Garmin Edge 820: first ride

The Garmin Edge 820 computer aims to keep you more connected than ever on your ride

Garmin Edge 820: First Ride

The Garmin Edge 820 is the company s latest GPS cycle computer1 that has been designed to sit just below the top of the range Garmin Edge 10002, as well as the also-new Garmin Edge Explore 820 that is slightly cheaper but doesn t feature the same performance features.

>>> Garmin Edge computers: a complete buyer s guide3

The primary aim of the features included in the Garmin Edge 820 is to help riders stay connected with family, friends, and other riders while out on the road. This is primarily done through the new GroupTrack feature, which connects your computer to your smartphone and allows you to track up to 50 riders within a 10 mile radius, helping you to keep track of your fellow riders on group rides and see if your mates are out riding at the same time as you.

Garmin Edge 820: First Ride

The new Garmin Edge 820 is billed as an Edge 1000 in the body of an Edge 520

If you prefer to use more standard methods of staying in touch then the Garmin Edge 820 will get smart notifications from your smartphone to notify you of incoming calls and messages, while a nice safety feature is the inclusion of a built-in accelerometer that can detect if you ve had a crash and send a message and your location to your emergency contacts.

>>> 12 cool things you didn t know your Garmin could do4

Like the Edge 1000 and Edge 800 (but unlike the Garmin Edge 5205 that was released last year), the Garmin Edge 820 comes with a touchscreen. Garmin says that this 2.3-inch display is quick and responsive whatever the conditions and even when used with gloves, while there is also a light sensor that adjusts the brightness of the screen to adapt to the conditions.

Garmin Edge 820: First Ride

The Garmin Edge 820 comes with a 2.3-inch touchscreen

Connectivity-wise, the Garmin Edge 820 is compatible with ANT+ sensors, and has a number of different metrics that will interest those doing serious training and riding with a power meter and a heart rate strap. Namely it will estimate your VO2 Max and will also advise on how much recovery you should take after a ride. Unfortunately the Garmin Edge Explore 820 is not compatible with power meters.

>>> Cycle computers: a complete buyer s guide6

For those really into their bike tech, both the Garmin Edge 820 and Garmin Edge Explore 820 are compatible with Garmin s full suite of Varia products. That means that you can connect it with the Varia Vision in-sight display7 that projects your stats onto your sunglasses, and it will also connect with the company s Varia rear lights8 which can show you how close cars are behind you.

Garmin Edge 820: First Ride

The mapping of the Garmin Edge 820 is essentially the same as the Edge 1000

The mapping on the two devices looks to be pretty similar to that on the old Garmin Edge 810. The base map is Garmin s own (there is no option to add other maps such as Ordnance Survey maps as there is no port for a data card), but the mapping itself has been brought up to the same standards as the Garmin Edge 1000.

Battery Life

The Garmin Edge 820 and Garmin Edge Explore 820 both have a claimed battery life of 15 hours when used in their normal GPS settings. However, a new addition to the Garmin Edge cycle computer range (having previously been seen on the company s Forerunner range of running and triathlon watches) is the Ultratrac Battery Save model. This keeps all the sensors running (including GPS) so all your data will still be there at the end of the ride, but puts the display to sleep until you prod it to wake it up. This apparently extends the battery life up to 24 hours.

Price and Availability

The Garmin Edge 820 is priced at 329.99 (or 389.99 when a heart rate monitor is thrown into a bundle) while the Garmin Edge Explore 820 is 50 cheaper at 279.99. Both are available to buy immediately.

First Ride

I ve had the Garmin Edge 820 on my bike for a couple of days now, and first impressions are generally pretty good. Out of the box and the unit is very sleek with a smooth glass front and the buttons very well hidden at the bottom and sides of the unit. Aesthetically, this is my favourite computer than Garmin has ever produced. The process for setting up the Garmin Edge 820 for your first ride will be familiar to owners of any other Garmin device, and unfortunately it hasn t got any easier or quicker. In contrast to the Wahoo Elemnt where all of the setup and configuration of the device is done through the companion app, with the Edge 820 it is a story of endless menus and sub-menus if you want to get each of the screens set up just how you want them.

>>> 15 best cycling apps for iPhone and Android9

However once out on the road and the Garmin Edge 820 is a pleasure to use. The touchscreen works well in wet and dry conditions, and although it s not quite up to smartphone standards (although with a 329.99 price tag I don t really understand why not), it does more than good enough a job for the basic swiping between screens, scrolling through menus, and zooming in and out of maps that is required here. As for that screen it is really easy to read even in changing light conditions (such as when you re going along a sun-dappled lane under trees), with auto-brightness setting adjusting the brightness of the screen depending on the light conditions working very well.

Garmin Edge 820: First Ride

The Garmin Edge 820 s tracking under trees gave a lot to be desired

Unfortunately one thing that I haven t found quite so good is the GPS signal. Although the Garmin Edge 820 uses both GPS and GLONASS satellite signals to improve the reliability of its location, I still experienced problems. The satellites were found quickly at the start of the ride, but when riding under trees I found them very unreliable. Quite often my GPS track would veer wildly off the road, while the unit would often auto-pause when I was climbing on a wooded road, even if the gradient wasn t particularly steep and I was climbing at 10-15mph.

>>> Seven amazing things you didn t know Strava could do10

The other problem is with the elevation. I ve owned a Garmin Edge 500 and Garmin Edge 510 in the past, and both would often give up recording the elevation of a ride under heavy cloud and rain. I would have hoped that Garmin would have fixed this problem by now, but apparently not. I ve put these issues to Garmin, and am hoping that they respond by saying that these problems will be fixed in a future firmware update.

Much better is the navigation. Unlike the Garmin Edge 52011, the 820 has the ability to create routes, including being able to create routes from scratch, a useful feature if you re riding in a new area and don t have time to make your own routes in advance. The base maps are also good, being clear with the units touchscreen and with routes being easy to follow even though the screen is significantly smaller than the Garmin Edge 1000. The only slight issue I had was when you ride through town centres the maps try and show every single business in the area, meaning that the screen is filled with a mass of indistinguishable tiny icons.

Finally a short note about the GroupTrack feature that is intended to be the stand out feature of the Garmin Edge 820. This is a nice idea, but unfortunately relies on you have connections on Garmin Connect, which, frankly, very few people do.

If Garmin can link GroupTrack with your Strava followers then it might work, but in the meantime it s a redundant feature.

References

  1. ^ GPS cycle computer (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  2. ^ Garmin Edge 1000 (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  3. ^ >>> Garmin Edge computers: a complete buyer s guide (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  4. ^ >>> 12 cool things you didn t know your Garmin could do (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  5. ^ Garmin Edge 520 (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  6. ^ >>> Cycle computers: a complete buyer s guide (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  7. ^ Varia Vision in-sight display (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  8. ^ Varia rear lights (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  9. ^ >>> 15 best cycling apps for iPhone and Android (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  10. ^ >>> Seven amazing things you didn t know Strava could do (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)
  11. ^ Garmin Edge 520 (www.cyclingweekly.co.uk)

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