It's fair to say the Garmin Edge 1030 is the pinnacle of cycling GPS units. But is it really worth double the cost of a Wahoo Elemnt for example? That's a question dependent on each individual wallet I think!Click To TweetIt’s here! The big unit has landed! Garmin has released the replacement for its flagship Garmin Edge 1000. But there have been a lot of changes in the cycling GPS market. Have other manufacturers and Garmin’s other units made the Edge 1030 a bit of a white elephant? Read on to find out!
Garmin Edge 1030 Review
To say that the Garmin Edge 1000 was getting long in the tooth might be a bit disingenuous, but in the tech world, three years is forever for a unit like the Edge 1000. Yes, there have been many software updates, and the firmware has changed radically since the first release. But the hardware has been gradually eclipsed by the younger models with features such as crash detections etc. from Garmin’s own ranks
However as the hardware has trickled down from the Edge 1000 halo device, Garmin has now had to try harder to shoehorn in advancements and technical features to the new Garmin Edge 1030. Which Garmin certainly have done. But in doing so, that has lead to the price of the Garmin 1030 ballooning up to £500 RRP. So we’ll have a look at some of the design changes to see if the device is worth the asking price
Initially justifying that price might be a challenge, as a lot of the changes, while clever, or smart, are frequently on the subtle side of things. Which does sometimes make for a hard sell. For example one of the better changes to the hardware is also perhaps one of the subtlest – such as the appearance of five metal dots in the middle of the Garmin quarter turn mount
These allow you to overcome one of the biggest issues of the original Garmin Edge 1000 – namely battery life – as you can connect a backup battery through the mount. With the Edge 1000, I have been known to use a thin portable battery, taped to the underside of the stem mount in the past.
Now Garmin will happily relieve you of an extra £120 for the Garmin Charge Power pack, which connects to the Garmin Edge 1030 through the mount. Which we’ll talk a little more about later.
So clearly Garmin have done their engineering homework and reworked many aspects of their flagship GPS from the ground up. But are these changes enough to refresh the unit into a great product that can justify it’s admittedly steep asking price? Let’s dig into the Garmin Edge 1030 a little bit more, and see what we thing – Firstly focusing on other design choices
Garmin Edge 1030 Device Design
This unit came to me, from Run and Ride in Cannock Chase – where the team has just been voted the fourth best cycle shop in the country! They were able to get me a unit on release day, and I have then been testing over the last few weeks since then! So first off, what is in the box? Well the Garmin Edge 1030 unit obviously, a couple of dead tree manuals, a stem mount with three spacers, the out front mount with two spacers, micro USB power cable, and finally a lanyard.
Before we go any further, I think the out front stem deserves a little look at. It has grown in length compared to the stem bundled with the Edge 1000, and now keeps the Edge level with the handlebar rather than positioning the GPS above it. The redesign does make sense, as Garmin would like more people to keep using their stem, rather than swapping over to something from K-Edge for example – if no other reason than the additional Garmin branding it gives the bike with the GPS removed!
On the underside of the mount, things are slightly different to normal as we find ANOTHER Garmin quarter turn mount. Allowing you to very easily buy into the rest of the Garmin accessory portfolio, such as the Garmin Varia Lights, or Virb action cameras which support this mount out of the box. Given that the last two Virb cameras have also utilised a GoPro mount, I think it would have been better for Garmin and use an interchangeable bottom plate, with BOTH the Garmin and GoPro mounts. More people would have likely kept the stem, and it would have gone some way to helping with the rather high price to entry
If we then have a look at how the Edge 1030 has changed – it appears a little bit like a ubiquitous iPhone. While the screen on the Garmin Edge 1030 has grown, the actual footprint of the unit hasn’t changed massively at all. But there the similarities end. The buttons have now migrated from a nice and easily pressable location on the front of the Garmin Edge 1000, to sit awkwardly on the bottom side of the Edge 1030. While this does give a more futuristic expanse of screen, the buttons are now more fiddly to use. But their change of location does give a more futuristic, all screen, look to the Edge – which to my mind is certainly one of the Edge 1030’s strong suits!
