Garmin’s New $249 Edge Explore Full Mapping & Navigation Bike GPS: Everything you ever wanted to know

In the lead-up to Eurobike, today Garmin announced the new Edge Explore. Now, you’ve probably heard the Edge Explore or ‘Touring’ names battered around for half a decade or so. Usually along with a numerical identifier like ‘Edge Explore 1000’, which was essentially a dumbed-down version of the Edge 1000. Previously, it’s been targeted at the cycle touring market, but I think the new non-numerically identified unit does away with that.

Nope, now it’s all about mass market and at a price that actually makes sense – $249.

The Edge Explore (kinda a simplified version of the high-end Edge 1030) includes all the core stuff most cyclists want, like full turn by turn navigation on a color touchscreen display that actually works, smartphone notifications, data field customization, and even Connect IQ apps.

What doesn’t it include though? Mostly features that are designed at more competitive athletes. For example, no Strava Live Segments (but you can do Strava Routes and upload to Strava), as well as no structured workouts or advanced training load metrics…or power meter support.  But that’s kinda it. Almost everything else it has, save a few minor nuanced type things I’ll dive into below.

I’ve been riding a media loaner unit for about a month now, and overall I’m pretty impressed by it. It works well in my experience, and especially so this morning as I rode across the countryside near the border of the Netherlands and Germany, using it as a rough guide for my 50KM ride (keeping me pointed in the right way, but letting me wander a bit and re-routing as needed).

In any event, let’s get into all the details. I will say this first though, this unit really surprised me.

The Details:

While the Edge Explore may look like an Edge 1030, it’s not quite an identical sibling.  Obviously, there are differences in software, but there’s actually some differences in size. The Edge Explore is a bit shorter (about 1cm), which also means the display is a bit shorter too than the larger Edge 1030 display.  And the width is a tiny bit smaller too, though that’s barely noticeable.

(Left to right: Edge 1030, Edge Explore, Edge 520 Plus, Edge 520)

However, compared to the Edge 520/520 Plus/820, it’s definitely larger. Which, is frankly what much of this target market wants (often slightly more ‘experienced’ adults that may have slightly less adolescent vision).

But it’s really all about the software here. The Edge Explore lineup started off in the touring realm, primarily aimed at the bike touring markets in Europe. Unfortunately, accountants at Garmin apparently did the pricing on it, as it just never made sense. It was often $400-$500, and usually only cost $50 less than the higher end units.  Thus, nobody bought it. The non-descript Snow White color scheme didn’t help either (just as it doesn’t now).  But ultimately it was dead on arrival with the price point.

Not now though.  At $249 it’s incredibly competitive for this market. Sure, it lacks power meters, but for the vast majority of the market that actually doesn’t matter (as much as me and my 5 concurrent power meters would like to think otherwise).  There’s nothing on the market anywhere near this price point with full color touchscreen of this size and complete turn by turn mapping.

In any case, first, let’s talk about what’s in there:

– Turn by turn navigation, including re-routing on the fly
– Color touchscreen at 240x400px (and it actually works…see my test lower on)
– 16GB of internal storage with pre-loaded detailed maps for region you bought it in
– Ability to search nearby points of interests (food/etc…)
– Ability to import/download/create routes (from files or Garmin Connect)
– Ability to create round-trip routes based on only a total distance requirement (i.e. give me a 25mi route)
– Smartphone notifications
– Incident detection (for notifying your spouse you managed to crash your bike…again)
– Group Track (to show live on map where other riders are that you’ve friended)
– Fully customizable data fields and data pages (up to 2 fully custom pages + non-custom pages)
– ANT+/Bluetooth Smart sensor support for heart rate/speed/cadence/VIRB/bike lights and more
– Full Connect IQ support for ‘Apps’ and ‘Data Fields’
– ‘Guest mode’ for tour companies to give units to people and not have them screw the settings up

Of course, there’s also a bunch of features that aren’t there compared to an Edge 1030. It’s gonna be tough to list every little bit of nuanced ones, but here’s the key ones:

– No Strava Live Segments support (but you can upload to Strava and use Strava Routes App)
– No Power meter support (or power meter metrics like TSS/NP/IF)
– No structured workout support (meaning, download structured workouts like intervals to the unit)
– No advanced FirstBeat driven training load or related metrics (including FTP or VO2Max)
– No activity profiles (differing profiles for different ride types like mountain biking vs road riding)
– No WiFi sync (probably doesn’t matter much)
– More limited custom data pages (you can only have 2 custom pages, but they are fully customizable)
– No Varia display (and thus, no extended display mode for certain watches)
– No barometric altimeter (GPS based, plus post-upload altimeter correction)

Got all that? Good.

Of course, for some people these individual items may very well matter. For others…it might just be a shrug. Totally depends on your specific needs.

Now to wrap all these features up and walk you through the user interface and features step by step of the Edge Explore I put together this video, including some snippets from a ride this morning on it:

Still looking for more info? No worries, keep on reading then!

The Basics:

Ok, so let’s walk through the user interface a bit, as well as some tidbits from my ride today.  First up we’ve got the home screen, as seen above. This is what you get when you turn it on. While it looks very similar to that of the Edge 1030, you’ll notice it lacks a ‘Training’ menu option. It’s that menu option that normally houses things like structured training and ANT+ trainer control.  Additionally, you lack the ability to select a specific activity profile.

Instead, you’ve got a more simplistic UI.  The main option up top (‘Ride’) takes you straight into the ride screen, ready to start…well…riding. It automatically turns on GPS and gets things going. You can turn off GPS if you’re indoors of course.  At this point in time it doesn’t have the option to select GLONASS or Galileo or any other GPS configuration other than on.

What you see above is one of the two main custom pages.  These pages can be customized with up to 10 data fields per page, and all the variants you’d expect (like lap distance, total ascent, heart rate % max, max speed, etc…).  Probably 35-50 data fields…without typing them all out here.  So you get two of these pages for whatever you want.

But you also get a handful of other pages that are ‘stock’. These include the map page, elevation page, compass page, and the GroupTrack page – if you have a friend (aka ‘Connection’) within range.  Otherwise that page disappears.  The compass and elevation pages can have the two lower data fields fully customized. Here’s a look at a few of those (elevation is blank on this photo since I was standing in a field and hadn’t moved yet):

  

To start the ride it’s just like other Garmin units where you use the buttons at the bottom for stop/start, as well a dedicated button for lap control.

Meanwhile, you can swipe down from the top for access to quick controls like sensors, GPS status, lighting, and smartphone notifications.

 

Speaking of sensors, the unit supports the following types of sensors:

– ANT+/Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate
– ANT+/Bluetooth Smart Cycling Cadence-only
– ANT+/Bluetooth Smart Cycling Speed-only
– ANT+/Bluetooth Smart Cycling Speed/Cadence combo
– ANT+ Cycling Lights
– ANT+ Cycling Radar
– ANT+ eBike Support
– ANT+ Remote Control
– Garmin VIRB Action Cameras

(Note: That it doesn’t actually appear to support Bluetooth Smart sensors when I try it, but perhaps that’s just a beta device oddity [Update: It is a beta quirk, Garmin says it should be working but isn’t for me at the moment.].  Meanwhile, ANT+ Sensor types not included on the Edge Explore are power meters, gear shifting, and Edge remote.)

Here’s a look at the sensor pairing and new sensor menu:

 

All of this data is then recorded to the file, and in turn to Garmin Connect.  From there it uploads to the various platforms that you’ve added partnerships to, like Strava or TrainingPeaks.  Here’s a look at an activity that I did uploaded to Garmin Connect (link here), connected to a Wahoo TICKR-X and a Scosche 24 ANT+ cadence sensor.

When it comes to lights, you can control light sets as well, all of which worked pretty well for me lately actually – including for non-Garmin lights. Super simple.

