Staff rider Neil Towns has been using the new Garmin Edge 1030 for a couple of months. Garmin think this is their best GPS cycling computer yet, allowing you to ride longer and stronger while staying connected. Here's what Neil thinks.
I always avoided the Edge 1000 due to its size and a personal view that I didn't need directional mapping. As a result I stuck to a good old Edge 500, and Edge 520, much preferring the much smaller unit size. However when Garmin bought directional navigation to the Edge 820, which is the same small size as the Edge 520, I jumped aboard, eager to test the functionality. It opened up some great new routes, and when on holiday ensured I found some great rides without fear of getting lost. So a winner for me. I know that the Edge 820 has had some pretty rough reviews from users who had problems. I can honestly say that my unit was pretty much faultless so I stuck with it until the Edge 1030 came around!
So the Edge 1030... man! It’s big! Bigger than the Edge 1000 even and I have to say the first time I put it on my bike I cringed at the sight of it! But rather than just take it off I said I'd give it a good run through and put it through its paces for a few weeks to get some useful insight. After a few jokes about riding around with an iPad on my handlebars I just settled into using it. I swapped out the mounts on my bikes to accommodate the extra size of the unit and then sat down to figure out all the settings.
Essentially if you've used a Garmin before then the set-up is a mix of everything you already know married up with some more simple downloads from the Garmin Connect app. Essentially you can shortcut the old set up process a bit but in the end you get back to sitting down to choose how many screens you want and which fields to display. Do you want various profiles for different bikes or types of riding etc. All this is simple to sort out and once you have the logic in your mind it's easy.
So, having set up the Edge 1030 as I wanted, I switched on to review my work and was again amazed by the scale! With only 5 fields in my main profile page the numbers on the screen are huge! My second screen has 9 fields, all still very readable and this made me wonder at the necessity of the size once again.
Moving to the map screen though and the size really comes into its own. Very clear mapping, big enough to see detail, with auto zoom at junctions and way points. Since using the mapping on the unit I've kind off fallen into liking the whole big is better thing. I've gotten used to the size now in such a way as it doesn't really occur to me, even in the main number screen!
I've used routes and courses downloaded from Strava and Connect as guidance, both on and off road. On road its super reliable, off road it was even more than I would have thought! Rounding Gorse Bushes in the New Forest to find the trail actually does head hard left was quite a surprise!
Live track functionality is more stable, although I must turn this off sometimes as I frequently get text messages off my dad asking why I'm out on the bike again!!
The battery life is excellent. Even with all the tracking, Bluetooth, navigation and recording of data switched on I comfortably put in a 7 hour ride with plenty of battery to spare – in this instance flat across the fens of Lincolnshire
I've had no issues with the unit freezing or dropping navigation mid route.
The touch screen is much improved over the Edge 820. It moves with ease from screen to screen, with or without gloves, thick or thin! I've used it in the rain with no problems from a screen perspective either.
Connectivity with phone via Bluetooth is stable, with ride uploads to Connect pretty swift all of the time and of course it then flows through into Strava or whichever other social fitness tracker you favour.
The unit stores and works with Connect to capture performance data in a cumulative fashion so builds a picture of your fitness and recovery over time, helping you manage your training load and ascent to peak fitness! It will do this using your heart rate monitor, or even more accurately if you pair it with your power meter too.
Also it can connect with SRAM eTap and display current gear in use which is a nice thing!
I've not yet used the rider to rider tracking functionality but with time I think this will develop into something interesting to use, if not massively important. To this end the sheer number of small natty little features will take a good while to get the best of. Its nice to have something new in the tech world to fiddle with!
And in the same vein it will give you real time feedback on progress through a segment as you aim your assault on the local KOM’s on Strava.
All in all I've settled into using the Edge 1030 with ease. I'm now liking the big size and finding the mapping super useful and its great on road and off road!!