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Garmin Edge bike computers: buyer’s guide to all the models

Want a Garmin bike computer but not sure which model? The experts at Bike Radar explains them all, from the Garmin Edge 1030 all the way down to the Edge 20

This article was originally published on Bike Radar.com

Garmin Edge bike computers have become hugely popular, thanks to a winning mix of user-friendly features, good looks and effective navigation. There’s a huge range to cover all budgets and needs though, so which is the best Garmin Edge for you? We’ve put together an explainer to help you choose.

Bike computer: what to look for

  

There are full-fat Garmin Edge models for performance riders who want all the data possible, models for touring cyclists who need good navigation in unfamiliar terrain, and low-profile models for those cyclists who just want to track the basics.

We'll start with the simplest, most affordable Garmin Edge computers, and work up from there.

Garmin Edge 20

Garmin Edge 20 is the most basic, no-frills GPS bike computer in the range. It’s the essence of GPS cycling devices, distilled into a tiny unit barely bigger than the Garmin quarter-turn mount it sits on. It’s a no-frills bike computer that’ll accurately and reliably track your speed, distance and time. It lacks ANT+ and Bluetooth, so it won’t support heart rate monitors, power meters or cadence sensors.

Surprisingly, it does include basic navigation via the ‘breadcrumb’ feature mentioned below for the Edge 25. You have to upload a route onto the device via Garmin Connect, but it’s surprisingly good, in a minimalist, pared-down way. 

Battery life is a claimed eight hours and you get dual GPS+GLONASS reception too. 

  • Weight: 25g / 0.9oz
  • Display size: 32.5mm / 1.28in

Read Bike Radar's Garmin Edge 20 review

Garmin Edge 25

This is the slightly more capable version of Garmin's two super-minimal bike computers. Launched in 2015, The Edge 25 offers little more than the basic metrics you’d expect from a GPS bike computer: distance, speed, elapsed time and time of day, along with average speed, estimated calories, elevation and total ascent.

With the addition of extra external sensors, it will also monitor heart rate and cadence (but not power). When you ride, one page displays the time, date and battery life, while the data is spread across two pages, each with three fields. If you add a heart rate monitor, a fourth page shows beats per minute and HR zone.

It also offers breadcrumb navigation, meaning it will show a line on a blank screen, not a detailed map. If you load a pre-planned course onto the device, the tiny monochrome screen will point you in the right direction and give you a line to follow and it even offers turn warnings. 

With Bluetooth, it can connect to your phone for data upload and LiveTrack, which can show your moving position to loved ones.

  • Weight: 25g / 0.9oz
  • Display size: 32.5mm / 1.28in

Read Bike Radar's Garmin Edge 25 review

Garmin Edge Touring

The Garmin Edge Touring is based on hardware from the discontinued Edge 810 and was launched way back in 2013. It’s starting to show its age now, however; the navigation capabilities were once cutting-edge, but now look a bit dated. You get a top-down map that’s easily overwhelmed with too much information and is hard to scroll around and there are no connected features like Strava Live, incoming call alerts or social media sharing.

You can choose between on-road or off-road navigation, using Garmin’s preloaded cycle map of Europe, and you can tell the device to suggest three different round-trip options based on a specified distance. It also includes points of interest relevant to cyclists and allows you to simply enter the address of where you want to go, leaving it to work out a cycling-friendly route for you.

The colour touchscreen is a healthy 2.6in across and offers 160 x 240 pixels resolution — not mind-blowing by modern standards, but usable enough. A nice feature is that the screen darkens between road junctions, to save battery. Speaking of which, battery life is up to a claimed 17 hours.

  • Weight: 98g / 3.5oz
  • Display size: 66mm / 2.6in
  • Retail price: £199 / $249 / AU$TBC

Garmin Edge 520

Launched in 2015, the 520 was the first Garmin Edge computer to offer Strava Live integration out of the box. It’s similar looking to the Garmin Edge 820, which came out a year later, but it uses buttons instead of a touchscreen.

There are scores of performance-focused perks, including FTP testing/tracking, and VO2 max and recovery time estimations when used with a power meter and heart rate sensor. 

There’s a wealth of the connected features found on its more expensive siblings, like automatic uploads (via Bluetooth to your phone), LiveTrack, incoming phone call and text alerts, weather forecasts and social media sharing. It will also play nicely with Garmin Varia smart lights, ViRB action cameras and Shimano Di2 electronic shifting.

