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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 500Hammerhead Karoo 2Apple Watch Series 6Apple Watch Series SEFitbit Versa 3
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated December 30th, 2020 @ 3:15 am New Window
Price$199$399$399/$499 (cellular)$279$229
Product Announcement DateSEP 1, 2009Augustu 2020Sept 15th, 2020Sept 15th, 2020Sept 2020
Actual Availability/Shipping DateDec 2009Nov 2020Sept 18th, 2020Sept 18th, 2020Sept 25th, 2020
GPS Recording FunctionalityYesYesYesYesYes
Data TransferUSBWiFi/USBBluetooth SmartBluetooth SmartBluetooth Smart
WaterproofingIPX7IP6750m50m50m
Battery Life (GPS)18 hours12 hours claimed7hrs GPS on time (18hrs standby)6hrs GPS on time (18hrs standby)12 hours (6 days standby)
Recording Interval1-Second or Smart1-secondVariesVaries1-second
Quick Satellite ReceptionGreatYesMost timesMost timesYes
AlertsSound/VisualVisual/AudioVibration/Audio/VisualVibration/Audio/VisualVisual/Vibrate
Backlight GreatnessGoodGreatGreatGreatGreat
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceNoIn futureYesYesYes
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)NoN/AYesYesYes
MusicGarmin Edge 500Hammerhead Karoo 2Apple Watch Series 6Apple Watch Series SEFitbit Versa 3
Can control phone musicNoYesYesYes
Has music storage and playbackNoYesYesYes
Streaming ServicesApple MusicApple MusicPandora, Deezer
PaymentsGarmin Edge 500Hammerhead Karoo 2Apple Watch Series 6Apple Watch Series SEFitbit Versa 3
Contactless-NFC PaymentsYesYesYes
ConnectivityGarmin Edge 500Hammerhead Karoo 2Apple Watch Series 6Apple Watch Series SEFitbit Versa 3
Bluetooth Smart to Phone UploadingNoPlanned 2021YesYesYes
Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)NoYesYesYesYes
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)NoYesWith 3rd party appsWith 3rd party appsNo
Group trackingNoNoNoNo
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)NoNoYesYesNo
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoYes (with SIM card added)Yes (with cellular version)Yes (with cellular version)No
CyclingGarmin Edge 500Hammerhead Karoo 2Apple Watch Series 6Apple Watch Series SEFitbit Versa 3
Designed for cyclingYesYesYesYesYes
Power Meter CapableYesYesNoNoNo
Power Meter Configuration/Calibration OptionsYesYesN/AN/AN/A
Power Meter TSS/NP/IFYesYesN/AN/AN/A
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableYesYesNoNoNo
Strava segments live on deviceNoYesNoNoNo
Crash detectionNoYes via 'Fall Detection'Yes via 'Fall Detection'No
RunningGarmin Edge 500Hammerhead Karoo 2Apple Watch Series 6Apple Watch Series SEFitbit Versa 3
Designed for runningNoNoYesYesYes
Footpod Capable (For treadmills)N/AN/AWith 3rd party appsWith 3rd party appsNo (but has treadmill functionality)
Running Dynamics (vertical oscillation, ground contact time, etc...)N/AN/ANoNoNo
Running PowerWith 3rd party appsWith 3rd party appsNo
VO2Max EstimationN/A(No for cycling too)YesYesYes, via app
Race PredictorN/AN/ANoNoNo
Recovery AdvisorN/A(No for cycling too)NoNoNo
Run/Walk ModeN/AN/AWith 3rd party appsWith 3rd party appsNo
Track Recognition ModeNoNo
SwimmingGarmin Edge 500Hammerhead Karoo 2Apple Watch Series 6Apple Watch Series SEFitbit Versa 3
Designed for swimmingNoN/AYesYesYes
Openwater swimming modeN/AN/AYEsYEsNo
Lap/Indoor Distance TrackingN/AN/AYesYesYes
Record HR underwaterN/AN/AYesYesNo
Openwater Metrics (Stroke/etc.)N/AN/ABasic stroke type onlyBasic stroke type onlyNo
Indoor Metrics (Stroke/etc.)N/AN/ABasic stroke type onlyBasic stroke type onlyYes
Indoor Drill ModeN/AN/ANoNoNo
Indoor auto-pause featureN/AN/AYesYesNo
Change pool sizeN/AN/AYesYesYes
Indoor Min/Max Pool LengthsN/AN/A1y/m to 1,500y/m+1y/m to 1,500y/m+10m/y-100m/y
Ability to customize data fieldsN/AN/AVery limitedVery limitedYes
Can change yards to metersN/AN/AYesYesYes
Captures per length data - indoorsN/AN/AYesYesYes
Indoor AlertsN/AN/AYes (goals)Yes (goals)Yes (distance)
TriathlonGarmin Edge 500Hammerhead Karoo 2Apple Watch Series 6Apple Watch Series SEFitbit Versa 3
Designed for triathlonNoNoNot reallyNot reallyNo
Multisport modeN/AN/AYesYesNo
WorkoutsGarmin Edge 500Hammerhead Karoo 2Apple Watch Series 6Apple Watch Series SEFitbit Versa 3
Create/Follow custom workoutsYesYes via TrainingPeaksWith 3rd party appsWith 3rd party appsNo (Premium Coached only)
On-unit interval FeatureYesNoWith 3rd party appsWith 3rd party appsNo
Training Calendar FunctionalityNoNoWith 3rd party appsWith 3rd party appsNo
FunctionsGarmin Edge 500Hammerhead Karoo 2Apple Watch Series 6Apple Watch Series SEFitbit Versa 3
Auto Start/StopYesAuto-pause/restart (but not Auto-Start)YesYesYes
Virtual Partner FeatureYesNoSorta (Pacing feature)Sorta (Pacing feature)No
Virtual Racer FeatureNoNoNoNono
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)NoNoNoNoNo
Day to day watch abilityN/ANoYesYesYes
Hunting/Fishing/Ocean DataNoN/ANoNoNo
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoN/ANoNoNo
Jumpmaster mode (Parachuting)NoN/ANoNoNo
GeocachingNoN/ANoNoNo
Weather Display (live data)NoNoYesYesYes
NavigateGarmin Edge 500Hammerhead Karoo 2Apple Watch Series 6Apple Watch Series SEFitbit Versa 3
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)YesYesWith 3rd party appsWith 3rd party appsNo
Markers/Waypoint DirectionYesYesWith 3rd party appsWith 3rd party appsNo
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)NoYesWith 3rd party appsWith 3rd party appsNo
Back to startYesNoWith 3rd party appsWith 3rd party appsNo
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationNoNo (But can create one-way routes on device)With 3rd party appsWith 3rd party appsNo
Download courses/routes from phone to unitNoNo (only via WiFi from site)With 3rd party appsWith 3rd party appsNo
SensorsGarmin Edge 500Hammerhead Karoo 2Apple Watch Series 6Apple Watch Series SEFitbit Versa 3
Altimeter TypeBarometricBarometricBarometric with real-time watch faceBarometricBarometric
Compass TypeGPSMagneticMagneticMagneticN/A
Optical Heart Rate Sensor internallyNoN/AYesYesYes
SpO2 (aka Pulse Oximetry)YesNoYes
ECG FunctionalityYesNoNo
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleYesYesYesYesNo
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableYesYesNoNoNo
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableYesYesnonoNo
ANT+ Footpod CapableNoNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Power Meter CapableYesYesNoNonO
ANT+ Weight Scale CapableNoNoNoNonO
ANT+ Fitness Equipment (Gym)NoNoNoNonO
ANT+ Lighting ControlNoNoNoNonO
ANT+ Bike Radar IntegrationNoYesNoNoNo
ANT+ Trainer Control (FE-C)NoYesNoNoNo
ANT+ Remote ControlNoNoNoNoNo
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityNoNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Muscle Oxygen (i.e. Moxy/BSX)NoNoNoNo
ANT+ Gear Shifting (i.e. SRAM ETAP)YesNoNoNo
Shimano Di2 ShiftingNoYesNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableNoYesYesYesNo
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableNoYesNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapableNoNoNoNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableNoYesNoNoNo
Temp Recording (internal sensor)YesYesNoNoNo
Temp Recording (external sensor)NoNoNoNono
SoftwareGarmin Edge 500Hammerhead Karoo 2Apple Watch Series 6Apple Watch Series SEFitbit Versa 3
PC ApplicationGarmin ExpressNoNoneNone-
Web ApplicationGarmin ConnectYesNoneNoneYEs
Phone AppGarmin Connect Mobile (not direct to device though)NoiOS onlyiOS onlyiOS/Android
Ability to Export SettingsNoNoNoNoNo
PurchaseGarmin Edge 500Hammerhead Karoo 2Apple Watch Series 6Apple Watch Series SEFitbit Versa 3
AmazonLinkLinkLinkLink
Clever Training - Save with the VIP programLinkN/A
REILink
DCRainmakerGarmin Edge 500Hammerhead Karoo 2Apple Watch Series 6Apple Watch Series SEFitbit Versa 3
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.

ProductStreet PriceAmazonClever Training
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
$25
$25
Barfly Tate Labs Timetrial/Triathlon Bike Mount
$37
$37
PowerTap G3 ANT+ Power Meter (Hub)
$790 (hub only)
$790 (hub only)
PowerTap Pro ANT+ Power Meter (Hub)
$899
$899
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Classic Plastic Strap) - HRM1
$37.00
$37.00
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Premium Soft-Strap) - HRM2
$69.00
$69.00
Garmin ANT+ Heart Rate Strap (Premium Soft-Strap) - HRM3
$50
$50
Garmin ANT+ Replacement HR Strap (for HRM3/HRM-RUN - just the strap portion)
$28.00
$28.00
Garmin ANT+ Speed/Cadence Cycling Sensor (GSC-10)
$35.00
$35.00
Garmin Edge Series Extra Bike Mounts (2 sets in box)
$10.00
$10.00
Garmin Edge Series Mini-USB Car Charger
$10.00
$10.00
Garmin out-front bike mount (For all Edge units, 310XT/910XT/920XT with Quick Release)
$38.00
$38.00
K-Edge Garmin Handlebar Mount X-Large for Edge units (including Edge 1000)
$45.00
$45.00
Motorola ANT+ Speed/Cadence Cycling Sensor (Quick Install) - BEST!
$55.00
$55.00
Power2Max ANT+ Power Meter
$970 (no cranks)
$970 (no cranks)
PowerCal ANT+ Estimated Power Meter
$99
$99
SRAM Quarq Cinqo (Original) ANT+ Power Meter
Discontinued
Discontinued
SRAM Quarq Elsa & RED ANT+ Power Meter
$1,600 (with cranks, no chainrings)
$1,600 (with cranks, no chainrings)
SRAM Quarq Riken ANT+ Power Meter
$1,200 (with cranks, no chainrings)
$1,200 (with cranks, no chainrings)
Stages ANT+/Bluetooth Smart Power Meter
$699
$699

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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571 Comments

  1. Matze

    Hi Rainmaker,
    thanks for this extensive review & pictures.
    I already have my Edge 500 on order. Should be in my hands soon. Looking forward …

    Matze

  2. Anonymous

    Great review Ray as always.

    Lisa

  3. Thanks Rainmaker, now I understand what “In depth” means…

  4. JVD

    Ray when you were using the Garmin 500 with your Cinqo powermeter, was there any issues related to the cadence pick-up given the Cinqo reports cadence itself? Does the pick-up of the Cinqo cadence signal turn “off” the Garmin cadence sensor? Is the cadence reported by the Garmin in the downloaded data that of the Cinqo or the Garmin sensors? As I understand it you wouldn’t need to hook up the Garmin cadence sensor??

    Thanks.

    Jack

  5. Anonymous

    Zero averaging – on vs off – Just to be clear this is what you see ON the unit vs what data is captured and downloaded. So in your case I’d only see the 200W w/ zero off vs XXXW w/ zero on when reviewing that data on the unit?

  6. How reliable is the GPS fix? Could you leave the Edge 500 in a jersey pocket or even the center zipped pocket at the rear of many running tights, and still pick up a reliable signal?

    I was wondering if the Edge 500 could be occasionally used when I want a GPS track of a cross country skiing session. Can I avoid the the 310XT quick release kit?