As for the touchscreen itself, it’s super responsive – especially in maps.  Check out the first video up above, about 3-4 minutes into it, where I zoom around the maps. It’s almost cell-phone fast. Finally! And routing/re-routing? Given that’s all I did today (as I explain in a moment), it was super quick. Far faster than the Edge 520 Plus or Edge 820 that’s more expensive, and on par with the Edge 1030 (way more expensive).  But what about water on the display?  Well…I just leave you with this hilarious video I put together on the drive down.  The first rain we’ve had in weeks:

But let’s talk mapping. After all, if you’re buying this unit over just about anything else…it’s because you want maps. Likely even pretty maps. So all of the navigation pieces are divided into essentially two groups: ‘Where to?’ and ‘Courses’ (both on the homepage).

Starting first with courses, these are for predefined or circular routes.  For example, courses you created on Garmin Connect (website), Garmin Connect Mobile (phone app), or via dragging a file over.  Additionally, this is where you can create round-trip routes or multipoint routes. Round-trip routes are routes you specify a desired duration (and potential direction of travel), and it’ll spit back three options for the route – based on bicycle paths.  Whereas the ‘course creator’ routes are when you add multiple stops, one after another.  That’s ideal for touring where you have a smattering of points you want to visit throughout the day.

 

Meanwhile, in the case of saved/transferred routes, you can pull up details like a map overview, distance, and elevation profile.

  

But what’s most interesting is the ability to specify an address of a location (like a street address), or search for a point of interest – such as food or monuments.  For that you’ll use the ‘Where To?’ option on the home page.

  

This allows you to specify the category if you go that route, or anything else as a point to point route. It’ll then leverage cycling-specific data between those two points.  Garmin includes the detailed map sets for the region you bought the device in.  North America includes North America routes, Europe includes Europe routes, and so on.  They do NOT however include global detailed routes.

To expand that a bit, the loaner unit they sent me was a US-based unit, which was great when I was in the US last month.  But it’s totally useless from a mapping standpoint now that I’m in the Netherlands (this morning) and Germany (this second).  In Garmin’s eyes to solve that you’d go off and buy some expensive maps from them. Thankfully I don’t share that vision, and even more so thankfully you can download free maps.  So I downloaded the same free map set from OSM (only takes about a minute), and then I’ve got almost the same data.

I say ‘almost’ because one unique feature Garmin has is that they bake in what they call ‘Trendline Popularity’ data into their map sets (technically it’s baked atop it).  That data is essentially cycling heatmap data from the tens of millions (if not hundreds of millions) of activities uploaded each year to Garmin Connect.  So it’s a bit better than raw bike route/path data because it shows where people are actually going, and how they favor one route over another.  So you don’t get that if you download the free data for outside your region.

Still, the free data was great, and it worked just fine for us today.

And that gets into a little bit on how I used this device this morning in particular.  While on previous rides I’ve loaded courses onto it as well as done just free-style riding, this morning I used the ‘Where to?’ functionality as a bit of a rough compass.  We picked out a town about 20KM away roughly down-river, and then set out riding towards it.  But we didn’t want to follow the most direct route it gave us, instead, we wanted to meander along a river and through farmland.

But that worked perfect for us actually. See, I just let it re-route as it saw fit, and sometimes we followed it, and sometimes it ‘followed’ us.  Meaning, it was probably swearing at us a few times as we ignored it yet again.  But then we’d come back to it and let it navigate us out of sticky spots before we ignored it again.  In many ways it’s exactly how most people do bike touring in Europe – a rough guideline of where to go between two points, enjoying the scenery along the way.

We did almost the same thing on the way back, this time selecting to route us back to the start (an empty field alongside the river), and it worked perfectly.  Here’s that ride:

The part where there’s that little loop near the river/railroad? Uhh..that’s where we thought we knew better than the Edge. It told us repeatedly not to take that off-road route. Probably should have listened to it that time.

So what about accuracy of GPS data and elevation data? Like most bike computers on-road these days, I’m seeing virtually no variance of either.  The reality of the bike computer industry is that for on-road riding…shrug. Seriously, shrug. I haven’t done a review in the last 2-3 years for bike computers on-road where I could find anything GPS-wise other than complaining about a few meters offset here and there.

