πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Ί Edge 530 Bible | Garmin Edge 530 Review |

In this Garmin Edge 530 Review, I will be looking at 2019’s Benchmark Cycling Computer and whilst it is certainly NOT perfect it is the standard against which most other options should be compared…let’s see how and why.

 

In Brief
  • Price - 92%
    92%
  • Build Quality & Design - 86%
    86%
  • Features, Including App - 95%
    95%
  • Openness & Compatability - 99%
    99%
93%

In brief

Garmin Edge 530 Opinion

The Edge 530 really does look good and seems to have positioned itself as a de facto industry standard for all others to benchmark themselves to. That doesn’t mean that you and I should buy one though. It will just help us make a better decision about WHICH device to use.

The hardware has been ‘sorted out’, the processor speed issue has been greatly improved from earlier versions. But that still leaves the ‘Garmin menu’ and general usability issues that arise from the complexity of most Garmin devices. Improvements there have been made but Garmin will certainly still need to do more, over time, on this.

I do like what I see and many will class the price of the Edge 530 as ‘fair’.Β  Do you instead go for a cooler-looking Hammerhead Karoo for navigation? a more user-friendly Wahoo? or a notably cheaper Polar or Lezyne device?. Even ‘normal’, power meter-related metrics, once the preserve of a select few brands are now available at lower price points if you look beyond ‘companies beginning with G‘.

The Killer: Garmin’s overall feature set is what no-one can compete with. But just how usable is that feature set to you? and at what price does it come?

Personally, I do like my gadgets and features, and I buy things for impetuous reasons. I’m going to use an Edge 530 through 2019. If you buy one you’ll probably be happy with it.

Like the Edge 520 there is a strong degree of future-proofing in the 530 ie any new Garmin cycling feature for the next couple of years, or any new CIQ app, will almost certainly work with the Edge 530.

Pros

  • Features galore, highly configurable
  • Open to many platforms and 3rd party technologies like Di2
  • Supports just about every sports sensor from HRMs to FE-C
  • Many in-ride social & safety features
  • Great physiological performance feedback
  • Good maps and some on-device routing
  • Training plan integration and execution of complex, alert-based workouts

 

Cons

  • Complex to setup or reconfigure
  • Smaller format screen and fiddly buttons are not great for navigation
  • Impromptu route creation on the Edge 530 is only suitable for occasional usage
  • Price is not so bad but there are cheaper alternatives
  • Keep an eye on the battery life when re-routing and when all features are enabled.

Local links to Amazon, Wiggle, PMC or REI

I’ll start with some general comments to help in your purchasing thought process before returning to go through some of the key aspects of the watch in more detail. The review is long so either skip to your favourite section or just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Garmin Edge 530 ReviewHeadline

The key differences with the Edge 530 compared to the earlier 520 Plus and the new 830 are as follows: the Edge 830 is highly similar to the 530, a bit more expensive and with a touchscreen. That was easy! But the comparison to the 520 is harder as there are a good number of hardware and feature improvements

  • vs the 520 Plus: it’s faster with longer battery life and a larger screen. There’s now Garmin CHARGE battery pack support as well as WiFi & BLE sensor support.
  • vs the 520 Plus: the newer map-related functionally includes TrailForks, ForkSight, ClimbPRO all overlain on a free regional TBT map
  • vs the 520 Plus: new metrics include MTB Dynamics, heat acclimation & altitude acclimatisation adjusted recovery metrics, CP Curves
  • As well as a totally new interface (well, it’s been tweaked), there are new hydration/nutrition tracking and alert features
  • There’s an unattended-bike alarm feature as well as some relatively trivial bits and pieces.

Why You Would Buy The 530?

The keen, performance-driven cyclist or gadget-driven cyclist will probably know what to expect with the 530. For you, it’s possibly worth the upgrade from your 520/520 Plus. If you are nervous about buying a relatively expensive bike computer then the word ‘Garmin’ may, or may not, give you a degree of comfort that it will work and probably have the features that you want it to have (it will πŸ˜‰ )

Why You Would NOT Buy The Edge 530

Let’s try these…

  1. Cost
  2. It’s a medium-size bike computer and for more extensive BIKENAV, you might prefer the larger Edge 1030
  3. You want something simpler and easier to use

You do NOT NEED the 530 to become a great cyclist or to enjoy cycling, there are perfectly adequate bikenavs with performance features that will fully support your core sporting needs and probably at up to half the price too.

If you want something cheaper then consider a Mio Cyclo, Cateye or Bryton and I like the Polar V650 (review ed here)

Garmin Edge 530 Review – The Details

Garmin Edge 530 ReviewOK. Let’s crack on with the review. I’m going to miss a lot out here but I’m also going to cover a lot of ground. I’m certainly NOT going to walk you through the menus nor am I going to show you photos of every component and screen from every angle. Neither am I particularly going to tell you how to do stuff with the Edge 530…there is a manual or video somewhere for all of that kind of thing.

What I am going to do is look at different CORE aspects of how you will interact with the Edge 530 and describe my opinions and experience with those. I’m thinking things like RACE USAGE, DESIGN ISSUES, FOLLOWING A PLAN, TRAINING USAGE, GETTING INSIGHTS INTO PERFORMANCE and ASPECTS of SMARTS & CONNECTIVITY but I’ll also do the standard bits like GPS accuracy and a short unboxing.

So this is more of a “What to expect every ride” review…which I hope will be more useful than a rehashed manual (comments below if not…I aim to please)

Garmin Edge 530 Review – Unboxing

You get the Edge, a manual and a micro USB charger. Couple that with a stem mount and an out-front mount and the bits and pieces required to fasten those to your bike, and that’s what you get. Oh…and a tether too.

Inserting the micro USB cable requires ‘a bit of a fiddle’ to get into the covered port (hole) and the tether is also unusually attached next to the port cover. Otherwise, there’s nothing unusual.

On a day-to-day basis you will interact with the Garmin Edge 530 FOR SPORTS in these main areas: Organising training, executing training and analysing training results. And you could be doing that on your turbo trainer with Zwift, your commuter bike, TT bike or weekend, super-light carbon hill climber. Some of you might even do the occasional trail/MTB ride.