    I’m currently using a FR60 and foot pod, but need a new cycling computer and I’d like a GPS device. The 310XT and 405 are too big for my wrists so I’d love to get an Edge 500. The 310XT should be perfect but I think I’d be happier with the FR60 and an Edge 500. Hopefully this explains my odd question!

    Great review, love the detail.

    Greg.

  7. Anonymous

    great review – much appreciated. At the risk of sounding shallow (and beauty is in the eye of the beholder 🙂 I can’t help thinking a ‘Con’ of the 500 is the colour – I mean really, ‘Shimano’ blue???

  8. Thanks all-

    JVD-

    RE: Cadence from Cinqo or Cadence Sensor

    Let me test that out on tomorrow’s trainer ride and see which one it’s pulling from – I’ve been meaning to double-check that anyway.

    Anon-

    RE: Zero Averaging

    Correct.

    Greg-

    RE: GPS Reliability

    I actually put it on my pocket initially for one run (yes, run) and it works just fine. Also had it in my back bike pockets as well. In fact, I even took it on a plane flight in my backpack below the seat in front of me and it recorded fairly well for some chunks – but not quite as well as the 310XT and 705 recorded. But for casual use (not in an airplane), it will easily work in a backpack or under clothing layers.

  9. Since you have both 705 and the 500, which one will you use more now? Or will you ditch the other?

    I see the 500 as a tempting impulse buy, even though if I already have the 705.

    I’d like to know if the “heart rate based caloric calculations” makes a difference between the two units. Do you see a difference in results on the same run?

  10. that response about the USB location/implementation seems like absolute nonsense, either they misunderstood your question, or don’t realize you’ve gotta take the device off of the bike to download data anyways…

    That really does seem rather questionable.

    but as always,
    Great Review

  11. Great Review as always!

  12. Very nice review! as you do usually 😉

    Just a question: how do we create POWER workout with GTC or GC?

  13. Wari-

    RE: 500 vs 705

    For me, I’ll likely use the 705 most of the time due to the cleaner/easier to read screen and occasional mapping use.

    I’d have to check on the calories and see how it does on the same ride. I’ll play with it tonight on a trainer ride.

    TarHeelTri-

    RE: USB adapter vs weather sealed

    I completely agree 100% with you.

    Andrea-

    RE: Power workout in GTC

    Unfortuntely, you can’t create power workouts with GTC (only HR and Pace). You’ll have to use Sports Tracks with the Garmin Fitness plug-in instead.

    I talk about it here: link to dcrainmaker.blogspot.com

  14. Anonymous

    Terrific review as always. Very well done.

  15. Thanks, I’ve always like to know the differences calorie computation can make. For example the Forerunner 405 and the Edge 705, can wildly different readings on the same ride.

    Whereas, in theory, the 310XT and the Edge 500, should give similar results, and based on my understanding, possibly half of what the Edge 705 would give.

  16. Jim

    Great review Rainmaker!

    Only question I have is…..Did Garmin fix the power-off design problem found in the Edge 305? I’ve heard the same design problem exists in the 705 (Contact between the battery connections and the main circuit board lose connection over time).

    I love my 305 but the power design issue is really frustrating. I now several cyclist that have sworn off all Garmin products just because of this problem and Garmin’s unwillingness to make it right, or even admit that it is a design flaw.

    Thanks again for the very thorough review.

  17. Very thorough review, thanks for putting so much time into this and helping out other potential users!

    One somewhat unrelated question: can you use two power units at once, ie run the Garmin 500 and PowerTap CPU simultaneously, and collect power data, etc..?

    Thanks again!

  18. Great review. Your time and attention to detail are definitely appreciated.

    The only thing holding me back is the screen. Im thinking about buying one of those anti glare screen protectors for the iphone and then using the screen protector that comes on the Edge 500 as a pattern to cut out a anti glare screen protector.

    If that doesnt work I can always return the unit to my lbs and get the 705…

  19. Anonymous

    Great review. Very thorough. I just bought one of these before finding your review but it confirms my choice. The 310xt would have been better for my needs but the Edge 500 is a more economical way to get power. I was disappointed at the lack of workouts, but nice to see it will be coming in a firmware update.

    As for ANT+ versus USB. I suspect the resaon there’s no ANT+ data transfer is because they couldn’t meet their price point if it was included. Additional cost for the ANT+ stick plus some fancy inductive charging would have driven the price too high.

  20. I just purchased one of these and it is en route from REI to me! Your review was quite helpful. Quick question, in the photo album, photo IMG_4999 shows a quick release mount with zip ties? Which mount is that?

  21. Thanks for posting your review. I bought mine in two parts… sensors and premium heart rate belt from AntOnline and base Edge 500 from Amazon. In the end it was cheaper than the Garmin package.

    One feature I’m excited about is display of ascent rate. Its a pretty good indicator of power output on climbs. Michael Ferrari calls it VAM.

  22. What an incredible review. I purchased an Edge 500 a week ago, but your article filled me in on some of the features I wasn’t even aware of. So far I’ve used it on a mtn ride, trail run and on the trainer (second cadence sensor came in tonight). Thanks!

  23. Hi Jim:

    RE: Garmin power off problem in 305

    Yes, my understanding was this was fixed fairly early into the 705 production cycle. For example, my 705 never had this problem. I haven’t had this problem with the Edge 500, though it’s been pretty early.

    Dave:

    RE: Two power units at once

    Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a way to pair the unit to more than one power meter. I wish that were the case, it would be kinda fun.

    Mister:

    RE: Quick Release with Kit

    That’s the 310XT quick release bike kit you see there, it works pretty well.

    Thanks all!

  24. Joachim

    Very comprehensive write-up, love the review. I was ready to buy from the day this was announced just from the specs alone. Your review is truly the icing.

    On the color, well it did bug me enough to ask Garmin about it. Here is their response:


    Thank you for contacting Garmin International. I will be happy to assist you. Unfortunately at this moment that is the only color that will be available. We may come out with new colors, but I have no information regarding if or when this will happen.

    With Best Regards,
    Gary H
    Product Support Specialist
    Outdoor/Fitness Team
    Garmin International

  25. Excellent, detailed review-thank you for taking the time to review this unit is such detail! I’m currently using a Polar S725X and wish it upgrade to the Garmin Edge 500 to be able to gain access to ANT+ Power meters, add GPS routing capabilities to overlay with the rest of the data (what percent grade was that climb, and where was it located in the data-much easier to answer with a GPS mapped overlay than remembering it was 43 miles into the ride…), and get data recording resolution finer than every 5 seconds. The only drawback to the 500 that I could see (thus far) was the absence of the ‘workout’ planning function to plan intervals, etc.-glad to hear its on it’s way in Q1, 2010…

    My questions: Can you explain the ‘smart recording’ feature for the data recording rate and what that actually translates into in practical usage? It sounds like the 500 will record a data point (alt, speed, cadence, etc–all data inputs?) any time the speed, direction, or heart rate changes-in practical use, that happens all the time for me so I’m guessing the recording rate is fairly fine when I want it to be–can you elaborate? How frequently does this actually record a data point and does it record all fields when it does record an ‘instant’ to keep the data in sync for that point in time? I’m specifically looking to go back to climbs and determine max % grades I rode up…

    Also, can you set the recording rate to be 1 sec, even without the power meter option turned ‘on’-or can you just turn the power input on and record away with a ‘zero’ field for power in order to get the data recording rate I’m really after?

    Please advise your experience on the above, particularly in light of my objective: getting peak % grades and, Max HR, and max speed (all without the Power meter at this point–I’m sure it will be a mute point once I get a PowerTap).

    Thanks again for your efforts!

    Sean

  26. Great comprehensive review. Thank you. Got one as an Xmas gift from my wife. I’ve learned much about its features reading your review without having to delve into the manual.

    As far as the color of the unit, it meshes perfectly with my white, blue and black themed bike. My thoughts are it’s about time we got some love given the white, red, and black that’s the preferred color scheme of the day on so many bikes and accessories. Good on you Garmin.

  27. Just a note to say that your review is incredibly thorough and really helpful. Thanks for taking the time to put this whole thing together. I, too, got the 500 for Christmas, and am really happy to know about the Courses feature.

    Thanks again! This is how product reviews *should* be done!

  28. Extremely thorough and helpful review.

    Thanks DC Rainmaker!

  29. DDH

    DC Rainmaker,

    Thanks for the awesome, detailed review. I like to over analyze every purchase and you make that very possible!!!

    Question: Do you know if the new firmware release for the Edge 500 will allow speed to be displayed in a pace form (mile per min) for use in running? Just wondering… may be nice.

    Thanks again, your work is appreciated

  30. Anonymous

    Thanks Rainmaker. A top detailed review that I added your site to my favourites for the future. Cookie from the land down under.

  31. Thanks alot for the highly “in depth” review. The description on the Garmin site is so vague and fluffy, I really needed more. I ordered one and they should send you a commission! Happy trails

  32. Very nice review.
    It will be in my hand very soon.
    One of the best things that a company like Garmin do is providing future support after purchasing a product with firmware revisions that add functionality and correct mistakes.
    Best regards from Spain.

  33. Best review I’ve seen on this product yet! Can you tell me-if I buy the basic version, can I use my existing HR strap (non Garmin) with this unit? I really don’t need cadence info, but would love to have HR features if possible. Just am too cheap to buy the deluxe unit if I don’t need it!

    Thanks again for the great review.

  34. slcpunk

    I had a forerunner 305. I liked to use it for things in addition to just running or biking- primarily hiking or skiing. In these cases, I usually put the device in the top of a pack or a pocket. The GPS always worked ok, however, on the 305 it was very easy to accidentally stop the logging, as the buttons could pressed very easily.

    I checked the manual, there is no “key lock” that I could see on the 500 … how hard is it to bump the buttons and press them?

  35. Harold

    Thank you for an excellent review!
    I found it very informative.

    I have just configured an Edge 500 for a friend and found it very attractive. But I still have two questions about it.

    First, I didn’t notice Speed – Max as a screen option. Could I possibly have missed it, or is that no longer a standard option?

    Secondly, I presently have an Edge 305 and my biggest complaint (battery life is a close second) is the limit on the length of the data file.
    I really enjoy long epic mountain bike rides and races and I am frustrated when I find I’ve lost the start of my ride or race due to the ~3.5 hours or so (depending on the smart logging) of data capacity.
    I didn’t see any mention of how long the 500 could log a continuously changing data set for. Do you know?

    Again, a pleasure to read your review and I also will look forward to your reviews whenever I go shopping.

    Thanks,

    Harold

  36. Me, too – great review.

    I purchased the 500 today. I realize, after reading your review, I need to purchase the cadence sensor kit, because I occasionally like to track my distance on my rollers (not that I need rollers often in Los Angeles – it was 80 degrees today, January 11.

    The tip of where to find that kit – amazon – was a good one. Thanks.

    It’s going to be a bit of a pain, and/or more expensive, to switch between two bikes when I do use rollers, than it was with my former cyclometer. Do I reattach the sensor, or buy another unit?

    And I wonder how well the two mounts included for the 500 will hold up after lots of switching back and forth between bikes. That’s what did my old cyclometer in (which cost half as much as the 500). The mounting plates were wearing out. That and interference from my iPhone, computer, bike light, etc.

  37. There seems to be an important missing feature. It’s GPS driven but nowhere is the readout of LAT-LONG available! In the 305 you could see it under “Mark Location”. Locally a helocopter was directed to a rescue point by a cyclist with a GPS, but with a 500 someone could still be lost.

  38. Thanks all for the comments! And sorry for the delay, been traveling overseas for past three weeks and trying to catchup on everything.

    Hi Sean (SMHagger):

    RE: Smart Recording vice normal recording for practical usage:

    On the 500 (and the 310XT) you cannot set the recording rate to 1s unless you have a power meter (which it then does automatically). This kinda sucks to be honest (as I noted in the review). I haven’t seen two many issues with either unit and smart recording. The only time I’ve seen some oddities is inside on a trainer on the older 305 with smart recording on, where the HR data gets too averaged. But I haven’t seen that issue on the 310XT/705 or 500. So, I think you’ll get the max % grades without issue and the Max HR as well (since it would likely trigger a data point). Hope this helps some!

    Hi DDH:

    RE: Firmware update release to show pace instead of MPH

    As much as I’d love to see this, I highly doubt they’ll add it. In general Garmin adds very few features after release to their fitness line. Because of the QA testing and that would be required for a company of it’s level, I’m doubting they’d spend the extra time to add a data field like that (as easy as it may sound, and probably is, the regression testing that has to be done means a ton of additional test cases). Sorry! (Though, just my guess/opinion)

    Hi Phil:

    RE: Using older Garmin HR strap with this unit.

    Depends. Any older Garmin ANT+ HR strap will work without issue. However, if it’s not ANT+, it won’t work. There’s a little icon on the back of the HR strap usually – though that can get worn off. The Polar’s are not compatible, neither are ones from most gyms. But, the PowerTAP ones are.

    Hi slcpunk:

    RE: Bumping a key on/keylock

    It’s actually kinda difficult. In fact, as I mentioned in the review, using it with gloves can be a bit tricky due to the harder nature of pressing the buttons. I’ve toted it around in a backpack a bit on this past trip without it ever triggering a false key press. Hope this helps!

    Hi Harold:

    Re: Max Speed

    No, max speed is not a data field you can choose. The only speed fields are: ‘Speed’, ‘Speed – Avg’, ‘Speed – Lap’. 🙁 It is in the summary view, but imho that’s kinda useless as it’s just post-ride after the given ride has been ‘stopped’.

    Re: The longest I’ve logged personally was something like 16 hours, on a flight from Seattle to Tokyo to Beijing. No issues.

    Hi Dave:

    RE: Multiple bikes and cadence sensors

    Yeah, it’s going to be a pain to swap between them. Huge pain imho. I’d simply lay out the additioanl $30 for another set of sensors so you can just swap bike profiles. Then your life will be MUCH easier. 🙂

    RE: Mounts holding up after years of abuse

    That’s the one question I’m still out on. I’m unsure on it. Though, the good part is they are so darn cheap that maybe it’s better than the big plastic ones that can easily snap. These are all rubber based and perhaps they’ll brave the elements better (and hard use).

    Hi Douglass:

    RE: Lat/Long available

    Actually, it is available. If you go under GPS > Set Elevation it will show you your current Lat/Long. 🙂

  39. Paul

    Thanks for the review.

    Regarding the ‘Course’ feature. You say it won’t tell you to turn right to get back onto your route etc.

    But does it show you the general direction you should be heading to get back on route or what?

  40. Yup, it will show you where you are in relation to the course.

  41. cru_jones

    I know it’s only one review, but there was a comment on Amazon re: the premium strap not working correctly…can anyone comment?

    link to amazon.com

  42. Hey CRU_Junes:

    Re: Strap

    I’ll let others comment as well. But the one you linked to above (which is titled Premium HR Strap) – isn’t actually the official Garmin Premium Heart Rate Strap, at least looking at the pictures. They are very different.

    As for the official one that you can get directly from Garmin (no idea why not yet on Amazon), I use it 100% of the time with the Edge 500. I got the Premium HR strap with the 310XT, and it works flawlessly.

  43. Any idea how large the heart rate strap is? I am a Clydesdale with a chest size 49. I am hoping it fits.

  44. I’ve got my Garmin 500 – thanks to your review, set up went smoothly.

    Compared to my regular bike cyclometers, the data available on this this device is amazing. However it’s missing, I think, one cool feature: the maximum grade for any particular ride (which was on my VDO).

    If it is missing, it’s not an earth-shattering omission. It’s nice to know, though, after I’ve struggled up a steep hill and didn’t make the effort to look at the cyclometer, just what the grade was.

  45. OK – I see it’s easy to determine the steepest grade, via the grade graph.

  46. Jab

    Awesome review! Living in Arizona, I’m concerned about the visibility of the display. Can I “shift” my way around the problem to vary the angle or is this going to be extremely problematic?

  47. Anonymous

    Thanks for your review – I have bought one. Re: Course feature
    How do I zoom into (i.e. change the resolution of) the “breadcrumb” map to follow a course? This used to be a nice feature in the edge 305, but I just can’t find it in the edge 500.

  48. Aaron

    About the glare issue: I wonder if wearing polarized sunglasses while riding would eliminate the problem. Can anyone confirm this?

  49. Hi Spencer:

    Re: Size ofheart rate strap

    Hmm…I haven’t seen any clydes complain yet about the size being too small. The strap goes pretty darn big, though I would say the non-premium one (old school style included in Edge 500) does seem to go bigger than the premium one.

    Hi Jab:

    RE: Visibility in Arizona

    It’s certainly workable, just have to sometimes shift position to see it. Sometimes that’s merely an inch or two, otherwise it’s more. I think you’ll be fine honestly.

    Hi Anon:

    RE: Course zooming

    Interesting obervation, you’re right. I can’t seem to find any way to zoom either. Simply not enough buttons. I poked around the Garmin Forums, but didn’t see anyone ask how. You may want to ask there – and see if the engineers know how. link to forums.garmin.com

    Hi Aaron:

    RE: Polarized sunglasses

    Hmm…I’ll have to try that out sometime this week…

    Thanks all!

  50. Anonymous

    I too was wondering about the premium HR strap. I have read some bad reviews about it. Has anyone else used it? If so, please post any comments (pro or con)
    Thanks

  51. Hi everybody.
    Very impressive review indeed, Rainmaker !
    I’d like to share my opinion about altimeter function, because until now I have totally different observations. Considering yours, I will need to do more testing, especially on car GPS devices to make sure what we really have got.
    You wrote :

    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:

    I was using many normal – non GPS cyclo computers with of course barometric altimeters. And I was waiting for GPS device, because air pressure vary to weather changes a lot. Even if weather is stable over day, when running long distance trip, baro altimeter can show you up to around 150metres difference between morning start, and evening coming back to your base. That difference is maybe easily acceptable for driver, but not for cyclist.
    What the dissapointment it was for me, when a few years ago I found new Edge 705 based on baro altimeter !
    You wrote, that above screenshot shows time taken to adjust elevation. If such an 200 feet error needs average 16 miles ride with Edge 500 for adjustment, it means disqualification comparing to others baro alti cyclo computers. Normally they can be adjusted in few seconds BEFORE you start riding. For example Sigma ROX 9.0 offers 3 pre-set home altitudes choice.You can also quickly adjust altitude at any time you notice, that computer shows you different altitude than map does. Without losing data already recorded since you started current trip, and without need to stop riding.
    I don’t know how to attache here screenshots showing average accuracy of Ciclo Control HAC5, and Sigma ROX 9.0 during 5-10 hours trip. So, I’m forced to describe it. I picked two examples of trips, beginning at the same point where they end, and in the meantime crossing alpine pass, going to the other side of the pass, and going back the same way – crossing the same pass after some couple hours.This way ( having two same day measurements on the top of the pass, and in the base ) we can see how barometer changes our readings during stable weather. First one of HAC5: start in Guillestre – 1018m, Col Agnel – 2723m, Castelgandolfo, Col Agnel – 2632, Guillestre – 863m. Second trip of Sigma ROX 9.0: St. Michelle du Maurienne – 847m, Col Galibier – 2664m, Le Casset, Col Galibier – 2656m, St Michel du Maurienne – 883m.

  52. During last summer we tested our non GPS cyclo computers against cheap car Nokia SatNav , which is extra to new Skoda cars. Difference is – lets say – light years. GPS is winner. Even if we were going with speed around 100mph, it was controlled very well by Nokia – about 2 times a second. And when we had to stay in the base – set in alpine valley due to bad weather, our cyclo computers were totally confused by quick changes of air pressure, showing hundreds of meters variations. Nokia GPS ( knowing nothing about weather ) was showing all the time accurate, same like the map altitude. That GPS is 1 meter accurate, and as far as I could notice, shows not bigger than 5 meters difference comparing to the map.
    I’m going to test more Sat Navs to make sure if I’m wrong or not. If eventually GPS is not easy to be accurate in our cyclo devices, why not base it on the contours of the map ? It could be easily 10 – 20 metres accurate, not much memory consuming. I’ve sent this request to Garmin when they released Edge 705, but technical development department gave me ridiculous advice to adjust it hopeless way (comparing to others ).
    Another thing is battery life. Although improved to max 18hr, it’s still risky to use it as only computer for long distances. I’m afraid average battery life time will be well below 10 hours. Maybe it would be worthy to develope optional accesory like solar panel wired to the main unit, and attached to the stem or frame ? Expanded battery life would be tempting to many of us, especially considering average 1 year battery life of normal computer, and that Edge 500 gives not much more, than non GPS computers ( the same baro alt, and SPD magnet )
    Sorry if my English is less accurate than our altimeters 😉

  53. Hi Rainmaker,

    Great review!! I just want to ask you some (stupid?) things before buying Edge 705 or 500 cause I’m not a pro.

    I want to buy a great cycle computer. I want to see my route in google earth or maps, want to re-ride this route from time to time, want to ride some cyclos I find on the internet eg Tour of Flanders (I live in that area!)…

    I read that it’s possible to import a route in the 500 but can you easily follow the track/route with no mapping on board?

    Can you please help me out? thanks!

    PS One more question: what’s the thing with only 500 trackpoints in the edge. Here’s a link of a route I want to ride (passagecycling tour;link to gpscyclingtour.be). Can I put this in the edge or is it too many points? Thats not really clear to me.

  54. Amazing review! I would love to share it on my blog and give you some props and hopefully bring some traffic your way. Please let me know!

    Jordan
    lostmanifesto.com

  55. atomz

    rainmaker,

    thanks for the review… a very nice review… 🙂

    say, halfway through our ride, the rain pours,is it okay to leave it there unprotected? or cover it with clear kitchen cling wrap or something similar?

    does covering the unit affects the air pressure sensor holes for elevation?or any other data sensor for that matter?

    i was planning to setup to bikes – 1 roadie and 1 mtb…

    for mtb,(raining the night before- pools of mud/water on the trail)…

    what would you recommend to protect the unit especially the rubber flap (usb),the sound at most important the barometric air pressure sensor? – for the situation above…

    thanks… 🙂

  56. Hi chris-

    RE: GPS Altimeter

    The Edge 500 allows you to preset elevation points, which means you can instantly correct the altimeter prior to heading out on a ride. This is the easiest way to address many of your concerns. With respect to athletic device GPS elevations compared to car GPS elevations – it simply comes down to the exact sensors and technology being used. When you look at a car, the GPS sensor can be much much bigger than that of a wristwatch or bike computer. When looking at aviation or military grade, obviously they are different sets of device that utilize additional and different technologies to ensure correct altitude.

    Unfortunately I don’t have any experiance with some of the other device you’ve mentioned, so I can’t test them. 🙁

    Finally, as for the battery life – I haven’t seen any issues thus far (about 80 days now) and it’s still lasting greater than 10+ hours (I usually end up charging it well before then). I used it on some long transpac flights in December and it didn’t die. Thanks for commenting!

    Hi Lieven-

    RE: Importing in routes on Edge 500

    Yes, if you have a GPX based track route, you can import it into the Edge 500 and simply follow the breadcrumb track. This is different from the Edge 705 in that the 705 will also layer in actual street names.

    I don’t know the maximum trackpoints supported in a track, but I’ve synced some tracks that are 120+ miles in length and have a TON of trackpoints in them. No issues thus far.

    Hi Jordan-

    RE: Linking to post

    Thanks for the comments. Yes, feel free to link to this post, I appreciate it! Thanks!

    Hi Atomz-

    RE: Leaving it unprotected in the rain and effects of it

    I generally feel there’s no reason to cover it during rain. Just ensure the little USB cap on the bottom is nice and snug and you’re good to go. Covering the bottom of the unit (with the four holes) WILL effect the altimeter of the device (elevation) so beware of that. It won’t effect any other data however.

    For a moutain bike, I had no issues with mine and some serious mud (as noted in the review), including some massive man-eating mud ponds, so I think you’ll be good to go.

    Thanks all!

  57. atomz

    rainmaker,

    thanks for the reply…

    i forgot to asked these questions on my first post…

    1. 1st pic on the “road bike” installation, the mount on the stem uses zip ties,is it included on the package?

    from your experience, which would you prefer,rubber bands or zips?

    2. on GPS performance…

    say,my schedule this week is very tight, there will be an upcoming race in two weeks time, and i can’t pre-ride the course… can a friend of my take my edge 500 unit alone and pre-ride the course using a scooter or a car, therefore saving data of the course? – for maps,elevation(through Garmin connect) or whichever is applicable…

    thanks once again…

  58. Anonymous

    Awesome Review!

    Question: I currently have an Edge 305 with cad/speed & HR monitor. Can I buy the Edge 500 (non bundle and thus less expensive) and use the cad/speed sensor and HR monitor from my Edge 305?