For example, here’s a ride showing four different GPS units (no speed sensors or anything on these, just straight GPS). It’s almost as if you only see one…that’s how close they are:

And zoomed in to a bit of an intersection:

 

You can view the whole file here on the DCR Analyzer.  I will note that elevation on that file shows the Edge Explore a wee bit flexy, but that was also two weeks ago on earlier beta firmware.

Elevation data can get a bit messier, but even that – it’s super-rare to have on-road issues and if I look at more recent files, things are definitely much cleaner.  But given I live in the Netherlands, the variance is only a few meters, so I’m really looking for wonkiness outliers more than anything.  Now…off-road, that’s a whole different ballgame when it comes to both.  Unfortunately, I’m lacking mountains living in the Netherlands now, and with that…a mountain bike.

Oh, and finally, let’s briefly chat about Guest Mode. It’s kinda interesting.  The idea behind guest mode is mainly for bike touring companies to equip their customers with a bike computer.  Within guest mode it locks down some settings (with an optional PIN too), and then allows the guest to track their own stats.

So each of these settings seen below is then tracked uniquely for the guest, and doesn’t impact the ‘owner’.  So that includes the history (which doesn’t then show the owners history), as well as brightness levels, tones, personal records, and color modes

 

It’s a cool concept that makes a ton of sense for this particular product category.  It’s also ideal because you can pre-load routes as well on the devices, so if a company is doing the same routes over and over, they can get everything prepared on the device, and when they give the device to a new user each outing, it’s like it’s fresh again.  The option to reset everything the guest did is given when you disable guest mode before going back to regular mode.  You can’t give the guest a name or anything (such as your friend or partner).  So think of it more like a disposable account than anything else.

Device Comparison:

I’ve added the Edge Explore into the product comparison database.  This allows you to match it up against various other products that I’ve reviewed, including bike computers and watches alike.

For the purpose of the below, I’ve compared it against the Edge 520 Plus, Edge 1030, and Wahoo BOLT.  Like most comparisons, it’s not a perfect match-up, but it does help illustrate the differences.  Also, my comparison database doesn’t necessarily do a great job at highlighting the minor nuances around mapping and turn by turn navigation, especially in relation to the BOLT (which can’t re-route mid-ride, only point you in the compass direction of where you should be going).  Still, the rest is more clear.