On the whole, Garmin has all of this SPORTS USAGE completely covered from whichever angle you want to look at it.

Organising Training

ie we are looking at scheduling workouts, planning the detail of a workout or getting that from a 3rd party plan.

Organising your cycling life might not be important to you at all. You might want to just get on your bike and ride. Others of you will want to create and schedule workouts yourself, this might be over a period of several weeks or it might just be as a one-off for today when you know what the Edge 530 needs to do to control your bike’s turbo trainer. Others of you will want to follow 3rd party plans and/or workouts which you just want to ‘appear’ on your 530.

All is good here.

Here is an example of the straightforward steps you go through to choose one of Garmin’s free online cycling plans, drag and change the calendar schedule and then start the workout on the Edge by optionally applying it to a route and also seeing the forecast weather.

Of course, I could equally be following a Today’s Plan plan or Training Peaks plan or a Final Surge plan. The principle is the same but, for now, the workout is downloaded through the provider’s CIQ app as shown in the images below for Final Surge.

I do tend to follow a spreadsheet-based plan myself albeit in a structured but casual way. Even if I am doing a hard road session then I’m not really interested in any of Garmin’s workout functionality. However, when it comes to the pain cave and the Kickr (2017 πŸ˜‰ ) then I like to follow a proper warmup workout for 20 minutes and then either a properly structured interval workout or another ‘just ride’+box setΒ  scenario

New features that might appear with your training plan include weather forecast and gear options. ie what weather to expect on today’s workout and then suggestions on what to take.

Summary: Generally awesome for those of you who like organisation, structure and control. Great if you have a turbo trainer and can be ignored if you just like to ride.

Training or Racing – Garmin Edge 530 Review

The Edge 530 is highly capable for it’s primary purpose…training and racing.

Customisable sports profiles fully handle the main types of usage that you might put the Edge 530 to; namely, these are – road, indoor/trainer, MTB and navigation. The main difference that the Edge 530 handles for indoor vs road usage is the need to control a turbo trainer eg via ANT+ FE-C. There is also no need to be aware of route or environmental changes when indoors, although Zwift and environmental simulation equipment are blurring these traditional distinctions somewhat.

I’ll leave ‘navigation’ for a separate section further below and we can also dismiss MTB/trail usage in a sentence as being “The Edge 530 comes as part of an MTB bundle and, when in use, there are special MTB-related metrics like air time and special app support like with TrailForks“.

vs the smaller 830

For road and indoor usage, the basic training/racing need is the ability to safely manage and control your effort with respect to today’s workout goals. That sounds simple but Garmin’s solution is a highly involved and comprehensive one. In simple terms, you need to be able to see the appropriate metrics and be alerted when stuff happens…or should happen…or doesn’t happen.

  • A metric is a measure like heart rate. But it could equally be power or cadence or stroke rate or distance or laps or elapsed time or a Firstbeat metric like ‘Performance Condition’. But it could also be those over the entire workout, over the last manual lap or automatic lap or over a ‘segment’. It could also be a mathematical variation on one of the metrics such as %HRmax or which HR zone you are in or STRAVA’s relative effort (also based on HR) or your normalised power for the current lap. ie metrics get real complex, real quick. To cut a long story short, your Edge 530 will be able to handle all of these and MORE. Admittedly the competition is generally fairly close to offering the breadth that Garmin does…fairly close.
  • To some degree, there are also metrics that can be used to help you work on technique like those found in the special (Advanced) CYCLING DYNAMICS like PCO, TE, PP, PS and standing time (PM/Vector required)
  • Your Garmin Edge 530 will also support weird stuff too like native SmO2 (muscle oxygen) and more unusual metrics like those for measuring drag. (Hex/Moxy/Aeropod etc. required)
  • The alerts happen when one of your sports metrics reaches a certain threshold. That could be a certain %age of your FTP or it could be a time threshold where you might want to be alerted (reminded) to take on hydration/fuel or simply alerted that your 5 minute effort period is over.
  • You can set these alerts manually for a workout or they can be automated as part of the Sports Profile that you are following. Alerts will usualy be an audible beep and an on-screen message.
  • One of the most commonly used alerts will be lap-based BANNER alert which is nicely implemented on the Edge and not to be confused with the nice lapS summary screen which allows 4 custom metrics to be listed alongside 8 recent lap times (+speed/HR per lap). The lap banner allows 3 configurable metrics.
  • Group training and security issues are handled by the connected features of GroupTrack, LiveTrack and Assistance.
  • Further safety issues are handled through weather monitoring, sharp turn alerts and the ability to link to and control bike lights and proximity radar.
  • Or you can just ride with no alerts at all…

Garmin Edge 530 ReviewThere are some metrics missing like hydration (no sensors!) and others like Wind/CdA are added via 3rd party CIQ data fields (eg with AeroPod) It looks like there is a limit of 10 installed CIQ data fields from which it looks like only 2 are active.

A couple of final points here that will be important to some of you. YES, you can create simple intervals on-the-fly rather than needing to follow a workout you have created and sync’d beforehand. And YES you can also set basic targets for your workout like distance/time and speed –Β  I am a little surprised that it does not seem to be possible to set a FIRSTBEAT TRAINING EFFECT target. Yes, you can also race a previous activity of yours or someone else, indeed that previous activity can come from BestBike Split where a power-course profile can be followed during a race.

You can also customise your screen layout with up to 10 metrics and you can even get colour-coded data fields and unusual graphics on data fields like ‘gears’

Training or Racing – Controlling the Edge

Riding a bike on the road can be hazardous. You knew that.

My personal opinion on the Edge 530’s buttons is that they are too hard to press. On my first 530, one of the buttons often needed a couple of presses. Even putting a faulty unit to one side, the buttons are not well designed. Fiddle a bit with the buttons, get distracted and you could be off.

Thankfully I can recommend my Shimano Di2 setup which allows me to change screens and take laps from the hoods…WAY safer

Shimano Di2 : Fingers On. Not sure if this counts as a Di2 Review

There is also an MTB remote controller for the handlebars

Training or Racing – Triathlon Specific

The Edge 530 has little place in most people’s triathlon. That said, a head unit is the best way to consume your tri race data when riding, the screen of something like a 530 is just so much bigger and more readable than, say, a Forerunner 945 + Quick Release Kit.