  59. Hi Atomz-

    RE: Stem ties

    In both cases, for the Edge 500 mount I use the included rubber bands. The other mount you may see there is the Garmin 310XT mount, which users zip-ties. There are no way to use zip-ties with the native Edge 500 mount. But as noted, the 310XT and Edge 500 mounts are compatible. Thus far though, I’m actually liking the rubber band mount, so much easier to use.

    RE: GPS pre-riding

    Yup, just send them out and have them record it. Everything including elevation and mapping will be saved to GC and downloadable to the unit as a course.

    Hi Anon-

    RE: Edge 305 accessories compatibility with Edge 500

    Yup, all accessories (HR, Speed/Cadence) with the Edge 305 are compatible with the Edge 500. The mount systems are different however and not compatible.

  60. Just wanted to copy over a bunch of questions submitted via e-mail;

    1Q) Please confirm the Edge 500 will map where I’ve just finished running via Garmin Connect. Sounds like I would be required to upload the workout file to the Internet for mapping? Can this be uploaded to TrainingPeaks WKO+ to be “tagged’ with a specific workout?

    1A) Yes, the Edge 500 will map exactly where you were on Gamrin Connect (and Training Peaks). On TP it’s simply automatically included on the workout data for any given specific workout in your calendar. On GC, it shows up with each workout as well. No need to upload seperate data files, it’s all included.

    2Q) Is it possible to download a course to the Edge 500 via Garmin Connect for a course that I will run/bike in the future, and the Edge 500 will tell me how to stay on course? Sounds like this is only possible in Garmin Training Center? Is the feature that helps me stay on course robust and something I can rely on (turn right in 0.2 miles) , or merely simplistic (go southwest)?

    2A) Yes, on the Edge 500 you can follow a course, but it’s not like the Edge 705 which tells you to ‘Go left in .2 miles, on Main Street’, instead it’s more of a little breadcrump trail that you follow and it tells you if you’re off course.

    3Q) Sounds like I can purchase for ~ $25 on Amazon the 310XT watchband separately (I don’t own the 310XT) which would enable me to wearing it on my wrist when I go running? I recently parted with my 305 Forerunner (I didn’t like the short battery life and its bulky size).

    3A) Yes, correct on running with the 310XT wristband. Though keep in mind like I mentioned, you won’t get running paces – it’ll all be MPH like on a bike.

    4Q) The only drawback of using the Edge 500 (vs Garmin 310XT or Polar S625X) for running is speed is given in MPH, not minutes/mile? Is it comfortable wearing the 500 with the 310XT watchband?

    4A) Correct on MPH. I don’t find it uncomfortable using the 310XT strap with the Edge 500, just a bit odd looking.

    5Q) Any differences in cycling features/functionality between the 500 and 705 and the Garmin 310XT (besides the obvious illustrative mapping capability of the 705)? I understand the bike mount is improved in the 500 and workouts are coming in Q1 2010. I also understand power functionality is somewhat limited in the 310XT.

    5A) Correct on all assumptions. 310XT power is a bit gimpy (no 3s and 30s view). The difference between the 500 and 705 are basically just mapping and at the moment workouts (though that will soon be changed).

    6Q) Can I program the Edge 500 to read HR signals from a Polar S625x heart rate transmitter? How about from a PowerTap transmitter?

    6A) No Polar stuff is compatible with any Garmin HR stuff. 🙁 But, the PowerTap HR straps are compatible with the Garmin’s (from what I understand from others that have a PowerTap).

    7Q) Have you tried installing some sort of clear plastic over the viewing area of the 500 to reduce glare?

    7A) I have not yet tried installing any clear plastic cover. Someone also suggested different sunglass materials as an option as well. I might try those more once I get some sunny days around here…but at the moment, just a lot of rain. :-/

  61. Thanks for the awesome review. I just go my Garmin Edge 500 in and immediately plugged it into my computer. The online software detected the device and prompted me that there was an update available. I chose to update the firmware and the percentage indicator got to 100% and then threw an IE Exception. I tried a few more times and got the same error.
    The firmware never did actually update. I called support and they had me use the Web Updater utility that installs locally to your computer. That also failed but I decided that the support guy was an idiot and I began troubleshooting on my own. I tried the update again (through the web site) and ran procmon.exe at the same time. Apparently a file called gmaptz.img was getting an “access denied” response via procmon. So through Windows Explorer, I navigated to the Garmin device: e:\gamin\… and renamed the file called gmaptz.img to gmaptz.old. I then re-ran the update utility from web site and the firmware update was a success. I haven’t heard of anyone else having this problem, but I can’t imagine that I’m the only one having it so I thought I should share.

  62. Very intersting website! I am currently looking for my first garmin gps, i am very confused with what to get!! I have looked at the forerunner 305 and the edge 500 (i want something small) I mainly mountain bike and occasionally run and ski. what would you recommend for monitoring my 3 activities?

  63. 2 more problems with 500 making it hardly usable:

    1) Lap/history is not available for the ride until Garmin is connected to computer.
    Say you did 5 minute interval, marked with lap. in 705 you can go to history and see your avg power for the lap, not so much in 500!

    2) Buttons are on the side and very hard to press. Again with intervals its very hard to mark start/stop or to switch to different screen, it is cumbersome. In later case there is now audio feedback either.

    There is another quarq/srm specific issue, where PM sends signal few times per second and Garmin only picks one sample per second.

    On there very useful feature you’ve missed is your ascend speed, in feet/hr. I’m sure it was requested by Sleepstream. Only problem with that is grade in whole numbers, so it can be a bit off at higher speeds.

  64. Hi David-

    RE: IE issue trying to get update

    Thanks for the details, it’s always good to document it somewhere. One other place you may want to try posting is the Garmin Forums, as lots of folks look there for troubleshooting. Thanks for droping by!

    Hi Ollie-

    RE: Which Garmin to get

    Honestly, if you plan to run, then I’d suggest either the Forerunner 305 or the 310XT. They both do cycling quite well, and can also easily crossover to running. Look at the 310XT if you need Power Meter support, otherwise the cheaper 305 will do quite well. I use both for skiing, so no issues there. I’ve also used the Edge 500 for skiing as well, and again, no problems there at all.

    Hi Dessa-

    I noticed you said two issues that made it unusable, however in both cases, I just wanted to let you know you can actually do both of those.

    RE: Lap History, Button Presses and Garmin Pickup rate

    1) Lap History: To access this on the Edge 500, simply go to: Activities > View More > View Laps. From there you can scroll through each lap and see all the Averages for each lap.

    2) Buttons/Tones: As I noted in the review, I agree the buttons can sometimes be hard to press. Regarding the audio feedback, there is actually audio feedback for page changes. You can turn this on/off under Settings > System > Tones.

    3) Pickup Rate: I’ve been following your thread on the Wattage Forums about this. While the answers from all players are a bit unclear, it appears that Jim from Quarq has just stepped in and noted that an average can still be displayed. Based on the thread as of 2/1/10 at 12:26AM, I don’t think there’s honestly enough information from the right players (Garmin, Quarq) to really understand how this is handled at the sub-1s level. Just my two cents though.

  65. On laps, it doesn’t work during the ride. That is it is not showing current workout in history UNTIL it’s downloaded to computer! Weird, I know.

    Thanks for the sound tip, I’ll try. Still buttons are useless. DId you try to press it in TT after the start?

  66. Hi Desa,

    As noted, the buttons are indeed tough, I’ve tried hitting them during some pretty tough intervals and it’s always a bit tricky, but I have gotten better at it.

    One idea for the TT is to set Auto Pause as on. This way it’ll start as soon as your start rolling, and stop when you stop. Given in you’re TT you’re highly unlikely to stop, it won’t mess up your power numbers in TP/WKO+ (or anywhere else for that matter). In this situation, you are merely using the feature to trigger a start and stop (which is what you want anyways).

  67. On the tones, both tones are on for me. I guess I just cannot hear it during ride like with 705.
    Do a small experiment yourself, click on, check sound. Now put into computer mount, do it again. Sound is like 3 times lower, not even counting that you are much further from computer when you are riding and it there is ambient moving noise. Apparently it is not as noticeable with auto stop, since you are stopped and there is less noise. Just a poor design issue I guess.

    ( Yes, I use auto stop, but then I just go and delete all times I stopped manually in WKO+. Why no such problem with SRM? It handles stops just fine).

    good advice for TT,I’ve actually tested this the other day. Too bad you won’t be able to see your power for the effort afterwards until you connect your computer! (you know with warmup before and cooldown)

    I’m gonna test Joule next. 500 is disappointment for me. I hope f/w upgrades will fix at least some issues down the road. But not buttons. There is reason why SRM and Powertap have buttons on top.

  68. The reason the SRM handles auto-stops ‘better’ than the Garmin is due to the fact that the Garmin is a GPS device and the SRM is not. When you look at the underlying file format structure of the Edge 500, it records the exact timestamp of every data point. So instead of recording a simple linear list, it actually timestamps every single power number, heart rate reading, etc… So in effect, the gaps are simply because in real life there are gaps. In the SRM’s case, it’s just like a stop-watch, thus the gaps are invisible.

    In theory WKO3.0 handles this a bit better.

    I’m sure you’ve played around with it – but the wattage number I use during rides is Avg Wattage. That way I can see both for the current lap, and the last lap the average wattage, just add it as a data field. This would allow you to easily see your overall ride wattages (or any other average, such as HR/Speed/etc…) when the ride is over, before you’ve downloaded it.

    Also, you can ‘end’ a ride by simply just holding reset down for three seconds.

  69. Thanks, I guess that will work for TT:
    Make sure autostart on,
    Just before take off, press lap, After finish press lap again. Then eventually, reset unit again. Then you can see final lap power/time.

    It will be good to test if ANT+ antenna is improved on 500. 705 had one under lap button, and when in aerobars it is blocked, so Garmin looses signal from Quarq time to time. That is only on TT setup for virtually all my teammates with Garmin/Quarq. It will be good to see if it was addressed! Need to get my TT bike outside!

  70. Anonymous

    I sent a note to Garmin support regarding the possibility of them adding advanced workout support to the Edge 500 firmware and their response was “no”. They also stated that this feature was not planned to be added to the Edge 500 in the future.

    I guess I’m going to have to stick with my Edg 705.

  71. thanks for this extensive review!! It has helped me tremendously deciding to go for the purchase of the Edge 500! regards, David, The Netherlands

  72. Thanks for an enjoyable and comprehensive review of the Garmin Edge 500. I’m on the verge of ordering one for myself. Looking forward to it. 🙂

  73. Hi Anon-

    RE: Workout support in Edge 500

    Hmm, I’m not sure why they’ve said that. My information is direct from the Engineers via the Garmin PR rep (Jake). I can double-check with him again this week as I have a few outstanding questions to him anyways…

    Thanks all!

  74. Anonymous

    Thanks for the extensive review!
    One question for you.
    Will the 500(or 705) pull cadence info from a powertap or does it need the Garmin cadence accessory?
    TIA

  75. Hi Anon-

    RE: Cadence from PT

    Yup, the Edge 500 will pickup the cadence from the power tap without any issue. No need to utilize the Garmin sensor (other than improved accuracy, as the PT hub cadence is more of a mathematical assumption than an exact known).

  76. Anonymous

    Thanks for the cadence info.

    Another question…

    I have never trained using anything quite as complex as one of these new gizmos so I am really thinking from scratch here.
    Re the difficulty in tapping the buttons.
    For what reasons do you need to tap these buttons while riding?

    I understand one needs to start and stop the unit’s timer to begin recording data but what other reasons would a rider have for pushing a button other than to see data mid ride?
    Start and stop a lap?
    Clear a waypoint?

    I can imagine it is difficult to start a flying lap with these buttons so what else might I need to push a button for while training and/or racing?
    T again IA

  77. Anonymous

    DC Rainmaker

    Massive thank you! You are a breath of fresh air after a long winter! Superb objective and in depth comprehensive, yikes!

    Tiderace

  78. Hi Anon-

    RE: Reasons to hit buttons

    For me, the two biggest reasons are to hit a lap, and to stop/start. In addition, with the data pages I have different ones for different types of riding. So I tend to configure one page for ‘the now’, which shows stuff like 3s and 30s power, HR, cadence, etc… Whereas I have another page that’s a bit more historical, showing me my last lap avg pwr, avg ride power, etc…

  79. Anonymous

    I have been trying to download the new software update to my Garmin 500 and keep getting an error message. It then sits at 50% complete until I hit cancel. Any idea what the issue is

    Thanks,

    Mike

  80. For triathlons, if cost were not an issue, might not the best solution be the combination of an Edge 500 for the bike and a Forerunner 305 for the run? (Given the current the lack of power averaging on the 310XT.)

