Which is your best device
The best bicycle navigation system for e-bikes in the test - 5 devices in the comparison test
Explore new paths, look for trail adventures, plan tours: so that you are always on the fastest or most beautiful paths, we have compared the five most exciting navigation devices for eMTBs. Clever smartphone holder, GPS device or E-MTB on-board computer? We tell you what is useful for whom.
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E-mountain biking is the best sport in the world and for us the epitome of nature experience, adventure, enjoyment and driving pleasure. The latter can be neglected if you get lost. Even if the tour starts right outside the front door, you can quickly leave your home with modern e-mountain bikes and no longer know every stone by its first name. Navigation devices have become an indispensable part of the car and on foot we use our smartphone as a navigation system if we don't know the way. So why not also with the eMTB? To explore new paths without worrying about the way back, a GPS navigation device is worthwhile. Even if you are looking for the fastest route from A to B, you cannot avoid a navigation aid. There is now plenty of choice: from the classic GPS computer with navigation function, as you know it from racing bikes, to smartphones, to e-MTB touch displays with integrated bicycle navigation systems. But not all of these options make sense on an eMTB. Overcrowded handlebars, a lack of connectivity with the drive system or unreliable navigation off the beaten track can not only be annoying, they are simply no longer up-to-date.
Table of Contents
We have tested five exciting navigation devices with different concepts and different software for you over several months and explored the limits of navigation on extensive tours in South Tyrol, on trail adventures in the low mountain range, on commuting and in everyday use. We also tell you which device is suitable for which engine system and which software is ahead of the curve. The smartphone always finds a useful place, either on the handlebars or stowed deep in the backpack.
What types of devices are there?
Classic navigation devices are the further development of the bicycle speedometer. They have gone through all the important developments of the last 20 years and, from a technical point of view, are hardly comparable with the speedometers that some of us still had on our youth bikes. They can be used on both e-bikes and analog bikes. Your focus is clearly on navigation, but the other functions are also impressive. They not only display all the classic data such as speed, cadence and altitude covered, but are also a multisport tracker and personal fitness trainer in one, can answer smartphone notifications or sound the alarm in the event of an attempted theft. They can be attached to any handlebar - but whether they can also be used as a replacement for the e-bike display depends on the motor manufacturer. Not everyone allows the manufacturers of GPS computers to query and display data such as speed, cadence, battery level and assistance level. Devices such as the SIGMA ROX 12.0 or the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus are not sold together with an e-bike, they are typical retrofit solutions.
So why not get one right away E-bike display with integrated navigation solution? There is currently only one system with a modern and extensive navigation function: the Bosch Nyon Display 2021. This type of navigation system is a permanently installed e-bike display that is delivered directly with the bike. If the compatibility is correct, it can be retrofitted, but only works on an e-bike. The Bosch Nyon Display 2021 is more than an e-bike display. It is an on-board computer, similar to the one you know from a car, with a touch display and navigation function and lots of other features.
The third and currently most popular option for adding a navigation function to the e-bike is your own Smartphone to use. Modern smartphones already have navigation functions by default and are designed to be used in a variety of ways. Either you clamp the smartphone in a normal smartphone holder or you look around for a solution that couples the smartphone with the e-bike motor system. The Bosch systems with the COBI.Bike Sport or the Bosch SmartphoneHub are currently the benchmark. Such devices form an interface between the e-bike and the smartphone via Bluetooth. There are other apps that display engine data via Bluetooth and turn the smartphone into an e-bike display. But the Bosch systems know how to go beyond that and integrate the smartphone into the e-bike.
The test field
|Make and model||price||size||compatibility||can be retrofitted|
|Garmin Edge 1030 Plus|
(To the test)
|599 €||58 x 114 x 19 mm||Bikes with ANT + LEV profile or Bluetooth LE for full compatibility||Yes|
|SIGMA ROX 12.0|
(To the test)
|399 €||60 x 115 x 17 mm||Bikes with ANT + LEV profile for full compatibility, sensors with ANT + and Bluetooth||Yes|
|Bosch Nyon 2021|
(To the test)
|349 €||80 x 110 mm||Bosch||yes, installation at a Bosch dealer is recommended|
(To the test)
|229 €||95 x 75 x 35 mm||Bosch Active Line, Active Line Plus, Cargo Line, Performance Line and Performance Line CX from model year 2020||yes, installation at a Bosch dealer is recommended|
(To the test)
|250 €||91 x 86 x 83 mm||Bosch bike with Intuvia or old Nyon mount (BUI275)||Yes|
For a broad mass of e-bikers, the following applies: the journey is the goal and not the goal is the goal. The manufacturers of all navigation devices also took this to heart in the test and added further route recommendations to the simplest and shortest connection between the location and the destination. In addition to the shortest connection, z. For example, with the "Easy" option on the SIGMA ROX 12.0, a route option with a flat topography can be selected. "Nice" route suggestions, as with the Bosch Nyon 2021, or "recommended" ones, as with the SIGMA ROX 12.0, guide the driver from the direct main roads and expressways with the shortest connection onto a designated cycle path network and accept detours. The navigation features of the Bosch Nyon 2021, the Bosch SmartphoneHub and the COBI.Bike Sport are easy to use. As a user, however, you cannot influence the suggested routes. In order to create individual tours with one of these three navigation systems or to add intermediate destinations to the route, you have to import GPX files or routes from Komoot and Co. in advance.
On the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus, however, the route planning can be tailored to your own preferences and the re-routing function can also be set individually. The variety of options in the settings menu can also overwhelm the user. The SIGMA ROX 12.0 finds a good balance between user-friendliness and a wide range of options: Re-routing while driving is automatic, and route planning provides both understandable route options that are tailored to your own profile. With a full-fledged navigation function including curated tour suggestions or a breakdown of the route types, as offered by Komoot, no device can take it in the test field. The good news: These routes from Komoot and Co. can be integrated on all devices. The Bosch Nyon 2021 masters practical range-based navigation based on the battery level, the selected motor support and the distance to the destination as well as the topography of the selected route. It saves the e-biker from starting a long tour for which the battery range is insufficient. The SmartphoneHub and the COBI.Bike Sport also compare a planned route with the battery range, but do not take into account the topography. If there are many climbs on a planned route, the battery can run out prematurely.
That’s what matters when it comes to the navigation device on an eMTB
If the bicycle navigation system is connected to the drive unit, e.g. For example, with the Bosch Nyon Display 2021, it gets its energy from the main battery and thus lasts at least as long as your e-bike. A separate battery in the Bosch Nyon 2021 ensures that you can come home even if the energy supplier of your e-bike has already run empty. With the SmartphoneHub and the COBI.Bike Sport, the smartphone can also be charged from the main battery. The GPS devices from Garmin and SIGMA are at a disadvantage here. If you don't have an e-bike with an integrated USB charging socket like the Canyon Spectral: ON or Stevens E-Inception, you should charge your GPS device regularly or have a power bank with you.
In addition to the visual display, all tested devices also work with acoustic signals. In addition to a beep, which draws attention to upcoming navigation instructions, the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus can use the beep as a warning for sharp hairpin bends. If a smartphone is integrated into the navigation solution, as is the case with the SmartphoneHub or the COBI.Bike Sport, turn-by-turn instructions can also be provided by voice. If the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus is paired with a smartphone while driving, it can also handle voice output via additional software via the smartphone. If you don't feel like the acoustic playback, you can of course deactivate it.
All devices in the test have a brightness sensor that determines the ambient light and adjusts the display brightness accordingly. Nevertheless, there are serious differences in the brightness, resolution and readability of the displays while driving. The Bosch Nyon display is clearly ahead here, closely followed by the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus. If the navigation is output on your own smartphone, the choice of smartphone naturally plays a decisive role in the display.
