If you don't own a Garmin Edge 500, you probably know someone that does. Like the sound of riders clipping into their pedals as they set off from the traffic lights, the sound of an auto-resuming Garmin Edge 500 has become one of the sounds of the bunch ride. And over the past few weeks we've been trying out the successor to the Edge 500 – the Edge 510.
The Edge 500 used to be Garmin’s entry level bike GPS, but that’s now been replaced by the Edge 200. The first thing you’ll notice when you pull the Edge 510 out of its packaging is that it’s considerably larger than its predecessor — nearly 2cm longer, slightly wider, slightly thicker, and heavier as well. In fact, the Edge 510 is nearly the size of the Edge 810 and its predecessors. If you’re familiar with the Edge 500 you’ll also notice that the user interface is slightly different.
Gone are the four side-mounted buttons and in their place are two buttons on the front face (the “lap” button and the “start/pause” button) and the “on/off” button on the left-hand side. It actually took me a little while to find the “on/off” button as it’s tucked away and doesn’t stand out (physically or visually) like the buttons on the Edge 500.
The Edge 510 (center) is noticeably larger than the 500 (left) and nearly as large as the 810.
But the biggest change from the Edge 500 you’ll notice after you turn it on is that the Edge 510 has a touch screen with which to navigate the various screens and menus.
I’ve been spoilt by the touch-screen capabilities of the iPhone and iPad because, especially early on, I found the Edge 510’s touch screen hard to use. It didn’t seem to register my button presses and swiping between screens seems hit-and-miss. It’s a delicate balance that would be difficult for Garmin as they need to take gloves, fingers, temperature, and sensitivity into consideration.
And speaking of iDevices, one of the things that makes those gadgets so easy and pleasurable to use is that they just work, out of the box. You don’t need to fiddle around with instruction manuals or learn menu trees — it’s easy enough to leap in and get started. I didn’t have as much joy with the Edge 510’s UI — I found it hard to find the menu item I was looking for at times and combined with a temperamental touch screen and noticeable lag when switching between pages, the user experience was, at times, frustrating.
By connecting the Garmin 510 to your smartphone, you can get weather updates delivered to your handlebars.
The Garmin Edge 510 has a lot of features, as with any Garmin GPS unit, but I’m not going to go through them all here. If you’d like to read a super-comprehensive review, check out DC Rainmaker’s in-depth effort here. (Pro tip: when DC Rainmaker calls his review “in-depth” you know it’s going to be a long read.)
One of the biggest selling points of the Garmin Edge 510 is the social LiveTrack feature, as featured in this slick Garmin ad that did the rounds a couple months back.
The concept is relatively simple: you use your smartphone to upload real-time data from your ride so that friends, family, or Jonathan Vaughters can track your progress. In practical terms this means pairing you smartphone with the Garmin 510 via bluetooth and then using the Garmin Connect smartphone app to share the ride, via email, with those you want to track you.
After clicking the link in the email, your followers will see a screen like this:
As you ride, your route is overlaid on the map as a blue line, and your real-time stats (such as speed, distance covered, elevation gain, and so on) are displayed above the map.
We only tested this feature briefly but it does appear to have some promise. If you’re heading out for a long ride in the wilderness, it would be quite useful for loved ones to be able to track your progress so they know you’re ok. And I could see this feature being used by coaches to monitor a team’s performance in real-time.
But it also has a handful of shortcomings.
For a start, you need data reception in order for LiveTrack to work — not ideal if you’re riding somewhere that doesn’t have reception. There’s also the question of phone battery. If I’m doing a long ride that I want people to be able to follow — the 3 Peaks Challenge, for example — I’m going to be worried that the Bluetooth and constant data transfer over, say, 10 hours is going to suck my battery dry. And in that case, I’m going to do without LiveTrack to ensure that I’ve got enough phone battery so I can call out if something goes wrong.
The other question I have is how often I would use this feature. There’s no doubt the Garmin promo video makes LiveTrack look sleek and sexy and a whole lot of fun — and it may be for many of you — but I couldn’t see myself using it more than, say, once a month.
We originally hoped that LiveTracker would have the functionality to see your group of riding mates on the device itself. A common problem with small bunch rides in the hills is that one person loses contact and there are a flurry of texts and phone calls trying to locate him or her. Once the Bluetooth connection is set up, using LiveTracker is a piece of cake and you can use your mobile device (Android or iPhone) to track your mates. However, there is a ~30-second delay between location updates which may not make this all that useful.
You can use your mobile device to track your mates using LiveTracker.
Being constructive, it would be great to see in-device tracking in the next iteration of LiveTrack — being able to see where your mates are in relation to you could be useful (for tracking that one rider who’s always late) and fun (when smashing your mates in a training ride and seeing how far ahead you are).