    If one used the Edge 500 and Forerunner 305 for a Tri, how would each be configured?

    According to Garmin ” [power averaging] could be added in a SW update. No promises, but it’s on their [tech department’s] radar now.”

    I have a Quarq Cinqo coming in the next few weeks for my Tri Bike. So I need a “power head unit” and soon. And I am hesitant to gamble an eventual power average SW update for the 310XT.

    Seems like the 305/500 combination would be an advantage of simplicity and time saved in T2. Certainly average power from the Edge 500 is better for monitoring power on the bike. I hate trying to do “in-head averages” of instantaneous power numbers. Seems like there are better things to do in the bike leg of Tri. [I could be wrong here as well. It may be that at near constant power output ,like in a TT, that the Quarq power numbers don’t jump around all that much on the 310XT and it would be adequate for the bike leg of a Tri.]

    Even if the 310XT eventually got power averaging:

    For T2 I am a bit leery of how complicated it would be, and how much time would be lost to take the 310XT off the bike, mount it on my wrist and configure it for a running display, e.g. going from MPH speed, to min/mile pace, etc.

    Also, given the bulky 310XT, waterproof seems an irrelevant feature for any wetsuit legal Tri swim.

    Thanks, another DC based Triathlete

  81. Hey, just wanted to say thanks for the great review.. I am a Powertap owner and was looking at a Joule 2.0, but the price, release date changes, and overall size of the unit are turning me off.. plus once I read your review and learned interval programming was going to be added I really see the plus side of the 500 unit.
    On a sidenote, I am curious about the lap function. I would be using it for interval training. I assume I would hit Lap, it would start, and then I have whatever functions I want to monitor on a second page which I’ll call it custom interval page.. once my interval time has elapsed, I just press whatever button to stop the lap.. What I am curious about is once you stop the current lap, does the data disappear immediately, or do you get a chance to review the data.. so after I do a 3 minute interval, can I analyze that data before starting the next one, or does it disappear once the lap is stopped?
    Also can you scan back through previous laps, or is this download to computer function only?

    Thanks for your time!!

  82. Anonymous

    Anon/Mike,
    Re your Firmware issue.

    Check the Garmin forums here…

    link to forums.garmin.com

    Seems it’s a common problem.

  83. Anonymous

    Hey mate,

    Thanks for the detailed review. Just wondering if you can use the strap (excluding the transmitter) of a Polar HRM with the premium Garmin transmitter. If so, I can use the Garmin during the bike portion (with the power meter cranks) and the polar hrm watch for the swim and run course by just slapping on a different transmitter during transition. Thanks.

  84. I have an Edge 305 and a ROX 9.0. One advantage of the 9.0 is that the heart rate indication responds more quickly. On the 305 it seems to have a 20-30 second delay, whereas the 9.0 seems to respond immediately. How about the 500? I hope the folks at Garmin took the delay out.

  85. Hi All – Sorry for the delay, been a busy last few days.

    Hi DCAD-

    RE: Best Combination for Tri’s

    I think for a tri a combination of the 310XT and Edge 500 is best. But if budget is a factor, then the FR305 and Edge 500 makes just as great of a pair. The primary advantage of the 310XT in this situation is as a backup for the bike (power meter), and just not having to worry about water as much.

    RE: Power Averaging in 310XT

    I’d love to see it – please continue to push Garmin on this front.

    RE: 310XT on the swim

    Personally, I wouldn’t wear mine normally in a race situation, just too many ways things can go wrong.

    RE: 310XT in transition

    If you use the quick mount…it’s quick. I typically do it pre-transition, about a mile out while still on the bike. Basically lock down the hatches.

    Hi Campy!

    RE: Lap Functions

    You can use the ‘last lap’ data field to show the last lap – this is what I use on my power meter screen – sorta a historical screen that I have that shows my last lap avg power, last lap avg pace, etc… Pretty useful for me. As for scanning through previous laps, yup – this is all recorded and easily viewable in most computer applications.

    Hi Anon!

    RE: The Polar straps ones do not work the Garmin’s, they use different frequencies and protocals. Sorry!

    Hi Leslie!

    RE: Edge 500 HR strap response rate

    Mine is virtually immediately. Well, as immediately as it takes my HR to catch up anyways. But within a second or so it starts rising – reasonable really.

    Thanks all for the comments!

  86. If the Garmin 500 can pull cadence from the PowerTap, will it also pull speed (e.g., when in a tunnel and no GPS signal avail) the way it would from the Garmin cadence/speed sensor?

    Looking to avoid buying/mounting the chainstay sensor if possible….

  87. Anonymous

    Using HR Strap while raining…

    Any issues, tips, on using HR when rain suddenly pours?

    thanks for the great review…

  88. Edge 500 features are incredible. Its very unique device. The GPRS functionality is useful.

  89. U.B.

    Just posted this on the Garmin Edge 500 forum, but this post seems to be getting a lot of viewers:

    Is anyone else getting remarkably poor elevation data from their Edge 500?

    I’ve had mine for just a few weeks. The first couple of rides I went on had great results. Out-and-back rides showed great mirror images in the elevation profile and I returned to nearly the correct start elevation. Recently, though, I’ve started getting very bad results… 300 to 400-foot-high hills barely showing up, large drifts in elevation over the course of a one-hour ride (end elevation can be 300-400 feet higher than start), sudden 100-foot changes in elevation while on flat ground, etc.

    I’ve started turning it on in my car while commuting to work (25 miles, 30 minutes) and also had poor results. It starts off calibrated to my home or work elevation and can end up 300 feet off at the other end. When I get home, it will read 360+ feet for over an hour (should be ~60 ft). If I then reboot the unit (but not push the start button) it will start up around 360+ ft and then slowly drift down to the correct elevation over an hour or more. It is as if the altimeter can work properly and autocalibrate, but not while a route is being recorded. If I boot the unit at my home and start a route, it self-calibrates to 60 feet. It will then stay within 10 feet of 60 for at least an hour or two. But once I start moving and return to that spot, it will almost always be too-high by a large amount.

    Looking at the data after a ride/drive, it looks like the ascents are recording approx. accurate elevation changes, but the descents are not large enough. Thus the overall elevation drifts higher on a rolling course.

    Some notes:
    [LIST]
    [*]I have the Edge 500 set to calibrate to my home (60 ft) or work (360 ft) elevation at the start of every route.
    [*]I have checked weather websites after seeing these poor results to confirm that there were no significant changes in atmospheric pressure during the duration of the route.
    [*]The unit is only a couple of weeks old and has never been in the rain.
    [/LIST]

    I’ve had other barometric altimeters (non-GPS) on bike computers and never had performance this bad. In theory, the barometric altimeter plus GPS [B]should[/B] be able to be much [B]better[/B] than the others, but sadly, this is not the case. My VDO bike computer would always return to nearly the correct start elevation after many-hour rides and also did fine when driving to/from work. Something is most definitely wrong with the Edge 500.

    Are others having results like this? Does anyone know more specifics of how the GPS calibrates the altimeter? For instance, if you self-calibrate at the beginning of a route, does it still use the GPS to auto-calibrate during the ride? Is there any way to turn off the GPS autocalibration?

    If nobody else has results like this, then maybe I just have a dud and will need to try to get a replacement.

  90. Hi ARC-

    RE: Speed from PowerTap hub

    I just checked on this, and found a post in the forums where someone posts a reponse from Garmin on exactly this. While this is for the Edge 705, I can’t imagine it would differ for the Edge 500. In short, yes, it will use the PT hub’s speed.

    link to forums.garmin.com

    Hi Anon-

    RE: HR Strap while raining

    No issues at all here, in fact, the extra water will generally improve contact and make it work better. 😉

    Hi UB-

    RE: Elevation data

    The key difference here (I mentioned it one of the earlier comments) is that the Edge 500 (like the 705) uses barometric altimeter. One item that can impact the elevation data from showing up correctly is if the back ports are blocked. I’d highly recommend double-checking that there is nothing blocked on the back. One other item you can do is set on the Edge 500 an known elevation point to give it a calibration point.

    The only time I’ve seen issues like this was when I had the little holes blocked with tape, and in that case, I was in the mountains and the elevation was all dorked up.

  91. U.B.

    Yes, my ports are clear (unit is basically new) and I’m autocalibrating to my home or work elevation at the start of all routes. I’ve had other barometric altimeters before (which did NOT have GPS also) and they outperformed this one and never had the type of errors I’ve seen with the Garmin. I’m starting to wonder if there is a software issue that causes problems while it is trying to autocalibrate the altimeter using the GPS. I believe that it always does this, even if you manually set a start elevation. I’ve been driving to/from work this week with the Garmin turned on in my car. It does a much better job if it is NOT recording a route. I.e., if I record a route I usually get a large drift in elevation at the end of my 25-mile drive. If I just leave it on but not recording, the elevation is perfect at the other end.

    It’s not all bad, though. I went on a 45-mile ride on Saturday and had extremely good results. If it worked that well all the time I’d be extremely happy.

    I’ll keep playing with it and report back. The altimeter + GPS *should* be able to be very, very accurate if implemented correctly. I’m hoping a future software update improves the performance.

  92. Anonymous

    Really a great review right there! 😀
    Thanks

    Otto

  93. Rainmaker,

    This review is a man among boys, so to speak. Nice work!

    Question… I’m wondering if the quarter turn mount system caused you any trouble in terms of interference with other stuff on your bike. Were you limited in any significant way in putting it exactly where you wanted it due to the need to keep some clearance around it for the quarter turn?

    Thanks!
    -Steve

  94. All – Note that as of today (Feb 23rd, 2010) the workout feature has been added to the Edge 500. You can get the firmware update here:

    link to www8.garmin.com

    (A bunch of other updates/fixes are added too)

    Onto questions….

    Hi U.B.-

    RE: Elevation correction using GPS

    Check out the change in the firmware above, fixes a bunch of issues related to detection of altimeter based on known GPS points. Though, I would agree I’m not sure why you’re seeing such fluctuations.

    Hi Steve-

    RE: Quart-turn mount limitations

    I haven’t seen any issues yet in terms of where I would mount the mount, for me it works pretty much everywhere I’ve stuck it. Now, I did just see the first failure report (blog post) I’ve seen on the mount – though now how I would of expected. The Edge unit itself had the small plastic clip actually snap, and sent it flying. So really not a failure of the mount per se, but the Edge. The unit survived, but Garmin is replacing. Don’t have the link handy at the moment…

    Thanks all!

  95. Anonymous

    Hi rainmaker,
    I’m thinking about purchasing an edge 500 but am not currently using a power device. Do you think that it’s still worth purchasing? Thanks in advance
    Dan

  96. Anonymous

    You state that the 500 does not have the Virtual Partner feature. The instructions indicate that it does. Is it not working on your unit?

  97. Anonymous

    Wonderful review !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  98. Hi!
    This is my first time on your site – awesome job on the Edge 500 review. My question is this (sorry if I missed it): can I use the cadence sensor and heart strap from my Egde 305 or do I need to get the whole 500 bundle? Thanks.
    Bob

  99. Giant dk

    First of all, thanks for a great review. I actually think it is much more useful than the manual.

    However, I have a question I hope you can answer. After I’ve updated with the new firmware I see an option number 4 in the menu where the 3 data fields are set.

    Do you have any idea what this setting is used for?

  100. Hi Anon-

    RE: Edge 500 w/o power meter

    Yes, I think it’s worthwhile, but it depends on what you do most. If you’re a triathlete, then get the 310XT instead (since you don’t have a PM). If you’re a cyclist, then the Edge 500 has the advantage of being tiny and lightweight.

    Hi Anon-

    RE: Virtual Partner Feature

    The VP feature listed in the manual is only applicable on ‘courses’, and is a fair bit different than the normal Virtual Partner on all other Garmin fitness devices. On the courses one, you have to be on a set course, whereas in a true VP feature you can enable it whenever you want and for as long as you’d like at any given pace you’d like. Just more flexibility really.

    Hi Blackberry-

    RE: 305 HR/Cadence compatibility

    Yes, those are compatible with the Edge 500, so you’re good to go there!