Keeping with the concept of size and packaging, whilst the Edge 1030 sits at the same height as its predecessor, the unit is actually thicker! This is possible as the designers have filled in the space between the back of the Edge 1000 and the top of the Garmin Mount
When you compare the backs of the two units, the Garmin Mount on the Edge 1030 sits almost flush with the body, in contrast to the Edge 1000, where the mount is actually raised up on a little mound. Nice way of finding free space to increase the size of the unit, but not increasing the size for the rider! Plus on the back, there is another tweak. Although only a small change, I’m quite pro the removal of the external screws, I know how much I sweat on Zwift, so reducing theoretic ingress points is always good. Yes technically it means the unit is less serviceable, but I’m pretty confident that not many people home service an Edge unit if is starts to have faults!
In spite of the growth in the girth of the unit, there is only a very modest increase in weight, with the Edge 1000 coming it at 117g vs 124g for the new unit
On the bottom end, we have the now have the mentioned, slightly awkwardly placed buttons. With the lap button on the LEFT and the START/PAUSE on the RIGHT
The buttons themselves flank the covered micro USB port,
The location of the buttons does really puzzle me though. Anyone who has ever used a Polar M460 GPS will immediately look and these and go “Why Garmin, Why do you hate us so!!” – To put it simply, with the original Edge 1000, one-handed operation was simple, but with the new location, you always feel you have to steady the unit with a second hand.
The final button on the unit is the power button on the upper LEFT side. Press it, and the unit switches on, press it again, it switches off. Smart those tech monkies!
Finally, going back to the rear of the unit is a plastic circle that now protects the micro SD card slot or cage in this case
That pretty much completes the walk around of the GPS, so let’s take a look at a formal spec sheet, and then take the unit out for a spin!
Garmin Edge 1030 Specifications
- Device weight – 124 grams
- Size: 58 x 114 x 19 mm
- 58 x 114 x 19 mm; 88.9 mm diagonal
- 282 x 470 pixels
- Battery: 20hrs
- Storage: 16gb
- Water resistance: IPX7
- Sensor compatibility:
- The standard HRM, Speed, Cadence, and Power
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0, ANT+, WiFi
- Other bits:
- GPS & GLONASS
- Phone smart notifications,
- Turn By Turn navigation
- Garmin Recovery advisor
Garmin Edge 1030 User Manual
As well as being supplied on a lump of dead tree in the box, you can also access the Edge 1030 user manual from HERE
Using the Garmin Edge 1030
I’ve no major love for the Garmin Connect app (iOS download, Google Play download) – it is just poorly designed to my mind. Which is lucky as once the Garmin Edge 1030 has been set up, most of the advanced features you can perform straight from the unit via the touchscreen, and can leave the app if you want.
The final part of the setup is going to be connecting the Garmin Edge 1030 to your various online training programmes – available on the 1030 out of the box are the Garmin IQ apps for; Strava Routes, Training Peaks Daily Workout and Best Bike Split Race Sync, but there are plenty of other apps in the Garmin IQ store if you have something else that you use
Once the Garmin Edge 1030 is paired with your phone, you’ll also have access to real-time Strava Segments, as you cycle along. In your area, this can be a bit so-so, but when on longer routes, that you wouldn’t have starred sections on, is a nice little addition.
Before you can go out though, you need to pair cycling sensors. Following the example of the Garmin Fenix 5 – where the hell first froze over – you can connect other both ANT+ or Bluetooth now to your Edge, which is a nice touch.
Also, you can set the Garmin Edge 1030 to remind you to calibrate your power meter before each ride – which is a great function especially for the Zwift racers!
With all sensors paired, you might want to leave the Garmin suggested standard screen layouts, but handily when a new sensor is paired, the software will actually prompt you to see if you’d like to make customisations too
Speaking of Zwift, you can have as many activity profiles as you like on the Garmin Edge 1030. So naturally, I have one set up for the indoor races
Within the profile menu you can have up to 10 different data fields, but even on a screen of this size, 10 fields can get a bit busy. I tend to have two screens set up for Zwift, general overview data and then a screen dedicated to power
Data fields themselves are changed with a long press, and the range of data field options is frankly mind-boggling.
