new Garmin Edge 540 / 840 – ClimbPro bugs galore

Garmin Edge 540 – my go-to bike computer for 2023

Quick Buy Links : Edge 540Edge 540 SolarEdge 840Edge 840 Solar :

For the first time, I’m going to go 100% Garmin in my training with my Forerunner 965 and today’s Edge 540. I used the larger Edge 1040 for an extended period and the Edge 540 near-identically featured but in the smaller format I prefer. I don’t need either a touchscreen or solar so it was an obvious choice for me that also keeps the cost of doing sport down…even $350 on the Edge 540 means I’ve spent over $1000 on Garmin already this year…ouch. Edge 540 Review to follow…later!

edge 540

Garmin Edge 540 & 840 – Are they worth the upgrade?

No, I don’t think either of them is worth the upgrade from an Edge 530/1030+/830 but if you have any older Garmin Edge then Edge 840 and 540 represent a very good upgrade to significantly better bits of hardware with significantly better features and accuracy.

These are the highlights of what you get

  • new Multiband – This is technically an improvement in positional accuracy but GNSS reception is pretty good for road cyclists in normal conditions so it won’t make much difference. If you navigate in valleys and through trees, this might help you.
  • Battery life –
    • Up to 26 hours in demanding use (32 hours with solar)
    • Up to 42 hours in battery saver mode (60 hours with solar)
  • Daily workout suggestions – only tweaked (more info here)
  • Power Guide & Course demands – more info here. Plan your power output based on your CP curve over a pre-loaded course. Check if the course power demands match your abilities.
  • Easier setup – more info here. Restore settings from previous devices and transfer sensors. This didn’t work for me last work on my new Forerunner 965 but was vaguely OK on the 520 – the biggest setup issue was the super-slow Bluetooth link to the Conenct app, it took ages to tweak anything. I easily spent over an hour setting it all up.
  • new(ish) stamina metrics and Training Status – more info here. I find it surprisingly good…even useful! Should sync readiness stats from a Forerunner if you have one.
  • ClimbPro Ascent Planner – tweaked to work on any hill you are about to ride. That is great and a genuinely useful feature that no longer requires you to be navigating (Wahoo will soon launch something similar). Having spent a day using it, however, I can report it doesn’t work properly and is ‘full’ of bugs. None of the initial reviews I’ve seen point this out 9Edit: dcr points out some similar bugs).
  • An improving interface mimics earlier changes we saw in the Edge 1040. There is still more work for Garmin to do here, especially with the use of buttons on the smaller format 540/840 models. It was a stark move from the button control of my Wahoo to the button control of the 540…it’s still an unpleasant experience on the 540. I guess I’ll re-get used to it again in a few days once the RSI on my wrist goes away.
  • At 32Gb the 840 has twice the storage of the 540, ideal if you need more regional maps.
  • A slightly faster and more responsive device.
  • Touchscreen/solar versions are available above the 540 base model – 540 solar, 840 touchscreen and 840 touchscreens Solar. All models have buttons.

Edge 840 or Edge 540 – Which should I choose?

The Edge 840’s touchscreen sometimes makes menu navigation a tad better. The 840 also has on-device course creation, address search and twice the space for what are now much larger underlying Garmin maps. Those are the only differences

So if you think those differences are worth the extra $100 then go for it.

If you are tempted not by the 840 but by the larger but otherwise identical Edge 1040 then remember the Edge 1040 doesn’t have buttons.

do NOT upgrade – Garmin Edge 1040 Review

Is Solar Worth It?

A: No

It’s a further $100 premium for the solar option and for 99.9% of you, it’s just not worth it for the tiny gains you will get from Solar.

Should I switch from a Wahoo Bolt 2 to a Garmin Edge 540/840?

Well, I’ve just done that switch, so I can hardly tell you not to!

However, I suspect most Wahoo Bolt users will be happy to stay where they are as they trade fewer peripheral features for a superior ride experience. Moving from Wahoo to Garmin you immediately notice how superior the Wahoo interface is….ELEMNTs are just so easy to use. Remember….you ‘use’ the device each time your ride…usability really could trump features.

Garmin’s biggest advantages over Wahoo are its extensive physiology metrics, not limited to the new Stamina feature; many kinds of apps via Connect IQ; superior battery life; and richer mapping and navigation.

My main reason for switching is simply that Garmin Edge can display more than 2 CIQ data fields. I’m using too many unusual sensors now, and a Garmin Forerunner/Fenix watch just can’t handle it.