    Hi Giant DK-

    RE: New firmware ‘Option 4’

    I don’t see an ‘Option 4’, but I do see a new option titled ‘Workouts’. The Garmin folks confirmed today on their forums that it’s an additional custom screen that you can display while in workout mode. Pretty useful I think. Here’s the thread:

    link to forums.garmin.com

  101. Did you actually confirm the speed sensor works indoors when you’re not moving? I saw a comment somewhere saying this was not the case.

  102. Sabine

    Amazing review! I really appreciate work like this.
    Thanks a lot, it was very helpful!

  103. Hi Dubbayoo-

    RE: Speed sensor indoors

    Yup – I use it every other day – just 12 hours ago being the most recent example. If their sensor isn’t working indoors the magnets might not be properly aligned, or the sensor isn’t enabled. Even if the sensor wasn’t correctly calibrated – it would still display speed/distance using the default wheel size value. Hope this helps!

  104. Great blog and reviews…
    The update that allows to upload exercises has been released by Garmin.
    So far so good…
    😉

  105. Anonymous

    quick question
    Can one measure resting heart rate with the edge 500 straight out of bed like with a mio watch?

  106. Hi Anon-

    RE: Resting Heart Rate Readings

    Yup, I use the Edge 500 some mornings for exactly that (just a matter of which Garmin is on my bedstand really). The only thing to keep in mind is that if you have the auto-shutoff enabled, after the time has elapsed it will give you a 10 second warning and then shut off. Not a big deal generally…as long as you don’t accidentally fall asleep while getting your RHR. Not that I would do anything like that…. 😉

  107. dmk

    Hi Rainmaker

    Amazing review, it actually made me buy the Edge 500. I do have an issue when doing intervals, though, and one of your own comments to the review has confused me. You refer to “Last lap”-fields, but I don’t believe there are any last lap-related fields for power available? Can’t find them anyway (firmware 2.1 and 2.2).

    Also, do you have any inside information about plans for changes re. the way History / Activities are committed to “disk” ( see link to forums.garmin.com )? I somehow suspect that the 500 doesn’t have sufficient cpu-power to be able to do this, but it would be nice…

    Kind regards
    Rolf

  108. Brilliant. I posted a link to it on Slowtwitch,.

  109. jamie

    Thanks for the review. I just brought home my new 500 paired with a new Quarq Cinco power meter! I also have the 310xt watch which i have been using for a while. Do you find that you use the watch as well as the 500 on the bike? When you are on the trainer do you have to overide the GPS function in the 500 or is it automatic? When you use your 310xt with a footpod do you have to overide GPS or is that automatic? Which is more accurate on both running and biking, foot pod vs. GPS or cadence / speed sensor vs. GPS? I have so many questions – it is technical overload with my new devices! Any explanations or tips appreciated!! jamie@beelineimage.com

  110. cpu

    Hi DCR

    Can you post what product numbers are HR and cadence sensors included with Edge 500? Because I already own Garmin Colorado 300 and would like to use those sensors from Edge 500 with my Colorado – Colorado needs:
    010-10644-00 Cadence sensor
    010-10997-00 HR sensor

    Thanks

  111. Anonymous

    Is it possible to use Edge 500 for ocassional running? Just to record HR data, speed and distance? What can I see on Edge 500 during running? Only speed in MPH/KPH? Or HR, time too?

  112. Hi Rainmaker.

    Thank you for your thorough review and helpful explainations. I’ve ordred the 500 yeasterday and will come back to this site when I recive the item and start to plunder…

    🙂 Vegard

  113. Hi DMK-

    RE: Last Lap Pwr Fields:

    Sorry, I must have been thinking of the 705 on Last Lap Pwr fields. I’m pretty sure that has (or at least had it). I’ll have to check when I get back to DC. I just checked my 500 and you’re correct, only Max/Lap/Avg/30s/3s – no last lap.

    RE: Change in disk commits

    I’m not aware of any changes pending there. 🙁

    Hi Jamie-

    RE: 500 vs 310XT

    I find that I just use the 500 on the bike (or 705 in some cases) and don’t bother with the 310XT unless I’m low on battery or something.

    RE: GPS on trainer

    When on the trainer I always shut off the GPS (on both 500 or 310XT) as it will interfer with some sports programs ability to read the data points. Though you don’t have to shut it off to get correct readings in the major apps out there (GC, GTC, TP).

    RE: Accuracy

    On running, I’d go with GPS over foot pod. With the bike, I’d go with speed sensor over GPS simply because it’s measuring an exact distance every revolution.

    Hi CPU-

    RE: Cadenence Sensors

    The sensors you listed:

    010-10644-00 = GSC10
    010-10997-00 = Classic HR monitor

    …are both ANT+ compatible and will work with all Garmin devices. You’re good to go!

    Hi Anon-

    RE: Using Edge 500 for occasional running

    Yes. In the review I include some examples of using it while running. The limitations you noted are correct though – which is that MPH and KPH are the only speeds offered. You can get HR, time though – but no cadence.

    Thanks all! Enjoy your weekends!

  114. CHnuschti

    Impressive review, thanks.

    As for the con “Hard to read screen due to glare” I suggest using some transparent display protection films (3M etc.) as used for cellphones etc.. Lot of types available too, also some specially designed for anti reflection. Suggested anyway to protect the displays from scratches etc.. I’m confident you can solve the problem this way while keeping the readability of the display.
    Using one on my Edge 305, visibility is almost fully preserved.

  115. I am not having success in getting the lap button to work. I press it during a workout. The unit beeps and I think that have set a lap. But when I get back and download the data it is all one workout with no splits.

    I even tried holding the lap button until it beeps a second time. No success.

    BTW I assume that you can only reset the unit with the “lap button” when it is stopped. Right?

    Thanks, another DC based Triathlete

    And I do have the Auto Lap set to OFF.

    Am I doing something wrong?

  116. Hi Chnuschti-

    RE: Screen glare

    Yup, it’s on my list of things to pickup next time I’m at Staples – a few other folks have suggested it as well.

    Hi DCAD-

    RE: Splits

    1) When you press it, does it show you the split time/lap and beep?

    2) Which software are you using? (Garmin Connect, Garmin Training Center, Sport Tracks, Training Peaks, WKO, something else?)

  117. thanks for the review, especially the waypoint mapping / map upload portion, that functionality was a big question mark since its not in garmins marketing.

    bought some things from the amazon link

    fellow DCer, drop me a line if youre for a group to ride mtb.

  118. cpu

    Hi DC Rainmaker

    I’ve found that some shop in my country (Poland) uses your photos of Edge 500 -> link to allegro.pl Did they asked you for permission of using your photos?

  119. Hi CPU-

    RE: Use of my review photos

    No, I have not given them permission to use the photos and place their own copyright on them. Too bad, sad panda. 🙁

  120. By far, this is the best damned review i have come across. Well done, man!

  121. cpu

    DCR: I’ve wrote to them about copyrights – they told me that owner of photos have to inform about his copyrights and request to remove those photos of yours from this auctions – if you want to do this I can help you – just let me know if you want to solve this illegal copying.

  122. Hej,

    Thanks for a most comprehensive review on the basis of which i bought garmin edge 500!

    Now I am proud to be the owner of the most buggy device in the history of Garmin!

    And all of this is thank to you!

    Freezes, lost data, blank screens, hardware faults.. etc!
    My 500 has been in the service for three times… in the last two weeks!

    I was surprised for a certain time but a quick search on the web showed that I am not the only one!

    You should have checked the forums! Or are you on tha Garmin pay list!
    Way to go!

    Berst regards Marko

  123. Hi Marko-

    RE: Slew of items

    Thanks for writing. As you probably read, the unit I reviewed did have issues – which I noted in my review quite a few times. In fact, some of the exact same issues you’ve noted. Checking the forums wasn’t exactly an option for me – given I had the unit BEFORE it was available to the general public. However, even since then – I’ve been using the forums just like everyone else to voice my concerns for unstable software issues. Keep in mind there have been three different Edge 500 software releases since I’ve written this just three months ago. Some releases have fixes issues, others have introduced new issues. For me, while the latest release has introduced new features, it’s also introduced new issues for me (including now common freeze-ups). While many folks are lucky to never see issues, some folks do see issues – and I’m one of them just like you.

    I’m not on Garmin’s payroll (and based on events of late, I’d likely just get layed off anyways…) – I write what I see – the good and the bad. But I can’t see everything – nobody can. If people could, then software would be flawless and units would never have to be sent back.

    I’m sorry to hear you’ve been having issues – hopefully they’ll be able to sort it out for you…perhaps 3rd time is indeed the charm.

    Thanks!

  124. Anonymous

    DCR,

    You did a great job in the review and no one can fault you for any of the bugs. You didn’t tell Marko to buy the 500. It was his choice and maybe he should have done more research on the unit and not just based it on one source. Also most of the time people are only going to complain about their issues with items on forums. So it makes the Garmin Edge 500 look worse than it really is. Consider the total number Garmin Edge 500 owners to the ones who actually submit to the forums. DCR you are actually the minority willing to take your time to give an in-depth review of the unit. So in that sense, thank you.

    John

  125. Anonymous

    Hi Rainmaker
    Thanks for your excellent review of this product. Having read your review and some glowing comments elsewhere about the device, I decided to buy an Edge 500 as a replacement for an Edge 305, which had become frustratingly unreliable (it spontaneously turned itself off during rides). Out of the box the 500 looks a brilliant little device, with lots of big improvements over the Edge 305 such as the mounting system. It worked fine for my first 4 outings. However, on the fifth ride, the display froze and the buttons became unresponsive after I had pressed the lap button for the first time. I got the device going again by pressing 3 buttons simultaneously, and it appeared to be working fine – providing lap readouts etc. When I got home I reset it, and commenced uploading the activity to Garmin Connect. Whereupon I was given an error message “Some activities failed to load…” “One of your files was not accepted by the system”. I tried a manual upload without success. I looked at the data on the device for that activity and there is some there, but it is not entirely correct. The device is running the latest version of the software, so that should be ok. So disappointing – as I say, a great device but if you can’t rely on it for, say, your big ride, I’m afraid that renders it pretty useless. But that’s not your fault as a reviewer – I appreciate the enormous effort you’ve put into providing an honest, fair and informative review.

    Regards

    Martin

  126. Gareth Harries UK

    This has been the most useful article I have found on the net after our units arrived. The main issue I have found is that the pedal magnet is too far from the sensor to receive information. The manuals – quick start, and more comprehensive, are pretty poor in respect of general installation and use. Have you had to place something beneath your pedal magnet to get it to work ?
    Do you not fancy a job at Garmin telling them how to provide user information ?

  127. Nick

    Hi Rainmaker, greetings from Melbourne Australia. Thanks for your review – in fact it was one of the reasons I purchased a 500 yesterday with a speed/cadence sensor etc… A question for you – what is the default for measuring speed/distance? Is it the sensor, or the GPS? Do I need to manually select the sensor if that is what I want to use? Thanks in advance, Nick

  128. THANKS for great review – never used GPS on my bike, so newby Q: does it store more than one ride,or do you HAVE to slinc up/sync with the desktop after each ride?
    thanks again for all the info.
    Steve

  129. Great review! So thorough I didn’t want to stop reading even though I had to leave. I currently use the CatEye V3c but wanted to start getting my GPS points automatically instead of drawing them out on gmap-pedometer or w/ the new Google Bicycle Routes.

    I’m definitely thinking of grabbing this device ASAP and setting it up right away. Thanks again for a great review!

  130. Hi Gareth-

    RE: Pedal Magnet

    You should be able to adjust the little arm outbound to get closer to the sensor. I barely have to move my little arm to get it within reach – but it will reach outwards close to an inch. I kinda rotate mine outwards towards the crank, and then pull up the arm for the wheeel sensor

    RE: Jobs writing user documentation

    I think I’m good there…I have enough of a fill writing documentation in my day job. 😉

    Hi Nick-

    RE: Default measuring speed

    I defer to the mother post for how this is done:

    Speed: Power Meter > GSC10 > GPS
    Distance: Power Meter > GSC10 > GPS
    Cadence: GSC10 > Power Meter
    link to forums.garmin.com

    Hi Steven-

    RE: Multiple rides

    You can store a TON Of rides. Hundreds I’d guess. I’ve got probably 60 or so rides now and use only a fraction of the space on it. You don’t need to talk to a computer between rides.