So you might want to cast your triathlon data from a Forerunner 935/945 and on to the Edge 530 using the EXTENDED DISPLAY MODE.

There’s no need to buy a 530 to do that, the cheaper 130 does the same job. But the reality is that you would also use your 530 for all your bike-specific training should you have one.

Extended display mode nicely adds multisport time at the top of the Edge’s screen but any screen change (manual or Di2) does not change the screen on the other paired device.

Training or Racing – Indoor Specific

Well.

I just couldn’t get this to pair with my Kickr 2017 other than treating the Kickr as a power source. ie no controllable connection was possible. I tried for 30 minutes with no other devices present. Life’s too short, I’ll use my Wahoo Elemnt for that next time. Although to be fair it takes a while to pair to that too.

End of section.

Training or Racing – Zwift

There’s nothing you need to worry about here for Zwift with the 530 other than the ability of your sensors to simultaneously pair to both your computer and the 530.

As you can see from the image above, there is a CIQ app that may enable you to use the 530 as a remote control for Zwift (Not tested).

Training or Racing – Hills – ClimbPRO

Whilst my local park doesn’t offer much in the way of hills, I do like my weekly trip to Surrey and occasionally beyond covering some little hills like Leith, Box and Ditchling Beacon. These are all long enough and steep enough for Garmin’s ClimbPRO functionality to kick in and pop up the special screens.

Well, they pop up if the Edge 530 knows that you intend to go up the climb; so, for that to happen, you must either be following a pre-loaded route or following navigation created on the 530.

Other bike computers will already show you a forward-looking elevation plot in similar circumstances but ClimbPRO does more than that and identifies what it considers to be a hill and then alerts you to the start of each hill as well as popping up a special, colour-coded screen just for the current hill when you attack it.

I’ve used this feature on 3 rides with a total distance of about 350k. I’ve tried a route planned on Garmin Connect, I’ve tried following a TCX file containing elevation from a previous ride and I’ve tried using a third party piece of software to add correct elevations on a TCX file that previously did not contain any elevation and then import that via Garmin Connect

Simply put. It doesn’t work properly and I’ve wasted a lot of time.

This is a great feature. I like the concept and Garmin will get it to work.

Here are the problems

  1. The climbs have incorrect lengths and grades
  2. The route often shows frequent, incorrect mini peaks that do not exist eg 30m hills @ 25% (see images above). I assume it is using the elevation from the onboard maps.
  3. The ‘GO’ instruction doesn’t correspond with the start of the hill.

I appreciate these sort of comments will put you off and you will end up buying the device via some other blog where they tell you it works but, hey, what can I do…lie about my experience? As I say, it’s nice in principle and Garmin will fix it.

Training or Racing – SEGMENTS (STRAVA & Garmin)

Most cycling platforms link to STRAVA in the sense that your workout is automatically uploaded to STRAVA when you have finished. That’s the free bit and we’re not talking about that here.

A segment is just a length of a road over which you try to set your best time. You can choose to compete against yourself or others. If you only want to compete against yourself then you might as well use the free Garmin segments. But if you want to compete against friends, club mates or the rest-of-the-world then STRAVA is the best bet to see how good you really are.

STRAVA segments are also free but if you want to check your progress on any given segment in real-time then you’ll need the paid-for STRAVA LIVE SEGMENTS. Either way, your favourited/starred segments are those that are sync’d to your device. So although there are probably HUNDREDS of segments near you ONLY YOUR FAVOURITES are sync’d to your device – If you are starting to create and star segments from scratch then it’s a bit cumbersome on either the Garmin Connect app or online…but it’s a mostly one-off task, so no biggie, and you add new ones over time.

Here are some screens to give you a flavour

And here’s the bit where you enable the screen which, if you remember, ONLY POPS UP FOR YOUR favourites

 

Existing STRAVA users will, of course, also know that the free STRAVA platform/app has MANY more takes on your segment-performances by age-group and many more social aspects too.

Navigating

The Edge 530 is a highly competent but incomplete navigation solution that’s, nevertheless, probably pitched at the right level for most cyclists. Let me try to give you an overview of different levels of navigation

  • Level 0 – A map or a good sense of direction (compass optional) πŸ˜‰
  • Level 1 – Breadcrumb. There is no map with roads on it. Just a series of GPS points that are displayed as a line. Your device knows where you are and so can point you in the right direction even if you go off-track (kinda).
  • Level 2 – Street Overlay. This is still a breadcrumb route but it’s effectively overlain with a ‘picture’ of your locale
  • Level 3 – Map Intelligence. The device understands the roads/trails. So if you get lost the device can intelligently navigate you back to the route using TBT instructions on roads/trails, rather than offering a ‘straight-line’ route or a track-back over your incorrectly taken route.
  • Level 4 – True BikeNav. Just like your car’s SatNav that also understands POIs and addresses. The key here is that unplanned stuff can be done when offline. (Not 530)
  • Add-on – turn-by-turn navigation pop up an instruction to turn just before you should turn. This can be implemented on a breadcrumb route, though probably not with Street names.
  • Add-on – Impromptu navigation ie no route file at all needs to be imported on to the device
  • Add-on – Round trip route-creation. Several suggested routes are offered to end back where you started from (Not 530)
  • Add-on – routes optimised by popularity or difficulty eg by surface (gravel, travel, pave) or total ascent. (Not 530 AFAIK, although CONNECT does allow trails or roads to be used)
  • Add-on – BACK to START, either intelligently or by most direct route or as the crow flies or by re-tracing your steps

Using that classification, the Edge 530 is a level 3 device with back-to-start and some impromptu abilities. If you only ever create and follow routes sourced online then you’re good to go with the 530.

The Edge comes with your region’s maps. You can buy other regions and you can source freebie alternatives too.

vs the smaller 830

Navigational Platform

I’m talking here mostly about creating a route, managing a library of routes and then synchronising a route to your Edge 530.

