A year with a Garmin Edge 800 cycling computer

I’ve always been a gadget lover and even more, I’ve always loved data and information. When it came to moving a lot more than before, I wanted to motivate myself by starting to measure my progress. Since I was also running, I got me a Garmin Forerunner. It had GPS, could be attached to the wrist and was designed to measure multiple sports activities. Garmin has always been known for their good quality GPS units (and their overly optimistic calorie calculations).

After a few years and getting royally lost a few too many times, I decided it was time to upgrade. The Edge series are the cycling specific tools and when the Edge 500 was announced, I wanted that. I even almost got it before I realized the existence of the Edge 800. It had everything, more than needed really. Color screen, GPS with maps, streets, street navigating, route planning. Never get lost again.

The device comes in many packages, each package having something extra on top of the main ingredient. The basic pack includes the device and two bike mounts which are excellent in their design. They are attached with two rubber o-rings, meaning that you can attach the mount into pretty much anything on your bike. The same mounts work with all of the current Edge models so you can swap, but it’s really easy to move the mounts if you have more bikes.

The device itself is very compact, lightweight and it locks on the mount very sturdily. I’ve never had any doubts about the mount, even when riding in rough terrain and single tracks. The 800 has been designed to be used while riding, so the text, the buttons and everything else is big enough to be used conveniently. Thanks to the large touchscreen it is also the easiest Garmin device I’ve used so far. The Forerunner was quite terrible in its usability. There are many screens available for the data and you can customize most of them to your preference.

As with all Garmin products, they have a whole ecosystem of additions. I have a Garmin GSC 10 cadence sensor, which has three parts: The sensor and two magnets, one for the spokes in the rear wheel to measure the rotation of the wheel, the other for the crankset to measure the rotation of the cranks. Every time the magnet passes the sensor, it’s wirelessly transmitted to the GPS device. The same applies for the heart rate monitor band.

The device is smart enough to not constantly whine if you take your Edge 800 to another bike which doesn’t have the sensor array available. Making the different parts work is made easy enough, so I can recommend the extras if you’re not the kind of person to purchase the bundle.

It shows you everything

One of the key benefits of having a Garmin is their Garmin Connect web application where you can upload your data to analyze, share  and brag. The application is well done (since they bought a ready application and integrated it). One of the coolest things about Connect is finding routes made be others, so check out the Explore tab should you have the chance.

I’ve been using the Edge 800 now for a year, ridden in many different weather conditions and distances. The battery is still working like it was new and the device has never had any hiccups or problems. Rumors say, that you can get the basic version and download the expensive maps from the web, buy a MicroSD card and save money on the maps. We naturally can’t recommend this, but if you’re on a budget, you can always get the maps later (around 85 euros).

Our verdict: ★★★★★

The Edge 800 is the flagship of Garmin’s cycling computers and it’s not cheap (starting from around 350 euros). You can also get topographic maps in a bundle for about 500 euros. Still, it’s a durable purchase that will serve well in the years to come.

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By Markus Sandelin

Markus is a bike commuter gadget freak who is learning the ropes of the bike world, you can find him all around the web - but you can start with his twitter at @banton.