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Wahoo Bolt or Garmin 520

Old 05-05-18, 02:38 PM
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ionlydrinkbud
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Wahoo Bolt or Garmin 520

I'm looking to get my first cycling computer, what do you like better the Wahoo or Garmin?
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Old 05-05-18, 03:03 PM
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I just got a Bolt last night. Took it for a 50 mle ride today. I am very happy with it. Haven’t had time to look at all the data it saves yet, but I am impressed with the screen. Syncing with my phone and with sensors were a breeze.
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Old 05-05-18, 03:32 PM
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Unable to afford to have both to make a comparison to like one over the other.

Have the 520, HR, Cadence , speed sensors
Like it, like the data, screens & other features,
I like Garmin connect , history logs, charts, maps & stuff


Guess a Wahoo has OK features too
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Old 05-05-18, 03:38 PM
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I switched over from my Garmin Edge 1000 to a Wahoo ELEMNT (same software as the Bolt) two years ago and am happy I did. If I were looking at the Bolt today, I'd also look at the Edge 520 PLUS which is about $20-30 more than the Bolt but is quite capable. The 520+ was just released. Wahoo has pissed off Garmin and woken the giant out of it's sleep. They've positioned the 520 just below the Bolt and the 520+ just above leaving Wahoo no where to go on pricing.

The Wahoo software is way ahead of Garmin in ergonomics and display UI and behind Garmin in navigation. I personally don't need my bike computer to compute new routes from addresses and, in Garmin's case, their ability to enter that data will drive you to the point where you want to throw the unit. Wahoo got around all of that by using the smart phone for the set up interface and took the routing out of the bike computer. Wahoo has seamless integration with router creation websites like the excellent RideWithGPS.com and it syncs seamlessly.

So I'm pretty happy with the choice of Wahoo but I also have been looking at the Hammerhead Karoo which is aimed at the high end (eventually). What I'm really happy to see is that Garmin has to finally innovate and can't rest on their laurels anymore. The price competition is good for everyone.

FWIW, I was looking at market positioning on all the computers the other day and a list of bike computers and their rough positioning.

Bike Computers:
  • Wahoo ELEMNT Mini - $100: Metrics display, high contrast monochrome small display, no navigation, great connectivity.
  • Garmin Edge 120 - $200: Metrics display, relatively simple display, limited navigation capability, download routes, upload data.
  • Garmin Edge 520 - $250: Better and bigger display than 130, metric display, baseman display, low end color display, lots of data fields and sensor support
  • Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt - $250: High contrast larger mono display, button ergonomics, excellent connectivity, Navigation less than Garmin but includes TBT and simplistic baseman. Depends on smart phone for some connectivity and routing interface.
  • Garmin 520+ - $279: Garmin 520 plus "advanced navigation", better connectivity, better battery life.
  • Wahoo ELEMNT - $329: Larger screen than Bolt, same features and operating system.
  • Garmin Edge 820 - $350: Better and larger Color display, better "advanced" navigation, Bluetooth support, better connectivity.
  • Garmin Edge 1030 - $600: Better and larger color display, industry leading navigation capability, all features of connectivity of 820 plus more. Apps and app store, comprehensive power meter support, training plans, etc...



J.

Last edited by JohnJ80; 05-05-18 at 03:48 PM.
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Old 05-06-18, 06:19 AM
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If you haven't already, check the DCRainmaker website. There is a very thorough side by side review of the two. I doubt anyone on BF has any more input. I myself have the Bolt and I'm very happy with it. Setup was a breeze and it attached to my sensors without any problem, Wahoo speed and cadence, an old Garmin HRM, and then my Assioma pedals. Home wifi setup was a snap, it paired with a phone easily. RidewithGPS routes just appeared on my Bolt after I signed in through the phone app. It all happens so seamlessly. Text messages and phone calls appear on it, although you can't reply through it. If something doesn't seem right to you as you use it, there is always a setup screen to change it. All this, and I don't really use the GPS features because every cycling route in the NYC area is etched in my brain already.

