The Best Garmin for Cycling: Two Wheels Good
There are so many fitness trackers that can measure your daily activity on foot, but what about your activity on two wheels?
Fortunately, Garmin hasn’t forgotten about cycling enthusiasts. A well-established manufacturer of navigation products and swimming trackers, Garmin has a fantastic selection of GPS cycling computers. Which is the best Garmin for cycling, though? Let’s have a look.
The Edge Series
Garmin’s GPS devices for cycling are available at various price points. The more you have to spend, the more features you’re going to get. The Edge series of GPS cycle computers, as well as the Edge Touring sister series, offers something for all cyclists, no matter their level of skill or intensity.
It can be difficult to decide which one is the best cycling GPS for you, though. What are the key features in all of these Garmin products? And, is an expensive Garmin for cycling worth the extra money?
Here’s a summary of each cycling computer currently offered by Garmin, from the most basic to the most extravagant. We’ll cover the Edge series first, then the Edge Touring.
1. Edge 20 Garmin Cycle GPS
What’s great about buying a cycling computer from a brand like Garmin is that you’re going to get a GPS on even the most entry-level product; that is, after all, what the company is known for. So, for just over 100 quid, you can pick up the Edge 20, the perfect Garmin cycling computer for the novice or occasional rider.
It’s compact, at around 4×4 centimetres (the screen size is just over half that), it’s splash proof, it’s got an eight hour battery, and it can store up to ten rides’ worth of data. Performance features include auto lap counting, time and distance goal alerts, and the ability to compete against your previous activity on the same course.
The display is pretty simple, with just black numbers on a grey background, and there’s no BlueTooth, but the Edge 20 does work with the Garmin Connect app and web community (as do all of their GPS cycling computers). It’s a great beginner Garmin for bikes; you may be happy with it as you progress, or you may want to upgrade to a more robust Garmin for cycling.
2. Edge 25 Garmin Cycle GPS
Similar in name and price to the Edge 20, the Garmin Edge 25 adds a few more features that are probably worth the additional £20, especially if you’re a little more serious about your cycling performance.
This Garmin for cycling is the same size as its little brother and looks almost exactly alike, but it boasts some useful differences.
First, it has a bike speed and cadence sensor to give you more details about your performance. Next, it’s got BlueTooth and will automatically sync with your computer. It can also receive notifications from your smartphone, so you’ll see texts and other alerts.
Finally, the Edge 25 has a ten hour battery life, which is slightly better than the Edge 20’s eight hour. If you’re trying to keep spending to a minimum, the Edge 20 is great, but if you can spare the extra 20 quid, the Edge 25 is worth the added expense.
3. Edge 520 Garmin Cycling Computer
The Edge 520 is an update on earlier 500 models, and this is where Garmin’s Edge series really starts to move from casual stats to serious training. The 520 offers all of the features of the 20 and 25, but with so much more.
For starters, it’s larger, coming in at 5x7x2 centimetres, and its colour display is 3.5×4.7 centimetres. It can track things like calories burned and create interval training sessions to push you further, plus it offers weather alerts, live tracking, and full power and performance analyses.
Add in a 15 hour battery, 180 hours of history, smart notifications, and lots of compatibility with third party devices, and you’ve got what many riders consider to be the best cycling GPS.
4. Edge 810 Garmin Cycling Computer
“There’s no better bike computer to guide your ride,” boasts the Garmin website, and if you’ve got £300 (or £319.99, to be exact), that’s very true.
The Edge 810 ups the ante with an array of added features. It’s got a large 3.6×5.5 centimetre touchscreen colour display, so its easy to interact with the 810 even as you’re rolling along. It also accepts microSD cards, so you can store as much route and ride information as you want.
Plus, live tracking allows your selected contacts to follow your two-wheeling activity. Automatic wireless data transfers keep all of your data in one place.
The 810 is definitely a serious Garmin cycling computer, but if you’re serious about your training, it’s a fantastic device to have mounted on your handlebars.
5. Edge 1000 Garmin Cycle Computer
The Edge 1000 is essentially a dedicated smartphone, rather than a mere Garmin for cycling. It’s big (the colour touchscreen display is 3.9×6.5 centimetres), it’s got built-in memory, it’s got lots of compatibility (including wifi), and it’s both GPS and GLONASS enabled.
The display is high resolution and can be used in both landscape and portrait orientations. You can set the 1000 up for in-ride competitions, and its pre-loaded cycling maps are designed specifically for cyclists with bike-specific navigation.
It’s a fantastic device, though at over £400, the Edge 1000 is the best cycling GPS for only the most intense of riders. If you’re training for a long, gruelling race or riding in lots of new locations, it’s perfect. For more casual cyclists, however, the previously mentioned Garmin GPS devices might be more appropriate.
The Garmin Edge Touring Range
The devices in Garmin’s Edge Touring line are most similar to the Garmin GPS navigators you’d use in your car. They’re designed mainly for finding your way and finding locations. Yes, they track your bike information, but that’s not their primary purpose.
1. Garmin Edge Touring
The Edge Touring GPS cycle computer offers a lot for the least sophisticated device in the line: a colour touchscreen display similar to the 810’s, a slot for microSD cards, built-in maps, and the ability to add more. It won’t get smart notifications or sync with cadence sensors or other performance-measuring accessories, but if you need to know where you are and where you’re going more than how your performance is improving, the Edge Touring is the right device for you.
2. Garmin Edge Touring Plus
Like the Edge Touring model but with a few extra features, the Edge Touring Plus is a wonderful combination of advanced navigation and performance tracking. It’s compatible with Garmin’s external heart rate monitor, plus it has a barometric altimeter for the most precise location information. Both of these details allow you to measure elevation information and performance data, and they are both absent on the lower Touring model. Throw in a slightly heftier battery and all of the mapping and turn-by-turn information that you expect from Garmin’s Edge Touring line, and you’ve got the ideal navigation Garmin for bikes.
Don’t Forget the Accessories
Garmin has more than just GPS cycle computers — it has a whole line of compatible accessories. All of the above models come with a bike mount, but Garmin has spares as well as different configurations. There’s also a rear view bike radar to let you know if someone’s approaching you; this is a good accessory not only for safety, but for motivation as well. A protective carrying case is also a helpful thing to have for when you’ve temporarily locked your bike up.
There are more advanced accessories too, like a vector pedal power monitor. These are pedals that sync with higher end Garmin GPS cycling computers for full data on every ride; be sure to get the compatible cleats as well! Garmin also offers a cadence sensor and a chest strap heart rate monitor for more robust performance analysis. And finally, there’s a line of VIRB action cameras to capture all the great footage from your adventures.
Which Garmin for Cycling Will You Get?
So which is the best Garmin for cycling? It really depends on what kind of information you’re after and how serious you are about your riding. If you’re more concerned about improving performance and training for a big race, the Edge 520, 810, or 1000 models are the ones you’ll want to consider. Or, if navigation information is what you need the most, the Edge Touring models are what you’ll want to look at.
Of course, price factors into your decision quite heavily. The Edge 20 and 25 models are relatively affordable and ideal for more casual cyclists who don’t have a huge budget for their hobby. You won’t get all of the bells and whistles of the more advanced models, but you’ll get a good cycling GPS for the money.
So the question stands: which Garmin for cycling will you get?