Can An Apple Watch Track Mountain Biking?

Technology has made its way to most outdoor activities, most people desire to track their progress and so they end up using smartwatches, the most popular of these being the Apple Watch. But can it track mountain biking?

An Apple Watch can track mountain biking regardless of whether you use the native Apple watch or a third-party mountain biking app, it tracks all of the basics such as time, distance, average speed, and heart rate. In fact, Apple Watches can even detect crashes.

While there are plenty of wearables out there for you to use for your workouts or your outdoor activities such as biking, there is a reason why the Apple Watch is still the most popular. Other than the fact that it seamlessly connects with iPhones, the Apple Watch is an effective wearable to use if you love mountain biking.

Can You Use an Apple Watch To Track a Mountain Biking Ride?

Apple watch

While there are plenty of smartwatches in the market today, one device that is becoming pretty popular among different outdoor enthusiasts and mountain bikers alike is the Apple Watch, which has been dominating the wearables market for years and is currently holding more than 30% of the market share.

Given that the Apple Watch is by far the most popular wearable in the industry, it only follows that mountain bikers and any kind of cyclist will actually want to use an Apple Watch over any other wearable the market has to offer. But can an Apple Watch really track a mountain bike ride?

Yes, the Apple Watch can track a mountain bike ride. When you go to your Apple Watch’s native app, there will be an option that allows you to use Cycling mode, which can be used for both indoor and outdoor cycling. Of course, because you are a mountain biker, you would need to use the outdoor cycling mode.

Now, for your mountain bike rides, the Apple Watch has been able to track speed and distance ever since the Series 2 and later, which have their own built-in GPS capabilities. Meanwhile, the same mode can be used with the original Apple Watch Series 1 as long as you bring your iPhone with you.

Meanwhile, ever since the Series 3, the Apple Watch has had a built-in altimeter that will allow you to track elevation, which is one of the most important aspects you would want to keep track of when you are on a mountain bike ride. The same feature can be used with your Series 2 Apple Watch as long as you bring your iPhone with you.

Apple Watch is able to use advanced algorithms to instantly detect that you are cycling. This works seamlessly with the fall detection feature that the newer Apple Watches come with so that you can easily call for help in case you ended up falling from your bike in an accident.

The point here is that you can use your Apple Watch for tracking your mountain bike rides as the Apple Watch’s native app has most of the capabilities and features needed for you to be able to properly your rides.

You can also use third-party apps like Strava together with your Apple Watch. But while Strava does have features that are great for mountain bike rides, the Apple Watch app works seamlessly with the Apple Watch and all of the different features you would need while riding.

Apple Watch vs. Garmin

Garmin’s flagship Fenix line of wearables is the biggest competition that the Apple Watch has when it comes to mountain biking. And there’s a really good reason why the Fenix is as popular as it is for many mountain bikers.

Most of the features that you can see in the Apple Watch are present in the Garmin Fenix and in other Garmin watches that are very close to the price of an Apple Watch.

The reason why the Garmin Fenix is a hit for mountain bikers is that it comes with topographical maps that are useful for mountain bikers who want to use the data and metrics to track their progress and performance, without proof you have no bragging rights on social networks.

So, Garmin watches do come with features that you don’t see in Apple Watches as these are wearables that were made to be used for the outdoors as opposed to how Apple Watches were designed to be used for everyday purposes.

The biggest disadvantage that an Apple Wach has compared with Garmin smartwatches is the short battery life, if you go on a longer ride (a whole day or bike backing for 3 or more days) you will most likely run out of battery if you will use an Apple Wach.

Newer models of Apple watches (2022 and beyond)) come with a longer battery life, comparable to that of a Garmin watch, so Apple is couching up.

The biggest advantage of an Apple Watch is that it works seamlessly with your iPhone (although the Apple Watch won’t work with Android phones). Many functions of your phone are easier to use with an Apple Watch.

Of course, the Apple Watch also comes with more media features because it was made to be an everyday wearable as opposed to the Garmin watches, which are primarily sports watches.

That said, the Apple Watch does have its advantages over Garmin watches. But if you want a watch that focuses more on your mountain biking needs, a good Garmin watch like the Fenix should give you what you want. 

Then again, if you don’t want to spend money on a second wearable and you want a smartwatch that not only comes with cycling features but also everyday features that are useful for your daily activities other than mountain biking, then the Apple Watch should take the cake.

Does Apple Watch Track Bike Calories?

One of the main features of a smartwatch is to track the calories you burn in different activities, and Yes you can track the calories burned in your mountain biking rides with your Apple Wach.

What you need to do is to select the appropriate workout that will allow the watch to accurately track the calories you burned depending on the chosen workout, your heart rate, and the other metrics that the watch uses.

However, it is important that you make sure to choose the outdoor cycling feature when you want to track your mountain bike calories.

Choosing another mode or merely wearing the Apple Watch without choosing the outdoor cycling workout will still allow the watch to track the calories you burned but it does so using default metrics such as walking or running instead of cycling, which doesn’t burn the same calories as other activities do.


Apple Wach can track distance, elevation, and calories, which are usually the most desired aspects that mountain bikers look for in a good wearable.

But be aware that only the newer versions will actually be able to track long rides that require you to have the tracking functions of your Apple Wach active for many hours.

So you can definitely use your Apple Wach to track your mountain biking rides but don’t expect it to perform at the same level as a Garmin watch.

I started mountain biking many years ago to improve my overall health state. After my first ride, I fell in love with the sport. Now I spend dozens of hours a week researching and training to compete in local XC and Enduro events.