One feature it doesn't have that I'd use is auto lap, where you press a button and it automatically sets the lap when the GPS detects you are back to the same point. I would use that in Prospect and Central Parks on the loops. RidewithGPS and Strava will show the results after the fact but it would be good to know while riding.

Last edited by zacster; 05-06-18 at 06:24 AM.
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Old 05-06-18, 08:32 AM
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You guys are rad! Thanks for all your input!!!
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Old 05-06-18, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by zacster View Post
If you haven't already, check the DCRainmaker website. There is a very thorough side by side review of the two. I doubt anyone on BF has any more input. I myself have the Bolt and I'm very happy with it. Setup was a breeze and it attached to my sensors without any problem, Wahoo speed and cadence, an old Garmin HRM, and then my Assioma pedals. Home wifi setup was a snap, it paired with a phone easily. RidewithGPS routes just appeared on my Bolt after I signed in through the phone app. It all happens so seamlessly. Text messages and phone calls appear on it, although you can't reply through it. If something doesn't seem right to you as you use it, there is always a setup screen to change it. All this, and I don't really use the GPS features because every cycling route in the NYC area is etched in my brain already.

One feature it doesn't have that I'd use is auto lap, where you press a button and it automatically sets the lap when the GPS detects you are back to the same point. I would use that in Prospect and Central Parks on the loops. RidewithGPS and Strava will show the results after the fact but it would be good to know while riding.
I think Shane Miller does a youtube video of the two side by side (and various other Bolt and Garmin comparisons). At this point, though if I were looking at a 520, I'd skip that and go for the 520 Plus. I'd still prefer the Bolt though.

If you star routes in Strava (or make them favorites or whatever you do there too), they will also automatically sync to the Bolt. Both Strava and RWGPS both sync to the bike computer if you set it up in the smartphone app so that the computer is configured. Note that you only need the smartphone to set it up, from that point on, the bike computer can sync on it's own if it can get on the wifi. Very cool

My wife and I both have Elemnts. I created a RideWithGPS account for her as well as mine. I can then "share with friends" the routes we're going to ride. They then show up in her RWGPS account and when she syncs her Elemnt, they go down automatically. If I change the route in RWGPS, it is then changed automatically on both of our bike computers. Then I just have to tell her which route when we start, and she has all the navigation stuff ready to go. Very cool. You can't do that to my knowledge with any of the Garmin units.

J.
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Old 05-06-18, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by JohnJ80 View Post
I think Shane Miller does a youtube video of the two side by side (and various other Bolt and Garmin comparisons). At this point, though if I were looking at a 520, I'd skip that and go for the 520 Plus. I'd still prefer the Bolt though.

If you star routes in Strava (or make them favorites or whatever you do there too), they will also automatically sync to the Bolt. Both Strava and RWGPS both sync to the bike computer if you set it up in the smartphone app so that the computer is configured. Note that you only need the smartphone to set it up, from that point on, the bike computer can sync on it's own if it can get on the wifi. Very cool

My wife and I both have Elemnts. I created a RideWithGPS account for her as well as mine. I can then "share with friends" the routes we're going to ride. They then show up in her RWGPS account and when she syncs her Elemnt, they go down automatically. If I change the route in RWGPS, it is then changed automatically on both of our bike computers. Then I just have to tell her which route when we start, and she has all the navigation stuff ready to go. Very cool. You can't do that to my knowledge with any of the Garmin units.

J.
If I were buying another Garmin...I'd get the 520 regular actually. After a year or two the firmware finally settles out and units get stable. Buying a "new" (AKA released same model year) Garmin makes you a beta tester.


Which...well I'm done with Garmins (Edge: 205, 305, 705, 1000 over the years...yup Garmins have eaten a fair chunk of my disposable income). My Edge1000's power button broke on Friday, and a Wahoo Bolt is coming this week to replace it.
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Old 05-06-18, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
If I were buying another Garmin...I'd get the 520 regular actually. After a year or two the firmware finally settles out and units get stable. Buying a "new" (AKA released same model year) Garmin makes you a beta tester.


