Garmin Edge 530, Performance GPS Cycling/Bike Computer with Mapping, Dynamic Performance Monitoring and Popularity Routing
Last fall I decided to ease back into road bicycling by riding the Foxy Fall Century in Davis. My first century ride in almost 40 years. I wanted to have a general idea of where I was on the course and that meant that I needed a computer.
The Garmin Edge 530 did a great job giving me the details I wanted and has the capability to give me turn by turn directions and so much more. The Garmin 530 sits on my bars now for every ride – both road and MTB trips, short and long!
NOTE: Before I get too deep into this I have a warning, this little computer does so many different things and has so many different options that trying to show them all would be impossible. For that reason, I’ll touch on a small sampling of what interested me the most, and only on the base unit. There is also a Mountain Bike Bundle and a Sensor Bundle you can opt for.
I know there’s Garmin Power Users out there that have all the tips and tricks – but for now, we’re looking at the basics.
- Performance GPS cycling computer with mapping and touchscreen. Compatible with Vector (power meter). Power meter compatible (displays power data from compatible third-party ANT+-enabled power meters)
- Dynamic performance monitoring provides insights on your VO2 max, recovery, training balance, heat and altitude acclimation, nutrition, hydration and more when paired with compatible sensors
- Cycling safety features include new bike alarm, group messaging and tracking, assistance and compatibility with Variant rearview radar and lights so you can see and be seen (when device is paired with your compatible smartphone)
- Includes routable Garmin Cycle Map with popularity routing — which helps you ride like a local — plus off-course recalculation and back to start; mountain biking model has integrated Trail forks data, including trail difficulty ratings
- Customize with free apps, widgets and data fields from the Connect IQ Store
- MTB dynamics track jump count, jump distance and hang time as well as Grit, a measure of the ride’s difficulty, and Flow, which tracks the smoothness of your descent so you have a score to beat next time
- Battery life: up to 20 hours with GPS; works with Garmin Charge power pack for up to 40 hours of additional battery life
Setup was pretty simple out of the box. I hooked it up to a charger, then started with the on screen prompts choosing language and so on. There are a couple of pre set ride profiles (Road, Mountain and one for a spin cycle) to start from but just about everything can be configured to what you like.
I changed the screens for both road and mountain to better show me what I wanted to see. I changed the screen brightness to auto adjust to save on battery and have found that I can get quite a few rides in before I need to throw it on the charger.
Garmin Connect: Garmin has a social network of sorts that your device connects to. In the dashboard here you can name your Garmin, check out your data and connect to others if you like. Since your Garmin is one large data gathering device, Garmin Connect is a great place to slice and dice that up most any way. You can set goals, you can track results over time, and earn badges (gamification is everywhere, right).
Garmin Connect IQ: From what I can tell, this is the app store for all things Garmin. You can add apps, widgets and connect your other peripherals like watches. The only thing I added so far was I connected my Garmin to Strava. Connecting to Trail Forks is next for me.
WHAT DID WE LIKE?
I liked that it was easy to set up and once set up I could adjust most anything. As an example, on the ride screen I want to know the common things like the distance travelled, the feet climbed but I also wanted to know how much battery I have left and what time it is currently. Adding those two small items to the bottom of my screen was pretty easy.
With the Garmin connected to Strava and my wife set as an emergency contact, any time I start a ride she receives a “Beacon” text letting her know and allowing her to track me. Of course, I was able to easily adjust the outgoing message she was getting too!
I also love that with my phone connected, any time I get a text, it shows up on my Garmin screen as a popup. There’s an option to reply with a few standard replies but I don’t need that. Seeing a text from a riding buddy like, “Waiting for you at the top” is generally enough.
Mounts: There’s a great handlebar mount that is perfect for a road bike in the box. There’s also a couple of rubber mounts if you are looking for something right on the bars. I had to tilt my road mount up just a tad from optimal drag to make way for the led flashing light I have currently but other than that it’s perfect.
GLONASS and GALILEO: You might not realize this but GPS isn’t generic. The GPS your car uses is pinging off of the US Military satellites. This is good enough to get your car from home to the nearest Starbucks. But there’s more out there. There’s actually 4 different systems of GPS out in the world and being able to tap into them just means more accuracy and less chance of missing a signal. The Garmin Edge 530 can use just the U.S. based GPS or you can opt to use GPS + GLONASS or GPS + GALILEO. To change this setting in your Gamin just
- Select Menu > Settings > Activity Profiles.
- Select a profile.
- Select GPS Mode.
- Select an option.
WHAT DID WE NOT LIKE?
One of the 1st things I didn’t like was the general preset mountain bike settings. This came with a few things like “Flow” and “Grit” and “Jumps”.
The riding data screen for mountain biking started out with Flow and Grit taking up huge amounts of screen real estate. Both were easy to replace with battery and current time.
While it’s not obvious, Garmin defines Flow as, “… measures how well you maintain speed during your mountain bike ride. It takes into account factors such as ascent, descent and angle of turns throughout the ride.”
and Grit as “… the difficulty of a mountain bike ride. It takes into account factors such as the speed of ascent and descent and the angle of turns throughout the ride.“
While I can understand the basic concept of each, neither make much sense in chart format for me (at least yet).
I also somehow turned on a sensor that would beep every time I took a jump and if my eyes were fast enough to take them off looking at the trail a pop up would tell me “Great Jump!” – seriously!
First of all, none of my jumps are every great. It’s the very least of my abilities. Secondly, why would you want me to distract me visually and audibly at a most crucial time? That setting lasted a week.
As for the chart, and yes of course the website has a chart, I don’t know who’s Garmin I was channeling but I can honestly say I haven’t jumped 20 feet in my life. I’m flattered Garmin, but really, that’s bad data.
The world of cycling computers is large and getting larger every day. There’s a TON of options out there. Here’s a few of the ones I also considered.
- Garmin Edge 1000 GPS: Check Price
- Garmin Edge 830 GPS: Check Price
- Garmin Edge 820 GPS: Check Price
- Garmin Edge 520 GPS: Check Price
- Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt GPS Bike Computer: Check Price
- Wahoo ELEMNT GPS Bike Computer: Check Price
- LEZYNE Mega C GPS Bike Computer: Check Price
Being a web developer, I see data as a fabulous thing BUT, only if you are going to use it (and it’s accurate). I set up Google Analytics on websites I build for clients and they can track and do some pretty cool things – yet most never even look at the data they are collecting. That’s ok.
While my need in a cycling computer is going to be mostly the basics, I also want one that’s going to stand up to the abuse I tend to put things through – you know… like jumping 20 feet. 😉
The Garmin 530 has a color screen, has an infinite number of modifications that I can make, and is expandable as my needs change. In short I think it’s the perfect cycling computer for most every cyclist out there!