I tend to favour computer-based access to CONNECT online. It used to be an awful experience. However, it’s now better and ‘usable’. Creating a sensible route is generally achieved with Garmin’s popularity routing, which I like and popularity routing/heatmaps are also on your maps on your 530. Syncing the route you create online back to your device is a little clunky but works.

However, I find that manually trying to import 3rd party routes/rides into CONNECT is an unpleasant experience with Garmin frequently rejecting the routes I wish to upload into CONNECT. I now use Hammerhead’s free online platform as that seems to properly clean up route files as well as supporting many clever methods of route grabbing such as from a Google Maps URL, they also have gravel maps for any of you interested in that.

I’m an infrequent navigator and find RideWithGPS and other platforms to be quite complicated, similarly, there are undoubtedly tips and tricks that I might use one week but then when I come to need the same trick 6 months later, I’ve just simply forgotten it. Navigation shouldn’t be this difficult from a user perspective (criticising much of the industry and not just Garmin)

Indeed some of you might use the STRAVA ROUTES CIQ app which can be a good way to get a shared route from a mate. But even STRAVA’s route creation tool simply doesn’t work for me when I’m planning long and complex routes.

FYI: Wahoo has one-button sync which syncs everything on the device that needs syncing…including routes. Hammerhead doesn’t even have that button…routes just seems to immediately appear on the Karoo via WiFi – that’s how it should be. eg with Hammerhead I could get a route created in Google Maps onto my device in 5 seconds.

Navigation – On Device

Garmin offers an ‘OK’ experience here. A 7/10 could do better kind of experience. It works. It gets you there. But it’s a bit annoying.

Loading Routes

Thanks to a new processor, loading the routes is MUCH quicker than on the previous generation of Edge devices. But a 100-mile trip takes me over a minute to load. I can live with that and some delays in loading a new route could be down to the 530 having to navigate me to the start of the route.

Impromptu route creation – 530

This is fine in an emergency or as a one-off. You use the buttons to locate a single point on the maps (pan/zoom) and an intelligent route to that point is created (with no stops)

I think it’s possible to navigate to a previously saved location, but there are no POIs intelligently available to choose from …like coffee shops. Although some POIs are randomly displayed en-route.

Impromptu Route creation – Connect Mobile

There is a functionally similar impromptu route creation facility on the Connect Mobile app which I found MUCH easier to use than the one on the 530 (buttons). However, as you can guess from the route chosen, it’s not the most popular or direct route.

Navigating when Riding

The most useful navigational features are the auto zoom, which tries to show an appropriate amount of detail on the map, and the TBT instructions at the top of the screen like “turn left into Goldwood Drive in 300m”

Navigation Issues

Here are some specific criticisms

  • There are just too many colours for me on the map. I find Wahoo ELEMNT’s black and white, low-grade screen to be more usable for navigating (it looks rubbish but generally works)
  • When you have ClimbPRO and a navigation screen active then it’s hard to just stay on your normal data screen at times before being beeped off to another screen
  • On an out-and-back section ie a road that is navigated each way in the same trip; the Edge definitely can get confused about where it is and issue incorrect U-turn instructions.
  • The number of beeps and route recalculations, that I consider to be unnecessary, appear to be GREATLY reduced from the previous generation. The number of unnecessary beeps is still a little bit annoying eg a sharp turn when going uphill!
  • The 530 doesn’t always seem to know which direction it’s pointing at low speed (no magnetic compass)
  • Using the buttons of the 530 to locate a destination point for routing on the map is ‘a bit rubbish’.

Being more positive, the longer lasting battery, the ability to use an add-on Garmin CHARGE battery and a faster device make my long-route, navigational experience significantly better and probably more reliable than before (vs. 820/520+)

Analysing Training – Garmin Edge 530 Review

Garmin Edge 530 ReviewYour analysis could be something as simple as just seeing how far you’ve cycled today or you might want to check your Normalized power for each lap. The analysis could also be JUST the workout you’ve done or it could be to look at the cumulative effect of your training on your current readiness to train. You might want to analyse the data or you might want your coach to analyse your data.

With that short paragraph, you can see there is a lot of complexity to handle. Given the constraints of a relatively small screen, Garmin packs a lot of immediate post-workout analysis onto a few pages. Many of you might be happy with that PLUS a quick glance at STRAVA – but others want much more. Garmin Connect does offer a little more analysis than the Edge but you can easily send your data ‘somewhere else’ so that ‘someone else or you’ can analyse away to your heart’s content on a super-advanced sports data platform like Training Peaks.

Analysing Training – Key Post-Workout Stats

Garmin does this well…probably better than anyone else.

You get ALL the basic info you need like a map of where you’ve been, average cadence, NP, ascent, descent, load, training effects (AeTE, AnTE), time in heart rate zones, laps, intervals, elevation plots and more like estimated fluid loss and fluid consumed. You can look at that info for any historic workout on your Edge 530.

In theory, much of this info is subsequently updated across all your devices with Physio TrueUp.

Analysing Training – Performance & Physiological Markers

The Edge 530 also determines your VO2max and LTHR levels for cycling and can trend them over time. They can be used to see how your training is progressing and at what levels you might be able to perform over race-length durations. But these ‘absolute’ levels of your physiology are then also used to score activities and model quite complex things like your future readiness to train, acclimation to heat and recovery levels.

For example, you will see a ‘Recovery Time’ calculation at the end of your workouts and this is the amount of time you should wait until you perform your next HARD workout. Come back in 2 hours and your recovery time should have changed by 2 hours, so you see these types of physiological markers are not linked to the workout and there is a whole section of personalised insights where you can analyse the ‘state of you’ and this further includes aspects of training like whether your fitness and load are increasing and if your load is optimal.

Analysing Training – The Garmin Connect Platform (web + online)

Your data is sync’d back to the Connect platform at some point via BLE, WiFi or cable, and it’s pretty much the same sort of analysis that’s on your watch but just in a bigger and more readable format, perhaps you could argue that there are clearer charts and the like.

There ARE some extra analysis features…but not so many. So if you are coming from a Polar background and you are used to Polar Flow then you might find the online version of Connect a little disappointing & distracting compared to FLOW.

