificing very little by going for something smaller or cheaper. 

    If you ask for our honest opinion regarding the best Garmin for mountain biking covered above, we definitely have favorites.

    The Garmin watch we would choose:

      • Garmin Fenix Pro (whichever size suits you) : Packed to the gills with the very best Garmin features and functionality, the only thing the Garmin Enduro 2 flagship model has over this is longer battery life, and the Fenix Pro line up is still outstanding in that category anyway. Fenix Pros also beat out the Garmin Epix Pro series for us due to integrated solar charging. Who needs a bike computer when you have one of these?

    The Garmin bike computer we would choose:

      • Garmin Edge 840 Solar : Software functions on par with the bigger 1040, we feel the screen size is not enough of a draw to spend more on the flagship model. The 840 also wins over the 540 because it has a touch screen alongside the exact same button layout, giving you more versatility in operation. We have no reservations saying that when it comes to cycling computers in 2023, the Garmin Edge 840 Solar is top of the pile.

    No matter what you choose, you’re going to have a major mountain biking GPS unit strapped to your wrist or handlebar, and combined with the Garmin Connect App on mobile or web, you’re going to have fantastic insight into your performance, progress and recovery.

    Related Article: Other Mountain Biking Accessories

    FAQ’s

    1. How do I choose the best Garmin for mountain biking in 2023?

    – This depends on various factors, including your preferences and needs. The first question to answer is whether you prefer a wearable device or a bike-mounted computer. For both types, size is a consideration, but for wearables/watches independently, screen brightness, battery life, and more come into play.

    2. Are there specific Garmin models recommended for beginners in mountain biking?

    – Garmin’s ergonomics and ecosystems across all their devices are well designed and intuitive. Even for a beginner, after the initial familiarity stage, you’ll find using a Garmin wearable or bike computer to be a breeze.

    3. How do I determine the right size for a GPS watch for mountain biking?

    – The best way to do this is to try on something with similar dimensions and weight, which you can find among more conventional watches. From there, it’s almost completely personal preference. Some of our team members have small wrists but like big watches and vice versa.

    4. What are the essential features to consider when selecting a Garmin GPS device for mountain biking?

    – Factors such as battery life, GPS accuracy, dual-band GPS, ride data, and more should be considered. It provides insights into how these features can impact your mountain biking experience.

    5. How can I make an informed choice between a Garmin GPS watch and a cycling GPS computer?

    – There are many reasons to choose one over the other, but the crux of the decision will lie in

    1. If you want to track your fitness and progress while off the bike – which means getting a watch, or you just want to leave all the stats with your bike rides, which means using a GPS computer/

    2. If you like having all your info at an easy glance during a ride, which tends to push a rider toward computers due to the larger screen sizes.

    Please note that Garmin watches can be mounted on handlebars too.

    6. Do the recommendations in the article include options for different budget ranges?

    – Yes, there is a significant difference between the prices among models of both Garmin bike computers and watches, allowing riders to find something in their budget range.

    7. Is there information on where and how to purchase the recommended Garmin devices for mountain biking?

    – Promountain Bike offers direct links to reliable online retailers who offer the products reviewed in this article. Purchasing through these links will not affect the retail price of the products

    •  
    Best Garmin For Mountain Biking: Computers

    GPS bike computers are a varied bunch. Your mobile phone can be a bike computer. There isn’t much that can match a dedicated GPS bike computer mounted on your bars though, and Garmin’s pedigree speaks for itself.

    There is significant overlap in functionality with their wearables, but the benefits of Garmin’s bike computers are worth considering:

      • Much larger screen real estate
      • Information more clearly presented
      • Offers a few features that aren’t possible on watch displays (eg: Climb Pro)
      • Offer a disconnect from data and analysis when you’re off your bike, which is very important to some riders
      • Consistently accurate readings/recording and performance monitoring when paired with a compatible heart-rate monitor (HRM), while a watch on the wrist can experience hiccups while on rough MTB trails
      • Full accessibility to the advanced features available from modern GPS units – the watches are catching up but there still is a slight advantage to having a bike computer

    The above is why many consider a cycling computer to be their go-to GPS device for mountain biking. Let’s see what they have to offer and what has put the Garmin Edge line-up among the best bike computers you can find today.

    Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar

    Best Garmin For Mountain Biking: Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar - front and back

    In a Nutshell

    Price: Solar – $749 | Non-solar – $599

    Launched in 2022, the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar is the creme de la creme of the company’s bike computer stable and, for Garmin aficionados, the best in the cycling world at the time of writing. And they have a compelling argument for that claim.

    The 1040 launched with a screen that matched that of its predecessor, the Edge 1030 (which is still well worth considering among bike computers of any brand), at 3.5 inches but comes with an overhauled user interface (UI) and some significant strides in terms of functionality when used out in the real world.

    Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar: Side Profile

    Inside Look

    Selected specifications and characteristics:

      • Solar model has 64GB storage, non-solar has 32GB

      • Redesigned User Interface

      • 3.5 inch screen

      • 133 gram weight

      • Excellent battery life with a max of 45 hours (with Multi-Band GPS on and Solar)

      • USB-C connection/charging

      • Polar Glass on solar version puts solar panels across the entire front surface
          • Outer edges have 100% solar capability while the screen has 15%

      • Metal backmount

      • Multi-band GPS (ie dual frequency) option for increased GPS accuracy (uses more power)

      • Pre-loaded maps
          • Garmin’s entire catalog of downloadable maps is accessible

      • Improved operation/calculation speed over prior models

      • New searchable option for “Bike Shops” and “Water Stops”

    Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar: Display and graphics

    In the Real World

    The Edge 1040 allows for courses/routes to be preloaded into the device, which will then give riders the ability to see what is coming up ahead of them in terms of climb/descent intensity and gradient. 

    With previous Garmin bike computers, if you find yourself without a preloaded route, nothing was displayed about what’s ahead. The software has been leveled up and now even if you don’t have anything loaded, the 1040 will give you a heads up about what is coming up, if you so choose to ride that way. 

    Then when you cross what it deems to be the beginning of a climb, it will load in the gradient and elevation stats so you see the full shebang. This is a very good upgrade/evolution to a function known as ClimbPro, and it’s a real win in our book.

    This “auto route selection” works almost every time. On climbs where there is a clear end and the trail keeps going in one direction without any other choice, it nails it. But when there is choice and you decide to follow an alternate route, the computers may choose incorrectly and things get messy for a bit. It does this by choosing the most likely route you will take from shared ride data, and Garmin have said that they will be fine tuning the function over time. Overall, still a good and needed step for the company’s GPS devices.

    Other great features include the ability to search for climbs nearby (Climb Explore function), even during a ride, and filter your results by search radius, terrain type, difficulty and more. 

    Performance feedback features on the Garmin Edge 1040 include:

      • In-depth customization of what information is displayed

      • Navigation and elevation is very accurate

      • A revamped Training Status function that calculates:
          • Your VO2 Max and Acute Load stats

          • Your Cycling Ability, categorized into Anaerobic Capacity, Aerobic Capacity and Aerobic Endurance
              • Cycling Ability can be applied to courses that are loaded or saved on your device
                  • Estimated times, splits, power output during the course and more, all adjusted for your “goal effort” slider setting to indicate how hard you want to push

          • Create events and set up a training regime leading up to that event (eg: a race)
              • The device creates daily workouts for you in phases

    Pros of the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar:

      1. Impressive Battery Life: The Garmin Edge 1040 offers excellent battery life, with a maximum of 45 hours, especially when using Multi-Band GPS and Solar features. This means you can go on long rides without constantly worrying about recharging.

      1. Solar Charging Option: For those opting for the Solar model, you get the added benefit of solar charging. The Polar Glass on the solar version features solar panels across the entire front surface, with 100% solar capability on the outer edges and 15% on the screen.

      1. Redesigned User Interface: The device comes with a revamped user interface (UI), providing a more intuitive and user-friendly experience.

      1. Detailed Maps and Navigation: Pre-loaded maps and access to Garmin’s full catalog of downloadable maps make navigation a breeze, ensuring you won’t get lost on your rides.

      1. Auto Route Selection: The Edge 1040’s auto route selection feature is a game-changer. Even without a preloaded route, it provides information about upcoming climbs and descents, enhancing your ride planning.

      1. ClimbPro Function: The ClimbPro function offers real-time data on gradient and elevation, helping you tackle climbs with more confidence.

      1. Training Insights: The Edge 1040 provides detailed training statistics, including VO2 Max estimates, Acute Load stats, and Cycling Ability, enabling you to track your progress and optimize your training regime.

      1. Customization: You can personalize the information displayed on the device to suit your specific needs and preferences.

    Cons of the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar:

      1. Higher Price Tag: The Garmin Edge 1040, especially the Solar version, comes with a premium price. While it offers top-tier features, it may not be budget-friendly for all cyclists.

      1. Solar Model Weight: The Solar version is slightly heavier due to the solar panels, which might be a concern for those looking for the lightest possible setup.

      1. Occasional Auto Route Selection Inaccuracy: The auto route selection feature, while generally reliable, may occasionally choose routes that don’t align with your preferences. Garmin is continuously refining this function, but it can still lead to minor inconveniences.

      1. Competition from Smaller Models: Garmin has introduced smaller, more affordable models like the Edge 540/840, which offer similar features to the Edge 1040. If portability and cost are priorities, these smaller models might be more attractive.

    In the End

    So, is Garmin’s flagship bike computer still a winner the year after its initial launch? The answer is a resounding YES. However, there is a big caveat to that, because as you’ll see below, Garmin has given its big dog some direct in-house competition from the Edge 540/840, which pack all the features of the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar into smaller packages and smaller price points. 

    Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar

    Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar: Front & Back

    In a Nutshell

    Price:

    Edge 840

      • Solar – $549.99

      • Non-solar – $449.99

    Edge 540

      • Solar – $447.29

      • Non-solar – $349.99

    The Garmin Edge 540/840 can easily be considered the best value for money bike computer, definitely within the current selection of Garmin bike computers and arguably across all brands. The reason is because, in terms of features and software, it is identical to the top-of-the-line 1040 but comes in at a much lower price point while only “sacrificing” size. 

    Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar: Side Profile

    Inside Look

    Selected specifications and characteristics:

    The Edge 540 and 840 have the same dimensions and seven-button setup, the only difference is that the Edge 840 has a touch screen.  

    Garmin has created some heavyweight contenders disguised as middleweights here, because these cycling computers punch well above their apparent power. Buy an Edge 540 or 840 and you’re getting all the software and functionality of the big boss Garmin Edge 1040 Solar in a smaller form factor. 

    Having the same buttons on the touch screen version is new for Garmin, who usually have fewer buttons on touch-enabled models. We see this as very positive and it actually works in favor of the 840 because when you’re on the move the buttons offer a much more tactile and precise alternative to the touch screen. Then, when you’re moving slowly or stopped, the touch screen’s ease of use shines. 

    The smaller units do not share the same metal mount on the back of the devices, but they have made it so the plastic mounts are removable via a pair of screws. So, if you break a mount somehow, it can be replaced.

    Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar: Display & Graphics

    In the Real World

    Like their more costly 1040 sibling, the 540 and 840 allow for courses/routes to be preloaded into the device, which will then give riders the ability to see what is coming up ahead of them in terms of climb/descent intensity and gradient. 

    All cycling computers in the 540/840 range benefit from the updated features and performance feedback functions that come with the Edge 1040, including:

      • ClimbPro activation showing upcoming climbs even if a route is not loaded

      • Auto route selection based on shared ride data – an imperfect development but still welcome

      • Climb Explore function that lets you search and filter nearby climbs

      • Display layout customization

      • Accurate GPS tracking and elevation

      • A revamped Training Status function that calculates:
          • Your VO2 Max and Acute Load stats

          • Your Cycling Ability, categorized into Anaerobic Capacity, Aerobic Capacity and Aerobic Endurance
              • Cycling Ability can be applied to courses that are loaded or saved on your device to analyze how you would perform, providing:
                  • Estimated times, splits, power output during the course and more, all adjusted for your “goal effort” slider setting to indicate how hard you want to push

          • Create events and set up a training regime leading up to that event (eg: a race)
              • The device creates daily workouts for you in phases

    In the End

    It’s a tough debate. Buy a Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and have a bigger screen and more battery life, or save up to $200 and have the same functionality but in a smaller package? 

    If you ask us, we think the Garmin Edge 540 and 840 take the cake among bike computers. They have all the tricks and the smaller display does not impact usage much in our experience. BUT, and it is a big but, there is no substitute for comfort out on the trail. If the 1040 was priced $500 higher, we’d say go for the smaller computers all day long, but the difference is not that large if you like what the bigger one has to offer.

    We really are spoiled for choice when it comes to cycling computers in 2023, and the mind-blowing thing is that this article only focuses on one brand!

    Pros of the Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar:

      1. Value for Money: The Garmin Edge 540/840 offers exceptional value for money. It provides the same features and software as the top-tier Garmin Edge 1040 Solar but at a significantly lower price point.

      1. Feature Parity: Despite the lower cost, these models retain all the software and functionality of the premium Garmin Edge 1040 Solar. You get powerful features without breaking the bank.

      1. Compact Size: The Edge 540 and 840 have a smaller form factor compared to the Edge 1040, making them more portable and user-friendly.

      1. Affordable Solar Option: With solar editions available for $450 (Edge 540) and $550 (Edge 840), these models provide solar charging at a reasonable price, extending battery life without a substantial cost increase.

      1. User-Friendly Buttons: Both models feature a button-based interface that offers tactile and precise control, making it easier to use while on the move.

      1. Customizable Display: You can customize the display layout to suit your preferences, allowing you to focus on the data that matters most to you.

      1. Reliable GPS and Elevation Tracking: Just like the Edge 1040, the Edge 540/840 provides accurate GPS tracking and elevation data, ensuring you have reliable ride metrics.

      1. Training Insights: These models come with training features, including VO2 Max estimate, Cycling Ability, and event preparation tools, helping you optimize your performance.

    Cons of the Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar:

      1. Smaller Screen: While the smaller size is an advantage in terms of portability, it does mean a smaller screen. Some users may prefer a larger display for better visibility.

      1. Imperfect Auto Route Selection: The auto route selection based on shared ride data, while welcome, may occasionally make sub-optimal route choices, which could be inconvenient during rides.

    Fun Fact: The GPS bike computers market was valued at around USD 542.5 million in 2021, and it is expected to reach USD 768.0 million by 2027, registering a CAGR of about 6.0% during the forecast period (2022 – 2027).

    Best Garmin For Mountain Biking: Watches

    Wearables. Smart Watches. Precursor to the Borg. Whatever you wish to call them, watches geared toward athletes these days are fantastic tools. They’re a body sensor, scientist and nagging trainer/coach rolled into one then wrapped around your wrist. For many, a modern wearable GPS unit is a far smarter choice than any of the cycling computers on the market.

    You don’t have to be an elite athlete, as long as you’re serious about your health, performance and the great sport of Mountain Biking, your life will be changed when you buy a Garmin watch, even outside of your mountain biking adventures. They have surprisingly detailed maps that belie their screen size, match or even exceed the capabilities of most GPS computers, some come with in-depth health tracking features, and exceptional battery life in most cases (especially when compared to any Apple Watch), the list goes on and on. Then, link your Garmin watch to any pairable cadence sensors and power meters and they firmly land among the best bike computers out there.

    If you’re on the fence because you like having something mounted to your bike while you ride, aftermarket watch mounts are an easy solution, which will necessitate the use of an HRM to get heart rate data.

    With a breadth of models to choose from, which is the best Garmin watch for mountain biking and for you?

    There is a lot to consider:

      • Functions

      • Ease of use/User Interface

      • Size

      • Weight

      • Battery life

      • GPS tracking accuracy

    The pride of the fleet is currently the Garmin Enduro 2, a bulky but well-designed watch stacked with features that easily rival Garmin’s best bike computer, the Edge 1040. Riders shouldn’t let the 1040’s bright lights (it does have a very capable flashlight) blind them to the rest of the options. If you choose to buy any Garmin watch that fits your needs, it will be capable of taking your life into new territory.

    Garmin Enduro 2

    Garmin Enduro 2_ Smart Watch

    In a Nutshell

    To understand how Garmin wanted their new flagship watch to stand out from the crowd, you don’t even need to turn it on. In the box, just like with the original Enduro, you’ll see that there are two bands included. Is that a big deal? Yes. 

