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Garmin Edge 520 and 25 make a good argument to finally retire your 500.

November 2, 2015 1 comment

Garmin 500s For the last few years I have relied heavily on Garmin devices and web sites like Garmin Connect and increasingly Strava and related sites like Veloviewer. This was mostly as I wanted to understand how I was riding but in general also I enjoyed the devices and what they gave to me. When I say Garmin devices I mean Garmin 500s as I had two for years. In 2014 for my birthday I added a Garmin Fenix 2 to the stable but that was pretty much it. The Garmin 500 will be seen as a classic over time and was one of those devices that just got it right. So right that it is still sold today while quite a few of the devices that came after it have come and gone. Hopefully they will keep selling it as it’s pretty much prefect for somebody who is looking to get in on some GPS action for their riding and it has 99% of the core metrics you are looking for, and sites like Strava can fill in a lot of the gaps. Prices are dropping too. I have seen new ones as cheap as $150 USD.

The Fenix 2 has been everything that I wanted it to be as well and it’s basically my back up device that is always with me. If I find myself all of a sudden able to get a ride, run or swim in I can just turn the Fenix 2 on and away I go and it has been great for Triathlons. I haven’t been tempted to upgrade to the Fenix 3 yet as as these devices are pretty pricey so probably will have it for while.

That being said at the end of the summer I found myself with a totally new set of goto devices for my GPS fitness needs. Still have the Fenix 2 but now supplemented by Edge 25 and Edge 520.

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The Garmin 510 didn’t quite add enough and the 800/1000 series are just too big for me. But I was open to upgrading if a device popped up that intrigued me.

Garmin Edge 25

I was actually looking at the Lezyne Super GPS as I was looking for something small but still powerful. I don’t use Garmin connect as much as I do Strava so if Strava connectivity works it fit the bill.

Then I heard that the Garmin 20 and 25 were coming out. The Garmin 20 not so sure about, the Garmin 200 may be a better device in that instance, but the 25 had Ant+ and Bluetooth and most importantly can show texts. I get a lot of texts (mostly from my wife) and when I am on a ride I feel a tiny bit apprehensive if I miss a text. I was using the Fenix 2 but it’s font is super small and I always had to stop just to see if I can ignore the text and ride on. With the Edge 25 seems like the Font would be large enough. And the price was right, with a store discount I bought mine for under $200 CAD. IMG_1028

Almost at once I was pleased with this device. While there isn’t too much to customize all the data is pretty much there and it scrolls through the pages pretty quick if you set it up that way. The only glaring lacking metric is power, which I am hoping they add in a later update but it handily does heart rate and cadence.

One thing that is a bit of a concern with Garmin devices is that all the connectors are getting different and the 25 does have it’s own cable which I have misplaced a few times and been frustrated as my battery was low. But the battery does last pretty long and even at 15% I was able to finish all the 1-2 hours rides I was doing.

Connecting to a phone is super easy (especially considering how difficult the Edge 520 is) and once paired as soon as you turn it on it will connect to your phone. Texts are very clear and will stay up for long enough to get the gist of what the text is saying. If its important you can stop (it has auto pause) and if not..ride on. And when your ride is done it uploads scary fast.

I found I use this a lot for mountain biking and cross when I don’t want a bigger device. Frankly it takes up less space than the mount. I often linger over the Edge 25 when I am choosing which device to use and am surprised that often I grab this one instead of the more “powerful” ones.

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So was pretty pleased with the 25 and probably would have stuck with it and one of the 500s for when I needed power.

Garmin Edge 520

Then my birthday hit and basically I had some cash to spend. And that’s when I heard about the Garmin Edge 520 around the same time.  At first glance I was a bit “meh” but then the Strava feature grabbed my attention. I have grown to really love Strava and have a few Strava segments I have been trying to improve on. So the live Strava feature was a draw. IMG_0941

I ordered one through my local LBS and had to wait a couple and weeks and did have buyer’s remorse a few times until I got it…and then I was fine.

It’s not a perfect device. But it’s also going to improve a lot over time as Garmin goes through its usual firmware woes.

First off it can display a ton of data, more than I ever got comfortable with the 500 (6 was about the max there). I started with 7 data fields but now I have 10 on a single page. I don’t cycle through any as everything is on one page and it’s easy enough to read it all. It picks up GPS or Glosnass super quick and same with ANT+ devices.

I was able to get Strava segments to work right away and it helped me I think improve on two segments that simply I wasn’t super aware of where they actually started and ended and where I could make up time.

Here are a few things it sucks at still. First off Bluetooth is horrible and super hard to set up. Every time you want to use Bluetooth you have to do a combo of setting up the Bluetooth on the device, making sure you go into Connect on your mobile device and even then I don’t fully trust it.  Also have to say that both devices only get texts and call notifications while my Fenix 2 gives me any alert, including emails, which I love as well. A few times I have done rides when I half expected an email from work so I wrapped my Fenix 2 around the handle bars so I get email alerts as well. Would be super nice to get email alerts on either the 25 or the 520.

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Also I am not a fan of the start/stop button being on the bottom. When you have an aero mount there is very little space between your bars and the button. With gloves I have struggled to stop it off after a ride. No firmware update is going to help with that Sad smile The Garmin Edge 25 is in the more traditional upper right hand button position so no problems there.

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So I was sorta pleased but also sorta unhappy after a while. I focused on using it for the massive data fields and the Strava segments but as I stated it can be upgraded so expect it to get better. And later this year or early next year Garmin 520 will support ConnectIQ and this is super cool. ConnectIQ is basically apps you can run on your device. For Fenix 3 it’s mostly super cool watch faces but with ConnectIQ coming to the Edge1000 and 520 hopefully a new wave of Ride specifics apps will come out? May even try to put a couple of these ConnectIQ apps together myself.

Conclusions

So a few conclusions. First off the Edge 25 is an awesome and cheapish device. Shop around and you should be able to get it at a decent price under list. Has most of what you need for most of your rides and general riding overall. In a lot of cases it certainly replaces the 500 and it’s a worthy upgrade.

The Garmin Edge 520 I would still recommend if you are thinking about getting a new device overall. In its current state is pretty good. A couple more firmware upgrades I think will make it awesome. Once they figure out and improve on the Bluetooth and the add ConnectIQ it’s a done deal in my mind. And it has a lot of stuff I haven’t found out about yet.

The biggest test for me is that I still have my two Garmin 500s in my door where I keep all my devices and while my hand lingers over them for a few minutes, so far I have always grabbed the Garmin Edge 520 and often the Edge 25 but can’t remember the last time I used either of the 500s.

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