Garmin’s Vivosmart 5 isn’t specific to cycling, but if you’re looking for an all-round fitness tracker that records rides and your overall daily well-being, in a smart but discreet package that looks just as at home with Lycra or your Civvies, then there’s one good choice. However, its monochrome screen and lack of GPS are a compromise at this price point.
For its small size, the vivosmart 5 is quite a powerful piece of wearable technology. It’s small and rather unassuming-looking, just like a stylish watch, while eagerly logging your daily data like heart rate, steps and sleep patterns, and turning that into estimates of calories burned etc.
Heart rate is monitored via the wrist and while this isn’t as accurate as a chest strap, I found it to be fairly accurate at various exercise levels – definitely far more accurate than some of the £20 ebay/Amazon jobs I’ve bought to compare.
In fact, the Vivosmart can monitor quite a bit, either through data you input or through sensors and algorithms like body battery, pulse oxygen rate, sleep score, stress, hydration, breathing, women’s health and fitness age.
I have to confess, I have a Garmin 530, a Forerunner 735XT, and a Fenix 6 Pro, and I hardly ever use any of that stuff, with just a cursory glance when it’s uploaded to the Garmin Connect app. But if you really focus on things through training or illness, it can really be beneficial.
On the bike
So, the reason you’re here: Does it work for cycling?
Well, yes, depending on how much data you want.
Most of my rides are on the same roads or gravel loops week in and week out so I really don’t need a lot of data while on the bike and the Vivosmart works for me.
> Buying Guide: 10 Best Cheap GPS Bike Computers
Selecting ‘Bike’ in the activity menu will show distance, speed and ride time on the small screen when you’re on the go, and when you’ve finished your ride the 5 will upload everything to the Connect app, which is actually very good .
While the watch shows you a summary of distance, ride time, average speed, average heart rate and calories, you get a lot more out of the app from a cycling perspective: You get a lot of data from your ride including a route map and various graphics on heart rate, speed, incline etc.
Phew, no GPS?
One downside to the Vivosmart is that it doesn’t come with its own GPS receiver, so it relies on a Bluetooth connection to your phone for recording.
Fitbit’s Charge 5, at the same price as the Garmin, comes with its own GPS, which I prefer as it saves battery life on both devices; It also has a color screen.
> Read more Road.cc smartwatch reviews here
Speaking of competition, Polar’s Unite is 49p less than the Garmin, and it doesn’t have its own GPS receiver either, but it does come with a full-size color screen, putting the Vivosmart’s monochrome offering to shame.
Easy to use
The Vivoactive is easy to use, containing just a single button and a touchscreen that you swipe most of the time. Once you learn the format, it’s easy to navigate.
If you don’t record things through your phone, the Vivosmart has its own accelerometer that will automatically record certain activities, but it very likely does.
Battery life is decent for such a small device. Garmin takes up to seven days. I spend a large part of my day sitting at a desk and writing, and considering that, I’d say it’s doable. During testing, I gave the Vivosmart to my teenage daughter, who walks about three-quarters of a mile to school and is on her feet a lot between classes, as well as going to extracurricular activities like Army Cadets and Girl Guides. With all of that, she would get four to five days to 24 hours and also monitor sleep.
Occasionally the screen got a little choppy after a few days, for example blocks replaced digits on the clock. It’s not a huge issue as a reset would quickly resolve this, but should that happen on a £130 watch?
Charging from an outlet takes a few hours.
Like any other smartwatch connected to your phone, you get access to notifications like texts, emails and various other apps, as well as the option for quick pre-set replies.
It also includes security features such as B. detecting incidents such as accidents or falls and SMS to your saved contacts with location details. I’ve used this on various Garmin devices and it’s very handy.
Overall, while the Vivosmart isn’t specific to cycling, if you’re not concerned with massive amounts of data when you’re riding it’s a simple and inexpensive device, especially if you don’t want a watch that screams ‘athlete’. .
It’s comfortable to wear and easy to navigate, but other devices like the Fitbit offer more for the money.
A handy smart tracker that benefits from a good app but doesn’t have its own GPS receiver
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Make and model: Garmin Vivosmart 5
Tested size: small-medium
Tell us what the product is for and who it is aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about this? How does that compare to your own feelings?
Garmin says, “When you need a comfortable device that accompanies you every step of the way, vívosmart® 5 becomes your easy-to-use fitness tracker1 to monitor your health and stay active from sunrise to sunset.”
Not cycling specific, but with all the data you need after your ride and the basics while you ride.