Which...well I'm done with Garmins (Edge: 205, 305, 705, 1000 over the years...yup Garmins have eaten a fair chunk of my disposable income). My Edge1000's power button broke on Friday, and a Wahoo Bolt is coming this week to replace it.
Well, there is that.... Garmin doesn't have a great reputation out of the chute. They do eventually get it right. Just to be clear though, this seems to be how all the main bike computer guys do stuff. Wahoo introduced the Elemnt and Bolt the same way - there were rapid fire updates, sometimes one a day, early on with the Elemnt and Bolt. Hammerhead Karoo is going through the same thing now. Given I tend toward the early adopter end of things, and that I hate when units are obsoleted on me, I'd go for the 520+. It just does so much more.

That said, I've gone to Wahoo and have been using their stuff for a couple of years now. I think it works better overall and it's so much easier to configure. I've had Garmin units from the 305 on with my latest being the Edge 1000, and I just don't like their UI or their displays. Setting them up is sort of like doing it in morse code or something. Wahoo nailed it with their set up smartphone app and their connectivity. I don't miss the color display that my Edge 1000 has (didn't look that great in the sun anyhow) and I really appreciate the high contrast of the Wahoo displays - they are so much easier to see.

I'm also fooling with a Hammerhead Karoo right now. That has the best display out there, bar none. But their stability in software is not good at this point. So remains to be seen but has a lot of promise.

Today, if you want a computer that is no nonsense and works out of the box, I have absolutely no reservations recommended a Wahoo unit.

J.
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Old 05-12-18, 06:31 PM
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I too am awaiting how the 520 Plus turns out - it looks like it'll have everything i want in a reasonably light GPS and i hope the screen readibility in normal sunlight with zero back-light is good. Otherwise i'll get the Bolt with it's already toted excellent monochrome screen - albeit without re-routing capability (sigh).

I have the Cyclo 505 and it's screen is very dull and at times can be difficult to discern a route (purple) from the roads (blue). But don't get me wrong - the Cyclo 505 has the best navigation on this planet. I just want something lighter with navigation too.
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Old 05-13-18, 09:38 AM
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I may well be wrong, but the bolt has maps and it's software will calculate a route based on those maps. All you have to do is give it a destination. The edge 520 will not. It will only follow a course that you create from an existinge ride you have done or import into it from another source such as RWGPS, Strava, etc.

The specs on the garmin edge 520 say that it has a basemap. I've never seen what the 520 basemap is, but on other garmin devices the basemap is basically just the interstate and highway system. The 520plus specs says it has the ability to load other map. That's something.... now at least you'll be able to see the trail you are on if you have the correct map. But I don't see where the 520 or 520 plus does any route planning as the Wahoo Bolt's specs seem to show. But admittedly I know way less about the Bolt or any other Wahoo compared to Garmin.

So to me any comparison of the two is seriously flawed if you don't consider what you are not getting with the Edge 520.

That said, I own about 10 or so garmin devices, marine, trail, auto, cycling and others. I regularly use an edge500. It doesn't have maps either. I don't need maps. I seldom use courses as they typically mess up at the one spot on the ride where I need them the most. But the Wahoo Bolt does give you much more bang for the buck, especially if maps and route planning on the device is something you want. But double check that I'm correct Bolt does route planning. Their marketing seems to alude that it does.

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Old 05-13-18, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
I may well be wrong, but the bolt has maps and it's software will calculate a route based on those maps. All you have to do is give it a destination. The edge 520 will not. It will only follow a course that you create from an existinge ride you have done or import into it from another source such as RWGPS, Strava, etc.
No, the Wahoo can't calculate a route on the device. You use the Wahoo phone app for that. The Wahoo units provide the same sort of navigation the 520 does.
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Old 05-13-18, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
I may well be wrong, but the bolt has maps and it's software will calculate a route based on those maps. All you have to do is give it a destination. The edge 520 will not. It will only follow a course that you create from an existinge ride you have done or import into it from another source such as RWGPS, Strava, etc.

The specs on the garmin edge 520 say that it has a basemap. I've never seen what the 520 basemap is, but on other garmin devices the basemap is basically just the interstate and highway system. The 520plus specs says it has the ability to load other map. That's something.... now at least you'll be able to see the trail you are on if you have the correct map. But I don't see where the 520 or 520 plus does any route planning as the Wahoo Bolt's specs seem to show. But admittedly I know way less about the Bolt or any other Wahoo compared to Garmin.