Finally, it also comes with dual GPS+GLONASS reception for faster, more accurate satellite fixes and a long 15+ battery life. Add in a barometric altimeter for more accurate tracking of your elevation variance over the course of a ride and this is a solid Garmin Edge for performance-minded riders.

  • Weight: 60g / 2.1oz
  • Display size: 58mm / 2.3in

Read our Garmin Edge 520 review

Garmin Edge 820

The Garmin Edge 820 (released in 2016) promises most of the smarts found in the top-end Edge 1000, but for less money and in a smaller, lighter form factor. It really is packed with features: you get a 2.3in colour touchscreen, oodles of advanced performance monitoring, Strava Live segments, navigation, handy text/call notifications and more.

It also gets a clever feature called GroupTrack, which helps you keep tabs on everyone in your riding pack. It gives you an on-screen map that shows where everyone else in your group is — providing they have a Garmin device that’s compatible with LiveTrack, that is.

Routes can be created by the unit itself, once you’ve inputted the address you want, but we would recommend uploading from a known ride, or using Strava’s Route Builder or Ride With GPS. As with other models like the Edge 1000, you can tell the Edge 820 to route you along bike paths, roads or trails, depending on your preference.

While the turn-by-turn directions are great, the relatively smaller size of the 820 compared to the 1000 makes it a little cumbersome if you want to zoom in or zoom out to see more detail.

Other high-end features that make an appearance on the Edge 820 include incident detection, compatibility with Garmin Varia smart lights and ViRB action cameras, and dual GPS/GLONASS capabilities. 

  • Weight: 68g / 2.4oz
  • Display size: 58mm / 2.3in

Read our Garmin Edge 820 review

Garmin Edge Explore 820

As we’ve already seen, Garmin likes to target touring cyclists with exploration-friendly versions of its bike computers, which is why the Garmin Edge Explore 820 could hit the sweet spot of price and features for many riders. It’s based on the same form factor as the Edge 820, but eschews high-performance data like functional threshold power estimates and Strava Live integration.

You’ll still get Bluetooth Smart to alert you to incoming phone calls and bad weather, and it keeps the incident detection capabilities of the Edge 820. There’s a 2.3in colour touchscreen that works in the wet and with gloves, and the GroupTrack and LiveTrack features remain too, which some might find useful. It’ll connect to a heart rate monitor as well.

Most potential buyers will be asking if the navigation features are any good and it’s the same story as reported above for the Edge 820. The good news is that it’ll create a route for you on the fly and delivers turn-by-turn navigation with alerts as appropriate. The bad news is that it’s still limited by screen size — just too small for many users, who’ll soon tire of trying to zoom in and out by poking at elusive on-screen icons.

One impressive feature that this model shares with the Edge 820 and above is WiFi uploads. This means your ride will appear on Garmin Connect and Strava mere moments after you enter within range of your home WiFi network or sync the device via Bluetooth with a smartphone.

Also worth mentioning is the battery save mode, which can extend battery life by up to 50 percent while still recording your ride. 

  • Weight: 68g / 2.4oz
  • Display size: 58mm / 2.3in
  • Retail price: £299 / $349 / AU$TBC

Read our Garmin Edge Explore 820 review

Garmin Edge 1000

Until the Edge 1030 was announced in late 2017, the 1000 was the premium Garmin Edge bike computer. It has a slew of features: turn-by-turn navigation on a huge 3in colour touchscreen that automatically adjusts for light conditions, data tracking for a vast array of rider performance metrics, workout and Virtual Partner features, Strava Live integration and lots more. It comes at a hefty price, though.

First Look: Garmin Edge 1000 bike computer

The Garmin Edge 1000 was launched in 2014 and is comparable in size to an iPhone 4, albeit a little deeper in the belly. It’s got both GPS and GLONASS (the latter speeds up satellite reception, at a slight battery life cost), Bluetooth Smart so you can receive text/ call alerts and weather reports plus upload your ride, WiFi uploads, and compatibility with the latest Garmin Varia smart lights and ViRB action cameras. Thanks to ANT+ it will connect with nearly any sensor out there.

And the navigation is superb, with detailed mapping that can be switched between a top-down bird’s eye view and a 3D purple line to follow. You can select a routing mode so that it knows whether to guide you across bike paths (‘Tour Cycling’ mode), trails (‘Mountain Biking’) or tarmac (‘Road Cycling’). 

