Heads-up: Huge Sports Tech Sale Underway – 20% Off All Smart Trainers!
There’s a massive sales on smart cycling trainers right now, plus plenty other sports tech. There’s 20% off the Wahoo KICKR, KICKR CORE, CLIMB, Headwind, 20% off the Tacx NEO 2T, Flux 2, and Flux S, 20% off Saris Hammer 3 trainer and Saris MP1 Motion Platform. Plus also 20% off the Elite Direto X and Suito too, even the new Sterzo. Plus even steeper deals including with the Kinetic trainers at 30% off.
As a techie-geek I suppose there’s some expectation that I’ll be most impressed with the higher end gear. The stuff that has all the bells and whistles, and usually costs more. But here’s the funny thing – out of the pile of Garmin new gear announcements today, I’m most impressed with the little Edge 130. Not because it’s not powerful, it really is. But because it’s the least expensive cycling head unit they announced today while having nearly as many features as units that would have cost almost double it just a year ago.
Here – let me give you a one-line sampler: The Edge 130 supports up to 8 data fields per page and 5 data pages. It can support power meters and more, show you Strava Live Segments, transmit all that in real-time via Live Track, while connecting to ANT+ radar and light systems. Oh, did I mention it was only $199. It’s kinda like a throw-back to the good ol’ days of the famed Edge 500 (remember bluey?).
Like I said, I’m impressed. Not just in specs, but because the thing has been working beautifully for me these last few weeks (more so than some of the other stuff). I’m a sucker for things that just work and aren’t expensive.
In any case. I was sent a loaner Edge 130 to try out. I’ll be giving it back to Garmin tomorrow and going out and getting my own from regular retail channels. That’s just the way I do things here. If you found this review useful – hit up the linkage at the bottom of this page to save a bundle and also support the site. Or just send me cookies. Your choice.
The Edge 130 is kinda like a mini Edge 520. Mini in size, and slightly reduced in features. But not in the amount of stuff it packs in. Make no mistake – this is definitely not an Edge 25 or Edge 200, similar from years past. This is not some low-end unit that you look at longingly for its looks and size but then realize lacks the brains to match. No, this actually packs in a crapton of stuff.
Here, let’s run through the bulletized version. Typically when I do these bulletized lists I’m comparing them to a previous generation in terms of ‘what’s new’. But in this case, there’s no previous generation to go off of for comparison. So, consider this a ‘greatest hits’ sorta list instead:
– GPS + GLONASS and Galileo satellites (the first Garmin Fitness/Cycling device to do so) – Barometric altimeter included – 15-hour claimed battery life (Note: I get 8-9hrs with sensors, but 17hrs w/o sensors) – 1.8” monochrome display (basically smaller device than Edge 500 was), but similar screen size) – Connects to ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart sensors (power/speed/cadence/HR/and more) – Up to 8 data fields per screen, five customizable screens, plus stock map/compass/elevation/segment screens – Strava Live Segments support – Works with Garmin Connect IQ Data fields (but not Garmin Connect IQ full apps/widgets) – Has course support for navigation/routing (but not maps or turn by turn re-routing support) – Supports Garmin’s new GCM course creator with specification of road type after ride – Smartphone connectivity for text messages and call notification – Support for Garmin Varia Radar and all ANT+ lights (Cycliq, Garmin, Bontrager, See.Sense) – LiveTrack support for live tracking (uses your phone’s internet connection) – Adds Garmin’s new ‘Safety Assistance’ feature, which sends emergency location to friends/family in event you run out of candy – The thing weighs 32g (half of the Edge 520 at 61g).
Finally, before we get into all the goodness, note that there are three bundles/packages available for the Edge 130:
Base: $199/199EUR (just the device + mounts) North American Bundle: $249 – includes device + cadence/speed sensors European Bundle: 249EUR – includes the device + heart rate strap Mountain Bike Bundle: $249/249EUR – includes the device + mountain bike mount + Edge remote control + silicone case
Apparently Europeans like to watch their heart rate, and American/Canadians their cadence I guess. Also, all of these bundles should be available to pick up basically today. Or tomorrow. Nowish.
