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Garmin advice

Old 04-08-21, 06:44 AM
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CoogansBluff
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Garmin advice

Strongly considering the purchase of a Garmin.

I've read about the features on each of the versions - 530, 830, 1030, etc. There's Plus and there are bundles that make it more complicated.

My main needs are to make navigation easier, to upload/create routes, and to record data and stats. Planning to get a radar/car detector, which I assume works with all or most models.

Any suggestions based on real-world experience with Garmins? How valuable is the touch screen?
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Old 04-08-21, 07:01 AM
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I have the 530 and do all of the things you mention and am content with the purchase. Moving around the screen with the buttons can be clunky, but I don't do a lot on the unit itself, so I'm fine with that.

I don't know if it applies to current gen touchscreens, but I do recall seeing complaints of frustration/ineffectiveness in rain - I'm sure someone else can chime in on that.
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Old 04-08-21, 07:24 AM
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I’ve had the 500 520 and now the 530. I think the 530 is the best out of all of them.
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Old 04-08-21, 07:32 AM
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Also curious about the value of the bundle and speed sensor. Not sure what a speed sensor is. Wouldn't any non-bundled Garmin provide mph as I'm traveling?
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Old 04-08-21, 07:37 AM
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Originally Posted by CoogansBluff View Post
Also curious about the value of the bundle and speed sensor. Not sure what a speed sensor is. Wouldn't any non-bundled Garmin provide mph as I'm traveling?
Over the course of the majority of road rides, it doesn't matter much. It'll give you a more accurate speed reading at any given moment and is helpful if you frequently ride in areas with lots of coverage that might otherwise diminish GPS signal strength.
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Old 04-08-21, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by CoogansBluff View Post
Strongly considering the purchase of a Garmin.

I've read about the features on each of the versions - 530, 830, 1030, etc. There's Plus and there are bundles that make it more complicated.

My main needs are to make navigation easier, to upload/create routes, and to record data and stats. Planning to get a radar/car detector, which I assume works with all or most models.

Any suggestions based on real-world experience with Garmins? How valuable is the touch screen?
All that you mention will do all of that. I would avoid the 1030 and opt for the 1030 Plus if you want the big screen; the 1030 Plus is much faster (same chip as 530 and 830) and the touch screen is much improved.

One thing that the 830/1030 Plus have that the 530 doesn't have is the ability to search for addresses and points of interest on the device itself while doing an activity, and navigate to those places. This is pretty neat, but certainly isn't needed for everyone. For instance, if you were in an unfamiliar place and out of cell phone reception, you could search for a convenience store or grocery store if you ran out of food or water. On the 530 you can't search, but you can drop a point on the map and navigate to it.

https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2019/04/...th-review.html

Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
I have the 530 and do all of the things you mention and am content with the purchase. Moving around the screen with the buttons can be clunky, but I don't do a lot on the unit itself, so I'm fine with that.

I don't know if it applies to current gen touchscreens, but I do recall seeing complaints of frustration/ineffectiveness in rain - I'm sure someone else can chime in on that.
My 830 is pretty good in the rain. Improved over previous generations, and definitely good enough that I am happy to deal with the small decrease in performance in the rain in order to have it in the dry.
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Old 04-08-21, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
Over the course of the majority of road rides, it doesn't matter much. It'll give you a more accurate speed reading at any given moment and is helpful if you frequently ride in areas with lots of coverage that might otherwise diminish GPS signal strength.
So the speed sensor is based on wheel revolutions? I already have one of those. Are they more accurate than GPS, or just slightly more reliable since they are not dependent on a GPS signal that might fail? And I assume that a Garmin's end-of-ride stats (mph, distance) are correct regardless? I don't want anything less accurate than the cheap sensor that I already have.
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Old 04-08-21, 07:53 AM
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Having lived through the Dark Days of pre-touchscreen Garmin devices...I never want to go back. There are certain times where it can be a bit glitchy like heavy rain; but the 1% inconvenience is worth it IMHO.

