Garmin Edge 1030 Plus Review
Can any Garmin Edge 1030 Plus Review say anything other than, “This is the best bike computer money can buy but it’s expensive“? Answer: Yes. This detailed review will look at what is good about it, what’s new about it, why you might buy this model rather than a cheaper Garmin alternative and what could be improved in Garmin’s latest, greatest bikenav. As always – I have ZERO links to Garmin except as a customer like you and I bought this with my own money and so any support is appreciated.
This is a long review.
For a quick overview and links to the best deals, here’s a summary and links to several retailers for you to try to find that elusive discount. If you have come here for the detail and opinions, they are further below. Enjoy the read.
Garmin Edge 1030 Plus Review
Price - 85%
Apparent Accuracy - 97%
Build Quality & Design - 94%
Features, Including App - 99%
Openness & Compatability - 99%
The Garmin Edge 1030 Plus is a highly accomplished, large-format, touchscreen bikenav. It’s the best of its kind. It’s one of my favourite pieces of kit that Garmin has made.
Its training features, safety features, performance features and the ability to connect to any sensor and display virtually any kind of bike-related information is beyond impressive. Bizarrely the only thing that the Edge 1030+ is not awesome at is navigating, despite that being VERY good.
HOWEVER, the cheaper Edge 530 and Edge 830 are pretty much the same as the 1030+, so the only real reasons you’d go for the 1030 Plus are because you want a LARGE bikenav AND a TOUCHSCREEN. This touchscreen even works. Wow!
After using Garmin and all the other leading bike computers for years, what impresses me the most with this Garmin is the ability to get any sensor data and present it how I want it. That makes me happy. If I want to do ‘weird stuff’ I just know there will be a CIQ app that can help me do it.
The more I cycle and the more I interact with all things cycle-related on the web, the more I appreciate just how easy it is to link the Garmin Edge with most of them, be it routes from RwGPS, segments from STRAVA or Training Plans from Training Peaks. Garmin already gives me enough on the physiology insights, yet with their acquisition of Firstbeat I assume even that will improve over the next few years. The two things that make me sad are firstly the ‘improving’ interface…I’ve been using Garmins for years and I still get lost in the menus and screens and secondly the lack of analysis. Garmin is never going to match the nerdy sport data analyses of Golden Cheetah that I love but I just wish they would do a LITTLE more either on the Edge or on Connect itself – for example, a few more improvements to the CP curves and a few more abilities to slice and dice my ride in weird and wonderful ways. I don’t think the latter will happen but, of course, Garmin have it covered and I can EASILY get MY data to SOMEWHERE else to do those things.
The rating I’ve given the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus in this review is one of the highest I’ve ever given any product. Take that as a recommendation if you like! It’s not perfect though, so here are some of the pros and cons.
- Expansive flexibility to gather and display any cycling-related data from anywhere
- Great nav features, with minor caveats
- Great STRAVA features including route sync
- Great indoor training features include FE-C trainer control and workout creation &/or sync
- Easy, flexible setup
- A good touchscreen
- Although improved, route calculation speeds could be better
- The maps are fine but I want better
- User interface needs further improvement
- I would find it hard to pay twice the price of the Edge 530 to buy a 1030+ but then I prefer buttons and a mid-size format. That’s just me.
Garmin’s Edge 1030 Plus is their large format, touchscreen, top-end bikenav. It’s very similar to the Edge 830 but larger. The Garmin Edge 530 is essentially the same as the 830 but button operated. Whereas the Edge 130 Plus is a micro version with much-reduced features. The 820, 520 Plus, 520, 810, 510 and so on are all earlier, inferior models. Apart from the 520+, don’t buy those now.
At £260/$300 I would recommend the Edge 530 to most people. Spend an extra $100 if you want the 830’s touchscreen and only spend and extra $300 (yep twice the price) if you want the large format touchscreen on the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus.
Garmin Edge 1030 Plus – What’s New
Not much has changed when compared to the earlier Edge 1030. What has improved is the power of the hardware, automated setup and adaptive workouts. Here’s a little more detail on that
- Better hardware – the mysterious innards are now ‘better’ and faster – well, the battery lasts longer (24 hours) due to a Sony GNSS chip and routes are claimed to recalculate twice as fast and, scarily, the touchscreen works well.