But it’s the enormous range of possible data screens that make this unit stand out for data-hungry cyclists — you can configure up to 10 screens, which you swipe through like a smartphone. Metrics include variations on speed, altitude, power, heart rate, cadence, calories, gears (for Shimano Di2 and SRAM eTap), distance, time, temperature, sunset time, workout counters and more. 

Battery life is the only issue; when using turn-by-turn navigation and a bright screen we were seldom able to get more than 5 hours from a full charge. 

  • Weight: 115g / 4oz
  • Display size: 3.9cm x 6.5cm

Read our Garmin Edge 1000 review

Garmin Edge Explore 1000

Touring cyclists, this is the top-notch Garmin bike computer for you. It’s based on the Garmin Edge 1000, so you still get that massive 3in colour touchscreen, superb turn-by-turn navigation and weather alerts. It still offers a lot in data terms — there are three customisable data screens (rather than the 10 available with the Edge 1000) and it can display metrics including heart rate and power. The barometric altitude sensor remains too.

However, it lacks advanced performance features like Strava Live integration, structured workouts and recovery predictions, which are all big reasons for performance-focused riders to buy the Edge 1000. And although the Edge Explore 1000 is a little more affordable than its bigger brother, it’s still quite pricey.

The Garmin Edge Explore 1000 does offer one notable feature missing from the Edge 1000 though, incident detection. This relies on accelerometers to sound the alarm when you’ve had a crash and offers automatic or manual alerts to an emergency contact, telling them where you are (you can cancel the alert manually if you want). 

It also include Garmin’s Live Tracking feature, which we really like. This uses your smartphone’s data connection to broadcast your position (and other data like speed and heart rate) to a nominated recipient, who receives an emailed link and can then track your progress in a web browser.

But it’s really the navigation features that make this unit appealing for touring cyclists and those with a habit of getting lost (guilty). The best bit is the superb 3D Mode that gives you a nice big purple line to follow, plus audible alerts and a countdown to when you need to make that turn. There’s also loop suggestions, which let you tell it how far you want it to ride and leave the Edge Explore 1000 to figure out three possible bike-friendly routes.

And finally, there’s also a search function that lets you find destinations by postcode and points of interest (including some very useful ones like bike shops and hospitals, and some less useful ones like ice rinks and cinemas — clearly derived from Garmin’s range of car sat navs). In summary, a very capable bike computer for cyclists who want to explore rather than chase KOMs.

  • Weight: 115g (4oz)
  • Display size: 76mm

Read our Garmin Edge Explore 1000 review

Garmin Edge 1030

The brand new Garmin Edge 1030 steps up the navigation game, but perhaps the biggest upgrade is the massive (20hr) battery life.

Garmin release new Edge 1030, their latest GPS bike computer

Battery life that is as massive as the 3.5in colour touchscreen headlines the new range-topping Edge 1030's list of features. (20 hours claimed, plus 20+ more with a battery that clips into the new mount.)

This 123g handlebar supercomputer monitors and records every cycling metric you can think of, plus a few dozen more.

Garmin upped the ante on navigation, too, offering something it calls 'Trendline Popularity' to highlight cycling-friendly routes when out on the road. We haven't tested this enough yet to confirm its promise, but a cool promise it is.

Garmin's already superior turn-by-turn navigation gets a boost with sharp-turn alerts and improved maps.

Strava Routes and TrainingPeaks Connect IQ apps come stock, and you can easily add more.

The Edge 1030 does everything the 1000 does, plus adds things like rider-to-rider messages and rider-to-phone messaging via pre-written notes. So, say your friend texts you when out on the bike; instead of pulling over to respond, you can just hit the 'be there asap' button without slowing your cadence.

  • Weight: 123g
  • Display size: 89mm

Read our Garmin Edge 1030 first ride review

Discontinued Garmin Edge bike computer models

There have been a fair few models that have fallen by the wayside as Garmin continually updates its range. Here's the list of discontinued models, as of September 2017:

  • Garmin Edge 200
  • Garmin Edge 205
  • Garmin Edge 305
  • Garmin Edge 500
  • Garmin Edge 510
  • Garmin Edge 605
  • Garmin Edge 705
  • Garmin Edge 800
  • Garmin Edge 810
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