    You get one silicone band that is pretty standard but of good quality that you would expect from Garmin, while the other is the UltraFit band, a supremely designed and well thought out nylon strap. It is very comfortable, stays securely fastened, has just the right amount of stretch, seems to repel odors, and weighs 20 grams less than the silicone band. Anyone who tries the UltraFit band tends to fall madly in love with its feel and quality. As of yet, while Garmin does sell the UltraFit separately, it does not come in alternative sizes/widths other than 26 mm.

    This search for peak performance extends throughout the Enduro 2’s advanced features, not to mention the longer battery life it has over Garmin’s other wearable GPS units.

    Garmin Enduro 2: Side Profiles

    Inside Look

    Comparing the Enduro 2 to its predecessor, the Enduro 1, is an impractical exercise because the two are worlds apart. The OG Enduro lacked the map functions that emerged in the Fenix 6 series onward. 

    The Enduro 2 watch is essentially a Fenix 7X – which is no slouch itself – and has “base” features/characteristics that include:

      • Excellent battery life upwards of 34 days (46 days using solar) if using the base smartwatch functions, upwards of 150 hours in GPS-mode, 81 in Multi-Band

      • Music

      • Garmin Pay

      • WiFi

      • Downloadable maps
          • Skiing and golf maps are preloaded

      • Touchscreen

      • Built-in solar

      • Multi-band GPS (dual frequency)
          • Often not necessary for good accuracy, and leaving it off helps extend battery life

      • Sapphire glass

      • 17mm case thickness

      • Flashlight (twice as bright as the Fenix 7X)

    In the Real World

    Garmin added other quality-of-life features that make it a substantial leap forward over the first Enduro, which have subsequently made their way into other model lines such as the Fenix 7 and Epix. Useful developments you’ll find on the Enduro 2 include:

      • There are now chevrons (arrows) that show the direction of travel along the selected map course – a small but very welcome addition

      • SatIQ – a function that chooses the most suitable GPS settings for you depending on location/signal strength, which can greatly improve battery life when Multi-Band GPS is not necessary

      • Auto Rest Timer that starts/stops automatically when you come to a stop during a ride
          • What’s really cool is if you manually go into rest mode with a button press, when you start again, the watch will continue automatically! Thumbs up, Garmin!

      • Grade Adjusted Pace adjusts your pace depending on trail gradient, a common feature with other software but new to Garmin at the time

    Garmin Enduro 2: Front & Back

    Pros of the Garmin Enduro 2:

      1. Dual Band Compatibility: The Enduro 2 comes with dual-band GPS (Multi-Band GPS), which can enhance GPS accuracy in challenging environments, making it a valuable tool for outdoor enthusiasts.

      1. Extended Battery Life: The Enduro 2 boasts impressive battery life, with up to 34 days of usage on a single charge or 46 days when utilizing solar power. For GPS activities, it can last up to 150 hours, ensuring you won’t run out of power during long adventures.

      1. Comfortable UltraFit Band: The inclusion of the UltraFit band in addition to a standard silicone band provides a comfortable and stylish option for users. The UltraFit band is lightweight, well-designed, and repels odors, making it a favorite among wearers.

      1. Map Functions: Unlike its predecessor, the Enduro 2 offers map functions, enhancing navigation and location tracking. Preloaded maps for skiing and golf add to its versatility.

      1. Sapphire Glass: The device features sapphire glass, providing a high level of durability and scratch resistance for the display.

      1. Quality-of-Life Features: Garmin has introduced several quality-of-life features, including chevrons showing the direction of travel on selected map courses, SatIQ for optimizing GPS settings, and an Auto Rest Timer for convenience during activities.

      1. Grade Adjusted Pace: The Grade Adjusted Pace feature, which adapts your pace based on trail gradient, is a notable addition for trail runners and hikers.

      1. Flashlight: The built-in flashlight is significantly brighter than previous models, providing added safety and functionality in the dark.

    Cons of the Garmin Enduro 2:

      1. Premium Price: While the Enduro 2 offers a range of advanced features, it comes with a premium price tag that may be a significant investment for some potential buyers.

      1. Complexity for Beginners: The watch offers a wealth of features and settings, which may be overwhelming for users who are new to Garmin’s ecosystem or smartwatches in general, but after the initial learning curve, using a Garmin watch becomes intuitive.

    In the End

    the Garmin Enduro 2 is a top-tier smartwatch designed for outdoor and fitness enthusiasts. It excels in terms of battery life, comfort, and advanced features. However, the price and potential complexity of the device may not suit everyone, particularly those looking for a more straightforward or budget-friendly smartwatch.

    Garmin Fenix 7 Pro

    Garmin Fenix 7 Pro: Front

    In a Nutshell

    The Garmin Fenix 7 Pro series adds 3 additional watches to an already stacked Fenix line up. One may think this makes it even harder to choose the right Garmin watch for you but in actuality, maybe not. 

    With the added features we’ll talk about below, we feel that Garmin has almost made the decision for us, and if we were leaning toward the Enduro 2 to begin with, the new Pro series of the Fenix and Epix lines are a clear clarion call to reconsider. 

    Let’s check out why.

    Inside Look

    Garmin’s Fenix 7 Pro line is essentially the Enduro 2 with shorter but still great battery life, but in addition to the great navigation, performance feedback functions and comprehensive smartwatch features, the Pro brings some pretty robust upgrades.

    Sizing:

    Fenix 7S Pro – 42mm

    Fenix 7 Pro – 47mm

    Fenix 7X Pro – 51mm

    Note: the 7 Pro and 7X Pro come in both stainless steel/gorilla glass and titanium/sapphire versions.

    You will get all the smartwatch functionality that can be found in the existing Fenix 7X model.

    Garmin Fenix 7 Pro: Maps & Graphics

    In the Real World

    Useful additions to the Fenix Pro line include:

      • All 3 sizes get a new and improved LED flashlight, a feature only on the top model previously – the new one is brighter
          • This flashlight may seem like a gimmick, but it is very useful

      • New Endurance score added to performance feedback features, adding to VO2 max and training load
          • Analyzes multiple data points to give you a rating 

      • Hill Score metric added which analyzes your climb performance but this doesn’t apply to cycling (We thought we’d include it for the multi-disciplined outdoor warriors out there)

      • Map overlays
          • Shading the maps to visually distinguish terrain height differences, which can be easier to read than using the contour lines

          • Weather function can overlay rain, temperature, or wind direction onto the map
              • Only accessible through the weather widget and cannot be viewed during workouts

          • New layouts that allow split screen and also perimeter positioned information displays

      • All Pro models get Multi-Band GPS, solar charging and 32GB of storage, as opposed to the varying specs in previous Fenix 7 lines

      • New 5th-gen heart rate sensor with 6 LEDs (up from 2 in previous gen)
          • Uses 2 LEDs during normal usage

          • Uses all 6 LEDs during workouts to give noticeably improved accuracy over previous models

          • Metallic contacts are present which seems to indicate Garmin wants to add other sensor functionality pending approval from health authorities

      • Next generation display
          • Brighter but also more energy efficient, which means it shouldn’t impact battery usageGarmin Chroma Display (Memory In Pixel) reflects ambient light and sunlight for great visibility outdoors and better energy efficiency compared to LED displaysGarmin Fenix 7 Pro: Front & Back

    In the End

    On its own, the Fenix 7 Pro line is eye-catching and an attractive upgrade. But consider this: all the upgraded software features such as map overlays, endurance score and more will be rolled out as updates for all the existing Fenix 7 models, which are seeing price reductions across the board alongside the rollout of the Fenix 7 Pro models.

    This is actually a win. If you want a fully capable watch with all the latest Garmin software gizmos, you can get significant savings when you buy Garmin Fenix 7 models outside the Pro line up. If the flashlight, next-gen heart rate sensor and Multi-Band GPS are all something you want, then the Pro line is where you will land. 

    Now, the real competition may come from another model entirely. The new Epix Pro also comes in 3 sizes, and essentially shares every function of the Fenix 7 Pros but has a crispy bright AMOLED display that some riders may prefer. More on that below.

    Garmin Fenix 7 Pro: Side Profiles

    Pros of the Garmin Fenix 7 Pro:

      1. Variety of Models: The Garmin Fenix 7 Pro series offers a variety of models with different sizes and materials, allowing users to choose the one that suits their preferences and style.

      1. Improved LED Flashlight: All three sizes of the Fenix 7 Pro now feature an improved LED flashlight, which can be quite useful in various outdoor situations.

      1. Endurance Score: The addition of the Endurance score to the performance feedback features provides users with a comprehensive rating based on multiple data points, helping them gauge their fitness and training progress.

      1. Hill Score Metric: The Hill Score metric is a valuable addition for outdoor enthusiasts, offering insights into climb performance. While not applicable to cycling, it caters to a broader audience of outdoor adventurers.

      1. Map Overlays: The Fenix 7 Pro introduces map overlays, which enhance navigation by visually distinguishing terrain height differences and overlaying weather information onto the map.

      1. Next-Gen Heart Rate Sensor: The watch features a new 5th-generation heart rate sensor with six LEDs, improving accuracy during workouts and suggesting potential for additional health-related sensor functionality.

      1. Brighter Display: The next-generation display is not only brighter but also more energy-efficient, ensuring great visibility outdoors without significantly impacting battery life.

      1. Multi-Band GPS: All Fenix 7 Pro models come equipped with Multi-Band GPS, providing more accurate and reliable location tracking.

      1. Chroma Display: The Garmin Chroma Display offers excellent visibility in various lighting conditions and better energy efficiency compared to LED displays.

    Cons of the Garmin Fenix 7 Pro:

      1. Price: The Garmin Fenix 7 Pro series comes with a premium price tag, which may be a deterrent for budget-conscious consumers. The cost can increase significantly when opting for the titanium/sapphire versions.

      1. Complexity: The watch offers an array of advanced features and settings, which can be overwhelming for those new to Garmin’s ecosystem or smartwatches in general, but after the initial learning curve, using a Garmin watch becomes intuitive.

      1. Competition from Other Models: The introduction of the Epix Pro with a crisp AMOLED display may divert potential buyers, as it offers similar functions but with a different display technology.

    Garmin Epix Pro

    Garmin Epix Pro: Front

    In a Nutshell

    Okay, so it’s time to take a look at the Epix Pro line up. Let’s start off by saying the Pro ranges of both the Fenix and Epix have the same core ingredients with different seasonings. But just because you’ve had one chicken dinner recipe, doesn’t mean you’ve had them all. The devil is in the details when you’re after a watch that suits who you are.

    Garmin really aren’t just lazily stuffing the same tech into all their wearables and trying to paint over the similarities. Once you get down to the nitty gritty, you can see their nuanced approach that allows everyone to have amazing functionality in their watches, with key differences that make each line stand out for their own particular reasons.

    Garmin Epix Pro: Graphics

    Inside Look

    Like the Epix models released before it, the Epix Pro is about offering an AMOLED display, which, to us, make it one of the prettiest GPS units of any kind, though it does lead to shorter battery life.

    There are three sizes under the Pro moniker, all with the new and improved heart rate sensor and the updated flashlight, the latter being a function that sounds gimmicky but turned out to be very useful and popular enough that Garmin is now throwing it into new models as a must-have.

    Sizes:

    They are all called simply Epix Pro with no name differentiation across

      • 51mm

      • 47mm

      • 42mm

    All the sizes come in stainless steel/gorilla glass and titanium/sapphire versions. The GPS/GNSS chipsets do not differ across stainless steel and titanium this time, all come with Multi-Band GPS and 32GB of storage.

    Garmin Epix Pro

    In the Real World

    With identical features and functionality between the Fenix Pro and Epix Pro lines, it really does come down to a preference in how you want your Garmin watch display to look. Now, while the Epix may have crisper colors and a clearer look to it, this does not mean the Fenix Pro watches are less clear. Remember, they have the updated Garmin Chroma Display (Memory In Pixel) which uses ambient light and has great contrast. 

    The difference you’ll see will be in the richness of colors and a crisp digital look the Epix Pro displays have that differentiate them from the Epix Pro. It is a simple question of what you feel better using.

    The AMOLED displays on the Epix Pros do draw more battery, with Garmin claiming the following numbers:

    Epix Pro 42 lasts up to 10 days just using smartwatch functions, down to 4 days with Always On Display (AOD) turned on.

    Epix Pro 47 lasts up to 16 days just using smartwatch functions, down to 6 days with AOD turned on.

    Then there is the Epix Pro 51, which jumps up to 31 days using just smartwatch functions, down to 11 with AOD turned on. This is thanks to the implementation of the big boy battery from the Enduro 2.

    Epix Pro models do not benefit from solar technology due to the AMOLED screen real estate taking up the whole front, but funnily enough it is this lack of a solar layer and the thinner cross section of the AMOLED that allows the Enduro 2 battery to go into the Epix Pro 51.

    Remember that the battery life will plummet to a matter of hours if you turn on any of the navigation functions, with Multi-Band GPS pulling the most energy. 

    However, with real use, having a daily workout that lasts about an hour or so, with AOD activated, the numbers turn out to be quite accurate, with some feedback showing the 51mm lasting 10-11 days. Everyone except riders who go on days-long expedition-like rides will be absolutely fine using the Epix Pros.

    Garmin Epix Pro: Profile

    Pros of the Garmin Epix Pro:

      1. AMOLED Display: The Epix Pro features a vibrant AMOLED display, making it one of the most visually appealing GPS watches available. The AMOLED screen offers rich colors and excellent clarity.

      1. Variety of Sizes: Garmin offers three different sizes for the Epix Pro (42mm 47mm, 51mm), allowing users to choose the one that best fits their wrist and preferences.

      1. Upgraded Heart Rate Sensor: The Epix Pro comes with an updated heart rate sensor, improving accuracy during workouts and daily activity tracking.

      1. New LED Flashlight: The inclusion of an improved LED flashlight is a practical feature that can be handy in various outdoor situations.

      1. Long Battery Life: Despite the energy-hungry AMOLED display, the Epix Pro offers respectable battery life, especially in its larger 51mm size. Users can enjoy extended use with the convenience of Always On Display (AOD) turned on.

      1. Multi-Band GPS: The watch features Multi-Band GPS for precise location tracking, enhancing its navigation capabilities.

      1. Storage: With 32GB of storage, users have ample space for storing maps, music, and other data.

    Cons of the Garmin Epix Pro:

      1. Shorter Battery Life with AOD: While the Epix Pro offers good battery life, the usage duration decreases when the Always On Display (AOD) is turned on. In the smaller sizes, it can be as short as a few days.

      1. Lack of Solar Technology: The Epix Pro models do not feature solar charging due to the AMOLED screen taking up the entire front of the watch. This means users must rely solely on standard charging methods.

      1. Navigation Functions Drain Battery: Activating navigation functions, especially Multi-Band GPS, significantly reduces battery life, which may be a concern for extended outdoor adventures.

    In the End

    So, if the AMOLED rings your bell, you’ll have to sacrifice some battery life, but practical testing shows that this won’t matter except for the really adventurous who are out in the boonies for days/weeks on end. 

    All the bells and whistles, plus a gorgeous display. What more could one ask for?

    In Conclusion

    One thing is for sure, you can’t go wrong with Garmin GPS devices.

    They have some stiff competition from other manufacturers but with the quality of their navigation and continuous refinement of every feature and design they offer, we at Promountain Bike have grown to have great confidence in all Garmin devices. 

    With that in mind, while we have covered the top models above, we highly recommend at least having a quick look at the entire range of Garmin mountain bike products. Their quality is high enough across the board that you are sacrificing very little by going for something smaller or cheaper. 

    If you ask for our honest opinion regarding the best Garmin for mountain biking covered above, we definitely have favorites.

    The Garmin watch we would choose:

      • Garmin Fenix Pro (whichever size suits you) : Packed to the gills with the very best Garmin features and functionality, the only thing the Garmin Enduro 2 flagship model has over this is longer battery life, and the Fenix Pro line up is still outstanding in that category anyway. Fenix Pros also beat out the Garmin Epix Pro series for us due to integrated solar charging. Who needs a bike computer when you have one of these?

    The Garmin bike computer we would choose:

      • Garmin Edge 840 Solar : Software functions on par with the bigger 1040, we feel the screen size is not enough of a draw to spend more on the flagship model. The 840 also wins over the 540 because it has a touch screen alongside the exact same button layout, giving you more versatility in operation. We have no reservations saying that when it comes to cycling computers in 2023, the Garmin Edge 840 Solar is top of the pile.

