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Garmin edge 520 Plus - first impression

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Garmin edge 520 Plus - first impression

Old 05-26-18, 10:21 PM
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Garmin edge 520 Plus - first impression

I have a magellan cyclo 505 experience.

Got the Edge 520 Plus and went for a 68km ride with the new Edge 520 plus. Route was mostly bicycle paths. The route was planned using RWGPS - tcx file format downloaded. When i deviated away from the route - the 520 took forever to recalculate......recalculate.....calculating.....and most of the time by the time it finalized the 'calculations' i was already back to the route. I heard the recalculations can take awhile but I didn't realise it basically meant the unit was unable to re-route properly in most real riding situations. Also it often failed in the end to produce any re-route options and just showed 'Off Course'.

Could it be that i was riding on bicycle paths? This is in melbourne - Scotchman's creek to the city and back.

It did do a successful re-route ONE TIME - when we nearly reached home and was riding the last few kms on road - and stopped at a shop away from the route, the 520 plus then re-routed successfully. The re-calculation worked quickly and a new re-reroute pointed me back to the planned route's direction.

I quite like the garmin map - they are much prettier....with landmark details (shops, folliage, grasslands) and the screen is mostly viewable in daylight with the back light zeroed. The 520 will also advertise what street name or trail name you are on.

The highlighted route on the garmin map (can't remember is it pink or purple) can be hard to identify if the light is not right or the zooming level too high.



The screen size is very functional - not too big and not too small. I am over 50 and used a bifocl sunglass (DUAEYEWEAR GLASSES) to read the screen.

One quite large advantage to the garmin - I like the garmin navigation cues - the garmin uses white arrows for turns are superior to chevrons (wahoo) and purple colored track (magellan cyclo). You can very quickly see what kind of turns you have to do. For the first time i was able to pick out the entrance to the path among some bushes. On the Cyclo i could not discern exactly where my turn should be.

i'll tell you now nothing navigates like the Magellan Cyclo 505 - you can go to hell and the Cyclo 505 will show you the way home (with super quick re-routing too if applicable). I had wanted a lighter gps than the Cyclo 505 (129grams).

Last edited by Machoman121; 05-28-18 at 05:23 AM. Reason: add
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Old 05-27-18, 12:24 AM
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Oh and another thing - forget about zooming in/out of the map while you're riding....something which i think is useful in navigation... I wonder if anyone in Garmin land ever cycles...i mean really cycle - ie. more than at the Garmin car-park. There is like at least 5 button sequences to toggle just to be able to zoom in the map....no wonder the wahoo units have pretty much clean up the market. So you'll have to pick your ideal zoom level before riding and stick with it - auto-zoom should work on the zoom levels when a turn is due.

I've heard people complain about the Garmin menu system and now know why.

Last edited by Machoman121; 05-27-18 at 04:29 AM.
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Old 05-27-18, 03:50 PM
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I wonder how well the map re-routing works if it's a route created in Garmin Connect. I tend to use that anyway for navigable routes as the maps are as good and it's an easier BlueTooth download to the device.

On an Edge 1000, you need to swipe to the map screen, then press the screen, then the + or - button, On the Wahoo you have to toggle to the map screen then use the 2 buttons on the side of the unit to zoom. With any unit it's always a few button pushes.

In general, I find that if there's information I need to see on the map, I'll stop the bike and pay attention to the map, kind of like using a smartphone in the car, it's easy to get distracted by the device.
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Old 05-30-18, 07:03 AM
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I wish there's a way to set it up to stop telling me to do a U-turn and get on the job of re-routing. Unless I'm on the last leg of the destination - it'll refuse to re-route. And when it does re-route it produces the most ridiculous route - so it's re-routing functionality is basically useless. You have no option to ask it to choose another route.
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Old 05-30-18, 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Machoman121
I wish there's a way to set it up to stop telling me to do a U-turn and get on the job of re-routing. Unless I'm on the last leg of the destination - it'll refuse to re-route. And when it does re-route it produces the most ridiculous route - so it's re-routing functionality is basically useless. You have no option to ask it to choose another route.
I canít think of ANY cycling GPS thatíll do an ďIím off the courseĒ re-route thatís functional. Part of the issue is the unit is now in charge of figuring out from the myriad of roads, which are going to be best for cycling, or if thereís a cycling path nearby, how to use it. I think thatís asking a bit from the current level of technology.