Oh – and here’s a video I put together diving into all the new details:
With that, let’s backup a bit and go through all the usual in-depth review goodness.
With the smaller size and reduced buttons comes a slightly different user experience than the higher end Edge units Garmin makes. The good news is that it’s still silly easy to navigate through everything and find all the features – of which there are a ton as noted above.
By default, when you power it on you’ll be sitting on the home screen as seen above. At this point you can simply hit the bottom right button and get right into a ride. That’ll trigger searching for satellites. There’s essentially three sets of buttons: One on the left for power on, two on the bottom for lap and start/stop/enter, and two on the side for up/down.
On the back is the standard Garmin quarter-turn mount, along with a micro-USB charging cable. No USB-C here yet folks.
Meanwhile, back on the unit itself, if you hold down the upper right button for a second or so, it’ll open the menu up:
It’s here you can tweak settings, look at past rides, and go into details like navigation. Note that structured workouts are not supported on the Edge 130 (meaning, downloaded workouts to execute).
Within the Edge 130 you have a single ‘activity profile’. Meaning that unlike other higher end units you can’t create separate data field configurations for each type of cycling you have (e.g. mountain biking, race, triathlon, etc…). For most people, that probably won’t matter.
And Garmin seems to have made up for it with the customization you have here. The Edge 130 supports up to 8 data fields per screen, and up to 5 custom screens. That’s in addition to some stock map/compass/elevation/segment screens.
There’s a pile of different layouts to choose from:
Here you can see me picking out some of the details for a given screen. What you’ll notice though is that the Edge 130 has a slightly reduced set of data fields. For example, in the power meter side of things you’ve got the power data fields like average power, 3-second average, and lap power. But you lack more advanced fields like Normalized Power, power balance, and TSS/IF.
Speaking of power, that brings up sensors. The Edge 130 supports both ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart sensors, including power meters. It also supports heart rate sensors, speed sensors, cadence sensors, connected lights and radar sensors.
You can see above I’ve paired a heart rate sensor, a couple power meters, and a Varia RTL510 radar. Note that if you have a Garmin Vector power meter, it does NOT record the Cycling Dynamics information. Nor oddly, power balance. I say this because the Lezyne budget units as well a the Polar M460 all track power balance just fine.
When it comes to some of the various overall stats it tracks, it still records and determines your VO2Max, as well as gives you recovery time via the recovery advisor. Plus, of course, PR’s like fastest 40K time, longest ride, and most ascent. These stats overall actually get you basically the same as the Edge 520 series, but stop short of the more advanced FirstBeat Training Load/Recovery metrics seen within the Edge 1030 (which is way more expensive).
You’ll also get text/phone call notifications displayed on the unit itself, similar to other Garmin Edge devices. And while the Edge 130 doesn’t have incident detection (meaning, when you crash it’ll notify someone), it does have the ability to ‘request assistance’ manually via the menus, which will contact those set up in the Garmin Connect Mobile app.
With all that backstory, let’s look at what it looks like out on a ride. Once you’re ready, simply press the lower right button. That’ll start a satellite search and also connect to any ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart sensors.
While it’s finding GPS it’ll overlay a small screen indicating as such:
At this point you can press start and it’ll start recording data, as with any other head unit. You can use the up/down buttons on the right side to iterate through various data fields.
Here’s what a few of those look like mid-ride (there’s more in the video). You’ll notice there’s elevation, which comes from the barometric altimeter in the unit.
At any point in time, you can hold the upper right button down to access the settings, which allows you to edit the data pages, as well as some basic routing information.
You can go ahead and route back along the same route, or, if you’ve saved a location (such as your house), then it’ll give you directions straight back to that as the crow flies (it doesn’t have maps for routing).
After the ride is complete you’ll get a brief summary page of your ride, as well as getting notified about any new PR’s and VO2Max new highs. You’ll also see a small map of where you went. All of that data also goes to Garmin Connect, and then onto sites like Strava, Training Peaks and others that you may have configured. Here’s a link to one of my recent rides with it.