It would also be great to see Garmin and Strava work more closely together. To know your time and place up a particular segment right after you’ve ridden it would be a fantastic feature.
But don’t get me wrong — the Edge 510 is still a great little unit. It’s got all the features that so many people love about the Edge 500 — the recording of a plethora of stats, the ability to upload and follow courses, and more. And the 510 certainly has improvements over its predecessor.
For example, the Edge 500 frequently takes a few minutes to get a solid satellite lock, leaving you staring at the “Locating Satellites…” screen and a progress bar that seems to make no progress at all. That lag is gone in the 510. In fact, the satellite lock-on seems to happen almost instantly. The longest I’ve had to wait is probably 5 seconds.
And there are some handy default screen options as well. When you use the unit for the first time there’s a screen that features a shadow rider (or “Virtual Partner”) that moves at an average speed of your choosing. This feature could be really useful if you’re trying to set a PB on a climb — just set the shadow rider’s speed to the average you need, and try to match it. (I believe there is a similar feature in the Edge 500 but it’s not as front-and-centre as it is in the Edge 510).
I’ve had some great little battles with the 20km/h shadow rider on my home commute. Because the average speed is taken for the entire time the ride is in progress, not just when you’re moving, you lose time on the shadow rider when you’re stuck at traffic lights. I like to imagine my shadow rider tapping away at a constant speed regardless of the terrain, blowing through traffic lights at a leisurely 20km/h while I’m impatiently stuck in traffic.
Game on, little buddy.
The Garmin Edge 510 will set you back roughly $300 for the basic unit and close to $400 if you want to get the “Performance Bundle”, which features a heart-rate monitor and speed/cadence sensor. If you’ve already got an Edge 500, upgrading to the 510 will get you LiveTracker, a larger color screen, and a many more minor features. Is it worth the upgrade if you already have an Edge 500 in good condition? Probably not. Is the 510 worth buying if you’re in the market for a new GPS? Most definitely.
Coming up in the next few days will be the Garmin Edge 810 review.
To put this review into context, we're comparing the Garmin Edge 510 to is its predecessor, the Edge 500. There are so many new features and functions to talk about, but did we find them useful? Yes, there's no doubt that Garmin makes remarkable devices that has added a new dimension to our riding. If you already have a Garmin 500 and it's still in good condition, it's probably not worth the upgrade. What you're essentially getting with the Edge 510 over the 500 is LiveTrack, which is in the early stages of something that could be great.
- Improved battery life
- Lots of new features and functions, including LiveTrack
- GPS acquires satellites much more quickly that previous models
- Larger screen means more data on one page, but is it larger necessarily better with the 810 as an option?
- ...and much more
- Size has increased much closer to the Garmin 810 without incorporating maps
- LiveTrack - is it really that useful? It has great potential, but it's not quite there yet
- Touch screen seems to lag when trying to naviage
Not having previously owned a Garmin, I reasoned that the 510 would be a better choice than the 500. A big decider for me was having GLONASS as well as GPS. The 510 gets a satellite lock within seconds, even leaving the office for the commute home.
The colour LCD has its disadvantages. I still have my old computer mounted on my stem, and it was readable in the dawn light long before the Garmin was readable without using the backlight.
Where the Garmin falls down is that its interface is not intuitive, and the manual just misses out some important details regarding setting the device up. I found it a real pain customising the screen layouts. (Garmin's designers need to learn about user-interface design.)
I love the out-front mount, only, as some reviews have noted, it is not entirely straight. You do have to watch it getting in the way of your brake/SIS cables. Owners of Ay-Up lights may also not be able to use the out-front mount. I have found it is possible to glance down at the computer without moving my head - great when following the wheel in front of you. If you use the out-front mount, you may not bee able to stand your bike upside-down when fixing a puncture as the Garmin may hit the ground.
In terms of quality, it seems solidly built. I like the tether which provides a belts-and-braces solution to make sure you don't lose it in a spill. - A couple of months ago I took a spill on a wet and very smooth footbridge. I would have really been bummed if anything had come loose and fallen into the water. The tether helps as a good guarantee against that problem.
If I already had a 500, I would not upgrade. Being new to the Edge family, I think the 510 is a good choice.
I'd have to agree, I don't see a good reason to upgrade my edge 500 with the 510, but I did anyway. I'm a gadget lover, however I did expect more from the LiveTrack feature. In the end it's pretty much useless, but I can see potential. What I do like which you didn't speak much of is the automatic uploads to Garmin Connect. I just wish it were Strava that it uploaded to.