Tell us more about the technical aspects of the product?
LENS MATERIAL Acrylic
BODY MATERIAL Polycarbonate
BAND MATERIAL Silicone
PHYSICAL SIZE Small/Medium: 19.5 x 10.7 x 217 mm
Suitable for wrists with a circumference of 122-188 mm
Large: 19.5 x 10.7 x 255mm
Suitable for wrists with a circumference of 148-228 mm
DISPLAY SIZE 0.41″ x 0.73″ (10.5mm x 18.5mm)
DISPLAY RESOLUTION 88 x 154 pixels
DISPLAY TYPE OLED
WEIGHT Small/Medium: 24.5 g
BATTERY LIFE Up to 7 days in smartwatch mode
WATER RATING Swimming
STORAGE/HISTORY 7 timed activities, 14 days of activity tracking data
WRIST-BASED HEART RATE (CONSTANT, EVERY SECOND)
DAILY RESTING HEART RATE
ABNORMAL HEART RATE ALERTS Yes (high and low)
RESPIRATORY RATE (24X7)
PULSE OX BLOOD OXYGEN SATURATION Yes (sampling, during a sleep phase and throughout the day)
BODY BATTERY™ ENERGY MONITOR
ALL DAY STRESS TRACKING
RELAX BREATH TIMER
SLEEP Yes (Advanced)
SLEEP Score AND INSIGHTS
GARMIN ELEVATE™ HEART RATE MONITOR ON THE WRIST
AMBIENT LIGHT SENSOR
PULSE OX BLOOD OXYGEN SATURATION MONITOR
Daily smart features
CONNECTIVITY Bluetooth® Smart and ANT+®
TEXT ANSWER/CALL REJECT WITH TEXT (ANDROID™ ONLY)
SYNCHRONIZE REAL-TIME SETTINGS WITH GARMIN CONNECT™ MOBILE
CONTROLS SMARTPHONE MUSIC
FIND MY PHONE
FIND MY WATCH
SMARTPHONE COMPATIBILITY iPhone®, Android™
COMPATIBLE WITH GARMIN CONNECT™ MOBILE
Security and tracking features
INCIDENT DETECTION DURING SELECTED ACTIVITIES
activity tracking features
MOVE BAR (DISPLAY ON DEVICE AFTER A PERIOD OF INACTIVITY; WALK FOR A FEW MINUTES TO RESET IT)
AUTOMATIC GOAL (LEARNS YOUR ACTIVITY LEVEL AND ASSIGNS A DAILY STEP GOAL)
AUTOMATIC REPEAT COUNT
AVAILABLE FITNESS ACTIVITY PROFILES Strength, HIIT, cardio, elliptical, stair climbing, indoor rowing, treadmill, Pilates, and yoga
Training, planning and analysis functions
% HR MAX
HR BROADCAST (TRANSFERS HR DATA TO PAIRED DEVICES VIA ANT+™)
GPS SPEED AND DISTANCE Yes (Connected GPS only)
CUSTOMIZABLE ACTIVITY PROFILES
AVAILABLE RUNNING PROFILES Running
CADENCE (PROVIDES REAL-TIME STEPS PER MINUTE)
AVAILABLE BIKE PROFILES Cycling
AVAILABLE SWIM PROFILES
Rate the product by build quality:
Rate the product by performance:
Rate the product for durability:
Rate the product by weight (if applicable)
Rate the product based on comfort (if applicable)
Rate the product by value:
Let us know how the product performed overall when used for its intended purpose
It is easy to use and displays the basic data required.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Good Bluetooth connectivity and screen is easy to read given its size.
Let us know what you particularly disliked about the product
Occasional screen glitches.
How does the price compare to similar products on the market including those recently tested on road.cc?
It’s practically the same price as the Polar Unite, which gets a large color screen, and while the Fitbit Charge 5 is also the same price, it comes with a color screen and its own GPS receiver.
Did you enjoy using the product? Overall yes.
Would you buy the product? Possibly
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, but with the mention of competition with better specs.
Use this field to explain your total score
Cost aside, it’s a capable watch and gives you plenty of data from your ride (or at least the app does). However, the competition offers GPS and a color screen for the same money, and then you have the faulty screen every now and then.
I mostly drive: This month’s test bike My best bike is: B’Twin Ultra CF with the latest bling test components
I ride since: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would classify myself as: expert
I do the following types of riding regularly: Time trials, commuting, club rides, sporty, fixed/single speed,