Finally, before we talk mapping/navigation and Strava/Apps, it’s worthwhile pointing out a unique new feature here called Extended Display. This allows you to pair a Garmin Fenix 5 series or FR935 watch to the Edge 130, enabling you to mirror the information you see on your watch to the Edge 130.
This is primarily aimed at triathletes that may want to use their watch to track the entire event and then just show that information on a more visible head unit on their handlebars during the cycling portion.
I’ll be digging into this in the next week or so, as I didn’t yet have access to the watch firmware (still in beta) to test this. This will also come to the Edge 520 Plus, Edge 820, and Edge 1030. I’ve made a good case to Garmin for the existing Edge 520 to also get it…but we’ll see.
When it comes to navigation, the Edge 130 offers the ability to follow tracks and display alerts about upcoming turns. It’s akin to how most Garmin wearables work in terms of following a breadcrumb trail. You can create those routes/courses on Garmin Connect or via Garmin Connect Mobile, and then sync them to the device. This means you can also use Garmin Connect’s newish course creator to get automated routes of a given distance generated (i.e. a 30-mile course using popularity routing):
The one downside here though is that since the Edge 130 doesn’t support Strava’s Connect IQ app like the bigger/colorful Garmin devices, you can’t directly pull Strava routes onto it wirelessly. For that, you’ll need to plug it in via USB and transfer the file over. It’s not the end of the world, but it’d be nice to see Garmin find a solution there, akin to what competitor Hammerhead has done with their Karoo.
Once you’ve got the course on your device, you’ll see it listed within the Navigation > Courses area:
You can now select the course and get a few screens worth of summary information – including an overview ‘map’ (basically just the course outline), as well as the elevation plot.
Once you tap ‘Ride’, it’ll go off and have your unit find GPS and put you on the cycling screens ready to ride. At this point you’ll see an overview plot of the map and where you’re located on that journey:
You’ll also see the overall elevation plot of the ride, along with your position:
When you come upon turns, it’ll alert you about 500 meters out that a turn is occurring (such as to a new road). And you can always just have the map screen up as well:
If you miss a turn, or end up off the route, it’ll give you an off-course warning (including for Segments too):
It’s all pretty basic, but for many people it works just fine. As with past breadcrumb trail devices (across a number of manufacturers), it works well in situations where there’s clear-cut roads with little choice. Whereas when you’ve got a traffic circle with 5 or 6 options (or similarly angled roads), it’s harder to figure out exactly which one you should be taking. Sometimes you just end up having to take the wrong road in life to get a warning and then correct course.
In addition to forward-facing navigation, it can also route you back to the start, mid-ride. In that case, you have two options – A) Along the same Route, or B) Straight Line:
If selecting to do it along the same route, it simply backtracks from wherever you are back to the starting point. Whereas with the ‘Straight line’ option, it’ll do it as the crow flies. Remember this device doesn’t have a map of streets onboard, so it won’t give you the shortest road-focused route home. Instead, it just assumes you are a crow and keeps you pointed in the right direction while you navigate roads.
And finally, you can mark locations for future reference. For example, you can save your home in the unit, so that you can use the rough crow-fly style navigation to get back if all else fails.
Strava & Apps:
Now when it comes to 3rd party apps, the Edge 130 is a bit different than its more expensive siblings. But it’s also different than previous less expensive offerings too. See, Garmin has basically straddled the fence here (and in a good way I think). It supports Connect IQ apps, but only of the data field variety. Meaning, it won’t support the more demanding full blown apps that operate independently of a given sport mode. But it can use the Connect IQ data field type to allow you to gather data from various sensors (or just have unique data fields).
I believe for the price point this actually makes a fair bit of sense. As it was, the majority of exciting Connect IQ things seem to happen in data fields (well, for me anyways). Whereas the full-blown apps and such tend to fit better in a higher quality screen with colors (which the Edge 130 lacks). You’ll add in data fields like pretty much any other Connect IQ capable device, via the Garmin Connect IQ store on your phone or via computer.