    No matter what you choose, you’re going to have a major mountain biking GPS unit strapped to your wrist or handlebar, and combined with the Garmin Connect App on mobile or web, you’re going to have fantastic insight into your performance, progress and recovery.

    Related Article: Other Mountain Biking Accessories

    FAQ’s

    1. How do I choose the best Garmin for mountain biking in 2023?

    – This depends on various factors, including your preferences and needs. The first question to answer is whether you prefer a wearable device or a bike-mounted computer. For both types, size is a consideration, but for wearables/watches independently, screen brightness, battery life, and more come into play.

    2. Are there specific Garmin models recommended for beginners in mountain biking?

    – Garmin’s ergonomics and ecosystems across all their devices are well designed and intuitive. Even for a beginner, after the initial familiarity stage, you’ll find using a Garmin wearable or bike computer to be a breeze.

    3. How do I determine the right size for a GPS watch for mountain biking?

    – The best way to do this is to try on something with similar dimensions and weight, which you can find among more conventional watches. From there, it’s almost completely personal preference. Some of our team members have small wrists but like big watches and vice versa.

    4. What are the essential features to consider when selecting a Garmin GPS device for mountain biking?

    – Factors such as battery life, GPS accuracy, dual-band GPS, ride data, and more should be considered. It provides insights into how these features can impact your mountain biking experience.

    5. How can I make an informed choice between a Garmin GPS watch and a cycling GPS computer?

    – There are many reasons to choose one over the other, but the crux of the decision will lie in

    1. If you want to track your fitness and progress while off the bike – which means getting a watch, or you just want to leave all the stats with your bike rides, which means using a GPS computer/

    2. If you like having all your info at an easy glance during a ride, which tends to push a rider toward computers due to the larger screen sizes.

    Please note that Garmin watches can be mounted on handlebars too.

    6. Do the recommendations in the article include options for different budget ranges?

    – Yes, there is a significant difference between the prices among models of both Garmin bike computers and watches, allowing riders to find something in their budget range.

    7. Is there information on where and how to purchase the recommended Garmin devices for mountain biking?

    – Promountain Bike offers direct links to reliable online retailers who offer the products reviewed in this article. Purchasing through these links will not affect the retail price of the products

    •  
    Best Garmin For Mountain Biking: Computers

    GPS bike computers are a varied bunch. Your mobile phone can be a bike computer. There isn’t much that can match a dedicated GPS bike computer mounted on your bars though, and Garmin’s pedigree speaks for itself.

    There is significant overlap in functionality with their wearables, but the benefits of Garmin’s bike computers are worth considering:

      • Much larger screen real estate
      • Information more clearly presented
      • Offers a few features that aren’t possible on watch displays (eg: Climb Pro)
      • Offer a disconnect from data and analysis when you’re off your bike, which is very important to some riders
      • Consistently accurate readings/recording and performance monitoring when paired with a compatible heart-rate monitor (HRM), while a watch on the wrist can experience hiccups while on rough MTB trails
      • Full accessibility to the advanced features available from modern GPS units – the watches are catching up but there still is a slight advantage to having a bike computer

    The above is why many consider a cycling computer to be their go-to GPS device for mountain biking. Let’s see what they have to offer and what has put the Garmin Edge line-up among the best bike computers you can find today.

    Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar

    Best Garmin For Mountain Biking: Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar - front and back

    In a Nutshell

    Price: Solar – $749 | Non-solar – $599

    Launched in 2022, the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar is the creme de la creme of the company’s bike computer stable and, for Garmin aficionados, the best in the cycling world at the time of writing. And they have a compelling argument for that claim.

    The 1040 launched with a screen that matched that of its predecessor, the Edge 1030 (which is still well worth considering among bike computers of any brand), at 3.5 inches but comes with an overhauled user interface (UI) and some significant strides in terms of functionality when used out in the real world.

    Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar: Side Profile

    Inside Look

    Selected specifications and characteristics:

      • Solar model has 64GB storage, non-solar has 32GB

      • Redesigned User Interface

      • 3.5 inch screen

      • 133 gram weight

      • Excellent battery life with a max of 45 hours (with Multi-Band GPS on and Solar)

      • USB-C connection/charging

      • Polar Glass on solar version puts solar panels across the entire front surface
          • Outer edges have 100% solar capability while the screen has 15%

      • Metal backmount

      • Multi-band GPS (ie dual frequency) option for increased GPS accuracy (uses more power)

      • Pre-loaded maps
          • Garmin’s entire catalog of downloadable maps is accessible

      • Improved operation/calculation speed over prior models

      • New searchable option for “Bike Shops” and “Water Stops”

    Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar: Display and graphics

    In the Real World

    The Edge 1040 allows for courses/routes to be preloaded into the device, which will then give riders the ability to see what is coming up ahead of them in terms of climb/descent intensity and gradient. 

    With previous Garmin bike computers, if you find yourself without a preloaded route, nothing was displayed about what’s ahead. The software has been leveled up and now even if you don’t have anything loaded, the 1040 will give you a heads up about what is coming up, if you so choose to ride that way. 

    Then when you cross what it deems to be the beginning of a climb, it will load in the gradient and elevation stats so you see the full shebang. This is a very good upgrade/evolution to a function known as ClimbPro, and it’s a real win in our book.

    This “auto route selection” works almost every time. On climbs where there is a clear end and the trail keeps going in one direction without any other choice, it nails it. But when there is choice and you decide to follow an alternate route, the computers may choose incorrectly and things get messy for a bit. It does this by choosing the most likely route you will take from shared ride data, and Garmin have said that they will be fine tuning the function over time. Overall, still a good and needed step for the company’s GPS devices.

    Other great features include the ability to search for climbs nearby (Climb Explore function), even during a ride, and filter your results by search radius, terrain type, difficulty and more. 

    Performance feedback features on the Garmin Edge 1040 include:

      • In-depth customization of what information is displayed

      • Navigation and elevation is very accurate

      • A revamped Training Status function that calculates:
          • Your VO2 Max and Acute Load stats

          • Your Cycling Ability, categorized into Anaerobic Capacity, Aerobic Capacity and Aerobic Endurance
              • Cycling Ability can be applied to courses that are loaded or saved on your device
                  • Estimated times, splits, power output during the course and more, all adjusted for your “goal effort” slider setting to indicate how hard you want to push

          • Create events and set up a training regime leading up to that event (eg: a race)
              • The device creates daily workouts for you in phases

    Pros of the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar:

      1. Impressive Battery Life: The Garmin Edge 1040 offers excellent battery life, with a maximum of 45 hours, especially when using Multi-Band GPS and Solar features. This means you can go on long rides without constantly worrying about recharging.

      1. Solar Charging Option: For those opting for the Solar model, you get the added benefit of solar charging. The Polar Glass on the solar version features solar panels across the entire front surface, with 100% solar capability on the outer edges and 15% on the screen.

      1. Redesigned User Interface: The device comes with a revamped user interface (UI), providing a more intuitive and user-friendly experience.

      1. Detailed Maps and Navigation: Pre-loaded maps and access to Garmin’s full catalog of downloadable maps make navigation a breeze, ensuring you won’t get lost on your rides.

      1. Auto Route Selection: The Edge 1040’s auto route selection feature is a game-changer. Even without a preloaded route, it provides information about upcoming climbs and descents, enhancing your ride planning.

      1. ClimbPro Function: The ClimbPro function offers real-time data on gradient and elevation, helping you tackle climbs with more confidence.

      1. Training Insights: The Edge 1040 provides detailed training statistics, including VO2 Max estimates, Acute Load stats, and Cycling Ability, enabling you to track your progress and optimize your training regime.

      1. Customization: You can personalize the information displayed on the device to suit your specific needs and preferences.

    Cons of the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar:

      1. Higher Price Tag: The Garmin Edge 1040, especially the Solar version, comes with a premium price. While it offers top-tier features, it may not be budget-friendly for all cyclists.

      1. Solar Model Weight: The Solar version is slightly heavier due to the solar panels, which might be a concern for those looking for the lightest possible setup.

      1. Occasional Auto Route Selection Inaccuracy: The auto route selection feature, while generally reliable, may occasionally choose routes that don’t align with your preferences. Garmin is continuously refining this function, but it can still lead to minor inconveniences.

      1. Competition from Smaller Models: Garmin has introduced smaller, more affordable models like the Edge 540/840, which offer similar features to the Edge 1040. If portability and cost are priorities, these smaller models might be more attractive.

    In the End

    So, is Garmin’s flagship bike computer still a winner the year after its initial launch? The answer is a resounding YES. However, there is a big caveat to that, because as you’ll see below, Garmin has given its big dog some direct in-house competition from the Edge 540/840, which pack all the features of the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar into smaller packages and smaller price points. 

    Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar

    Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar: Front & Back

    In a Nutshell

    Price:

    Edge 840

      • Solar – $549.99

      • Non-solar – $449.99

    Edge 540

      • Solar – $447.29

      • Non-solar – $349.99

    The Garmin Edge 540/840 can easily be considered the best value for money bike computer, definitely within the current selection of Garmin bike computers and arguably across all brands. The reason is because, in terms of features and software, it is identical to the top-of-the-line 1040 but comes in at a much lower price point while only “sacrificing” size. 

    Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar: Side Profile

    Inside Look

    Selected specifications and characteristics:

    The Edge 540 and 840 have the same dimensions and seven-button setup, the only difference is that the Edge 840 has a touch screen.  

    Garmin has created some heavyweight contenders disguised as middleweights here, because these cycling computers punch well above their apparent power. Buy an Edge 540 or 840 and you’re getting all the software and functionality of the big boss Garmin Edge 1040 Solar in a smaller form factor. 

    Having the same buttons on the touch screen version is new for Garmin, who usually have fewer buttons on touch-enabled models. We see this as very positive and it actually works in favor of the 840 because when you’re on the move the buttons offer a much more tactile and precise alternative to the touch screen. Then, when you’re moving slowly or stopped, the touch screen’s ease of use shines. 

    The smaller units do not share the same metal mount on the back of the devices, but they have made it so the plastic mounts are removable via a pair of screws. So, if you break a mount somehow, it can be replaced.

    Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar: Display & Graphics

    In the Real World

    Like their more costly 1040 sibling, the 540 and 840 allow for courses/routes to be preloaded into the device, which will then give riders the ability to see what is coming up ahead of them in terms of climb/descent intensity and gradient. 

    All cycling computers in the 540/840 range benefit from the updated features and performance feedback functions that come with the Edge 1040, including:

      • ClimbPro activation showing upcoming climbs even if a route is not loaded

      • Auto route selection based on shared ride data – an imperfect development but still welcome

      • Climb Explore function that lets you search and filter nearby climbs

      • Display layout customization

      • Accurate GPS tracking and elevation

      • A revamped Training Status function that calculates:
          • Your VO2 Max and Acute Load stats

          • Your Cycling Ability, categorized into Anaerobic Capacity, Aerobic Capacity and Aerobic Endurance
              • Cycling Ability can be applied to courses that are loaded or saved on your device to analyze how you would perform, providing:
                  • Estimated times, splits, power output during the course and more, all adjusted for your “goal effort” slider setting to indicate how hard you want to push

          • Create events and set up a training regime leading up to that event (eg: a race)
              • The device creates daily workouts for you in phases

    In the End

    It’s a tough debate. Buy a Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and have a bigger screen and more battery life, or save up to $200 and have the same functionality but in a smaller package? 

    If you ask us, we think the Garmin Edge 540 and 840 take the cake among bike computers. They have all the tricks and the smaller display does not impact usage much in our experience. BUT, and it is a big but, there is no substitute for comfort out on the trail. If the 1040 was priced $500 higher, we’d say go for the smaller computers all day long, but the difference is not that large if you like what the bigger one has to offer.

    We really are spoiled for choice when it comes to cycling computers in 2023, and the mind-blowing thing is that this article only focuses on one brand!

    Pros of the Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar:

      1. Value for Money: The Garmin Edge 540/840 offers exceptional value for money. It provides the same features and software as the top-tier Garmin Edge 1040 Solar but at a significantly lower price point.

      1. Feature Parity: Despite the lower cost, these models retain all the software and functionality of the premium Garmin Edge 1040 Solar. You get powerful features without breaking the bank.

      1. Compact Size: The Edge 540 and 840 have a smaller form factor compared to the Edge 1040, making them more portable and user-friendly.

      1. Affordable Solar Option: With solar editions available for $450 (Edge 540) and $550 (Edge 840), these models provide solar charging at a reasonable price, extending battery life without a substantial cost increase.

      1. User-Friendly Buttons: Both models feature a button-based interface that offers tactile and precise control, making it easier to use while on the move.

      1. Customizable Display: You can customize the display layout to suit your preferences, allowing you to focus on the data that matters most to you.

      1. Reliable GPS and Elevation Tracking: Just like the Edge 1040, the Edge 540/840 provides accurate GPS tracking and elevation data, ensuring you have reliable ride metrics.

      1. Training Insights: These models come with training features, including VO2 Max estimate, Cycling Ability, and event preparation tools, helping you optimize your performance.

    Cons of the Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar:

      1. Smaller Screen: While the smaller size is an advantage in terms of portability, it does mean a smaller screen. Some users may prefer a larger display for better visibility.

      1. Imperfect Auto Route Selection: The auto route selection based on shared ride data, while welcome, may occasionally make sub-optimal route choices, which could be inconvenient during rides.

    Fun Fact: The GPS bike computers market was valued at around USD 542.5 million in 2021, and it is expected to reach USD 768.0 million by 2027, registering a CAGR of about 6.0% during the forecast period (2022 – 2027).

    Best Garmin For Mountain Biking: Watches

    Wearables. Smart Watches. Precursor to the Borg. Whatever you wish to call them, watches geared toward athletes these days are fantastic tools. They’re a body sensor, scientist and nagging trainer/coach rolled into one then wrapped around your wrist. For many, a modern wearable GPS unit is a far smarter choice than any of the cycling computers on the market.

    You don’t have to be an elite athlete, as long as you’re serious about your health, performance and the great sport of Mountain Biking, your life will be changed when you buy a Garmin watch, even outside of your mountain biking adventures. They have surprisingly detailed maps that belie their screen size, match or even exceed the capabilities of most GPS computers, some come with in-depth health tracking features, and exceptional battery life in most cases (especially when compared to any Apple Watch), the list goes on and on. Then, link your Garmin watch to any pairable cadence sensors and power meters and they firmly land among the best bike computers out there.

    If you’re on the fence because you like having something mounted to your bike while you ride, aftermarket watch mounts are an easy solution, which will necessitate the use of an HRM to get heart rate data.

    With a breadth of models to choose from, which is the best Garmin watch for mountain biking and for you?

    There is a lot to consider:

      • Functions

      • Ease of use/User Interface

      • Size

      • Weight

      • Battery life

      • GPS tracking accuracy

    The pride of the fleet is currently the Garmin Enduro 2, a bulky but well-designed watch stacked with features that easily rival Garmin’s best bike computer, the Edge 1040. Riders shouldn’t let the 1040’s bright lights (it does have a very capable flashlight) blind them to the rest of the options. If you choose to buy any Garmin watch that fits your needs, it will be capable of taking your life into new territory.

    Garmin Enduro 2

    Garmin Enduro 2_ Smart Watch

    In a Nutshell

    To understand how Garmin wanted their new flagship watch to stand out from the crowd, you don’t even need to turn it on. In the box, just like with the original Enduro, you’ll see that there are two bands included. Is that a big deal? Yes. 

    You get one silicone band that is pretty standard but of good quality that you would expect from Garmin, while the other is the UltraFit band, a supremely designed and well thought out nylon strap. It is very comfortable, stays securely fastened, has just the right amount of stretch, seems to repel odors, and weighs 20 grams less than the silicone band. Anyone who tries the UltraFit band tends to fall madly in love with its feel and quality. As of yet, while Garmin does sell the UltraFit separately, it does not come in alternative sizes/widths other than 26 mm.

    This search for peak performance extends throughout the Enduro 2’s advanced features, not to mention the longer battery life it has over Garmin’s other wearable GPS units.

    Garmin Enduro 2: Side Profiles

    Inside Look

    Comparing the Enduro 2 to its predecessor, the Enduro 1, is an impractical exercise because the two are worlds apart. The OG Enduro lacked the map functions that emerged in the Fenix 6 series onward. 

