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Garmin Edge 500 In Depth Review

 

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

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

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

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

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

Packaging/Unboxing:

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

Edge 500 Box Shot

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

Edge 500 Wrapped Components

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

Edge 500 Unwrapped Components

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

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

Edge 500 Power Adapters In BoxEdge 500 Power Adapters In Box

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

Edge 500 Heart Rate Strap

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

Edge 500 Cadence Sensor

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

Edge 500 Mount System

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

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

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

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

Weight & Size:

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

Edge 500 Specifications

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

Edge 500 weight on scale

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

Egg weight on scale

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

Edge 705 weight on scale

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

Edge 500, an Egg, and Edge 705

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

Edge 500 vs 705 size

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connecting it to your bike:

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

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

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

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

Edge 500 Mount System

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

Edge 500 Mount System Close Up

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

Edge 500 using 310XT Mount System

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I then decided to try the stem as well:

Edge 500 mount system on road bike stem

No issues in either location.

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

Edge 500 mount system on triathlon bike

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

Edge 500 mount system on triathlon bike aerobars

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

Edge 500 mount system on triathlon bike bars

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

Edge 500 mount system on triathlon bike top tube

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

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

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

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

Functionality and Features:

GPS Performance:

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

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

Edge 500 in Nebraska

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

Edge 500 GPS Status Edge 500 GPS Accuracy

Courses:

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

Edge 500 Courses Edge 500 Courses Riding

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

Edge 500 Courses On Screen Navigation

Barometric Altimeter (Elevation sensor):

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

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

Edge 500 Elevation Graph

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

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

Edge 500 Elevation Correction Waypoint

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

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

Thermometer (Temperature sensor):

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

Edge 500 Temperature Manual

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

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

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

Edge 500 Temperature in sub-freezing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Data Field Setup:

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

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

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

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

Edge 500 Auto Scroll

Screen Readability:

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

Edge 500 Glare Issues

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

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

Edge 500 in the rain

Start Notice (automatic warning system):

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

Edge 500 Movement Detection

You can configure the warning message settings as well:

Edge 500 Start Notice OptionEdge 500 Start Notice Option Repeat

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

Edge 500 Start Notice Failure

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

Auto Lap:

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

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

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

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

Edge 500 Laps on Garmin Connect

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

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

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

Auto Pause:

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

Edge 500 Auto Pause

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

Edge 500 Training Peaks Mean Max Power

Water Resistance:

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

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

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

Edge 500 USB Port CoverEdge 500 USB Port Cover

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

Edge 500 IPX Water Resistance

Edge 500 IPX Water Resistance

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

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

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

Backlight:

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

Edge 500 Night Light with Edge 705 Edge 500 Night Light

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

Edge 500 Backlight Settings

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

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

 

Functionality that’s missing:

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

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

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

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

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

Virtual Partner Functionality (VP):

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

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

Workouts (missing feature):

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

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

Riding it on a trainer:

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

Edge 500 on a trainer

On the fly change of paired ANT+ accessories

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

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

Edge 500 Sensor Status Connected

Integration with Power Meter Devices:

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

Edge 500 with Power Meter

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

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

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

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

Edge 500 with Zero Averaging

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

Edge 500 Power Meter Configuration

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

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

Edge 500 Power Meter Display

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

Connecting and downloading data:

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

Edge 500 Downloading Data Edge 500 Downloading Data via USB

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

Edge 500 USB Windows Insert Message

 

 

Edge 500 USB Windows Drive

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

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

 

Edge 500 Folder Structure

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

Edge 500 FIT File Folder Structure

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

Edge 500 FIT File

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Software options:

Garmin Connect:

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

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

Edge 500 Upload to Garmin ConnectEdge 500 Upload to Garmin Connect

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

Edge 500 Garmin Connect Activities Calendar

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

Edge 500 Garmin Connect Mapping

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

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

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

Edge 500 Garmin Connect Export Data

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

Edge 500 Garmin Connect Google Earth 3D

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

Edge 500 Garmin Connect Health Monitoring

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

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

Edge 500 Garmin Connect Reporting

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

Garmin Training Center:

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

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

Edge 500 Garmin Training Center

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

Edge 500 Garmin Training Center Post-Ride

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

Edge 500 Garmin Training Center Post-Ride Mapping

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

Edge 500 Download Course

Edge 500 Sending to Courses

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

Training Peaks:

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

Edge 500 with Training Peaks

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

Edge 500 with Training Peaks picking FIT files

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

Edge 500 Uploading via Training Peaks

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

Edge 500 Training Peaks Dashboard

WKO+ 3.0

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

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

*Update December 2009: WKO+ 3.0 released.

Sport Tracks

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

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

Edge 500 with Sport Tracks Importing

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

Edge 500 data imported into Sport Tracks

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

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

Accessories:

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

Extra Mounts:

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

Edge 500 Mount Kit Edge 500 Mount Kit

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

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

Heart Rate Monitor Strap:

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

Edge 500 Classic Heart Rate Strap

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

Edge 500 Classic Heart Rate Strap vs Premium HR Strap

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

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

Cadence/Speed Meter:

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

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

Edge 500 Cadence Magnets

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

Edge 500 Garmin Cadence Sensor

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

Edge 500 Garmin Speed Sensor Wheel Magnet

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

Edge 500 Garmin Speed Sensor Crank Magnet

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

Power Meter

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

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

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

Edge 500 with Quarq Cinqo

Final Summary

Comparison Chart between models:

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

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

Pro’s/Con’s

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

Pro’s:

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

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

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

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

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

Con’s:

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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569 Comments

  1. Monty

    Superb review and incredible resource DC, as someone else said, I wish I could always read reviews like this before making equipment decisions.

    I’m torn between the 705 and the 500. The 705s mapping sounds ideal but I can’t tell from your review how useful the bread crumb trail on the 500 is? eg. If I approach a fork in the road or a T junction, will it be clear from the 500 which way i need to turn?

    If I head down the 705 route, would the navigation be good enough for hiking or mountain biking? Pretty sure I read somewhere that off road map creation was possible on the 705?

    Lastly, you mention that getting the unit wet is not a problem but what of use on the turbo? I can put a towel over my frame but still need to see the unit….

    Thanks again.

  2. Anne

    The Garmin Edge 500 bike computer is simply amazing. The Edge 500 connects with my own watts device, gives me pulse rate, pedal cadence and much more. The altimeter does not show up totally correct but most never are in these devices regardless of who makes them. In general its ended up a fantastic device. -dan,US

  3. Wow, the last comment totally don’t make an effort to sound legit. I hate SPAM!.

    @Monty – I have a 705, depending on the type of maps you have, it would be useful for MTB. And if Garmin cannot provide you with the maps you need (maybe due to cost, etc), you can always use the free World Routable OSM Maps – link to garmin.na1400.info

    OSM maps are not perfect, but depending on your area, it might be better than Garmin’s, for example, The beaches in the OSM maps will appear like land area. Small price to pay for some awesome trails.

    As for the 500, if you follow breadcrumb trails, maybe from Bikeroutetoaster site, or other similar site, when approaching a T junction, you’ll see just 1 line telling you where to go, not the T junction itself, you won’t really know if you are approaching it.

    And if google maps, or the OSM maps backend is outdated when creating the course, you would then have to go with instinct.

    I’d say, 500 if you know where to go most of the time, 705 if you like to explore, or if money is no object, then a 500 for training and a beautiful Dakota 20 for those trailing or routing needs.

    I have an Oregon 300 and I use it for driving, hiking, MTB (when the 705 won’t cut it), and it supports the cadence sensor as well as the heart rate monitor. Though you can’t really use it for training as it does not give you necessary data you need.

  4. Thanks for helping out Wari!

    Agree completely, the 705 can do quite a bit on the mapping front. While not a perfect fit to trail hiking, it would be functional. The Edge 500 again, while not ideal due to lack of maps, would also be sorta functional if you spent time to create the course ahead of time. But outside of that, it’d be hard to use in the woods from a navigation perspective.

    And yup, I sometimes quietly ‘fix’ some of the SPAM comments. 😉 Either by deleting them outright, or simply removing the linked content.

  5. Got my 500, cadence sensor doesn’t fit my bike…
    It’s the way the frame bends at the rear, too much space between frame and crankarm for the cadence to work, too little space between frame and spokes for speed sensor!

  6. Anonymous

    Any thoughts on how the edge 500 compares to the ciclosport CICLONAVIC 50 ?

    link to ciclosport.de

    They have a great track record w/ the HAC 4, and this looks like it is going to be close to half the price of the Garmin…

    Thanks!

  7. Anonymous

    do you need to have the cadence option to pick up hr. My bike was stolen with a 705 on it but I still have the Hr strap. I loved the 705 but the 500 will work.

  8. Cadence and HR are unrelated.

  9. Anonymous

    Great review. Thanks

    I don’t need full mapping, but it would be useful to have a “get you home” feature. I realise this isn’t a function it provides directly but is it possible on the 500 to set where you set off from (eg where you have left your vehicle) as a route or waypoint so that if you need to you can get a bearing back to that point? If so does it also show the distance from current point to “route”?

    If there is some way to have that functionality then the 500 would meet all my needs.

    Regards

  10. I replace my 305 with a 500 several weeks ago. When comparing the calorie count between the two on the same ride I find that the 500 shows about 45% of what the 305 does. This was consistent over all my 305 vs 500 rides. When doing the same ride with a friend who has my old 305 his calorie count was 4100 and mine was 1740 on the 500. I read your entire review (excellent) and found only one comment on this. The Garmin product support response was that the Edge 500 uses the FirstBeat technology to calculate calorie burn. This algorithm takes into consideration heart rate (the 305 does not) and is considered by some to be more accurate. My old Polar 725 and other articles suggest that a hard road bike ride should use 600 to 700 calories per hour. That is what my 305 and 725 would show but the 500 is usually 45% of that. This number seems unreasonable. Do you have any other insite to this? Thanks.

  11. thnks you all nice comments and nice post..

  12. (Sorry for the delay all, I had to sort out some issues with getting past 200 comments, all fixed now!)

    Hi Jarno-

    RE: Speed/Cadence Sensor not fitting

    You may want to look at alternate placement, or perhaps look at one of the other ANT+ Speed/Cadence sensors, such as the Bontrager one.

    Hi Anon-

    RE: CICLONAVIC

    I don’t have any experiance with it, but my general thought is ‘Safety in numbers’.

    Hi Anon-

    RE: HR Strap Link

    Yup, the straps are all interchangeable, just simply re-pair it to the new Garmin head unit.

    Hi Anon-

    RE: Get Home feature

    Yup, you could just set that as a saved waypoint or location, and then it’ll get you home via shorest route (but not on roads). The Edge 705 does the routing routing.

    Hi Rob-

    RE: Calories

    As you noted, the Edge 500 and FR305 use different calorie counting mechanisms, with the 305 being the more basic. The best bet to ensuring correct calorie counting on the Edge 500 is to ensure that your Weight is correct, as well as Athlete Profile in the device, and then to use a HR strap.

    Hi Max-

    Thanks!

  13. Rainmaker,

    Great review as always – bought the 310xt based on your review of that device and love it!

    One of the reasons I bought it was I knew I was going to be riding with power sooner than later, and today my powertap arrived from wheelbuilder.

    Unfortunately, as you note above in your comment answers, the power on the 310xt is a bit gimped because of the lack of a 3s or 30s interval, which is what I really feel would be useful in pacing me on my triathlons.

    If I am generally not needing the mapping function, already have the 310xt for heart rate, cadence sensor and speed sensor from my 310xt, would you recommend the Edge 500 as a cheap alternative that will allow me to address power on the bike and then back to the 310xt on the run?

    Also, any knowledge on whether I even need the speed sensor anymore if I have a rear PT? I put the new wheel on today (with cover) and was testing it out and noted that it was telling me speed even without the speed sensor on, which I believe is based on the powertap readings.

    Thanks for your great reviews as always!

    Clint

  14. Hi Clint-

    RE: Edge 500 for bike, 310XT for run

    Yes, absolutely! That to me is my ‘most recommended’ option. Using the Edge 500 on the bike, and the 310XT on the run. It’s what I do now for all my races (minus ones I’m testing other things on), and what I do for training.

    RE: Powertap speed sensor

    In this configuration, the Edge 500 will utilize speed from the Powertap. 🙂

  15. KMS Australia

    1) I used my edge 500 at a 7hr MTB event, stuffed it in my bag with clothes etc, zipped the bag up and threw it in the back of my car. The jolly thing was still on and it tracked my car journey home! How could it do this seeing as it was stuffed away inside a bag!!!??

    2) I noticed that the way tracks that it made of my event were all over the shop in terms of what I would have thought as being accurate. How is this? Can I tune it better?

    3) How do I change the heart rate zones and my max HR??

  16. Ray Thanks for your hours of service you continue to provide to answer our questions.
    I am seeing inconsistencies with Garmin Connect and SportTracks.
    Why would the elevation gain be much higher on Garmin Connect then on SportTracks? I also notice avg speed go down considerably on ST compared to GC. While distance is almost exactly the same.

  17. Just to add to my last post.
    My ride over the weekend showed 3025 feet of elevation gain in GC but when I exported into SP it only showed 1882 feet of elevation gain. Is there a setting I am missing somewhere?

  18. Hi KMS-

    RE: Inside pocket/bag/car/etc..

    The GPS chip in it is pretty strong, it’ll easily work inside my house on the first floor…which if four floors from the roof. 🙂

    RE: Accuracy

    Not much you can do here honestly. The best thing is to ensure it’s got a good solid lock before you start off.

    RE: Zones

    You can change them on the device, using Garmin Connect, or using Garmin Training center.

    Hi Danny!

    RE: Elevation Gain

    Garmin Connect will do elevation correction, whereas ST will not by default (but can be enabled). GC will do elevation correction based on known NASA data and coordinates, which is generally pretty accurate. Whereas ST by default will utilize the barometric altimeter in the device.

    To grab the elevation correction plugin for ST, check out this:

    link to dcrainmaker.com

    And to understand elevation in detail in sports devices, check out this:

    link to dcrainmaker.com

  19. Thanks Ray that explains a lot… and raises more questions.
    Does my 500 automatically do elevation correction also? Because if I look up total ascent on activities on the 500, they are the same as GC.
    Also, does elevation correction affect avg speed? This mornings ride showed avg speed was 17mph on the 500 and 15.6mph in ST. While distance was the same.

  20. @Danny asked: Also, does elevation correction affect avg speed? This mornings ride showed avg speed was 17mph on the 500 and 15.6mph in ST. While distance was the same.

    Elevation correction does not affect avg speed, ST calculates your ride differently, possibly includes your stop times. To change this, at your summary page, there is a “Data” button (looks like a calculator) on the top right hand side. Change it from “Use calculated values” to “Use manually entered values”. Manually entered in this case means data given by the Edge 500. You can set this by default in the settings I believe.

    I find ST to be confusing though, therefore have not used it.

  21. Thanks wari, that fixed my speed and avg speed problem.
    Now I just need to fix the elevation problem. So far I have not been able to download the plugin because ST must be having a problem with their download location.

  22. Anonymous

    Hi DC Rainmaker!

    Great Review! Full of valuable information.

    As I scanned to the bottom of the comments section, I found no posts regarding the use of Suunto ANT+ HR straps in conjunction with the Edge 500. I know the Suunto HR straps run ANT+ technology and am curious if the devices are compatible. Do you know or have experience with this?

  23. Eli

    This review is insanely good.

    Anyway, the Garmin Edge 500 now comes with the new HR strap, at least mine did.

  24. I believe the Suunto HRM uses ANT, not ANT+, therefore, not compatible at all. Unless they have some new products coming out, the current t3 to t6 uses the ANT tech to communicate.

  25. Anonymous

    I have just read your review from go to whoa and am blown away by the level of detail you have gone to! Absolutely amazing!

    When I was dicussing the purchase of a new cycle computer with my cycle coach he mentioned that a replacement for the 705 was due out any day that was supposed to have touch screen featues. Have you heard any whispers regarding this new model? Thanks Rossco

  26. How do you find out what the HRM and cadence sensor Id’s are? I ride with alot of people that use garmin products and I would prefer to program in my specific equipment but have no idea how to find out the numbers.

    thanks

  27. Anonymous

    Thanks for the review!

    Any thoughts on the “Auto” vs. “Custom” wheel size setting? Which one do you use and why?

    Thanks.

  28. Anonymous

    Just bought and took out my Garmin Edge 500 for the first ride today – mine has no extras. Got home and loaded the ride into Garmin Connect and I have to say that the map that was generated (a feature that helped sell me on this unit) was far from accurate. Is there anything I can do to improve this? Thanks – Zaelia

  29. Hi Danny-

    RE: Elevation correction in Garmin Connect

    No, by default, in Garmin Connect when you load an Edge 500 ride, it’ll not do elevation correction. You can toggle it on/off on the left hand panel of the ride.

    Elevation correction wouldn’t affect speed – though differences in how different sport applications calculate can. Meaning, ST can throw out points differently than GC. Though, you’re difference is pretty significant and unusual.

    Definitely follow Wari’s advice.

    Hi Anon-

    RE: Suunto HR strap

    Looks like wari’s got ya covered there – thanks wari!

    Hi Anon/Rossco-

    RE: New Edge ‘705’ with touch

    I haven’t heard of such a thing. If one were to come out, it would likely happen either the week of September 22nd (at Interbike), or otherwise, then in the spring. The 705 is slightly overdue for an update (based on Garmin’s normal timetable) – so I can certainly see that happening.

    Hi Chris-

    RE: HRm/Cadence sensor ID’s:

    Simply dig down as if you were to pair the sensor again, and it’ll show it there.

    Hi Anon-

    RE: Auto vs Custom Wheel Size

    Auto uses GPS to determine wheel size. If you know your wheel size, then go ahead and use that – so it’ll be correct when indoors. Otherwise, use auto to determine wheel size.

    Hi Zaelia-

    RE: Inaccurate map

    I’ve never seen an inaccurate map before unless it didn’t get the satellite signal. Did you wait for the GPS acquisition to occur? Also – what does the map look like? Is it on the wrong area (meaning, overall route looks correct – but lines arne’t on roads, etc…)? Just trying to understand the issue.

    Thanks all!

  30. Anonymous

    RE: Inaccurate map

    I did wait for the GPS acquisition and it is on the right area but the lines aren’t on roads, etc.

    The mapping is not all that bad, it’s just that it cuts corners (i.e. shows the ride going through building, parks, etc.) and doesn’t follow the road. It looks more like the GPS plotted points and then draws a straight line from one point to another. Like I said, not that bad, but it wasn’t what I was expecting and was a little disappointed, so I thought I would ask if anyone knew of something I might have done/not done that could cause this.

    Thanks again,
    Zaelia

    P.S. Your review was extremely detailed and much appreciated! As is your willingness to answer people’s questions. Garmin should give you a stipend.

  31. This is an excellent review of a product I really like…except for one feature. Unless I’m overlooking something, the Edge 500 does not display HR in real time–meaning while you’re exercising. If this is correct, it’s really surprising since this is a training computer and many of us like to use HR zones WHILE we’re training. I understand that you can program the 500 to alert you when you are in certain zones, but this is not the same as being able to continuously monitor HR as you exercise. Would sure be nice if this could be added in a future firmware update!

  32. Not sure what you mean by real time, but it shows heart rate in BPM, Zones and HRR% Max. All in Current, Avg and avg/lap. Good enough for whatever kind of training regime you follow.

    I don’t have the Edge 500, but I would kill to have the Zone Graph feature on the 705. Loved it on my Forerunner 405.

  33. Anonymous

    DO NOT BUY THE EDGE 500

    This unit has firmware bugs that cause it to LOSE DATA. Go look at the Garmin forums – there are many threads on this topic. One of them is 24 pages long! I am not alone.

    Garmin is aware of this – apparently it even affects the Pro teams! Supposedly there is a firmware update coming. Some day. Until then DO NOT BUY.

    I have an Edge 305 too and it works beautifully: The interface is faster, the menu’ing is more intuitive despite having more options, and the buttons are easier to press.