    Hi Elijah-

    RE: Routes

    You may want to check out this that I wrote last week on how to do a bit of that and then import it into the Edge 500:

    link to dcrainmaker.blogspot.com

    Thanks all!

  131. Anonymous

    Hi Ray! Truly a great in depth review.

    My question is: Can you plug your Edge 500 in your laptop and use it has on board type GPS?

    Thanks,

    Simpo

  132. DaveS

    Hi
    Great review, helped me make up my mind
    However I am having problems downloading courses to the Device
    I have created courses in a number of route mapping applications including mapmyride and successfully imported the .tcx file into the GTC. I cannot send them to the Edge though. I get an error message that there is a problem communicating with the device. I know it is connected because I can receive data the other way from the device to the GTC
    I do have a forerunner 50 on the same profile
    Any ideas?
    Cheers
    Dave

  133. Your reviews are amazing. Thanks for all of the helpful info! I am trying to choose between the Edge 305 and 500 as a gift for my husband and I’m confused about the differences in terms of “maps” between the 305 and 500. Do you know if the 305 has more features in terms of being able to download routes or courses to follow? And does the 305 have a compass (I believe you said that the 500 doesn’t)? I’m also wondering if the Forerunner 310XT has any advantages over the Edge 305/500 strictly in terms of cycling features. I’d appreciate any help you can offer!

  134. Do screen protectors help on the 500? If so, what brand(s) is recommended.

  135. Great review! Do you know if there are different country versions? I live in the US but found a good deal in the UK.

    Thanks

  136. Great review. Very thorough. I am setting up my Edge 500 right now and I was curious what data fields you have on each of your three screens? Readers, feel free to chime in too.

  137. Hi,
    I just wanted to tell you that this is one of the best reviews of any product I’ve ever seen. Awesome job!
    Thanks!
    MarkA

  138. Hi Anon/Simpo-

    RE: Plugging 500 in as ‘navigational’ GPS

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t support that. Though, there are some 3rd party apps that have had limited success in the past with other Garmin fitness watches, but I haven’t installed/played with them in a while.

    Hi Dave-

    RE: Course Creation

    Try using .crs files instead, they’ll work better. Here’s my handy guide for doing just that. Do make sure in GTC that the Edge 500 is selected, and not the FR50.

    link to dcrainmaker.blogspot.com

    Hi Wacomme-

    RE: Screen Protectors

    I haven’t tried any yet myself, but a lot of folks have found that standard iPod/iPhone ones work pretty well with a pair of scissors.

    Hi Skiierx-

    RE: Country Versions

    I’m not aware of different versions, as the version I had (US) came with the plugs for the UK as well. See the first few pictures in the unboxing section for plug confirmation.

    Hi Sygyzy-

    RE: Data Fields

    For me I typically use two major screens:

    Screen 1 (Main): Lap Time, Lap Distance, 3s Power, 30s Power, HR, Cadence, Grade, Speed
    Screen 2 (Historical focused): Last Lap time, Lap Power Avg, Ride Pwr Avg, Overall Distance, Overall Time, HR

    Hi Mark-

    Thanks for reading, and commenting!

  139. I have both a 305 and a 500. For the gal not knowing which to get for her husband’s birthday: Definitely the 500. It’s basically newer technology.

    I’m not sure if this was mentioned this extensive review, but there is a data field in the 500 that’s not in the 305: Vertical speed, i.e. the rate of ascen. I find that handy.

    The total ascent in the 500 is more accruate than in the 305. They must have refined the software to filter out noise. Maybe you mentioned that too.

    I use both the 500 and 305 when I go out. Being the geek that I am, I subscribe to the “aircraft cockpit” philosophy of bike computering.

  140. hi, what extra i need to buy for second bike? If i read review properly there is just handlebar holder for second bike in 500 bundle version.

    What about magnet, speed sensor, cadence sensor, cadence magnet? All this i need to extra buy?

    Thanks. Charles

  141. Bonachi

    Brilliant review Rainmaker, thanks.

    Got the 500 two weeks ago and it’s excellent, no problems with it at all. The latest update to Garmin Connect provides me with everything I need to know for now and I’ve found V2.2 & V2.3 unit firmware to be problem free.

    @Karel

    You need the GSC-10 cadence sensor for a second bike. The cadence sensor kit comes with a crank and wheel magnets.

    Cheers

  142. bonachi: thank you, so there are two speed sensors and two front wheel magnets for measuring speed on two bikes in package?

    that would be enough and cadence set for second bike i can buy later 🙂

  143. Bonachi

    @Karel

    OK, firstly there are a few retail versions of the Edge 500.

    One is the Edge 500 itself which comes with the cadence & heart rate monitor (SKU 010-00829-01). The other includes just the Edge 500 (SKU 010-00829-00). Both versions come with two handlebar mounts for the Edge 500 unit itself.

    Speed/distance is provided by the GPS so you get that with both versions, but as RM mentioned in his review, if you lose GPS signal then this data will be omitted. So moving the Edge 500 between two bikes will give you speed/distance on both providing you have GPS reception.

    Cadence requires the GSC-10. If you want cadence on a second bike then you need to buy this additional sensor (this is assuming you bought the 010-00829-01 version and are using the GSC-10 included with that on your first bike). The GSC-10 uses one magnet on the crank (cadence) and a second on the rear wheel spoke (distance/speed).

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers, Bonachi

  144. bonachi: thank you very much! my mistake all time was that i thought there are two sensors (one for speed/distance, one for cadence). This solution i have in my currenct HAC4 computer from Ciclosport.

    So thats great, that evolution continues and one sensor is enough! 🙂

    Last question, is there option in settings to choose language? I mean if i buy Edge for example on Ebay with German language, whether i can switch to English language or install additional languages (as im not German and im not English native)?

    Kind Regards,

    Karel

  145. Bonachi

    @Karel

    On my UK purchased unit there are many language options: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Portugese, Dutch, Finnish, Polish, Angličtina?, Magyar (Hungarian), Croatian, Greek, Slovenian, Slovakian, Russian. Quite a choice!

    You are correct, there is just one sensor mounted on the chainstay, it reads both the crank (cadence) and wheel (speed/distance) magnets to provide data to the Edge 500 wirelessly.

    Cheers, Bonachi

  146. Hi Leslie-

    RE: Ascent & Vertical Speed

    Indeed, those are great numbers to have – especially if you’re doing ‘mountain stages’. I know I spend a fair bit of time out in the mountains, and love being able to see ascent numbers.

    Hi Karel-

    RE: Second bike sensors

    As noted above by Bonachi, all you’ll need is the extra cadence/speed sensor (about $40, see link above). That’s it! The Edge 500 comes with two mounts, if you need additional mounts, they are $10 for two (link also above).

    My general suggestion on speed/cadence sensors is to simply put one unit on every bike I have. That way I never have an issue. At $40, they aren’t too expensive and I have tons of flexibility whether it’s indoors on a trainer, or out on the open road.

    Hi Bonachi-

    RE: Firmware

    Yup, I’m liking firmware 2.3 so far, a few rides in since Wednesday’s release, and so far it’s problem free! Tomorrow’s my longer ride, so if I can go until then without issues, I’m calling it a success!

    Oh, and thanks for helping out Karel above on all the questions! I was busy today running, swimming and doing years worth of cleaning around the house (crazy amounts of stuff left the attic today!).

    Thanks!

  147. few more ions coming:

    1. whats the interval for the smart recording? 5sec? I found in manual only that with power meter it is 1sec, but i dont plan use it with power meter at start

    2. This manual link to www8.garmin.com is all i get in package or there is any more detailed manual? This one is not too much detailed for me, but well, at least i found you review 🙂

    3. After data recorded, can i in any software make and export summary to the picture (jpeg, gif, or so) with distance and elevation and summary info about ride? Please check link below, taken from my current HAC4 computer.

    link to dl.dropbox.com

    So question is simple, is there software making nice summary graphs with tons of editing options incl. colour, resolution and so? Im asking because all graphs i saw in reviews didnt looked so “attractive” 🙂

    Kind regards,

    Karel

  148. Hey Karel

    RE: Smart Recording

    Smart Recording doesn’t have a set interval, it’s a algorithm that varies based on many different factors. Sometimes it’s 1s, and sometimes it’s 4s.

    RE: Manual

    Nope, that’s it. My review is the most detailed manual you’ll find to date. 🙂

    RE: Software options

    Check out Sport Tracks (per above), it’ll allow you to create exactly those graps and tweak the colors too.

  149. Joris

    Hello Rainmaker,

    thanks very much for making this excellent review. I really trust your opinion on the device especially when I see all the devices you used in the past. Thinking of purchasing one in the near future.

    keep up the good work & training,
    Joris, The Netherlands

  150. RE: Pedal magnet

    Hey Gareth,,I have the same issues,,did you figured out the fix? I tried Rainmaker advise but I created another problem,the spoke magnet this time is too close to the sensor arm and already max to the adjustment,I guess my curved chainstay causing this issues.(Fuji Team carbon Frame),rainmaker please help me Im kind of hopeless here..Thanks

  151. I’ve found that the Edge 500 on my bike (Look 566) with the curved chainstays always has difficulty with the pedal magnet triggering the cadence sensor. Since it’s mounted with zipties, I have to move it back and forth to get it to register. This is annoying because cadence isn’t even registered until you start the timer so you don’t realize there’s an issue until you are already riding. I really hate stopping or making people stop for me.

  152. I use my 500 daily on the trainer with GPS turned off and since the new GC update I can not export a file out of GC to use in SportTracks. I have found that this only happens when I have gps off. When I view a ride I have done outside with GPS on, GC gives me the option to export my file.
    Does anyone else have this problem?
    By the way do you ever expect SportTracks to allow direct import of .fit files?

  153. Kim

    Hey, great review

    I just wanted to know how accurate/consistent the gps based speed readout is compared to a wheel sensor. Is there any noticeable delay or other issues?

    Kim

  154. Hi Danny-

    RE: GC Issue with Export files

    This is indeed a new issue since the update last Wednesday. I know Garmin is aware of it, but I’m unclear what the path is to fix it. 🙁

    Hi Kim-

    RE: Consistancy with GPS vs wheel sensor

    I’ve noticed them pretty close to spot on in general assuming the wheel sensor is correctly configured. You’re always going to get minor changes based on the exact GPS accuracy at the time, but it’s honestly nothing I woudl worry about.

  155. Thanks for the quick reply.

    Do you know if we will ever be able to connect our 500 directly with SportTracks?

  156. Jeff

    I’ve been using Marengo to download routes w/turn-by-turn instructions into my Edge 305. Does the 500 have the same capability? It’s a different approach than courses… see Frank’s tutorial here:
    link to frank.kinlan.co.uk

  157. Thank you very much for the information shared. I think it would be great to connect such a tool to my bike.You see I am keen on riding my bike and actually I am going to have a ride after finishing my essay writing.

  158. I just bought the edge 500 and have some problems with the course thingy.

    You wrote something about creating a course but I cant find this option nowhere on GC nor on TC. Could you tell me where to find it?

    Also. Is there any way to convert the old .tcx file into the new .fit format? The problem is that I cant export any routes found on the internet onto my edge 500 and then use the gps to guide me.

    Thanx.
    Nico

  159. Hi Danny-

    RE: Sport Tracks and Edge 500

    I don’t know when that’ll happen unfortunately. I suspect we’ll see it within ST3.0 – due later this fall.

    Hi Jeff & Nico-

    RE: Courses

    Yes, see this post for more details: link to dcrainmaker.com

    Woot! Two comment answers for the price of one! Always a win at 1AM. 🙂

    RE: Convert TCX to FIT

    Hmm, I doubt it. The FIT is the binary version of the TCX, which would require redoing a lot. I’m not sure doing that would accomplish what you want though. What you really want is the .CRS file, check out my guide above – I think that’ll nail it for you. If you want to create workouts to follow, then check out this guide instead:

    link to dcrainmaker.com

    Thanks all, and have a good weekend!

  160. I just found out that you only have to copy the tcx file into the Edge 500 Courses Folder and then after selecting the route it converts it automatically into the fit file and the tcx file just disappears.

    I tested it just now and it really works using the gps to follow the route.

  161. Brook

    For those running with the Edge 500 who want a view on their pace (rather than speed), you can set up Auto Lap for a distance of 1 mile, then configure a display for Time – Avg. Lap and/or Time – Lap.