    The Enduro 2 watch is essentially a Fenix 7X – which is no slouch itself – and has “base” features/characteristics that include:

      • Excellent battery life upwards of 34 days (46 days using solar) if using the base smartwatch functions, upwards of 150 hours in GPS-mode, 81 in Multi-Band

      • Music

      • Garmin Pay

      • WiFi

      • Downloadable maps
          • Skiing and golf maps are preloaded

      • Touchscreen

      • Built-in solar

      • Multi-band GPS (dual frequency)
          • Often not necessary for good accuracy, and leaving it off helps extend battery life

      • Sapphire glass

      • 17mm case thickness

      • Flashlight (twice as bright as the Fenix 7X)

    In the Real World

    Garmin added other quality-of-life features that make it a substantial leap forward over the first Enduro, which have subsequently made their way into other model lines such as the Fenix 7 and Epix. Useful developments you’ll find on the Enduro 2 include:

      • There are now chevrons (arrows) that show the direction of travel along the selected map course – a small but very welcome addition

      • SatIQ – a function that chooses the most suitable GPS settings for you depending on location/signal strength, which can greatly improve battery life when Multi-Band GPS is not necessary

      • Auto Rest Timer that starts/stops automatically when you come to a stop during a ride
          • What’s really cool is if you manually go into rest mode with a button press, when you start again, the watch will continue automatically! Thumbs up, Garmin!

      • Grade Adjusted Pace adjusts your pace depending on trail gradient, a common feature with other software but new to Garmin at the time

    Garmin Enduro 2: Front & Back

    Pros of the Garmin Enduro 2:

      1. Dual Band Compatibility: The Enduro 2 comes with dual-band GPS (Multi-Band GPS), which can enhance GPS accuracy in challenging environments, making it a valuable tool for outdoor enthusiasts.

      1. Extended Battery Life: The Enduro 2 boasts impressive battery life, with up to 34 days of usage on a single charge or 46 days when utilizing solar power. For GPS activities, it can last up to 150 hours, ensuring you won’t run out of power during long adventures.

      1. Comfortable UltraFit Band: The inclusion of the UltraFit band in addition to a standard silicone band provides a comfortable and stylish option for users. The UltraFit band is lightweight, well-designed, and repels odors, making it a favorite among wearers.

      1. Map Functions: Unlike its predecessor, the Enduro 2 offers map functions, enhancing navigation and location tracking. Preloaded maps for skiing and golf add to its versatility.

      1. Sapphire Glass: The device features sapphire glass, providing a high level of durability and scratch resistance for the display.

      1. Quality-of-Life Features: Garmin has introduced several quality-of-life features, including chevrons showing the direction of travel on selected map courses, SatIQ for optimizing GPS settings, and an Auto Rest Timer for convenience during activities.

      1. Grade Adjusted Pace: The Grade Adjusted Pace feature, which adapts your pace based on trail gradient, is a notable addition for trail runners and hikers.

      1. Flashlight: The built-in flashlight is significantly brighter than previous models, providing added safety and functionality in the dark.

    Cons of the Garmin Enduro 2:

      1. Premium Price: While the Enduro 2 offers a range of advanced features, it comes with a premium price tag that may be a significant investment for some potential buyers.

      1. Complexity for Beginners: The watch offers a wealth of features and settings, which may be overwhelming for users who are new to Garmin’s ecosystem or smartwatches in general, but after the initial learning curve, using a Garmin watch becomes intuitive.

    In the End

    the Garmin Enduro 2 is a top-tier smartwatch designed for outdoor and fitness enthusiasts. It excels in terms of battery life, comfort, and advanced features. However, the price and potential complexity of the device may not suit everyone, particularly those looking for a more straightforward or budget-friendly smartwatch.

    Garmin Fenix 7 Pro

    Garmin Fenix 7 Pro: Front

    In a Nutshell

    The Garmin Fenix 7 Pro series adds 3 additional watches to an already stacked Fenix line up. One may think this makes it even harder to choose the right Garmin watch for you but in actuality, maybe not. 

    With the added features we’ll talk about below, we feel that Garmin has almost made the decision for us, and if we were leaning toward the Enduro 2 to begin with, the new Pro series of the Fenix and Epix lines are a clear clarion call to reconsider. 

    Let’s check out why.

    Inside Look

    Garmin’s Fenix 7 Pro line is essentially the Enduro 2 with shorter but still great battery life, but in addition to the great navigation, performance feedback functions and comprehensive smartwatch features, the Pro brings some pretty robust upgrades.

    Sizing:

    Fenix 7S Pro – 42mm

    Fenix 7 Pro – 47mm

    Fenix 7X Pro – 51mm

    Note: the 7 Pro and 7X Pro come in both stainless steel/gorilla glass and titanium/sapphire versions.

    You will get all the smartwatch functionality that can be found in the existing Fenix 7X model.

    Garmin Fenix 7 Pro: Maps & Graphics

    In the Real World

    Useful additions to the Fenix Pro line include:

      • All 3 sizes get a new and improved LED flashlight, a feature only on the top model previously – the new one is brighter
          • This flashlight may seem like a gimmick, but it is very useful

      • New Endurance score added to performance feedback features, adding to VO2 max and training load
          • Analyzes multiple data points to give you a rating 

      • Hill Score metric added which analyzes your climb performance but this doesn’t apply to cycling (We thought we’d include it for the multi-disciplined outdoor warriors out there)

      • Map overlays
          • Shading the maps to visually distinguish terrain height differences, which can be easier to read than using the contour lines

          • Weather function can overlay rain, temperature, or wind direction onto the map
              • Only accessible through the weather widget and cannot be viewed during workouts

          • New layouts that allow split screen and also perimeter positioned information displays

      • All Pro models get Multi-Band GPS, solar charging and 32GB of storage, as opposed to the varying specs in previous Fenix 7 lines

      • New 5th-gen heart rate sensor with 6 LEDs (up from 2 in previous gen)
          • Uses 2 LEDs during normal usage

          • Uses all 6 LEDs during workouts to give noticeably improved accuracy over previous models

          • Metallic contacts are present which seems to indicate Garmin wants to add other sensor functionality pending approval from health authorities

      • Next generation display
          • Brighter but also more energy efficient, which means it shouldn’t impact battery usageGarmin Chroma Display (Memory In Pixel) reflects ambient light and sunlight for great visibility outdoors and better energy efficiency compared to LED displaysGarmin Fenix 7 Pro: Front & Back

    In the End

    On its own, the Fenix 7 Pro line is eye-catching and an attractive upgrade. But consider this: all the upgraded software features such as map overlays, endurance score and more will be rolled out as updates for all the existing Fenix 7 models, which are seeing price reductions across the board alongside the rollout of the Fenix 7 Pro models.

    This is actually a win. If you want a fully capable watch with all the latest Garmin software gizmos, you can get significant savings when you buy Garmin Fenix 7 models outside the Pro line up. If the flashlight, next-gen heart rate sensor and Multi-Band GPS are all something you want, then the Pro line is where you will land. 

    Now, the real competition may come from another model entirely. The new Epix Pro also comes in 3 sizes, and essentially shares every function of the Fenix 7 Pros but has a crispy bright AMOLED display that some riders may prefer. More on that below.

    Garmin Fenix 7 Pro: Side Profiles

    Pros of the Garmin Fenix 7 Pro:

      1. Variety of Models: The Garmin Fenix 7 Pro series offers a variety of models with different sizes and materials, allowing users to choose the one that suits their preferences and style.

      1. Improved LED Flashlight: All three sizes of the Fenix 7 Pro now feature an improved LED flashlight, which can be quite useful in various outdoor situations.

      1. Endurance Score: The addition of the Endurance score to the performance feedback features provides users with a comprehensive rating based on multiple data points, helping them gauge their fitness and training progress.

      1. Hill Score Metric: The Hill Score metric is a valuable addition for outdoor enthusiasts, offering insights into climb performance. While not applicable to cycling, it caters to a broader audience of outdoor adventurers.

      1. Map Overlays: The Fenix 7 Pro introduces map overlays, which enhance navigation by visually distinguishing terrain height differences and overlaying weather information onto the map.

      1. Next-Gen Heart Rate Sensor: The watch features a new 5th-generation heart rate sensor with six LEDs, improving accuracy during workouts and suggesting potential for additional health-related sensor functionality.

      1. Brighter Display: The next-generation display is not only brighter but also more energy-efficient, ensuring great visibility outdoors without significantly impacting battery life.

      1. Multi-Band GPS: All Fenix 7 Pro models come equipped with Multi-Band GPS, providing more accurate and reliable location tracking.

      1. Chroma Display: The Garmin Chroma Display offers excellent visibility in various lighting conditions and better energy efficiency compared to LED displays.

    Cons of the Garmin Fenix 7 Pro:

      1. Price: The Garmin Fenix 7 Pro series comes with a premium price tag, which may be a deterrent for budget-conscious consumers. The cost can increase significantly when opting for the titanium/sapphire versions.

      1. Complexity: The watch offers an array of advanced features and settings, which can be overwhelming for those new to Garmin’s ecosystem or smartwatches in general, but after the initial learning curve, using a Garmin watch becomes intuitive.

      1. Competition from Other Models: The introduction of the Epix Pro with a crisp AMOLED display may divert potential buyers, as it offers similar functions but with a different display technology.

    Garmin Epix Pro

    Garmin Epix Pro: Front

    In a Nutshell

    Okay, so it’s time to take a look at the Epix Pro line up. Let’s start off by saying the Pro ranges of both the Fenix and Epix have the same core ingredients with different seasonings. But just because you’ve had one chicken dinner recipe, doesn’t mean you’ve had them all. The devil is in the details when you’re after a watch that suits who you are.

    Garmin really aren’t just lazily stuffing the same tech into all their wearables and trying to paint over the similarities. Once you get down to the nitty gritty, you can see their nuanced approach that allows everyone to have amazing functionality in their watches, with key differences that make each line stand out for their own particular reasons.

    Garmin Epix Pro: Graphics

    Inside Look

    Like the Epix models released before it, the Epix Pro is about offering an AMOLED display, which, to us, make it one of the prettiest GPS units of any kind, though it does lead to shorter battery life.

    There are three sizes under the Pro moniker, all with the new and improved heart rate sensor and the updated flashlight, the latter being a function that sounds gimmicky but turned out to be very useful and popular enough that Garmin is now throwing it into new models as a must-have.

    Sizes:

    They are all called simply Epix Pro with no name differentiation across

      • 51mm

      • 47mm

      • 42mm

    All the sizes come in stainless steel/gorilla glass and titanium/sapphire versions. The GPS/GNSS chipsets do not differ across stainless steel and titanium this time, all come with Multi-Band GPS and 32GB of storage.

    Garmin Epix Pro

    In the Real World

    With identical features and functionality between the Fenix Pro and Epix Pro lines, it really does come down to a preference in how you want your Garmin watch display to look. Now, while the Epix may have crisper colors and a clearer look to it, this does not mean the Fenix Pro watches are less clear. Remember, they have the updated Garmin Chroma Display (Memory In Pixel) which uses ambient light and has great contrast. 

    The difference you’ll see will be in the richness of colors and a crisp digital look the Epix Pro displays have that differentiate them from the Epix Pro. It is a simple question of what you feel better using.

    The AMOLED displays on the Epix Pros do draw more battery, with Garmin claiming the following numbers:

    Epix Pro 42 lasts up to 10 days just using smartwatch functions, down to 4 days with Always On Display (AOD) turned on.

    Epix Pro 47 lasts up to 16 days just using smartwatch functions, down to 6 days with AOD turned on.

    Then there is the Epix Pro 51, which jumps up to 31 days using just smartwatch functions, down to 11 with AOD turned on. This is thanks to the implementation of the big boy battery from the Enduro 2.

    Epix Pro models do not benefit from solar technology due to the AMOLED screen real estate taking up the whole front, but funnily enough it is this lack of a solar layer and the thinner cross section of the AMOLED that allows the Enduro 2 battery to go into the Epix Pro 51.

    Remember that the battery life will plummet to a matter of hours if you turn on any of the navigation functions, with Multi-Band GPS pulling the most energy. 

    However, with real use, having a daily workout that lasts about an hour or so, with AOD activated, the numbers turn out to be quite accurate, with some feedback showing the 51mm lasting 10-11 days. Everyone except riders who go on days-long expedition-like rides will be absolutely fine using the Epix Pros.

    Garmin Epix Pro: Profile

    Pros of the Garmin Epix Pro:

      1. AMOLED Display: The Epix Pro features a vibrant AMOLED display, making it one of the most visually appealing GPS watches available. The AMOLED screen offers rich colors and excellent clarity.

      1. Variety of Sizes: Garmin offers three different sizes for the Epix Pro (42mm 47mm, 51mm), allowing users to choose the one that best fits their wrist and preferences.

      1. Upgraded Heart Rate Sensor: The Epix Pro comes with an updated heart rate sensor, improving accuracy during workouts and daily activity tracking.

      1. New LED Flashlight: The inclusion of an improved LED flashlight is a practical feature that can be handy in various outdoor situations.

      1. Long Battery Life: Despite the energy-hungry AMOLED display, the Epix Pro offers respectable battery life, especially in its larger 51mm size. Users can enjoy extended use with the convenience of Always On Display (AOD) turned on.

      1. Multi-Band GPS: The watch features Multi-Band GPS for precise location tracking, enhancing its navigation capabilities.

      1. Storage: With 32GB of storage, users have ample space for storing maps, music, and other data.

    Cons of the Garmin Epix Pro:

      1. Shorter Battery Life with AOD: While the Epix Pro offers good battery life, the usage duration decreases when the Always On Display (AOD) is turned on. In the smaller sizes, it can be as short as a few days.

      1. Lack of Solar Technology: The Epix Pro models do not feature solar charging due to the AMOLED screen taking up the entire front of the watch. This means users must rely solely on standard charging methods.

      1. Navigation Functions Drain Battery: Activating navigation functions, especially Multi-Band GPS, significantly reduces battery life, which may be a concern for extended outdoor adventures.

    In the End

    So, if the AMOLED rings your bell, you’ll have to sacrifice some battery life, but practical testing shows that this won’t matter except for the really adventurous who are out in the boonies for days/weeks on end. 

    All the bells and whistles, plus a gorgeous display. What more could one ask for?

    In Conclusion

    One thing is for sure, you can’t go wrong with Garmin GPS devices.

    They have some stiff competition from other manufacturers but with the quality of their navigation and continuous refinement of every feature and design they offer, we at Promountain Bike have grown to have great confidence in all Garmin devices. 

    With that in mind, while we have covered the top models above, we highly recommend at least having a quick look at the entire range of Garmin mountain bike products. Their quality is high enough across the board that you are sacrificing very little by going for something smaller or cheaper. 

    If you ask for our honest opinion regarding the best Garmin for mountain biking covered above, we definitely have favorites.

    The Garmin watch we would choose:

      • Garmin Fenix Pro (whichever size suits you) : Packed to the gills with the very best Garmin features and functionality, the only thing the Garmin Enduro 2 flagship model has over this is longer battery life, and the Fenix Pro line up is still outstanding in that category anyway. Fenix Pros also beat out the Garmin Epix Pro series for us due to integrated solar charging. Who needs a bike computer when you have one of these?

    The Garmin bike computer we would choose:

      • Garmin Edge 840 Solar : Software functions on par with the bigger 1040, we feel the screen size is not enough of a draw to spend more on the flagship model. The 840 also wins over the 540 because it has a touch screen alongside the exact same button layout, giving you more versatility in operation. We have no reservations saying that when it comes to cycling computers in 2023, the Garmin Edge 840 Solar is top of the pile.

    No matter what you choose, you’re going to have a major mountain biking GPS unit strapped to your wrist or handlebar, and combined with the Garmin Connect App on mobile or web, you’re going to have fantastic insight into your performance, progress and recovery.

    Related Article: Other Mountain Biking Accessories

    FAQ’s

    1. How do I choose the best Garmin for mountain biking in 2023?

    – This depends on various factors, including your preferences and needs. The first question to answer is whether you prefer a wearable device or a bike-mounted computer. For both types, size is a consideration, but for wearables/watches independently, screen brightness, battery life, and more come into play.