    Garmin screwed up on the Edge 500 big time. Maybe I should have bought the Joule.

    To anyone who says it doesn’t happen to them… good for you, you’ve been lucky.

    Imagine how maddening it is to go out hard for 2-3 hours and then come home and… NO DATA. #@$@# A watch, pencil and paper would be better.

    Go see the Garmin forums for the Edge 500

  34. Anonymous

    Garmin have just released firmware v2.4 which is *supposed* to fix a lot of issues, including freezing. It’s too new to verify at the moment though.

  35. Thanks for the very comprehensive review. I’ve been considering moving from my current Edge 305 to a 500. One thing I cannot find though is how the breadcrumbs/tracking history works if you are not using a course. On my 305, I can flip the page to a map view, and I’ll see a dotted representation of my route so far, including a starting point icon. Can you do the same on the 500? Thanks!

  36. Thanks for all your efforts Rainmaker. You’ve helped many of us change our lives for the better!
    Quick question…in my Garmin Connect Activities, can I add photo or video icons or links for pictures taken during an activity and that others can click on to see the course or activity?
    I’ve looked all over and can’t find anything.
    Thanks!!

  37. Thanks Rainmaker. I just bought an Edge 500 based on your reviews and am delighted with it. I am a crazy online researcher and poring through your reviews was fun! your website is the richest resource for comparative shoppping for advanced bike computers.

  38. great review…I purchased one about 2 months ago and it’s been performing flawlessly.

    What’s the deal with the elevation correction? I just completed a century ride where the device registered 7,770 feet of climbing. When I use the “enable corrections” button on the elevations box, it bumped the total gain to 10,360+ feet. That’s a 33% increase from the device. Supposedly, the corrections feature reads your route over known elevations and makes the corrections. Is the error really that big? Curious about your thoughts on this. I went back and checked my other rides and they, too, increased significantly over the original device readings.

    Regards,
    Michael, Corte Madera, CA

  39. Great review and I purschaed the Edge 500 several months back based on this great information. I really like the unit and it has performed great.

    Only issue, the mounting on the back of the unit has stripped and the unit went falling this morning.

    I called Garmin today and they are going to repair or replace the unit.

    My question is, has anyone else had this issue of the mounting getting stripped on the back of the unit?

    Thanks

  40. Hi RV-

    RE: Display of HR in realtime

    Hmm, as Wari noted, this is pretty common (and what I display on my Edge 500), so you’ll just need to change the data field to show current heart rate.

    Hi Anon-

    RE: Loss of data

    Data loss does indeed suck. There is one of those threads for every sports device out there though. While the Edge 500 has had some rough spots, the latest firmware updates in the last few months have resolved any issues I’ve had. I personally at least haven’t lost a data file since the winter. Now, that’s not to say I won’t lose data tomorrow, but I’m pretty confident it won’t. As for losing data on device – I hear you’re pain – I lost my entire Ironman Canada race day data file last year.

    Hi Dave-

    RE: Maps

    On the Edge 500 you have to be in course view to see it.

    Hi TC-

    RE: Adding photo/video in GC

    I’m not aware of anything of the sort. In both Training Peaks and Sport Tracks you can do similiar items though.

    Hi Taj-

    Thanks!

    Hi Mwan-

    RE: Elevation Correction

    Check out this post here for all your elevation answer:
    link to dcrainmaker.com

    Hi Dbosler-

    RE: Mounting

    I haven’t heard of such a thing – but good to see Garmin’s swapping it out.

  41. Anonymous

    Great review. Have you had enough experience with the calorie calculation to know if its reasonably accurate?? Seems low compared to calorie burned calculators? Thoughts

  42. anthony

    Hi, thanks for the review

    I was wondering if you can set the edge 500 to sound an alarm if your heart rate/cadence leaves a certain zone? and can you set this zone yourself, or are there just pre-sets?

    What sort of things can you do with the workouts?

    Also what software do you recommend to use with it – I know you used to say your favourite was SportTracks as it was free, but I think this is no longer the case?

    Thanks
    Anthony

  43. Anonymous

    Hello RainMaker,
    Edge 500 Specific – Can I have multiple courses loaded simutaneously and then select a different course while riding?

    TBill

  44. Hi Ray,

    Not sure if anyone’s covered it any comments yet and I didn’t see it in the article but if you upload data from your Edge 500 to GTC then to Garmin Connect some data is missing (e.g. temperature). If you upload data directly from the Edge 500 to Garmin Connect (without going through GTC first) the data is all there.

    I battled to figure this out today but got there in the end. It’s obviously due to GTC being legacy, old and cr*ppy.

    🙂

  45. Hi Anthony-

    RE: Zones

    Yup, you can customize the zones to whatever you’d like them to be, and alert based on that. same with workouts.

    RE: Sport Tracks

    Yes, for desktop apps – Sport Tracks is still my favorite. Also, it’s free for the most part, only if you want more plugins does it cost mor.

    Hi TBill-

    RE: Multiple courses

    Yes, you can select courses on the fly.

    Hi DigitalForumula-

    RE: Temp

    Yup, in short, GTC is a POS. 🙂

  46. Maybe this has been covered, but can you create a course that will repeat indefinitely until manually ended and increment your lap count at a certain point on the course? I’m thinking of using the computer in some criteriums and circuits in which the number of laps is determined by the lap times (therefore not allowing me to create the course beforehand with absolute accuracy), and I would really like to be able to tell whether lap times are getting faster, slower etc. I would think that setting the device to switch laps after a certain distance would become inaccurate after a large nunmber of laps. Thanks.

  47. Hi @Matthew, on a lot of the Garmin devices I know of, from the Edge 705 to the Forerunner series (except 110 and 210), you can create autolaps from “Start and Lap” based on the GPS positions.

    So before doing your criterium, just change your Autolap settings and you should be fine, the 500 should Lap you everytime you pass the “Start” area within 10 meter radius or so (can’t confirm this, but it works for me). I don’t think a course file would work properly the way you want it.

  48. Wow. Just found your site. What an amazing amount of work you do – and all for free. You are a special man.

    I am a newbie cyclist and so my questions re: the 500 might seem silly, but…

    Does it keep a continuous odometer reading? Meaning, can I see the total miles I’ve ridden to date?

    For me, I’m more interested in the grade percent of certain hills I climb, as opposed to altitude. Does the 500 show an accurate reading of grade %?

    Lastly, thank you for all the time and effort you put into all this. Amazing.

  49. Good post matey!.. bought one based on it.

  50. Hi Matthew-

    RE: Course repeating

    No, not that I’m aware of. Wari’s option though is good quite and should roughly work as a workaround.

    Hi Fizzhogg-

    RE: Odometer

    Yup, it keeps an odometer, and you can set the starting point.

    RE: Grade

    Yes, it shows grade – and it’s something that I use all the time on mine. I find it fairly accurate and great for defining false flats

    Thanks William!

  51. Anonymous

    G’day from OZ

    My query relates to my Edge 500 and the 3 bikes I use (commuter, training, racing). I have 3 bike mounts and use the Edge 500 on each bike.

    But I cannot see where the Edge 500 bike settings allow for more than 1 “Bike Details”. The 310 allows for up to 3 bikes.

    Does the Edge 500 allow for more than 1 bike and history to be recorded ?

  52. Anonymous

    G’day from Oz (again)

    I have solved my problem with the 3 x Bike details, but now I have a different query.

    Am I stuck with the same 3 x customised screens for all 3 bikes ?

    I would prefer to have a different set of screens for my racing bike.

    Can this be done ?

    Thanks
    PS Great website, much easier to read than the instruction manual

  53. I have a wireless powertap 2.4 with the powertap 2.4 yellow computer head … it is not ant+. I know that I need to get the ant+ updater from cycleops ($100) to be able to use the Garmin 500 to get power readings, but I’ve also invested $100 in the cycleops speed/cadence sensors and am wondering if these can be used with the Garmin 500? I don’t know how to tell if these sensors are ant+. I bought the complete unit approximately 2 1/2 years ago. I don’t want to purchase the Garmin sensor if not needed. Thanks, Doug

  54. Martin M

    Great review mate, very helpful!!
    Thanks,
    M

  55. Hi Ray,

    Love my Garmin Edge 500 but lately when riding the autopause keeps triggering whilst I’m hammering along. I’m riding all the usual cycle routes around Perth in Australia so wouldnt think it would be a GPS connectivity problem but that is what is seems like. I have upgraded the firmware not sure if that will help, if you have any ideas let me know.

    Cheers
    Cam

  56. Anonymous

    I think there’s a way the Edge 500 might bring you back home/to your car.

    Before you leave: At Home or at your car, record a small piece of data (+- 100 meters) and make a course called “HOME” or “CAR” (That can be done on the device itself)
    Somewhere on the road, select “HOME” or “CAR” under courses. Then “Do Course”. Now you see the distance to your car and which direction you should be going.

    Better than stuck in the middle of…

    [img]http://www.tramsoft.ch/gps/screenshots/garmin/edge500/garmin_edge500-page-map_en.jpg[/img]

    * Distance from the current position to the course for your training
    * Estimated travel time from the current position to the course
    * Map (orientation either north up or moving direction up)
    * Map pointer (white arrow)
    * Current position (black triangle)
    * Current scale

  57. I’ve written a little tool which should work on most flavors of linux and likely also apple operating systems which allows tagging directly from the .fit file and without needing to use garmin connect. You can read a bit about it and grab a copy from here. This is especially convenient if you can’t or don’t want to run garmin connect and have an edge 500 which only produces .fit files.

  58. Anonymous

    Great Review thanks – i think that the 500 does however include the Virtual Partner software now.

  59. great review. every time i plug my 500 into the sp port the unit turns off and the computer doen’t recognize it. can u help me? gabe tenembaum

  60. Hi Rainmaker.

    A really really good review.

    I am thinking about buying the edge 500, but I have seen another Bike computer wich is from Polar and is named CS500. I would really enjoy if you could make a review of that model.

    Søren, Denmark

  61. Hi Anon-
    RE: Customized screens for each bike

    Indeed, the customized screens are shared across all three bikes.