Other than that, I’m always intrigued by Garmin’s features that classify my strengths as a rider (Cycling Ability) and how they might pace me over a particular course (Power Guide). However, my experience with Power Guide so far on the Edge 1040 hasn’t been good, and I don’t trust what Garmin’s Daily Workout Suggestions say are my best training options for the day. Similarly, I love looking at all the watch-based physiology-based readiness insights, but much of it either is wrong or feels wrong.

Has Garmin Turned A Corner?

A: Yes

Whilst good, older Garmin Edge 520/820 and earlier models were overrated by reviewers, and the same applied to watches before the Forerunner 935 era. However, the Edge 530/830 generation marked a turning point, and the latest 540/840/1040 generation, as well as the Fenix 7/Forerunner 965, are now market leaders in many respects. I no longer have any serious reservations about recommending them for core usage.

If you’re considering upgrading to a new Edge 540 or 840, be sure you’re comfortable spending that amount of money on the Edge’s core sports features you can get elsewhere. If you’re primarily interested in the fancier features as a bit of fun, then go for a new Edge but some of those fancy features (like the physiology stuff) might just let you down and feel wrong.

Q: $1000 well spent? (if I include the cost of the FR965)

A: Probably not! But I REALLY like new toys.

Which Retailers Have Stock of the Garmin Edge 540 & 840? Pricing (rrp, MSRP)

The following links are now mostly live. Each link provides a choice of retailers, many of whom already have stock in their shops, including Power Meter City in the USA and Wiggle in the UK. It’s uncertain what will happen with the various Amazon sites, but for a month, they are not expected to have stock of any of the new Edge models in the Amazon-Garmin store. The links below include REI, Power Meter City, Backcountry, and Competitive Cyclist, all of which have stock from day 1.

Retailers DEFINITELY have limited stocks at launch (I’ve spoken to some). You won’t get a discounted model at launch so just buy the first one you find.

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22 thoughts on “new Garmin Edge 540 / 840 – ClimbPro bugs galore

  1. We all know the best is Polar m460 with 16h battery life released afaik 2017 and still sold 😉

    1. i liked the polar v650 at the time
      i tried updating the firmware the other day and failed. like the m460 it had the basics. Lezyne are also pretty good if you want a bike computer with core features.

  2. Hi,

    Is it now possible to sync things (plans, routes) to the device once an activity is started? I believe I wasn’t able to do this with the 530 when I had one.

  3. Ok, I see that Garmin is consistently updating their bike computers every year, but what is happening with Tacx and where is the Neo 3T? The Neo 2T was released in 2019….

    1. good question. i expected that at the back end of last year.
      I suspect trainers have limited scope for technical improvement, couple that with a collapse in the market and maybe garmin waits til later this year.

  4. Is it possible to reverse the course? Bolt1 can do this but 830 couldn’t. I wonder if 840 can

    1. at some point yes. but i would expect the Edge 140 next.

      I think the next generation of Edge will major up on connectivity (LTE), usability (buttons) and aesthetic pazazz (a bigger, better screen)

      1. Interesting. I haven’t really seen a huge amount in the 1040 to upgrade from my 1030 but the addition of buttons might just sway me as even with a remote; touchscreen navigation can still be a PITA in a UK winter.
        Previous attempts at LTE integration in the watches seem to have been largely unsupported outside of the US. I don’t think they could be used with any UK carriers

    2. That’s an interesting question: The design language of the 1040 is all about making it appear flatter than it is whereas the x40 don’t even try and aim for a ruggedized appearance. So a 1040+ could hardly just be a “840 grown to fit the screen and battery”. The “flat” 1040 looks but with four extra clones of that power button is certainly possible, but it would be a much bigger external change than just changing color and removing the microSD slot for the 1030+.

      Who knows, perhaps they go to eleven for “1040 but with added buttons”? When has Garmin ever said no to an opportunity to add another upselling option to their portfolio! (I know, when they did an 840 with both buttons and touch without peering the 540 with a touch-only sibling as an intermediate upsell)

  5. I can buy a 1040 new for €489 here in Spain why would I go for the 840, it doesn’t make sense ????

  6. I can’t believe we waited FOUR YEARS for this update! Madness! I was hoping to upgrade my 830 to an 840 with a bigger screen in the same overall sized package. The solar version should also have had LTE support as well. This really isn’t worth the upgrade.

    I think GP Lama hits the nail on the head at the end of this review when he said bike computers and phones are converging, and then he asks are we seeing Garmin becoming the Nokia of bike computers? Humm, I think he might be onto something.