Function/FeatureGarmin Edge ExploreWahoo ELEMNT BOLTGarmin Edge 520 PlusGarmin Edge 1030
Copyright DC Rainmaker - Updated August 28th, 2022 @ 8:44 am New Window
Price$249$229$279$499
Product Announcement DateJuly 5th, 2018Mar 14th, 2017Apr 19th, 2018Aug 29th, 2017
Actual Availability/Shipping DateMid-July 2018Mar 14th, 2017May 2018Aug 29th, 2017
GPS Recording FunctionalityYesYesYesYes
Data TransferUSB, BluetoothBluetooth Smart, WiFi, USBUSB & Bluetooth SmartUSB, Bluetooth, WiFi
WaterproofingIPX7IPX7IPX7IPX7
Battery Life (GPS)12 hours15 hours15 Hours20 hours (+ battery pack up to 40 hours)
Recording Interval1-Second or Smart1-second1-Second or Smart1-Second or Smart
AlertsSound/VisualAUDIO/VISUAL + LED'sAudio/VisualSound/Visual
Backlight GreatnessGreat (slightly less than Edge 1000, but better in daylight)GreatGreatGreat (slightly less than Edge 1000, but better in daylight)
Ability to download custom apps to unit/deviceYesNoYesYes
Acts as daily activity monitor (steps, etc...)NoN/ANoNo
MusicGarmin Edge ExploreWahoo ELEMNT BOLTGarmin Edge 520 PlusGarmin Edge 1030
Can control phone musicNoNoNoNo
Has music storage and playbackNoNoNoNo
Streaming ServicesNoNoNoNo
PaymentsGarmin Edge ExploreWahoo ELEMNT BOLTGarmin Edge 520 PlusGarmin Edge 1030
Contactless-NFC PaymentsnoNoNo
ConnectivityGarmin Edge ExploreWahoo ELEMNT BOLTGarmin Edge 520 PlusGarmin Edge 1030
Bluetooth Smart to Phone UploadingYesYesYesYes
Phone Notifications to unit (i.e. texts/calls/etc...)YesYesYesYes
Live Tracking (streaming location to website)YesYesYesYes
Group trackingYesYesYesYes
Emergency/SOS Message Notification (from watch to contacts)YesNoYesYes
Built-in cellular chip (no phone required)NoNoNoNo
CyclingGarmin Edge ExploreWahoo ELEMNT BOLTGarmin Edge 520 PlusGarmin Edge 1030
Designed for cyclingYesYesYesYes
Power Meter CapableNoYesYEsYEs
Power Meter Configuration/Calibration OptionsN/AYesYesYEs
Power Meter TSS/NP/IFN/AYesYesYEs
Speed/Cadence Sensor CapableYEsYesYesYEs
Strava segments live on deviceNoYesYesYEs
Crash detectionYesNoYesYes
RunningGarmin Edge ExploreWahoo ELEMNT BOLTGarmin Edge 520 PlusGarmin Edge 1030
Designed for runningNoN/AN/ANo
VO2Max EstimationN/AN/A(CYCLING YES THOUGH)N/A
Recovery AdvisorN/AN/A(CYCLING YES THOUGH)N/A
TriathlonGarmin Edge ExploreWahoo ELEMNT BOLTGarmin Edge 520 PlusGarmin Edge 1030
Designed for triathlonNoN/ASortaNo
WorkoutsGarmin Edge ExploreWahoo ELEMNT BOLTGarmin Edge 520 PlusGarmin Edge 1030
Create/Follow custom workoutsNoYesYesYes
On-unit interval FeatureNoNoYesYes
Training Calendar FunctionalityNoNoYesYes
FunctionsGarmin Edge ExploreWahoo ELEMNT BOLTGarmin Edge 520 PlusGarmin Edge 1030
Auto Start/StopYesYesYesYes
Virtual Partner FeatureNoNoYesYes
Virtual Racer FeatureNoNoYesYes
Records PR's - Personal Records (diff than history)YEsNoYesYes
Tidal Tables (Tide Information)NoN/AN/ANo
Weather Display (live data)yesNoYesyes
NavigateGarmin Edge ExploreWahoo ELEMNT BOLTGarmin Edge 520 PlusGarmin Edge 1030
Follow GPS Track (Courses/Waypoints)YEsYesYesYEs
Markers/Waypoint DirectionYesNoYesYes
Routable/Visual Maps (like car GPS)YesSorta (Maps yes, but technically not routable)YesYes
Back to startYesYesYesYes
Impromptu Round Trip Route CreationYesNo (But can create one-way routes from phone app)NoYes
Download courses/routes from phone to unitYesYesYesYes
SensorsGarmin Edge ExploreWahoo ELEMNT BOLTGarmin Edge 520 PlusGarmin Edge 1030
Altimeter TypeBarometricBarometricBarometric
Compass TypeGPSMagneticGPSGPS
Optical Heart Rate Sensor internallyN/AN/ANoN/A
SpO2 (aka Pulse Oximetry)N/ANo
Heart Rate Strap CompatibleYesYesYesYes
ANT+ Heart Rate Strap CapableYesYesYEsYes
ANT+ Speed/Cadence CapableYesYesYEsYes
ANT+ Footpod CapableNoNoNoNo
ANT+ Power Meter CapableNoYesYesYes
ANT+ Lighting ControlYesNoYesYes
ANT+ Bike Radar IntegrationyesYesYesyes
ANT+ Trainer Control (FE-C)NoYesYesYes
ANT+ Remote ControlNoNoYesYes
ANT+ eBike CompatibilityYesYesNOYes
ANT+ Gear Shifting (i.e. SRAM ETAP)NoYesYesYes
Shimano Di2 ShiftingNoYesYesYes
Bluetooth Smart HR Strap CapableNoYesNoYes
Bluetooth Smart Speed/Cadence CapableNoYesNoYes
Bluetooth Smart Footpod CapableNoYEsNoNo
Bluetooth Smart Power Meter CapableNoYesNoYes
Temp Recording (internal sensor)NoYesYesYes
Temp Recording (external sensor)NoNoNoNo
SoftwareGarmin Edge ExploreWahoo ELEMNT BOLTGarmin Edge 520 PlusGarmin Edge 1030
PC ApplicationGarmin ExpressN/AGarmin ExpressGarmin Express
Web ApplicationGarmin ConnectN/AGarmin ConnectGarmin Connect
Phone AppiOS/Android/WindowsiOS/AndroidiOS/Android/Windows PhoneiOS/Android/Windows
Ability to Export SettingsNoNoNoNo
PurchaseGarmin Edge ExploreWahoo ELEMNT BOLTGarmin Edge 520 PlusGarmin Edge 1030
AmazonLinkLinkLinkLink
Backcountry.comLinkLinkLinkLink
Competitive CyclistLinkLinkLinkLink
REILinkN/A
WiggleLinkLinkLinkLink
DCRainmakerGarmin Edge ExploreWahoo ELEMNT BOLTGarmin Edge 520 PlusGarmin Edge 1030
Review LinkLinkLinkLinkLink