Now because it lacks the ability for full-blown apps to run, that does mean apps like the TrainingPeaks or Best Bike Split workout downloader apps won’t work here (though the unit doesn’t support structured workouts anyway). But that doesn’t mean all 3rd parties are exempt. Most notably, Strava stands alone in terms of integration.
As a result, you’ll be able to race Strava Live Segments in a black and white version of what you’d see on higher-end devices. This is the first time we’ve seen Garmin bring Strava Live Segments to a sub-$200 device. Again, I’ve gotta believe this is largely driven by competition from Lezyne and Polar here, which have offered Strava Live Segments at this price point.
And just for clarity, Strava Live Segments allows you to race Strava Segments in real-time (or, at least via offline cache) against the KOM a well as the people you follow and your PR. You can see below as I approach a given segment that it shows these details of the approaching bit of pain:
And then during it, it also shows details of where you stand in relation to the end of the segment and the leader you’re chasing. Also, you can look at Segments on the device ahead of time too.
As with virtually every other device, it’ll both download your starred segments on Strava, as well as picking theoretically popular segments in your area. As a general rule though, I find just starring my segments is the best bet for success here.
There’s likely no topic that stirs as much discussion and passion as GPS accuracy. A watch could fall apart and give you dire electrical shocks while doing so, but if it shows you on the wrong side of the road? Oh hell no, bring on the fury of the internet!
GPS accuracy can be looked at in a number of different ways, but I prefer to look at it using a number of devices in real-world scenarios across a vast number of activities. I use 2-6 other devices at once, trying to get a clear picture of how a given set of devices handles conditions on a certain day. Conditions include everything from tree/building cover to weather.
Next, as noted, I use just my daily training routes. Using a single route over and over again isn’t really indicative of real-world conditions, it’s just indicative of one route. The workouts you see here are just my normal daily workouts.
I’ll give you a quick spoiler here: There’s nothing of note. Which isn’t really a surprise. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen bike computers from really any vendor screw up GPS accuracy on roads. And part of that is largely because in road cycling your speeds are pretty fast, which helps with GPS accuracy. Additionally, unlike running you don’t tend to bike right alongside big buildings in a city.
Of course, there are trails to be considered – but I won’t be able to hit up trails till this weekend at Sea Otter. So stay tuned there! It’s also where I’ll dig into the elevation accuracy a bit more. Being in the Netherlands the last two weeks, the largest gain of elevation I had was crossing a canal.
So, let’s dig into some of those rides. All of them are compared using the DCR Analyzer, and you can hit up the links to see the original files/routes in more detail, or even download them.
The first route we’ll look at is from this past Sunday in the farmland south of Amsterdam. The route starts out in the city, actually near some larger buildings, before heading out to the middle of nowhere. Here’s the DCR Analyzer link for it.
At a super high level, nothing obvious that’s an issue, so let’s dig into the starting/ending portions where the buildings are.
In both instances, as I passed this large cluster of buildings, the Edge 130 did seem to have some issues. I should note though that for this ride it was merely using regular GPS, and not GLONASS/Galileo GPS satellites. That may well have helped things (though, at a slight battery penalty). You can see the purple track meandering a bit.
It did this again near another cluster of tall buildings a short bit later. Note that both the Edge 1030 and the 520 Plus did actually have GLONASS enabled. Not entirely a fair comparison, but such is life.
However, once we cleared that set of buildings, the units all tracked very much together:
For the large remainder of the ride, this is what things looked like. Virtually identical.
And some more:
So how did the city buildings portion impact overall distance recorded? Those variances seemed to add about 400-500 meters (on 55,500 meters). Not ideal, but also not unheard of for GPS in a dense building environment. As for elevation gain, it was about the same (virtually nothing). Note that the other metrics were connected to different sensors, so don’t read too much into those.
Next, we’ve got a 50KM one-way journey across the countryside. Also leaving from the city, but I didn’t see any variances on this one as I passed by various buildings. Said differently: It’s boringly exact.
Even these tall buildings next to the airport were no match, everything was spot on:
The rest of the route? Virtually indistinguishable tracks for endless miles. Perfectly on-point.
