If you want to mix up your outdoor cycling with some indoor work, there’s a host of wearables that can track your spinning classes and sessions on the static bike to still give you that hit of data.
Whether you’ve got a static bike sat in your garage or you’re a regular at your local gym’s spinning classes, these are the general purpose fitness trackers that will help you keep tabs on your improving fitness levels.
To make sure you don’t get caught out, we’ve separated the great from well, the devices that’ll let you bust your ass for 45 minutes in a spinning class before proudly telling you you’ve walked 81 steps.
Fitbit Blaze – 5th place
When it comes to tracking your daily step count and casual runs, Fitbit is king. Spinning and indoor cycling, isn’t exactly the company’s forte, however. Although the Fitbit Blaze won’t track your spinning class out of the box, jumping into the companion app and heading to the ‘Exercise Shortcuts’ tab under settings lets you add it to your list of trackable exercises.
Once installed and in the saddle, you won’t get a mass of wrist-based data, but enough to let you monitor your progress, with time active and current heart rate visible direct from your wrist. Unfortunately, with no ability to sync the wearable with addition cycle sensors, that’s about as deep as the tracking goes.
Wareable verdict: Fitbit Blaze review
Still, that’s enough to keep tabs on your progressing fitness levels. Or at least it would be if the data captured was accurate which, sadly, it’s not. Heart rate, perfectly on point while running, was miles off whenever we used the Blaze on a static bike.
Due to the way your wrist gets positioned while riding and the build up of sweat in a spin class, the Blaze’s biometric sensor runs way too low, consistently showing our heart rate dropping the further into our vigorous 10K sessions we progressed.
This is more than annoying, once all the data is transferred to the decent, if largely steps-geared app. It means that recorded calorie burn, the only other measurable metric, was woefully off, causing all our daily data to be skewed and all that effort to be wasted, at least on a measurable front.
In the Blaze’s favour, the sizeable touchscreen and three button controls are a simplistic joy to use without loosing balance and show how you’re progressing, letting you swipe through time active, heart rate and calorie burn metrics.
That’s not enough to rectify problems elsewhere, however. As much as we like and rate the Fitbit Blaze as a run-friendly fitness tracker, on a static bike, it just doesn’t cut it. Yes, it’s comfortable and easy to control, but it’s simply not accurate enough.
££159.99,fitbit.com | Amazon
Garmin Vivoactive HR – 4th place
Unfortunately, the Fitbit Blaze isn’t the only wrist-based fitness tracker to struggle with indoor cycling. Like its run-focussed rival, the multi-sport specialising Garmin Vivoactive HR just isn’t up to standard when it comes to static bike and spin class work.
Again this all boils down to heart rate, something we experienced no issues with while using the watch on runs and outdoor cycles. Mount your spin class steed, however, and things quickly fall away, with real time heart rate data lowballing you to woeful levels.
Unlike the Blaze, the Vivoactive HR never told us our heart rate was falling away, but neither did it ever show much variance, seemingly playing it safe with a casual reading no matter how much effort we exerted and energy we used.
Wareable verdict: Garmin Vivoactive HR review
That’s only how it performs as a standalone device, however. Unlike the Blaze, Garmin’s watch can be paired with cycling speed and cadence sensors in order to track your distance and use this to more accurately gage your calorie burn and overall performance.
Some modern, high-end gyms will have spin bikes with integrated sensors you can sync with but these are in the minority. Instead, to make use of these features you’ll need to splash the cash and buy your own. This is a lot of effort and expense to have to go to in order to achieve accurate tracking, however.
What the Garmin Vivoactive HR does have going for it, are its display options. You can create your own custom screens, letting you choose exactly what data is relayed to you and in what order. Instead of only presenting you with one metric at a time, you can also get a triple hit of information in a single glance.
Having session duration, heart rate and calorie burn displayed on a single screen is a big help when trying to maintain a steady cadence rather than having to fiddle with screen swipes.