Again, don’t forget you can make your own comparison charts here within the product comparison tool against other units out there.

Wrap-up:

I’m impressed with the Edge Explore. Though, I’m actually most impressed not with the technology, but with the fact that someone at Garmin finally got the message: The previous Explore/Touring lineups were just grossly overpriced.  This unit however…it’s beautifully priced for the target market.  There’s simply nothing else on the market like it in terms of functionality (primarily complete turn by turn navigation) or display quality (color, touchscreen) anywhere near this price point. The closest would be the Hammerhead Karoo at $399 – which is considerably more than this.  If you go with a smaller display, then you’ve got the new Garmin Edge 520 Plus at $279 – but that’s quite a bit smaller display than this and has slower routing/navigation, so that might not work for some folks (of course, it has vastly more features).

Of course, there will be those like myself who use power meters. This unit won’t appeal to you (or directly to me).  Same goes if you care about Strava Live Segments.  Or the handful of other features that some people may use and others don’t care about. If it wasn’t for power meter support, I could probably use this unit as-is.  I did today, just recording the power data on the side with another unit.  At this point if Garmin added power meter support it’d cut off interest for the massively high price of the Edge 1030, and realistically, that device isn’t viable for many touring cyclists and those people, like my Dad, who don’t have a power meter (the majority of the market).

So, while there’s nothing in this device we haven’t seen before technologically, sometimes that’s not the point.  It’s about hitting the right features at the right price point, and this unit finally seems to nail it.  Personally, I would have called it something different – merely to reduce confusion with all the previous variants.  But whatever works I suppose.  For folks that don’t need Strava Live Segments or power meters, this is easily the best deal on the market today for a color mapping navigational bike computer.

With that – thanks for reading!

Found This Post Useful? Support The Site!

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.

If you're shopping for the Garmin Edge Explore or any other accessory items, please consider using the affiliate links below! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but your purchases help support this website a lot. Even more, if you use Backcountry.com or Competitive Cyclist with coupon code DCRAINMAKER, first time users save 15% on applicable products!

And finally, here’s a handy list of accessories that work well with this unit (and some that I showed in the review). Given the unit pairs with ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart sensors, you can use just about anything though.

This is a dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart cycling cadence sensor that you strap to your crank arm, but also does dual Bluetooth Smart, so you can pair it both to Zwift and another Bluetooth Smart app at once if you want.

This is one of the top straps I use daily for accuracy comparisons (the others Polar H9/H10 and Wahoo TICKR X). It's dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart, and in fact dual-Bluetooth Smart too, in case you need multiple connectons.

This is the pinnacle of Garmin chest straps, and includes dual ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart, Swimming support, Running Dynamics, as well as back-fill of HR/Steps/Intensity Minutes/Calories if not wearing the watch in certain sports. Note: Not all watches support Running Dynamics/Swimming HR backfill, check your watch first!