One potential method IF the unit has access to databases like RWGPS, Strava, Connect, etc... would be for the unit to relatively quickly scan those databases for other posted rides in that area and choose from those known good routes for that area.

Outside of that, the best choice is to use the return to start function, which will follow the current path/route to the start.

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Old 05-31-18, 04:10 AM
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This perplexes me as re-routing is no problem with a car GPS system as that does not constantly tell you to make a u-turn as does the bike GPS. Why the difference with a bike?
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Old 05-31-18, 06:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Ald1
This perplexes me as re-routing is no problem with a car GPS system as that does not constantly tell you to make a u-turn as does the bike GPS. Why the difference with a bike?
weak processor plus super small power source - battery. When a turn prompt come up you get that wonderful big white arrow but often you can't see your location icon....so you don't know where you are if not for the Distance to Next countdown. Sometime you'll see the blue location icon floating in but most of the time unless you're walking the blue icon never turns up....the processor seems to be overwhelmed.

My theory is that the 520 Plus - as we know is the 520 of years ago - may not have the necessary processing GPS power to perform optimally. So there's been no hardware upgrade/improvement to the 520 Plus - it's heart is the same old 520. The software is doing whatever it can in light of the weaker processing capability of the 520 PLus.

The 520 Plus probably has one of the better color screens - it's not touch sensitive so there one less layer of screen (touch resistor or whatever they call it). I find it quite clear for a color screen - i've got the Cyclo505 and it can be quite hard to see clearly most of the time. it's sharper than the Cyclo505 and the GPSMAP 64s and the Oregon range.

The up front mount in the box is a touch too long for something as small as the 520 size. It's probably from the 1030 stock. It puts the unit quite a bit further away from my eyes. I am using a shorter mount instead.
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Old 05-31-18, 06:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve B.


I canít think of ANY cycling GPS thatíll do an ďIím off the courseĒ re-route thatís functional. Part of the issue is the unit is now in charge of figuring out from the myriad of roads, which are going to be best for cycling, or if thereís a cycling path nearby, how to use it. I think thatís asking a bit from the current level of technology.

One potential method IF the unit has access to databases like RWGPS, Strava, Connect, etc... would be for the unit to relatively quickly scan those databases for other posted rides in that area and choose from those known good routes for that area.

Outside of that, the best choice is to use the return to start function, which will follow the current path/route to the start.

I agree with your statement. But i've only so far able to do this one test and it failed terribly. I had saved a location about 6km away and got it to produce a route - it was shocking. And i was on the main road heading towards it - it just went all over the place. I mean if i got dropped from a bunch ride how in heavens am I going to rely on this to take me back to my car. My car Garmin would have picked up that i'm already on the main road and so will make use of it.

Maybe that's where the Wahoo advantage is - you can use your phone with RWGPS and Komoot and the Wahoo app to plan and then transfer it to the bolt/elemnt. You produce your own route.
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Old 05-31-18, 10:27 AM
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Bear in mind that when a car GPS re-routes you, ALL the roads are good for driving a car. Excepting the common problems of the GPS not knowing that a National Forest road (US) is dirt and covered with snow in May. Or that what it thinks is a road is really a set of train tracks (happens around here frequently, or so I read). Even auto units screw up often.

A bike GPS needs some form of data base as to which roads are bike friendly and that's not in a typical map data. In theory, the unit could do q web based query of Ride With GPS, MapMyRide or Strava heat map to search for routes that are local and popular with cyclists. That's a Google'ish type search and I could probably live without it. Certainly cell data and BT intensive, thus battery killer, etc...
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Old 05-31-18, 04:40 PM
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Maybe it recalculates based on polar coordinates, only one problem, north pole, while you are in southern hemisphere? LOL...
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Old 05-31-18, 08:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Machoman121
.

Maybe that's where the Wahoo advantage is - you can use your phone with RWGPS and Komoot and the Wahoo app to plan and then transfer it to the bolt/elemnt. You produce your own route.
You can do the same thing on a Garmin. In both cases you need a smartphone to access the web to either RWGPS, or Garmin Connect. You then create a new route and port to the phone. With Connect you create and save, the route shows up on the Garmin mobile app, you then dump it to the device via BT. Not much different then on a Wahoo.