Once data is relayed to the app, it becomes apparent that indoor cycling is an afterthought rather than a priority for this device, with distance and elevation a couple of useless graphs brought to your static sessions.
The useful information that is pulled through is well laid out, with active heart rate zones and graphed heart rate easy to understand and navigate. If only the data they showed was more accurate.
£239.99,garmin.com | Amazon
TomTom Spark 3 – Bronze medal
Finally, a wrist-based fitness tracker that doesn’t crumple when it comes to indoor cycling. The TomTom Spark 3 is another multi-purpose fitness tracker, with spinning one of the many exercise types it claims to be able to accurately track.
Fortunately, things are on point. Well, for the most part. Again, heart rate data comes in a little on the low side, but is far closer to an accurate reading that either the Fitbit Blaze or Garmin Vivoactive HR. It’s consistent too, suffering no drop outs or erroneous slumps like some of the competition.
Wareable verdict: TomTom Spark 3 in-depth review
This isn’t a device just about heart rate and subsequently predicted calorie burn though. Instead of being determined to go it alone, for those who want more metrics and more accurate data, the Spark 3 can be wirelessly synced with a number of brands’ cadence sensors and even your static bike’s turbo.
To give the most accurate readings possible, you can input things like wheel size directly on the watch and enable distance tracking to join the watch’s own inbuilt abilities.
The watch’s core skills still offer plenty of data, however. Unfortunately it’s not the easiest to navigate. With no touchscreen, the Spark’s stiff physical button is a slightly clunky way to scroll trough real time readings of your calorie burn, BPM, heart rate zone and time active.
Pleasingly, when things are relayed to the app post workout, everything’s a lot clearer and easier to absorb. Your heart rate is graphed out throughout the cycle and separately broken down into active heart rate zones. Again, by being lower than a true reading, results are skewed slightly, but it’s far more true to life than the likes of the Fitbit and Garmin.
Ultimately, the app’s quite simple. There’s no deep dive into intricate metrics or coaching on how to improve, just a crisp, clean presentation of the top line metrics. For some, this will be enough. More enthusiastic cyclists, however, will be left wanting.
Read this: TomTom Spark 3 tips and tricks
Where you won’t be unsatisfied, however, is with the watch’s exercise boosting add-ons. An inbuilt music player helps make your training session a little bit more enjoyable too, with playback able to be controlled via the watch. It’s a nice touch that lets you leave your phone in your locker and enjoy the gym with as little expensive tech weighing you down as possible.
£189.99, tomtom.com | Amazon
Moov Now – Silver medal
The Moov Now might look like the least advanced of this bunch, but don’t let it’s design deceive you. Scurried away within its little round pod and accompanying ankle strap is everything you need to track not just all your daily activity, but your indoor cycling efforts with pinpoint accuracy.
No, there’s no integrated heart rate monitor to base your exertion levels on, but by being attached to your ankle, it tracks something far more useful to your cycling sessions, cadence. This is how many rotations of the pedals you’re making per minute and is a key metric for monitoring exertion and performance.
The Moov is impressively accurate too, instantly recognising any slowing or increasing of your pace. You’ll need your phone to hand while on the bike to see this though, with the fitness tracker not playing host to an integrated display.
Wareable verdict: Moov Now review
While this can be awkward at times, it’s worth it to see just how you’re working in a metric actually relevant to cyclists, RPM. As well as simply showing a number, the Moov graphs out where this falls on an exertion chart, ranging from a steady climbing speed, through the optimal brisk workout zone and into the realms of high energy sprinting.
It’s a great motivational tool and one that’s far more relevant than the simple calorie burn metric presented on most wrist-based monitors.
Further aiding your exercise, vocal cues can be relayed via your headphones. Unlike when you’re enjoying outdoor cycles there’s no audio coaching on how to pick up your pace, but you’ll still get vocal alerts on how your session is progressing, with time and average cadence regularly offered up.
