So you want a bike computer.
Maybe you want an upgrade, maybe you are a triathlon geek who has fallen more in love with cycling gadgetry than the limitations of a wrist-watch face can cure. Maybe, like me, you get lured into a plethora of ‘useful’ power metrics for race day and want them on your TT bike and then you also figure out that a bike computer is just a bit better an option for a Sunday morning ride than a Garmin 910XT.
Similarly to running watches there’s only so many useful features you can pack into a cycling watch before you start to add the esoteric. Before I go into a bit more detail with the Garmin Edge 810 I’ll start by comparing it to the super-newish Edge 1000 and the more nicely priced Edge 510.
Have a quick glance (I’ll explain why in a minute) or refer to the FEATURE-DIFFERENCES CHART below for the different Edge models, it’s taken from the Garmin shop (April 2015) but it has not been updated with some of the new features introduced by newer firmware.
Edge 810 Firmware is currently v3.40 (April 2015 with v3.45 in beta). The Edge 810 has VERY MANY ADDITIONS over and above those on the earlier released versions. Here are just some:
- Segments are supported and can be downloaded via USB from Garmin Connect.
- Edge remote sensor support is now added
- Shimano Di2 sensor support is now added
- Vector Cycling Dynamics now support Power Phase and Power Centre Offset.
- VIRB Remote Support Added
- Indeed there are 10s and 10s of other fixes and featurettes listed .
Well now I’m a bit confused. The Edge 1000 came out with a few extra features over the Edge 810 as well as better, larger, more modern hardware – albeit at a price. Then the Edge 810 was upgraded by firmware to have pretty much the same features as the Edge 1000.
The edge 810 looks like pretty good value. Then you look at this vaguely interesting price chart over time for the 810 and you see that at, sub £260, you’ve got quite a good bargain already. Don’t compare to US prices as they also incur sales tax and you will incur import duty to the UK and don’t compare to some sites eg HANDTEC who quote prices that do not include VAT. The price will eventually fall to about £200, maybe in 2016.
Just to be clear about SEGMENTS – one of the more important features to many people. I’ve just downloaded a course from Garmin Connect to my 810; I created the course myself from a previous activity of mine, on the course there are segments that I created myself (to test all the various steps in the segment creation process). A bit of a tortuous process over an especially slow Garmin Connect but it worked, eventually. Various SEGMENTS features beeped up as I later cycled through them. Initially I didn’t see what they said as I was going quite fast (and the 810 was not in a good position as described earlier). I turned round and did it again and gloried at the device telling me how much slower I was this time than last…grrrrrrrr. FOR SURE, it has segment support on the watch.
I don’t have Di2 shifters but there are icons saying it’s supported.
There are power metrics galore, including the advanced ones from the Garmin Vector. Up to 10 metrics per screen. Cool. As I was riding along I tried to look at them all. TEN can you believe it, by the time I’d got to the 8th I almost crashed as it took so long to take them all in :-). Keep your eyes on the road. Of course you can set up multiple pages each with 10 metrics on; suffice to say you will be able to show what you ‘want’ to.
I’m now going to waffle on about set-up and minutae of some menu options and feature capability. Really just skip all this and go to the summary at the end and then buy one (use the earlier chart to see if you are getting a sensible price). It’ll almost certainly do what you want and if it doesn’t have that ‘once-in-a-generation-use’ feature then you won’t be too upset.
I got a loan copy of the Edge 810 with HRM and Cadence. With this you almost get everything you could possibly need. You get the recent soft strap with the latest non-HRM-RUN pod, you get the previous version of the speed/cadence sensor (GSC-10), you get lots of bits and you also get the out front mount as well as a spare for the regular handlebar.
Is that enough?
However the GSC-10 is fiddly to set up. It can take 5 minutes or ‘quite a while’ on a tricky frame and disc wheel. The newer speed cadence sensor will give the exact same wheel-speed and cadence info but is much, much easier to setup (strap on) and hence easily easier to transfer between bikes/wheels.
Here is the GSC10. Note the clearance of over 5mm from the crank and it still works with a half decent magnet. The GSC-10 unit has an arm; you can see here I tape it with red tape to the frame to ensure that it never gets caught in a spoke for whatever reason and the tape, in addition to two cable ties that you can just see, stops the GSC-10 moving about.
The HR strap is not the latest 2014/15 model. The latest model has more sensor pads and a different construction. As of April 2015 I have one but I am not yet sure if it has more longevity or more reliability than previous incarnations.
You will get the third STRAP down with the second POD down. ie you won’t get the white man running on the pod as this is the HRM-RUN pod; which you don’t need.