But Garmin has never really made any pretences to be great at some of the deeper and more unusual analyses. Instead, they provide the means to easily send your data elsewhere be it to Training Peak or STRAVA. Maybe 20% of riders thinking of buying an Edge 530 will be the sort of person that wants the deeper analyses either done by themselves or a coach. But the point here is that the other 80% of you will find the analyses available in Edge+Connect to be enough for your needs. Perhaps, more importantly, some of the analyses produce actionable information like ‘don’t train hard for 2 more days’ or ‘your overall load is declining’ or ‘you are spending too much time in zone 3 for your training to be effective’.

Those insights tell you more about your physiology and are embedded into the Edge 530 with logic from Firstbeat. There are LOTS of Firstbeat metrics in the Edge 530. In fact, so many that it almost warrants a separate post partly because the Firstbeat stuff tends to be a polarising feature set – you either love them and buy a Garmin partly because of them, or loathe them and ignore the feedback.

Click to see all Firstbeat Features

 

Sharing Training for Social & Analytical Purposes

Alternatively, you can automatically link your Garmin Connect account to these 3rd party services or even access the workout files directly from your 530 or via CIQ apps. The point here, for example, is that you only RARELY have to use the CONNECT platform if all you want to use is STRAVA. You can be blissfully unaware of all the techy glue in CONNECT magics your workouts to STRAVA, all you need to know is that your workout is in STRAVA very quickly after you’ve finished it.

 

You can also share training whilst you are doing it with LIVE TRACK and GROUP TRACK, where your location is updated to others via your smartphone.

Design & Specifications

This takes a look at the ergonomic design & interaction with the Edge 530, the good bits, the bad bits and how they affect your sporty experiences with the 530. This information is often glossed over in some reviews where you are taken through a list of features. Consider: What’s the point of a feature if you can’t properly interpret it or easily access it at an appropriate time and place in your training? Typically Garmin has had some issues in this regard that spoil the training experience. And you have that training experience day after day after day after day. You get the point.

Overall Design – Appearance

The overall design is of a pretty, mid-sized cycling computer. It gives a first impression of appearing sleek but unremarkable. The screen image is generally good and generally readable, although the colours are a little dull.

It’s a 7-button, rectangular bike computer; fairly well-made, if a little plasticky, and made with no touchscreen. The screen appears to be a hard glass, I doubt it is Gorilla Glass. (NB The Edge 830 is the touchscreen version)

Garmin Edge 530 ReviewThe glass face is very slightly recessed below the plastic surround and there is no marking on the top to indicate the function of the buttons on either side. Looking to the sides of the Edge 530, the buttons themselves are on the small side and mostly recessed. they are hard to press and offer little feedback that they have been pressed and that is made worse by gloves. The buttons do have marking on them to indicate their function…it’s just that you can’t see those markings when riding.

Garmin Edge 530 ReviewThe underside of the Edge 530 has 5 metallic connectors for charging with a Garmin Charge battery – cool.

The supplied out-front mount is solidly-enough made and the stem-mount is perfectly fine too.

Overall Design – User Interface

The complexity of the menus with the earlier Edge generation (520+/820) was probably daunting to someone new to Garmin and the same could be applied to the even earlier 810. Garmin must recognise this is an issue and have invested time into improving the interface. It’s better in the 530, for sure, but only just. IMHO the interface is relatively unpleasant to use and still needs significant improvements, both in terms of the button interaction and menu flow.

My MATERIAL criticism used to always be that “the Edge’s interfaces are generally a bit rubbish but at least the starting of a workout and progression through the workout were fine”. Now I’m not even so sure about that. I am, however, sure that my wrist hurts because of the convoluted combinations of button presses that are required on each side of the device to perform even some relatively mundane tasks.

My judgement has probably been somewhat clouded with my first Edge 530 whose ‘back’ button did not always work. That is VERY annoying in itself. BUT there is also a slight delay on some of the menu options (for example around setting a point to navigate to) where I seem to always register two back clicks. This then required the course to be re-loaded. #Annoying

Some criticism can also be levelled at the way 3rd party training apps are integrated (#NotReallyIntegrated !). However, this is changing later in 2019.

The post-workout stats/my stats work nicely and are presented well. IMO.

Β 

Garmin Edge 530 Review

Size Comparison

Source: Garmin.com

Edge 530 Edge 820 Edge 830 Edge 1030
Physical dimensions ?1.9β€³ x 3.2β€³ x 0.8β€³ (50 x 82 x 20 mm) 1.9β€³ x 2.9β€³ x 0.8β€³ (49.0 x 73.0 x 21.0 mm) ?1.9β€³ x 2.9β€³ x 0.8β€³ (49.0 x 73.0 x 21.0 mm) 58 x 114 x 19

The screen size for 530/830 is: 35 x 47 mm (246 x 322px; 2,6β€³), which is bigger than the previous Edge generation

Technical Design – Interior Components

These components give the Edge 530 its abilities to MEANINGFULLY deliver the functionality you see and use – what I mean is that if you have rubbish bits inside the device that incorrectly measure things like altitude then everything the watch displays to you regarding altitude would also be rubbish. Furthermore ‘old tech’ tends to use more power and shorten your battery life. I’ve softened the wording of the techiness to explain what the various bits do in plain English.

  • GNSS capability encompassing GPS, GLONASS and GALILEO satellite constellations (others for other global regions). Effectively, connecting to more satellites will increase the chance of +/-5m accuracy being obtained but using more than the one GNSS system will increase battery usage and complexity of taking readings. GPS can be used to determine your 2D position and your elevation with 3D positioning and DEM. GALILEO compatibility is only single frequency, essentially meaning that this device in this configuration will never give the 1m levels of accuracy ultimately promised by Galileo from 2020 onwards (that will need dual frequency GALILEO compatibility)
  • Barometer – measures air pressure, possibly indicating bad weather approaching (weather services are linked via your smartphone’s cellular connection)
  • Altimeter – An estimate of your elevation/altitude based on air pressure changes, manual calibration, DEM and GPS-auto calibration. If air pressure falls you are assumed to have gone ‘up’.
  • GPS Compass
  • Accelerometer – senses 3D movement which could be bumps in the road or someone moving your bike while you have a coffee
  • Thermometer – ambient temperature
  • Water Rating to IPX7
  • Battery – around 20 hours of normal GPS usage which can be significantly increased by over well 50% in battery saver mode. Complex navigation and re-routing WILL reduce this.
  • Storage – 14.3GB shown in windows: 100 courses, 200 hours of workout data, 200 waypoints + maps
  • WiFi, ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity
    • WiFi can be used to upload completed workout files
    • Bluetooth enables a connection to Garmin Connect Mobile on your smartphone and then to upload workout data. Also to receive call and app notifications from the smartphone. Other smart features exist.
    • Bluetooth Smart (BLE) sensors can be connected simultaneously with ANT+ sensors

We are not sure of exactly which components have changed but there is certainly a new low-powered Sony GNSS chip. The battery and connectivity modules have likely also been upgraded. Most changes seem to be primarily driven by a need to reduce power consumption and hence lengthen battery life but consideration will have been given to accuracy.

