When I reviewed the Garmin Edge 800 a couple of years ago I found it to be an impressive device. It was the first cycling computer to sport a colour touchscreen, and offered full satellite navigation functionality as well as all the performance data logging you’d expect. But despite its impressive feature list, I never bonded with the Edge 800, and continued to use the Polar CS500 as my regular cycling computer.
As its name suggests, the Garmin Edge 810 is an update of the Edge 800 rather than a completely new model. In fact, when you place the two units next to each other they’re essentially identical. But despite the incremental nature of the Edge 810 it has completely won me over, and now sits proud on the stem of all my bikes when I head out. So what has Garmin done to make the Edge 810 such a compelling proposition? Not a huge amount really, but the changes it has made are very good ones.
What’s in the box?
As is usual with a Garmin flagship product, the box is stuffed full of kit. As well as the Edge 810 itself you’ll find two bike mounts, something that I wish all cycle computer manufacturers would provide. You also get a selection of different size rubber O-rings to ensure that you can fit the mount to any bike regardless of the size of stem or bars.
Garmin also send me a third bike mount, this time one that sits the Edge 810 forward, giving you a better view of the screen no matter where you’re positioned on the bars. I can understand why some will like having their computer forward of their bars, but personally I prefer the more integrated look of having it strapped to the stem.
You also get an ANT+ heart rate sensor and chest strap, which is easily adjustable and comfortable to wear. Continuing the ANT+ theme is a speed and cadence sensor – I’m a big fan of Garmin’s speed and cadence sensor, since it’s all one unit and saves you having to mount anything on your forks.
Unlike the vast majority of fitness tech devices, the Edge 810 actually comes with a mains adapter in the box. Most manufacturers these days expect you to just charge via a USB port on your computer, or to use one of the many USB adapters you probably already have, so it’s good to see that Garmin still covers all the bases.
There’s also a USB to mini-USB cable in the box, which highlights the fact that the Edge 810 is an update of its predecessor and uses exactly the same casing, buttons and ports. If this was a newly designed unit it would undoubtedly be using a micro-USB port rather than the older mini-USB standard.
Garmin’s handlebar/stem mount is one of the best I’ve seen. It’s a really simple design that’s easily adjustable and doesn’t require the use of cable ties. The mounting plate sits on a rubber mat that keeps it secure and also ensures that your bars and stem don’t get scratched. The mount is secured with two rubber O-rings that wrap around the bars or stem, and once they’re in place, everything is extremely secure.
Be careful to orient the mount correctly the mount correctly or you’ll find the Edge 810 sitting sideways, but at least you won’t need to be snipping cable ties if you get it wrong.
As mentioned above, the speed and cadence sensor is just as clever, if not more so. While many bike computer systems require a speed sensor to be mounted on the front forks and a cadence sensor to be strapped to your chain stay, the Garmin system rolls it all into one.
The sensor itself is mounted to your chain stay – there’s a rubber pad under the sensor, although if your tubes aren’t uniform in shape (as on my Litespeed) it won’t sit completely comfortably. That’s not a problem though, since the unit is secured with a couple of cable ties that wrap around the stay. As always when using cable ties on your frame, I’d strongly suggest you wrap the area in some tape to avoid the ties causing any damage.
Before you strap the sensor down, you’ll need to attach the cadence magnet to your crank. This is also a well designed solution – the magnet has a sticky pad to attach it to the crank arm, then you can wrap a cable tie around it to keep it in place long term. Again, wrap some tape around your crank before tightening up the cable tie, especially if it’s carbon.
The speed sensor part of the equation is a movable arm that you can position as close to the spinning spokes as possible. Then you just have to attach the magnet to one of the spokes so that it passes by the sensor on each rotation. Unfortunately, in the case of my bike, this was easier said than done.
I run Fulcrum Racing Zero wheels on my bike, which are laced with flat, aero spokes, and while the magnet that Garmin supplies has an option for a standard spoke and another for a slightly wider one, it’s nowhere near wide enough to accommodate the spokes on my wheels.