- 32Gb (formerly 16Gb) onboard storage to support free global maps but no SD expansion
- Firstbeat ‘Daily Workout Suggestions’ – these are intelligent, adaptive workouts based on leveraging and targetting both your Anaerobic and Aerobic Training Loads. A more informed workout recommendation for today based on your recent training achievements.
- Part-automated setup with sensor & sport profile settings carried over from your previous Garmin.
- MTB Dynamics included as well as ForkSight mode and the pre-loaded TrailForks CIQ app (previously in Edge 530/830)
- Assistance & Bike Alarm are new to the Edge 1030 Plus (previously in Edge 530/830)
The following link is to a more comprehensive discussion of what’s changed & a feature-by-feature comparison against other models.
Garmin Edge 1030 Plus – Headline Features
Here we look at the key feature sets of the Edge 1030 Plus, including the pre-existing ones as well as the new setup/workouts. I’ll also flesh out what you can expect from the Navigation features as they are key to the 1030 Plus. Please don’t take all the following sections as an exhaustive list of the entirety of what the Edge can do…it can do a lot and I’ll focus on the more interesting and useful parts. [Alternatively: read the Edge 530 Bible which goes into even more detail on essentially ALL the 1030+’s features]
Your next workout from your coach, annual plan, Training Peaks and elsewhere ‘just appears’…like this
Training or Racing – Garmin Edge 1030 Review
The Edge 1030 is highly capable for its primary purpose…training and racing, we’ll cover navigation shortly. You probably already knew that Garmin has the broadest set of features than any other device and here is a flavour
- Multiple, customisable sports profiles – like Indoor, Road, Trail, Race
- Multiple types of configurable pages – from simple data pages full of numbers to maps and rich charts of all types. These can be intelligent and pop up for sharp turns or when you have completed a lap
- Vast numbers of training metrics like cadence, power and muscle oxygen available as various kinds of averages, totals and max/mins. eg ‘pedal smoothness balance, last lap’
- Alerts – cover vehicle proximity or perhaps when you exceed your target power. Newer kinds of alerts include those warning of an accident, theft, inclement weather or the need to take on fuel/water.
Training or Racing – Triathlon Specific
The Edge 1030 has little place in most people’s triathlon. That said, a bike computer is the best way to consume your tri race data when riding, especially if your 945 is on your wrist and too small to read. So you might want to cast your triathlon data from a Forerunner 935/945 using the EXTENDED DISPLAY MODE. Extended display mode nicely adds multisport time at the top of the Edge’s screen but screen changes between the two devices are not sync’d during the race. No biggie.
Training or Racing – Indoor Specific & Zwift
You can control just about any indoor trainer (FE-C) and you can even control Zwift via a CIQ app on the Edge.
The Edge 1030 can control the turbo trainer’s power by several means including following the resistance/power levels in a 3rd party workout, manually or by following a previous ride.
ClimbPro is an intelligent, upcoming profile of each and every hill on your planned ride. Each hill ‘pops’ up as you approach it with a schematic of the subtle changes in grade over that single hill you are about to tackle. You get different colours for different grades and special hill metrics like ‘metres to go’.
It’s either a great feature to plan your attack or a soul-destroying feature to tell you how much more pain you have left to endure 😉
You can choose to race either STRAVA or GARMIN segments. There are a surprisingly wide set of segment-related features on offer including discovering local segments and good segment-specific features that show your progress as you tackle a specific segment against the KOM/QOM or your PR/PB.
Training with Daily Workout Suggestions – Firstbeat
Daily Workout Suggestions (DWS) are a new feature from Firstbeat and different for what has been implemented with their other customers. Instead of just load quantity, DWS guides you also by the quality of sessions and will suggest a tailored mix of threshold, tempo and base rides but they key point is that these recommendations are also based on the quality and volume of your past workouts. I was getting a lot of ‘Rest Day’ and ‘Base Day’ recommendations, perhaps because of workout duplicates and/or many non-bike efforts too, so I’m not yet entirely sure if this feature is fully bedded in. However, it will be sorted out (if it needs to be) and this is the properly adaptive cycling training you may have longed for…or not.
There is some more related info on Daily Workout Suggestions in the follwoing link
These physiological markers are then used to effectively ‘score’ your progress and predict performances over different race durations. This is a VERY complex area and the metrics attempt to
‘Obviously’ you can sync your ride data back for some quick insights on the CONNECT platform but Garmin never pretend to offer a full-blown analysis tool and so you can push your data to Training Peaks or elsewhere for that.