Garmin Edge 530 ReviewTechnical Design – Connectivity & Smarts, including Sensors

The connectivity of the Edge 530 is immense. Basically, just assume you can connect to any sports sensor. Yep, you can even connect to BLE sensors but perhaps not an ancient turbo trainer.

  • When a new sensor is detected you are normally asked if you want to pair to it. This can get annoying when you have lots of sensors but this behaviour is sometimes helpful too. Once you have told the 530 that you do want to pair to a particular sensor it won’t prompt you again but you can still later connect to it through a normal manual pairing.
  • Garmin have a ‘sensor pool’ meaning, for example, you could have 4 HRMs paired and it will use the one it finds to be nearby and active. You can temporarily disable sensors and rename them too..although renaming them is a one-off faff. One thing you can’t do is assign a sensor to only work in a specific profile.
  • I don’t think that there is any concept of sensor priority within the Garmin sensor pool (Hammerhead do that). That would be a peripherally nice feature to have.
  • You can connect to another Garmin device like a Forerunner 945 to receive the display info from the 945 (handy for triathlon)
  • You can link and sync with the Garmin Connect Mobile on your smartphone over Bluetooth or straight to the net over your WiFi.
  • Whilst an active mobile phone link will let you display the ubiquitous call and app notifications, the power of the 530 is MUCH greater than all that old 2015 tech that everyone has.
  • The connected features for a bike differ from those on a smartwatch and include ‘where’s my edge’ and a nice passcode-protected Bike Alarm feature
  • Heads-up-displays, light control (brightness and dip) and proximity radar (which can alert you to nearby cars and change your rear light patterns to warn drivers of your presence) as well as eBike compatibility and Di2/other gear shifting
  • By linking to the internet via your smartphone you can get weather updates, inform your friends individually or as a group of your location, you can ask for assistance, you can get live updates of STRAVA segments and more…
  • Garmin’s CIQ apps will also extend further over time to connect to other sports sensors for Muscle Oxygen and drag as well as to non-sports sensors.

There’s probably even more than that, which I can’t think of right now.

If you have an Edge 510 you will appreciate that tech has moved on “a bit“. Time to upgrade, 2020 beckons.

Technical Design – Technical Specifications

If you want even more information about the exact technical specifications and detailed comparisons to similar models then it is linked to separately here:

Garmin Edge 530 Specifications, Comparison to 830, 820, 1030 and Opinion

 

Special Feature – Garmin CIQ Apps

You can download Garmin’s app store to your smartphone as described in the link. From there you can choose from MANY types of free apps developed by third parties. I’ve also included a second link to the best apps nominated for Garmin’s annual 3rd Party CIQ app award.

New Garmin App Store – iOS and Android

 

Best Of CIQ :: 2019 Garmin Connect IQ Developer Award Nominees

One slight annoyance about CIQ on the Edge 530. Several useful apps/data fields require you to carry a phone with you. I guess that’s what many of you do (I tend not to) but I can’t wait for an Edge 540LTE (built-in eSIM) to get around that. Theat might even introduce a chance for us to track a stolen bike/Edge.

Special Features – MTB

I’ve not tested any of this other than once accidentally selecting the MTB profile for a road ride…

  • There is a special MTB bundle which includes a remote control, silicone protective case, spd/cad sensor and mount.
  • You can configure a separate MTB sports profile
  • There are special new metrics just for air time and the smoothness of your ride.
  • These metrics also appear separately in your FIT file and on CONNECT
  • Mapping includes trails
  • There are special trail/MTB focussed navigational aids like the TrailForks app

The functionality sounds novel and market-leading. However, I would tentatively suggest that a Lezyne unit might be sturdier and cheaper, whilst still offering a good covering of the standard traditional metrics.

Garmin Connect – App & Platform

Garmin’s app and online platform are one of the better sport and nav offerings for cyclists and it’s free. It probably beats all the competition except, maybe, Wahoo who adopt a different approach making your bike computer open to many 3rd party services.

The Garmin Connect app is a comprehensive tool but when you only have an Edge device much of the normal ‘activity’ functionality is missing. That’s not a problem though as you get most things that are shown on the Edge 530 but in a larger format and with some extra features too eg the ability to overlay metrics when analysing your ride.

As well as the ride analysis you get the glue that links much of the smartness to your CIQ apps via Bluetooth and cellular connectivity. So, along with navigation functionality, there is also the CIQ store and many other things including the Incident Detection and Assistance management.

The main thing that the CONNECT app cannot do is manage your sports profiles, these must be created and managed on the Edge 530 itself. There are pros and cons to that.

Β 

 

Those of you who have more than one Garmin device will notice that your physiological recordings are starting to be synchronised across the Garmin ecosystem using Physio TrueUp on supported devices – of which the 945 is one.

GPS Accuracy

Summary: Good enough for the job

Let’s look at seme sections of some recent rides.

This is a strange one going through Richmond with some 3-4 story building and up the B321. Every device apart from the Bryton got the fork in the road wrong. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.

Bryton (Yellow CORRECT), 245 (Red), Suunto 5 (Blue), 530 (Green)

Further up the same hill, the Edge is still a bit out but it is WELL within an acceptable 5m of where it should be.

Bryton (Yellow), 245 (Red), Suunto 5 (Blue), 530 (Green)

Later on still; the devices are performing similarly to before. This was also strange as I had expected the Bryton to underperform as it had in previous rides. Yet, here it is as still the best today.