    2. Are there specific Garmin models recommended for beginners in mountain biking?

    – Garmin’s ergonomics and ecosystems across all their devices are well designed and intuitive. Even for a beginner, after the initial familiarity stage, you’ll find using a Garmin wearable or bike computer to be a breeze.

    3. How do I determine the right size for a GPS watch for mountain biking?

    – The best way to do this is to try on something with similar dimensions and weight, which you can find among more conventional watches. From there, it’s almost completely personal preference. Some of our team members have small wrists but like big watches and vice versa.

    4. What are the essential features to consider when selecting a Garmin GPS device for mountain biking?

    – Factors such as battery life, GPS accuracy, dual-band GPS, ride data, and more should be considered. It provides insights into how these features can impact your mountain biking experience.

    5. How can I make an informed choice between a Garmin GPS watch and a cycling GPS computer?

    – There are many reasons to choose one over the other, but the crux of the decision will lie in

    1. If you want to track your fitness and progress while off the bike – which means getting a watch, or you just want to leave all the stats with your bike rides, which means using a GPS computer/

    2. If you like having all your info at an easy glance during a ride, which tends to push a rider toward computers due to the larger screen sizes.

    Please note that Garmin watches can be mounted on handlebars too.

    6. Do the recommendations in the article include options for different budget ranges?

    – Yes, there is a significant difference between the prices among models of both Garmin bike computers and watches, allowing riders to find something in their budget range.

    7. Is there information on where and how to purchase the recommended Garmin devices for mountain biking?

    – Promountain Bike offers direct links to reliable online retailers who offer the products reviewed in this article. Purchasing through these links will not affect the retail price of the products

    •  
    Best Garmin For Mountain Biking: Computers

    GPS bike computers are a varied bunch. Your mobile phone can be a bike computer. There isn’t much that can match a dedicated GPS bike computer mounted on your bars though, and Garmin’s pedigree speaks for itself.

    There is significant overlap in functionality with their wearables, but the benefits of Garmin’s bike computers are worth considering:

      • Much larger screen real estate
      • Information more clearly presented
      • Offers a few features that aren’t possible on watch displays (eg: Climb Pro)
      • Offer a disconnect from data and analysis when you’re off your bike, which is very important to some riders
      • Consistently accurate readings/recording and performance monitoring when paired with a compatible heart-rate monitor (HRM), while a watch on the wrist can experience hiccups while on rough MTB trails
      • Full accessibility to the advanced features available from modern GPS units – the watches are catching up but there still is a slight advantage to having a bike computer

    The above is why many consider a cycling computer to be their go-to GPS device for mountain biking. Let’s see what they have to offer and what has put the Garmin Edge line-up among the best bike computers you can find today.

    Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar

    Best Garmin For Mountain Biking: Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar - front and back

    In a Nutshell

    Price: Solar – $749 | Non-solar – $599

    Launched in 2022, the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar is the creme de la creme of the company’s bike computer stable and, for Garmin aficionados, the best in the cycling world at the time of writing. And they have a compelling argument for that claim.

    The 1040 launched with a screen that matched that of its predecessor, the Edge 1030 (which is still well worth considering among bike computers of any brand), at 3.5 inches but comes with an overhauled user interface (UI) and some significant strides in terms of functionality when used out in the real world.

    Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar: Side Profile

    Inside Look

    Selected specifications and characteristics:

      • Solar model has 64GB storage, non-solar has 32GB

      • Redesigned User Interface

      • 3.5 inch screen

      • 133 gram weight

      • Excellent battery life with a max of 45 hours (with Multi-Band GPS on and Solar)

      • USB-C connection/charging

      • Polar Glass on solar version puts solar panels across the entire front surface
          • Outer edges have 100% solar capability while the screen has 15%

      • Metal backmount

      • Multi-band GPS (ie dual frequency) option for increased GPS accuracy (uses more power)

      • Pre-loaded maps
          • Garmin’s entire catalog of downloadable maps is accessible

      • Improved operation/calculation speed over prior models

      • New searchable option for “Bike Shops” and “Water Stops”

    Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar: Display and graphics

    In the Real World

    The Edge 1040 allows for courses/routes to be preloaded into the device, which will then give riders the ability to see what is coming up ahead of them in terms of climb/descent intensity and gradient. 

    With previous Garmin bike computers, if you find yourself without a preloaded route, nothing was displayed about what’s ahead. The software has been leveled up and now even if you don’t have anything loaded, the 1040 will give you a heads up about what is coming up, if you so choose to ride that way. 

    Then when you cross what it deems to be the beginning of a climb, it will load in the gradient and elevation stats so you see the full shebang. This is a very good upgrade/evolution to a function known as ClimbPro, and it’s a real win in our book.

    This “auto route selection” works almost every time. On climbs where there is a clear end and the trail keeps going in one direction without any other choice, it nails it. But when there is choice and you decide to follow an alternate route, the computers may choose incorrectly and things get messy for a bit. It does this by choosing the most likely route you will take from shared ride data, and Garmin have said that they will be fine tuning the function over time. Overall, still a good and needed step for the company’s GPS devices.

    Other great features include the ability to search for climbs nearby (Climb Explore function), even during a ride, and filter your results by search radius, terrain type, difficulty and more. 

    Performance feedback features on the Garmin Edge 1040 include:

      • In-depth customization of what information is displayed

      • Navigation and elevation is very accurate

      • A revamped Training Status function that calculates:
          • Your VO2 Max and Acute Load stats

          • Your Cycling Ability, categorized into Anaerobic Capacity, Aerobic Capacity and Aerobic Endurance
              • Cycling Ability can be applied to courses that are loaded or saved on your device
                  • Estimated times, splits, power output during the course and more, all adjusted for your “goal effort” slider setting to indicate how hard you want to push

          • Create events and set up a training regime leading up to that event (eg: a race)
              • The device creates daily workouts for you in phases

    Pros of the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar:

      1. Impressive Battery Life: The Garmin Edge 1040 offers excellent battery life, with a maximum of 45 hours, especially when using Multi-Band GPS and Solar features. This means you can go on long rides without constantly worrying about recharging.

      1. Solar Charging Option: For those opting for the Solar model, you get the added benefit of solar charging. The Polar Glass on the solar version features solar panels across the entire front surface, with 100% solar capability on the outer edges and 15% on the screen.

      1. Redesigned User Interface: The device comes with a revamped user interface (UI), providing a more intuitive and user-friendly experience.

      1. Detailed Maps and Navigation: Pre-loaded maps and access to Garmin’s full catalog of downloadable maps make navigation a breeze, ensuring you won’t get lost on your rides.

      1. Auto Route Selection: The Edge 1040’s auto route selection feature is a game-changer. Even without a preloaded route, it provides information about upcoming climbs and descents, enhancing your ride planning.

      1. ClimbPro Function: The ClimbPro function offers real-time data on gradient and elevation, helping you tackle climbs with more confidence.

      1. Training Insights: The Edge 1040 provides detailed training statistics, including VO2 Max estimates, Acute Load stats, and Cycling Ability, enabling you to track your progress and optimize your training regime.

      1. Customization: You can personalize the information displayed on the device to suit your specific needs and preferences.

    Cons of the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar:

      1. Higher Price Tag: The Garmin Edge 1040, especially the Solar version, comes with a premium price. While it offers top-tier features, it may not be budget-friendly for all cyclists.

      1. Solar Model Weight: The Solar version is slightly heavier due to the solar panels, which might be a concern for those looking for the lightest possible setup.

      1. Occasional Auto Route Selection Inaccuracy: The auto route selection feature, while generally reliable, may occasionally choose routes that don’t align with your preferences. Garmin is continuously refining this function, but it can still lead to minor inconveniences.

      1. Competition from Smaller Models: Garmin has introduced smaller, more affordable models like the Edge 540/840, which offer similar features to the Edge 1040. If portability and cost are priorities, these smaller models might be more attractive.

    In the End

    So, is Garmin’s flagship bike computer still a winner the year after its initial launch? The answer is a resounding YES. However, there is a big caveat to that, because as you’ll see below, Garmin has given its big dog some direct in-house competition from the Edge 540/840, which pack all the features of the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar into smaller packages and smaller price points. 

    Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar

    Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar: Front & Back

    In a Nutshell

    Price:

    Edge 840

      • Solar – $549.99

      • Non-solar – $449.99

    Edge 540

      • Solar – $447.29

      • Non-solar – $349.99

    The Garmin Edge 540/840 can easily be considered the best value for money bike computer, definitely within the current selection of Garmin bike computers and arguably across all brands. The reason is because, in terms of features and software, it is identical to the top-of-the-line 1040 but comes in at a much lower price point while only “sacrificing” size. 

    Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar: Side Profile

    Inside Look

    Selected specifications and characteristics:

    The Edge 540 and 840 have the same dimensions and seven-button setup, the only difference is that the Edge 840 has a touch screen.  

    Garmin has created some heavyweight contenders disguised as middleweights here, because these cycling computers punch well above their apparent power. Buy an Edge 540 or 840 and you’re getting all the software and functionality of the big boss Garmin Edge 1040 Solar in a smaller form factor. 

    Having the same buttons on the touch screen version is new for Garmin, who usually have fewer buttons on touch-enabled models. We see this as very positive and it actually works in favor of the 840 because when you’re on the move the buttons offer a much more tactile and precise alternative to the touch screen. Then, when you’re moving slowly or stopped, the touch screen’s ease of use shines. 

    The smaller units do not share the same metal mount on the back of the devices, but they have made it so the plastic mounts are removable via a pair of screws. So, if you break a mount somehow, it can be replaced.

    Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar: Display & Graphics

    In the Real World

    Like their more costly 1040 sibling, the 540 and 840 allow for courses/routes to be preloaded into the device, which will then give riders the ability to see what is coming up ahead of them in terms of climb/descent intensity and gradient. 

    All cycling computers in the 540/840 range benefit from the updated features and performance feedback functions that come with the Edge 1040, including:

      • ClimbPro activation showing upcoming climbs even if a route is not loaded

      • Auto route selection based on shared ride data – an imperfect development but still welcome

      • Climb Explore function that lets you search and filter nearby climbs

      • Display layout customization

      • Accurate GPS tracking and elevation

      • A revamped Training Status function that calculates:
          • Your VO2 Max and Acute Load stats

          • Your Cycling Ability, categorized into Anaerobic Capacity, Aerobic Capacity and Aerobic Endurance
              • Cycling Ability can be applied to courses that are loaded or saved on your device to analyze how you would perform, providing:
                  • Estimated times, splits, power output during the course and more, all adjusted for your “goal effort” slider setting to indicate how hard you want to push

          • Create events and set up a training regime leading up to that event (eg: a race)
              • The device creates daily workouts for you in phases

    In the End

    It’s a tough debate. Buy a Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and have a bigger screen and more battery life, or save up to $200 and have the same functionality but in a smaller package? 

    If you ask us, we think the Garmin Edge 540 and 840 take the cake among bike computers. They have all the tricks and the smaller display does not impact usage much in our experience. BUT, and it is a big but, there is no substitute for comfort out on the trail. If the 1040 was priced $500 higher, we’d say go for the smaller computers all day long, but the difference is not that large if you like what the bigger one has to offer.

    We really are spoiled for choice when it comes to cycling computers in 2023, and the mind-blowing thing is that this article only focuses on one brand!

    Pros of the Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar:

      1. Value for Money: The Garmin Edge 540/840 offers exceptional value for money. It provides the same features and software as the top-tier Garmin Edge 1040 Solar but at a significantly lower price point.

      1. Feature Parity: Despite the lower cost, these models retain all the software and functionality of the premium Garmin Edge 1040 Solar. You get powerful features without breaking the bank.

      1. Compact Size: The Edge 540 and 840 have a smaller form factor compared to the Edge 1040, making them more portable and user-friendly.

      1. Affordable Solar Option: With solar editions available for $450 (Edge 540) and $550 (Edge 840), these models provide solar charging at a reasonable price, extending battery life without a substantial cost increase.

      1. User-Friendly Buttons: Both models feature a button-based interface that offers tactile and precise control, making it easier to use while on the move.

      1. Customizable Display: You can customize the display layout to suit your preferences, allowing you to focus on the data that matters most to you.

      1. Reliable GPS and Elevation Tracking: Just like the Edge 1040, the Edge 540/840 provides accurate GPS tracking and elevation data, ensuring you have reliable ride metrics.

      1. Training Insights: These models come with training features, including VO2 Max estimate, Cycling Ability, and event preparation tools, helping you optimize your performance.

    Cons of the Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar:

      1. Smaller Screen: While the smaller size is an advantage in terms of portability, it does mean a smaller screen. Some users may prefer a larger display for better visibility.

      1. Imperfect Auto Route Selection: The auto route selection based on shared ride data, while welcome, may occasionally make sub-optimal route choices, which could be inconvenient during rides.

    Fun Fact: The GPS bike computers market was valued at around USD 542.5 million in 2021, and it is expected to reach USD 768.0 million by 2027, registering a CAGR of about 6.0% during the forecast period (2022 – 2027).

    Best Garmin For Mountain Biking: Watches

    Wearables. Smart Watches. Precursor to the Borg. Whatever you wish to call them, watches geared toward athletes these days are fantastic tools. They’re a body sensor, scientist and nagging trainer/coach rolled into one then wrapped around your wrist. For many, a modern wearable GPS unit is a far smarter choice than any of the cycling computers on the market.

    You don’t have to be an elite athlete, as long as you’re serious about your health, performance and the great sport of Mountain Biking, your life will be changed when you buy a Garmin watch, even outside of your mountain biking adventures. They have surprisingly detailed maps that belie their screen size, match or even exceed the capabilities of most GPS computers, some come with in-depth health tracking features, and exceptional battery life in most cases (especially when compared to any Apple Watch), the list goes on and on. Then, link your Garmin watch to any pairable cadence sensors and power meters and they firmly land among the best bike computers out there.

    If you’re on the fence because you like having something mounted to your bike while you ride, aftermarket watch mounts are an easy solution, which will necessitate the use of an HRM to get heart rate data.

    With a breadth of models to choose from, which is the best Garmin watch for mountain biking and for you?

    There is a lot to consider:

      • Functions

      • Ease of use/User Interface

      • Size

      • Weight

      • Battery life

      • GPS tracking accuracy

    The pride of the fleet is currently the Garmin Enduro 2, a bulky but well-designed watch stacked with features that easily rival Garmin’s best bike computer, the Edge 1040. Riders shouldn’t let the 1040’s bright lights (it does have a very capable flashlight) blind them to the rest of the options. If you choose to buy any Garmin watch that fits your needs, it will be capable of taking your life into new territory.

    Garmin Enduro 2

    Garmin Enduro 2_ Smart Watch

    In a Nutshell

    To understand how Garmin wanted their new flagship watch to stand out from the crowd, you don’t even need to turn it on. In the box, just like with the original Enduro, you’ll see that there are two bands included. Is that a big deal? Yes. 

    You get one silicone band that is pretty standard but of good quality that you would expect from Garmin, while the other is the UltraFit band, a supremely designed and well thought out nylon strap. It is very comfortable, stays securely fastened, has just the right amount of stretch, seems to repel odors, and weighs 20 grams less than the silicone band. Anyone who tries the UltraFit band tends to fall madly in love with its feel and quality. As of yet, while Garmin does sell the UltraFit separately, it does not come in alternative sizes/widths other than 26 mm.

    This search for peak performance extends throughout the Enduro 2’s advanced features, not to mention the longer battery life it has over Garmin’s other wearable GPS units.

    Garmin Enduro 2: Side Profiles

    Inside Look

    Comparing the Enduro 2 to its predecessor, the Enduro 1, is an impractical exercise because the two are worlds apart. The OG Enduro lacked the map functions that emerged in the Fenix 6 series onward. 

    The Enduro 2 watch is essentially a Fenix 7X – which is no slouch itself – and has “base” features/characteristics that include:

      • Excellent battery life upwards of 34 days (46 days using solar) if using the base smartwatch functions, upwards of 150 hours in GPS-mode, 81 in Multi-Band

      • Music

      • Garmin Pay

      • WiFi

      • Downloadable maps
          • Skiing and golf maps are preloaded

      • Touchscreen

      • Built-in solar

      • Multi-band GPS (dual frequency)
          • Often not necessary for good accuracy, and leaving it off helps extend battery life

      • Sapphire glass

      • 17mm case thickness

      • Flashlight (twice as bright as the Fenix 7X)

    In the Real World

    Garmin added other quality-of-life features that make it a substantial leap forward over the first Enduro, which have subsequently made their way into other model lines such as the Fenix 7 and Epix. Useful developments you’ll find on the Enduro 2 include:

      • There are now chevrons (arrows) that show the direction of travel along the selected map course – a small but very welcome addition

      • SatIQ – a function that chooses the most suitable GPS settings for you depending on location/signal strength, which can greatly improve battery life when Multi-Band GPS is not necessary

      • Auto Rest Timer that starts/stops automatically when you come to a stop during a ride
          • What’s really cool is if you manually go into rest mode with a button press, when you start again, the watch will continue automatically! Thumbs up, Garmin!