Once you’ve finished your session, all this captured, and credible data is presented in a pleasing, if slightly minimalist manner.
Your cadence is graphed out showing fluctuations in your output, while a breakdown of your intensity zones show you how you’re progressing by pushing yourself. Splits are also automatically dropped in at five minute intervals, showing how your cadence changes as exhaustion kicks in.
While one of the best activity trackers for spinning classes, the Moov Now’s not perfect. The lack of an integrated heart rate sensor is shame despite the impressive cadence tracking, and means there’s no measurable way to see how your body is reacting to the energy levels you’re exerting.
£59.99, moov.cc | Amazon
Wahoo Tickr X – Gold medal
Fitness trackers don’t just have to be strapped to your limbs. When you’re on a bike, a static one at that, attaching them to other parts of your body can be a whole lot more effective. That’s where the Wahoo Tickr X, a heart rate monitoring chest strap with added smarts comes in.
As well as offering unwavering heart rate tracking, the Tickr X plays host to its own sensors that when running can measure distance, and in a spinning class can keep tabs on your cadence, a favourite and relatable metric of cyclists.
Yes, there are many who don’t like wearing chest straps, but we found the Tickr X to be pleasingly comfortable and in no way restrictive during our tests. The strap is easily adjustable, and you don’t need to have it uncomfortably tight for the sensors to pick up a solid reading.
Wareable in-depth verdict: Wahoo Tickr X review
The benefits certainly outweigh the negatives too, with the Tickr X never missing a beat, literally. It accurately tracked our heart rate as we progressed from steady distance training into full on sprints.
Like the Moov Now, the Wahoo lacks an inbuilt screen. Don’t worry though, there are still ways to get real-time data, with live metrics relayed both to the smartphone-hosted app, and with audio alerts, giving you steady progress reports throughout your cycle.
Having your phone out in a spin class might not always be possible, but on a static bike having it plonked on the bars acts as a great motivational tool, with real time cadence data giving you a real-time number to target.
What’s more, instead of simply showing you your current heart rate, Wahoo gives you access to your current heart rate zone, showing how hard you’re working and how this effects your ultimate energy burn and fitness levels.
You don’t need to take your phone with your though, the pod itself plays host to enough storage to keep track on up to 16 hours of workouts between syncs, and if you own an Apple Watch, you can have the real-time data relayed direct to your wrist in this way.
It can also be synced up to load of Bluetooth-enabled gym equipment, relaying further accurate information such as distance to the app.
The app itself is beautifully laid out and brimmed with data you’ll actively engage with. Heart rate is king here, with your session able to be broken down into exertion brackets. Cadence too is given prominence, with your RPM graphed out alongside your fluctuating heart rate. Sadly these graphs can’t be overlaid, but analysing them individually still gives solid insight to your performance.
The only downside to the app, is its persisted use of NikeFuel, a made up metric that’s difficult to but into context. Although given a reading of your calorie burn, having this graphed out instead of NikeFuel would be a nice touch.
£79.99, wahoofitness.com | Amazon
Wrist-based fitness trackers might be good for a lot of things, but if you’re going to be enjoying spin classes more than you’ll find yourself pounding the pavements in a pair of trainers, they’re unlikely to be the best voice for you.
That doesn’t mean you’re without options, however, even when it comes to more general purpose, less specialised activity monitors. While the Fitbit Blaze and Garmin Vivoactive HR disappoint at this speciality, they excel elsewhere and the TomTom Spark 3 is a general all-rounder.
It’s the Moov Now and Wahoo Tickr X that really impress, however. While Wahoo’s combination of heart rate and cadence tracking – both perfectly accurate – it’s a device that’s hard to beat for those who enjoy regular spin sessions.
Given it’s a chest mount it’s not going to be for everyone though. For those who prefer restriction-free breathing, the Moov Now isn’t just a solid alternative, but a great, all round tracker in its own right.
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