    Hi Douglas-
    RE: CycleOps ANT+ Speed/Cadence sensors

    Yes, as long as they have the ANT+ logo, you’ll be good.

    Hi Martin
    Thanks!

    Hi Cambo-
    RE: Autopause

    It does sound like a weird sat issue – try a soft reset to grab the correct sats. Else, consider turning off or tweaking the autopause settings a bit. Good luck!

    Hi Anon-
    RE: Car finding

    Indeed…I’ve done that a few times when I haven’t been sure if/how’d I get back.

    Hi Hwttdz-
    RE: Tagging tool

    Sweet – thanks for sharing, that’s awesome!

    Hi Anon-
    RE: Virtual Parnter

    Good catch, I’ll get that updated – it was added recently in firmware.

    Hi Dr T-
    RE: USB port issues

    Hmm, that sounds like the USB port isn’t providing enough power – may be a setting in the BIOS to check.

    Hi Soren-
    RE: CS500

    Yup, aware of it – I may review it in the future, I have a few other Polar products on my list!

    Thanks all!

  62. Anonymous

    Hey Rainmaker, great review. Just bought the 500 with the speed/cadence sensor. Awesome! One quick question. I have a Zipp SL145 stem, which is extremely fat. I can’t mount the 500 on the stem and it looks a little sloppy mounted on the left side of the handlebar. Do you know of a good mount the would place the computer in the SRM position, ahead of the handlebars? Thanks!

  63. This comment has been removed by the author.

  64. Hi Ray,
    I have questions about “Courses” feature:
    1) how do I know the exact spot to start the saved course workout? I mean, once I hit the start button the course begins, no matter where I am located, right? Isn’t it weird?
    2) do saved courses also include the speed at every portion of that workout? If I start doing a saved course, will I be competing against the different speeds of the original recorded course, or the device sets a predetermined steady speed throughout the course?

    I think I don’t know how to use this feature, but I would love to learn – I find the Virtual Partner pretty stimulating.

    Regards,
    Eduardo.

  65. @Eduardo: There are two types of courses, one based on your old workout, or one you create from some websites like bikeroutetoaster.com

    Both includes speed information, so you could see how well you do on some sections competing against yourself. This is not an average speed thing. You can see the partner moving faster on downhills for example (could be my imagination, but it think it does)

    The Garmin will start when you are in the ‘course’, so if you started anywhere in between a course, Garmin would assume you have started, and will put the virtual partner there as well.

    The best way to do it however, is to ‘warm up’ somewhere out of the course, and head to the start of the course.

    Anyway, just give it a try, and you’ll learn its quirks very quickly. If something else start to disrupt you from the course, I believe it’s easy to just stop it.

  66. thanks wari
    I expected it to only start the VP when I reached the beginning of the course – but everytime I hit the start button, even when I’m miles away from the start of the course, it shows the distance to the VP starts to increase (as if the VP is already at the the course and I’m not).
    but I’ll try again tomorrow, let’s see what happens.

  67. @Eduardo: Hmm, maybe its an Edge 500 thing? The course behavior I mentioned is based on my experience with the ForeRunner 305, 310XT and the Edge 705/800. It can get quirky, but it works the way I expected it to. As for pressing the start to head to the start, make sure you yourself are not on (or in the middle of) the course. based on my experience, Garmin will start the VP based on where you’re at if you are near a course.

    Hope you understand what I’m trying to get across here. Anyway, it course be that the Edge 500 has a different feature set (or a bug), I don’t have one, so I’m not sure.

  68. Bernard Maughan

    Hi All,

    Forgive me if this is mentioned elsewhere but I don’t have the time to read through the hundreds of comments left after after Ray’s brilliant review.

    Here’s a simple but effective workaround for screen glare issues:

    Go to a mobile phone store and buy an anti-glare screen protector for a mobile phone. trim to fit the (mostly smaller) Edge 500 screen, and then carefully apply.

    Done properly you won’t even notice the additional layer on the device and you’ll have the added bonus of having a scratch-protected screen.

    I did this and found it a very effective solution for less than the cost of my post ride coffee.

    Cheers,

    Bernard

  69. Anonymous

    Hi DC!
    I have a question regarding the Total Fat Calories on GTC, how can i set up my EDGE 500 in order to get the data of Total Fat Calories?

    Thanks,
    Ernie

    emdinio1960@sbcglobal.net

  70. I would like to say this is an excellent blog that I have ever come across. Very informative.

    Life For Rent | Life For Rent

  71. Anonymous

    Brilliant review! Well done! Thank you!
    -thomas

  72. Was wondering whether you are planning to do a review of the new Bryton GPS cycling computers?

  73. @Overview, it’s so nice to know that there are other devices other than Garmin, that does seems to have more features/info, and is not the crappy ones that they sell down here.

    It’s also ironic that it’s because of Garmin’s lawsuit, that this brand is now brought to light with free publicity.

    I like the fact that it uses OpenStreetMaps as the source for its mapping feature. Interesting indeed. Oh, and the Rider 30 is not bad at all.

    PS: I really don’t think that people will be confused between the Rider 30 and the Edge 500. Here’s saying to Garmin that if you don’t wake up, other companies might win you over features. Then again, what’s a pedometer doing in a bike computer (Rider 50) is beyond me 🙂

  74. thanks for the very detailed review! i already own an edge 500, but have learned so much more about it than what i’m currently using. this was a much easier and more entertaining read than the supplied owner’s manual. i look forward to more of your reviews!

  75. Dear Ray,

    Thanks again for all your posts.

    I have a quick question: have you tried this Garmin EDGE 500 with Timex Global Trainer HR Strap?

    Thanks,

    Sam

  76. Do you have any critiques of the Bontrager DuoTrap that fits in the frame of both my Trek Madone as well as my Trek Speed Concept Tri bike?

    CC

  77. This is not the first of your posts I’ve read, and you never cease to amaze me. Thank you, and I look forward to reading more.

  78. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work

  79. Very good review, I just got an edge 800 and would like an equally comprehesive review so I do not have to spend soo much time with the instuction manuals

  80. Anonymous

    Could you help me out and tell me where the sensor ID is located for the HRM (hard strap) I got with my Edge 500? I’m not getting any data. The edge 500 is showing the blinking heart, but thats it. Thanks in advance!

  81. Anonymous

    Great reviews – when exporting Edge500 data to either Garmin Connect or Sport Tracks, is there any way to capture which bike was used (bike 1 vs bike 2) other than manual input?

  82. STEVEBBY

    Hi,
    please can you advise is it possible to turn off the virtual partner? I do long rides so my speed varies with hills, traffic, or other break – so it is not possible to keep pace with the virtual partner and hence the scales are varying and the information becomes hard to follow. On a downloaded route, the virtual partner is not telling me anything more than my average speed (against a previous record of the same course it is obviously different).
    Thanks,
    Steve.

  83. Ken

    Your reviews are so many SDs beyond the mean that they approach the horizontal axis. Thank you so much!

    On the external temperature function, how hard would it be for Garmin to download that info from a satellite (the way I assume my iPhone does) rather than try to measure it directly? Forerunner and Edge devices are already downloading time of day and position, why not current actual temperature? On a long ride or run, I know how hot or cold it was when I started but it would be nice (or maybe masochistic is the word) to know how that is changing as the morning stretches on.

    Even if I chose not to look at that info in real time, it would be helpful to have it upload to my computer with other data like heart rate, altitude, etc. for analysis afterwards to factor in how temperature affected performance mile by mile.

  84. Hi everybody,

    Hope you can help me with 3 little problems I have, I just got an Edge 500, last night!

    I love the unit itself and set up was a breeze, BUT, I haven’t been able to do three things:

    1-I haven’t been able to download the Communicator Plugin, I always get an error titled “7-Zip” which states “The requested operation requires elevation”. I have tried to donwload it with Google Chrome and IE7, with no luck.

    2-I haven’t been able to download the Garmin Training Center, I always get the same error as above titled “7-Zip” which states “The requested operation requires elevation”.

    3-When I try to update my heartrate zones from Garmin Connect to my Edge 500 and hit “send to device”, nothing happens.

    Appreciate any ideas.

    Thanks

  85. Hi Ray,

    apologies if this question has been asked already… I scrolled through and didn’t see it but I may have missed it.

    Can you plug the Edge 500 into an ipad 2? Is the communicator plug-in available for that – I can’t seem to find an answer on the Garmin site.

    Thanks!

  86. Chris

    Love the review – very helpful – thanks

    i do have one question. have you ever seen issues with the calories? i seem to be only collecting data for part of the ride (4 hr ride = only 2000cals)
    any settings that i am missing?
    the HR monitor is connected and active for the whole ride.
    thanks for any help!

  87. Marcus

    Hi Rainmaker,
    I am owning an Edge 305 and beside tracking my workouts in combination with StportTracks I use it heavily to try out new and unknown courses. I am absolutely fine with just seeing the breadcrumb instead of a map.
    Because the Edge 305 has some loose contact after 15,000 km on the stem and because of the longer battery live I recently purchased an Edge 500.
    As I said I use the courses a lot and was quite disappointed that unlike the Edge 305 I can not select the data fields that are shown on the course screen.
    Am I really right with this? Is there no way to change those fields?
    Regards from Germany

  88. Great review – have the Edge 305 which I like and had the Forerunner 405 which I hated …. well the bezel.
    500 looks interesting – esp now it is so cheap

  89. Hi Anon-
    RE: SRM style mount

    Unfortunately, I’ve seen none. Sorry!

    Hi Eduardo-
    RE: Courses

    It asks you if you’d like to route to the start, if you aren’t nearby

    RE: Speed portion

    It’ll be specific to that chunk of course.

    Thanks Wari on helping out!

    Hi Bernard-
    RE: Screen glare

    Yup, a few others have had success there as well with the mobile phone ones.

    Hi Anon
    Thanks!

    Hi Overview-
    RE: Bryton Rider Review

    I have it on the radar, but it’s also not highly demanded by many, so it’s somewhat tough for me to justify the time at the moment. Just being honest, I’ve only got so many hours in the day unfortunately. :-/

    Hi EST.09-
    Thanks!