The aero spokes on my Fulcrum Racing Zero wheels proved too big for the supplied magnet
This sent me on a quest to find a magnet that would fit. The obvious solution was to nab the Polar magnet that I already had on the front wheel, so I whipped it off and attempted to attach it to a rear spoke. Unfortunately I managed to drop the nut on the floor, and since the floor happened to be a gravel driveway, recovering it was nigh on impossible. One option down!
After much digging around in boxes of cycling bits I eventually found an old CatEye magnet that seemed to do the job. Of course not having the speed sensor active isn’t the end of the world, since the GPS will measure speed and distance, but if it’s there, it may as well be recording.
As with any fitness computer you need to enter some basic data in order for it to do its job. The Edge 810 needs to know your height, weight, age and gender, which is all par for the course. On top of that though, you also need to log the bike or bikes that you’ll be riding.
You can specify up to ten different bikes, with different settings for each one. This means that you can have one setting for the road bike you use for training, another for your road bike you use for racing, another for your mountain bike etc.
Each bike can have its own set of sensors and accessories associated with it, so your road training bike could have a speed/cadence sensor, along with a heart rate monitor, while your mountain bike might only be paired with your heart rate sensor and relying on the GPS for speed and distance.
You can also pair your mobile phone with the Edge 810, which enables one of the best features of this new device, but I’ll expand on that a little later.
Each one of your bike profiles can be configured with up to five info screens. Each info screen can display up to 10 data fields, and each and every one of those screens can be customised. So, if you want screen one to display ride time, speed, distance, heart rate and cadence, you can configure it to show exactly that.
The fact that Garmin gives you complete control over the data displayed is a huge bonus, since different users want to have different data visible at a glance. And since the number of data fields you employ also determines how large each window is, you can configure the info screens so they’re easy for you to read at a glance.
Screen and interface
The one major disappointment with the Edge 810 is the screen. Essentially it uses exactly the same screen as the Edge 800 and therefore suffers from the same shortcomings. Of course any criticisms of the screen and interface should be offset by the fact that most cycle computers offer neither a colour screen nor a touch interface.
My main issue with the screen on the Edge 800 was ease of visibility, and it’s no different with the Edge 810. In bright sunlight it can be difficult to read what’s on the screen, especially when you’re trying to steal a glance while travelling at 60kph+.
The Edge 810 is simply not as easy to read as the Polar CS500, or as easy to navigate while on the move. However, the Edge 810 is packed with so much more functionality than the CS500 that the few advantages the Polar does have seem to fade into insignificance. I wonder what Polar has in store for the CS500’s replacement!
Talking of navigation and interface, the touchscreen does its job, but doesn’t exhibit any of the slick response that you’ll be used to when using your smartphone or tablet. Yes you can swipe between info screens, which is easier than hunting out buttons around the casing, but it may take you a couple of tries before the Edge 810 responds.
The same goes with making selections within the menus. You have to give the Edge 810 a pretty hard poke with your finger in order for your selections to be recognised. That said, the touchscreen interface does make entering data a breeze compared to other systems.
One final criticism that I have of the screen is that it scratches incredibly easily. I’m generally pretty careful with my gadgets, but every once in a while we all drop something, especially when it’s specifically an outdoor device. The Edge 810 slipped out of my hand while I was in the process of attaching it to the mount. It landed on my gravel driveway from handlebar height, and now has a rather nasty scratch on the screen.
I’ll accept that the main reason the screen on my Edge 810 is scratched is my clumsiness, but in today’s world of Gorilla glass and smartphones that can survive tortuous lives with the screens remaining intact, I expect an outdoor gadget to be a little more robust.
There are only three hard buttons on the unit. The power button is located at the top left edge of the casing, while below the screen you’ll find the start/stop and lap buttons.
Without a doubt, the standout new feature on the Edge 810 is its ability to connect with your smartphone. Using the new Garmin Connect app, which is available on both iOS and Android platforms, you can turn the Edge 810 into a fully connected device via your phone. This connectivity brings a whole host of new functionality to the party.
After you’ve downloaded the Garmin Connect app, you need to pair your phone with the Edge 810. Once paired, the Edge 810 will recognise your phone whenever you switch it on, sending a request to your handset to allow connectivity.
Once your phone is connected, the Edge 810 is essentially an online device, and can send and receive all kinds of useful data. The most impressive feature is Garmin’s LiveTrack, which allows you to share your ride in real-time with any number of friends, teammates or random individuals who might follow you on Twitter or Facebook.