So to me any comparison of the two is seriously flawed if you don't consider what you are not getting with the Edge 520.

That said, I own about 10 or so garmin devices, marine, trail, auto, cycling and others. I regularly use an edge500. It doesn't have maps either. I don't need maps. I seldom use courses as they typically mess up at the one spot on the ride where I need them the most. But the Wahoo Bolt does give you much more bang for the buck, especially if maps and route planning on the device is something you want. But double check that I'm correct Bolt does route planning. Their marketing seems to alude that it does.
Assorted older Garmin cycling units had different maps of varying quality. The 810 I had was basic and useless but it was easy to install the OSM maps. The 1000, 520+, 820 and 1030 all come with the Garmin Cycling map, which is as good as the OSM and which gets free updates pretty frequently.

I liked my Bolt but found the map mostly useless, especially as the B&W image offered little detail as to what’s a highway, a 2 lane road, a river, a park, etc... as well as zero labeling of roads. As such I find the Garmin maps superior, with color a benefit when looking at details. As well, the Wahoo maps are completely road centric. With a Garmin you can add a OSM Topo map as example, if desiring to explore off road.

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Old 05-13-18, 11:35 AM
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I have both the edge 520 and the Wahoo bolt. After about a year using both, I am very happy with the Bolt .It has better visibility in sunlight and is much easier to move through the menus.
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Old 05-13-18, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
I may well be wrong, but the bolt has maps and it's software will calculate a route based on those maps. All you have to do is give it a destination. The edge 520 will not. It will only follow a course that you create from an existinge ride you have done or import into it from another source such as RWGPS, Strava, etc.

The specs on the garmin edge 520 say that it has a basemap. I've never seen what the 520 basemap is, but on other garmin devices the basemap is basically just the interstate and highway system. The 520plus specs says it has the ability to load other map. That's something.... now at least you'll be able to see the trail you are on if you have the correct map. But I don't see where the 520 or 520 plus does any route planning as the Wahoo Bolt's specs seem to show. But admittedly I know way less about the Bolt or any other Wahoo compared to Garmin.

So to me any comparison of the two is seriously flawed if you don't consider what you are not getting with the Edge 520.

That said, I own about 10 or so garmin devices, marine, trail, auto, cycling and others. I regularly use an edge500. It doesn't have maps either. I don't need maps. I seldom use courses as they typically mess up at the one spot on the ride where I need them the most. But the Wahoo Bolt does give you much more bang for the buck, especially if maps and route planning on the device is something you want. But double check that I'm correct Bolt does route planning. Their marketing seems to alude that it does.
wahoo units can only route back to the start of your ride by retracing the route youíve ridden. They cannot reroute in the general sense solely on the bike computer.

BUT - and probably more useful from a UI perspective- from your smartphone you can search, specify or otherwise denote some place you would like to go and the Wahoo smartphone app will route to that point and download the route to the unit.

Setting up a route solely on a bike computer is an exercise in frustration. Make sure youíre in a patient frame of mind to put up with the crummy UI to search or enter POIís and plenty of time to let the little cpu calculate the route.

I agree with you point about noting what then other units will or wonít do. FWIW, I switched off of the edge 1000 to Wahoo two years ago and have been happy.
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Old 05-13-18, 01:32 PM
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I don't own a Garmin but one of my regular riding buddies does. I like my Bolt much better than his Garmin 800. The navigation visuals are much better on the Bolt than on a Garmin since the Bolt also uses LEDs to display the direction of the turn as well as notify you on the screen. I also like the easy access to cue sheets on the Bolt vs his Garmin. But bike computers are like cars in that everyone has their favorite make and model. You just have to try one before you can really know which one you like best.
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Old 05-13-18, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
Assorted older Garmin cycling units had different maps of varying quality. The 810 I had was basic and useless but it was easy to install the OSM maps. The 1000, 520+, 820 and 1030 all come with the Garmin Cycling map, which is as good as the OSM and which gets free updates pretty frequently.
​​​​The older Garmins didn't come with maps. You had to buy them as part of a bundle or as a separate purchase. Those maps are very good but are really for automobiles (Garmin uses the same maps in their car navigation units).