    Hi Samuel-
    RE: Timex Global Trainer HR strap with Edge 500

    Yes, they’re fully compatible with each other.

    Hi FFCaldwell-
    RE: Duotrap

    I love it, and have it on my wifes bike (Speed Concept) – works great!

    Hi Lydia-
    Thanks!

    Hi Anon-
    RE: Sensor ID:

    It’s not written out on the HR strap sensor ID unfortunately, you’d have to scan for it once while alone to gather it.

    Hi Anon-
    RE: Data Export capture bike name

    None that I’m aware of.

    Hi Stevebby-
    RE: Turn off virtual partner

    Yup, you can turn it off in the display settings

    Hi Ken-
    RE: Download temp data from satellite

    Garmin’s only using the GPS side of satellites and wouldn’t be able to gather any other data unfortunately. The iPhone uses cell networks to gather the information, via Edge, 3G or 4G. I suspect in a few years the next version of the Edge 800+ will be Internet connected like the Garmin GTU’s.

    Hi Lerubi-
    RE: Communicator plugin and other installations

    It sounds like you need admin access on your box in order to intsall the software.

    Hi Alison-
    RE: Edge 500 into iPad too.

    Unfortunately not, there’s no software connector today that will access those files. Wish there was!

    Hi Chris-
    RE: Calories

    Yes, it must be configured correctly in order to get accurate calories. But 2,000 calories for a 4hr ride seems about right depending on how hard you were working and weight and what not. Hard to say for sure though.

    Hi Marcus-
    RE: Changing course screen fields

    Hmm, I don’t have it handy at the moment (my wife has it on her bike out of town) – but I don’t think on the Edge 500 you can change that particular field set.

    Hi Surfabike-
    You’ll enjoy the Edge 500 if you liked the Edge 305.

    Thanks all, and sorry for the delay here – been a bit of a crazy few months with wedding and honeymoon, just getting a chance to catchup on all the past comments.

  90. Hey DC Rainmaker!
    I recently bought an Edge 500 and I’m very happy with it, but I’ve decided to upgrade to a 310xt as it will be of benefit as I run and swim,(I hope to compete in an Ironman in France next June).
    Before I give my Edge 500 to a friend, could you suggest any way that the 310xt forerunner doesn’t cover all of the features my Edge 500 does.
    ps. Your reviews are gold!!!

    Cheers!
    pk from Sydney

  91. Grant

    HI Ray.

    Your reviews are the stuff of legends and put most manufacturers to absolute shame. After reading your reviews on GPS bike computers and other research, I have just changed from a simple Topeak 150 to a Garmin 500 to pick up some extra features.

    Other mountain bikers I know have 500’s & 800’s and swear by them for their GPS tracking abilities in New Zealand forest conditions. However, I am having real problems with getting accurate GPS distance. This first showed up against my well-calibrated Topeak and while I was expecting a little variation – the Garmin is reading about 20 to 25% low, which is way off.

    I have read many blogs and know I am not alone with this problem but was hoping with your expertise you might be able to shed some pearls of wisdom. This is what I have done so far;

    (a) Firstly, I have gone back and ensured everything is installed & aligned properly.

    (b) I have checked the Garmin 500 head unit out against our in-car GPS and with good clear GPS signal, the two units track each other very well. However in subsequent rides there was still a 20 – 25% discrepancy between the Garmin & my Topeak.

    (c) Some blogs and other sources said to just take the wheel magnet off thus not confusing the whole GPS thing and the Garmin would then sort itself out. Couldn’t see how this would help but did it anyway. No joy with GPS readings still way low.

    (d) the blogs say that the Garmin will default to the rear wheel data for distance if it is available. I wondered if, as the blogs said, the auto calibration of the rear wheel circumference was mucking things up.

    (e) I took the Garmin off automatic rear wheel circumference calibration and entered a manual circumference – that being the average of 10 rear wheel revolutions with me on the bike. Eureka – it now tracks my Topeak very closely & consistently, but it left me wondering just what info the GPS was recording on a forest ride.

    (f) So as well as uploading to Garmin Connect I also uploaded to “Ride With GPS” which according to the blogs ONLY looks at the GPS data for distance. Once again a big disconnect between the GC result (ie rear wheel) and the RWGPS result (GPS only). The RWGPS data was back to the “old” Garmin data.

    (g) Knowing that the Garmin was accurate in open conditions I did a small test at a local sportsground. Checked satellite reception, which was very good with location error down to only 3m. I rode 4 X 500 metre laps for just over 2km and uploaded to GC & RWGPS and guess what they agree very very closely on distance. So I now know for sure that the rear wheel calibration is spot on – ditto the Topeak 150 calibration.

    (h) As per your blog I have done a soft reset and once again no change on results.

    The problem this leaves me is that it means that the Garmin GPS is significantly under-recording in even light forest conditions. Kind of makes me wonder what the benefit of GPS is at all as its the old wheel magnet system which is actually the accurate reading?

    Have I got a faulty unit?

    Sorry about the long post. Any thoughts or insights would be very gratefully received.

    Cheers Grant

  92. Hi Ray,

    one question regarding the use of multiple bikes – each with their own ANT+ s/c sensor: do you need to re-pair with the ANT+ sensors each time you use another bike, or is the sensor ID part of the “bike profiles” you can store on the Edge 500? Ie. switch bike profile = switch sensors?

    Thanks!

  93. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

  94. It’s great to see good information being shared and also to see fresh, creative ideas that have never been done before.

  95. That’s probably the most thorough review I have ever seen. Here’s a great consumer reviews website that everyone needs to see.

  96. Anonymous

    Absolutely DEAD ON with everything said. Experienced same probs, same successes. Wish I’d read this b-4 purchase, but after a car ran over my FR301 it was time to replace & had already been considering the E500. Now if I could only get the Altitude thing to be more accurate. Thanks. Roy

  97. Anonymous

    Great review very happy to find some nice details about the garmin 500 i just bought before seeing an ad and hearing about the motorola motoactv. how would you compare the two? Obviously the Garmin is geared for cycling while the motoactv is made for more then one activity lacking the focus on cycling which is the only activity i do.

  98. great review! i just purchased my very first gps enabled bike computer. i just have a question regarding installing it on my fsa control center (i’m using fsa plasma integrated handlebar). is it safe? do u hv any advice on how to mount it? thanks!

  99. Hi Rainmaker, I’ve read your reviews on the Edge 500 and the Timex GPS watch in search for a bikecomputer. But I really don’t know what to buy. I’m an amateur cyclist from Holland. I’m looking for a cycling computer that besides the obvious can at least display cadence, heartrate, records my route,altimeter en ascent/descent. I sometimes run, so if I could use it for running that would be nice. But a great bike computer is the most important. A simple heartrate monitor for running doesn’t cost that much. What can you advice me for the cycling computer? All suggestions are welcome, not only a choice between Edge and Timex. I can’t promise you anything, but I might buy through your link to Amazone, because the US is a lot cheaper and a friend can bring it to me when returning home for the holidays. Thank you for your response. The Flying Dutchman

  100. Great review, but one important detail was left out: the data recording resolution for the GPS. I forget the actual frequency, but its around every 20 sec which is Ok for Road riding but lousy for Mountain Biking on a twisting single track. The old 705 had much higher GPS resolution.

  101. Anonymous

    Is there any update on when the new firmware for the Edge 500 (to include TSS, IF, and NP-and hopefully more screens) will be released? Is there some place (blog, etc) that I can get the latest status on this issue? I’m really getting impatient to have the data fields, especially since they have been available for the Edge 800 for quite some time now…

  102. Trevor

    Just purchased here in the uk – excellent review and guidance. Thanks

  103. Anonymous

    Would love to see the pics again (of this still current model) which appear to have been deleted from the server 🙁

  104. Anonymous

    Oops the pics are there but for some reason are not showing as embedded pics in both Firefox and IE9.. hmmm..

  105. This a manifestation of standards and everything nice. Great post Rainmaker! Keep it up and more power!

    Happy New Year!!!

  106. Anonymous

    I managed to get the rubber bands and mount on my wrist without a strap for the Edge 500. It was tight and ripped some hairs out. People with large hands probably wouldn’t be able to get the rubber bands on. It’s big and ugly but I’m going go buy a wrist strap for it to save some money.

  107. Great Blog!! That was amazing. Your thought processing is wonderful. The way you tell the thing is awesome. You are really a master.

    Best Deals

  108. Thanks for sharing such pictures and details. I really appreciate it.

  109. Anonymous

    Awesome review but here is an unexpected(?) question… what’s the weight of the full kit once setup on the bike? Not just the head unit but also it’s mount, cables and sensors?

    Aside from $, I am making weight a criterion when comparing the Edge 500 (plus Power Meter cranks) to other solutions like Garmin Vector and Look Keo Power pedals.

    Thanks in advance…

  110. Anonymous

    I measured 8.00g for the mount and two rubber bands. 57.65g for the Edge–1g more than the tech specs. Dirt? I’ve calibrated my scale. I don’t feel like taking off my sensor, magnets, and zip ties. Zip tie length and mass (probably negligible) are going to depend on your crankarm and chainstay.

  111. The Garmin Edge 500 has a map view when you are following a course, but I can’t seem to display a map view to show the breadcrumb trail you have ridden since starting to record that activity like the Edge 305 does. Is this feature not existing?

    Seems odd since it can map a course, I’m not sure how important being able to view my map breadcrumbs is but I know I already miss it.

    Thanks

  112. Anonymous

    Ever seen a waterproof housing for swimming?

  113. None that I’m aware of, though, the unit is waterproof (you can see my immersion tests on it). It’s rated to 1 meter deep for 30 minutes.

  114. halriddle@comcast.net

    I just purchased the Garmin Edge 500. After receipt, followed initial charging and setup procedures. Moistened the heart rate strap and placed as indicated “Garmmin” label right side up when viewed from front. The monitor does not reliably pick up heart rate. In fact, does not more often than does. I have re-moistened, wiggled it around to no avail. I had my riding partner try it on and presto, works perfectly all the time.

    I am replacing a Polar 720i which has no problem picking up my heart rate.

    Have you seen or heard of this ‘phenomenon ‘ before?