You setup your LiveTrack profile on your phone – you can create a list of email addresses that will receive notification of your ride, including a link to the LiveTrack page. You can also choose to share your session with your Twitter followers and Facebook friends.
Once you start riding, your progress will be uploaded to your Garmin LiveTrack page, allowing anyone watching to see exactly where you are, how fast you’re travelling, whether you’ve stopped off at the pub for a drink etc. It’s quite spooky at first, knowing that people are aware of exactly where you are throughout your ride, but it’s also very motivational, especially when you reach that fork in the road that either heads home, or adds another 15km to your ride!
I’ve been using LiveTrack for a few weeks now via my iPhone 4S and it has worked flawlessly. Of course most of my friends are bored of watching me ride around the roads of Surrey and Berkshire by now, but if I had a coach, or even just a regular training partner, them being able to watch and analyse my performance in real-time is pretty compelling.
Having your phone connected to the Edge 810 brings other advantages too. You don’t have to worry about manually uploading your data for a start – as soon as you’ve finished your ride, it will automatically uploaded to your Garmin Connect account via your smartphone, so that it’s waiting for you when you next logon.
You can send things the other way too. You can plan a route on your computer then when you next turn on your Edge 810 it will connect via your phone and download it.
And of course you can share routes and workouts with friends. If you’ve just finished a really great new ride, you can instantly share it with your friends so that they can try it too.
Of course much of this supplemental connected feature set was always doable via the Garmin Connect website, but you needed to have your Edge hooked up to your computer. Using your smartphone to keep the Edge 810 constantly connected means you never need to think about sharing, downloading or uploading, it just happens, seamlessly.
The Edge 810 has another trick up its sleeve courtesy of its smartphone connectivity – it can also keep an eye on the weather for you.
Unfortunately it’s not particularly easy to find the weather info on the Edge 810, since you have to press the Power button to reveal the weather icon. Tap that icon and you’ll see a breakdown of the current temperature, wind speed and wind direction.
Tapping the arrow at the bottom of the weather screen will show you the weather forecast for the next three hours – essentially replicating the information displayed on the Garmin Connect app in the screen shot.
The Edge 810 will, allegedly, display weather warnings – essentially telling you about forecast major weather issues that are on the way during your ride. I can’t say I’ve ever seen one of these warnings, but then I haven’t found myself battling gale force winds on any of my rides lately.
Finally, the smartphone connection also means that you can use the bundled mains charger to keep the Edge 810 juiced up, since there’s no reason to hook it up to your computer. So if you store your bikes in your garage or a shed with power, you can leave your Edge 810 there charging, rather than carting it in and out of the house.
Like the Edge 800 before it, the Edge 810 offers real-time, turn-by-turn satellite navigation, which will be a real bonus for any touring types out there. However, this feature hasn’t improved since the Edge 800, which means that there’s still no seven-digit postcode support.
Full postcode support isn’t really an issue in the US, where zip codes don’t really mean that much. But in the UK, navigating to a full seven-digit postcode will get you to within a couple of metres of your desired destination, making it a pretty big deal.
It’s also worth noting that this Performance bundle Edge 800 only ships with Garmin’s basic maps, which are, as the name suggests, pretty basic. If you really want a cycle computer that can deliver when it comes to navigation you’re going to have to stump up for one of Garmin’s map packs, or buy the Performance and Navigation bundle in the first place.
With a map pack installed the Edge 810 makes a pretty good sat-nav, telling you exactly where to turn in good time while you’re riding. Of course you don’t get spoken directions like you do on an in-car sat-nav, so you’ll need to keep glancing down at the Edge 810 or risk missing your next turn.
On the whole, I like the idea of having navigation built into a cycle computer, but given the Edge 810’s smartphone connectivity it seems a bit archaic to expect you to buy a map pack, when those maps could be pulled dynamically via your phone. Perhaps that’s what Garmin has install for the next device.
In the saddle
There are a few other highlights that deserve a bit of attention. The Virtual Partner from the Edge 800 is still there, allowing you to set an average speed and race against it. Basically you set the average speed you’d like to achieve for your ride, and the Virtual Partner will give you a graphic representation of how far ahead, or behind you are from maintaining that average across the distance of your ride.
