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Friday, July 30, 2010

Long Term Review: Garmin Edge 500

The Garmin Edge 500 GPS Bicycle Unitcame through the tour with flying colors. It was reliable, surviving wind, sweat, rain, and several hikes. The wrist band proved to be a great help for carrying the computer on hikes, and comes highly recommended. In particular, the GPS appeared to recalibrate its altimeter based on GPS information, so if you parked your bike at a summit sign, for a few minutes, you would see the altimeter magically recalibrate itself to match an accurate summit sign. I was very impressed by this feature.

The GSC10 also survived the tour, but I found several problems with it. The cadence sensor magnet would slip, and if it did not only would you not get cadence information as well, occasionally it would also not detect the wheel magnet and you wouldn't get wheel data either. In particular, the whole point of getting the wheel sensor information was so that the wheel data would over-ride the GPS sensor whenever things got out of whack (and vice-versa), but no sign of that ever happened! Sure, the sustens pass reading of 129kph could be attributed to the cadence sensor not being in operation that day, but I checked the cadence sensor on the day we rode into Munich, and the stupid computer still read a 90mph top speed, which is unbelievable if you look at the charts accompanying that ride report. As a result, I'm still having a tough time deciding whether I want to pay $36 for what's effectively just a cadence sensor.

All in all, having the Garmin 500 on this trip enabled me to geotag all our photos, since all the tracks from the Edge 705 disappeared with the boot failure.

While the Edge 500 is not a navigation unit and therefore would be considered non-essential equipment on a single bike tour, as a stoker bike computer and general bike computer it is easily the best one I have used. Recommended.



Unknown said...

So there any issues using the Edge 500 for hiking and recording mileage? My 3-year-old Forerunner 305 is starting to have intermittent recording issues and I'm wondering if an Edge 500 on a wrist strap would make a good running replacement.

Piaw Na said...

No, not at all. The key is to stop and reset the GPS unit before you get out of GPS coverage. There's a well-known firmware bug that will cause data loss if you don't do that.

I see, however, that there's a new version of the firmware out. It could well be that this fixes that bug.

The big issue with the 500 for running is that it'll show mph, not pace, which understand is what runners want.