      • Grade Adjusted Pace adjusts your pace depending on trail gradient, a common feature with other software but new to Garmin at the time

    Garmin Enduro 2: Front & Back

    Pros of the Garmin Enduro 2:

      1. Dual Band Compatibility: The Enduro 2 comes with dual-band GPS (Multi-Band GPS), which can enhance GPS accuracy in challenging environments, making it a valuable tool for outdoor enthusiasts.

      1. Extended Battery Life: The Enduro 2 boasts impressive battery life, with up to 34 days of usage on a single charge or 46 days when utilizing solar power. For GPS activities, it can last up to 150 hours, ensuring you won’t run out of power during long adventures.

      1. Comfortable UltraFit Band: The inclusion of the UltraFit band in addition to a standard silicone band provides a comfortable and stylish option for users. The UltraFit band is lightweight, well-designed, and repels odors, making it a favorite among wearers.

      1. Map Functions: Unlike its predecessor, the Enduro 2 offers map functions, enhancing navigation and location tracking. Preloaded maps for skiing and golf add to its versatility.

      1. Sapphire Glass: The device features sapphire glass, providing a high level of durability and scratch resistance for the display.

      1. Quality-of-Life Features: Garmin has introduced several quality-of-life features, including chevrons showing the direction of travel on selected map courses, SatIQ for optimizing GPS settings, and an Auto Rest Timer for convenience during activities.

      1. Grade Adjusted Pace: The Grade Adjusted Pace feature, which adapts your pace based on trail gradient, is a notable addition for trail runners and hikers.

      1. Flashlight: The built-in flashlight is significantly brighter than previous models, providing added safety and functionality in the dark.

    Cons of the Garmin Enduro 2:

      1. Premium Price: While the Enduro 2 offers a range of advanced features, it comes with a premium price tag that may be a significant investment for some potential buyers.

      1. Complexity for Beginners: The watch offers a wealth of features and settings, which may be overwhelming for users who are new to Garmin’s ecosystem or smartwatches in general, but after the initial learning curve, using a Garmin watch becomes intuitive.

    In the End

    the Garmin Enduro 2 is a top-tier smartwatch designed for outdoor and fitness enthusiasts. It excels in terms of battery life, comfort, and advanced features. However, the price and potential complexity of the device may not suit everyone, particularly those looking for a more straightforward or budget-friendly smartwatch.

    Garmin Fenix 7 Pro

    Garmin Fenix 7 Pro: Front

    In a Nutshell

    The Garmin Fenix 7 Pro series adds 3 additional watches to an already stacked Fenix line up. One may think this makes it even harder to choose the right Garmin watch for you but in actuality, maybe not. 

    With the added features we’ll talk about below, we feel that Garmin has almost made the decision for us, and if we were leaning toward the Enduro 2 to begin with, the new Pro series of the Fenix and Epix lines are a clear clarion call to reconsider. 

    Let’s check out why.

    Inside Look

    Garmin’s Fenix 7 Pro line is essentially the Enduro 2 with shorter but still great battery life, but in addition to the great navigation, performance feedback functions and comprehensive smartwatch features, the Pro brings some pretty robust upgrades.

    Sizing:

    Fenix 7S Pro – 42mm

    Fenix 7 Pro – 47mm

    Fenix 7X Pro – 51mm

    Note: the 7 Pro and 7X Pro come in both stainless steel/gorilla glass and titanium/sapphire versions.

    You will get all the smartwatch functionality that can be found in the existing Fenix 7X model.

    Garmin Fenix 7 Pro: Maps & Graphics

    In the Real World

    Useful additions to the Fenix Pro line include:

      • All 3 sizes get a new and improved LED flashlight, a feature only on the top model previously – the new one is brighter
          • This flashlight may seem like a gimmick, but it is very useful

      • New Endurance score added to performance feedback features, adding to VO2 max and training load
          • Analyzes multiple data points to give you a rating 

      • Hill Score metric added which analyzes your climb performance but this doesn’t apply to cycling (We thought we’d include it for the multi-disciplined outdoor warriors out there)

      • Map overlays
          • Shading the maps to visually distinguish terrain height differences, which can be easier to read than using the contour lines

          • Weather function can overlay rain, temperature, or wind direction onto the map
              • Only accessible through the weather widget and cannot be viewed during workouts

          • New layouts that allow split screen and also perimeter positioned information displays

      • All Pro models get Multi-Band GPS, solar charging and 32GB of storage, as opposed to the varying specs in previous Fenix 7 lines

      • New 5th-gen heart rate sensor with 6 LEDs (up from 2 in previous gen)
          • Uses 2 LEDs during normal usage

          • Uses all 6 LEDs during workouts to give noticeably improved accuracy over previous models

          • Metallic contacts are present which seems to indicate Garmin wants to add other sensor functionality pending approval from health authorities

      • Next generation display
          • Brighter but also more energy efficient, which means it shouldn’t impact battery usageGarmin Chroma Display (Memory In Pixel) reflects ambient light and sunlight for great visibility outdoors and better energy efficiency compared to LED displaysGarmin Fenix 7 Pro: Front & Back

    In the End

    On its own, the Fenix 7 Pro line is eye-catching and an attractive upgrade. But consider this: all the upgraded software features such as map overlays, endurance score and more will be rolled out as updates for all the existing Fenix 7 models, which are seeing price reductions across the board alongside the rollout of the Fenix 7 Pro models.

    This is actually a win. If you want a fully capable watch with all the latest Garmin software gizmos, you can get significant savings when you buy Garmin Fenix 7 models outside the Pro line up. If the flashlight, next-gen heart rate sensor and Multi-Band GPS are all something you want, then the Pro line is where you will land. 

    Now, the real competition may come from another model entirely. The new Epix Pro also comes in 3 sizes, and essentially shares every function of the Fenix 7 Pros but has a crispy bright AMOLED display that some riders may prefer. More on that below.

    Garmin Fenix 7 Pro: Side Profiles

    Pros of the Garmin Fenix 7 Pro:

      1. Variety of Models: The Garmin Fenix 7 Pro series offers a variety of models with different sizes and materials, allowing users to choose the one that suits their preferences and style.

      1. Improved LED Flashlight: All three sizes of the Fenix 7 Pro now feature an improved LED flashlight, which can be quite useful in various outdoor situations.

      1. Endurance Score: The addition of the Endurance score to the performance feedback features provides users with a comprehensive rating based on multiple data points, helping them gauge their fitness and training progress.

      1. Hill Score Metric: The Hill Score metric is a valuable addition for outdoor enthusiasts, offering insights into climb performance. While not applicable to cycling, it caters to a broader audience of outdoor adventurers.

      1. Map Overlays: The Fenix 7 Pro introduces map overlays, which enhance navigation by visually distinguishing terrain height differences and overlaying weather information onto the map.

      1. Next-Gen Heart Rate Sensor: The watch features a new 5th-generation heart rate sensor with six LEDs, improving accuracy during workouts and suggesting potential for additional health-related sensor functionality.

      1. Brighter Display: The next-generation display is not only brighter but also more energy-efficient, ensuring great visibility outdoors without significantly impacting battery life.

      1. Multi-Band GPS: All Fenix 7 Pro models come equipped with Multi-Band GPS, providing more accurate and reliable location tracking.

      1. Chroma Display: The Garmin Chroma Display offers excellent visibility in various lighting conditions and better energy efficiency compared to LED displays.

    Cons of the Garmin Fenix 7 Pro:

      1. Price: The Garmin Fenix 7 Pro series comes with a premium price tag, which may be a deterrent for budget-conscious consumers. The cost can increase significantly when opting for the titanium/sapphire versions.

      1. Complexity: The watch offers an array of advanced features and settings, which can be overwhelming for those new to Garmin’s ecosystem or smartwatches in general, but after the initial learning curve, using a Garmin watch becomes intuitive.

      1. Competition from Other Models: The introduction of the Epix Pro with a crisp AMOLED display may divert potential buyers, as it offers similar functions but with a different display technology.

    Garmin Epix Pro

    Garmin Epix Pro: Front

    In a Nutshell

    Okay, so it’s time to take a look at the Epix Pro line up. Let’s start off by saying the Pro ranges of both the Fenix and Epix have the same core ingredients with different seasonings. But just because you’ve had one chicken dinner recipe, doesn’t mean you’ve had them all. The devil is in the details when you’re after a watch that suits who you are.

    Garmin really aren’t just lazily stuffing the same tech into all their wearables and trying to paint over the similarities. Once you get down to the nitty gritty, you can see their nuanced approach that allows everyone to have amazing functionality in their watches, with key differences that make each line stand out for their own particular reasons.

    Garmin Epix Pro: Graphics

    Inside Look

    Like the Epix models released before it, the Epix Pro is about offering an AMOLED display, which, to us, make it one of the prettiest GPS units of any kind, though it does lead to shorter battery life.

    There are three sizes under the Pro moniker, all with the new and improved heart rate sensor and the updated flashlight, the latter being a function that sounds gimmicky but turned out to be very useful and popular enough that Garmin is now throwing it into new models as a must-have.

    Sizes:

    They are all called simply Epix Pro with no name differentiation across

      • 51mm

      • 47mm

      • 42mm

    All the sizes come in stainless steel/gorilla glass and titanium/sapphire versions. The GPS/GNSS chipsets do not differ across stainless steel and titanium this time, all come with Multi-Band GPS and 32GB of storage.

    Garmin Epix Pro

    In the Real World

    With identical features and functionality between the Fenix Pro and Epix Pro lines, it really does come down to a preference in how you want your Garmin watch display to look. Now, while the Epix may have crisper colors and a clearer look to it, this does not mean the Fenix Pro watches are less clear. Remember, they have the updated Garmin Chroma Display (Memory In Pixel) which uses ambient light and has great contrast. 

    The difference you’ll see will be in the richness of colors and a crisp digital look the Epix Pro displays have that differentiate them from the Epix Pro. It is a simple question of what you feel better using.

    The AMOLED displays on the Epix Pros do draw more battery, with Garmin claiming the following numbers:

    Epix Pro 42 lasts up to 10 days just using smartwatch functions, down to 4 days with Always On Display (AOD) turned on.

    Epix Pro 47 lasts up to 16 days just using smartwatch functions, down to 6 days with AOD turned on.

    Then there is the Epix Pro 51, which jumps up to 31 days using just smartwatch functions, down to 11 with AOD turned on. This is thanks to the implementation of the big boy battery from the Enduro 2.

    Epix Pro models do not benefit from solar technology due to the AMOLED screen real estate taking up the whole front, but funnily enough it is this lack of a solar layer and the thinner cross section of the AMOLED that allows the Enduro 2 battery to go into the Epix Pro 51.

    Remember that the battery life will plummet to a matter of hours if you turn on any of the navigation functions, with Multi-Band GPS pulling the most energy. 

    However, with real use, having a daily workout that lasts about an hour or so, with AOD activated, the numbers turn out to be quite accurate, with some feedback showing the 51mm lasting 10-11 days. Everyone except riders who go on days-long expedition-like rides will be absolutely fine using the Epix Pros.

    Garmin Epix Pro: Profile

    Pros of the Garmin Epix Pro:

      1. AMOLED Display: The Epix Pro features a vibrant AMOLED display, making it one of the most visually appealing GPS watches available. The AMOLED screen offers rich colors and excellent clarity.

      1. Variety of Sizes: Garmin offers three different sizes for the Epix Pro (42mm 47mm, 51mm), allowing users to choose the one that best fits their wrist and preferences.

      1. Upgraded Heart Rate Sensor: The Epix Pro comes with an updated heart rate sensor, improving accuracy during workouts and daily activity tracking.

      1. New LED Flashlight: The inclusion of an improved LED flashlight is a practical feature that can be handy in various outdoor situations.

      1. Long Battery Life: Despite the energy-hungry AMOLED display, the Epix Pro offers respectable battery life, especially in its larger 51mm size. Users can enjoy extended use with the convenience of Always On Display (AOD) turned on.

      1. Multi-Band GPS: The watch features Multi-Band GPS for precise location tracking, enhancing its navigation capabilities.

      1. Storage: With 32GB of storage, users have ample space for storing maps, music, and other data.

    Cons of the Garmin Epix Pro:

      1. Shorter Battery Life with AOD: While the Epix Pro offers good battery life, the usage duration decreases when the Always On Display (AOD) is turned on. In the smaller sizes, it can be as short as a few days.

      1. Lack of Solar Technology: The Epix Pro models do not feature solar charging due to the AMOLED screen taking up the entire front of the watch. This means users must rely solely on standard charging methods.

      1. Navigation Functions Drain Battery: Activating navigation functions, especially Multi-Band GPS, significantly reduces battery life, which may be a concern for extended outdoor adventures.

    In the End

    So, if the AMOLED rings your bell, you’ll have to sacrifice some battery life, but practical testing shows that this won’t matter except for the really adventurous who are out in the boonies for days/weeks on end. 

    All the bells and whistles, plus a gorgeous display. What more could one ask for?

    In Conclusion

    One thing is for sure, you can’t go wrong with Garmin GPS devices.

    They have some stiff competition from other manufacturers but with the quality of their navigation and continuous refinement of every feature and design they offer, we at Promountain Bike have grown to have great confidence in all Garmin devices. 

    With that in mind, while we have covered the top models above, we highly recommend at least having a quick look at the entire range of Garmin mountain bike products. Their quality is high enough across the board that you are sacrificing very little by going for something smaller or cheaper. 

    If you ask for our honest opinion regarding the best Garmin for mountain biking covered above, we definitely have favorites.

    The Garmin watch we would choose:

      • Garmin Fenix Pro (whichever size suits you) : Packed to the gills with the very best Garmin features and functionality, the only thing the Garmin Enduro 2 flagship model has over this is longer battery life, and the Fenix Pro line up is still outstanding in that category anyway. Fenix Pros also beat out the Garmin Epix Pro series for us due to integrated solar charging. Who needs a bike computer when you have one of these?

    The Garmin bike computer we would choose:

      • Garmin Edge 840 Solar : Software functions on par with the bigger 1040, we feel the screen size is not enough of a draw to spend more on the flagship model. The 840 also wins over the 540 because it has a touch screen alongside the exact same button layout, giving you more versatility in operation. We have no reservations saying that when it comes to cycling computers in 2023, the Garmin Edge 840 Solar is top of the pile.

    No matter what you choose, you’re going to have a major mountain biking GPS unit strapped to your wrist or handlebar, and combined with the Garmin Connect App on mobile or web, you’re going to have fantastic insight into your performance, progress and recovery.

    Related Article: Other Mountain Biking Accessories

    FAQ’s

    1. How do I choose the best Garmin for mountain biking in 2023?

    – This depends on various factors, including your preferences and needs. The first question to answer is whether you prefer a wearable device or a bike-mounted computer. For both types, size is a consideration, but for wearables/watches independently, screen brightness, battery life, and more come into play.

    2. Are there specific Garmin models recommended for beginners in mountain biking?

    – Garmin’s ergonomics and ecosystems across all their devices are well designed and intuitive. Even for a beginner, after the initial familiarity stage, you’ll find using a Garmin wearable or bike computer to be a breeze.

    3. How do I determine the right size for a GPS watch for mountain biking?

    – The best way to do this is to try on something with similar dimensions and weight, which you can find among more conventional watches. From there, it’s almost completely personal preference. Some of our team members have small wrists but like big watches and vice versa.

    4. What are the essential features to consider when selecting a Garmin GPS device for mountain biking?

    – Factors such as battery life, GPS accuracy, dual-band GPS, ride data, and more should be considered. It provides insights into how these features can impact your mountain biking experience.