  115. Joneil

    Awesome review! My dad actually got the Garmin 500 and he sent me the link to your blog. VERY extensive (and juicy) details of everything I could and couldn’t think of.

    Keep up the good work!

  116. Quick question, is there an option for alerts to go off during specified time length? Like every 45 minutes for example. Just curious. Thanks!

  117. halriddle@comcast.net

    Edge 500 (newly purchased).

    Please tell me how the altimeter works. I would like a true “ascent” or climbing feet displayed. But what I am seeing for my Edge 500 vs 310xt vs 910xt vs Edge 305 is crazy. None seem even close to the others. How closely is this related to starting point elevation.

  118. SoCarlo

    Hello,
    I want to make a point on the barometric altimeter.
    In order to be accurate, barometric readings have to be temperature-compensated: the pressure at any place (whatever altitude it is at) is dependent on temperature. The 500 uses these two information to provide the elevation.

    And here is the problem: the thermometer on the Edge 500 is highly inaccurate. Its thermal inertia requires a time that is too long before it provides the right reading, degrading the accuracy of the altimeter.

  119. There are a couple of websites that let you create turn-by-turn directions on the edge 500, link to bikeroutetoaster.com is the one I’ve used in the past. Its not as good as actually having the street maps on the unit, but its a lot better then constantly having to pull your route directions out of your pocket.

  120. Hi there!

    So now I could download a workout (planned with one of the programs out there) to the Edge 500 and it will have alerts and everything (as my Edge 705 does)? What about planning a workout on the device itself?

    I’m between the 500 and 800, but the 800’s price frightens me a little bit.

    Thanks,

  121. This comment has been removed by the author.

  122. I am on my second Garmin 500 ,First one tabs broke of on the quarter turn. Second one just had one tab brake off . Anyone else had this problem

  123. Anonymous

    Great review!

    Thank you

  124. Hi Ray,

    Yesterday I took my edge 500 for a swim. Double ziplock bag + swim cap method on back of head. I turned off autopause and just did a continous swim. The accuracy was very good! The gps was unscathed and perfectly dry.

    Here is a link to the workout.
    link to connect.garmin.com

    I wouldn’t do this in a race, but for training it is great. I couldn’t even feel the gps under my cap.

    Cheers

  125. Thanks for the reviews

  126. Anonymous

    Hi DC Rainmaker,
    awesome in depth review, I am looking at getting a Garmin computer that can be used for both biking and running, having just signed up for my first triathlon.
    A friend recommended the Garmin 610.
    Any advice on a computer that is good for both biking and running?

  127. Alex

    I bought the edge 500 the other day and absolutely loving it. First read about it here on your blog but had a hard time ditching my beloved polar kit. So glad I did. It’s a thing of beauty this little blue and greyish thing.

  128. Ray – Any guess as to when the Edge 500 will be updated? I’m strongly considering a purchase, but would hate to lay down the cash only to see a new model come out the next month. It’s coming up on 3 years old, so it’s about time. I’m in no rush, but would like to have it for nordic skiing this winter.

  129. Given your shoes, I’d wait. I don’t have any inside information – other than just very consistant historicals.

    Garmin is pretty lockstep on releasing updates every 2 years for fitness units, and always at Eurobike/Interbike coming up in about 6 weeks. If something’s going to happen (and I suspect it will), it’ll definitely happen then.

    Just my two cents.

  130. Thanks Rainmaker, I rely on your comprenhensive reviews because you don’t sugar coat any vendor–just the facts. I currently own a Garmin 910xt. I use it for running, biking, hiking, etc.. My question is, other than the altitude option on the Edge 500, what am I really gaining. Also it appears the 500 is 2010 technology. Is there something newer or should I say better on the market?

  131. Anonymous

    “other than the altitude option on the Edge 500, what am I really gaining?”

    the swimming functions and the fact that it’s a wristwatch.

  132. I already have the watch (910xt). I was just wondering if it’s worth buying an extra piece of equipment for my bike (500 edge) if all I’m gaining is altitude and temperture updates.

  133. Anonymous

    Hi Rainmaker,
    Congratulations on the extensive and comprehensive review. By far you give the best review in the planet!
    Regards,
    Rafael – manila, philippines

  134. JohnB

    Fantastic site and great reviews.

    My question has to do with zones. Currently I use a Polar RS200 which shows time spent in each heart rate zone. Does the Edge 500 do the same?

    Thanks…

  135. DB.

    Hi Ray,

    Love the site and the reviews.

    Quick question around the Edge 500 and recorded GPS files.

    Do you know anyway to clean up GPS files before uploading to Strava. GPS points often don’t align to a road and this can have an effect on beating my on PR on climbs.

    I’ve been trying Race Shape’s snap tool (strava-tools.raceshape.com/snap) but wondered what you do / of if you know of a better peice of softare / website to clean up GPS files.

    thanks & keep up the great site

    DB.

  136. Anonymous

    Hi Rainmaker,
    could you please tell me if the device is able to tell you how many time you’ve spent in each heart rate zone? Thanks!

  137. Hey,

    Just clicked through your Amazon link and bought one of these.

    Nothing is ideal, but based on your reviews this was the best bike computer for me.

    thanks!!

  138. This comment has been removed by the author.

  139. Arne

    extensive review with lots of information. I got my Edge 500 3 months ago and did quite a few trips and liked it most of the time. calibrating the altimeter doesn’t work automatically for me, even though I have set a “home” point. Maybe I am too impatient but I have to set a new “home-point” each time I want to calibrate.
    I have the glaring problem mostly when riding in varying conditions (bright sun, but in the woods with sun and shadow in fast change). Will try anti glare adhesive.

    My problem of the day:
    I have lost the magnet of the cadence (the zip is still tight around the pedal crank with the adhesive below it). I tried moving an old spoke magnet up and down the cadence sensor and noticed that it is picked up and some cadence figure diplayed on the edge.

    So my question is:
    would any little magnet be an adequate substitute for the cadence magnet?

    If not I am ready to buy the replacement parts to fix the dsc10 – but then I would get quite a few parts I did not lose.

  140. thanks for the helpful review.

    quick question, please: if you have the speed/cadence sensor attached, and GPS active, which method is used for displaying speed/distance?

    Would you expect any difference in accuracy between the speed sensor and GPS, and do you get to choose which to display?

    thanks much indeed.

    PS – your Captcha characters are really hard to read.

  141. To answer my own question, this is covered by Garmin FAQ:

    link to support.garmin.com{6af715b0-0260-11e2-e8a7-000000000000}

    When using the Speed/Cadence Sensor (GSC 10), the speed and distance will be recorded based on this sensor instead of GPS data

    I’m still interested in anyone’s experiences of accuracy, etc tradeoffs between the two methods…?

    thanks…

  142. In general, it depends on the situation. For mountain biking with lots of switchbacks, you tend to get better speed data via the sensor (oh, btw, you can use a PowerTap as well, as that speed sensor will override GPS).

    However, for general road riding, I’ve found that GPS speed display is more than accurate for 99.9% of use cases.

    Now, the one thing to keep in mind is that ultimately this is just display, not recording of data (unless you outright turn off GPS).

    Hope this helps!

  143. thanks!

    and good point; I suppose as far as recording is concerned, speed and distance aren’t actually recorded at all, merely calculated later, from the recorded positions?

    Which raises the question: how does the Edge handle distances whilst climbing? Is it 3D, and thus still gets it right?

    thanks…

  144. Opie

    Hello Rainmaker; I am looking to break into triathlons and just got a Trek Defy bike 2 days ago. I have the Forerunner 305 and 410. Am i correct in saying that I just need to get the cadence unit (via your Amazon link of course); and that effectively does some of what I would aim to do with the Edge 500 for now while I get into it? Does the $40 package have the three items in this picture? link to lh3.ggpht.com

    Thanks

  145. Opie, the Garmin GSC 10 “Speed/cadence sensor” (part 010-10644-00) package includes:

    – ANT+ sensor

    – rubber chainstay pad for sensor

    – spoke magnet and clip

    – cadence magnet

    – 4 cable ties

    – instructions

    hope this helps.

  146. Opie

    Thanks cdmackay – just ordered mine now – can’t wait to try this out

  147. Is it possible to upload training files from the Edge 500 to trainingpeaks using a smartphone or a tablet?

    I know it should be possible to transfer the training files to your Garmin connect account using Android devices with android 3.0 or above using the app. “Sportablet”, but has anybody tried connecting with a micro USB to mini USB cable and just copy the “fit” files to the phones SD card followed by loging on to your trainingpeaks account from the phones internet explorer app, browsing to the “fit” file and upload it?

    The mobile trainingpeaks app does not allow file uploads, hence it can not be used.

    Also has anybody tried to make a connection between the new windows 8 phone and the Edge500, because that might also be possible?

    Michael

  148. Dan

    Hi,

    does the garmin start and stop the data recording automatic at the start and finish of a set course.

    • Martin Potblak

      When you finish your course/ride and stop moving, the Edge500 will ato-pause. If you want it to stop recording at that time you need to press the stop/start button (top right)
      To store this as a discrete event you then need to press the reset (bottom right) button for 3 seconds.

  149. Martin Potblak

    Great in depth review!
    And their temperature sensor is still way high even after two years.
    I complain and their answer is: Please update the software. (Which had already been updated!)
    Is the 800’s sensor any better?

  150. Don C

    I’m on the fence about purchasing the Garmin Edge 500. I currently use my Android phone with a Zephyr HR strap & Strava. What is to be gained by switching to the Edge besides the cadence & the ability to use on a trainer?
    Is technology coming to the smartphone market that I should hold out for a bit, such as a BT speed/cadence sensor?

    • Rainmaker

      Primarily that it’s directly in front of you on your handlebars, as well as the ANT+ compatibility and the barometric altimeter. Your phone doesn’t have a barometric altimeter, so the elevation data is probably a bit wonky (though Strava will correct that post-activity). There are actually Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence sensors out there today, Wahoo Fitness makes one (see the reviews section). Enjoy!

  151. Larry

    Great review Ray, I appreciate your indepth work here and have decided to go with the Edge 500.