The out-front mount does not position the Edge between my aero-bars (TT Bike setup). I have to mount it just above the handlebar stem where it JUST fits between my elbow pads. I really have to look (not glance) down to see it and so it is not safely usable there.
It ends up just squeezing in easily enough here if I un-Velcro one of the pads and twist it on:
So ideally it would be positioned something like this:
But when in this more ‘correct’ position I simply can’t fasten it in place. The handlebar circumference is not the problem (there is a rubber adapter for smaller bars). The problem is the left-to-right clearance to the right of the handlebar stem. Part of the carbon fibre here is rounded so effectively reducing the space available. I probably haven’t explained that too well; suffice to say a file from my tool box should be able to work wonders on the plastic Garmin mount.
I’m going to have to spend a bit of time sorting that out. (I used a metal tube and some cable ties to fashion an impromptu mount between the bars on my other TT bike). Alternatively I could mount it so that it sticks OUTISDE of one of the bars. Again, not ideal (Edit: actually you can’t, in my case, as the aero bars have too small a circumference even with the rubber adapter).
If you have one road bike and maybe a spare wheel then, with the possible exception of a spare wheel magnet, this kit/set is all you will need.
Look and feel
It’s a nice enough looking device. You can see here that the screen candy is so much bigger than on a wrist based watch. It’s a touch screen with 3x non-touch buttons. The two you can see in the image are to start your session and to create a lap. Earth shattering stuff.
The third button is sneakily hidden on the side and very unobtrusive. To the point that you probably wouldn’t find it unless you either knew it was there or read the manual. Well, sort of.
Then covered by splash proofing rubber covers there is the SD card port and the USB port. Though note it is an old style USB connection and NOT the micro one. This is a bit annoying as all my cables these days have micro connectors (the correct cable is supplied).
Of course you won’t need the cable as you can use a Bluetooth connection to your phone. But I’m a cable guy as it gives me the discipline to also ensure the battery is topped up although, as we’ve already seen, the battery life will cover all of my rides easily.
Setting it up
This was not rocket science but a bit longwinded.
You enter all the personal age/sex stuff as usual and get presented with this:
Your bike profile essentially requires crank length and wheel size as well as a few other bits. You’ll also link here to your bikes sensor’s. so you might have a road bike a TT bike a MTB and so on. All very logical.
You can see how I hilariously chose a penny-farthing as the icon for the bike and I manually entered my trainer tyres unusual circumference. You can see the ARROW DOWN for navigation to the crank length (default set to automatic).
So moving swiftly on, the activity profiles I created were RACE, ROAD-TRAIN and TURBO. Hopefully all self explanatory.
You can use any combination of bike profile and activity profile and the colour you assigned to the activity is carried through like this:
Here you can see a 10-metric screen full of lots of ‘unusual’ metrics should you have the required bits of kit to support them (Di2, Garmin Vector, HRM).
For your activity profile you can incorporate 5 customisable pages of 10 metrics per page. You can additionally and optionally show the pages:course, workout, map, elevation, lap summary and virtual partner.
Here is a Garmin video on profile features:
Here’s where I got creative with photography on the altitude page
And here with the virtual partner, it’s amazing how a bit of gravel or cobblestone can both liven up a photo of a gadget and also cause so much damage to your leg 🙁
Here’s the map screen. Don’t expect it to come with a global map. You can buy maps for it. You can add a couple of metrics like SPEED and CADENCE to the map view at the top (not shown). You can also add SEGMENT DATA METRIC fields for any active segment that you cross. All very nice stuff IMHO.
For those of you with triathlon watches these pages/screens are SO much better.
You can also change various map display options such as NORTH-UP vs. AUTOMOTIVE mode. And, yes, you can use it like a good old car satnav to plan a route for you to avoid toll roads (Bike toll roads?!), SHORTEST or QUICKEST route and the like. Indeed you can use the 810 to guide you as if you are walking, driving or riding on-road or off-road. Nice.
Well to me GPS and HR are both pretty important. Yet they are a bit hidden away for some reason.
Here you see the spanner/screwdriver icon – access to a host of settings including to SYSTEM>GPS>ON/OFF.
And to SYSTEM>DATA RECORDING>1sec
And to HEART RATE>ENABLE>SENSOR DETAILS
The HRM is a one-off pairing process and is found every subsequent time it is required. However GPS has to always be manually turned off as far as I could see).
Also from the SPANNER icon you get to your VIRB settings, EDGE remote settings, Bluetooth, weight scale, TRAINING ZONES (HR, POWER and SPEED)
Yep. Bluetooth link to your phone and log into Garmin Connect on your phone and you can start a live tracking session. Email your wife and she can enjoy your Sunday morning progress up Box Hill from the comfort of her warm living room. And, yes, I even got this feature to work first time. Just like in this video:
So, a Bluetooth connection to your phone works to let your loved-ones LIVE TRACK you and it ALSO works to upload your session automatically to Garmin Connect. As I said earlier I normally use the USB cable but on all the occasions I tried to use Bluetooth it worked flawlessly.