The problem with the Virtual Partner is that it’s a tad simplistic and just works on an average speed, without taking terrain into account. So, if you tap in an average speed of 30kph and you start your ride climbing a long, steep hill, you’re going to fall behind pretty quickly.
With the Edge 810, however, Garmin has added the Virtual Racer to the menu. This allows you to download a previous ride and set it as a course – you can then, essentially race against your already recorded time over that course. In this case you’ll be measured against how fast you’re going compared to how fast you were on the specific parts of that course, giving you a far better representation of how you’re doing today compared to yesterday, last week or whenever you rode that route before.
Another great feature, and one that I wish other cycle computer manufacturers would adopt, is lap by position. Whereas most cycle computers will offer an auto-lap function, they usually only trigger the laps based on time or distance. With lap by position, though, when you hit the lap button the Edge 810 logs the coordinates, and will trigger a new lap every time you pass that point again.
Lap by position is particularly useful if you regularly ride a route where you repeat a specific circuit. I often do just that when I’m mountain biking – on my local trails there are a couple of fire road rings that make for a great workout, and being able to analyse my lap times for each circuit post ride is very useful.
Okay, so you could manually trigger a new lap using any cycle computer, but having it done automatically saves the effort of remembering and the frustration of forgetting.
What does it cost?
Like all Garmin cycle computers the Edge 810 is available in a number of bundles, with prices that vary depending on how much you get in the box.
The basic Edge 810 bundle will set you back £379.99 and includes just the unit itself. This is a good option for anyone who already has an ANT+ heart rate sensor and maybe even a speed/cadence sensor too.
The Performance bundle that I’ve been testing costs £429 and comes with all the kit I’ve talked about above – the heart rate monitor, speed/cadence sensor etc. Finally, the Performance and Navigation bundle costs £479 and includes full European City Navigator maps, turning the Edge 810 into a great companion for touring, or anyone who’s planning to discover new rides.
Of course a quick look around the web revealed that all the bundles can be had for a bit less than the MSRP, so you could pickup the Performance bundle tested here for around £380 without too much searching. Likewise the Basic bundle and the Navigation bundle can be found for around £319 and £429 respectively.
Even though the Edge 810 is more of an update to the Edge 800 than a completely new model, Garmin has moved the game on significantly with this device.
The smartphone connectivity is simply brilliant, and the LiveTrack feature is pure genius. Being able to share your rides in real-time with friends, teammates, trainers or just curious individuals is both useful and fun.
It’s also great to know that your rides are instantly uploaded to Garmin Connect as soon as you’re done, without having to remember to plug the Edge 810 into a computer and do so manually.
The rest of the feature set is exhaustive, and you’d be hard pushed to find something that the Edge 810 doesn’t do. It’s also compatible with power meters, including the new Garmin Vector pedal system.
I love the way you can configure lots of different bikes, with different profiles and completely customise the info screens for all of them. And the ability to race against your previous rides is a great motivator.
It’s a shame that Garmin didn’t upgrade the screen over the Edge 800, though. The continued lack of seven-digit postcode support for navigation is also disappointing, but the fact that the Edge 810 offers turn-by-turn navigation at all is still a major plus point.
Despite those minor disappointments, the Edge 810 is still the most advanced and feature packed cycle computer available right now. It’s in no way cheap, but if you’re serious about cycling you’ll love what the Edge 810 brings to your rides.
- Smartphone integration sets the Edge 810 apart
- LiveTrack is simply brilliant
- Automatic data upload after rides
- Fully customisable info screens
- Colour touchscreen
- Turn-by-turn navigation
- Lap by position
- Simple but effective handlebar/stem mount
- Great speed/cadence sensor design
- Two handlebar/stem mounts supplied
- Up to 10 bikes can be configured
- Easily share rides with friends
- Garmin Connect app is excellent
- Garmin Connect website is great
- Extremely fast satellite lock
- Screen could be higher resolution
- Hard to read in bright sunlight
- Screen scratches easily
- No seven-digit postcode support
- Speed sensor magnet won’t fit aero spokes
MSRP: £429 (Performance Bundle)