Bryton (Yellow), 245 (Red), Suunto 5 (Blue), 530 (Green)

Bryton (Yellow), 245 (Red), Suunto 5 (Blue), 530 (Green)

Here we have similar devices, a different roundabout, on a different day and all is good enough. I had the Edge 530 on GPS-only and it looks good

530 (Green) Suunto 5 (Blue), Bryton 60 (Red)

530 (Green) Suunto 5 (Blue), Bryton 60 (Red)

On a different day with GLONASS enabled, the Edge 530 was great and the better of the 3 devices going over Ditchling Beacon

530 (Green) Bryton 60 (Blue), 945 (Red)

530 (Green) Bryton 60 (Blue), 945 (Red)

This was a much more typical performance where the Bryton struggled with the trees over Box Hill and the two Garmins were both pretty good, the 530 had GLONASS and the 945 was GPS-only. Maybe the 945 is fractionally better.

530 (Green) Bryton 60 (Blue), 945 (Red)

Indeed a few miles later you would say the 945 on GPS was better as the 530 cuts a corner

530 (Green) Bryton 60 (Blue), 945 (Red)

530 (Green) Bryton 60 (Blue), 945 (Red)

But at least the 530 didn’t cut a corner as badly as the 945 earlier in the same ride as this shows…

530 (Green) Bryton 60 (Blue), 945 (Red)

530 (Green) Bryton 60 (Blue), 945 (Red)

On another ride, over near Virginia Water (Windsor) then the 530 is clearly the best in this section and, indeed, it was the best throughout the entire ride but the 945 was fine as well.

530 (Red) Bryton 60 (Blue), 945 (Green)

530 (Red) Bryton 60 (Blue), 945 (Green)

Yet another ride day and different devices near trees at Holmbury St Mary, Surrey with the 530 on GPS+GLONASS. I’d say the 530 handled this nicely.

530 (Green) Bryton 60 (Yellow), 945 (Red), Vertix (Blue)

530 (Green) Bryton 60 (Yellow), 945 (Red), Vertix (Blue)

There are a few other rides I can add in and I even used the 530 as a hand-held device a few times. I’m not quite sure why – it seemed to make sense at the time. πŸ˜‰

Anyway, the 530’s GPS and GPS+GLONASS performance accuracy are fine. As Garmin is still working on the GALILEO reception I couldn’t see that much point in testing it out only for it to be changed soon after, whereas you’d hope by now that GPS and GPS+GLONASS modes are very much sorted out.

Even looking at the GALILEO mode on the 945 at the same times as the Edge it doesn’t seem any more accurate although, perhaps, the track is slightly smoother.

A slight word of warning though: whilst perfectly usable, IMHO, the Edge 530’s GNSS tracks do sometimes stray beyond the 5m level of what I consider to be acceptable. However, THAT is a rare event.

In terms of practicalities, if you had to follow any track created by someone else on an Edge 530 in navigation mode then my feeling would be that you would be 99.5% OK.

Summary: You get a pretty post-workout track whichever GNSS method you use.

Elevation & Elevation Accuracy

Garmin’s maps on the Edge 530 contain a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) which assigns elevation values to GNSS location points (probably ‘lat/long ranges‘ in reality). By default, the DEM is used continuously during the workout and can also be auto-calibrated at the start of the ride

The performances I’ve shown from RIDES, below, look good to me with very lift drift over the longer rides and the only errors probably coming from me setting an incorrect starting elevation.

 

Caveats: There is always a BUT..and here it is. For elevation to be correctly determined by the DEM method then an approximately accurate GPS fix needs to be obtained. I would say that in >99% of use-cases this will happen. However in cities and on steep slopes then there may be issues in getting approximately correct GPS fixes and hence elevation error may ensue. The only real problem that I can see, AND THIS IS THE BUT, is that the DEM model will sometimes be wrong and, again, that is most likely to be in mountainous regions.

GoogleΒ  here

Clarity: This is NOT like Suunto’s FusedAlti which combines a 3D-GPS fix LIVE FROM SATELLITES and barometric changes.

Alternatives – The Competition

Nothing will match the features of the Edge 530…except the Edge 830 and Edge 1030.

Garmin Edge 530 Review

From a baby Wahoo to a giant Cyclo(ps). Edge 530 is a mid-format sized screen, perhaps very slightly to the lower size of average

I’m not so sure about the competition for MTB usage and, as I said above, Lezyne products are a good, sturdy and cheap alternative.

Looking at two aspects of competing with the Edge 530 we would need to look at a performance bike computer and a performance bike computer that does navigation. If you want a play thing full of interesting stuff then don’t bother to read this list and just buy the Garmin.

  • Edge 520/520+ – these will be much cheaper now and if you do not navigate very much then the 520+ wouldn’t be too bad an option. Either way you get lots of performance-related features
  • Polar V650 – this was slated at launch but has improved dramatically. I like it and it’s cheap. It does performance and navigation well
  • Wahoo ELEMNT/ELEMNT BOLT –Β  The Bolt is a smaller format and whilst the ELEMNT is bigger, the B&W screen is the same size as the 530. I guess pricing will always change to find the right level for the market. Personally, I would choose the ELEMNT as it ‘just works’, it has performance features and more than sufficient navigational features for MY MEAGRE nav needs. It has good 3rd party integration but no apps and less clever features than Garmin
  • MIO Cyclo – these are some pretty neat high-end nav units. They tend to have a LOT of navigation functionality and with BIG NICE screens. The higher-end devices also have all the performance metrics you need. Yet, whenever I look on Amazon they just seem to be too highly priced. As I said about the Wahoo, a price can change easily enough.
  • ELEMNT ROAM – I need to get back to you on this! A price can be changed and you are paying for usability and the ‘just works’ factor. How valuable is your time? Think about it.

Garmin Edge 530 Review

 

Bugs & Stuff

I am often highly critical of Garmin for a lot of things and you might think a good place to put the criticisms and bugs would be in a Garmin Edge 530 Review. But bugs get fixed and reviews tend to stay relatively static.

