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Fatty has been out and about in his shiny Suplest shoes testing the latest offering from Garmin. He has been using the new Garmin Edge 500 with cadence for about 500 miles now (not all at once of course) and here is his first review:

Garmin’s new Edge 500 computer is light (65g including mount) and small (48x69x22mm). It may not be as compact as a standard computer, but for the functions it provides, it manages to offer a large legible display. The fully customisable display can have up to eight fields per page and there are a full 41 options to choose from with three pages on which to spread them out. Use one to display critical pieces of information like the usual suspects; speed, time and distance, the next to review your post-ride data such as average heart rate and average speed and the third to summarise your power data. The good thing is that you can display as much or as little data as you like and organise it based on your personal needs and wants. If this all sounds like overkill, it isn’t. The menu is very simple and intuitive and you if all you want is a large speed read out, then that’s no problem.

The basic unit has no wires to run, magnets to attach or wheel sizes to enter because it uses Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite technology to feed you data. Basically you just strap it on and go. If you go for the cadence option you need to attach a separate ANT+ transmitter (supplied in the cadence package or available as a later upgrade) to the rear stay plus a wheel and crank magnet. The Edge 500 also has the ability to collect and show data from any other ANT+ device, heart rate data from the supplied chest strap but most notable, the power meters. Impressively, a full range of power function windows are available in the screen options as well as separate data fields on the download via Garmin Connect.

The main thing lacking on the 500 is the ability to plan routes, have a route guide “angel” or to see where the nearest pub is (for instance). However, the downloadable aspects of the 500 including showing your route on Google earth or Google maps etc and the community sharing facilities make this unit so much more than just a glorified Speedo. There is a very serious training side to the unit too, filling in an on-line training diary including goal incentives is just one of the positives. (More on this later).

Overall, the menus and operations are laid out in a very intuitive fashion. I set the whole thing up and was ready to ride in about 15min (including the cadence sensor). The GPS receiver locks on to satellite signals in about 1 minute and run time on the internal rechargeable li-ion battery is up to 18 hours under ideal conditions. This is actually closer to 15 hours normally, but then you can charge and download simultaneously. However, when was the last time you actually rode for more than 15hours at a time? A graduated meter provides a measure of remaining battery and charge time and there’s a ‘battery charging in progress’ message too. The unit can be mains charged or charged through the USB lead, which is great as you can charge the unit as you download the data.

The mount is a simple disc that requires a 90-degree twist motion to release. It is easy to operate and fit, less likely to break than Garmin mounts of old and features reusable O-ring straps for swapping between bikes. (Two mounts are included).

The main draw of the unit (for me at least) is the Garmin connect site. You have a home page for each route showing a Google map of your route and graph charts for timing (speed) elevation, cadence, temp, heart rate and power. Each of these has sub options and displayed alongside are average maximum and minimum details for all.

Click here for an example of my efforts in southern Scotland.

You can further interrogate this information in the splits (mine is set to show splits for every 5 miles, but this is customisable) and a player mode which shows a moving bar on the graphs and a moving marker on the Google maps. Further to the ride data there are activity lists, calendars, reports, goals and health sections which all are fully interactive. Connection and uploading data is quick and simple with both Mac and PC and I’m running on both. You can access your Garmin connect details at any time on any PC or Mac using a user name and password. You can also look at other peoples data based on location or user name. One last feature is the ability to share and send to other devices or print at the touch of a button.

Conclusion.

For: It’s a great training aid and the ANT+ connectivity makes it easily upgradeable. The social network side is fun and the computer seems well built and is intuitive to use.

Against: Comparatively expensive and the whole world can see how rubbish you really are. You are also in danger of becoming a Facebook pariah boring your friends with useless data.

Garmin 500 at PBK

Click here to view the Garmin Edge and accessories.

If you want one of the new Garmin Edge 500 Neutral versions (as pictured above) in sleek silver & black, then click E-Mail me when in stock to make sure you get the nod when they come in and be one of the first to get the look!!

Tested and reviewed by Fatty

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