  162. Nice work Rainmaker.

    Three comments – related. 1) I’m now waiting on my 3rd 500 to come from Garmin Aust. First one wouldn’t track and the second developed that fault on a firmware upgrade. 2) Can’t complain about Garmin’s service. 3) I really wish they’d sort the *ing software. 🙂

  163. Jit

    Hi Rainmaker,

    Fantastic review! How I wish we can have such detailed review for every product before making any purchase.

    Thank you very much.

  164. Anonymous

    Garmin 500.
    Going on a 9 day trip will the 500 record each days data ready to download at the end?

  165. First of all DC, you missed your calling. You should be writing reviews for magazines…outstanding review my friend. Bought this watch after 7 years of my faithful Polar 710s. Must say I absolutely love it. Love seeing my ride on google earth after the fact and seeing the heart rate and speed simultaneously in player mode. No problems with losing signals or workouts. I am careful to reset fully after a workout though after reading other posts. I have taken this unit on walks with me in Europe and it is really cool to retrace your adventures. I can see this being a selling feature in itself. Would like to see a time in zone software update as others have mentioned. Very happy with the unit. Love the light weight, the easy ability to take it on and off my bike and its small weight. Could not be happier and will recommend it to my friends.

  166. Roy

    Amazing review, wish I could get such in depth on all products/gadgets I want.

    Quick question though, which is the best device, the Edge 500 or the Edge 305.

    Thanks for all your help.

    Roy

  167. Hi Nico-

    RE: TCX files

    Great to hear you were able to get it all sorted out.

    Hi Brook-

    RE: Autolap

    Yup, that’s a great idea! Never even considered that.

    Hi Bobb-

    RE: Misc

    Agree on Garmin’s customer service – top notch, always helpful in fixing it. And also agree that software doesn’t tend to be their greatest strength.

    Hi Jit-

    Thanks!

    Hi Anon-

    RE: 9 day trip

    Hmm, you’ve got about 20 hours of battery, but from a data standpoint, 9 days is not a problem. I’ve got 5 months on there now and I’ve barely scratched the surface. From a battery standpoint, my suggestion is to just pickup a cheap Solar USB charger from Amazon. That’s what I did back on a multi-day kayak trip. Worked perfectly.

    Hi Garry-

    Thanks for the comments, and glad to hear it’s working well!

    Hi Roy-

    RE: Edge 305 vs Edge 500

    Hmm, they are slightly different from a display standpoint. But…basically…the Edge 500 is better. It’s got more features, and really it does the basic course display that you’d want. If we were talking 705 vs 500, it’d be different.

    Thanks all!

  168. Nice review. The lost data bug that you mention is still around – I lost the first serious workout that I did with it! Having another session tonight, hopefully it will work this time. It’s a serious issue and hopefully Garmin are working on it!

  169. Great in-depth review.

    How accessible is the USB port on the device while mounted?

    I am thinking of getting a dynamo USB charger on my touring bike, and having a GPS computer that charges on the fly would be great.

  170. Hi Steve-

    RE: Lost data bug

    Bummer 🙁

    Hi Henry-

    RE: USB data port

    It’s accessible, depending on how you mount it. However, I’ve been unable to get it to both charge and operate at the same time. The Forerunner 305 for example allows you to charge and operate, but the Edge 500 seems to go into charging mode when I try, though it may be an issue of how the power is being delivered, I don’t have the Dynamo USB charger. 🙁

  171. Bought the 310xt watch strap to run with my Garmin 500 and it works like a charm. I am primarily a cyclist and run very occasionally (especially when I am away on business and can’t bring a bike) and this setup works great and is just what I needed. Great suggestion Rainmaker! I love this HRM. Have yet to lose satellite coverage or my heart rate to the monitor. Haven’t lost an event yet either but am careful to reset properly.

  172. Kasper

    Hi Rainmaker,

    Me and my father is considering buying the edge 500.

    We’ve just got one question, do you know what will happen if you have 2 of the same devices within short distance? For example when we’re riding together?

    As in, will the wireless stuff pick up to the wrong computer and so on?

    Thanks much,

    Great review,

    Kasper

  173. Hi Kapser-

    RE: 2 of the units near each other

    Nope, no issues at all there. The ANT+ accessories are tied using unique ID’s to each Edge 500, so interference isn’t an issue. My girlfriend and I use them within a few feet of each other all the time, and no issues.

    Hope this helps!

  174. Kurt

    Hi Ray

    Your review about the Edge 500 is just awesome; thanks a lot for your work! Actually, your review persuaded me to get this little blue gadget as well as the 310XT wrist band, as this just works very well for me (first I’m a cyclist, and then I’m also a bit of a runner …).
    Now, I still have a question, and it seems that the Garmin support in Switzerland does not work as well as it does in the US. I wrote them 2 E-Mails (the first one almost 3 weeks ago), and haven’t gotten an answer so far. My question: I am running a 10 miles race in May and found the course on Garmin connect, but with just 1 fixed time. I’d like to alter this time (duration), but couldn’t find out how, neither in GTC nor in Garmin Connect (actually, the only thing I could alter was the course’s name!). Can you help me?
    Thanks in advance and ‘happy trails’!
    Cheers,
    Kurt.

  175. Hi Kurt-

    RE: Modifying courses

    Sorta, you can tweak older courses, but it would be super-messy. You’re better bet is to simply create a new course with a new speed/time. You can do that following the instructions in the below post I did:

    link to dcrainmaker.com

  176. Thank you for this in-depth review Rainmaker. I’m just waiting for mine to be delivered.

    I was planning on doing a review, but I don’t think it would match yours for detail and your expert view so I shall instead be pointing people to your review.

    Thanks again

  177. Kurt

    Hi again, Ray

    Just wanted to thank you for your swift reply and for your link about creating a route myself.

    And I wanted to let you know that it worked (although they may have changed their rules because I HAD TO create an account to download the data; but that’s not a complaint!).

    Thanks again for your great help.

    Cheers from Switzerland,
    Kurt

  178. Anonymous

    Hi RainMaker

    Thank for the detailed review on Garmin Edge 500. Do you think Edge 500 can used to geotagging photo?

    Many thanks

    Jay

  179. Hi Jay-

    RE: Using Edge for Geotagging

    Yup, absolutely. I did a bit of that actually during my travels back in December (just click on Travel in the header). From Garmin Connect you can simply export out the GPX file and you’re good to go. Out of all the Garmin devices I’ve played with on geotagging, this one actually works the best because the signal reception is so strong..yet the device is so tiny.

  180. Roland

    I’m unable to upload any files to Garmin Connect. I get “An error occurred with your upload” when trying to upload a gpx and “Some activities could not be created” for tcx files. I tried files exported from MapMyRide and from RideWithGPS.

    What routing site/app generates course files that can be uploaded to Garmin Connect and then be downloaded to the Edge 500?

    Or how else can I manually route a course on the PC and then download it to the 500?

  181. @Roland, you don’t upload a course to Garmin Connect, you should use either the Garmin Training Center, or (not sure if this works on the Edge 500), copy the file (Tcx format) to the /Garmin/Courses/ folder on the Garmin Storage.

  182. Roland

    @wari

    The 500 only understands fit files. That’s why I’m trying to upload the tcx file to Garmin Connect so I can then download it to the 500. Downloading from Garmin Connect to the 500 generates the fit file.

    Anybody have any other idea how I can manually route a course on the PC and then download it to the 500?

  183. Hi Roland-

    RE: TCX file for routing

    Typically TCX files are used for data recording, and GPX files are used for GPS coordinate recording. CRS files meanwhile are used for forward-looking course navigation, with Garmin devices.

    Have you tried the instructions here: link to dcrainmaker.com

    I don’t use the Garmin Connect upload option only because I find the GTC option much quicker and easier. Have you tried using GTC to have it send the CRS (Course file) to the Edge 500? That’s what I usually do without issue.

    Thanks wari for helping out!

  184. Roland

    @Rainmaker, Thanks for your help!!!
    Importing courses into Training Center and sending them to the 500 works. It works with CRS files from MapMyRide and with TCX files from RideWithGPS. I thought I could use Garmin Connect for that but Training Center is OK too.

    Looks like I’m all set (for now).

    Thanks again!

  185. Rainmaker,

    thanks for the review of Garmin 500. Questions: I assume it shows your current altitude, your total altitude gained (or lost), correct? I was told it does not show % grade. Can one get that via the computer after the ride?

    Ned

  186. Hi Rainmaker,

    Fantastic review, I read it a week ago and just ordered my Edge 500 Argyle edition tonight.

    Cant wait to get it on the bike.

    greetings
    Tony, Denmark

  187. glongs

    Hi rainmaker, thanks for the review, super helpful.I was the proud owner of an edge 305 until it spontaneously jumped off the handlebars and under the wheels of a car so I am looking at the 500 as some of the functions on the 305I don’t need. One thing I did use was the GPS compass direction finder to go geocaching where I downloaded co-ords onto the unit and then followed the compass to the destination. Not as sophisticated as the “turn left/right” system on the 705 but good nonetheless. Does the 500 have this ability to download coords and use it as a basic GPS wayfinder or is it as simple as a GPS cycle computer?
    Thanks
    glongs

  188. Hi Roland!

    RE: CRS

    Great to hear it’s all sorted out!

    Hi Ned-

    RE: % Grade

    It does indeed show grade – and is actually one of my fields I use all the time with it. I LOVE using %, because it’s great for determining false flats and thus putting things in perspective when I’m going slower than grandma…only to realize it’s actually 4% or so.

    Hi TFisch-

    Thanks!

    Hi Glongs-

    RE: Using GPS as basic wayfinder

    Yes, you can do that to a degree. Check out this post on how to create some of those courses.:

    link to dcrainmaker.com

    Thanks all!

  189. Every single ride logged with my Edge 500 shows my heart rate as 30-50 BPM for the first 3-5 minutes. Obviously this is not correct. It displays and records correct values after that. I am using the same strap as when I had my Forerunner 305 and it never had an issue. Has anyone experienced something similar?

    Here are some examples:

    link to connect.garmin.com

    link to connect.garmin.com

  190. @sygyzy I have the exact same issue. usually for 5-10 minutes i get really strange HR readings…usually on the lowside (20-100bpm). then suddenly it starts working.

    i contacted garmin, and jumped through the usual hoops. one of the things they mentioned was that it sometimes is erratic until you are warmed up.

  191. Are there any real-life pictures of the Team Garmin Argyle edition? TeamGarmin is using it in the Tour of California these days, and I think they will use it for the rest of the year.

    I think the colours look a bit loud for my black road bike, but it’s limited edition and there is a premium HR strap included…

  192. @Jarno, I used a new tool called Google to find this link to bit.ly

  193. Anonymous

    Have been researching the Edge 500 to install on my bike and this is the BEST (informative)review I’ve seen….Thanks for great detail! I expect I will purchase soon and will use click thru links to Amazon.

    Also, your review pages are now book marked as I look forward to other future reviews. Thanks again!

  194. sygyzy,
    That Garmin Blogs page I had already found too, but that seem to be the only pictures you can find of it.

  195. Hi Jarno

    Mine Argyle Team edition has arrived 🙂
    My wife packed it away until my birthday on Saturday, but as soon as I get it unpacked and mounted I will put some pictures/videos up somewhere.

    I’ll get back here later.

  196. dc rainmaker,

    Love your reviews! I know the edge 500 has a laundry list of features but I was wondering if it has the ability to auto start/stop. I ride on a lot of group rides and if we get stuck at a stop light or train crossing its nice if the computer recognizes you’ve stopped (<2mph) and doesn't add the standstill into your average data.

    My old cateye had this function but I haven’t seen it listed on the 500. I know I can just hit stop/stop but I often forget.

    Thanks!

  197. Hi Chris-

    RE: Auto Pause (Stop/Start)

    Yup, it’s in the Garmin Edge 500, and is called “Auto Pause”, which does exactly as you described. I included a bit in the review above in a section about it, if you’re looking for more deets.

    But in short, it works exactly as you describe – and is great for city or group riding. You can also adjust the ‘trigger’ speed as well.

  198. Anonymous

    Greetings,

    based on your review i bought the Edge 500. One of my best moves ever!

    the unit is just incredible! after reading numerous reviews and especially yours, when i opened the unit it was like i owned for months!

    very user friendly and easy to navigate.

    Congrats on the extensive review and your blog! I am definitely a fan!

    Kouzman

  199. The argyle team edition can be seem on a black Nishiki here:
    link to youtube.com

    The blank surface on the display lokks bad on video, but in reality I had no problem reading the display.