Next Gen Garmin GPS Bike Computers Might Have These Features

Garmin Edge 530
edge 530

Next-Generation Garmin GPS Bike Computers

This article discusses the potential changes we might see in the next five years for the humble Garmin GPS bike computers.

These developments are not ones I particularly want to see, although a few would be of some interest. I’d love to hear your thoughts at the end.

Current State-of-the-art

If you love cycling gadgets and features then 2023/24 is a good time for them. That world has significantly transformed for the better over the last decade.

Garmin Edge bike computers are generally the ones with leading-edge features. Hammerhead perhaps has leading-edge user interface aesthetics and Wahoo Fitness perhaps has the leading edge when it comes to raw usability. Other players ranging from Stages, Bryton, iGSport and Magene to bike app developers perhaps at best have one novel feature, well implemented.

Here are some of the key feature areas we currently enjoy but could have only dreamed of in 2014

  • Extended battery lives – no longer is this a limiting issue for most riders
  • Richly visual map-based features overlaying features and routing targetted to your use-case, such as elevation shading, surface type or weather.
  • Sufficiently precise GPS, speed and elevation accuracy
  • High levels of connectivity to sensors and third-party platforms via WiFi, Bluetooth and ANT+
  • Solar charging – whilst a premium feature, I suspect this will die out as battery tech and the energy efficiency of electronic components improve. We might see Solar AMOLED as the peak of this tech before the decline.
  • Physiology Metrics from Garmin have come a long way from the humble heart rate zone.

We are at the point now with those areas where perhaps there is not too much scope for future innovations. For example, there is only so much you can scientifically infer from heart rate, HRV and power data. Simply put, Garmin physiology needs new data points.

These are areas where there are existing features but which I believe will have more scope to be improved and expanded upon:

  • Ever smarter training – race discovery and 3rd party digital training plans typically take us towards predetermined goals using standard periodisation models, perhaps adapted to your Training Stress Balance.
  • Automated distress signals via satellite capabilities
  • Social and community features via Strava and Zwift, competition and sharing
  • Bike security with alarms and alerts to your smartphone
  • Display Technology – it’s now possible to get a decent touchscreen but we’ve not yet seen an AMOLED-based Garmin Edge, let alone a microLED-based Garmin Edge, or Solar-AMOLED Edge

Next-Generation Features & Trends

The general trends I would expect to see are all-encompassing bike designs, gamification and increased socialisation during outdoor cycling, more precise training recommendations, and the increased convergence between smartphones, smartwatches and bike computers.

More specifically, this:

  • Certainty 10/10: Predictive analytics and responsive training – AI and ML (machine learning) will more precisely prescribe training stimuli based on more personal biomarkers and population-level performances.
  • Certainty 10/10: Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality – Augmented reality will most likely be the one to benefit from changes being pushed elsewhere by Meta and Apple. It’s not hard to envision current products like Engo 2 taken to the next generation of hardware overlain with much richer performance and navigational data. All beamed discretely into our field of vision as we cycle although hopefully not to the extent that Mr Zuckerberg would like.
  • Certainty 8/10: Integration with Smart Cities and Smart Cars. Traffic lights could give priority to cyclists and smart cars could be automatically alerted as they detect the next generation of Apple FindMy device concealed in a special pocket in your bike frame. More of this kind of integration is planned and likely to happen: sciencedirect.com
  • Certainty 7/10: Affordability will improve. Hard-to-implement features or those that require expensive access to 3rd party data will buck this trend and maintain the ability for the likes of Garmin to justify premium pricing. Elsewhere affordability will increase along with competition.
  • Certainty 9/10: Exotic physiological data. Lactate, blood pressure, muscle oxygen, hydration, blood glucose and more are available to some degree today. In 5 years they will be much more easily available. However, the average-Jo cyclist still won’t understand the complexities of the many new data points. Whilst performance cyclists might see some of this new raw data, most people will see an abstracted AI layer of its interpretation presented as AI feedback or guidance in plain English.
  • Certainty 2/10: Better hydration and fuelling. Currently, these recommendations come from interpretations of your fat/carb metabolisation based on your Z2/Z4 thresholds rather than the physiology of what is happening in your body during the ride. ML and new data points might learn your reactions over time and be able to precisely instruct you on when and what to consume.
  • Certainty 7/10: The merging of the smartphone and bike computer. Hammerhead Karoo is already an Android smartphone. More will follow and will leverage numerous new rich external data sources be that parking places, traffic alerts or weather. Whilst you might only need one device, I envisage most cyclists will still use a bike computer to avoid damaging their phones. However, they will expect commonly used phone features to be on the bike computer ie the ability to make calls, send a message and get a data-limited internet connection for other information such as from your cycling buddies or general information sources on the net (like weather)
  • Certainty 7/10: Outbound Satellite connectivity for widespread emergency response. Garmin has inReach and Apple has satellite connectivity on iPhone. Surely it will find its way to the humble bike computer.
  • Certainty 8/10: Gadgets are more integrated into the frame and handlebar design. Varia, your Stages power pod and your Garmin bike computer all, to some degree, seem to be put on our bikes as an afterthought with a 3rd party mount and yet another flavour of black rubber band. Their inclusion is not currently integral to the original design of the bike.
  • Certainty 4/10: Shared power. Once frame design and commonly used accessories become better integrated with how they are mounted, then common power sources will also become easier to make available, and gadgets on electric bikes will benefit from a common battery. This could also change road, cycling allowing power meters, lighting, electronic gears and bike computers to be made smaller with their battery removed. Effectively all will work from a single super-sized di2 battery but this would need the industry to redesign many aspects of the bike from the frame up. To a degree, it’s in the interest of accessory manufacturers to avoid standardisation to sell higher-margin parts.
  • Certainty: 2/10 Bike Health. Maybe the bike computer can focus on performance and navigation but a small inbuilt display in the bike frame could signal bike health (common battery level, time since service, tyre depth, tyre pressure, pad wear, frame stress, etc)
  • Certainty 4/10: Group features. We might already see our group members’ locations with Live Track, reply to a simple message with a pre-canned response or compare our buddy’s Relative Effort. This all has scope to become better gamified out on the road similar to how Zwift does it in the real world. Maybe we could share Varia lights, have Varia lights work together or leverage power meters with built-in resistance to handicap better riders. (I’m not saying I want any of that!! but if something can be invented it tends to be)
  • Certainty 2/10: Zwift to cast its net wider. Zwift needs to stave off competition and enmesh its digital tentacles into outdoor cycling.
  • Certainty 7/10:Real real-time health monitoring. I distinguish this from real-time performance monitoring. Perhaps non-performance cyclists could benefit from live ECG monitoring, hydration monitoring and an understanding of real-time air pollution plus other metrics.
  • Certainty 1/10: Theft prevention and deterrence. Air tags and alerts triggered by motion sensors can only go so far as to deter theft. Ultimately the components on a high-end bike are worth stripping and selling even if the frame is AirTagged and ID-coded. Perhaps someone somewhere will decide that a global database of RFID tags linked to every bike component will hinder the trade in illicit bike parts. Perhaps that bike in your pain cave can be better integrated with other security features in your SmartHome. Perhaps the bike industry wants you to buy a replacement bike. (the latter)

 

Take Out

As markets mature, competition typically reduces as larger entities emerge and dominate. Whilst those companies may or may not choose to follow industry standards their products become a de facto standard due to the reach of the company.

Despite recent moves away from some standards, I still see a future very much determined by interoperability, standards and more ubiquitous connectivity. Basically, if it can be connected somewhere…it will be. If it can be automated…it will be. If AI can be used rather than voice or text…it will be.

Whilst I think Garmin will have more difficult times in the future, I find it hard to see how its dominance in the cycling market will be challenged.

Garmin is certainly now positioned as a premium offering and it is novel features that attempt to justify that premium. Garmin HAS to innovate to survive. Perhaps all the easy innovation has now mostly been done, however as you can hopefully see from the suggestions above, there is still plenty of interesting innovation to come.

 

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20 thoughts on “Next Gen Garmin GPS Bike Computers Might Have These Features

  1. So will the 1040 model software be updated? Or must we purchase a new gadget?
    Which watch is best to supplement a 1040.

    1. 1040 will be updated for a while where hardware permits.
      best watch to supplement it depends on what you want to do with it! i use a forerunner 965. you could go for an epix/fenix or if you just want something to pay for stuff and monitor sleep then the vivoactive 5 might be ok. basically look for any watch that supports TrueUp to make sure all the data is correctly syncd and prioritised (if duplicates)

      1. If your sport is cycling and you only want off-bike HR observation (and pay), even the Vivomove (physical watch hands) could fit the bill. In case you happen to enjoy being a little different.

        Only downside, from the cycling perspective, is that if you get a spontaeous need to broadcast HRM measurement to the Edge because the chest strap acts up (*), the touch-only UI will be a nuisance compared to the full button complement on a proper sports garmin. And if your Edge acts up, your fallback recording on the watch will be *very* limited unless you go full Tri.

        (*) chest strap acting up is depressingly routine for me. The most convenient way to get fallback HRM from the watch is setting up the watch to broadcast in-activity, and selecting some indoor activity as the default sports type. Then you just do whatever the watch UI requires you to do to enter activity selection, confirm twice for default type and go, then confirm the HRM source handover on the Edge.

