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Garmin Edge 500 In Depth Review

 

When the Garmin Edge 500 was first announced earlier this fall at Interbike, the message around its purpose in life was clear: A full featured GPS based cycling computer that’s lean and mean, aimed at keeping a low profile on the bike for high profile races.  Garmin’s made numerous mentions to the fact that much of this cycling computer was based on feedback directly from Team Garmin, the professional cycling team that Garmin sponsors for headliner events like the Tour de France.  While in the past you would see the Edge 705 on their handlebars in races, it was clear that many on the team (as well as many others) wanted a much smaller bike computer.  And thus…the Edge 500.

Like all my reviews, they tend to be pretty in depth (perhaps overly so) – but that’s just my trademark DC Rainmaker way of doing things.  Think of them more like reference guides than quick and easy summaries.  I try and cover every conceivable thing you might do with the device and then poke at it a bit more.  My goal is to leave no stone unturned – both the good and the bad.

Because I want to be transparent about my reviews, as I mentioned when I first got the device – Garmin sent me this Edge 500 for a period of 60 days as a trial unit.  Once that period has elapsed, I send the whole messed up box back to the folks in Kansas.  Simple as that.  Sorta like hiking in wilderness trails – leave only footprints.  If you find my review useful, you can use any of the Clever Training or Amazon links from this page to help support future reviews.

Lastly, at the end of the day keep in mind I’m just like any other regular triathlete out there.  I write these reviews because I’m inherently a curious person with a technology background (my day job), and thus I try and be as complete as I can.  But, if I’ve missed something or if you spot something that doesn’t quite jive – just let me know and I’ll be happy to get it all sorted out.  Also, because the technology world constantly changes, I try and go back and update these reviews as new features and functionality are added – or if bugs are fixed.

While Garmin Edge 500 is the latest and most advanced GPS cycling computer available, how does it stand up to real world pounding? For that…onto the review…

Packaging/Unboxing:

The unit arrived in a self contained box about the same size as the Garmin Forerunner 310XT box.  Looking at the little device you may wonder why such a big box was required.

Edge 500 Box Shot

Well, once you get it all out on the table, it becomes a bit more clear.  Santa’s elves do a fine job of packing in all the stuff.  I’ve since tried to repack it all back together again…and I’ve failed miserably – when this thing goes back to Garmin, it’s doing so in a grocery bag from Safeway.

Edge 500 Wrapped Components

After removing approximately 26 yards of plastic baggies, I finally got down to the real goods:

Edge 500 Unwrapped Components

If you differentiate out the parts into little groups, they are divided as such:

The power supply group: This group contains a typical USB wall charger, with three different power adapters.  This means you can hop across the pond and still get the Garmin hook-up.  Of course, the bonus to these wall chargers is that you can charge any USB device – such as an iPod, Zune, and even some cell phones.  And you can simply take the USB cable and plug it into your computer as a charging method as well.

Edge 500 Power Adapters In BoxEdge 500 Power Adapters In Box

Next up is the HR monitor strap:  We’ll get into the HR strap a bit more later in the accessories section.  But the key thing to note here is that Garmin decided to include the old-school style HR strap and not the new premium HR strap.  Personally I think this is a bit lame.  Also, keep in mind that if you buy the cheaper edition ($100 cheaper) without a HR strap and cadence/speed sensor – then you won’t have any HR strap in your box.

Edge 500 Heart Rate Strap

The Cadence and Speed sensor group: Many cyclists use cadence (which is how many pedal revolutions you do in a minute) to cycle more efficiently.  For example, you may try and maintain a high cadence to save your legs on longer journeys.  Included within the box is a cadence attachment and wheel sensor that goes on your wheel.  Again, we’ll talk about this in more detail later on in the accessories section.  Do note however that like the HR strap, if you buy the cheaper version of the Edge 500, this won’t be in the box.

Edge 500 Cadence Sensor

The mount stuffs: This massive pile of rubber bands and rubber mounts is how the Edge 500 connects to your bike.  Now – here’s the REALLY cool part – they include TWO bike mounts.  Yes folks – TWO!  One for your big wheels, and one for your little tricycle.  As for the beginnings of a well sized rubber band ball, we’ll talk about that in a second.  Oh, and just be clear, you only use two bands per mount – they give you a lot in case you need to start a rubber band fight.

Edge 500 Mount System

Paper and CD junk: It’s one thing to include a paper manual – that makes sense.  And it’s another thing to include a CD with stuff on it.  That also makes sense.  But what doesn’t make sense is including a CD with no actual software on it (just the PDF manual).  Just a CD of the manual.  Especially given you’ll likely want to download Garmin Training Center (or something) to view the data.  Sure we have Garmin Connect, but given you can’t create workouts with Garmin Connect – you need GTC .  Thus, it strikes me as odd they didn’t include it.  Anyway…

(Update August 2011: Garmin Connect added the ability to create workouts!)

Finally…the goods – the Edge 500: And the moment you’ve all been waiting for – the actual unit itself.  We’ll go into detail on that in a second.

Edge 500 new and untouchedEdge 500 new and untouchedEdge 500 new and untouchedEdge 500 Width

Weight & Size:

By far the biggest draw of the Edge 500 over other Garmin Edge computers is its size.  According to the manual it weights in at just 2oz.

Edge 500 Specifications

But – is that accurate?  Let’s see…time to break out my trusty kitchen scale.

Edge 500 weight on scale

Good news – it’s damn accurate.  Now, it may be hard for most of us to figure out what two ounces actually is.  Turns out, it’s slightly less than a standard ‘Large’ egg.

Egg weight on scale

And just for comparison – what does the Edge 705 weigh in at? (3.85oz…or an egg and a half).

Edge 705 weight on scale

Now how about size?  Well, again – we return to the egg:

Edge 500, an Egg, and Edge 705

How does it compare spatially to the Edge 705?  Here’s a few shots: Edge 500 vs 705 size

Edge 500 vs 705 size

And then what if you stack them up against all the other current Garmins out there?  Well, it’s not as small when you stick it next to the Forerunner 310XT – in fact, it’s actually a hair bit larger.

Edge 500 vs 310XT Size Edge 705, 500, 310XT, 305, 405 Comparison ShotEdge 705, 500, 310XT, 305, 405 Comparison Shot

(Above, left to right – Edge 705, Edge 500, Garmin 310XT, Garmin 305, Garmin 405)

And finally – what about size compared to a standard cheap old $25 bike computer from your nearby bike store?

Comparison between Edge 500 and Bike Computer Comparison between Edge 500 and Bike Computer

So, from a size perspective, it pretty much delivers on the super small form factor.  Though, it’s really not much different than the 310XT when you remove the wrist strap (as you would using the quick release kit for a bike).

Connecting it to your bike:

When you empty out the contents of your Edge 500 box, the most striking thing will be that a small army of rubber bands will come parading out towards you.  The potential to start shooting them at your significant other is high – but that’s not actually the purpose for them.

See, the new Edge 500 uses a quick release quarter-turn mount system – similar to the Garmin 310XT in fact.  The exception is that instead of using zip-ties to connect it to your bike, you instead use two industrial strength rubber bands.  I believe the goal here is two fold – one being that there were some complaints that the old Edge 705 mount system was prone to having the computer pop-off mid-ride, so by using rubber bands you afford the system a bit of flex.  Secondly, using rubber bands means it takes about 5 seconds to transfer it to a different bike.  Which is kinda cool.  Especially when you consider that many folks buying the Edge 500 probably have a small flotilla of bikes.  I was curious though as to why Garmin made the switch, and here’s what they had to say:

“The design engineers determined that the quarter-turn mount was easier to engage and had less parts than the older Edge mount.  This meant that there were less items to potentially have problems.  The band method allows a user to switch the mounts between bicycles if necessary as they would not have to clip the zip ties.  So these items contributed to using a new mount system.”

So, back to the rubber bands…you get 14 of them, in two sizes – small and large.  I found the small ones work best on most handlebars, whereas the larger ones work best on places like stems and even the bike frame itself.

Edge 500 Mount System

Then you’ve got the two mounts themselves.  The mounts are simply plastic and a removable rubber backing that’s designed to form to the bar it’s attached to.

Edge 500 Mount System Close Up

As noted the mounts use a quarter-turn system to remove the device.  This means there’s no more popping off if you hit a big pot hole (or go mountain biking).  This is the same mount system used within the Garmin Forerunner 310XT system – though it seems that they loosened the resistance a touch to make it cleaner to pop-off.

Edge 500 using 310XT Mount System

(The Edge 500 mount parts are on your left, the 310XT quick release kits are on your right).

Here’s a super-short video I put together showing you how it clips in and out:

And, the really cool thing is that these mounts are fully interchangeable with the 310XT.  So if you already have one of those on your bike, you can easily swap this into that spot.  Or – interestingly, you can actually use the Garmin Forerunner 310XT quick release strap to run with the thing.  Though, it won’t display pace as ‘Minutes/Mile’, but rather MPH/KPM.  So not entirely ideal – but functional in a pinch if you’re primarily a cyclist and want to simply run every once in a while with it.

Edge 500 using 310XT Mount System (Above, using the Garmin 310XT quick release kit with the Edge 500)

As I mentioned earlier – one last cool thing is you get TWO bike mounts in the package.  So you can arm two of your bikes right out of the box.

Let’s get them hooked onto some bikes.  First up – the road bike…

Road bike:
In this case I first used the main handlebar area, and used two smaller rubber bands to hook it on:

Edge 500 mount system on road bike Edge 500 mount system on road bike Edge 500 mount system on road bike Edge 500 mount system on road bike

I then decided to try the stem as well:

Edge 500 mount system on road bike stem

No issues in either location.

Triathlon Bike:
Next up was my tri bike.  First was the obvious stem location – pretty cut and dry:

Edge 500 mount system on triathlon bike

Then I tried up on the aero bars.   Of course, the primary issues with this is that usually you have some sort of aero bottle there for hydration:

Edge 500 mount system on triathlon bike aerobars

I then stuck it off on the main handlebars, off to the side:

Edge 500 mount system on triathlon bike bars

And finally, for fun – I placed it down on the frame itself:

Edge 500 mount system on triathlon bike top tube

Mountain Bike:
Last up was my trusty mountain bike.  It (the bike) may not be pretty – but it’s functional.  I first put it up on the handlebars trying to use the small bands, but ultimately decided on the larger bands:

Edge 500 mount system on mountain bike Edge 500 mount system on mountain bike

This worked pretty well, and without any issues – so I simply left it there.

As you can see, the mount system is much improved over past systems – though I do hold judgment on the whole rubber band thing long term.  I’m curious how they will hold up to constant pounding and weather such as dry heat.  The other bit of good news here is that I’ve found it works basically just fine with just a single band – so if you lose it mid-ride, you aren’t hosed (kinda like modern jetliners, they can still fly on one engine).  Also, they give you a crap-ton of them.  So you don’t have to pay some absurd price that many companies charge you for tiny parts.  But if you do manage to lose them all, a whole bag of 14 of them is only about $10 – including two extra mounts.

Functionality and Features:

GPS Performance:

Given that most folks are familiar with GPS-based sports devices and how they work, I’ll keep this section quick and simple.  The Edge 500 has a tiny GPS receiver in it which allows it to both display location information, as well as record information about where you’ve been.  This enables it to determine things like speed and distance without any additional hardware required (such as a speed sensor on the wheel).

Once you’ve done an activity it can produce pretty cool maps, such as the below:

Edge 500 in Nebraska

One interesting new feature of the Edge 500 is its improved GPS receiver which allows for quicker acquisition (I’ve found it picks up in half the time of the Edge 705, which I thought was already pretty darn quick) – but it also uses new and improved software logic to remember last known locations and satellite fixes – further increasing the speed of readiness.