    At £520 (from Wiggle UK) you can buy a very good Android mobile phone with a PAYG sim card. Assuming you want a phone sized device like the Edge 1040 on your handlebars. Maybe we need a Garmin Bike computer App for Android and iOS now, and not a full hardware device ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    1. yep I saw the gplama video as well and those comments at the end.
      I agree broadly with his assessment and have said similar things on this site over the years, especially with the advent of Karoo 2 which IS an Android smartphone in a bike computer case.

      My one area of reticence would be that bike computers generally need to be a tad more robust than phones. so the hopes for an edge to edge screen may be realsied but it will be at the expense of screen edge protection.

      1. The Wahoo are Android as well. Half the runtime from twice the battery size.

        Sure, they both get a much easier time developing software for those those things, but that’s at a price paid by every athlete lugging around the heavier batteries (and a spare if they want to go long distance). A trained donkey could write okayish software for android (source: I’ve been an android dev until recently), whatever RTOS Garmin are running will require far more skill.

  7. “ClimbPro bugs galore/doesn’t work properly and is full of bugs.”.

    As you mentioned, non of the initial reviewers mentioned it. DCR wrote a detailed report about the new feature and did not mentioned problems. Perhaps it depends on the area people are testing (bad map/climb data?)? Can you tell us more about the issues you have seen, please?

    1. 1. the grade is simply wrong
      2. the grade info is laggy
      3. the same hill starts and vastly different places…100s of metres apart
      4. standing close to the bottom of a well-known hill ie 200m away, the list of hills start at one that is 10 miles away in NW London (I am in SW London)

      I found these wihtin the first hour of testing. They are obvious.

      there are two photos above.

      i thought dcr did hint at these? I was assuming he’d heard that bug fixes are on the way (I had a software update before i did my tests)

      1. Yeah, I did more than hint at these bugs. I outright listed a slate of them, in both video and post reviews. I noted specifically:

        1) An issue where the Climb truncated and it shouldn’t, on probably the 2nd most popular route on the island
        2) Where on Sa Calobra it went crazy-grade to 110%
        3) Where on a different climb it told me to go on a hiking trail
        4) Where it had gradient lag of 10-seconds

        Ultimately, though, many of these bugs are going to be hill-specific. As noted, about 80-90% of the time it was fine, and about 10-20% of the time it was wrong. For example, in Belgium riding all the cobbled hills, it was basically spot-on, all of them. Likely because they are very clear-cut.

        Inversely, in Mallorca, it was messier and I saw more variability in what triggered the start of a climb and what didn’t. The false-flats were often being included, which is more of a matter of ‘personal preference’, though, not a preference I’d prefer.

      2. yes the hill-specific nature is weird.
        I guess the bottom line tho is that the new feature’s behaviour is a little bit annoying and just plain wrong when tested to the limit BUT it is still useful as-is. at least it is to me.

      3. I think most of these issues are more an incomplete/incorrect climb DB, rather than out right bugs. To me, bugs would be errors in the code itself. That’s no excuse, and they need to fix the DB. In my neck of the woods, there are numerous “climbs” on trails that no longer exist. Seems like they should have enough popularity data to fix the climb DB to more accurately represent current reality. If no one has ridden the route in 5+ years, probably isn’t there any more.

        I definitely won’t defend the laggy grade, as I’ve complained about it on Edge and watches. But that is likely a design decision, or possibly hardware limitation, rather than a bug. So while not good, that also wouldn’t be a bug per say.

        When you say the same hill starts at vastly different places, are you saying the new Climb Pro from one ride to the next, or compared to Course base Climb Pro?

      4. hey there!

        grade – i think what is shown is based on 3d GPS change. that was what i assumed from my use with the 1040 and it doesn’t seem to have improved or changed. I would have expected it to give me a representative grade for the GPS location based on DEM, especially on main(ish) roads. if it messed up on tracks going through trees then fair enough.

        one to the next – in open skies when not navigating i did one hill 4 or 5 times and the climbpro said GO starting at significantly different places…say 400m at the extremes. each time i was starting on either a preceding downhill bit or a very low part of the hill where the grade was stated as 1% or 2%.

        yes i agree some of the info could be the wrong GPS coordinates for the start and stop of a hill. i’d call that a bug 😉 either way…

        I was in a bad mood. I remember first testing climbpro all those years ago and it was pitifully useless when released, tho soon improved considerably. by which time i was on some other device. that just hadn’t been tested anything other than cursorarily.

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