    I have one question around the heart rate subject. My current HR monitor (Suunto) allows me to set up zones that are tracked during my ride, I find this very useful and informative for me, will the Edge 500 allow me the same information?
    A bit of history, I’m 65 (and have no illusions of doing a tri) and bike for pure pleasure but I’m very competitive with myself, I like to see the results and monitor improvement, I assume the Edge 500 will give me all the info I want or need.

    • Rainmaker

      Hi Larry-

      Yes, you can setup zones for a variety of items (such as heart rate and power). I find it easiest to set up the zones online at Garmin Connect, and then push them to the Edge unit. Enjoy!

  152. Chris

    Ray, been using my Edge 500 when running on the treadmill with the Garmin HR monitor and turning the GPS off as you noted. After my run today I uploaded and saw that I only had HR avg and no data points along the way for a short 30 minute run. The runs I’ve done over the past couple weeks have had data point along the way. This leads to two questions:

    1. Any idea why I would get no data but the summary?
    2. For my other rides I get data recorded at intervals I can’t explain (i.e., not every 1 or 2 seconds). I saw a mention in your review to Smart Recording but I didn;t see an explanation. I was wondering if that was a method of recording where it only recorded the data point if one of the attributes changed (in the case of my runs, HR since that is all I am capturing). Am I on the right track?

    I will add that I first uploaded the file with device agent to my PC then uploaded that file to Training peaks. When I look at the PWX file saved by Device Agent, the one from today is 2kb vs a file from a week ago also on the treadmill that was 9kb. However if I look at the .fit file on the Garmin directly the one from today is 5kb vs. the one from a week ago that is only 3kb (possibly because I did a couple intervals today so if my assumption about smart recording is correct there would have been more change and hence more data points recorded). I’ll mess around and see if I can get it straightened out (maybe I can upload the fit file directly, never tried) but just thought I’d see if you had any insights.

    • Rainmaker

      Hmm, that’s odd. Even in Smart Recording mode, you shouldn’t see that, you’d see at worst 10-30s in some weird bug scenario.

      The only other thing I can think of is that your HR strap battery is simply going (plausible). Have you tried swapping that out?

  153. Chris

    Well, I still have no idea why that happened. With enough messing around I was finally able to get the file with heart rate data up to training peaks by uploading to Garmin Connect (which I never use) then exporting a tcx file and then uploading the tcx file to training peaks after deleting the other files that had been previously uploaded. What a pain.

    Now on a totally separate note, in the process of doing all this I noticed that when I uploaded multiplt files to TP it did an auto-merge. So I looked for some documentation on it and it appears to do exactly what I need since I use a CompuTrainer but the HR monitor (even the new one) really stinks so I use my Garmin to capture HR (Golden Cheetah was working on a merge utility that I thought I was waiting for and didn’t know TP had one). So I did a 45 minute ride last night and tried testing the merge and it didn’t merge like I wanted. Somehow it still shows the ride as 45 minutes but it laid the two files back to back as 0-45 and 45-1:30 in the data and graph. The oddity I noticed was that the Garmin file that had been using Smart Recording (I uploaded it 2nd) actually showed “stopped” at every point where it had been using Smart Recording. Made me wonder if I should turn Smart Recording off and maybe it would work. Have you ever tried (I noticed from your pic that you had/had a CT as well)? Also, the Smart Recording doesn;t appear to be as Smart as I thought. Instead of recording at every change there appears to be a threashold which in my case with the HR monitor is 3bpm. So it only records a data point if it changes 3bpm, which I’m not a big fan of. I couldn;t find any documentation to indicate if that was configurable or not, any idea?

  154. Chris

    Forgot to respond to you question on HR battery. It is brand new and not the problem because when I uploaded to Garmin Connect all the data was there, so for whatever reason the save from Device Agent just dropped it. I’ll chalk it up to a one time thing until it happens again 🙂

  155. Andrey

    I was unsure to buy an edge 500 or FR310XT, after checking your site I have really clear in my mind what I need. Thanks Ray!

  156. Primoz

    DC, great review…as always 🙂

    My questions (Edge 510) are:

    1. What’s the max. possible zoom at map/course page? Is it adjustable with +/- buttons?
    2. Will Edge 510 show certain named markers/checkpoints created via MapMyRide, Basecamp, etc. involved in course?
    3. Is elevation page and it’s graph also shown with regular log file (as on Edge 800 f.e.) or just with VP & course following acivated?

    Thanks & regards from Slovenia

    • Janne

      1. & 2. If you really need the mapping and routing the 500/510 is not for you. Go with the 800/810, they have what you need. The route function is something of a “last resort” when in foreign terrain but not something I would like to rely on in biking at 40+ kms/h.

      I have been successfully using the GPSMAP60 in terrain a lot without any maps, but that’s at walking speed. Things get very different when speed increases.

  157. Greg

    Great review. Amazing detail. Recently, I lost a data file from a race. I contacted Garmin, but they were unable to find it either. Would you happen to have any suggestions on how I might recover deleted or lost data files from my edge 500?

    • Rainmaker

      The best bet for recovery of data is really the Garmin Forums. Folks there are always willing to pitch in and see if they can help, especially if a file can be extracted.

  158. Dave Gunns

    Fantastic review! Thanks so much! I have a small problem but haven’t worked out if it is just a setting. I’ve noticed on reviewing the data after the ride that the track appears to cut corners so the actual length of the ride is not that accurate. Is the solution just a setting adjustment?

    Regards,

    Dave.

    • Rainmaker

      Double-check that Smart Recording ISN’T enabled, you want 1-second recording. Smart Recording would be closer to every 4-7 seconds. Not ideal.

  159. Dave Gunns

    Thanks so much!!

  160. foolmj42@gmail.com

    Purchased the garmin edge 500 based on your review data. Thanks for the discount with clever training.

    Ride on…

    ///M

  161. Thank you for your comprehensive review! I got my Edge 500 one week ago. 🙂

    I was glad to see that the fit-format doesn’t cause too much trouble. I could even import it to runtastic, which doesn’t officially support files other than gpx and tcx. I suppose the Garmin Plugin converts fit-files before handing them over to the website.

    • Rainmaker

      Indeed, in the two+ years since writing the review – the major item that’s changed is that most apps now support the .FIT file format. And honestly, those that don’t probably aren’t worth using.

      The other item of note change-wise is the addition of the TSS/NP/IF TrainingPeaks Metrics, which came in a free firmware update.

  162. Josh

    DC,
    Did you test the battery life with the GPS off? Is that value published? I have a 35 hour event on the schedule and am wondering if the 500 would last that long without GPS.

    Thanks

    • Rainmaker

      I have not tested the 500 with the GPS off. Some of the other units that have similar GPS battery life as the 500, end up about 2.5x with it off. Fwiw..

  163. janerney

    How do you change the zoom on the elevation profile in courses? Thank you

  164. mike

    Love all your reviews, thanks for taking the time to put them together. I have a 310xt right now that I use primarily for MTBing. It does the job for the most part. I started using courses with the watch and one thing that I don’t like is lag time it has to redraw the course ahead of me. Today I tried it out and had to back track a lot of times because the it wouldn’t draw fast enough and then it would tell me I was off course. I was wondering if the Edge 500 has the same issue of if it can draw out the maps faster. I’m viewing the map at 120ft or so. Thanks!

  165. mike

    Oh just wanted to note too that I have the latest firmware update.

  166. Paul

    Hi Ray,
    superb stuff you are doing , love to read your reviews becaus here i can find the thinks i want to know ,unlike 99% of the other”indepth reviews”.Thanks for that 🙂
    Is there a way to see afterwards the %
    gradients of the climbs you have done ?(would be nice if you could see %gradient when playing the route back on your PC).
    Is there a way for doing this(maybe i am doing something wrong ,probaly ;))
    I cannot find any documentation on this.

    Paul
    P.S. sorry for the bad writing , hope i did not make to much mistakes.

    • Rainmaker

      Not on the Garmin site itself, but there are other sites that I see from time to time that show gradient afterwards (TrainingPeaks being one). Of course, on the unit itself you can see it during ride, but history is a different story.

  167. Frank

    -I found a great deal on a Garmin Edge 500 on Ebay, but it looks like it may come from either China or Tiawan. Should I be concerned that it has different software or anything else?

    • Rainmaker

      It’s hard to say. I’ve heard that there were some wonky early variations between the Taiwan units and those sold in the US that made the firmware restricted. I don’t now where that stands.

      I’d probably shy away from it.

  168. Jon

    Can a powertap sl+ pair with the edge 500 and 910xt at the same time? So both devices are getting power data?

    • Rainmaker

      Yes, no problem at all. ANT+ devices can be paired to multiple head units/computers at once. It’s what I do when doing power meter comparison tests across multiple devices (one PM to 2-3 head units).

  169. Jim McGurl

    Great review of the Edge 500…learned some new features about my unit. However, two quick questions…You mentioned the 4 small holes on the back of the unit are to help with temperature readings. I use the out in front mount from Garmin and have recently discovered that those 4 tiny holes are covered when securing the device to the mount. Could this be why my temperature reading is always warmer than friends with the same unit even an hour or so into a ride? Also, does this throw off the units ability to read elevation? Lastly, when syncing the unit to garmin connect, is it best to hit enable or leave it as default – disable. I have heard multiple answers and am still unsure of best approach.

    Thanks for taking the time to respond. Keep up the awesome work. Really enjoy your site.

    • Rainmaker

      Yup, absolutely. If it’s keeping a bit of a shield there, it would definitely impact things. Also, it would throw off elevation readings potentially too. Though, for the most part I haven’t seen it impact that as badly.

      As for the settings on Garmin Connect, the answer is kinda a case of ‘it depends’. Typically for barometric altimeter devices like the Edge series, it makes sense to leave it off – as the elevation data is usually pretty good.

      But, if you suspect there are issues with the altimeter, then you’ll want to swap it over to enabled for that activity. For GPS-based units (like the Forerunner’s), then definitely stick with Enabled.