Very well built. Very simple and user-friendly. Can provide more data than you would probably ever need, but it's kind of fun to know. So far, LiveTrack has worked well for me and my parents that live eight hours away enjoy watching me ride at home. My only two real gripes would be it is a little on the pricey side and the screen is dim outdoors. This can be remedied by increasing screen brightness (but decrease battery performance) and/or changing the data screens to show less data so the numbers are bigger.
I have had my 510 since March 2013, and all in all, it has been a very good GPS.
The battery life on it is really good, I ride at least 10-12 hrs/week, and generally charge once a week on average. (I maximise the backlight timing, have it scrolling fast and have both GPS systems on)
Riding by yourself and having Garmin Connect / Livetrack on as well, provides that layer of comfort for loved ones at home. Once home, saving your ride and uploading to Garmin Connect via a phone app, and having your "garminsync" user (on Garmin Connect) lets it automatically transfer to Strava. Most activities (rides) transfer across to Strava in approx 30 mins, sometimes faster, sweet :-)
In terms of setup etc, being my first real bike GPS, it took a little bit of tweaking to get it how you want, but the fact that it is so customisable, is an absolute blessing, pretty much any type of data you want on any page you want, with only the 1st page being a "must have" page. All other pages can be turned off or on. Once sorted though, it works really well. I apply different profile pages for different types of riding, such as "group rides" or "intervals: - cadence, threshold, hills" etc
Building a course and "racing" your virtual partner, adds another element to your ride if doing a solo run...
Suffice to say though, there have been a couple of issues with it, 1st, it sometimes wont turn on properly after being fully re-charged, meaning you have to push both the power and the stop/start button together to re-activate it. 2ndly, the usb connection to pc failed to show as a device on me within 3 months. Garmin Aust support were fantastic, and I got a complete full replacement unit within 5 days, was just disappointed, in that it shouldn't happen....but glad that it did it while still in warranty though :-)
hope this helps, enjoy the ride :-)
After riding with a 510 for about half a year now, I am pretty unhappy with it.
The 510 is slow - takes almost a minute to boot up, but more importantly there's a very noticeable delay between touch presses and it responding. This is compounded by a flaky touch screen, which only seems to register every one in two presses. You press, wait, go to press again thinking you didn't push hard enough again and *then* the screen changes and you end up hitting something else. So frustrating! More recent firmware upgrades seem to be causing more of a lag between hitting Start/Pause at the end of a ride and the Save button appearing (several seconds now), and between hitting that and it starting to sync the ride with your phone (10-15 seconds). Just to reiterate: it's getting worse with newer firmware - you're probably better off not upgrading it at all.
The 510's user interface is stuck in the 90's. Having a touch screen is nice except that it doesn't work half the time (see above), and it's not like a phone touch screen with nice swipe gestures and what-not, it only lets you press soft buttons on the screen with it. It's hard to navigate around the UI like this and while some customisation is possible, it is very restricted. You are free to choose which of Garmin's pre-defined data pages you want, and how many things on those pages to show, but only if they're in the right order - so if you only want the first and last items on a data page, then you are out of luck. You're also out of luck if you want to customise the order in which you cycle through the pages. Similarly, if you want to customise the pages - this just isn't possible. I'd love to have cadence on the first page rather than the extremely useless calorie count, but there's no cookie there for me.
The 510 is buggy. Pressing Start/Pause then kicking off often results in the "Movment detected!" warning bleating at you. Maybe it's just being slow again? The GPS trace simply stops for periods, sometimes several times in a ride, even if there's clear sky. The result is long straight lines between the last point before it lost the plot and the first one after it regains it. You will lose 1 in 10 or 20 rides to this. Keep that in mind the next epic ride you do.
The 510 either too large, or the screen is too small - you pick one. Given the size of the bezel around the screen, it really should be at least 20mm shorter and 10mm narrower. This doesn't sound like much, but that's around 20-30% of the current size of the thing, making it seem huge (for the screen size).
The 510 app for your phone that handles sync'ing and accessing weather reports and what-not was recently upgraded. This upgrade broke the weather report on the 510 - bad luck if you were using it. It's also stalking your contacts - requiring permission on Android to access them all and presumably uploading them to Garmin's servers, just waiting to be compromised by electronic organised crime gangs or the NSA. Why does a cycling computer need my Mum's phone number?!
Finally, not that any one else cares, but if you run Linux then you're out of luck in terms of easily uploading rides to Strava, or upgrading the firmware, or creating pre-defined rides or uploading maps. Bad luck for me.<
The 510 seems to be left over from the bad old days of mobile phones. It is a Nokia N95 just waiting for a iPhone to come along and consign it to history. Let's hope that happens sooner rather than later. In the mean time, don't encourage them by buying one.