Or use the free OSM maps.

You are talking about the basemap, which is really only there to provide some context (rather than just displaying a blank screen).

Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
The 1000, 520+, 820 and 1030 all come with the Garmin Cycling map, which is as good as the OSM and which gets free updates pretty frequently.
The Garmin Cycle map are OSM maps. Garmin creates them in the same way that the free sites do (they look different). Garmin provides its own "points of interest" and address lookup data (it doesn't use OSM for this).

The free sites often update their data every two weeks (useful if one makes updates to OSM). Garmin's updates seem to be 2 to 4 times a year (generally good enough).

​​​​​​

​​​​​

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Old 05-13-18, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Secret Squirrel View Post
I have both the edge 520 and the Wahoo bolt. After about a year using both, I am very happy with the Bolt .It has better visibility in sunlight and is much easier to move through the menus.
Have you tried the Bolt it with polarized sunglasses? One of the annoying features of the 520 is the display is polarized at 45 degrees making it difficult to see with polarized glasses.
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Old 05-13-18, 03:12 PM
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I was unable to clearly read the white-on-black TBT or map on the Bolt while wearing non-polarized sunglasses. When I inquired with Wahoo if there was a solution, they offered none. I needed up returning MHz Bolt and getting a Garmin, which I can see, go figure. I otherwise really liked the Bolt, especially the size, but my Garmin 1000 has been reliable and a good unit. Ironically, Wahoo subsequently improved the unit, too bad they didnít mention a fix was in the works. Iíd recommend a Bolt or Element otherwise
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Old 05-13-18, 04:15 PM
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I'm a few weeks with a Garmin 520; my first bike computer. It took a little bit for me to get it worked and set-up with Training Peaks. Now, however, the Live Track works, at best sporadically which irritates my wife. I'd go with the Elemnt if I had a do over.
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Old 05-13-18, 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
​​​​

You are talking about the basemap, which is really only there to provide some context (rather than just displaying a blank screen).


​​​​​
Yes, I was thinking of the installed base maps.
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Old 05-13-18, 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Hunterdog View Post
I'm a few weeks with a Garmin 520; my first bike computer. It took a little bit for me to get it worked and set-up with Training Peaks. Now, however, the Live Track works, at best sporadically which irritates my wife. I'd go with the Elemnt if I had a do over.
Crazy...mine works flawlessly! Its spot on every time my wife "checks in" on me. It almost always within 1/10 of a mile if not spot on.
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Old 05-14-18, 01:25 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by sdmc530 View Post
Crazy...mine works flawlessly! Its spot on every time my wife "checks in" on me. It almost always within 1/10 of a mile if not spot on.
Does she drive by you or send you a text saying "I see you're coming up on the grocery store - we need milk"?

I do like the livetrack and equivalents for safety reasons - if I don't come back she knows where to find my body.
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Old 05-15-18, 06:15 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by drewguy View Post
Does she drive by you or send you a text saying "I see you're coming up on the grocery store - we need milk"?

I do like the livetrack and equivalents for safety reasons - if I don't come back she knows where to find my body.
my bike trail is really good so when she does check on me she will text me like how are the Buffalo and rhinos doing at the zoo? You can see them from the bike trail. Or if I am riding and they are meeting me for a picnic or something they can see how far away I am from my sons favorite park and see when I will get there. What I donít like is when I say I am going to be home in say one hour but I take a route that is 2 hours or such then I get in trouble for riding longer as opposed to doing a chore or task I am supposed to be doing. Lol
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Old 05-15-18, 08:29 PM
  #25  
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I have a Garmin 820 that has worked since the day I purchased it. It was easy for me to set up and use and to my surprise I like the Garmin Connect. I bought a Bolt for comparison purposes but sold it within two weeks - I never really got it to work like the 820.

I just purchased the Garmin 130 and after one ride I'm pleased with its performance. I don't expect any issues because the 820 hasn't given me any issues.
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