Edge 500 GPS Status Edge 500 GPS Accuracy

Courses:

One pretty cool feature that I used a fair bit this past fall on the Edge 705 (a cousin to the Edge 500) is the ‘Course’ functionality.  This feature allows you to pre-create a course (kinda like a map, but with details like elevation in it), and then download it to your Edge 500 for ‘riding’.  When you ride the course it will tell you if you’re off course, as well as the upcoming terrain.

Edge 500 Courses Edge 500 Courses Riding

Finally, it will also tell you how far until the end of the course.  I’ve used this function on some pretty long rides at about 120 miles, and it works fairly well once you get the hang of it.  The reason it’s slightly different than your average car GPS is that it uses a breadcrumb type trail system of little points, and you’re simply connecting the dots.  So unlike the Edge 705, it won’t tell you ‘Turn right on Main Street’, but it will show you a map, compass and direction of travel.

Edge 500 Courses On Screen Navigation

Barometric Altimeter (Elevation sensor):

If you’ve ever used any of the Forerunner series of watches (305/310/405/etc…) you’ve probably wondered why the elevation data is always a bit questionable.  That’s because that series of watches uses GPS to determine elevation – which is not a true altimeter based on barometric pressure.  While GPS-based altimeters used in aviation and military applications are far more accurate – those used in consumer applications tend to be sketchy.

The good news here is that the Edge 500 (like the Edge 705) uses a barometric altimeter instead, so the elevation readings are generally very very accurate.  This data is recorded within every track (activity), and presented in virtually all sports applications out there:

Edge 500 Elevation Graph

(A screenshot in Garmin Connect – now interestingly in the above, it took the device a bit of time to adjust to the correct elevation, as you’ll note that it shows me at 120 below sea level.  I’m actually at about 60-80ft above sea level.  You can see the barometric altimeter in effect adjusting to the outside barometric pressure – hence the change in altitude.)

A new feature added is the ability to set known altitude location points.  For example, if I knew the altitude of my house, I could set a elevation point for this coordinate, which the Edge 500 can use as a basis for determining other elevations.

Edge 500 Elevation Correction Waypoint

One tiny word of warning…the little holes on the back of the device are critical to accurate elevation data.  If those get clogged, covered or otherwise having airflow blocked, elevation data will be skewed.  I learned this lesson when I tried to reduce the volume level of the alerts on the Edge 705 this past fall via electrical tape, and the elevation data came out all whacky.

Edge 500 little holes that you don't want to block

Thermometer (Temperature sensor):

One feature not previously found on either the Edge or Forerunner lines but now present in the Edge 500 is its thermometer.  You can add the temperature data field to display the outside temperature.  Now, in the manual it warns you that this thermometer isn’t like the instant-read ones you stick in your turkey to check if it’s done.

Edge 500 Temperature Manual

This one contemplates life a bit while adjusting to temperature.  When I first took it outside mountain biking I noticed that it never really got to the correct temperature (just above freezing) and that it took a heck of a long time to settle down.  So I mentally marked this to do a bit more testing a few days later when I was in a blizzard in Nebraska.  What better place to check how it handles extreme temps?  My first test was simply leaving it outside while I went and did some errands at a store for about 20 minutes.  When I came back outside the device was reporting about 10*F higher than the car’s temperature sensor (the edge was reporting 22*F, versus the real 12*F).

So a day later I went out for a run I took the Edge 500 along for the journey and then eventually left it hanging outside along the route for about 30 minutes by itself.  The outside temperature was well established at about between 0 and 5*F – just on the outside edge of the Edge 500’s documented range of 5*F-140*F.

At these temperatures the watch was pretty slow to react to much of anything – and the temperature still wasn’t right.  It was still showing about 10*F too warm.  Perhaps though I was pushing it a bit too much.

Edge 500 Temperature in sub-freezing

After returning back to weather above 5*F (Washington DC), I continued to see how the thermometer would react.  And time and time again I found it takes about 10-12 minutes for things to settle out, depending on the temperature outside.  Though I did find the temperatures still seemed a bit high in almost all cases (night or day).

So the manual is correct – it takes a bit of time.  But I think that’s fine since once you get outside the fluctuations are minimal.  Now the bigger issue here might be that I can’t seemingly depend on it since it never seems accurate.

Of course, the counterpoint to that is ‘So what?’.  Meaning – does having a temperature reading EVER have any effect on my workout once I’ve started it?  Sure knowing the weather is great prior to the workout – but once I’m on the bike either I’m hot, cold or good.  I don’t need a computer to tell me that.

Oh – as for recording temperature data – here’s what it looks like:

Edge 500 Temperature GraphYou’ll notice the slow drop in temperature over the first 10-15 minutes, and then it evens out.  Same with another one that’s a bit shorter to show the drops in temp:

Edge 500 Temperature Graph Again, none of this is a huge deal in my mind as temperature recording to me simply falls in the category of “Oh…interesting.”

Data Field Setup:

When you setup the Edge 500 you have a number of options as to how many data fields you’d like to display, ranging from 1 to 8:

Edge 500 Data FieldsYou can display up to three pages of data, with each page containing up to 8 data fields.  The less data fields, the larger each field (in visual size).

Edge 500 Data Pages Edge 500 Data Pages Edge 500 Data Fields Settings Power Zones

When on the bike you can scroll through the three pages by simply pressing the lower left hand button.  Alternatively, you can setup ‘Auto Scroll’ to automatically scroll through the pages for you:

Edge 500 Auto Scroll

Screen Readability:

This was one area where I’m not terribly impressed.  I’ve tried it out in all different light types and depending on the angle of the sun and the screen it can be difficult to view because of the plastic surface reflecting back at you.  The Edge 500 seems to have a different finish on it compared to other Garmin fitness devices, sorta a shiny finish.  For example, see the following shot for what I’m talking about (note, that normally this is a camera issue that you can get rid of with a circular polarizer filter – but in this case, this was exactly what my eyes were also seeing…me):

Edge 500 Glare Issues

Now, it’s possible this may be because of the low-track of the sun in the winter (when I’m testing it out), but I haven’t seen this is any of the other Garmin’s.  To be fair when you’re seated on your bike, it’s not that hard to read.  But, I found if I stood up or shifted front/back much then it goes out of the visible zone to the reflective zone.

Though for better or worse, when it’s cloudy or even rainy out – it’s MUCH easier to read.

Edge 500 in the rain

Start Notice (automatic warning system):

Have you ever started a run or ride and then realize you forgot to start your timer?  Or perhaps you stopped at a light and then forgot to resume (record) again until 28 miles down the road.  Well, this thing is here to save you.  It automatically displays a warning message if you’re moving…and the Garmin isn’t started.  And it even works indoors too on a trainer as long as you have the wheel sensor configured.

Edge 500 Movement Detection

You can configure the warning message settings as well:

Edge 500 Start Notice OptionEdge 500 Start Notice Option Repeat

This is perhaps my favorite new feature on the Edge 500.  But by the same token, it’s also the one feature I’ve found doesn’t work consistently.  I’ve seen on multiple occasions where it won’t warn me the unit isn’t recording.  For example just on Sunday during the ride home from a 10K running race – I had stopped briefly to snap a few photos of the water droplets.  When I started again I thought I had resumed the timer, but apparently not.  I never received a warning message.  You can see the massive gap in the track below between the two blue circles:

Edge 500 Start Notice Failure

I’m hoping that some of these bugs will get worked out in future firmware revisions – as this feature is super-cool and has huge promise.  I’m also really hoping to see it added to the Forerunner series and other Edge devices.

Auto Lap:

This feature automatically records a lap in the activity based on a set distance.  By default the Edge 500 is configured to record a lap every 1 mile.  Laps are useful when trying to view data for certain sets of times or distances.  For example if you hammered for 1 mile, and then went easy for 1 mile, etc…  In this case, the Edge 500 would automatically beep and mark each lap both on the GPS and in the recorded file as well.

You can change the distance for the auto lap feature in the menu system pretty easily:

Edge 500 Auto Lap Options Edge 500 Auto Lap Options Edge 500 Auto Lap Options Distance

Laps then show up in almost all sports applications, including Garmin Connect:

Edge 500 Laps on Garmin Connect

Personally I prefer to leave this off as I find I like to manually set the laps myself by simply pressing the lap button.  These then better correspond to my actual workout.  Also, keep in mind that software applications like Sports Tracks allow you to overlay virtual laps on top of any file.  So for example I can tell it to simply overlay a lap every half a mile, and then change it and show it every quarter mile:

Edge 500 Lap Markers in Sports Tracks Edge 500 Lap Markers in Sports Tracks

By doing it this way I don’t have a bunch of random laps recorded that I don’t know why I recorded them later on.

Auto Pause:

Auto pause is a pretty cool feature if you’re doing a lot of city riding where you frequently stop and start.  What it does is automatically pause your recording activity when you stop, and then resume it when you start moving again.  This is done by utilizing the GPS (or speed sensor depending on configuration) to determine if you’re actually going anywhere.  When you stop, it pauses the timer:

Edge 500 Auto Pause

And then when you resume again, it automatically starts the timer again.  This ensures that your recorded data track doesn’t get skewed by all the stop and starts.  Do note however that for some applications you don’t want this enabled as it will incorrectly skew data results.  For example, when utilizing a power meter you’ll want to disable this because it will skew data results for TSS and Mean-Maximal data curves, such as those shown in WKO+ or Training Peaks.  Below is an example of a mean-maximal data curve on Training Peaks:

Edge 500 Training Peaks Mean Max Power

Water Resistance:

Unlike the Forerunner series, the Edge 500 (like the Edge 705) is not exactly waterproof from the standpoint of submerging it.  But it is waterproof from the perspective of rain.

Edge 500 Water Resistance Edge 500 Water Resistance Edge 500 in a downpour

The key weak point in the design is the USB port on the back with a small rubber cover.

Edge 500 USB Port CoverEdge 500 USB Port Cover

Now, interestingly the device is actually certified to IPX7 – which does mean full submersion for a specified period of time.  In reality, I’m not sure I’d trust that.

Edge 500 IPX Water Resistance

Edge 500 IPX Water Resistance

There have been reports in the past with the Edge 705, waterproofing and its similar design.  The design for the Edge 500 is basically identical.  I personally managed to kill my Edge 705 when gel got into the USB port during a race, and while Garmin quickly and easily replaced it (through normal warranty repair), I was hoping to see a change here.  I asked them why they stuck with this design instead of moving to a weather/water sealed 310XT design, and here’s the answer:

Rainmaker: “With respect to the USB port, why choose a liquid-susceptible connection (USB port) instead of just using ANT+ and a USB stick like the 310XT and 405?”

Garmin Engineers: “The ANT+ method seems to work better for watch type of devices that the user would continue to wear as they go back to their computer.  The Edge bike computers do not have the same scenario as you would generally not bring the bike itself into close proximity to the computer.   So the mass storage system seemed a better method for holding the larger files that could be generated from a cycling product.”

Backlight:

The Edge 500 uses an LED backlight to illuminate the screen in darkness.  You can adjust both the contrast as well as the brightness using a simple menu system.  The Edge 500 is pretty bright by itself, though not quite as bright as the Edge 705:

Edge 500 Night Light with Edge 705 Edge 500 Night Light

You also have a few options for how long the backlight stays on when you press the light button.

Edge 500 Backlight Settings

You can either set a specified time to remain on when you press the button, or you can just keep it on.  I prefer to simply keep it on because then I’m not fumbling around trying to turn it on over and over again.  The light uses a slightly different hue backlight than the Forerunner 305, instead matching the 310XT and 405 – so it’s a cleaner light that’s easier to read.  A nice improvement there.

I also prefer to keep the backlight on when I’m indoors on a trainer, as then it makes the LCD screen really crystal clear to read.

 

Functionality that’s missing:

Frequent users of any of the either Edge or Forerunner series will notice a few things that are missing from the Edge 500:

– No Virtual Partner: This feature normally helps you pace against a little virtual partner to try and keep a more consistent pace in training or racing.  I can see how given the device is primarily targeted at the cycling crowd and how you’d probably uses the virtual partner less there than in running.