Theft alarm and anti-theft device
The COBI.Bike Sport and the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus offer a theft alarm as an additional feature. If movement is detected on the bicycle when the alarm is activated, both bicycles make sat-navs. The Garmin also sends a notification to the smartphone - provided it is still connected via Bluetooth. In our test, only the Bosch Nyon 2021 has special theft protection for e-bikes. If you purchase the premium lock function from Bosch for € 10, all motor functions are deactivated as soon as you remove the Nyon display from the e-bike. Until the associated Nyon display is attached to the e-bike again, the bike can only be used like a normal bike without a motor. The Bosch Kiox display also offers the same function, but it only has a rudimentary navigation function and is therefore not part of the test field.
Compatibility with the e-bike
Whether your selection of navigation devices is large or small depends on which engine you are traveling with. Modern GPS devices and smartphones can replace your e-bike display if they can communicate with the motor system of your e-bike. A shock for many Bosch customers: E-bikes with Bosch motor systems are blocked for third-party suppliers. In order to be able to read out engine data such as the assistance level or the battery level via the navigation device, you are bound to a Bosch-certified solution or to Bosch-owned devices such as the SmartphoneHub or the COBI.Bike Sport. The situation is different if the e-bike uses the ANT + LEV (Light Electric Vehicle) profile, as is e.g. B. Specialized, GIANT and Shimano do, or if it even works with Bluetooth, such as. B. at FAZUA bikes. Then the chances are good that a modern navigation device can receive and output the engine data - even if this navigation system comes from a different manufacturer than the engine system. Via the ANT + LEV profile, data such as the support level, the battery level and the estimated remaining range are transmitted to the navigation device by default. The SIGMA ROX 12.0 and the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus can connect via ANT + LEV. The Garmin Edge 1030 Plus can also communicate with FAZUA bikes, but unfortunately the data is limited here and the Garmin either only shows the speed and cadence or connects as a power sensor and indicates the rider's performance and cadence. The Bosch SmartphoneHub, the COBI.Bike Sport and the Bosch Nyon 2021 are an integral part of the motor system and therefore only work with Bosch drives.
Navigation devices should not only help the driver to find the fastest and, above all, the correct route to their destination. What happens next to the paths is just as interesting for some e-bikers. If you want to go on a discovery tour, it is not only the map material itself that is of great importance, but also how the map material is included in the route calculation. Can a distinction be made on the display as to how the path in front of you could be designed or do all routes look the same? Is a trail recognized as such and is it included in the route calculation? Also practical: every device in the test field has a WLAN module. This means that maps for offline navigation can be downloaded to the systems in the home WiFi on all devices - with the exception of the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus. The Garmin must be connected to the computer in order to make changes to the map material.
None of the devices in our test are set-and-forget devices. That also means: Unfortunately, none of them will notify you as soon as new map material is available. You always have to be active yourself. Our tip: Use apps like Komoot for navigation. The map material is always up-to-date here.
If the navigation system manufacturer is allowed to access the movement history of its customers or if the community voluntarily uploads its tours to internet portals, so-called heat maps are created. They show frequently traveled routes in the road network. The system can compare this data with the profile of the user and then create tailor-made route recommendations. What has long worked for the car with GoogleMaps is also available for the E-MTB with Garmin and Strava: If a route frequently traveled in the past is blocked or an attractive detour is set up, this is recognized by the heatmap and the route is no longer used uses navigation, in city traffic as well as on trails.
The assembly of GPS devices from Garmin and SIGMA is particularly easy. Even technical laypeople can attach the devices to the handlebars using the instructions provided. The COBI.Bike Sport is a simple retrofit solution. It can be attached to the bracket of a Bosch Intuvia or an old Bosch Nyon display. Retrofitting navigation devices that have a direct cable connection to the motor system and battery, such as the Bosch SmartphoneHub and the Bosch Nyon 2021, should be left to the specialist workshop.
