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Archives for the day Sunday, June 19th, 2011

Garmin Edge 500 review


The Garmin Edge 500 is a fantastic cycle computer that I am happy to own.  The base model Edge 500 is priced around $250.00.  I could not find the base model for $250 in the Bay area.  I wound up buying the full package with the chest strap and cadence sensor from Mike’s Bikes for $350 plus 10% California tax.  I wonder what the state does with all of that money, which is another matter.

When I picked up my Edge, the box was clearly marked “Charge before use”.  I charged it up and was ready to go.  The Edge mounts to a bracket that is mounted onto the handle bar with two rubber bands.  The rubber bands and quarter turn bracket seem pretty flimsy but they have held up for 500-1,000 miles.

After charging and installation, I turned on the Edge 500 and went out for a ride.  I did not read any instructions.  It took me a second to realize that you have to hold the power button down until it turned on.  It is a good thing that holding the power button for startup is common these days.  It takes 30-60 seconds for the GPS to sync with the satellites, push the start button and I was off.  It was useable within 5 minutes of the battery being charged!  The top viewing block reads elapsed time out of the box.  I am old and my eyes are starting to go bad so I did not want to use the main window for elapsed time.    So I read the instructions to change the display windows.  It was not very difficult to configure the Edge to my liking.

The hardest part was trying to decide what to put on the screen.  The screen has options to use up to 8 different items to display.  I opted for 5 items with speed on the big screen on top.

The other four items are heart rate, overall distance, elapsed time and time of day.  I like to know what my heart rate is so I can keep from blowing up on the bike.  It is really easy for me to go out too fast only to later crash and burn at the end of the ride.   I also like the lap setting that beeps every lap.  It is set for a default lap of 5 miles.  The beep lets me know it is time to consume calories.   When I race, I need every reminder I can get.

What I like about the Edge 500:

Configurable screens.  There are three configurable screens that can be selected by the touch of the enter/page/menu button.
When movement is detected, the monitor beeps to let you know if you forgot to start the clock.

More than 40 options to select for the three screens.
The software is minimal, hard to find and harder to use but at least there is software.

Portability – I forgot my running HRM one day and wound up running with the 500 in my pocket.  It worked just fine.

Size – It has a nice small foot print on the bike with a readable screen.

Battery life – I heard a lot of complaints about the battery life but I have used it for about 12 hours before charging and it still had about 70% battery life when I plugged it in.

What I don’t like about the Garmin 500:

The software is absolutely horrible.
The web page for Garmin software is worse than the software.

Things I don’t like about the software:

  • It is inconsistent to use.
  • I can’t sync both the 405 and the 500 from the same computer.  I can sync them to the my.garmin site but I can’t sync them to social media sites such as Facebook or DailyMile.
  • I can’t get a list of data that was recorded on a ride.
  • The ride dates fold up into old rides making it difficult to find them.
  • No instructions for the software.

The mount is a bit cheesy but I give the mount more positive feedback for being easy to use than I do negative feedback for being flimsy.

Overall, I love the Garmin Edge 500.  When I went out to search for a new cycle computer, my budget was $1,000.  Priced at $400, the fully equipped Edge 500 comes in well below that price limit.  I do not look at other computers with envy.  I am very happy with my decision to buy the 500.   I have the Garmin 405 that I have a well-documented love/hate relationship with.  The good parts of the 405 were far better than the frustrating ones.  I am now looking at Garmin GPS units for my car.  Better software would be nice but I don’t need software on my home computer to remind me when it is time to drink or eat while I am riding my bike.  I take no points away from the Edge 500 because of the software.  I wish the software was better but it is good enough.