– Ability to configure power zones on the unit itself (must be done via software): This feature allows you to set alerts if you fall below or exceed certain pre-specified zones or ranges for heart rate and power.  However unlike the other units, you cannot set power or HR zones on the unit itself.

– Cannot utilize “Workouts”: This fairly common feature allows you to download workouts to your device and then combined with alerts it will basically walk you through a workout or race.  I use this during races to help pace my by HR’s.  For example, in the bike segment of a half-Ironman I usually have certain HR range for different sections.  Not having this in the watch is a pretty significant loss for many folks.  What’s even stranger here is that Garmin spent the time to update Garmin Training Center (GTC) to allow you to specify power alerts in workouts just two weeks ago on December 2nd.  Given they almost never bother updating GTC (it’s old and crunchy) it’s strange to include this but not have workouts. [Update: This feature has been added as of February 23rd, 2010]

I asked Garmin to comment on a few of these as to why they were left out, and here’s what they had to say:

Virtual Partner Functionality (VP):

Garmin: “The VP works well with a course.  Most riding does not use a steady state like the VP was designed [for] (except maybe TT’s).  So that is the main reason why the VP is not in the device.   It was designed to be a simpler device so this also reduces the page count.”

Rainmaker: And in this case, I generally agree with them here.  While I’m all about features and functionality, I’d much rather them focus their development efforts on other areas that need attention than this.  I’ve never used the VP feature in normal day to day or race situations for the bike (I have used it on the run however in the watches where it’s very useful.  Just the simple reality that for most bike races except TT’s (like a triathlon) you’re racing against other people at the same time, instead of against the clock – so pacing via the VP isn’t really useful.

Workouts (missing feature):

Garmin: “This feature is planned for Q1 next year [2010] as a firmware update.”

Rainmaker: Simple enough answer I think. 🙂  [Update: This feature has been added as of February 23rd, 2010]

Riding it on a trainer:

In addition to riding it outside, you can also ride it indoors with the GPS turned off.  When combined with the cadence/speed sensor (detailed later on), you’ve got a full indoor trainer setup:

Edge 500 on a trainer

On the fly change of paired ANT+ accessories

One brief little change I want to point out because I think it’s cool is the ability to manually modify the paired accessories.  This can be an issue if for some reason you need to re-pair your HRM strap or cadence sensor at the start of a race – where you’re in close proximity to everyone else.  The new menu system allows you to manually modify the paired ID number if you know it, kinda a neat touch.

I suspect this issue manifested itself with Team Garmin and the team car, and being able to quickly re-pair power meters and sensors on a slew of closely located bikes without having to manually go through the entire pairing process.  You can do this for HR, Cadence/Speed, and Power Meters.

Edge 500 Sensor Status Connected

Integration with Power Meter Devices:

Like the Edge 705 – one of the key draws for the cycling crowd is the power meter compatibility with ANT+ power meters.  It’s one thing to simply record power data, but it turns out there’s quite a bit more to it than you might expect and having some additional features makes the difference between a ‘functional’ system and a truly usable one.

Edge 500 with Power Meter

Here’s what the Edge 500 has with respect to power functionality:

One second recording (1s):  This is absolutely critical to correct interpretation of power data for analysis afterwards.  What this does is record a power point every second instead of using any of the Smart Recording options.  The Edge 500 automatically turns on 1-second recording when a power meter is connected.  But it goes a step further – you can’t change it back to smart recording when a power meter is attached.  So in this respect, it functions just like the 310XT where it keeps you from getting incorrect data for calculations like normalized power.

Zero Averaging options: This option allows you to either include or exclude ‘zeros’ from averages.  Say for example you’re coasting down a large hill that’s 5 miles long (like…Skyline Drive), in this case you could theoretically not pedal a single stroke and make it all the way down.  In doing so your power output for that section would be zero (0).  So if you exerted an average 200w going uphill, and then 0w going downhill, the average would be somewhere under 200w (depending on factors such as length of climb/descent, etc…).  But, with zero averaging off the average would be 200w, because the 0w values would be ‘thrown out’.  Now – while this may sound great from the standpoint of making your numbers look good – it’s actually really bad from the power analysis standpoint.  So leave these options off to ensure you have consistent and usable data.

Do note that one difference here between the Edge 500 and the Edge 705 is that on the Edge 500 you can individually turn off both cadence zero averaging and power zero averaging – whereas on the Edge 705, it’s all or nothing for both.  Further, on the Forerunner 310XT, you don’t have such an option at all.

Edge 500 with Zero Averaging

Calibration of power meters: Within the user interface you can calibrate the power meter using the calibrate button.  In my case, I have a Quarq Cinqo (now discontinued) – so for me the easiest way to calibrate is to simply spin backwards a few rotations and I’m good to go.  But for some power meters the process is a bit more involved.  I tried to get a hold of a PowerTap demo wheel/unit from Saris to show how this works in real life, but they weren’t entirely interested…so you’ll have to go it on your own there.

Edge 500 Power Meter Configuration

3 second and 30 second display averaging: In my little mind, this is probably the most important function to be able to effectively use a power meter while riding the bike.  The reason being that when you’re cycling the actual power output fluctuates quite a bit.  One second it will show 202w, and the next it might show 185w, and the next it will show 220w, this is all due to a variety of factors and is entirely normal.  What display averaging does is to ‘even it all out’ on the display so you can figure out how you’re actually doing.  This was introduced back in August for the Edge 705, and was carried over to the Edge 500.  Note that this does NOT affect the recorded data, which is still done at the 1-second interval.

On Garmin Connect, they support a very basic and rudimentary power data output that you can use to quickly look at your overall power profile.  However, most serious cyclists will choose to use some other software application to do in depth analysis.  Check out the software section above for more details on applications out there.  Below is a screen capture from Garmin Connect for a single ride.

Edge 500 Power Meter Display

Finally, one little tidbit I’d like to point you in the direction of is this cool page put together that covers many different detail type items with respect to Garmin’s fitness line and using them with power meters.

Connecting and downloading data:

Once you’re all done riding it, it’s time to get the data onto your computer.  The first step here is simply hooking it up to your computer via a standard USB cable:

Edge 500 Downloading Data Edge 500 Downloading Data via USB

After which, you’ll be shown a disk drive that’s labeled Garmin, making it almost identical to plugging in a little USB thumb drive.

Edge 500 USB Windows Insert Message

 

 

Edge 500 USB Windows Drive

Now, here comes the part that shouldn’t matter to most of the population – as you’ll use Garmin Connect or another software application to get the files off (see next section).  Once you’ve plugged in the unit, you’re good to go with surfing to Garmin Connect.

But…for those of you that are technically curious – here’s the scoop on the file structure on the drive.

 

Edge 500 Folder Structure

On the storage unit itself, the folder you really care about is the activities one.  This one contains a .FIT file for each and every activity.

Edge 500 FIT File Folder Structure

However…here’s where the goodness kinda stops.  Unlike past versions, the Edge 500 doesn’t use TCX files.  Instead it uses it’s native .FIT file format, which is an encapsulated file that’s not readable with anything like Notepad, as here’s what you get:

Edge 500 FIT File

I asked Garmin why they changed over to the .FIT files from the TCX files, and here’s what they had to say:

“The reason was that the .Fit is a more flexible system that allows us to add or remove addition data items in a simple manner.  The Edge 500 is a mass storage device so there is no intermediary to do the conversion.  If you did it on the device you would end up writing both .fit and tcx which would balloon the space requirements.   .Fit is smaller and easier to transfer to GC also.  The 310XT does not do the conversion.  Garmin Ant Agent is converting the .fit from the 310XT to a tcx format so there would be some existing compatibility with third parties.  We like the .fit format and hope more third parties will start processing this format.”

To further prove why the TCX format isn’t the wave of the future, I had asked a question about why when you export from Garmin Connect to TCX, you don’t get the temperature data points:

“This is a limitation of the TCX schema.  There was no tag for temperature since we did not have it before.  So to add it would mean extending the schema.  This is the advantage of .fit.  When new data is added the system can handle it.  With TCX there would need to be extensions added every time we wanted to change the data.”

I understand where they are going here, and other companies appear to be following them.  Training Peaks (which runs the TrainingPeaks.com site and the WKO+ software) are already working to offer .FIT file format compatibility.  Now, to be clear, you can still export back to TCX format – which we’ll talk about in a second – in the event you have an application that needs it.

But for native access you’ll have to use an application that can read the .FIT, which takes advantage of Garmin’s Software Development Kit to do so.

 

Ok, now we’ve got the thing all plugged in, let’s get on with uploading the workouts…

Software options:

Garmin Connect:

Garmin Connect (GC) is Garmin’s free online activity management site.  Introduced around the same time as the Forerunner 405, it’s the successor to the old Motion Based site, and it aims to be the one-stop-shop for anything Garmin.

After connecting your Edge 500 to your computer, you can quickly and easily upload all new activities into the system:

Edge 500 Upload to Garmin ConnectEdge 500 Upload to Garmin Connect

Once you’ve put them in GC you have a ton of options for viewing the data.  For example, you can look at your activity view to see which activities you may want to drill down into:

Edge 500 Garmin Connect Activities Calendar

After you’ve selected an exact activity, you’re given this overview:

Edge 500 Garmin Connect Mapping

From there you can utilize the tabs along the bottom to change to different areas of interest – such as elevation, Heart Rate, Power or Cadence – as well as temperature, which is new to the Edge 500.

Edge 500 Garmin Connect Elevation Chart Edge 500 Garmin Connect Heart Rate Chart

It’s on this main activity page that you’ll also see the option to export out a TCX file – which can be imported into other legacy programs:

Edge 500 Garmin Connect Export Data

One cool new feature just added earlier today is the ability to now see your routes in Google earth 3D mode – directly within the browser window.  Here’s a ride I did past the Jefferson Memorial this weekend:

Edge 500 Garmin Connect Google Earth 3D

While Garmin Connect offers a good simplistic view of your activities, it also can help you keep track of your basic day to day health information as well:

Edge 500 Garmin Connect Health Monitoring

Now, what’s really cool here is that if you have one of them new fangled Tanita BC-1000 scales that actually wirelessly integrates with Garmin Connect, you can send a lot of that data wirelessly straight to GC.  I reviewed this unit recently – in depth – so you’ll want to check out that review there.  Do keep in mind that unlike the 310XT, the Edge 500 will not receive data directly from the BC-1000 scale – so be aware of that.  As for the scale itself, I don’t have any experience with it – but the fine folks at Tanita actually called me up just this evening to get a demo unit to me, so before long I’ll update this section with more info on that front.

Last but not least, you can do a fair bit of simple reporting within GC, such as sorting by total activities or types of activities:

Edge 500 Garmin Connect Reporting

As I’ve said in the past, GC is a great solution for a broad set of customers who want easy access to information about their sports activities.  While it’s great for that purpose, I generally find it a bit too simplified for my own day to day use, as I prefer to be able to drill down in more detail to different areas of my workouts.  That said – given it’s free…you really can’t go wrong.

Garmin Training Center:

This software is the old school version of Garmin Connect that’s installable on your PC.  The catch here is that aside from minor updates to ensure compatibility with new products (such as the Edge 500), the software is pretty much a 1990’s era application that should only be used if you absolutely must.  Garmin has classified it as ‘end of life’, and it doesn’t even come on the little CD with the Edge 500 (unlike previous versions where it was automatically installed).

In short though it allows you to not only download – but also upload activity information to and from the Edge 500.

Edge 500 Garmin Training Center

Once the information is in GTC, you can view basic details about your ride:

Edge 500 Garmin Training Center Post-Ride

In addition, GTC offers one of the most important options – which is the ability to send a ‘Course’ to your Edge 500.  This allows you to then ride the course with information on where to go and what’s upcoming.