Special Feature – Navigation
The navigational capabilities of the Edge 1030 Plus are immense and market-leading yet there is still room-for-improvement Let’s focus on the many positives first.
Navigation – Bringing a ride on to your Edge
RideWithGPS, STRAVA and others now have seamless ways to get your favourite routes from those platforms automatically onto your Edge 1030 Plus. It works well and is a big time-saver. Gone are the days of downloading a GPX to your computer and uploading it via Garmin Connect or a special CIQ app, although you can still do that and you can still create a course anywhere on Garmin Connect.
Both STRAVA and Garmin can leverage heatmaps to choose popular routes, I find Garmin is GREAT for me, others prefer STRAVA. For advanced route creation checkout the PLOTAROUTE online tool.
Navigation – Edge-based Route Creation
You get the same popularity routed (heatmaps)to use directly on the Edge 1030 Plus but if you are using your Edge 1030+ to create the route then you are probably more time-pressed or, shall we say, ‘lost’. For these scenarios, the Edge 1030 route creation is highly similar to that on your car’s satnav. So you can type an address, city, a previously saved location or point of interest and you can even create a route to a point you choose on the map.
There are also special kinds of routing like re-riding a past activity or creating round-trip routes based on your preferred direction and round-trip distance, couple that with TrailForks bundled in and you probably get some great off-road trail routes – I’ve never used TrailForks in anger but it seems to let you select a nearby(ish) trail areas and then specific trails around there.
Navigation – Re-routing
Of course, the Edge 1030+ will navigate you to the start of the course but it will also let you route back to the start at any point in your ride and that could be by reversing your route or taking the most direct route back. It also offers options to route back on to the course should you make a wrong turn or pause routing. This all seems to work well enough and here are a few example images of some of the features you are likely to encounter.
I’m not entirely sure that the Edge 1030+ offers the very best navigation experience – it could be improved. If I were forced to pick fault I would make these suggestions
- Despite speed improvements, loading larger routes can be slow.
- The free global maps included with the Edge are fine. However, on several occasions, I found them ‘too busy’ and distracting. I want to be directed to my destination and not admire a pretty map. ie I would prefer different bundled maps
- The highlighted route is not always clear and sometimes gets ‘lost’ in the colour of the map around it.
- When out riding the ability to choose to route somewhere new of my choice didn’t seem to mesh with what was presented to me. I guess we all want different things from re-routing, I usually just wanted to find the nearest slice of cake without spending more than 10 seconds doing it.
- I will take some convincing that the whole navigation piece is designed specifically for bikes. There seem to be some leftovers from Garmin’s car maps team in the next office.
I am a frequent critic of Garmin’s GPS accuracy. However, my tests found that the Edge 1030 Plus is the most accurate bike computer Garmin has produced and I can’t see any other manufacturer’s bike computer that has better GPS accuracy. On the other hand, the elevation accuracy was notably less accurate than I expected. (The following link is supporter-only)
Garmin Edge 1030 Review – Design & Specifications
The overall design is of a normal-looking, large-sized, touchscreen cycling computer. It gives a first impression of appearing sleek but unremarkable. The screen image is good and generally readable, although the colours are a little dull.
It’s a 3-button, rectangular bike computer; fairly well-made, if a little plasticky, and with a touchscreen. The underside of the Edge 530 has 5 metallic connectors for charging in-ride with a Garmin Charge battery – cool.
The supplied out-front mount is solidly-enough made.
Technical Design – Connectivity & Smarts, including Sensors
The connectivity of the Edge 1030 Plus is immense, simply assume you can connect to any sports sensor and there’s 99.9% chance you’re good. eg Muscle Oxygen, Varia Radar and CdA sensors are covered natively and via CIQ
You can’t, however, assign a specific sensor to a single sports profile nor can you assign a priority of one sensor over another, I can live with that.
If you have an Edge 510 be assured that tech has moved on “a bit“. Time to upgrade, 2020 beckons.
Garmin Edge 1030 Plus Assisted Setup
You can set up your new Edge either through a computer or via your smartphone’s Garmin Connect app and the whole process is now speeded up by prompting you to copy across your sensors and ride profiles from another Edge. In my case upgrading from an old Edge 820 successfully pulled across about 20 ANT+ sensors but didn’t work for the numerous sports profiles I had despite messages to the contrary (below). I had one of the first Edges in the UK, hopefully, this will be fixed by the time you get yours.