Originally Posted by CoogansBluff View Post
Also curious about the value of the bundle and speed sensor. Not sure what a speed sensor is. Wouldn't any non-bundled Garmin provide mph as I'm traveling?
The problem is that GPS speed is very laggy, as you're needing to aggregate speed from raw GPS coordinates live. Which doesn't matter in say a car, where speed is pretty constant--but a bike is constantly changing speed. Also, it uses more battery and is laggy compared to a paired wheel sensor that counts wheel revs and is calibrated.
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Old 04-08-21, 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by CoogansBluff View Post
So the speed sensor is based on wheel revolutions? I already have one of those. Are they more accurate than GPS, or just slightly more reliable since they are not dependent on a GPS signal that might fail? And I assume that a Garmin's end-of-ride stats (mph, distance) are correct regardless? I don't want anything less accurate than the cheap sensor that I already have.
Yes, wheel revolutions. If your current sensor is BT/ANT+, you can use that with the Garmin, too. The Garmin also had the option of auto-calibrating. And yes, just slightly more reliable in the event of dense coverage, but even that coverage doesn't usually (significantly) impact end-of-ride stats.
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Old 04-08-21, 08:08 AM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
Yes, wheel revolutions. If your current sensor is BT/ANT+, you can use that with the Garmin, too.
So, the sensor data is showing on the Garmin? It's not a separate smaller device, right? So it's possible that my current sensor would work w/ the Garmin. But I don't think it will. It's a Cateye Velo Wireless. So I might want to get the bundle.
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Old 04-08-21, 08:12 AM
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My 2¢.

I used an Edge 500 for over 10 years. It has buttons and for the few simple things it does, buttons are fine. I got a Edge 530 last year. For the many useful features you might want to do with it, buttons are a pain in the butt. Get a touch screen model. My son has a Edge 1030 plus and says the touch screen is much better than his Edge 820 ever was. And it's much faster doing anything too as I believe it has a much better processor.

As for wheel sensor. They are more accurate. They might save you the angst of having bad speed data that one and only time that your gps messed up for that most important ride of your life. But they aren't necessary. But I'll always have one, and cadence too.

But wheel sensors don't give you any greater accuracy if you don't set them up properly with correctly sized wheel circumference. Most units have a auto-calibrate for them. Though if you are going to use that, then you don't need a wheel sensor. It'll still mess up one day with auto-calibrate left on. Mine did.
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Old 04-08-21, 08:21 AM
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I’ve had a 705, 500, 520 and I currently use a 130 and an Explore. All have had bugs and quirks. I like the 130 the most.
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Old 04-08-21, 08:22 AM
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I'm using a 530 - I really don't miss the features on the 830 or 1030+. That said, the UI is a bit clunky when you do have to do something using the buttons. If you have Di2 with dfly, on any of them it is easy to program the buttons on top of the hoods to do various things such as scrolling through screens, changing light settings if you have smart lights, etc.

I don't use a separate speed sensor - the end of ride stats are fine on speed. I do have a Garmin Varia taillight and headlight. The radar integration is great on the 530; the front headlight is also good and easy to control from the head unit if you want to. The only downside to the headlight is battery life when you are using it as a headlight - I get about an 1.5 hours when it's dark. In day mode (I set it to blink), it will do a long ride (say 7-8 hours all in).

The navigation is excellent. One nice thing with the 530 and above is that if you have your phone paired and in your pocket, you can get audio turn by turn directions. On unfamiliar routes, I ride with one headphone in. I didn't realize how much I would appreciate this.