Live track may be illegal in races.
Note: Bluetooth ACCESSORIES will NOT work (eg BLUETOOTH HRM) unless you have some sort of Bluetooth-to-ANT bridging device such as those made by MIO and 4iiii.
Here is a nice-looking Garmin ‘connected’ video on these features:
You can download free maps here: http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl (untested on Edge 810 by me).
You will find some variations in GPS position by a few metres and you may find that your REPORTED route shows you going through various people’s gardens when clearly you did not. These occasions can be a factor of inaccuracy of the map/satellite imagery and the inherent couple of metres inaccuracy of GPS. Of course there will be some degree of inaccuracy in the Edge 810 itself.
It’s more than acceptable.
I tend not to do much work in the hills and so cannot comment on accuracy in that respect. Lots of hill cyclists use Edge 810s however!
Speed is accurate and will be very accurate if you have a properly calibrated speed sensor on your wheel.
It’s like the Edge 1000 but cheaper and a LONGER battery life. OK the screen’s not as big as the smartphone-sized Edge 1000. Love the 810’s touchscreen. It’s not a sleek iphone screen, in fact it’s a tad clunky and SO 2013. However it works. It works when wet and it works when you are wearing gloves. I’d rather have a cycling computer that works, wouldn’t you?
Has all the metrics. It doesn’t have the sensor pool concept and it’s a bit annoying that you can’t have a profile with the GPS status set to ‘OFF’ by default. But it’s all there for me.
If you buy the product variant that includes a HRM and speed/cadence sensor then you won’t get the very latest 2014/2015 HRM and you will get the tried and trusted GSC-10. The ‘out front’ handlebar mount is fine but, like me, you may have some positioning issues.
I’m REALLY struggling to see what this device lacks. It’s pretty much got it all (except maybe incoming call/text notifications). AND it works. I did *NOT* have ONE SINGLE PROBLEM during testing. Sure the forums reported problems from a year or more ago but as far as I can see it looks like they are fixed to me.
Why not the Edge 510? It’s smaller and can’t use ‘real’ maps.
is the Garmin Edge 810 manual
|Black Friday 2015||Amazon||UK||Amazon2||USA|
|Adidas MiCoach Smart Run||£199.99||Link||$249.99||Link|
|Fitbit Charge HR||£75.00||Link||$140.18||Link|
|Garmin Edge 1000 Explore (non-bundle)||£345.00||Link||$449.00||Link|
|Garmin Edge 1000||£345.00||Link||$499.00||Link|
|Garmin Edge 520||£176.00||Link||$299.99||Link|
|Garmin Edge 510||£300.00||Link||$329.99||Link|
|Garmin Edge 810||£197.00||Link||$305.99||Link|
|Garmin Edge 25||£100.00||Link||$160.99||Link|
|Garmin Edge 20||£93.50||Link||$93.54||Link|
|Garmin Fenix3 (Sapphire)||£424.00||Link||$499.99||Link|
|Garmin Forerunner 25||TBC||TBC|
|Garmin Forerunner 220||£149.99||Link||$190.99||Link|
|Garmin Forerunner 225||£160.00||Link||£248.99||Link|
|Garmin Forerunner 230||TBC||TBC|
|Garmin Forerunner 235||TBC||TBC|
|Garmin Forerunner 620||£215.00||Link||$239.99||Link|
|Garmin Forerunner 630||TBC||TBC|
|Garmin Forerunner 635||TBC||TBC|
|Garmin 910 XT||£174.00||Link||$201.58||Link|
|Garmin 920 XT||£272.00||Link||$499.99||Link|
|Lezyne Super GPS||£155.00||Link||$200.00||Link|
|MIO Cyclo 505HC (Bundle)||£290.00||Link||$400.56||Link|
|MIO Cyclo 200||TBC||TBC|
|Mio Alpha 2||£111.00||Link||$132.99||Link|
|Suunto Ambit 3 PEAK||£211.45||Link||$335.63||Link|
|Suunto Ambit 3 Sport||£185.00||Link||$318.54||Link|
|Suunto Ambit 2R||£197.21||Link||$159.00||Link|
|TomTom Runner 2||£110.00||Link||$149.99||Link|
|TomTom Runner 2 Cardio + Music||£229.99||Link||$249.99||Link|
|TomTom MultiSport Cardio||£130.00||Link||$164.77||Link|
|TomTom Runner Cardio||£130.00||Link||$169.99||Link|