Big PITA with this is smartphones can be iffy to create routes, if only as the small screen size makes route creation less then fun.
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Old 06-01-18, 05:03 AM
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For navigation the Garmin's white arrow is clearly way superior over whatever the wahoos and magellan turn prompts/navigation aids.

But the 520 Plus processor is definitely overtaxed when navigation is coming in thick and fast. The graphics would freeze and i can't see my blue location icon....so i don't know exactly where I am in an upcoming turn.

My car's Garmin would re-route in an instant after i've gone past my turning .....the 520 Plus would refuse to re-route. And when it does it would take forever to re-calculate....by that time you might already have found your way (hopefully) or given up. And it would still might probably say Off-course that means it's too much for my tiny processor to process.

Last edited by Machoman121; 06-01-18 at 11:45 PM.
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Old 06-01-18, 11:42 PM
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Returned my unit - it was unstable - it went belly up.
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Old 06-08-18, 07:05 AM
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I just got my 520 plus to replace my 520. I like that it actually connects to my iPhone when it turns on. My 520 required me to reconnect after a ride to upload it. That alone is grand. It has a lot more storage space, which will come in handy. I have a North American version, but plan to attempt to take off the Garmin map (saving it elsewhere) and replace it with an Open Street Map of France, where I'm heading for vacation. I'll use DC Rainmakers 520 directions. Here's hoping that works.

Otherwise, it seems very similar to the 520.
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Old 06-08-18, 10:08 AM
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I was looking at GPS units, actually acquired a Garmin Nuvi from 2007...
I liked the older GPS devices better that what I see available now, sorry to say...
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Old 06-08-18, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve B.


I can’t think of ANY cycling GPS that’ll do an “I’m off the course” re-route that’s functional. Part of the issue is the unit is now in charge of figuring out from the myriad of roads, which are going to be best for cycling, or if there’s a cycling path nearby, how to use it. I think that’s asking a bit from the current level of technology.
Exactly. I've been riding with a GPS based bike computer since they pretty much came out. In every one I've turned off the turn by turn directions and the re-routing - and that includes the latest and greatest. There are instances when you leave a route and the computer has an apoplectic fit while it's trying to re-route and keep up.

What I want from a bike computer is a great looking map with the right contrast that is easily readable and zoomable and a path shown on the map where I am to go. I can get it from there and both the computer and I are much happier.

That all said, the computing paradigm has shifted towards mobile in terms of capability and industry bulk. Too, if we had decent connectivity, a lot of that could be done in the data center too. I'm one of the early adopter/beta guys on the Hammerhead Karoo. That's got an android based operating system and has a sim card and cellular connectivity. Be interesting to see how that pans out and if they can mature their software to the point where some backend features could be added via a data connection to the data center. Not there now, but it's got potential. What is interesting in the Karoo is the switch from a proprietary OS such as Garmin uses to something that is much more dynamic and has much more active development behind it such as android. The UI is much snappier and responsive, the display is awesome (although that is not an OS feature, driving it with software is), etc... The difference between the Karoo and Garmin units in terms of UI is sort of the same kind of difference in user experience that we saw in the "smartphone" before the iPhone upended the smartphone market. Before, they were these sort of clunky telco based smart(-ish)phones and after the introduction of the iphone they went to these sleek consumer electronics and ergonomic style UI smartphones. Remains to be seen if Hammerhead can capitalize on that.

The 520plus sort of underlines that what Garmin is doing is in the vein of "same as, except" engineering. Incremental change. Nothing groundbreaking.

J.
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Old 06-08-18, 04:24 PM
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I just bought a Edge 520 because REI has it on sale for $200, but was thinking of returning it for a Plus after getting an email from them about double dividend rewards this weekend, effectively putting the Plus at $224 before-tax. Sounds like the Plus is too new and unstable though...
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Old 06-08-18, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Machoman121
Returned my unit - it was unstable - it went belly up.
Good old Garmin Public Beta. Still alive and well.
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Old 06-09-18, 04:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve B.
I wonder how well the map re-routing works if it's a route created in Garmin Connect.
Garmin Connect isn't adding extra magic data to the file. The rerouting calculation doesn't use data in the loaded track beyond using a point on the track to navigate to.