If I were to go touch, I would probably jump to the 1030 to get the larger screen as well. I'm not sure how much of an advantage the 830 is over the 530 other than the ability to search POIs on the head unit.
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Old 04-08-21, 08:24 AM
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Originally Posted by CoogansBluff View Post
So, the sensor data is showing on the Garmin? It's not a separate smaller device, right? So it's possible that my current sensor would work w/ the Garmin. But I don't think it will. It's a Cateye Velo Wireless. So I might want to get the bundle.
Yes, the sensor data is what shows on the Garmin screen; it overrides the GPS speed data. It is a separate device that wraps around your hub. It looks like the sensor that you have will not work with a Garmin, because it's not ANT+ or Bluetooth.
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Old 04-08-21, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by CoogansBluff View Post
So, the sensor data is showing on the Garmin? It's not a separate smaller device, right? So it's possible that my current sensor would work w/ the Garmin. But I don't think it will. It's a Cateye Velo Wireless. So I might want to get the bundle.
It's likely that your current speed sensor is the kind that measures rotations of a separate magnet attached to the spokes and sends the number of wheel rotations to the head unit. That's not compatible with a sensor designed to work with a Garmin or Wahoo.

These newer designs attach to the wheel hub and measure wheel rotations using the earths magnetic field. They automatically determine wheel size and send data to the head unit. Yes - any GPS head unit can show you speed, determined by your position and the time. If you ride a lot on a mt. bike in wooded area's or on roads that are super twisty and covered in dense foliage overhead (Pacific Northwest ?), the GPS signal can get lost. Then your speed data gets wonky and distance accuracy suffers. Is why a lot of mt. bikers add a $40 speed sensor. The GPS will always default to the data from the speed sensor if it senses one is active.

If you have no need for any "performance" metrics such as power, training workouts laps, etc.... consider the Edge Explore. It's a touch screen model, which is useful for panning and zooming on the map, the $249 model is designed for touring cyclists. Is nearly the size of a 1030, runs 12 hrs., works well with navigation, can work with the RideWith GPS iQ app - that's an add-on app to the device that can grab your pre-configured routes (created on RWGPS) and downloads to the device via BlueTooth and the Garmin Connect Mobile app on a smartphone..
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Old 04-08-21, 08:39 AM
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Good thread, folks. Thanks. Further thoughts welcome.
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Old 04-08-21, 09:21 AM
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I have an 830 and much prefer the touch-screen interface over buttons. Previous versions of the touch-screen had some issues I've read but I haven't had any with the 830.
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Old 04-08-21, 09:40 AM
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If you buy a Garmin, go for one with a touchscreen. Setting up your data fields with the pushbuttons is very time-consuming and frustrating.

Or better yet, go for a Wahoo - which has a vastly superior user interface and less glitchy software.

Other people's opinions will likely vary, and I don't dispute their experiences.
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Old 04-08-21, 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
Or better yet, go for a Wahoo - which has a vastly superior user interface and less glitchy software.
I went from a Bolt to a 530 last summer. I think that you could argue certain points in favor of one or the other (like mapping = Garmin over the Bolt, all day long, page layout customization = Bolt, etc). In aggregate, I think that they're on par, though one may be slightly superior based upon needs or preferences. "Vastly superior," is a stretch in either direction.

I have yet to experience the oft cited Garmin glitches.
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Old 04-08-21, 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
I went from a Bolt to a 530 last summer. I think that you could argue certain points in favor of one or the other (like mapping = Garmin over the Bolt, all day long, page layout customization = Bolt, etc). In aggregate, I think that they're on par, though one may be slightly superior based upon needs or preferences. "Vastly superior," is a stretch in either direction.

I have yet to experience the oft cited Garmin glitches.
I found the process of setting up the 530's data pages to be mind-bogglingly awful, though you've got me wondering if the problem was partly mine. And I agree about the mapping and some of the other feature comparisons.
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Old 04-08-21, 10:36 AM
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I've had the same Garmin Edge 520 for at least 5 years now. It works fine, I've never had any problems with glitches, or problems with the hub mounted speed sensor auto-calibrating when switching between wheels or bikes.

