It’s been over two years now since Garmin released the famous Garmin Edge 500 and 800 GPS bike navigation units. They’ve become huge successes and the emergence of Strava definitely gave them another push.
When it comes to gadgets, two and a half years is quite long period between old and new models, but all good things come to those who wait. The engineers worked hard to perfect a product that was almost perfect to begin with.
The main purpose of the units remained the same: the Garmin Edge 510 is for racing and training whilst the Garmin Edge 810 is more geared towards training, touring and navigating. The new Edge 510 now sports a 2.2″ colour touchscreen which is definitely a great step up from the button operated Edge 500.
Both units got a new user interface with activity profiles and active routing, but the heart of the system remained the same: there are multiple pages are available and these pages can be fully customised to display exactly the information you want to see.
In terms of core functionality, they worked on the already excellent GPS reception which translates into improved performance in challenging conditions. It can record a wide range of riding data through ANT+ sensors: heart rate, speed and cadence, power or weight scale. The integrated altimeter for elevation, ascent and gradient has also been improved.
The Garmin Edge 510 and 810 both offer new Activity Profiles. You can set data fields, data screens and other preferences dependent on your bike type and the type of riding. You might want to focus on your cadence on a training ride on road but it might be less relevant on a granny-gear climb on your mountain bike – now there is a solution for that.
The biggest new development has clearly been the new connectivity capabilities of both units. Both units are equipped with Bluetooth and this function opens up a whole new world for them. Up until now, the units had to be plugged into a computer to upload new routes or to download data. Now it can all be done via Bluetooth and you don’t even need a computer, routes can be uploaded on the fly.
But the most exciting new development is the live update function: after pairing the Garmin Edge 810 and 510 with a smartphone, they can relay the information to Garmin Connect. While many might find this new feature a bit Big Brother-esque, it adds a new and exciting layer to riding.
Live tracking allows you to track speed, distance, location, elevation and all sensor data. The data is updated once every minute and the tracking can be disabled at any point. Once you finished riding, you can upload it automatically to Garmin Connect and the icing on the cake is the real time weather forecasts arriving directly on screen.
I’m sure Strava will pick up this feature soon and but it can also be useful when friends and family want to see your progress during completing the LEJOG or the Paris-Roubaix sportive.
The apps that make the connectivity happen are available for both iOS and Android devices.
The extra features will probably mean higher energy consumption but Garmin promises 15 hours of normal usage and an expandable battery pack will be available for an additional 20-25 hours riding – now only your phone’s battery needs to hold up.
The units are available to pre-order from today: