Apple Watch vs Garmin – Which is Better for Peloton?

When I first got my Peloton bike I started to research which heart rate monitor to use with the bike. I like using a heart rate monitor ever since I started using it during my workouts at Orangetheory – I like seeing my heart rate zones and having a more accurate calorie count.

Over the years I’ve gone through a few different heart rate monitors and watches and today I’ll share with you which one I’ve found to be the best to use with Peloton. For my comparisons I’m using an Apple Watch SE and a Garmin Venu, but most of these features will be the same (or even enhanced) across the other smartwatch models.

The Garmin Venu I have and have pictured in here is the older version, but the new Garmin Venu2 is extremely similar.

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Syncing with Peloton

In terms of syncing with the Peloton Bike and Tread, both the Apple Watch and Garmin will sync (however this isn’t the case with the Peloton Guide – Apple Watch is not currently supported). However, how both these watches sync is totally different and will impact how they work.

The Apple Watch uses bluetooth to connect to the bike and tread. I’ve found that because of this, the signal isn’t as reliable. I’ll be able to get my watch to connect initially (for the most part) but then find it drops connection during different times of the workout. I’ve heard from my other friends they have similar issues too.

Related Post: How to Sync Apple Watch to Peloton

With Garmin, syncing is seamless and consistent. Garmin uses ANT+ to connect (you can read more about the difference between ANT+ and Bluetooth here), which is a stronger and more stable connection. The Peloton Guide also uses this so the Garmin is compatible at this time with all of the Peloton equipment – Bike (both the original and Bike+), Tread (both the Tread and Tread+), as well as the Guide.

Related Post: How to Sync Garmin Watch with Peloton

I’ve been using the Garmin Venu lately and have yet to have any connection issues. As soon as I go to start a workout, my Peloton picks up on the signal and connects to my watch. It’ll stay connected until I end the workout on my watch.

For consistency and ease of syncing, I’m going to say Garmin wins when it comes to syncing with Peloton.

Winner: Garmin

apple watch and garmin in front of peloton bike

Battery

Battery life is another very important metric to me. I wear both my Garmin and Apple as a heart rate monitor when I workout, as well as everyday as a lifestyle watch. I’ve been using both watches for a few months now and can say Garmin crushes the Apple Watch for battery life.

My Garmin watch battery will last up to 7 days on a single charge, even with using it everyday for a workout. If I do a longer workout with GPS, like an outdoor run for 90 min, the battery life will only be about 5 days instead – which is still way better than what I was getting with my Apple Watch!

For my Apple Watch, I’d get maybe 12 hours of use out of it before I would have to charge it.

Winner: Garmin

Data

Data is incredibly important to me. I like to analyze my workouts afterwards – especially my running.

With both Garmin and Apple I’m able to see the basic info of my workouts – like the distance for running, mile splits, time in heart rate zone, and a map if I run outside.

However I’ve found that the Garmin gives even more insights and data into my workouts than the Apple Watch does. I can track mileage on each pair of shoes I use, see my cadence as well as see more detailed splits than just mileage.

Winner: Garmin

Creating Workouts

I use my Garmin for running, both indoors and outdoors, and one of the features I really like to use is to create workouts in the training tab. This feature allows me to program in the details of my workout – like tempo runs. For example, if I want to do a Tempo run outside, I can go and enter into my watch how long I want to spend warming up, my goal tempo run time and pace, and cool down time.

garmin workout in connect

My watch will then alert me with which section of my workout I’m in, and then if I have a pace goal, it’ll actually give me live feedback if I’m in the zone I want to be (like running my goal pace). At the end of my workout, instead of typical mile breakouts it’ll actually break down my workout into the same sections so I can see pace breakouts by warm up/cool down and runs.

I could never figure out how to do this in the Apple Watch or get any more details than the basic overview of my workouts. So, in this case Garmin is a winner to me.

