Apple Watch offers the best integration with iPhone and Apple’s overall ecosystem. Over the years, the company has introduced tons of sports-focused features to its watch that include: onboard GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, fall detection sensor, and optical heart rate sensor.
This has made the Apple watch suitable for various sports including mountain biking. Through its Bluetooth connectivity, the watch can be paired with external sensors including chest HRM, cadence, and speed sensors. There are loads of third-party apps on the Apple Store to take advantage of, and then, there is music integration for popular music streaming platforms including the company’s very own, Apple Music.
Let’s get into details and find out: is the Apple watch good for mountain biking?
Does the Apple Watch have an MTB workout?
Apple Watch’s built-in Workout app does not include a distinct activity type for mountain biking. This is really a shame considering Apple’s top competitor in sports tracking, Garmin, has had it for years now. On both Garmin Forerunner 945 and Garmin Fenix 6 you can track mountain biking in the ‘ Trail biking’ mode.
Apple Watch has only two modes for cycling/biking: Indoor Cycle and Outdoor Cycle. The former is pretty basic with duration, calories, heart rate, and BPM tracking, whereas the latter covers position tracking as well.
So, if you’re an apple watch user, then I’m afraid you’ll have to look at third-party apps for mountain biking workouts. Not just that, but you’ll also need compatible sensors that typically include cadence and speed sensors along with a heart rate chest strap (for better accuracy).
Don’t worry we have listed all of them here. Just be patient.
Top Mountain Biking Apps For the Apple Watch?
Well, Apple does not have any dedicated apple watch app for mountain biking. All the apps we have listed here cover a range of different sports with the main focus on running, swimming, and cycling.
- Komoot: Cycle, Hike, MTB, Run
- AllTrails: Hike, Run & Cycle
If we have to pick one, AllTrails would be our top pick. It offers apple watch support for trail running, cycling, and hiking. The top features include thousands of hand-curated GPS and topo maps for MTB, a vibrant community of mountain bikers all over the world, and offline support for pro users.
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You can subscribe to the pro plan by either paying £29.99/year or £45/3 years (one-time payment). You can pay for the app via iTunes.
Popular Mountain biking apps like Trail fork, MTB Project, are not available for the Apple Watch in spite of the fact that they are available for the iPhone.
Best Apple Watch For Mountain biking?
The latest Series 7 is the best for mountain biking. It offers GPS, altimeter, accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, and optical heart rate sensor to track MTB. And the latest WatchOS 8 update has made the watch fully capable of fall detection while MTB (there is a serious chance of injury in the extreme sport). Also, it has enhanced the heart rate and GPS accuracy. There are a couple of other tweaks that include auto pause and resume features, and workout detection in case you often forget to start/stop your exercise.
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Apple Watch Series 7 have improved very little on its previous generation, so if you have a Series 6 or Special Edition watch, all the features would more and less be the same.
Does the Apple Watch have TOPO maps?
No, the apple watch does not support topo maps. However, you can install third-party apps like ‘TOPO Maps+’ and ‘AllTrails’ to get Worldwide Elevation Heat maps, Hill Shading, Hybrid Maps (mix satellite and contour lines). These apps offer plenty of tools like download support for offline tracking, route building, waypoints, location sharing, proximity alert, elevation data, and more.
Apple Watch vs Bike Computer for MTB?
Let’s pit the Apple Watch (From Apple Watch Series 3 onwards) against those dedicated bike computers mainly from Garmin’s Edge and Wahoo Element series, and find out which is better for mountain biking.
Price and Value:
A decent bike computer will cost you more than $200. Surely, the latest Apple Watch is nearly double this price, but you should consider all the health and lifestyle features it has to offer. It can send texts and make calls in case of emergency, offers music streaming and storage, and has an intuitive interface. All this with a decent mix of health tracking features like heart rate, stress, blood oxygen, makes it a very attractive proposition if you want a device more than just mountain or trail biking.
You would have your fair share of crashes while riding a mountain bike, and the base variant of the Apple Watch is made of aluminum chassis, not very popular for its durability. Without screen protection and a sturdy case, the Apple Watch can’t survive even a minor hit, let alone the big one’s bike computers can easily handle.
GPS and Maps:
Both devices offer GPS tracking, but the signal locking on the Apple Watch and its overall accuracy has yet to improve.
In terms of maps, the apple watch doesn’t have an option for offline mapping. Bike computers with a decent amount of memory can store a couple or up to a thousand waypoints and routes.
Also, you get advanced navigation features on Bike computers that include live track, turn-by-turn navigation, courses, breadcrumbs, elevation data, and more.
The Apple watch’s native workout apps don’t support GPX files for turn-by-turn directions. There are many third-party apps that can download GPX Map files, but they don’t offer turn-by-turn directions.
Heart Rate Monitoring:
Bike computers don’t have heart rate monitoring for obvious reasons. However, the Apple watch offers continuous heart rate monitoring and a variety of graphs to view your heart rate history.
You can attach Bluetooth chest HRMs with both devices which improve the accuracy of heart rate tracking.
Also, the apple watch can send alerts regarding irregular heart rhythms that you might not be aware of.
Bike computers generally support both ANT+ and Bluetooth accessories, so you can add a range of external sensors like heart rate monitors, cadence sensors, and power meters. Apple Watch, on the other hand, supports only Bluetooth, so your options with it are quite limited.
Apple watch’s battery performance has been a major chunk in the armor of an otherwise fantastic watch. Even the latest Apple Watch Series 7 has improved little in terms of battery performance.
At max, Apple Watch battery life would last for a day (no matter which generation you pick), and only 5-6 hours with continuous GPS tracking and music playback. You might get an edge in charging time here. Apple Watch Series 7 support fast charging and takes only one and a half hour to fully charge.
Most of the Bike computers (Garmin 1030 Plus, Edge 530) on the other hand have at least 24 hours of battery performance with GPS running in the background. However, they may take 3-4 hours to fully charge.
Apple Watch Accessories for cycling/MTB?
There are loads of apple watch accessories that you can wear for MTB/cycling. The options are overwhelming but worry not, I have done the leg work for you. The following picks are highly recommended for apple watch users who also are into mountain biking.
KOM Watch Mount Cycling:
Made for the Garmin Forerunner and Fenix series, this mount can also work for the Apple Watch. It comes with a built-in Quick Release Mechanism that lets you attach/detach the Apple watch quickly. I can swear by its robustness and durability. Your Apple Watch stays firmly in place, and there is reasonable protection in the event of a crash.
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The installation is easy and takes less than a minute if you have the right tools. It fits a variety of handlebar sizes (22.2mm to 31.8mm) so you can easily move it from one MTB to another.
Misxi Screen Protector:
The Misxi screen protector is designed to offer external surface protection to your watch without compromising usability. I have found it to live up to its promise. Extras include 2 x high-performance PC hard cases and dry and wet wipes. The installation is quite intuitive and takes 5 seconds at most.
Mountain biking is an accident-prone sport and without this (or any) screen protection, your Apple Watch’s life would be over right after a minor crash.
Nike Sport Band:
If you sweat profusely while cycling/MTB, then this is the band for you. It is made of lightweight fluoroelastomer with compression-molded perforations for breathability. I can assure you that it feels smooth and comfortable on the skin.
You can track mountain biking with an Apple Watch and the experience is almost similar to a Bike computer. The watch can monitor heart rate, elevation, position, and distance traveled. No external sensors are required, but you might have to invest in mounting gear and screen protection cases. Hopefully, this post gives you a glimpse of the mountain biking experience on an Apple Watch.