The processing power of the navigation device plays an important role in ensuring smooth operation. Loading times when switching on and off, calculating a route and even zooming a map section are sometimes limited by the processor and that can lead to a lot of frustration. Who wants to wait seconds for the zoom function to react? Modern smartphones, such as those used for navigation with the COBI.Bike Sport and the SmartphoneHub, are usually clearly superior here. Even destinations hundreds of kilometers away are calculated by the smartphone in seconds, while the Bosch Nyon 2021 is already overwhelmed at distances of over 200 km and the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus needs several minutes for this. However, if the route is no longer than 100 km, all test devices calculate the route in a few seconds.
In the event of a fall, either the navigation device itself or a connected smartphone can detect the fall and start a countdown for the emergency call. If the countdown on the smartphone is not stopped after a fall, the emergency contact will be notified. However, this is only the case with Garmin, Bosch SmartphoneHub and COBI.Bike Sport. With Garmin this function is free of charge, with SmartphoneHub and COBI.Bike Sport you have to pay 40 € per year.
A touch display makes browsing and zooming on a map many times easier than old-school button operation. With the Bosch Nyon 2021, Bosch SmartphoneHub and COBI.Bike Sport, the zoom function can also be operated via the handlebar remote, so you don't have to take your hand off the handlebars. A touch function is also a real blessing for entering the destination.
In addition to navigation, some of the devices have a flood of additional features. In addition to recording a route, some devices can evaluate training, issue training recommendations based on previous performance or provide weather forecasts. With the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus, the acceleration sensor even measures phases of weightlessness and uses additional data to determine the length of jumps.For football fans, the COBI.Bike app with Goals offers a Bundesliga live ticker that shows the results on the navigation display. You have to decide for yourself how useful these functions are for you in detail and whether you need them.
The best navigation device for eMTBs in 2021
The winner of our navigation special is the Bosch Nyon 2021. It is unique in the test and more than an integrated navigation function in the e-bike display - the next-level on-board computer combines all the functions you need on an e-MTB in one device. In terms of brightness, usability and additional features, it is the benchmark in the test. No other device provides theft protection and range-based navigation at the same time and thus responds so closely to the real needs of e-bikers as the Bosch Nyon display. It's an all-round carefree package that you always have with you and never have to charge. Here you don't have to worry about your GPS, the GPS takes care of you! It couldn't be more relaxed! For € 350, the Bosch Nyon retrofit kit is also the most attractive package in terms of price and performance in our test. One downer remains: Unfortunately, it only works with Bosch motor systems.
All other manufacturers still have some catching up to do when it comes to on-board navigation on the e-bike display. The best retrofit option is the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus. Among the modern external navigation devices it sets the tone and shows what is possible. It is compatible with many drive systems and can partially replace the e-bike display. The high-quality hardware, the sharp touch display and the long-lasting battery make the Garmin the Navi-Primus among the retrofitters! The navigation can be tailored to your own needs and offers good integration of Komoot, Trailforks, Strava and Co. If you familiarize yourself with the many additional functions and the apps from the IQ Store, you can do a lot more with the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus Use than just ordinary navigation.
If you want to use your smartphone as an e-bike display or navigation device, Bosch's SmartphoneHub and COBI.Bike Sport are clever systems that turn your mobile phone into a command center and network you with your bike. If you don't need your mobile phone at the moment, the minimalistic display of the SmartphoneHub helps you keep an eye on the most important data on your eMTB. The only disadvantage: you are dependent on the COBI.Bike app. For all those who do not ride an e-bike with a Bosch motor, we have a smartphone holder comparison test on our website, which provides you with all the information you need on the subject of cell phones on e-bikes.
All navigation devices in this comparison test
Bosch COBI.Bike Sport (to the test) | Bosch Nyon (to the test) | Bosch SmartphoneHub (to test) | Garmin Edge 1030 Plus (To test) | SIGMA ROX 12.0 (to test)
did you like this article? Then we would be very happy if you would support us as a supporter with a monthly contribution. As an E-MOUNTAINBIKE supporter, you will ensure a sustainable future for high-quality bike journalism and ensure that e-mountain bike sport continues to have a free and freely accessible leading medium! Become a supporter now!
Text: Rudolf Fischer Photos: Jonas Müssig, Robin Schmitt
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