Edge 500 Garmin Training Center Post-Ride Mapping

The above is actually a course of the Longhorn 70.3 bike course that my Coach created using MapMyRide for me to ride, and then I simply transferred it into the unit.  I use the option to export it to the right Garmin format (below), and then from there I can import into GTC and then send it to the device.

Edge 500 Download Course

Edge 500 Sending to Courses

One important note – if you do indeed use GTC with the Edge 500 be sure you download the most recent version dated at least December 2nd, 2009.  This version includes all the necessary updates to support the Edge 500.  So, if you have it already installed from a different Garmin product go ahead and get the quick update.  The update does actually add a few itty-bitty tiny non-Edge 500 features such as now showing power information – so it’s worthwhile if you’re a 310XT and Edge 705 user as well.  You can grab that version here.

Training Peaks:

Training Peaks (TP) is the application I use day to day to get workouts from all my various training devices (like the Edge 500) to my coach.  Training Peaks has two pieces – the first is the Device Agent, which sits on your local computer.  And the second is the website – which is where you do all your data viewing.   After starting the device agent (version 3.0) you’ll notice a new drop-down which includes support for the Edge 500:

Edge 500 with Training Peaks

After that you press ‘Open Files’ to go ahead and let the TP agent software open the files directly from the Garmin disk drive.

Edge 500 with Training Peaks picking FIT files

After pressing ‘Open’, and then pressing ‘Save’, it will automatically transfer your workout to the Training Peaks website.  You can press the ‘Login’ button to simply open up a new browser window and log you into the site.

Edge 500 Uploading via Training Peaks

From there you can go ahead and transfer it to Training Peaks where you can analyze your ride in more depth.

Edge 500 Training Peaks Dashboard

WKO+ 3.0

This isn’t quite out yet – but when it does come out, it will support the Edge 500 natively.  As of today, WKO+ version 2 doesn’t support the Edge 500 and requires you to do an export to a TCX file. 

But just as a bit of background, WKO+ is the installable version of Training Peaks that offers incredibly detailed analysis of workouts.  Heavily focused on managing workouts with power meter data, WKO+ is pretty much the gold standard when it comes to detailed power file analysis.

*Update December 2009: WKO+ 3.0 released.

Sport Tracks

Sport Tracks is hands down my favorite sports management application out there, mostly because it’s free.  The only trick is, it doesn’t exactly work natively yet with the Edge 500.  This is because the Edge 500 uses the .FIT format (different from the .TCX format of the past), which Sport Tracks doesn’t yet support (quick side note – .FIT is different than .FITLOG, which ST does support).

That said, you can export the TCX files from both Garmin Training Center (GTC) and Garmin Connect (though, ST doesn’t correctly parse the power export from GC).  Once you do that, you can quickly and easily import them into Sports Tracks:

Edge 500 with Sport Tracks Importing

Once you’ve imported them into Sport Tracks, you have a TON of options for looking at the details of the ride:

Edge 500 data imported into Sport Tracks

Edge 500 data imported into Sport Tracks - Speed/Distance Graph

There’s also a TON more you can do with Sports Tracks, check out this post I did a few weeks back on all the cool free plug-ins and extras.

Accessories:

The Edge 500 has a slew of accessories that you interoperate with it.  The majority of these are made by Garmin, but one category (power meters) requires you to purchase a 3rd party device.  Let’s go through the most common ones first:

Extra Mounts:

In the event you need more bike mounts than the two provided, you can pickup this bike mount kit for a very reasonable $10.  It includes another two mounts, and another 14 rubber bands.

Edge 500 Mount Kit Edge 500 Mount Kit

Given I wrote a ton about the bike mount kit above earlier, I’ll save you from reading about it again and just refer you to that section.

You can pick up the mount kit for about $10.

Heart Rate Monitor Strap:

The Edge 500 comes in two versions – one with a HR monitor and cadence/speed sensor – and one without those two accessories.  If you decide to get the one with the HR strap combo, you’ll receive the below strap:

Edge 500 Classic Heart Rate Strap

This is the standard old school style strap that Garmin’s been using and/or including with their fitness devices for years.  So if you already have one of these straps, you’re good to go.  Now, interestingly Garmin did not include the newer Premium Heart Rate strap that came out this past summer, instead opting to include the older ones.  For comparison, here’s the premium one next to the older style one:

Edge 500 Classic Heart Rate Strap vs Premium HR Strap

The major difference between the two is the rubber strap on the older one versus the soft fabric almost all the way around on the newer one.  Now, the good news here is that you can still simply buy the new soft premium HR strap separately if you’d like.  I just think they should have included that one instead – especially given the premium you pay for the boxed version that includes it.  Its retail price is $100 higher (strap + cadence/speed sensor).

If you don’t purchase the regular HR strap as part of the kit, it costs $60 on Garmin’s site, or $30 on Amazon.  The premium one costs $70 on Garmin’s site, or $45 on Amazon.  As you’ll see in the next section – you could pickup the premium HR strap for $45, plus the cadence sensor for $40 on Amazon and save a bit compared to the bundled version with the old school strap.

Cadence/Speed Meter:

Within the more expensive version of the Edge 500 you’ll find a cadence/speed sensor.  The cadence sensor reports back your cadence over the course of a ride, in RPM (revolutions per minute).  For example, here’s a simple graph of what one looks like – those drops in the graph is where I stopped pedaling for a second, such a coasting:  Edge 500 Cadence Graph

In addition to cadence, by using the little wheel magnet that’s included you can get speed and distance while indoors on a trainer.  Or if you lose GPS reception such as when in a tunnel.  Below is a quick photo outline of the three major pieces of the speed/cadence kit:

Edge 500 Cadence Magnets

The kit is basically three pieces.  The first piece is the wireless sensor and transmitter.  This sits on the frame near the back wheel using included zip ties and pickups up rotations from both the wheel, and your crank (where your pedal is attached):

Edge 500 Garmin Cadence Sensor

Next up is the little wheel magnet – this simply flies past the sensor every rotation, which is then recorded by the Edge 500 and using a mathematical calculation based on wheel circumference, your distance is determined:

Edge 500 Garmin Speed Sensor Wheel Magnet

Last up is the cadence magnet.  This tiny little thing has adhesive backing and zip-ties to your pedal crank to record every time your pedal goes around once – thus producing RPM’s and thereby your cadence.  Note that you’ll want to ensure you have this thing well zip-tied to your bike on a clean surface, otherwise it’s susceptible to loss (not that I’d know anything about that…).

Edge 500 Garmin Speed Sensor Crank Magnet

This whole setup can be found on Garmin’s site for $60, or Amazon for $39.  Personally I think it’s probably the most important accessory you can get for your Garmin system, as it helps you to utilize cadence in training and racing, but also allows you to record all those nice winter trainer rides you’re doing…you are doing them…right?

Power Meter

While Garmin doesn’t make any power meters themselves, they do provide compatibility with any third party companies that create ANT+ power meters.  For example, if you have a PowerTap or a Quarq powermeter– you can pair it with the Garmin 500 and get power data displayed on and recorded on the Edge.

See the section above for more detailed info on power recording and display with the Edge 500.

Below is a quick photo of what the Quarq Cinqo looks like.  But to understand power meters and how they all work, check out this Power Meters 101 primer post I wrote a few months ago to get a good understanding of their value.

Edge 500 with Quarq Cinqo

Final Summary

Comparison Chart between models:

If you’re looking at all the options out there on the Garmin line, I put together this handy little chart to try and boil down some of the relevant features from the ‘marketing features’.

