Over the past few months we have tested the Garmin 530 Edge, the 'little one' of the cycle computer brand. Here you can find the test:
We will skirt around it a little: the Garmin system is a bit of a mess. Having the main settings changeable only from the device, we pressed buttons so many times that it felt like we were back in the arcade.
The seven buttons we find on the Garmin 530 Edge have different functions depending on the schemata we are in, and honestly, it was a frustrating experience at first.
Coming from the more direct experience of other brands, we spent 20 minutes figuring out how to start tracking an exit before we noticed the button in the bottom right corner. Dumb us? Perhaps, however, we can say that it is not a super intuitive system.
Past this initial learning phase, we get to the menus. Garmin’s menu is divided into three main categories: the device info, the menu, and the screen for when you start a ride. The latter is fully customizable and has the primary data that cyclists are interested in.
Very useful for bikepackers are the sunset fields, temperature, and other information regarding weather, including wind strength and direction.
An unexceptional choice is to allow zooming of the map, not directly on the…map screen.
When you are on this screen, you have to press a button on the right of the device for a long time and select the zoom mode, which is activated by two other buttons. To exit this mode and be able to switch to other screens, you have to press a fourth button. Not the easiest thing when you are directly on the charged bike.
The map of the Garmin 530 Edge
The color screen brings us a detailed and, above all, understandable road map. It is easy to distinguish a dirt road from a mountain path and, near population centers, from one street to another.
Navigation-wise, there is nothing to complain about when it’s time to make a turn. An additional window pops up that zooms in on the turn and creates an automatic countdown based on our speed so that we don’t miss the turn.
In terms of sensors, the Garmin 530 Edge is Bluetooth and Ant+ enabled, so it is virtually compatible with all sensors on the market. At the level of connectivity stability, the Garmin performed excellently, letting even connected sensors from other brands run smoothly. A handy feature is on-screen alerts on the sensor battery level, which become intrusive when the sensor reaches 20 percent.
The Garmin has a Wifi module that allows it to connect to your home network, but beware: it only finds networks set to 2.4 GHz. If you have a modern router, your wifi network is set to 5 GHz. The Garmin will use your phone’s network if it doesn’t find the Wifi network.
The Garmin 530 has several features dedicated to safety. For example, when you come to a particularly tight downhill turn, the Garmin will send one of its classic beeps and zoom the map.
If the Garmin senses an abrupt (but very short) change in speed, it will send a message to the emergency contact with the location thanks to the crash detection function.
More psychologically helpful than anything else, an “alert” function will emit a series of beeps if the bike (with the Garmin mounted on it, of course) is moved. More useful is the alert function from the Connect app, which will have you sprinting out of the café to check on the bike.
At the alert level, you can set a reminder for food and water based on elapsed time or calories, which is very useful, especially for those who forget the second part.
One of the most celebrated functions of Garmin devices is the auto or re-routing feature, which allows you to find your way back if you go off-route. The directions are very clever because they vary according to the type of ride you set at the beginning of the ride registration. However, it is not omniscient.
Since it is an automatic function, it will try to get you back to the nearest waypoint in the fastest way, which, as we know, is only sometimes the preferred way.
This is where the Garmin 530 Edge excels.
The battery lasts a long time. The battery goes from 100 to 70 percent in a day, even when interacting with the various menus and attached sensors. The color screen has high contrast and repels daylight reflections well, making it readable even in full sunlight.
As we wrote at the beginning, there are a few too many buttons, but they are necessitated by the complexity of the Garmin’s menus and submenus.
The shell that protects the cyclo-computer is made of hardened plastic that feels very durable. In addition, the Garmin Edge 530 is waterproof, with a certification to IPX7. The option to add an additional battery to the cyclo-computer is very interesting, which allows the Garmin to extend the duration of use.
When the main battery loses effectiveness, it will be complicated to replace it yourself, the way the 530 is assembled, and you will have to go to a contracted center that will most likely ship it to a lab.
The worst flaw in the Garmin software, for bike trips, is not being able to change routes while they are being recorded unless they are already saved.
This, in practice, leads to either having to close the recording and load the updated track or navigating by sight and constantly hearing the beeps warning of being off course.
This may not seem like a big flaw for those who use it to record the week’s rides, but if you are abroad and encounter a blocked road, this “feature” can become really frustrating.
Lots of apps
In addition to the Garmin Basecamp software, you can download numerous apps from the IQ Store (you need a separate app on your phone to do this [why??]), including Komoot and Strava.
From a submenu in a submenu, you can download the routes when you are on wifi or linked to the phone’s connection a copy will be saved in the routes in the Garmin’s memory, so you only need to do it once.
Be careful because you must repeat the operation if you update the track on Komoot or Strava.
The Garmin 530 Edge is a very good cyclo-computer on the hardware side, crippled by its software’s complexity. On the plus side, for bike rides and even on everyday rides, most of its “hidden” functions in the sub-menus will not be used by bikepackers apart from in the initial setup. Price Its list price is around €300, but given its popularity, it is often on offer. If you can, buy it from your local bike store; otherwise, you can check the price below.