Seriously, this will change your life. $9 for a two-pack of these puck Garmin chargers that stay put and stay connected. One for the office, one for your bedside, another for your bag, and one for your dog's house. Just in case.

This speed sensor is unique in that it can record offline (sans-watch), making it perfect for a commuter bike quietly recording your rides. But it's also a standard ANT+/BLE sensor that pairs to your device. It's become my go-to speed sensor.

This wifi-connected scale will track your weight and related metrics both on the scale display and in Garmin Connect (plus 3rd party apps like Training Peaks). It'll also then sync your weight to your watch/bike computer, to ensure accurate calorie data.

And of course – you can always sign-up to be a DCR Supporter! That gets you an ad-free DCR, access to the DCR Quarantine Corner video series packed with behind the scenes tidbits...and it also makes you awesome. And being awesome is what it’s all about!

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!

Found This Post Useful? Support The Site!

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.

If you're shopping for the Garmin Edge Explore or any other accessory items, please consider using the affiliate links below! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but your purchases help support this website a lot. Even more, if you use Backcountry.com or Competitive Cyclist with coupon code DCRAINMAKER, first time users save 15% on applicable products!

And finally, here’s a handy list of accessories that work well with this unit (and some that I showed in the review). Given the unit pairs with ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart sensors, you can use just about anything though.

This is a dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart cycling cadence sensor that you strap to your crank arm, but also does dual Bluetooth Smart, so you can pair it both to Zwift and another Bluetooth Smart app at once if you want.

This is one of the top straps I use daily for accuracy comparisons (the others Polar H9/H10 and Wahoo TICKR X). It's dual ANT+/Bluetooth Smart, and in fact dual-Bluetooth Smart too, in case you need multiple connectons.

This is the pinnacle of Garmin chest straps, and includes dual ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart, Swimming support, Running Dynamics, as well as back-fill of HR/Steps/Intensity Minutes/Calories if not wearing the watch in certain sports. Note: Not all watches support Running Dynamics/Swimming HR backfill, check your watch first!

Seriously, this will change your life. $9 for a two-pack of these puck Garmin chargers that stay put and stay connected. One for the office, one for your bedside, another for your bag, and one for your dog's house. Just in case.

This speed sensor is unique in that it can record offline (sans-watch), making it perfect for a commuter bike quietly recording your rides. But it's also a standard ANT+/BLE sensor that pairs to your device. It's become my go-to speed sensor.

This wifi-connected scale will track your weight and related metrics both on the scale display and in Garmin Connect (plus 3rd party apps like Training Peaks). It'll also then sync your weight to your watch/bike computer, to ensure accurate calorie data.

And of course – you can always sign-up to be a DCR Supporter! That gets you an ad-free DCR, access to the DCR Quarantine Corner video series packed with behind the scenes tidbits...and it also makes you awesome. And being awesome is what it’s all about!

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!

DC Rainmaker:

View Comments (442)

  • Still using micro usb? I know you made an excuse last year for still using Micro usb Ray, but its time for USB C on these products. I can now charge my Laptop and phone using usb c, more of these products need to follow. Just makes traveling easier, bringing less cords. Using one industry standard just helps everyone.

    • I talk about the lack of USB-C in the video actually...

      I do agree with you, but I also agree with those that say that at this point micro-USB is still far more prevalent. Personally, I'd love to see USB-C, but I get both sides.

    • A colleague of mine just bought a car sat navigation system from Garmin.... It still has a *mini* USB.... Like those from cameras ten years ago.

      The old cables won't die

    • Don't mind USB mini; however, the placement of the USB connector does seem a little daft.

      If mounted in the stem or top tube (my Edge 1000 is mounted on the top when bikepacking) the connector will not be available so the unit cannot be charged during the ride.

    • Great observation! There are angled USB connector cables available, I wonder if there's enough clearance for one in this case.

    • Great Review as always. One thing to confirm. So, with the Edge explore, can you re-ride a course you have on a smart trainer like Wahoo Core? Or, I will need the Edge 520 to do that?

    • By the way,

      for turn by turn navigation I use RideWithGPS on my cellphone, and just keep one earphone in my ear if I'm cycling on roads.