Function/FeatureGarmin Edge 500Wahoo ELEMNT ROAMGarmin Forerunner 245/245 MusicGarmin Edge 530Garmin Edge 830
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated August 30th, 2019 @ 4:17 pmNew Window
Price$199$379$299/$349$299$399
Product Announcement DateSEP 1, 2009May 1st, 2019Apr 30th, 2019Apr 24th, 2019Apr 24th, 2019
Actual Availability/Shipping DateDec 2009May 8th, 2019Apr 30th, 2019Early May 2019Early May 2019
GPS Recording FunctionalityYesYesYesYesYes
Data TransferUSBBluetooth Smart, WiFi, USBUSB, Bluetooth Smart, WiFi (Only Music has WiFi)USB, Bluetooth Smart, WiFiUSB, Bluetooth Smart, WiFi
WaterproofingIPX7IPX750 MetersIPX7IPX7
Battery Life (GPS)18 hours17 hoursUp to 24hrs regular GPS, 24hrs+ for UltraTrac20 Hours (40 in battery Saver Mode)20 Hours (40 in battery Saver Mode)
Recording Interval1-Second or Smart1-second1-second, Smart, UltraTrac1-Second or Smart1-Second or Smart
Satellite Pre-Loading via ComputerNoYesYesYesYes
Quick Satellite ReceptionGreatYesGreatYEsYEs
AlertsSound/VisualAUDIO/VISUAL + LED'sVIBRATE/SOUND/VISUALAudio/VisualAudio/Visual
Backlight GreatnessGoodGreatGoodGreatGreat
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceNoNoYesYesYes
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)NoN/AYesNoNo
MusicGarmin Edge 500Wahoo ELEMNT ROAMGarmin Forerunner 245/245 MusicGarmin Edge 530Garmin Edge 830
Can control phone musicNoYesNoNo
Has music storage and playbackNoYes (Music version)NoNo
Streaming ServicesNoSpotify, Amazon Music, Deezer, iHeartRadioNoNo
PaymentsGarmin Edge 500Wahoo ELEMNT ROAMGarmin Forerunner 245/245 MusicGarmin Edge 530Garmin Edge 830
Contactless-NFC PaymentsNoNo
ConnectivityGarmin Edge 500Wahoo ELEMNT ROAMGarmin Forerunner 245/245 MusicGarmin Edge 530Garmin Edge 830
Bluetooth Legacy (pre-4.0) to PhoneNoNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart (4.0+) to Phone UploadingNoYesYesYesYes
Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)NoYesYesYesYes
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)NoYesYesYesYes
Group trackingYesNoYesYes
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)NoNoYes (via phone)YesYes
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoNoNoNoNo
CyclingGarmin Edge 500Wahoo ELEMNT ROAMGarmin Forerunner 245/245 MusicGarmin Edge 530Garmin Edge 830
Designed for cyclingYesYesYesYesYes
Power Meter CapableYesYesWITH SOME CONNECT IQ APPS (BUT CANNOT RECORD DATA)YEsYEs
Power Meter Configuration/Calibration OptionsYesYesN/AYesYes
Power Meter TSS/NP/IFYesYesN/AYesYes
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableYesYesYesYesYes
Strava segments live on deviceNoYesNoYesYes
Crash detectionNoYesYesYes
RunningGarmin Edge 500Wahoo ELEMNT ROAMGarmin Forerunner 245/245 MusicGarmin Edge 530Garmin Edge 830
Designed for runningNoN/AYesN/AN/A
Footpod Capable (For treadmills)N/AN/AYES (Also has INTERNAL ACCELEROMETER)N/AN/A
Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)N/AN/AYes (with accessory)N/AN/A
Running PowerN/ANo
VO2Max EstimationN/AN/AYes(CYCLING YES THOUGH)(CYCLING YES THOUGH)
Race PredictorN/AN/AYesN/AN/A
Recovery AdvisorN/AN/AYes(CYCLING YES THOUGH)(CYCLING YES THOUGH)
Run/Walk ModeN/AN/AYesN/AN/A
SwimmingGarmin Edge 500Wahoo ELEMNT ROAMGarmin Forerunner 245/245 MusicGarmin Edge 530Garmin Edge 830
Designed for swimmingNoN/AYesN/AN/A
Openwater swimming modeN/AN/ANoN/AN/A
Lap/Indoor Distance TrackingN/AN/AYesN/AN/A
Record HR underwaterN/AN/ANoN/AN/A
Indoor Metrics (Stroke/etc.)N/AN/AYesN/AN/A
Indoor Drill ModeN/AN/AYesN/AN/A
Indoor auto-pause featureN/AN/ANoN/AN/A
Change pool sizeN/AN/AYesN/AN/A
Indoor Min/Max Pool LengthsN/AN/A14M/15Y TO 150Y/MN/AN/A
Ability to customize data fieldsN/AN/AYesN/AN/A
Can change yards to metersN/AN/AYesN/AN/A
Captures per length data - indoorsN/AN/AYesN/AN/A
TriathlonGarmin Edge 500Wahoo ELEMNT ROAMGarmin Forerunner 245/245 MusicGarmin Edge 530Garmin Edge 830
Designed for triathlonNoN/ANoSortaSorta
Multisport modeN/AN/ANoN/AN/A
WorkoutsGarmin Edge 500Wahoo ELEMNT ROAMGarmin Forerunner 245/245 MusicGarmin Edge 530Garmin Edge 830
Create/Follow custom workoutsYesYesYesYesYes
On-unit interval FeatureYesNoYesYesYes
Training Calendar FunctionalityNoNoYesYesYes
FunctionsGarmin Edge 500Wahoo ELEMNT ROAMGarmin Forerunner 245/245 MusicGarmin Edge 530Garmin Edge 830
Auto Start/StopYesYesYesYesYes
Virtual Partner FeatureYesNoYesYesYes
Virtual Racer FeatureNoNoYesYesYes
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)NoNoYesYesYes
Day to day watch abilityN/AShows time/dateYesN/AN/A
Hunting/Fishing/Ocean DataNoN/ANoN/AN/A
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoN/ANoN/AN/A
Jumpmaster mode (Parachuting)NoN/ANoN/AN/A
GeocachingNoN/ANoN/AN/A
Weather Display (live data)NoNoYEsYesYes
NavigateGarmin Edge 500Wahoo ELEMNT ROAMGarmin Forerunner 245/245 MusicGarmin Edge 530Garmin Edge 830
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)YesYesYesYesYes
Markers/Waypoint DirectionYesYesNoYesYes
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)NoYesNoYesYes
Back to startYesYesYesYesYes
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationNoNo (But can create one-way routes from phone app)NoNoYes
Download courses/routes from phone to unitNoYesYesYesYes
SensorsGarmin Edge 500Wahoo ELEMNT ROAMGarmin Forerunner 245/245 MusicGarmin Edge 530Garmin Edge 830
Altimeter TypeBarometricBarometricGPSBarometricBarometric
Compass TypeGPSMagneticN/AGPSGPS
Optical Heart Rate Sensor internallyNoN/AYEsNoNo
Pulse Oximetry (aka Pulse Ox)Yes
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleYesYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableYesYesYesYEsYEs
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableYesYesYesYEsYEs
ANT+ Footpod CapableNoNoYesNoNo
ANT+ Power Meter CapableYesYesNoYesYes
ANT+ Weight Scale CapableNoNoNoYesYes
ANT+ Fitness Equipment (Gym)NoNoNONoNo
ANT+ Lighting ControlNoNoYesYesYes
ANT+ Bike Radar IntegrationNoYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Trainer Control (FE-C)NoYesNOYesYes
ANT+ Remote ControlNoNoYES FOR GARMIN VIRBYesYes
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNoNOYesYes
ANT+ Muscle Oxygen (i.e. Moxy/BSX)YesYesWith appsWith apps
ANT+ Gear Shifting (i.e. SRAM ETAP)YesNoYesYes
Shimano Di2 ShiftingNoYesNOYesYes
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableNoYesYesYesYes
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableNoYesYesYesYes
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapableNoYEsYesNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableNoYesNOYesYes
Temp Recording (internal sensor)YesYesNOYesYes
Temp Recording (external sensor)NoNoYES (TEMPE)NoNo
Compatible with Firstbeat HR toolsYes--YesYes
SoftwareGarmin Edge 500Wahoo ELEMNT ROAMGarmin Forerunner 245/245 MusicGarmin Edge 530Garmin Edge 830
PC ApplicationGarmin ExpressN/AGarmin ExpressGarmin ExpressGarmin Express
Web ApplicationGarmin ConnectN/AGarmin ConnectGarmin ConnectGarmin Connect
Phone AppGarmin Connect Mobile (not direct to device though)iOS/AndroidiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS/Android/Windows Phone
Ability to Export SettingsNoNoNoNoNo
PurchaseGarmin Edge 500Wahoo ELEMNT ROAMGarmin Forerunner 245/245 MusicGarmin Edge 530Garmin Edge 830
Amazon LinkLinkN/ALinkLinkLink
Clever Training - Save with the VIP programLinkLinkLinkLinkLink
Clever Training Europe (Save 10% with DCR10BTF)LinkLinkLinkLink
DCRainmakerGarmin Edge 500Wahoo ELEMNT ROAMGarmin Forerunner 245/245 MusicGarmin Edge 530Garmin Edge 830
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLinkLink

Pro’s/Con’s

It’s really hard to condense down the massive number of features within these products into a simple pro’s and con’s section.  But…I’ve tried to highlight some of the key areas here that you’re probably interested in that stand out the most in my mind when I think about this device:

Pro’s:

– Small Form factor: There is simply no other product on the market, or near the market that has all of the features of the Edge 500 packed into it.  The next closest thing is the 310XT, though that lacks some of the cycling specific features that serious cyclists will take advantage of.

– Super lightweight: Weighing less than a single egg at 2oz, this unit won’t add much weight to your setup.  And, as I always remind myself – if I really need to reduce the overall weight of my bike computer, I can likely find that weight on my rear via a reduction of cupcakes.

– New mount system: I really like the ease and simplicity of the new mount system.  I can easily swap it between bikes in a matter of seconds without any tools or zip-ties.  Plus, it locks quite securely and hopefully will in the long term keep from any loss of unit issues.  As a bonus, the mount is completely compatible with the 310XT mounts and devices, so you can swap things around there a bit.

– Barometer based altimeter, and temperature monitor: Having a barometer based altimeter is much better than a GPS based one, as it’s far more accurate in consumer applications.  And the temperature monitor (even if a bit slow) – is a nice add-on.

– Compatibility with ANT+ devices – in particular – power meters.  More and more cycling devices and accessories are going the way of ANT+, and this spring will bring a tidal wave of new devices (including newer, cheaper power meters).

Con’s:

– Hard to read screen due to glare: As noted earlier, I’ve had some issues with actually reading the screen depending on your body position and the sun’s glare.  With overcast days or indoors it’s not an issue, but on sunny days you have a very limited viewing range.

– Loss of/Missing activity data: I’ve had issues in the past with the Edge 705 that seemed to have been resolved in recent months with new firmware, and I was REALLY hoping this would be a thing of the past.  But alas, just five hours before I went to publish this I ran into a single lost workout.  After finishing the workout and holding reset as normal to save it, I went ahead and connected it to my computer…and found nothing.  The workout was simply gone.  I rang up normal Garmin support, but they weren’t able to get it back.  Because I also work in the computing field, I tried using some tools to recover lost & deleted files, but that too resulted in no love. Note that a new firmware was also released today (Dec 14th, version 2.10) – so it’s entirely possible this issue has already been addressed in that release.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, I think your decision on whether to purchase the Edge 500 really comes down to your user profile.

For the serious or competitive cyclist the Edge 500 gives you a very lightweight and small platform to record your training or race data in the same form factor that old school bike computers have historically done for decades.  The key difference is now you get all the data that up until now have required much larger devices. The lower price point (compared to other Edge and Forerunner units) is also very attractive for anybody with a power meter.  There are some other options coming onto the market here shortly, but none of them have the same feature sets for this price point.  So for you – I’d say go for it!

For the triathlete the Edge 500 gives you the capability to record and display your bike training and race data on a small form factor device.  However, it isn’t a one-size-fits-all device like the Garmin Forerunner 310XT.  It’s designed as a uber-low-profile device for cyclists, so while it would make a great addition to your tri bike, you should keep in mind that you may want additional features for those 112 mile long training rides (such as mapping, or the ability to run-off the bike and simply change recording modes) or dozens of miles of running.  As such, for a triathlete I’d really recommend looking at the 310XT as your primary device.

Lastly, for the casual cyclist.  This is the cheapest GPS based ANT+ recording device out there.  While there are a few other products coming to the market shortly, one doesn’t do GPS (Joule) and the other doesn’t actually record data (Bontrager).  The third device doesn’t display data while your riding (collecting data only, Qollector).  One thing to keep in mind though is that if you’re a casual cyclist it’s unlikely you’d have a power meter, so looking at some of the cheaper options (like the Garmin Forerunner 305 – about half the price of the Edge 500 these days) may make more sense.

Hopefully you found this review useful.  At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device.  Also, I took a lot of pictures over the course of writing this review – 418 of them to be exact.  And I know that a lot of folks (like myself) like to see different angles of the product used in different ways.  So instead of just leaving them on my hard drive forever, I’ve taken a fair chunk of them and put them up in this little gallery above for you to be able to browse through.

Found this review useful?  Or just want a sweet deal?

Hopefully you found this review useful.  At the end of the day, I’m an athlete just like you looking for the most detail possible on a new purchase – so my review is written from the standpoint of how I used the device.  The reviews generally take a lot of hours to put together, so it’s a fair bit of work (and labor of love).  As you probably noticed by looking below, I also take time to answer all the questions posted in the comments – and there’s quite a bit of detail in there as well.

I’ve partnered with Clever Training to offer all DC Rainmaker readers exclusive benefits on all products purchased. You can read more about the benefits of this partnership here. You can pickup the Edge 500 through Clever Training using the link below. By doing so, you not only support the site (and all the work I do here) – but you also get to enjoy the significant partnership benefits that are just for DC Rainmaker readers. And, since this item is more than $75, you get free US shipping as well.

Edge 500 in neutral black/white
Edge 500 in special edition red (bundle)

Additionally, you can also use Amazon to purchase the unit or accessories (though, no discount on either from Amazon).  Or, anything else you pickup on Amazon helps support the site as well (socks, laundry detergent, cowbells).  If you’re outside the US, I’ve got links to all of the major individual country Amazon stores on the sidebar towards the top.

As you’ve seen throughout the review there are numerous compatible accessories for the unit. I’ve consolidated them all into the below chart, with additional information (full posts) available on some of the accessories to the far right. Also, everything here is verified by me – so if it’s on the list, you’ll know it’ll work. And as you can see, I mix and match accessories based on compatibility – so if a compatible accessory is available at a lower price below, you can grab that instead.

AccessoryStreet PriceAmazon LinkClever Training Link (Save 10% with DCR10BTF)
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated January 27th, 2018 @ 4:29 am
2013 - The Girl - Gear I Use: Bike
2013 Recommendations: Cycling GPS Units
2014 Summer Recommendations: Cycling Units
2014 Winter Recommendations: Cycling Units
2015 - The Girl - Gear I Use: Bike
Left/Right Capable Bike Computers
Barfly Tate Labs Road Bike Handlebar Mount$25LinkN/A
Barfly Tate Labs Timetrial/Triathlon Bike Mount$37LinkN/A
PowerTap G3 ANT+ Power Meter (Hub)$790 (hub only)LinkLink
PowerTap Pro ANT+ Power Meter (Hub)$899LinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Classic Plastic Strap) - HRM1$37.00LinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Premium Soft-Strap) - HRM2$69.00LinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Premium Soft-Strap) - HRM3$50LinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Replacement HR Strap (for HRM3/HRM-RUN - just the strap portion)$28.00LinkLink
Garmin ANT+ Speed/Cadence Cycling Sensor (GSC-10)$35.00LinkLink
Garmin Edge Series Extra Bike Mounts (2 sets in box)$10.00LinkLink
Garmin Edge Series Mini-USB Car Charger$10.00LinkLink
Garmin out-front bike mount (For all Edge units, 310XT/910XT/920XT with Quick Release)$38.00LinkLink
K-Edge Garmin Handlebar Mount X-Large for Edge units (including Edge 1000)$45.00N/ALink
Motorola ANT+ Speed/Cadence Cycling Sensor (Quick Install) - BEST!$55.00LinkN/A
Power2Max ANT+ Power Meter$970 (no cranks)N/AN/A
PowerCal ANT+ Estimated Power Meter$99LinkLink
SRAM Quarq Cinqo (Original) ANT+ Power MeterDiscontinuedLinkN/A
SRAM Quarq Elsa & RED ANT+ Power Meter$1,600 (with cranks, no chainrings)LinkLink
SRAM Quarq Riken ANT+ Power Meter$1,200 (with cranks, no chainrings)LinkLink
Stages ANT+/Bluetooth Smart Power Meter$699N/ALink

Thanks for reading!  And as always, feel free to post comments or questions in the comments section below, I’ll be happy to try and answer them as quickly as possible.  And lastly, if you felt this review was useful – I always appreciate feedback in the comments below.  Thanks!