LiveTrack

Another feature I really like is the LiveTrack on Garmin. I set my watch up to have my husband’s e-mail so every time I go out for a run he gets an auto generated e-mail that I’m out for a run, and a link if he wants to see where I am. Not only is this a great safety features, but it’s also been super helpful during races. He can take a look at where I’m at on a course and know when the arrive with our kids.

Winner: Garmin

apple watch and garmin on peloton bike seat

Peloton Outdoor Run Syncing

While both Garmin and Apple Watch have GPS and can track your runs, only the Apple Watch will sync with the Peloton App and display the same distance.

With Garmin, you’ll need to start an outdoor run on the watch and start a Peloton Outdoor run on your phone. The Peloton app will still track your mileage so you’ll get credit, but I’ve found there is a discrepancy between the watch and Peloton app. This is mostly caused by the Peloton App using cell phone towers to determine your distance while the watch uses actual GPS. I’ve found the watch to be more accurate.

Either way, you’ll get credit for both in the Peloton app and those miles will count towards any monthly challenges you’re participating in.

Winner: Apple Watch

Accuracy

One of the biggest questions is which watch is more accurate: Garmin or Apple Watch?

I’ve found that the Apple Watch is more accurate on the Peloton Tread and Bike because it can sync to the Peloton app to grab the mileage. Garmin can only broadcast heart rates so doesn’t capture the same mileage the bike and tread will have. Garmin will capture on its own mileage as you run on the tread and I’ve found it’s pretty close to what the Peloton tread will read (you can also calibrate at the end so it ties out). Garmin also makes foot pods to make their treadmill readings even more accurate, but I haven’t found a need for that yet. As long as my run is relatively flat, my Garmin watch and Peloton tread distances will be fairly similar (and if not, I can just calibrate at the end).

On the Peloton bike, there isn’t a way for Garmin to capture mileage unless you go in after and enter it into Garmin connect. Similar to the Apple Watch, riding the Peloton bike won’t count towards any step goals.

However, in terms of GPS I’ve found Garmin is more accurate. I like to map out my routes in MapMyRun and have noticed that Garmin is closest to this. I’ve noticed that my Apple Watch would be up to .4 miles off from what MapMyRun would say the route is.

Winner: Garmin

Overall Smartwatch

After using both the Apple Watch and Garmin watches I would say I prefer the Garmin Venu over the Apple Watch. I love how easily it connects to my Peloton, the training stats and the amazing battery life. The only downside to my Garmin is that it doesn’t integrate as well as Apple does with my phone, like with Siri, but that’s not a feature I use often anyway.

Winner: Garmin

apple watch and garmin on wrist

Final Thoughts

Both Apple Watch and Garmin will sync with Peloton (with the exception of the Guide), but if you’re looking for a more stable connection and more detailed insights into your workouts, I recommend going with a Garmin. If you’re looking for better integration with your iPhone, go with the Apple Watch. And if you just want a solid smartwatch with great health features, either watch will be a good choice.

Related Post: How to Sync Apple Airpods with Peloton

Author

  • Ali Van Straten

    Ali Van Straten is the founder and journalist of Champagne and Coffee Stains. She is a Peloton expert, certified running coach and certified nutrition coach. Champagne and Coffee Stains provides information and resources on Peloton Interactive, running and recipes.

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4 Comments

  1. I am a big fan of Garmin all around, just wish you could import the Peloton workouts to Garmin Connect more easily (I have to go through Strava and a conversion site to upload the workouts). Do you know of a better way?

    1. Unfortunately I haven’t found a workaround either 🙁 Hopefully they release something soon!

  2. Alyssa Reed says:

    When you use live tracking, do you have to have your phone with you as well as your Garman watch?

    1. I think you do need to have your phone with you to have it work (I think it uses the phones cell signal to broadcast the GPS data). I had to set up the livetrack on my phone and on my old garmin I’d have to start it on my phone to get it to work.

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