    5. How can I make an informed choice between a Garmin GPS watch and a cycling GPS computer?

    – There are many reasons to choose one over the other, but the crux of the decision will lie in

    1. If you want to track your fitness and progress while off the bike – which means getting a watch, or you just want to leave all the stats with your bike rides, which means using a GPS computer/

    2. If you like having all your info at an easy glance during a ride, which tends to push a rider toward computers due to the larger screen sizes.

    Please note that Garmin watches can be mounted on handlebars too.

    6. Do the recommendations in the article include options for different budget ranges?

    – Yes, there is a significant difference between the prices among models of both Garmin bike computers and watches, allowing riders to find something in their budget range.

    7. Is there information on where and how to purchase the recommended Garmin devices for mountain biking?

    – Promountain Bike offers direct links to reliable online retailers who offer the products reviewed in this article. Purchasing through these links will not affect the retail price of the products

    •  
    Best Garmin For Mountain Biking: Computers

    GPS bike computers are a varied bunch. Your mobile phone can be a bike computer. There isn’t much that can match a dedicated GPS bike computer mounted on your bars though, and Garmin’s pedigree speaks for itself.

    There is significant overlap in functionality with their wearables, but the benefits of Garmin’s bike computers are worth considering:

      • Much larger screen real estate
      • Information more clearly presented
      • Offers a few features that aren’t possible on watch displays (eg: Climb Pro)
      • Offer a disconnect from data and analysis when you’re off your bike, which is very important to some riders
      • Consistently accurate readings/recording and performance monitoring when paired with a compatible heart-rate monitor (HRM), while a watch on the wrist can experience hiccups while on rough MTB trails
      • Full accessibility to the advanced features available from modern GPS units – the watches are catching up but there still is a slight advantage to having a bike computer

    The above is why many consider a cycling computer to be their go-to GPS device for mountain biking. Let’s see what they have to offer and what has put the Garmin Edge line-up among the best bike computers you can find today.

    Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar

    Best Garmin For Mountain Biking: Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar - front and back

    In a Nutshell

    Price: Solar – $749 | Non-solar – $599

    Launched in 2022, the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar is the creme de la creme of the company’s bike computer stable and, for Garmin aficionados, the best in the cycling world at the time of writing. And they have a compelling argument for that claim.

    The 1040 launched with a screen that matched that of its predecessor, the Edge 1030 (which is still well worth considering among bike computers of any brand), at 3.5 inches but comes with an overhauled user interface (UI) and some significant strides in terms of functionality when used out in the real world.

    Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar: Side Profile

    Inside Look

    Selected specifications and characteristics:

      • Solar model has 64GB storage, non-solar has 32GB

      • Redesigned User Interface

      • 3.5 inch screen

      • 133 gram weight

      • Excellent battery life with a max of 45 hours (with Multi-Band GPS on and Solar)

      • USB-C connection/charging

      • Polar Glass on solar version puts solar panels across the entire front surface
          • Outer edges have 100% solar capability while the screen has 15%

      • Metal backmount

      • Multi-band GPS (ie dual frequency) option for increased GPS accuracy (uses more power)

      • Pre-loaded maps
          • Garmin’s entire catalog of downloadable maps is accessible

      • Improved operation/calculation speed over prior models

      • New searchable option for “Bike Shops” and “Water Stops”

    Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar: Display and graphics

    In the Real World

    The Edge 1040 allows for courses/routes to be preloaded into the device, which will then give riders the ability to see what is coming up ahead of them in terms of climb/descent intensity and gradient. 

    With previous Garmin bike computers, if you find yourself without a preloaded route, nothing was displayed about what’s ahead. The software has been leveled up and now even if you don’t have anything loaded, the 1040 will give you a heads up about what is coming up, if you so choose to ride that way. 

    Then when you cross what it deems to be the beginning of a climb, it will load in the gradient and elevation stats so you see the full shebang. This is a very good upgrade/evolution to a function known as ClimbPro, and it’s a real win in our book.

    This “auto route selection” works almost every time. On climbs where there is a clear end and the trail keeps going in one direction without any other choice, it nails it. But when there is choice and you decide to follow an alternate route, the computers may choose incorrectly and things get messy for a bit. It does this by choosing the most likely route you will take from shared ride data, and Garmin have said that they will be fine tuning the function over time. Overall, still a good and needed step for the company’s GPS devices.

    Other great features include the ability to search for climbs nearby (Climb Explore function), even during a ride, and filter your results by search radius, terrain type, difficulty and more. 

    Performance feedback features on the Garmin Edge 1040 include:

      • In-depth customization of what information is displayed

      • Navigation and elevation is very accurate

      • A revamped Training Status function that calculates:
          • Your VO2 Max and Acute Load stats

          • Your Cycling Ability, categorized into Anaerobic Capacity, Aerobic Capacity and Aerobic Endurance
              • Cycling Ability can be applied to courses that are loaded or saved on your device
                  • Estimated times, splits, power output during the course and more, all adjusted for your “goal effort” slider setting to indicate how hard you want to push

          • Create events and set up a training regime leading up to that event (eg: a race)
              • The device creates daily workouts for you in phases

    Pros of the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar:

      1. Impressive Battery Life: The Garmin Edge 1040 offers excellent battery life, with a maximum of 45 hours, especially when using Multi-Band GPS and Solar features. This means you can go on long rides without constantly worrying about recharging.

      1. Solar Charging Option: For those opting for the Solar model, you get the added benefit of solar charging. The Polar Glass on the solar version features solar panels across the entire front surface, with 100% solar capability on the outer edges and 15% on the screen.

      1. Redesigned User Interface: The device comes with a revamped user interface (UI), providing a more intuitive and user-friendly experience.

      1. Detailed Maps and Navigation: Pre-loaded maps and access to Garmin’s full catalog of downloadable maps make navigation a breeze, ensuring you won’t get lost on your rides.

      1. Auto Route Selection: The Edge 1040’s auto route selection feature is a game-changer. Even without a preloaded route, it provides information about upcoming climbs and descents, enhancing your ride planning.

      1. ClimbPro Function: The ClimbPro function offers real-time data on gradient and elevation, helping you tackle climbs with more confidence.

      1. Training Insights: The Edge 1040 provides detailed training statistics, including VO2 Max estimates, Acute Load stats, and Cycling Ability, enabling you to track your progress and optimize your training regime.

      1. Customization: You can personalize the information displayed on the device to suit your specific needs and preferences.

    Cons of the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and Non-Solar:

      1. Higher Price Tag: The Garmin Edge 1040, especially the Solar version, comes with a premium price. While it offers top-tier features, it may not be budget-friendly for all cyclists.

      1. Solar Model Weight: The Solar version is slightly heavier due to the solar panels, which might be a concern for those looking for the lightest possible setup.

      1. Occasional Auto Route Selection Inaccuracy: The auto route selection feature, while generally reliable, may occasionally choose routes that don’t align with your preferences. Garmin is continuously refining this function, but it can still lead to minor inconveniences.

      1. Competition from Smaller Models: Garmin has introduced smaller, more affordable models like the Edge 540/840, which offer similar features to the Edge 1040. If portability and cost are priorities, these smaller models might be more attractive.

    In the End

    So, is Garmin’s flagship bike computer still a winner the year after its initial launch? The answer is a resounding YES. However, there is a big caveat to that, because as you’ll see below, Garmin has given its big dog some direct in-house competition from the Edge 540/840, which pack all the features of the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar into smaller packages and smaller price points. 

    Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar

    Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar: Front & Back

    In a Nutshell

    Price:

    Edge 840

      • Solar – $549.99

      • Non-solar – $449.99

    Edge 540

      • Solar – $447.29

      • Non-solar – $349.99

    The Garmin Edge 540/840 can easily be considered the best value for money bike computer, definitely within the current selection of Garmin bike computers and arguably across all brands. The reason is because, in terms of features and software, it is identical to the top-of-the-line 1040 but comes in at a much lower price point while only “sacrificing” size. 

    Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar: Side Profile

    Inside Look

    Selected specifications and characteristics:

    The Edge 540 and 840 have the same dimensions and seven-button setup, the only difference is that the Edge 840 has a touch screen.  

    Garmin has created some heavyweight contenders disguised as middleweights here, because these cycling computers punch well above their apparent power. Buy an Edge 540 or 840 and you’re getting all the software and functionality of the big boss Garmin Edge 1040 Solar in a smaller form factor. 

    Having the same buttons on the touch screen version is new for Garmin, who usually have fewer buttons on touch-enabled models. We see this as very positive and it actually works in favor of the 840 because when you’re on the move the buttons offer a much more tactile and precise alternative to the touch screen. Then, when you’re moving slowly or stopped, the touch screen’s ease of use shines. 

    The smaller units do not share the same metal mount on the back of the devices, but they have made it so the plastic mounts are removable via a pair of screws. So, if you break a mount somehow, it can be replaced.

    Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar: Display & Graphics

    In the Real World

    Like their more costly 1040 sibling, the 540 and 840 allow for courses/routes to be preloaded into the device, which will then give riders the ability to see what is coming up ahead of them in terms of climb/descent intensity and gradient. 

    All cycling computers in the 540/840 range benefit from the updated features and performance feedback functions that come with the Edge 1040, including:

      • ClimbPro activation showing upcoming climbs even if a route is not loaded

      • Auto route selection based on shared ride data – an imperfect development but still welcome

      • Climb Explore function that lets you search and filter nearby climbs

      • Display layout customization

      • Accurate GPS tracking and elevation

      • A revamped Training Status function that calculates:
          • Your VO2 Max and Acute Load stats

          • Your Cycling Ability, categorized into Anaerobic Capacity, Aerobic Capacity and Aerobic Endurance
              • Cycling Ability can be applied to courses that are loaded or saved on your device to analyze how you would perform, providing:
                  • Estimated times, splits, power output during the course and more, all adjusted for your “goal effort” slider setting to indicate how hard you want to push

          • Create events and set up a training regime leading up to that event (eg: a race)
              • The device creates daily workouts for you in phases

    In the End

    It’s a tough debate. Buy a Garmin Edge 1040 Solar and have a bigger screen and more battery life, or save up to $200 and have the same functionality but in a smaller package? 

    If you ask us, we think the Garmin Edge 540 and 840 take the cake among bike computers. They have all the tricks and the smaller display does not impact usage much in our experience. BUT, and it is a big but, there is no substitute for comfort out on the trail. If the 1040 was priced $500 higher, we’d say go for the smaller computers all day long, but the difference is not that large if you like what the bigger one has to offer.

    We really are spoiled for choice when it comes to cycling computers in 2023, and the mind-blowing thing is that this article only focuses on one brand!

    Pros of the Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar:

      1. Value for Money: The Garmin Edge 540/840 offers exceptional value for money. It provides the same features and software as the top-tier Garmin Edge 1040 Solar but at a significantly lower price point.

      1. Feature Parity: Despite the lower cost, these models retain all the software and functionality of the premium Garmin Edge 1040 Solar. You get powerful features without breaking the bank.

      1. Compact Size: The Edge 540 and 840 have a smaller form factor compared to the Edge 1040, making them more portable and user-friendly.

      1. Affordable Solar Option: With solar editions available for $450 (Edge 540) and $550 (Edge 840), these models provide solar charging at a reasonable price, extending battery life without a substantial cost increase.

      1. User-Friendly Buttons: Both models feature a button-based interface that offers tactile and precise control, making it easier to use while on the move.

      1. Customizable Display: You can customize the display layout to suit your preferences, allowing you to focus on the data that matters most to you.

      1. Reliable GPS and Elevation Tracking: Just like the Edge 1040, the Edge 540/840 provides accurate GPS tracking and elevation data, ensuring you have reliable ride metrics.

      1. Training Insights: These models come with training features, including VO2 Max estimate, Cycling Ability, and event preparation tools, helping you optimize your performance.

    Cons of the Garmin Edge 540/840 Solar:

      1. Smaller Screen: While the smaller size is an advantage in terms of portability, it does mean a smaller screen. Some users may prefer a larger display for better visibility.

      1. Imperfect Auto Route Selection: The auto route selection based on shared ride data, while welcome, may occasionally make sub-optimal route choices, which could be inconvenient during rides.

    Fun Fact: The GPS bike computers market was valued at around USD 542.5 million in 2021, and it is expected to reach USD 768.0 million by 2027, registering a CAGR of about 6.0% during the forecast period (2022 – 2027).

    Best Garmin For Mountain Biking: Watches

    Wearables. Smart Watches. Precursor to the Borg. Whatever you wish to call them, watches geared toward athletes these days are fantastic tools. They’re a body sensor, scientist and nagging trainer/coach rolled into one then wrapped around your wrist. For many, a modern wearable GPS unit is a far smarter choice than any of the cycling computers on the market.

    You don’t have to be an elite athlete, as long as you’re serious about your health, performance and the great sport of Mountain Biking, your life will be changed when you buy a Garmin watch, even outside of your mountain biking adventures. They have surprisingly detailed maps that belie their screen size, match or even exceed the capabilities of most GPS computers, some come with in-depth health tracking features, and exceptional battery life in most cases (especially when compared to any Apple Watch), the list goes on and on. Then, link your Garmin watch to any pairable cadence sensors and power meters and they firmly land among the best bike computers out there.

    If you’re on the fence because you like having something mounted to your bike while you ride, aftermarket watch mounts are an easy solution, which will necessitate the use of an HRM to get heart rate data.

    With a breadth of models to choose from, which is the best Garmin watch for mountain biking and for you?

    There is a lot to consider:

      • Functions

      • Ease of use/User Interface

      • Size

      • Weight

      • Battery life

      • GPS tracking accuracy

    The pride of the fleet is currently the Garmin Enduro 2, a bulky but well-designed watch stacked with features that easily rival Garmin’s best bike computer, the Edge 1040. Riders shouldn’t let the 1040’s bright lights (it does have a very capable flashlight) blind them to the rest of the options. If you choose to buy any Garmin watch that fits your needs, it will be capable of taking your life into new territory.

    Garmin Enduro 2

    Garmin Enduro 2_ Smart Watch

    In a Nutshell

    To understand how Garmin wanted their new flagship watch to stand out from the crowd, you don’t even need to turn it on. In the box, just like with the original Enduro, you’ll see that there are two bands included. Is that a big deal? Yes. 

    You get one silicone band that is pretty standard but of good quality that you would expect from Garmin, while the other is the UltraFit band, a supremely designed and well thought out nylon strap. It is very comfortable, stays securely fastened, has just the right amount of stretch, seems to repel odors, and weighs 20 grams less than the silicone band. Anyone who tries the UltraFit band tends to fall madly in love with its feel and quality. As of yet, while Garmin does sell the UltraFit separately, it does not come in alternative sizes/widths other than 26 mm.

    This search for peak performance extends throughout the Enduro 2’s advanced features, not to mention the longer battery life it has over Garmin’s other wearable GPS units.

    Garmin Enduro 2: Side Profiles

    Inside Look

    Comparing the Enduro 2 to its predecessor, the Enduro 1, is an impractical exercise because the two are worlds apart. The OG Enduro lacked the map functions that emerged in the Fenix 6 series onward. 

    The Enduro 2 watch is essentially a Fenix 7X – which is no slouch itself – and has “base” features/characteristics that include:

      • Excellent battery life upwards of 34 days (46 days using solar) if using the base smartwatch functions, upwards of 150 hours in GPS-mode, 81 in Multi-Band

      • Music

      • Garmin Pay

      • WiFi

      • Downloadable maps
          • Skiing and golf maps are preloaded

      • Touchscreen

      • Built-in solar

      • Multi-band GPS (dual frequency)
          • Often not necessary for good accuracy, and leaving it off helps extend battery life

      • Sapphire glass

      • 17mm case thickness

      • Flashlight (twice as bright as the Fenix 7X)

    In the Real World

    Garmin added other quality-of-life features that make it a substantial leap forward over the first Enduro, which have subsequently made their way into other model lines such as the Fenix 7 and Epix. Useful developments you’ll find on the Enduro 2 include:

      • There are now chevrons (arrows) that show the direction of travel along the selected map course – a small but very welcome addition

      • SatIQ – a function that chooses the most suitable GPS settings for you depending on location/signal strength, which can greatly improve battery life when Multi-Band GPS is not necessary

      • Auto Rest Timer that starts/stops automatically when you come to a stop during a ride
          • What’s really cool is if you manually go into rest mode with a button press, when you start again, the watch will continue automatically! Thumbs up, Garmin!