Finally, I’ve written up a ton of helpful guides around using most of the major fitness devices, which you may find useful in getting started with the devices.  These guides are all listed on this page here.

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569 Comments

  1. Sam Brasel

    “While Garmin doesn’t make any power meters themselves, they do….”

    Rainmaker, I think this claim is in need of an update. 🙂

  2. Pete Loeffler

    Great Review. I have used the 500 for several years and I see I have only scratched the surface on what I can do with it. Like it. I want to get the 500 Neutral for my wife. Someone said the neutral is the old version they had problems with. Is the Neutral, purchased today, the same as the blue or red? Thanks for the feedback.

    P

    • Identical version. In fact, technically speaking the Black/White color variant came after the original blue option. 😉

      Still, same firmware, internal guts, etc… just a different color option.

  3. Thank you for the amazing and in-depth review! I just started shopping for a new cycle computer after my current one got wet from my first triathlon. I think it’s time for a good upgrade. I’m definitely leaning towards this piece of equipment now.

  4. Susan Kelly

    Hi, I have a garmin edge 500 and sometimes when I have not downloaded between rides, the next days will be combined as one on the first date. Can there be a control on this. I have stopped and turned it off overnight and next day the distance starts where I left off yesterday.
    Also in the initial setup; settings,system,initial setup,? run at next start up Y/N? Is this controlling the above problem.
    kind regards
    Sue

  5. Tony

    Hi sue,

    Yes you can control this. After pressing stop at the end of your ride( top right button) you need to press and hold the reset(bottom right button) for 3 sec’s till it resets.

  6. Nick

    Whew, what a read! 1 question that I hope I’m not re-visiting: Early posts regarding Smart Recording indicate that 1-second recording is not possible w/o a power meter (and later can’t be turned off), but it seems a later post regarding choppy mapping suggests making sure Smart Recording is turned “off”. Is it now possible to use 1-second recording w/o a power meter? Thanks, and I must say you have the patience of a Saint!

  7. Tom

    Thanks. Great reviews.
    I have read conflicting information and many people in this forum have come really close to answering my question but they haven’t been specific enough.
    If I have a speed/cadence monitor and I am riding on my rollers indoors I know that the Garmin Edge 500 will display the information, but will the ride be recorded so that I can upload it and analyze the speed/cadence/HR in the training software like an outdoor ride? Can you answer the question about the O-Synce Navi2Coach and the Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0? This may be a deciding factor on which one I buy.

    • Yes, as Nick below noted, the first question the answer is yes. And for the second question, the answer is also yes – all three of those units support that. In general, I’d really focus on the Edge 500 and the Navi2Coach as the best options.

  8. Nick

    Hey Tom,
    Yes it will record as if an outdoor ride with the same metrics, aside from the obvious ones like elevation and mapping. Sorry, but can’t answer your second q.

  9. Jon

    Looking to upgrade my computer and want to include HRM and Cadence — I really like the size and functionality of the 500. My only question, since it’s been around for a while, do you suspect it’ll be discontinued soon or a newer version of the 500 will be released soon? I know the 510 is “newer” but am not thrilled about the size, and don’t need all of the functionality it comes with.

    Let me know your thoughts, and thanks!

    • I definitely don’t expect to see it discontinued anytime soon – it continues to sell really well. As for replacement, I don’t see a direct replacement likely this spring/summer.

  10. Joeri b

    I can buy the edge 500 pretty cheap, but am doubting to invest in a whole ant+ setup, instead of bluetooth smart and wait for example on the polar v650. Any advice ?

    • At this point, the V650 and Edge 500 are in fairly different leagues. I think it’s going to take a bit of time until we see the V650 have the same level of functionality as the Edge 500.

      There will be areas that the V650 does however that the 500 doesn’t – such as around some of the BT connectivity pieces. But even that sounds somewhat limited out of the gate.

  11. Joeri b

    Thanks Ray ! An Edge 500 it is ! Keep up the good work with the site ! If ever needed I can always do the ant+ to Bluetooth translation with the heart rate strap you reviewed some time ago. Best regards from Brussels !

  12. TMLW

    My wife has been using her Edge 500 with her new Power2max power meter for a few weeks now. It’s working fine except for the need to re-calibrate sometimes. She calibrates at the start of every ride and then sometimes a little later her power numbers are way off. After re-calibrating it seems fine. Wasn’t sure if it was an Edge 500 or power meter issue or normal. Thanks for all the amazing reviews! I don’t make a purchase without them!

  13. Joeri B

    I would like to order from Clevertraining the Edge 500 and the viiiiva heart rate strap, also to support the website. But what’s the experience with delivering to Europe ? I suppose there’s a big chance I have to pay extra taxes ?

    • It’s flat-rate shipping – $29. I would expect to pay taxes on the amount, though sometimes that doesn’t happen. For most folks, they tend to save a bit on the new units once you include the 10% discount. Though, for some of the older units with customs fees it’s a wash.

      (Keep in mind I live in Europe)

  14. Van R

    I have been reading the the Garmin Edge 500 forum about night mares from folks that have upgraded their firmware. I am currently on 2.70 and see that 3.20 is current. I re-read your review (nicely done) and see that I’m missing out on lots of nice upgrades courtesy of the new firmware. To go from 2.70 to 3.20, do I have to download each individual update between 2.70 and 3.20 or can I just go to GC and simply install the new firmware?

    • Nope, go straight from 2.70 to 3.20. If Garmin Connect is offering it, you can grab it that way. I prefer downloading Garmin WebUpdater, simply because I find it’s the most reliable way.

      Do note that since you’ve missed a lot of updates, there was one major update in there that may appear as though you’re unit has frozen up the first time it’s been powered on. Just let it be. Go grab coffee, a movie, whatever. It’s simply going through all your past activities. So if you have a lot, then it’ll take a while.

  15. Joeri B

    Hi Ray, just ordered one, the red/black bundle one – it matches my mountainbikes colors :-). Unfortunately not through your clever training link, taxes would really add up and it was cheaper to order in a local store. If you would ever have a European counterpart, I would be happy to order there.
    I figured out I really don’t need the Bluetooth smart right now, probably there will be more “translation” devices in the coming years between Bluetooth smart and ANT+. Who knows my next phone is a Samsung with ANT+ built in – now that I ordered the Edge, there’s a big chance off course :-). No need for Bluetooth Smart then. It really looks I can’t go wrong with the Edge 500, so many people happy with it.
    Just wanted to thank you for the advice, and keep up the good work with the site. It’s really valuable !

  16. Joeri B

    The Edge arrived, hooray ! Question: is there any training application that let’s me define heart zones AND cadence ? In Garmins trainingcenter it’s only one of the 2. I would like to be able to configure: a specific heart zone in combination with keeping a certain cadence.

  17. James

    OK, sorry to be confused –
    Now – while this may sound great from the standpoint of making your numbers look good – it’s actually really bad from the power analysis standpoint. So leave these options off to ensure you have consistent and usable data.
    on zero averaging – you want it ‘ON’ – correct? You want it to count the zero’s coasting downhill right?
    Thanks for all you do…

  18. metalizetattoo

    i have 2 USB leads that plug into my edge 500, one charges and transmits data but one only charges – is this unusual – do i have one bad lead – any thoughts would be welcomed

  19. snok3r

    Hello, Can anyone confirm if autopause function works well with endomondo website?
    I had some problems couple years back with this functionality using other devices.

  20. Peter Iafrate

    Hi, I have a an edge 500, a couple of my mates have edge 200. I seem to get many problems with GPS accuracy whereas they do not. Are there known problems for the 500? I’m not sure what firmware I have. As an example of the problems that I see- I can be riding (in wooded areas or on the road when commuting) and notice that I am reading around 60-70 kph, yesterday I was on my MTB and noticed this and stopped riding and it just sat there at around 40 kph for about 2 minutes before settling down. Any advice appreciated.

    • I’d do two things. First, definitely update the firmware. Grabbing Garmin Webupdater is the quickest/easiest way to do that.

      Second, if it’s still seeing issues, go ahead and do a full reset (just backup/copy your data off of it). The issue you’re describing sounds similar to a satellite caching issue where it’s trying to talk to a satellite it has saved, but can’t reach. When that happens, you get cases like you described where it appears like it’s still going, or where speeds are off. By doing a reset you basically just tell it to go re-find all its satellites again.

    • Peter Iafrate

      thanks for a very quick response! I’ll try out your suggestions and let you know how I get on.

  21. Don

    solid review!

    question i have, im onto my second edge 500, the course function shows different information as to what you displayed above, my previous one is the same as above, the latest one is different, is it possable to change the info listed on the screens? as you would do with your data fields.
    cheers

  22. Nicolas

    Ray,

    Do you know anything about the Taiwan version of the Edge 500? What are the main issues of it?

    Thanks in advance.

  23. Nenad

    Hello,

    Should I update fimwaere from 3.00 to 3.30. I see that the new changes related to the power meter but I do not use it. My edge 500 is currently working flawlessly. Thanks in advance.

    Regards

  24. Emily

    I have the edge 500 and just added the power tap. I am having issues with ave speed. It’s coming up very low. I did a 40 mile ride and had ave speed of 14 and moving ave speed of 16. Prior to having the power tap the ave and moving ave speed were very close. I also can not see moving ave speed until I upload data to garmin connect or strava. Is there anything that I can do to get ave speed to be more accurate?

    I have set my garmin to non zero ave, data rec 1sec (not tested yet with this change).

    Wheel circumference is 2099 per garmin rep. I have a 700 X 23 wheel that came with my hub G3.

  25. Emily

    Just spoke to Garmin. They said I should turn on auto power. I will try this, but not sure it’s going work. According to your notes above. by doing this I will skew my power data.

    I also contacted power tap. They say the problem is at garmin’s end. “For the record, I’m not sure I have ever seen a PowerTap cause incorrect speed readings which is why it’s likely a setting on the Garmin.”

    • Auto pause, or auto-power off? Auto-pause is indeed bad for power meter data (specifically the normalized power calculations), and isn’t really the right answer.

      That said, I’ve got no idea why the numbers are so low unless you’ve got some significant stoppage time in there and you’re looking at elapsed vs ‘time’ data fields.

  26. Emily

    My last ride of 40 miles included stops at intersections, and one bathroom break. For the most we were moving. I don’t tend to coast. I like to keep pedaling.

    I have also read that firmware ver 3.2 could be causing the problems. However, I can’t find the link to download the previous version.

    I am almost tempted to turn of the power meter and see that will do anything.

  27. Sometimes my Edge 500 seems to detect the bike I’m riding (automatically selecting one of the two bikes) but other times, I have to traverse the several levels of menus to select the correct bike. Is there supposed to be a feature to auto-select the bikes that you have entered in to the Edge 500 with paired ANT+ spd/cad. sensors?

    • I don’t believe it should be auto-detecting. On my Edge 500, I have it setup for a bunch of different bikes, including my wife’s bike. She often uses it while on the trainer, and often times when I’m on another trainer with another bike. Never had it auto switch.

