I recently managed to pick up a Garmin Edge 500 for under £100 with all the equipment included. A cadence/speed sensor, mounts, and a heart rate band, which for the price is a brilliant deal. I was scouring the internet for a great deal and managed to pick this up after a heated bidding war. I wanted one as I became aware that Strava no longer allows you to link up external sensors without jumping through hoops. Now the Edge 500 does not have Bluetooth capability, which means it cannot connect to your phone to upload your workouts. However, after installing the software onto my laptop as soon as I connect the device it will sync with all linked services. I have used it on two workouts, and it has been flawless with only a few minutes of missing data from the heart rate monitor.
What I like
The ease of use, it automatically connects to all the sensors as soon as you turn it on. No need to fuss around each sensor to get it to work and is also compatible with any ANT+ enabled device. Which I believe means I can get a dongle for the iPhone that will allow me to connect the two to transfer data across. However, I will need to do some research on this.
The heart rate monitor is so easy to use, just strap yourself in and go. It is far more reliable and accurate than any watch since it directly on your heart and is likely to move about. I use a Fitbit to monitor my HR, but this provides a much better reading when I am out on the bike and is far more consistent. This combined with a cadence sensor allows you to work out how hard you were working throughout the ride.
The Cadence/Speed sensor is an amazing piece of kit, most sensors on the market do one or the other, but this one does both as the receiver sits near the pedals and can keep track of both at once. I never got round to testing the cadence function since the part of the sensor for the crank arm (pedal arm) was missing. I have a third-party cadence sensor and was able to pair it with the Edge 500.
Battery life, now the unit I have is at least a few years old, but the battery life is sufficient for the length of rides I go on. The LED screen minimises the amount of battery drain, and I have yet to run into any issues with a dead battery while I am out. I have ordered a broken Edge 500 so that I can replace the battery with a newer one.
What I Dislike
The lack of Bluetooth is annoying especially if you want to quickly upload your activities to a smartphone and be able to get workout details from that. The more premium models do have Bluetooth, and I would think that if I were to upgrade to them, I would only need to get the head unit rather than the rest of the gear. If you have easy access to a PC, then using the Garmin software to sync the data is fast and easy to use.
Another function that the device has is a virtual assistant, you can upload a workout route and the device will then display cues to advise when you need to make turnings etc. This seems like a feature they just added with truly little thought, especially since you do not want to be staring at the screen while on the road. To get round this, I use my phone and the Komoot app which provides speech navigation and I can leave the phone safely in a bag. Again, the premium models seem to have a better implementation of this feature.
A function that is missing if you do not buy the most up to date models is Strava’s live tracking facility. This allows your emergency contacts of your choosing to track where you are and if you stay still for an extended length of time, they can check in to see if you are unhurt. Again, if you have a modern smartphone, they tend to already have a similar function which is free. It would be nice to have the ability to leave the phone at home and have this as the only electrical device.
There seemed to be quite a lot of short comings of this device listed above, but I will be using it on all my rides. There are areas where my smartphone can do the work, which is brilliant, and leave the workout tracking to the device which saves battery on both devices. If I invested in the more expensive models they would meet these needs but at the expense of a shorter battery life and since they wouldn’t need to be connected to a PC to upload workouts I would have to consciously make the decision to charge them. I will have to give the device 4/5 stars, it does what It needs to but just does not surpass any expectations. If you need a device to just track bike workouts and do not need any route planning or special features this is the device for you, otherwise go for one of the more premium models.