Garmin Edge 1030 Plus Accuracy
The new Garmin Edge 1030 Plus is an accurate device. It’s not perfect, yet most people who end up using one will find that it is more than accurate enough.
What is accuracy?
We are specifically looking at the ability of the onboard sensors to help you do a particular sporting or navigational task.
The Edge 1030 Plus has several onboard sensors but the ones I’m going to focus on are the GNSS (GPS) sensor and the elevation sensor (altimeter). The former gives you position and speed whereas the latter gives you altitude/elevation, possibly also we could talk about pressure changes, weather changes and grade changes but I’m not going to do that today.
A thought. Let’s say you have a perfectly accurate GNSS/GPS sensor which gives you a perfect post-ride track of your ride. However, let’s also say that the bike computer delays processing the information, this will mean that you will miss the start and end parts of your STRAVA Live Segments, you might be placed on the wrong part of a ClimbPro ascent and that you might be notified of an upcoming turn too late when navigating. You would probably also experience a reported speed different from what you experience. I’m going to mostly ignore this thought mainly because it will manifest itself to you rarely on the Edge. Perhaps more rarely than you would experience it on other bike computers.
Another thought is the perennial discussion on GPS or GPS+GLONASS or GPS+GALILEO. DCR teases me about this from time-to-time and tells me to use GLONASS, so I’m going for the easy life and sticking mostly with GPS+GLONASS here mainly because it’s cycling we’re talking about and it usually makes little difference to your ride quality whichever you pick. As a rule of thumb, bear this in mind:
- GPS – almost certainly will be the most battery-efficient mode with perfectly acceptable accuracy
- GPS+GLONASS – Apparently Garmin currently seek to optimise this
- GPS+GALILEO – Might add accuracy improvements in areas of more complex GNSS reception like urban areas but accuracy can be severely compromised in built-up areas.
These all have their own complexly-variable levels of accuracy which further require a good aerial, good algorithms and for you to have it pointing in the correct direction (not in your back pocket).
The previous map shows some of the key comparison rides I made which are suburban and rural and which include the UK’s Surrey Hills/South Downs. So I’ve not ridden the Alps nor in built-up city centres.
Finally, there are 3 basic ways to determine altitude changes
- Triangulation with satellites (trilateration) using GPS (or other constellations)
- Changes to air pressure with a barometer (these things are accurate and are used in smartwatches to determine when you go upstairs)
- Digital mapping (DEM) where a certain square of your bikenav’s map is assigned an elevation based on other satellite imagery. It depends on how big the square is and how accurately, for example, the satellite saw the ground through the trees of a forest of the edge of a steep hill.
You might hear the term ‘sensor fusion’ which refers to when multiple sensors are used to correct the errors inherent in each other. Garmin does this.
Further, Garmin is the only notable bikenav company that uses DEM. I would be highly surprised if any other bikenav brand is more accurate than Garmin for elevation.
You will see on these charts that there is an extra elevation plot that I call ‘correct elevation’, this is produced after the ride from a different Digital Elevation model to which Garmin uses. It’s probably the most accurate.
In this clickable image, you can see that the elevation on the 945 is probably more accurate than the Edge 1030 Plus, which is surprising.
On this ride again the Edge 1030+ is not as accurate as I would expect. The start and endpoint are the same and yet the Edge has them at differing elevations.
I don’t know why the Edge 1030 Plus is the worst here
It’s not the best here either.
Take out: I’m highly surprised that other bikenav’s appear to be more accurate for elevation than the Edge 1030+ ! 😉 I’d previously had good experiences with the 945, using the same method for determining elevation, and perhaps wrongly assumed that the Edge 1030+ would be the same or better. That’s the point of testing.
Here are selections from each ride using a variety of watches and bike computers.
These tests routes are over some of THE most popular roads for (non-commuting) cycling in the UK. I live in SW London which is bike/tri-central in Europe. So these routes probably ARE representative of the cycling of a LOT of UK-based cyclists.
Ride 1: Polar Vantage V (Blue), Wahoo Bolt (Red), Edge 820 (Green), Edge 1030+ (Yellow) – all GLONASS
This is the hilly parts of the Pru Ride London route and the Edge 1030 Plus was probably the best-performing here, with the Vantage V having most difficulty and the Wahoo too, at times. The Edge only had one mysterious glitch (circled).
Ride 2: Bolt (Blue), Edge 1030+ (Red), Vantage (Yellow), Edge 820 (Pink)
This is a relatively standard variation of 2-hour loop for people in SW London to Windsor on fairly poor road surfaces. There are some trees but it’s generally easy for GNSS reception. The Elemnt Bolt very slightly Edged the win over the Edge 1030+ but there was nothing much to see except proof that the Vantage V is not great with GLONASS on a bike.
Ride 3: Bolt (Blue), Grit X (Red), 1030+ (Green)
This is my Ride Richmond. That’s the original Richmond-on-Thames not the one on Zwift. Although, fun fact, it covers the world’s most popular segments on STRAVA just inside Richmond Gate. This is my bi-weekly STRAVA segments ride up my local hills which range from 1 minute to about 5 minutes long. In terms of GPS difficulty there is some tree cover and some closeness to 3/4 story building in Richmond and Kingston, otherwise, it’s not too challenging for positional accuracy.
The Edge 1030+ wins again here but there is ‘nothing much to see’. All perform acceptably.
Ride 4: Grit X (Blue), Bolt (Red), Edge 1030+ (Green)
GPS Accuracy? Nothing to see, all is good.
Ride 5: Elemnt (Blue), FR945 (Red), 1030+ (Green)
This is a nice London-Brighton loop with some hills, low traffic, generally poor roads and some tree cover.
There is not too much to see again here other than the GNSS performance of the Edge 1030+ being, at times, clearly better than the other two devices. The rest of the times all the devices perform ‘acceptably’ and the Edge 1030+ DOES suffer a little where there is tree cover and buildings but even in those circumstances it is the best-performing. The Edge would win again here over the FR945 and Wahoo Elemnt.
Ride 6: Edge 1030 Plus (Blue), FR945 (Red), Grit X (Green)
This is a local ride around the block several times with 2-storey suburban houses with small front gardens. You can see that the tracks are near perfect.
For interest, I’ve put a RUN image alongside the ride image for the same course. You can see the obvious differences in quality; running is slower, the arms are moving from stationary to twice the running speed (think about it) and the aerial is not pointing in a consistent direction. Furthermore, the watch is smaller, the aerial likely smaller and the path is closer to the houses and closer to fences/hedges. Those differences transform a perfect ride track into a sometimes unacceptable run track.
Take out: it’s MUCH easier when cycling to get a good GPS fix.
This is one of the best GNSS performances I have ever seen from a Garmin device coupled with a probably-acceptable but surprisingly ‘not great’ performance with elevation.
To curtail my excitement, it’s not that hard to get good GNSS results in my typical cycling conditions.
In my opinion, these performances will be more than acceptable for the majority of cyclists buying the Garmin Edge 1030+
Return to Garmin Edge 1030 Plus Review