  28. I just did a quick test, here’s what I found. Move the bike (rotate the pedals and rear tire) before turning on the Edge 500 head unit. This will start the speed/cadence sensor broadcasting, once it does, then turn on the Edge 500, it will detect that the bike is active and switch the selection to the ‘active’ bike. There may have to be a sync in between, on maybe the two bikes need to be separated by some distance as I did have some trouble switching immediately between them. I’ll give it a little time, and see if the sensor on one bike needs to stop transmitting to allow detection of the other bike.

  29. Emily

    Still having issues with garmin and speed: Using garmin 500 and power tap

    Auto Pause is off

    From Garmin Direct

    time: 5:31:45
    Moving time: 4:07:26
    Elapsed time; 5:31:45
    Avg Speed: 12.4
    Avg Moving speed: 16.6
    Max Speed 28.2

    Power numbers from garmin Direct

    avg power 121w
    max power 382w
    max avg power (20 min) 124 w
    Normalized power 129w
    intensity factor .0779
    TSS 234.1
    FTP 165
    Work 1,678 kj

    From training peaks:

    Duration 5:31:45
    distance 68.58
    work 1680 kj
    TSS 257.7 (0.727)
    NP120
    VI 0.99
    pwrHR -0.15%
    EF .0.92
    EL gain 3369 ft
    El Loss -3389 ft
    grade -0.1%
    VAM 186 meters/hr
    VAM w/kg 0.93 Watts/kg

    power ave 121
    speed ave 16.6

    Why is there so much difference? NP, speed, TSS

    • For TSS/NP/IF, you need to be certain that the FTP matches between: Your Edge 500, Training Peaks, and Garmin Connect.

      For speed, they do match: Speed Average 16.6 = Moving Speed 16.6

      They just call them different things.

    • Emily

      Just checked and all three show the same ftp. Also is there a way to have Moving speed display on my garmin.

    • If you pause the timer, then the average speed would be your moving average.

  30. Seano

    Hi Ray. Great website. Do you think (or know?) if it’s likely (or possible) that a new model Garmin Edge 500 will come out with a Wi-Fi/wireless auto upload feature or will it stay as a USB connection upload only. I prefer the size of the Edge than a 510 which has this feature. If this feature was added to a new model Edge 500, will old models still have the capacity to do this through an update? Thanks!

    • Patrick Myers

      No. That would require a WiFi antenna in the device, which it doesn’t have. Ditto for Bluetooth antenna. The 500 is stuck as a wired-only device. But I echo your desire for something with the 510’s functionality in a 500 form factor.

  31. Kaspars

    Hi Rainmaker,
    First of all, thanks for the reviews you’re doing. One of the best resources over the internet.
    But I would appreciate your oponion, I am planning to buy Garmin Edge device, and after your reviews I have came to conclusion, that edge 500 is the best deal form me and in terms of price/performance, only thing I am cautious is that it is quite old model, and there might be some updated 500 soon. Do you think that 500 also now is right thing to have?

  32. Jenks

    How do I change the distance from feet to miles??

    • Patrick Myers

      It should change over to decimal miles (0.2 mi) after it detects you’ve gone a couple hundred feet. At least mine does.

  33. Jenks

    ok, thanks – will try this tomorrow on my ride.

  34. Dave A

    Hi Ray,based on your comprehensive review I got the Edge 500 about 2 years ago and it is great bit of kit. Im now looking at a long dustance walk/hike challenge so my training is goibg to include running.im considering the xt310 but wondered if you thought the 500 is suffucient for running?mainly i want gps,distance and Hr tracking

    • No, I personally wouldn’t use the Edge 500 for any frequent amount of running. It’d be fine if you were primarily a cyclist that maybe ran once a week or every few weeks. But otherwise the biggest challenge is lack of pace values.

      That said, if you don’t actually care to know that during the activity (and just want it for reference post-activity), then it’s certainly an option.

  35. Dave A

    Cheers,think ill go for the xt310. Appreciated.

  36. mpulsiv

    Can anyone chime-in on temperature fluctuation? My unit report ~7 ºF warmer, all year long.

  37. Alex

    Hello,

    concerning Virtual Partner functionality, I need some clarifications : Virtual Partner is an average speed course or not ?
    I read that if you upload a course from a previous activity, VP will act as if you race against that previous activity. Pace of the partner will vary like what happened during the previous activity.
    But if you upload a course from Garmin connect, you choose a pace and VP will keep that same pace during all the activity.

  38. Alex

    Me again !
    Scientific approach to understand VP’s behavior.I went to an track with my 310XT and ran 2kms. The first one was 10+ kmh average pace and the second was 15+ kmh. (link to connect.garmin.com).
    I saved the activity and reload it through course menu on my 310xt.
    I ran again the 2 kms at a constant pace (around the previous workout pace 4:30min/km).
    If VP acted as a average pace, it should show a timing of 5 to 10 seconds ahead or behind. Instead of that, it showed me 30sec ahead after 500m, 1:24 after 1km and 1:00 after 1500m and 24secs after 2kms (I ran faster than excepted) (link to connect.garmin.com)

    So this fluctuation lets me think that VP respects paces when using it through course menu.

    • JJ Maritz

      HI Alex.

      Did you manage to work out if the Edge 500 just use average pace in the Virtual partner or can you load some sort of a previously ridden GPS segment as a route in your 500 and race against the varying pace (for example slower uphill, faster downhill) rather than just an average speed? I am stuck between buy the 500 or the 510, but I am leaning towards the 500.

  39. David

    Can I follow a course (breadcrumbs only, I know) and a structured workout at the same time, with the 500?

  40. katia

    hi,
    i would like to make a gift to my boyfriend and I would like to buy a GARMIN GPS EDGE 500 CYCLING COMPUTER because his is broken.
    Can you please help me telling me the price for it? I’m from Italy, where (Website) can I order this product at good cost?
    can you please also explain me the difference between GPS edge 500 and 200?

    my boyfriend is also a runner (not for work but for hobby)

    thanks and kind regards,
    Katia

  41. Francisco Alba

    Dear Ray, first of all my congratulations for your detailed and professional reviews. Thanks to them I decided to buy my Edge 500 two months ago and enjoy it a lot so far.
    However I have always had a problem when trying to delete in my garmin a particular race. It always remains in it. So, from time to time, I delete all my historial races and the particular ones in my garmin connect. I found that solution and that was not a problem for me.
    But last night, I tried to sync my race with my garmin express as usual. Everything seemed to work fine, but when I went onto my garmin connect account the race was not there. I delete my garmin express software (I use a Mac) and reinstalled it… but it didn’t work. I thought it could be a problem of the website, and I tried to sync again after a day… but my race is not there.
    Some days ago I browsed my garmin drive, particularly some files .fit in “activities folder” of same races. By the way I did not modify any system file at all. (I did it from Finder in OS X). I say this in case it could help you.
    This situation is a bit annoying because now I can’t analyze my new races in my garmin connect account. I hope it could be solved easily.
    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    My deepest congratulations again
    Francisco Alba

  42. Patrick Myers

    Hi Francisco. I don’t know about your problems with races, but the Garmin Connect site has been down for everybody for about a day now. Nobody is able to upload workouts. Hopefully it’ll be back up soon.

  43. TexasTri77

    What does the 500 take into account when calculating calories burned? Does it take into account heart rate and elevation changes? Anyone know?

  44. Prabhu

    Ray, Thanks for the in depth reviews of 500 and 510! Reading your review was as close to getting hands on a device, but without really. Thanks to all the comments and your replies over the years, I’ve decided on 500; I am a casual-getting-serious cyclist. I availed myself the discount as well. Will keep coming back to this page and more. Best!

  45. Mike

    As the 500 is an older model, do you foresee support for it being discontinued in the near future? I’m on the verge of purchasing one, but don’t want to buy something that will soon be obsolete.

  46. p-middy

    I can’t speak for Ray, but what do you mean by “obsolete?” Arguably it already is – the 510 is a newer model in this line and has more features. Additionally, I got mine about 6 months ago and I think the only software update I’ve received is the one that I installed right out of the box, so I don’t think Garmin is actively developing features for it. If it’s missing something you want now, it’s likely going to be missing it forever so I’d look to a different model.

    That all said, I friggin’ LOVE the 500. It’s rock solid software-wise, giving me HR and speed info when my Fenix2 crapped out during a race. It’s super easy to read in all conditions and is just a great piece of no-nonsense tech. If mine died tomorrow, I personally would probably just buy another one even though the 510 and 810/1000 are out there. My $0.02.

  47. Scott

    Thanks for all your reviews. I’ve really enjoyed reading them and learning about all the products out there. I just ordered the Edge 500 (even if it is old) and used the Clever Training site. Hopefully you get your commission.

  48. Matt

    AWESOME REVIEW !

  49. Bernardo

    Ray, I order the Edge 500 after having some issues with my FX2 on a bike ride (it reset by itself after resume activity and start like swim activity… All the elevation data lost). And for the great price on clever training!

    I decide becarse of your review and you winter device recommendation. I am a triathlete that’s why I bought the FX2, before the fx920 came out. I have a simple question regarding to ANT + speed/cadence sensor, If I start a multi sport activity on FX2 (swim, bike, run) the info from the speed/cadence sensor will be read by both devices on the bike section?

    • Patrick Myers

      Yes. That is the exact setup I have. You’ll have data on both, just remember that when you sync your Edge 500 on your computer, it will dupe all your bike rides – data from the fenix 2 and from the Edge 500

  50. Hi… Thanks a lot for the awesome report… I now own an edge 500 piece… I read greater reviews but however I have a small concern, as none of the reviews have covered it and I too didn’t expect it before buying…
    I am a randonneur and my most rides I want to track are more than 300 kms.. The battery of the edge 500 supports till 17 hours after which I need to charge… I have a hubdynamo and USB power output available. So, that ways, it is fine. Problem comes with mounting while charging….
    I have a cuesheet holder on front bar bag and I want Garmin to be always mounted on the stem regardless of charging/not charging.. The way, the mini USB port is located in edge 500 is a big problem where I have to insert the cable up from below, which is nearly impossible… I tried putting device in my barbag while charging where it is a failure and elevation data got screwed… I tried getting a 90 degree mini usb male to mini usb / usb female but that too is of no help… Is there a solution available for this? In your reviews, if you add up this information too, it will be quite helpful for randonneurs looking to charge device while riding…

    • Cory

      K- You may want to look at some of the Barfly type mounts (SRAM and others make them too). Some of those expose more of the back of the 500 than the included barmounts.

  51. Bria

    is there a way to upload my ride info to my iphone or ipad.

  52. David

    Just a thank you to Garmin for releasing an update to the 500 even this far along in its lifetime. (No new features, just a time zone correction). But it at least proves that it isn’t abandoned.

  53. Ken Vraagaard

    Bought a Garmin Edge 500 based on the positive comments here. I must say it is a big disappointment as it has proved extremely flaky and I have yet to be able to upload a ride. My other cycling computer Bontrager Node 2.1 works without a hitch with better usability (like auto-start and long life battery). Of course, it doesn’t have GPS or ability to upload data to Garmin Connect. But since I haven’t been able to upload anything as of yet I can’t say the Edge 500 can either.

    • Doug Curtis

      Ken, have you contacted Garmin or tried exchanging it where you purchased it? Your experience sounds unusual, I’ve had my Edge 500 for about 3 years and it has last through many century rides and successfully uploaded those to Garmin or Strava.

  54. Peter Iafrate

    Anyone know how to do a satellite reset on an edge 500? I found a thing called “autolocate” but the links to the Garmin website don’t work. I don’t want to do a full factory re-set.