The interface is a bit clunky and adding in turn-by-turn routes and maps is cumbersome. I don't really use these features and mostly just have it display the usual speed, cadence, power, time, HR, etc.
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Old 04-08-21, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
I found the process of setting up the 530's data pages to be mind-bogglingly awful, though you've got me wondering if the problem was partly mine. And I agree about the mapping and some of the other feature comparisons.
Yeah, setting up the fields isn't terribly intuitive, but once you figure out swapping a field position vs changing to a different data field, it's not... well, it's less bad. My second time around was much easier than the first (I killed my first 530 somehow, and it was swapped under warranty).

Originally Posted by msu2001la View Post
The interface is a bit clunky and adding in turn-by-turn routes and maps is cumbersome.
The 530 is very easy, provided you're doing this legwork in front of a computer. Make your route in Strava, Connect or Ride w/GPS and that's that (assuming your accounts are linked). One thing that I really like about the TbT is that it'll give you audible cues, including distance to turn and street names, if you've got BT headphones connected to your phone (I've also found that disconnecting your headphones once you're underway will result in these audible cues being announced over your phone's speaker, or at least it does in my case).
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Old 04-08-21, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
If you buy a Garmin, go for one with a touchscreen. Setting up your data fields with the pushbuttons is very time-consuming and frustrating.

.
Definitely a YMMV statement as I had no issues getting my Garmin(s) set up and have owned a Bolt, so am aware of the differences. As well, the Wahoo can be a bit easier to get set up *initially*, but practically speaking once you get the device set up, that initial setup experience is all water under the bridge as you rarely go back to it. Thus the actual daily user interface is what matters and in this regard Garmins tend to be packed with more features than Wahoo's, and with really piss poor user instructions, getting maximum use from a Garmin can be frustrating till you learn the in's and outs.
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Old 04-08-21, 01:57 PM
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Maps are almost useless without a touch screen. It's very much a pain to zoom and scroll with buttons. That takes half a second with a touch screen and you can easily do it while you ride.
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Old 04-08-21, 01:58 PM
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I am a Garmin dealer. I am also a Wahoo dealer.

I have had a 310, 705, 500, 510, 520, 530, 810, 130 and a pile of the watches.

On the Wahoo side I am currently using a bolt.

The old touch screens on Garmin aren't much to write home about. The tactile buttons are my preferred way to use a device...

The 530 is a really good unit. It is almost identical to my older 810 both in size and capability...actually just checked and it's larger than my 810 but has about the same screen size.

Let me summarize a few thoughts - I honestly feel like the 500 was the best cycling computer that was ever made. I think the 130 is a good attempt at recapturing it but the battery life is horrible. The 500 is akin to the old Nokia phone that everyone pines about how indestructible it was. It was honestly some of the more durable tech Garmin has ever made for cycling.

The 530 is a great unit. The setup of screens and the navigation is a complete mess. It's so bad its irritating. I have plenty of room on my 530 to do everything you mention. If maps are your favorite thing then get the largest computer you can.... but if you have a phone...there's no point.

Wahoo has completely pwned Garmin when it comes to UI. It's so simple to set up, navigate, upload and use that it's almost scary. If you subscribe to Strava (it could do it for other services but I don't use them) and map a course your wahoo unit will just have it. Far beats the cumbersome loading and unloading on the Garmin.

Garmin is substantially better when it comes to the actual GPS part of the equation (and sensors IMHO). Wahoo - I get fluctuating speeds on the display that are totally bunk. Then I will pop out from the trees and it will instantly jump to where I figured it truly was and I hadn't even changed speeds. If garmin ever figures out that they need to approach UI design from the standpoint of how users actually use the system and eliminating needless steps then they will crush Wahoo. They are way larger and have better tech across multiple industries.

So out of what you listed, if you are dead set on buying Garmin, then I would recommend the 530.

I honestly have to say I find I am actually happy when I ride my bike that has the Wahoo on it though. It just works.
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