Originally Posted by Steve B.
One potential method IF the unit has access to databases like RWGPS, Strava, Connect, etc... would be for the unit to relatively quickly scan those databases for other posted rides in that area and choose from those known good routes for that area.
​​​​​​It seems that people usually want the rerouting to get them back to the course by the shortest route possible (using appropriate roads). Using the databases wouldn't really be useful for that approach. It also would require internet access, which you don't always have. On a ride, internet access for the Garmins requires also having a phone.

Often, rerouting isn't even necessary. You generally know you are off course fairly quickly and often the quickest way back to the course is to turn around.

Originally Posted by Steve B.
Outside of that, the best choice is to use the return to start function, which will follow the current path/route to the start.
This is a useful for people to be able to choose but it's not the "best choice". Depending on circumstances, it might be much longer than necessary and it is only an option for loop routes.

Last edited by njkayaker; 06-09-18 at 05:21 AM.
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Old 06-09-18, 04:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Machoman121
But the 520 Plus processor is definitely overtaxed when navigation is coming in thick and fast. The graphics would freeze and i can't see my blue location icon....so i don't know exactly where I am in an upcoming turn.
The 520+ and the 820 are not good choices for navigation. Their small size means the battery is small. That means the processor has to be slow to get reasonable runtimes out of the small battery.
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Old 10-01-18, 05:20 AM
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I've re-bought another 520 Plus. I really like it now - maybe 3.0 firmware has improved it - re-routing seems to kick in sooner and works closely to what i imagine how it should from the one ride i had used it so far.

When it's set to cycling with all the proper avoidances (tolls, ferries.....) - it will route via the nearest bike paths rather than road - pretty nifty.

Oh - and the color screen is truly the best i've seen. When i first took it out i thought Oh crap did i left the back light on at 100%....No - my back light was at zero but the screen was just so bright and clear in good daylight - a real joy to look at. Unlike the screen on the cyclo 505 which was pretty dim even in the brightest daylight.

Navigation on the map screen is fantastic - lots of useful info - like it tells you what course or bike path you're on......and of course i love the bright white directional arrows - super clear which direction to follow.

The Aussie color map does provide some additional info - like you can see marshlands, waterways - fields/parks....etc.

This is a keeper for me.

Last edited by Machoman121; 10-01-18 at 05:28 AM.
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Old 10-01-18, 07:29 PM
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Is the map zoom still annoying?

I zoom in and out on every ride on my old 705. (It has two side buttons for zoom, so I can do it without looking.) I need to keep it zoomed in quite far to see exactly where the turn is located. It doesn't do the countdown display to the next turn like newer Garmins. Then I often zoom out to get an idea of the next 5 or 10 minutes -- is it straight ahead, or are there multiple turns ahead?
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Old 10-02-18, 04:53 AM
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NO - you certainly don't want to be playing around with the buttons too much - find a zoom level of your choice and stick with it. The 520 Plus can go into the zoom mode with the 2 left side buttons but it's not meant for dynamic zooming during a ride. It's more for you to choose your zoom level, press enter and the zoom level setting is saved for the map. You can't use anything while the Zoom mode is active so you have to decide on a zoom level and close it and continue as normal.

Yes - it would be nice to have a dynamic zoom button (like your 705)...but it is what it is. I can live with it once i've settled down on a zoom level setting, i'll know what i'm getting and what to expect from the map. It's probably do-able for me because my requirements are quite simple. Might be more challenging when one uses a power meter, heart rate and cadence etc.....

I currently have a main screen and a second screen with additional info. I populated it with all my required fields....Distance to Go, Time to Destination, etc. so that i minimise screen changes. Ideally I want to live off just 1 data screen and the map screen (for navigation purposes). If i choose my fields well i can come close.

The price to pay for a truly bright brilliant color screen is that it's not touchscreen. That's perfectly fine with me as once you've settled on your required information for a ride you really have no reason to muck around with the screens. Again - make a decision and choose the zoom level of your choice and don't change it during the ride. Currently I am using zoom of 200m.....it could change in the next few rides. Once you're familiar with the zoom details you should not need to be constantly zooming in/out. Zooming in / out might be OK on a touchscreen but the buttons are not suited for such dynamic functions.

And....another benefit of buttons (unlike a touchscreen) is that the screen can be pristine and not smeared with sunscreen and oily fingers.

Last edited by Machoman121; 10-07-18 at 04:57 AM. Reason: additional
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