    Thanks

  55. Erdem

    When I turned on the unit, I received locating satellites message; but then it switched back to Updating GPS Software. Then back and forth between these two messages.I could not have the regular tracking screens. When I connected back to Garmin Connect through Garmin Express, only time and cadence were recorded. I checked all software, everything seems up-to-date. The software has 3.30 version. I tried to reset the unit, but even I reset it still trying to update GPS software. I don’t know what I should do next. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

  56. John miller

    Hello Ray
    I have been using my 500 for nearly 2years
    Occaissionally when I go out on a long preloaded ride the breadcrumb route is unreadable….just a tightly grouped bunch of squares, which I guess is caused by the scale being overly compressed
    Is there a way of making the route readable while out on the ride?
    Regards John

    • Doug Curtis

      John,

      Did you try the up/down scroll buttons on the right side of the Edge 500? I haven’t used them for this on my Edge 500, but I have used them on my Garmin Forerunner to zoom in or out on a map.

  57. John miller

    Thanks Doug
    I will try the scroll buttons tomorrow

  58. Kristine Knowles

    I was wondering if you have tried to monitor the power during an all out sprint interval and if you had any problem with the Edge 500 not picking up all of the power data. I am trying to test the Edge 500’s reliability in a lab setting and the power meter drops out or only registers power for 1 second of the 6 second sprints we are performing. We have the device set to 1 second power recording.

    • Sounds like you’ve got something else going on. Definitely no systematic issues there. Possibilities:

      1) WiFi interference in the lab (very likely)
      2) Body interference with certain power meters (Stages is most common, but some others). To validate this, place unit in top of water bottle (it’ll usually sit perfectly) and see if same happens
      3) Defective power meter or defective Edge 500

  59. John miller

    Hello Kristine

    I am sorry that I can’t give you any useful feedback as I don’t use the power option on the Garmin 500

    my general impression of the unit is that its a reliable tool for time and distance trip recording , it will even perform the more sophisticated funtions most of the time but is prone to lapses when performing at the edge of its capability.

    Good luck with your research

  60. Ken

    Will the speed/cadance sensor works (showing cadance) when the GPS is on?

  61. jonathan

    hi, so posted on another article but didn’t get an answer. I have a forerunner 510 hr strap, soft one. I used this with the garmin edge 500. it shows my hr but sometimes drops as long as my full workout…I didn’t know if I was sweating enough or sweat too much… but it was really annoying. I had new batteries too. is there a fix for this? (btw it works fine with my forerunner…) thank you

  62. Mateus

    Hello, is worth of what it is going to be a matter of me have it from no edge of 520 gives of investing in the shame no one foot of power? manufactured is still on edge of 500? to replace the came from the 520?

  63. Brandon

    Is it possible to download routes into the 500 for purposes of following a particular route?

  64. Jason

    Wow. Fabulous review. Beautiful quality close up photos, too.

    I’ll give serious consideration to providing $20 to help Rainmaker continue.

    Being inept as I am, I’m wondering the best route to use when uploading my rides to GarminConnect
    this coming year (2016) as I cross the USA by bicycle. By using the 180 hours of memory as a guide, I figure I better upload my daily rides every 2 weeks. But I’m not sure the best way to do that. At home, I just plug into my Mac and its all done. But on the road? I’ll be carrying an Apple I-mini with me as well as an i-phone.

    I did read one person comment elsewhere that his Garmin 500 tended to corrupt data if he tried to record more than 10 rides before uploading / clearing out the memory.

    Anyway, even if you don’t have time to answer my question, well done on your work. Excellent. Thank you!

    Wait. Hmmmm. I’m wondering if I should upgrade to the Garmin 520 for touring 3,000 miles. What do you think? My existing unit, the 500, was a gift just last year. But its already out of manufacture and with this upcoming important once in a lifetime ride, I don’t want my data to fail. I want a 3,000 mile long track!

  65. PL

    I have an Edge 500 that will not pair with my new premium HRM (bought with a Fenix 2 bundle). I’ve tried to do a manual sync by entering the HRM ID number but the Edge 500 only allows up to 5 digits whereas my HRM’s ID is 6digits.

    Anyone knows what the issue is? Is the Edge 500 not compatible with the newer HRM?

    • I don’t believe the Edge 500 shows the new 6-digit ID’s, however, it should still pair when using search (just can’t do a manual type of it).

    • Kim

      Hi, I’m having the same problem. Got a HRM from 920XT but unable to scan. When I pressed on the “rescan”, it brought me back to the previous menu page.

  66. Jim Smith

    I have had a 500 for close to six years now and liked it so much that I bought another last fall so I’d be able to stick with what I know if/as/when the old one dies. On a recent vacation, I noticed a couple of problems that I’ve had before but not been able to get answers to. I wonder if you know what’s causing the problem.

    There is one spot on one route that is about 18% for about 300 metres. On some rides, the slope just goes to zero and sits there or near there for perhaps 20-30 seconds. I also experienced this on a really steep route on another trip and have experienced it before on this same climb. Do you know any reason for this?

    I have holidayed in Maui four times in the last 16 months. There are two rides I do each trip, often multiple times. One is always the same route (sometimes in opposite direction but usually clockwise). That route reads between 1253 and 1578 metres of climbing in 94.3 km. Half my six rides there have been between 1253 and 1278 metres, two of the others around 1350. Map my ride shows the route as 1306.19 metres of climbing.

    The other route has two variations of about 100 and 105 km but the last section is virtually flat. I’ve had readings between 630 and 980 metres on this route with at least one of the lower climbs being on the 104 km route. Any reason for these discrepancies? All of these readings are with elevation correction disabled. When I enabled correction on one of 94 km the rides on my recent trip, the climb went to 1917 metres which seems extreme.

  67. Mike G

    I realize the 500 has been out for a while. I’ve had mine almost 6 years I think… Anyhow I recently purchased Powertap P1 pedals that report power to the 500. The calorie number reported by the display is Garmin’s heart rate calculation of calories. Which is wrong and high. However, when the data is uploaded to Golden Cheetah or PowerAgent the number is much lower (probably from the pedals wattage over time). Is there a way to get the actual calories (from power vs. time) to be displayed?

  68. Jesus Campos

    Hi, my edge 500 freezes on boot, showing “charging…”. I already did a master reset but, on reboot, it auto select the language and goes to “charging…”. The usb mass storage works fine and I can go to test menu where all appears to work perfectly except the device don’t boot. The firmware is 3.30. Any tip?

  69. Kranked

    I thought this would be a problem free product to use but it’s the worst piece of electronics i’ve ever owned in terms or reliablity. It promised great features while being easy to setup and use, but it pisses me off to no end! I’m surprised you didnt talk about its problem to function properly, or maybe the initial firmware didnt have that “feature” yet? 😉

    With 3.30 firmware out of the box, it locked up twice on the very first ride! I fiddled around pressing buttons and reset it somehow (turns out you need to hold 3 buttons) in about 400km of use it locked up on pretty much every ride, except one i think. I replaced the battery in the speed/cadence sensor, no change, turned off the sensor, didnt work either (hey maybe it didnt like the wahoo fitness?) on another occasion it did even better, on top of locking up it also corrupted the .fit file while doing the ride reset, temperature is also way off, absolute garbage for such a high price.

    • Given the product has been out almost 7 years now, and is/was by all measures the most popular GPS cycling device ever made – it’s fair to say everyone has seen every problem there is…and the fixes for it.

      In your case, that problem while rare, is certainly well understood. You could have rung up support, and they’d likely have told you to hard reset the unit, or to perform a scan disk, which also would have fixed it. It’s simply some minor file system corruption which is causing what you see.

      For the temperature, it’s likely that the ports may be covered in salt/etc. Given Garmin stopped making the Edge 500 a few years ago now, if you bought it used, that problem is a possibility. Either way, also easily fixed by just dunking in a bowl of warm soapy water for 10-15 minutes.

    • Kranked

      Hey DCR,

      Thanks for taking the time to reply to my stupid rant!:D It’s actually a refurbished unit that was on sale (red flags! lol). I find it odd that the file system would be corrupted right out of the box but you could be right.

      I’ve read some threads over at garmin’s forum and wrote down a few things that i could try to sort the issues, i was not exactly sure which one to try first (i did take out all activities as the first step) and also read about firmware roll backs that would “brick” the unit to some extent (with no guarantee that would fix mine anyway) and didnt want to mess with all that nonsense, at least not until it would be required.

      I’m used to cheap units without all the extra capabilities and never had any major problems with them so experiencing this with a garmin product was very surprising.

    • Kranked

      Well, hard reset didnt change a thing and i scanned the device and no errors reported (windows 7 disk tools didnt find anything wrong with it). I tried to roll back firmware but it refuses to do it, i left it at the “loader loading” screen for 30+ minutes and it just sat there. Next step, format and throw firmware 3.0 at it…

    • Kranked

      I seem to have “fixed” my issues by formating the unit and let the unit rebuild the file system still on 3.30 (there’s a zip file found on garmin’s forums to do so), i left it running for 8 hours straight without it locking up (it would lock up every time after 30 minutes to 1 hour).

      The odd thing now is that windows always asks about scanning the file system when i plug it in…scans reveal no errors each time i allowed the scan to proceed.

      Hopefully it stays alive long enough.

  70. jonathan

    hi, ive owned the 500 for a few years now. recently having trouble syncing to my pc. i had no problem with it before and suddenly one day it decided to not work. i reinstalled drivers, even factory reset! i read its a cable thing but i used 2 new ones but still no luck. garmin express doesn’t detect the 500 anymore. without the cable and powered on, i can boot it just fine. but theres no longer a G: drive that usually pops up when i hook up to via USB…any suggestions, help please, dont want to really spend a few hundred on a new one if i dont need to. thanks!

  71. Alan Farnes

    Hi Ray, I just got a 500 second hand. It is my first garmin. I have just used my iPhone strava app in the past. I’m a duathlete. In this post you note that there is no running recording method. Has there been an update that would make it possible to run with? I see in the garmin files that there is a file called “Sports” and cycling is one of the files. If I could find a file called running then could I use it for running?

  72. George

    Can the Garmin be configured to record data ever second (can’t seem to find a how to), or is this only automatically enabled when a 3rd party PM is connected.

    G

  73. Hafiz

    Hey, great review. Just wanna ask if the garmin edge 500 could connect to HRM, cadence and speed from other brands such as Wahoo? Thanks.

  74. Jamie

    Hi just read the review on gamin edge 500. Great review I just have one question.
    I have recently bought a cyckeops power beam pro turbo trainer and I am wanting to know if the Harmon edge 500 will firstly connect to it and also if I set up workouts on Garmin connect and transfer them to the edge 500. Will this workout then link to the turbo trainer and automatically add or remove the power output on the trainer in accordance with the plan I have set.
    Basically if I set a workout up on the edge 500, say. 5 mins @ 200w, 5 mins @ 250 what’s and 5 mins @ 300w. Will the turbo automatically do this workout for me.
    Many thanks any help would be great.
    Jamie

  75. Marcelo

    Please!

    I need a help from anyone using this bike tool.

    I am writing a thesis about sloping down with a bicycle and I need the minimum slope gradient that the bike stay running in the constant velocity.. no accelerations.. without the cyclist force…
    I´ve watching some results and it may be in -1% or less.. (I hope -0,5%)

    I need the grade the bike stay at the same velocity all the 186 m constant slope.

    Please send me your results to fadul@poli.ufrj.br or my whatsapp phone number +5521987672152
    Thanks a lot!

    You will help to build some good things to bicycle technology.

    Marcelo.

  76. Robert

    /there is a link to Amazon for the GSC 10 Cadence Sensor that states a price of $39 but when I go to it, the unit is listed at $119 + S%H? Any where else to get it a a more reasonable price?

    Thanks.

  77. Rick H

    Trying to help someone sort a problem with their Edge 500. They are trying, & failing, to connect one of the newer crank mounted cadence sensors. I wondered if there might be a compatibility issue with the newer separate sensors. Has anyone successfully managed this as I know they only came out several years after the 500?

    Thanks.

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