    • Bike tourists and commuters generally dont care about size either so they just use their phones and battery packs or the 1000 series. Small size tells me this is for roadies. Garmin seems confused and made a product that looks to be mostly useless. DOA.

    • Speak for yourself. As a tourist, I care greatly about size and weight. My tours frequently exceed 100K feet of elevation gain in 3 weeks. Phones are a crappy solution for navigation. The lack of a barometric altimeter is a bigger concern for me.

    • Why? I am not saying you are wrong, just wondering why WIFI so important. I recently upgraded my watch to a FR645 and have not bothered to setup the WIFI; the watch syncs to my phone and from my phone to God knows where.

  • Thanks for posting. Still processing through all the great info!

    Sorry to be "that guy." Typo near the very beginning. "Now, you’ve probably hard the Edge Explore..." should probably be heard instead of hard.

  • Arg! No power meter. I’ve got a 520 and a 935, but wish I had better mapping.
    At first glance I thought ‘damn this is perfect ‘ - but now realize it’s useless without power data. 1030 is crazy $$$ in Canada ... so must leave Garmin ecosystem to find better mapping. ?

  • Garmin's site says it does have Live Track but your table says it doesn't.
    Garmin's site doesn't mention Barometric altimeter but you say it has one.
    Does it really not have trainer FEC control support?

    • (Fixed LiveTrack, after resetting my app/GCM connection, it wasn't showing as a feature initially for some reason)

      I'll double-check with them on baro. It as the baro holes on the back, and the data on my latest rides looks too smooth to be GPS-based (or at least, Garmin's GPS based alti).

      On FEC, nope, not there. But to be fair, I've actually yet to see/hear of someone using that with a Garmin (or a few someone's anyway). I think Garmin did good in jumpstarting that (FE-C support), but I think these days most people just tend to use apps instead.

  • Thanks again.

    Two things on the features. No wifi (as mentioned also in the comments above), but Wifi is listed in the comparison chart for data connections. I'm assuming that is a mistaken holdover from the template but maybe I am misunderstanding Wifi sync vs. Wifi data transfer?

    The other which is more a surprise to me - no Live Tracking? Seems odd that is not there given it just hands over that to the App to broadcast out, doesn't it? Any idea why they would not include this feature? Is it something that might be added? I look at it as a safety element. I live track my runs and rides to my wife and sister so they both know where I am, especially when I am on the road traveling somewhere. I feel like I would miss this more than the Wifi. And it does have group tracking. Hmmm.

    Overall though, the unit looks really nice given the price.

    • Definitely no WiFi. I've looked through every menu on the unit and every GCM option on the app, zero mention. Also, no WiFi logo on the back of the unit like the Edge 1030. I don't really thing WiFi is super important to be honest, especially since the stability of Bluetooth Smart uploads is pretty good.

      No Live Tracking was something amiss on my GCM connection, it wasn't showing. I've reset it though and now I've got the option. :)

  • But for the lack of the LiveTrack feature, this would have been the perfect device for me :(

    Don't know why they pulled that out

    • Ok, fixed that line item. I wasn't seeing it on the unit itself for some reason, but then I reset my app connection and now it's all good. Thanks!

  • I’ve been looking for a bikepacking gps and this seems to tick every box.

    Lack of training and pm features will not be a deal killer for me as it will complement my 510.

    Was considering the Sigma Rox12 previously but it seems to be experiencing teething issues and not widely available yet, especially in Australia. Any idea of price/availability in AU?

    Also wondering about these:
    - battery under navigation usage
    - how easy to create route and transfer to unit on the fly compare to Wahoo?

  • Wow. Checks the boxes for what my wife needs, and has the group track so I know where she is at (Augh). At that price point the competition will be scratching their head as what to do in their product line.

    Is The Girl favoring any device for cycling? Know she is ramping up on the running, yet unsure if she leverages anything on the cargo bike at this point. My view of easy of use doesn’t always mean the same for my Girl and it would be nice to have another perspective.

1 2 3 17

By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to the use of cookies