      • Grade Adjusted Pace adjusts your pace depending on trail gradient, a common feature with other software but new to Garmin at the time

    Garmin Enduro 2: Front & Back

    Pros of the Garmin Enduro 2:

      1. Dual Band Compatibility: The Enduro 2 comes with dual-band GPS (Multi-Band GPS), which can enhance GPS accuracy in challenging environments, making it a valuable tool for outdoor enthusiasts.

      1. Extended Battery Life: The Enduro 2 boasts impressive battery life, with up to 34 days of usage on a single charge or 46 days when utilizing solar power. For GPS activities, it can last up to 150 hours, ensuring you won’t run out of power during long adventures.

      1. Comfortable UltraFit Band: The inclusion of the UltraFit band in addition to a standard silicone band provides a comfortable and stylish option for users. The UltraFit band is lightweight, well-designed, and repels odors, making it a favorite among wearers.

      1. Map Functions: Unlike its predecessor, the Enduro 2 offers map functions, enhancing navigation and location tracking. Preloaded maps for skiing and golf add to its versatility.

      1. Sapphire Glass: The device features sapphire glass, providing a high level of durability and scratch resistance for the display.

      1. Quality-of-Life Features: Garmin has introduced several quality-of-life features, including chevrons showing the direction of travel on selected map courses, SatIQ for optimizing GPS settings, and an Auto Rest Timer for convenience during activities.

      1. Grade Adjusted Pace: The Grade Adjusted Pace feature, which adapts your pace based on trail gradient, is a notable addition for trail runners and hikers.

      1. Flashlight: The built-in flashlight is significantly brighter than previous models, providing added safety and functionality in the dark.

    Cons of the Garmin Enduro 2:

      1. Premium Price: While the Enduro 2 offers a range of advanced features, it comes with a premium price tag that may be a significant investment for some potential buyers.

      1. Complexity for Beginners: The watch offers a wealth of features and settings, which may be overwhelming for users who are new to Garmin’s ecosystem or smartwatches in general, but after the initial learning curve, using a Garmin watch becomes intuitive.

    In the End

    the Garmin Enduro 2 is a top-tier smartwatch designed for outdoor and fitness enthusiasts. It excels in terms of battery life, comfort, and advanced features. However, the price and potential complexity of the device may not suit everyone, particularly those looking for a more straightforward or budget-friendly smartwatch.

    Garmin Fenix 7 Pro

    Garmin Fenix 7 Pro: Front

    In a Nutshell

    The Garmin Fenix 7 Pro series adds 3 additional watches to an already stacked Fenix line up. One may think this makes it even harder to choose the right Garmin watch for you but in actuality, maybe not. 

    With the added features we’ll talk about below, we feel that Garmin has almost made the decision for us, and if we were leaning toward the Enduro 2 to begin with, the new Pro series of the Fenix and Epix lines are a clear clarion call to reconsider. 

    Let’s check out why.

    Inside Look

    Garmin’s Fenix 7 Pro line is essentially the Enduro 2 with shorter but still great battery life, but in addition to the great navigation, performance feedback functions and comprehensive smartwatch features, the Pro brings some pretty robust upgrades.

    Sizing:

    Fenix 7S Pro – 42mm

    Fenix 7 Pro – 47mm

    Fenix 7X Pro – 51mm

    Note: the 7 Pro and 7X Pro come in both stainless steel/gorilla glass and titanium/sapphire versions.

    You will get all the smartwatch functionality that can be found in the existing Fenix 7X model.

    Garmin Fenix 7 Pro: Maps & Graphics

    In the Real World

    Useful additions to the Fenix Pro line include:

      • All 3 sizes get a new and improved LED flashlight, a feature only on the top model previously – the new one is brighter
          • This flashlight may seem like a gimmick, but it is very useful

      • New Endurance score added to performance feedback features, adding to VO2 max and training load
          • Analyzes multiple data points to give you a rating 

      • Hill Score metric added which analyzes your climb performance but this doesn’t apply to cycling (We thought we’d include it for the multi-disciplined outdoor warriors out there)

      • Map overlays
          • Shading the maps to visually distinguish terrain height differences, which can be easier to read than using the contour lines

          • Weather function can overlay rain, temperature, or wind direction onto the map
              • Only accessible through the weather widget and cannot be viewed during workouts

          • New layouts that allow split screen and also perimeter positioned information displays

      • All Pro models get Multi-Band GPS, solar charging and 32GB of storage, as opposed to the varying specs in previous Fenix 7 lines

      • New 5th-gen heart rate sensor with 6 LEDs (up from 2 in previous gen)
          • Uses 2 LEDs during normal usage

          • Uses all 6 LEDs during workouts to give noticeably improved accuracy over previous models

          • Metallic contacts are present which seems to indicate Garmin wants to add other sensor functionality pending approval from health authorities

      • Next generation display
          • Brighter but also more energy efficient, which means it shouldn’t impact battery usageGarmin Chroma Display (Memory In Pixel) reflects ambient light and sunlight for great visibility outdoors and better energy efficiency compared to LED displaysGarmin Fenix 7 Pro: Front & Back

    In the End

    On its own, the Fenix 7 Pro line is eye-catching and an attractive upgrade. But consider this: all the upgraded software features such as map overlays, endurance score and more will be rolled out as updates for all the existing Fenix 7 models, which are seeing price reductions across the board alongside the rollout of the Fenix 7 Pro models.

    This is actually a win. If you want a fully capable watch with all the latest Garmin software gizmos, you can get significant savings when you buy Garmin Fenix 7 models outside the Pro line up. If the flashlight, next-gen heart rate sensor and Multi-Band GPS are all something you want, then the Pro line is where you will land. 

    Now, the real competition may come from another model entirely. The new Epix Pro also comes in 3 sizes, and essentially shares every function of the Fenix 7 Pros but has a crispy bright AMOLED display that some riders may prefer. More on that below.

    Garmin Fenix 7 Pro: Side Profiles

    Pros of the Garmin Fenix 7 Pro:

      1. Variety of Models: The Garmin Fenix 7 Pro series offers a variety of models with different sizes and materials, allowing users to choose the one that suits their preferences and style.

      1. Improved LED Flashlight: All three sizes of the Fenix 7 Pro now feature an improved LED flashlight, which can be quite useful in various outdoor situations.

      1. Endurance Score: The addition of the Endurance score to the performance feedback features provides users with a comprehensive rating based on multiple data points, helping them gauge their fitness and training progress.

      1. Hill Score Metric: The Hill Score metric is a valuable addition for outdoor enthusiasts, offering insights into climb performance. While not applicable to cycling, it caters to a broader audience of outdoor adventurers.

      1. Map Overlays: The Fenix 7 Pro introduces map overlays, which enhance navigation by visually distinguishing terrain height differences and overlaying weather information onto the map.

      1. Next-Gen Heart Rate Sensor: The watch features a new 5th-generation heart rate sensor with six LEDs, improving accuracy during workouts and suggesting potential for additional health-related sensor functionality.

      1. Brighter Display: The next-generation display is not only brighter but also more energy-efficient, ensuring great visibility outdoors without significantly impacting battery life.

      1. Multi-Band GPS: All Fenix 7 Pro models come equipped with Multi-Band GPS, providing more accurate and reliable location tracking.

      1. Chroma Display: The Garmin Chroma Display offers excellent visibility in various lighting conditions and better energy efficiency compared to LED displays.

    Cons of the Garmin Fenix 7 Pro:

      1. Price: The Garmin Fenix 7 Pro series comes with a premium price tag, which may be a deterrent for budget-conscious consumers. The cost can increase significantly when opting for the titanium/sapphire versions.

      1. Complexity: The watch offers an array of advanced features and settings, which can be overwhelming for those new to Garmin’s ecosystem or smartwatches in general, but after the initial learning curve, using a Garmin watch becomes intuitive.

      1. Competition from Other Models: The introduction of the Epix Pro with a crisp AMOLED display may divert potential buyers, as it offers similar functions but with a different display technology.

    Garmin Epix Pro

    Garmin Epix Pro: Front

    In a Nutshell

    Okay, so it’s time to take a look at the Epix Pro line up. Let’s start off by saying the Pro ranges of both the Fenix and Epix have the same core ingredients with different seasonings. But just because you’ve had one chicken dinner recipe, doesn’t mean you’ve had them all. The devil is in the details when you’re after a watch that suits who you are.

    Garmin really aren’t just lazily stuffing the same tech into all their wearables and trying to paint over the similarities. Once you get down to the nitty gritty, you can see their nuanced approach that allows everyone to have amazing functionality in their watches, with key differences that make each line stand out for their own particular reasons.

    Garmin Epix Pro: Graphics

    Inside Look

    Like the Epix models released before it, the Epix Pro is about offering an AMOLED display, which, to us, make it one of the prettiest GPS units of any kind, though it does lead to shorter battery life.

    There are three sizes under the Pro moniker, all with the new and improved heart rate sensor and the updated flashlight, the latter being a function that sounds gimmicky but turned out to be very useful and popular enough that Garmin is now throwing it into new models as a must-have.

    Sizes:

    They are all called simply Epix Pro with no name differentiation across

      • 51mm

      • 47mm

      • 42mm

    All the sizes come in stainless steel/gorilla glass and titanium/sapphire versions. The GPS/GNSS chipsets do not differ across stainless steel and titanium this time, all come with Multi-Band GPS and 32GB of storage.

    Garmin Epix Pro

    In the Real World

    With identical features and functionality between the Fenix Pro and Epix Pro lines, it really does come down to a preference in how you want your Garmin watch display to look. Now, while the Epix may have crisper colors and a clearer look to it, this does not mean the Fenix Pro watches are less clear. Remember, they have the updated Garmin Chroma Display (Memory In Pixel) which uses ambient light and has great contrast. 

    The difference you’ll see will be in the richness of colors and a crisp digital look the Epix Pro displays have that differentiate them from the Epix Pro. It is a simple question of what you feel better using.

    The AMOLED displays on the Epix Pros do draw more battery, with Garmin claiming the following numbers:

    Epix Pro 42 lasts up to 10 days just using smartwatch functions, down to 4 days with Always On Display (AOD) turned on.

    Epix Pro 47 lasts up to 16 days just using smartwatch functions, down to 6 days with AOD turned on.

    Then there is the Epix Pro 51, which jumps up to 31 days using just smartwatch functions, down to 11 with AOD turned on. This is thanks to the implementation of the big boy battery from the Enduro 2.

    Epix Pro models do not benefit from solar technology due to the AMOLED screen real estate taking up the whole front, but funnily enough it is this lack of a solar layer and the thinner cross section of the AMOLED that allows the Enduro 2 battery to go into the Epix Pro 51.

    Remember that the battery life will plummet to a matter of hours if you turn on any of the navigation functions, with Multi-Band GPS pulling the most energy. 

    However, with real use, having a daily workout that lasts about an hour or so, with AOD activated, the numbers turn out to be quite accurate, with some feedback showing the 51mm lasting 10-11 days. Everyone except riders who go on days-long expedition-like rides will be absolutely fine using the Epix Pros.

    Garmin Epix Pro: Profile

    Pros of the Garmin Epix Pro:

      1. AMOLED Display: The Epix Pro features a vibrant AMOLED display, making it one of the most visually appealing GPS watches available. The AMOLED screen offers rich colors and excellent clarity.

      1. Variety of Sizes: Garmin offers three different sizes for the Epix Pro (42mm 47mm, 51mm), allowing users to choose the one that best fits their wrist and preferences.

      1. Upgraded Heart Rate Sensor: The Epix Pro comes with an updated heart rate sensor, improving accuracy during workouts and daily activity tracking.

      1. New LED Flashlight: The inclusion of an improved LED flashlight is a practical feature that can be handy in various outdoor situations.

      1. Long Battery Life: Despite the energy-hungry AMOLED display, the Epix Pro offers respectable battery life, especially in its larger 51mm size. Users can enjoy extended use with the convenience of Always On Display (AOD) turned on.

      1. Multi-Band GPS: The watch features Multi-Band GPS for precise location tracking, enhancing its navigation capabilities.

      1. Storage: With 32GB of storage, users have ample space for storing maps, music, and other data.

    Cons of the Garmin Epix Pro:

      1. Shorter Battery Life with AOD: While the Epix Pro offers good battery life, the usage duration decreases when the Always On Display (AOD) is turned on. In the smaller sizes, it can be as short as a few days.

      1. Lack of Solar Technology: The Epix Pro models do not feature solar charging due to the AMOLED screen taking up the entire front of the watch. This means users must rely solely on standard charging methods.

      1. Navigation Functions Drain Battery: Activating navigation functions, especially Multi-Band GPS, significantly reduces battery life, which may be a concern for extended outdoor adventures.

    In the End

    So, if the AMOLED rings your bell, you’ll have to sacrifice some battery life, but practical testing shows that this won’t matter except for the really adventurous who are out in the boonies for days/weeks on end. 

    All the bells and whistles, plus a gorgeous display. What more could one ask for?

    In Conclusion

    One thing is for sure, you can’t go wrong with Garmin GPS devices.

    They have some stiff competition from other manufacturers but with the quality of their navigation and continuous refinement of every feature and design they offer, we at Promountain Bike have grown to have great confidence in all Garmin devices. 

    With that in mind, while we have covered the top models above, we highly recommend at least having a quick look at the entire range of Garmin mountain bike products. Their quality is high enough across the board that you are sacrificing very little by going for something smaller or cheaper. 

    If you ask for our honest opinion regarding the best Garmin for mountain biking covered above, we definitely have favorites.

    The Garmin watch we would choose:

      • Garmin Fenix Pro (whichever size suits you) : Packed to the gills with the very best Garmin features and functionality, the only thing the Garmin Enduro 2 flagship model has over this is longer battery life, and the Fenix Pro line up is still outstanding in that category anyway. Fenix Pros also beat out the Garmin Epix Pro series for us due to integrated solar charging. Who needs a bike computer when you have one of these?

    The Garmin bike computer we would choose:

      • Garmin Edge 840 Solar : Software functions on par with the bigger 1040, we feel the screen size is not enough of a draw to spend more on the flagship model. The 840 also wins over the 540 because it has a touch screen alongside the exact same button layout, giving you more versatility in operation. We have no reservations saying that when it comes to cycling computers in 2023, the Garmin Edge 840 Solar is top of the pile.

    No matter what you choose, you’re going to have a major mountain biking GPS unit strapped to your wrist or handlebar, and combined with the Garmin Connect App on mobile or web, you’re going to have fantastic insight into your performance, progress and recovery.

    Related Article: Other Mountain Biking Accessories

    FAQ’s

    1. How do I choose the best Garmin for mountain biking in 2023?

    – This depends on various factors, including your preferences and needs. The first question to answer is whether you prefer a wearable device or a bike-mounted computer. For both types, size is a consideration, but for wearables/watches independently, screen brightness, battery life, and more come into play.

    2. Are there specific Garmin models recommended for beginners in mountain biking?

    – Garmin’s ergonomics and ecosystems across all their devices are well designed and intuitive. Even for a beginner, after the initial familiarity stage, you’ll find using a Garmin wearable or bike computer to be a breeze.

    3. How do I determine the right size for a GPS watch for mountain biking?

    – The best way to do this is to try on something with similar dimensions and weight, which you can find among more conventional watches. From there, it’s almost completely personal preference. Some of our team members have small wrists but like big watches and vice versa.

    4. What are the essential features to consider when selecting a Garmin GPS device for mountain biking?

    – Factors such as battery life, GPS accuracy, dual-band GPS, ride data, and more should be considered. It provides insights into how these features can impact your mountain biking experience.

    5. How can I make an informed choice between a Garmin GPS watch and a cycling GPS computer?

    – There are many reasons to choose one over the other, but the crux of the decision will lie in

    1. If you want to track your fitness and progress while off the bike – which means getting a watch, or you just want to leave all the stats with your bike rides, which means using a GPS computer/

    2. If you like having all your info at an easy glance during a ride, which tends to push a rider toward computers due to the larger screen sizes.

    Please note that Garmin watches can be mounted on handlebars too.

    6. Do the recommendations in the article include options for different budget ranges?

    – Yes, there is a significant difference between the prices among models of both Garmin bike computers and watches, allowing riders to find something in their budget range.

    7. Is there information on where and how to purchase the recommended Garmin devices for mountain biking?

    – Promountain Bike offers direct links to reliable online retailers who offer the products reviewed in this article. Purchasing through these links will not affect the retail price of the products

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