      2. “The most convenient way to get fallback HRM from the watch”

        so broadcast HR from a watch to an Edge could have HRM with a fallback of ohr….i’d never thought of it in terms of broadcast.. nice!

      3. As in connect the chest strap to the watch, and connect the watch to the edge, hoping that the watch does something smart selecting which number to tell its listeners? Never thought of it like this, a sensor-fusing game of chinese-whispers. I doubt it’s actually implemented like that (I think it’s more likely that broadcast just sends out the local OHR number, with or without chest strap), but there’s certainly a chance, done on purpose or perhaps even accidentally. My “start an indoor activity” routine is manual override when i see the chest sensor failing.

    2. Looking at my experience with the 1030 plus, there won’t be many updates. The 1030 plus was Garmin’s top device when I bought it half a year before 1040 was introduced. With that introduction, 6.40 was the current version and today it’s 6.75 with more or less bug fixes only.
      So I wouldn’t expect too much.

  2. I was contemplation the purchase of an inReach device for quite some time (decided not to buy one…yet) and could see the advantage of an “Expedition” Edge with inReach. There are already a few GPS with that capability and for people who like to go into the wild where cell phone conectivity is spotty at best, it would be a great possibility. However, the subscription and especially activation fee make it a wee bit hard to swallow for the occasional trip. But at this point in time iPhone satellite connectivity (is it still US only??) is not even close to what Garmin can do.

  3. Just wondering if Garmin can somehow communicate with cars to let there drivers know when there is a cyclist ahead

    1. Garmin can’t At the moment AFAIK.
      however that sort of feature has been in the works for years. the link in the article might reference it.

      I have noticed that several car models have warning triangle indicators in their side mirrors that pick up cyclists going past (eg when the car is stationary) and give the driver a visual cue

    1. i’ve looked at igsport (Korea?) and its high end bike computers look good. however they are quite limited as a company and only sell bike computers. few people look at reviews of this type of product in english-speaking markets. i had that experience with bryton (Taiwan) when i spent several weeks reviewing several products but i didn’t cover the cost of my time.

      i recently reviewed the Magene c606 (China) which may well not be as good as the igsport. However Magene has got a very good range of high-ish end accessories including pretty decent power meters and radar lights. it makes me think a company like Magene has more of a future and more scope to put some oomph behind its marketing.

      https://www.igpsport.com/igs630-highlights $199

      Battery

      ​Battery life : 35 Hours

      Battery : 1300mAh

      Interface : Type-C USB

      GNSS&Sensor

      GNSS:GPS,BeiDou,GLONASS,GALILEO,QZSS

      Wireless transmission: BLE5.0/ANT+

      Speed Sensor: √(BLE/ANT+)

      Cadence Sensor: √(BLE/ANT+)

      SPD+CAD Sensor: √(BLE/ANT+)

      Heart Rate Monitor : √(BLE/ANT+)

      Powermeter: √(ANT+)

      Radar: √(ANT+)

      E-Bike: √(ANT+)

      Specs

      Screen Display: 2.8″ Color 240*400

      Dimensions: 92x52x16.5mm

      Weight: 90g

      Data Storage: 8GB

      Wireless: BLE5.0/ANT+

      Waterproof: IPX7

      Button: 6 Buttons

      Buzzer: √

      Language: Multi-language

      Cycling Features

      Single Page Data: 10

      Page: 10+

      Temperature: √

      Calories: √

      Altitude: √

      Gradient: √

      Lap: √

      Setting via App: √

      Custom Data Field: √

      Riding Mode: √

      Dynamic Data: √

      Tracking: √

      Smart Features

      Ambient Light Sensor: √

      Electronic Compass: √

      Auto Backlight: √

      Auto Pause: √

      Auto Sleep: √

      Auto Power Off: √

      Auto Return Homepage: √

      Warning: √

      Cycling Shortcut Key: √

      Riding Assistant: √

      Advanced Features

      Navigation: √

      MAP: √

      Turn By Turn: √

      Turning Tips: √

      Smart Notifications: √

      Smart Trainer & Control: √

      Training Mode: √

      Weather: √

      SRAM eTap: √

      Campagnolo EPS: √

      Shimano Di2 & Control: √

      iClimb: √

      1. You are welcome. I just hate the fact that Garmin gets away with such outdated design and convoluted UI. Recently I heard somebody calling our being used to Garmin (or even praising it) a Stockholm Syndrome :-).
        So whenever some interesting device gets to the market I cheer them on. Even if they don’t succeed, maybe it will make Garmin pick up their game. P.S. It seems that there is some problem regarding image loading with your latest articles.

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