You can hit up the link above to skim across the countryside forever, but basically it’s identical. And that’s also reflected in the summary totals below. Note that because the Suunto 3 Fitness annoyingly only exports as a .GPX file (as opposed to a .FIT file), I don’t get all the summary information in the Analyzer. But you can see that the Edge 520 Plus and the Edge 130 were a mere 16 meters apart after 50,000 meters (50KM).
Finally, let’s take a look at a Paris ride as well. This one has a bunch more in the way of obstructions. Bridges, buildings, a tunnel or two, and more. You can find the DCR Analyzer here. But here’s the overview:
If we zoom into the beginning, you’ll notice virtually no difference as I navigate through the city streets and buildings of Paris:
When I was just along the river for much of the ride, it was mostly fine:
The only oddities on this entire course was a bit of a scuffle going under some railroad tracks and bridges, where the Edge 130 didn’t quite perfectly nail it. Sorry it’s hard to see in purple, but essentially it wobbles a bit, whereas the other units cleanly go through it.
The same occurs not far away under the massive highway overpass, as well as a couple of bridges. Neither incident adds much distance, but it’s not exactly perfect either. I’ll be interested to see if enabling Galileo resolves this issue or not.
At the end of the ride, the Edge 130 ends up about 200 meters higher than the Edge 1030, but identical to the Edge 520 Plus:
Do note that on this Paris ride, that was on an older firmware, so it does seem better on newer firmware versions that are now shipping.
Ultimately, for most scenarios, the Edge 130 tracks fine with basic GPS. It doesn’t quite seem as good though in harder GPS scenarios without also enabling GLONASS or Galileo (which come at a small battery premium). That’s an area I’m looking to explore over the coming weeks in more detail, and will post separately on. I’ve just picked up a couple Edge 130’s now, and so I’m looking to do some side by side testing of whether Galileo makes a difference. There’s been a lot of talk in the fitness realm around excitement of Galileo, so I’m interested to see if it actually matters, or if it kinda ends up being like GLONASS – sometimes useful, sometimes hurtful.
More to come!
(Note: All of the charts in these accuracy sections were created using the DCR Analyzer tool. It allows you to compare power meters/trainers, heart rate, cadence, speed/pace, GPS tracks and plenty more. You can use it as well for your own gadget comparisons, more details here.)
I’ve added the Edge 130 into the product comparison tool, allowing you to compare its features against other bike computers and related cycling gadgets. In the case of the below chart, I picked ones I figured people would be comparing it against. These include the Polar M460 and Garmin Edge 520+. I didn’t include the Wahoo Mini, because it lacks GPS. Nor did I include the Edge 25 – but you can do so via the product comparison tool yourself. In fact, you can mix and match against anything via it.
In a lot of ways, I think the Edge 130 is the bike unit that consumers have probably been asking for, for quite some time. They might just not have known it. By going back to something the size of a cheap $20 Cateye unit found at a bike shop, it removes the intimidation factor for some people of a larger purchase (or handlebar ornament). I suspect this unit will do incredibly well in bike shops too.
But more importantly than that – Garmin actually just nailed it here in terms of the balance of specs to price. The support for power meters will appeal to time trialists looking for a super lightweight option with a low profile mount. Same goes for those that like Strava Live Segment support, but don’t really want a bike unit on their handlebars. And for those looking for significant data field customization or Connect IQ data fields – this meets those bars too.
And unlike the Edge 520 Plus announced today, Garmin didn’t re-use existing hardware – getting you Galileo support and Bluetooth Smart sensor support. Both of which the Edge 520 Plus oddly lacks.
Of course, there are a few annoyances with the Edge 130. For example, while it supports Strava Live Segments, there’s no easy mobile-friendly way to get Strava Routes onto it without pulling out a USB cable and a laptop/desktop computer. Additionally, as a super-minor nit, I found the Bluetooth Smart sensor pairing a bit slower than other units. Given you only pair once, it’s hardly a big deal. And then the GPS performance was a bit lacking under bridges and near some tall buildings.
Like I said at the start – this is really the unit that impressed me the most in terms of features to price, and it’s ironically the one I expected to be least impressed by. Sometimes good things come in small packages.
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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.
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