    • Luke

      There are obviously issues with the temperature support on this otherwise awesome unit. With more and more garmin devices coming with support for the Tempe unit is there any chance Garmin will give the Edge 500 support? Would be so easy to buy one, clip it onto the back of my bike somewhere and totally forget about it, and would get better temperature data (and therefore, better altimeter data).
      Not a big issue, but would be cool!

    • Calum Mackay

      I read somewhere that it’s the temperature of the air at the pressure sensor itself that is important for pressure -> elevation calculation, not the temperature of the ambient air outside of the device. So a tempe wouldn’t help with better altimeter data, I think.

  170. Stefano

    Hi DC, thanks for your phenomenal reviews!

    I have an Edge 500 and often train with power meter. I would like to see the power in the course display by changing the data field.
    I saw in the comments that Marcus already asked you this question some time ago, but you was not completely sure if it is feasible..
    Any news? It is maybe possible to update the software to have this function working?

    Thanks, Stefano

    • Rainmaker

      Not to my knowledge, they added the ability to customize it within the Edge 510 – but it didn’t make it back to the Edge 500 to my knowledge.

  171. kajero

    I just ordered the Garmin Edge 500! You review helped me decide. If everthing you say in the review is true I am going to be more than 100% happy about this new gadget. It was great to get the discount, too. Thanks for such a detailed review. The only issue I have is I am going to actually get on bicycle and ride to see how it works. 😉

  172. Calum Mackay

    new firmware: Edge 500 software version 3.20

    link to www8.garmin.com

    Changes made from version 3.00 to 3.20:

    Fixed display of power meter serial numbers.
    Made changes to support manufacturing.

    ===

    The changes don’t seem that exciting, but it’s reassuring that we’re still getting some support, at least.

    Shame they don’t fix the “battery percentage gets stuck on 100%”, which I’ve just run into. Workaround: let the device run itself down until it powers off (first disable “Auto Power Down”), then it should be fine.

  173. mpulsiv

    Is it possible to set the unit to use distance/speed metrics to rely on circumference of a wheel measured with a full spin by a user rather than default 700c wheel, which is inaccurate. In other word, can GPS still be used as a map but not be used to calculate distance/speed? The reason I’m asking is because GPS is not accurate based on my finding using Forerunner 610 unit as a cycle computer. Thanks.

    • Rainmaker

      Yes, you can specify the wheel size. Note though that the wheel size is used for display of speed/distance while the GPS is on, but the actual recording is done via GPS.

      For road-cycling, GPS tends to be pretty darn accurate for most purposes. It’s mountain biking where you may get better accuracy with the wheel speed.

  174. mpulsiv

    So there’s no way to record speed/distance using ANT+ sensor like Bontrager? I have been using Forerunner 610 solely relying on GPS in last 1500 miles or so. When I compare to my hard-wired Kinetic computer calibrated manually, I see delta. Distance is one thing but when average speed and top speed is incorrect, that’s red flag for me.

  175. mpulsiv

    That’s a bummer. I appreciate the accuracy of wired computers where duration is based on metric as soon as rear wheel starts to spin. After syncing my Forerunner 610 (recording via GPS) with Garmin connect I end up editing every workout using Kinetic wired computer to ensure accuracy. I thoroughly read your reviews of O-Synce Navi2Coach. Does it function the same way with ANT+ sensor? Thanks.

    • Rainmaker

      Hmm, I’d have to double-check on that. I do know if you post a quick question on that to the O-Synce review, those guys are super-active in answering the questions as well.

  176. mpulsiv

    I reached out to Garmin support. They stated GSC 10 sensor overrides the data from the GPS satellites, even with GPS enabled. In other word, GSC 10 sensor takes precedence in gathering data. After 90 minutes ride, I compared metrics with my wired Kinetic computer. I set wheel size to manual, which is 2080mm in my case (circumference of Conti 4000S 25c rubber, pumped to 100 psi, with 162lbs on the saddle). If you want precise accuracy in speed, sitting on the saddle makes a difference in circumference of the rear wheel!

    Speed and cadence metrics were identical compared to my wired Kinetic computer. There was no delta! Unfortunately there was a delta in duration (captured by GPS satellites) and distance. I don’t understand why Garmin didn’t include auto-start feature, where trip duration will trigger as soon as wheel magnet is close to GSC 10. Auto-pause feature can be set to “When Stopped”, this is useful except for delay. I stop and GPS still thinks about it. It’s so simple with wired Non-GPS computer to rely on wheel magnet and speed/cadence sensor.

    I wonder whether auto-start can be triggered when GPS is off. Edge 500 does appeal to me but I’m not sure whether it’s worth to upgrade my Forerunner 610 – versatile for sports.

  177. Hi Ray,
    Do you have any experience with the cue notifications popping up late by approx 50-100 feet. I usually find I’m told to “turn left/right” shortly after I already made the turn. I have tried this on tcx files from both ridewithgps and bikeroutetoaster and both the same result.
    Any suggestions on troubleshooting this or reasons why this might be happening?

    Thanks!

  178. Rand Moss

    Thank you so much for “all” the information. when spending that kind of money you want to make sure you’re getting the best deal and the best bang for your buck. This was a great article kama not overwhelming. I have since ordered my Garmin 500 and look forward to using it, again tha
    nk you for your effort to inform us of all the pros and cons device has to offer us

  179. Jeff

    This question is really to anyone on the board.
    I’ve imported the maps I need from Map My Ride and have no problem seeing them, but was wondering if it was possible to view data on the map screen? I added multiple data fields on the screen but as I scrolled through the list, nothing seemed to be the map. My riding buddy and I were trying to maintain a certain speed (I wasn’t doing a very good job), but I also wanted to make sure we weren’t getting of course, as we did early in the ride. I suppose I could just have it flip back and forth between the map and another screen that has speed, etc, on it. Just thought I’d see if I could get it all on one.
    Any information is much appreciated.

  180. Thanks DC Rainmaker for this great review, it led to me buying the Edge 500 and I hope I’ll get it delivered today.

    However, I am a bit confused about which strap I need to mount it on the wrist. On the German Amazon website, the 310xt strap does not seem to include the mount, at least according to the picture. Do I maybe also need the quick release kit to make it work?

    Cheers, Robert

  181. Ben Warner

    I was just wondering if it is possible to use the data field Calories from fat without a New Leaf profile?

  182. Chris

    Hi Rainmaker!

    Is it possible to change the data fields while im doing a course? I want to see My cadence or HR while riding on a new course!

    Im not an athlete but i love to do 3-4 hours rides for training and fun
    Is it worth for me to buy edge 500 for me? Now im using a ciclosport with cadence and HR meter but im really thinking about to buy some pro stuff like the edge 500 🙂

  183. Dave Gunns

    Something pretty freaky happened to my Garmin 500 on my mountainbike last week. I noticed the display started constantly shifting to the right and scrolling down while I was cycling. The screen also started displaying vertical lines. I stopped, switched the device off, then when I rebooted I could hear it switch on but nothing displayed on the screen. I eventually plugged it into my pc and did a firmware update but it made no difference. I still have no screen display. Any ideas?

  184. Dave Gunns

    Hi Rainmaker,
    Many thanks for your advice,
    Please forgive the ignorance but what would the process in a hard reset involve?

    Grateful regards,

    Dave.

  185. Geoff

    Hi Ray,

    At the moment, I use my FR210 for both running (my primary activity) and cycling, but would like to monitor/record my cadence when cycling, and I’ve found a good deal for an Edge 500 and another for the GSC 10 Speed/Cadence sensor.

    My question is, can I pair my FR210 HRM with the Edge 500 when I cycle and, if so, will it affect the pairing with the FR210 when I run?

    Or, is their a better/simpler/cheaper way of monitoring/recording my cadence?

    Regards,

    Geoff

    • Yup, you can pair it to both. In fact, that’s how I do all my testing. For example, I just returned from a ride a few minutes ago – and had my HR and speed sensor paired to 5 different head units.

      Enjoy!

  186. TMLW

    Thanks as always for the great review Ray!! Can I use my Garmin heart rate strap from my 910xt with the 500 thus being able to buy the less expensive version and still have heart rate?

    Thanks
    TMLW

  187. Josh

    I have had my Garmin 500 for quite a while now and I charged it fully yesterday. Went to ride today and it said the batter was at 2%. Im pretty sure I did not leave it on, but am testing to make sure. Any tips if it wont hold charge anymore?

    • Lithium-ion batteries typically have a limited number of charge cycles (typically between 500 and 1000). But a charge cycle is not what you think it is (its not using it until empty and then recharging to 100% nor is it using it for 5% then charging to 100%), and they don’t like being stored at 100% charge without being used.

      In general, charge it, use it, use it, use it; and repeat…

      It may be that the battery has had its day, but it is possible that letting it go completely flat before recharging may ‘reset’ it.

  188. Scott

    Any news of Garmin discontinuing the Edge 500?

  189. Neil

    Ray firstly thanks for this site but I think I’m now at information overload! I’m 45 and have just started getting in to running and cycling and after completing my first HM and Sportiff this year I want to up my game.

    Do you think I should go for the Edge 500 and FR610 or 220 or opt for a one box solution FR310xt.

    I currently use runtastic and strava with a cheap seperate HR watch.

    I have a budget of about £400.

    Thanks.

  190. Mihai Mandeal

    Hi Ray,
    Your reviews are great, but you must have already read this a million times, so I’ll cut to the chase:
    I train for my first IM. I decided to buy the Garmin Vector but I do not know what head computer to pair with it. I currently use the Polar RCX5 which I really like.
    Would it be better to buy the Garmin 500 (I don’t see the use to pay the difference for the 510) and use it for the bike training, and during the race just for power monitoring?
    Or should I go for the 910XT? – is the price difference worth and is the 910XT big enough for the power monitoring?
    Thanks for the answer and keep doing what you do because you do it damn good!
    Best regards
    Mihai.

  191. Tony

    Hi Ray, thanks for the review. One bit of info I was unable to find is if you had the edge 500 programmed for different bikes. I have just got one and noticed only settings for one bike. Much like in your picture for setting data fields. Have reloaded all the latest firmware 3.20 and reset it use the three buttons on the side but still only an option for one bike?
    Thanks for any help.
    Cheers, Tony

  192. Tony

    Found it. Couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Thank you so much.