I have absolutely ZERO relationships with Garmin other than being a consumer like you, so I can be critical. (Yep no PR samples here, no PR info here at all). The Edge 530 is highly important to Garmin and, if there are bugs, Garmin ABSOLUTELY WILL MOVE HEAVEN & EARTH to fix them. Garmin has the developer resources and inclination to do that.

Having had early access to the Edge 530 I find it highly strange that other reviewers have not found the same number of bugs that I found within a few tens of miles…Edit: as of 10Jul2019 many of these have now been addressed

Garmin Edge 530 – Gripes So Far

Resources

Price, Availability & Discounts

There will be generally good availability globally after July 1st, 2019. Before that only key Garmin partners will have stock and that includes WIGGLE (exclusively in the UK) and PowerMeterCity in the USA, both linked to from this image.

Wiggle will give up to 12% off as part of their loyalty scheme.

Best Deals At A Local Country Retailer

 

 

RRPs are: $/Eu299 and GBP259

Discounts are generally unlikely in 2019 although you might get 10% from time-to-time.

The bundles can be a cheap way to get a chest strap+spd/cad sensors if you need those. The MTB bundle contains a remote control and silicone case but no cadence sensor.

Garmin Edge 530 Review – Summary

I hope I have not dwelt too much on the negative aspects of the Edge 530, I normally find that cyclist-buyers are an intelligent bunch who typically see through the veiled ‘it’s perfect’ reviews…you know the ones I mean.

I do like the Edge 530. Yes, there are some initially annoying bugs that Garmin will sort out. But putting bugs to one side the Edge 530 is a supremely competent, performance bikenav at a sensible price.

The performance feature set packed into the Edge 530 is second-to-none. There is just SO much useful stuff for everyone and more esoteric needs will be met by one of Garmin’s great CIQ apps.

The navigational feature set is NOT complete; yet it will meet the needs for those of us who only normally navigate by following route files.

Garmin’s strengths are connectivity to almost any sensor type and the ability to display almost every piece of data in any way you like. It’s a highly adaptable performance bike computer.

The main weakness of the Edge 530 is the usability issues required to ‘get going’ there are just SO many button presses required to navigate through a complex menu system. A lesser weakness is that the the buttons are not ideal for more serious navigation, which the Edge 530 is not intended for in any case.

Thank you for reading.

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In Brief
  • Price - 92%
    92%
  • Build Quality & Design - 86%
    86%
  • Features, Including App - 95%
    95%
  • Openness & Compatability - 99%
    99%
93%

In brief

Garmin Edge 530 Opinion

The Edge 530 really does look good and seems to have positioned itself as a de facto industry standard for all others to benchmark themselves to. That doesn’t mean that you and I should buy one though. It will just help us make a better decision about WHICH device to use.

The hardware has been ‘sorted out’, the processor speed issue has been greatly improved from earlier versions. But that still leaves the ‘Garmin menu’ and general usability issues that arise from the complexity of most Garmin devices. Improvements there have been made but Garmin will certainly still need to do more, over time, on this.

I do like what I see and many will class the price of the Edge 530 as ‘fair’.Β  Do you instead go for a cooler-looking Hammerhead Karoo for navigation? a more user-friendly Wahoo? or a notably cheaper Polar or Lezyne device?. Even ‘normal’, power meter-related metrics, once the preserve of a select few brands are now available at lower price points if you look beyond ‘companies beginning with G‘.

The Killer: Garmin’s overall feature set is what no-one can compete with. But just how usable is that feature set to you? and at what price does it come?

Personally, I do like my gadgets and features, and I buy things for impetuous reasons. I’m going to use an Edge 530 through 2019. If you buy one you’ll probably be happy with it.

Like the Edge 520 there is a strong degree of future-proofing in the 530 ie any new Garmin cycling feature for the next couple of years, or any new CIQ app, will almost certainly work with the Edge 530.

Pros

  • Features galore, highly configurable
  • Open to many platforms and 3rd party technologies like Di2
  • Supports just about every sports sensor from HRMs to FE-C
  • Many in-ride social & safety features
  • Great physiological performance feedback
  • Good maps and some on-device routing
  • Training plan integration and execution of complex, alert-based workouts

 

Cons

  • Complex to setup or reconfigure
  • Smaller format screen and fiddly buttons are not great for navigation
  • Impromptu route creation on the Edge 530 is only suitable for occasional usage
  • Price is not so bad but there are cheaper alternatives
  • Keep an eye on the battery life when re-routing and when all features are enabled.

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10 thoughts on “πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Ί Edge 530 Bible | Garmin Edge 530 Review |

    • don’t know, sorry.
      dcr is best placed to answer that kind of question as he has a deep relationship with garmin. I’m just a customer of garmin, like you.

      • The question has been asked on every new dcr garmin review for the past couple years and it never gets answered. I had to actually buy the edge 520 plus to disappointingly find out it still had the 100 segment limit. πŸ™

        An existing customer could figure it out by starring enough segments and checking the file system on the device, but that takes a fair amount of work if you don’t already have a lot of segments starred.

  1. I really, really wanted to buy one. Picked up my wifes new bike in the bike shop today.
    Because I was alone (without wifal surveillance), I looked into the glas box with edges and saw the 830 mtb bundle priced 369€. I don’t regret it.

    I only regret reading your blog because this is the second device next to the 945 I bought because of you.

  2. Hi – you wrote:

    Your Garmin Edge 530 will also support weird stuff too like native SmO2 (muscle oxygen) and more unusual metrics like those for measuring drag. (Hex/Moxy/Aeropod etc. required)

    but I can’t seem to get my HumonHex connected even when it’s connected fine to my FR945. Are you sure it’s supported?

    • yes, I’m sure.
      if you last tried a couple of weeks back it didn’t work. but it should now.
      I ALSO had problems with it when there were more than two (three??) CIQ fields enabled in the profile.
      actually i somehow got it working before it was supported but i can’t remember how (broadly by copying the .prg to the 530). when i told humon what i’d done the data field promptlystopped working (tho humon then updated the app and it worked). i think it was something to do with the supported resolution of the data field. so maybe try it on a page that has a larger or smaller available metric field size (and let humon know) and try it with only one ciq field loaded.

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