Once everything is paired, and the unit is all arranged as you’d like it, time to head off on the road! Select your workout from the carousel at the top, hit the start button on the bottom RIGHT, and of you go!
At any point, you can swipe down from the top of the unit to get a quick access to useful data like the battery charge status and a slider to adjust the unit brightness. After that, the unit works just as you’d expect from a cycling GPS, double tap to go back the main menu selector, and swipe left and right to swap screens on the expansive display
Although speaking of extensive displays, this it might be a good point to highlight that the landscape mode from the Edge 1000 has now been retired! (although I found I never actually used it!), so everything is straight up with the Edge 1030
Note that for some bits of the Garmin ecosystem might not work immediately with the new Garmin Edge 1030 out of the box – the Garmin Varia Radar, for example, wouldn’t connect for me but was more than happy to pair up and work with the older Edge 1000. This is simply due to the Edge 1030, being new brains and is easily fixed
Simple solution with the Garmin Varia Radar was to check it’s firmware. Whilst I might just leave the Varia attached to the rear of the bike, is still a smart device, and thus has firmware. A quick update of the firmware, and I was a happy chap seeing the radar symbol on the Edge 1030. Perhaps not massively relevant to the Garmin Edge 1030 review specifically, but something to think about if you have issues from a troubleshooting perspective
When you do get out on the road, as you bimble along, Strava pipes up to tell you when a segment is coming, and how far before the start
You can use the arrows at the top to select which time you want to ride against, the segment KOM if you are feeling up for a fight, or your own PR. If you don’t have a PR on that segment, then the system will auto select a reasonable time target
If you have a friend who has also ridden the same segment on Strava, then it is nice to see their name pop up on the time list too. Don’t worry she gave me a kicking on the next segment, but for some reason, the picture of that isn’t in focus, no idea why!
At the end of a section, you are greeted with a little summary of your efforts, on that mini part of your ride
Once you have finished the whole ride, you get notified or any new achievements, before you get the standard finish screen
The finish screen has a hugely in depth menus, from which you can access a myriad of data about your ride directly on the Edge 1030
If you want to dig a little further into your details at any point when off the bike, Garmin has a very in-depth “My Stat” page that lets you dig into your numbers. We’ve now got the Training Status function from the Fenix 5, which I think is a move by Garmin to emulate Polar’s very user-focused approach to training, whilst retaining the HUGE amounts of granular data that Garmin is famed for.
To which end, the cards for VO2 Max and Training Load also have little descriptors at the bottom, to explained to users who might not be 100% familiar with them, what these numbers actually mean, if not how they are derived
Whilst Garmin is making some areas of their devices friendlier and less coldly scientific, they still have not unified their ecosystem, in spite of having everything running through Garmin Connect. What I mean is that currently, each device has its own record of your VO2 max, your achievements, such as longest distances and 20 min power etc, so you can actually have different metrics on both your phone, watch or cycling GPS. I was really hoping that the Garmin Edge 1030 would be the first to consolidate these record and push and pull data from The Cloud. But not yet it seems!
You can also go a little further into the self-monitoring by doing a Stress Score which we first saw on the Fenix 3 HR– which isn’t half as arduous as it sounds! Simply stand with an HRM connected for three mins, and wait to be told how stressful your life is!
That pretty much covers the Garmin Edge 1030 as a point to point device, but what about if you want to get somewhere you don’t know?
Garmin Edge 1030 Turn-By-Turn Navigation
One MAJOR advantage of the larger Edge series such as this and the Edge 820, over units such as the Wahoo Bolt, is the relative ease of creating navigation routes on the unit without having to rely on your phone. For some people that might not matter, but I personally prefer to consider my phone a satellite when it comes to sports devices, rather than a core requirement, and keep it out of the way as much as possible.
Whether that it is planning a route on the Garmin Edge 1030 to an address, or simply heading to a nearby POI, the navigation system is very easy to use here… if not perhaps the snappiest. There is the very “Year 2000” lag when using the interface. If you did want to avoid the delay with the user interface, you can also use your phone to plan routes, which are then pushed over the Edge, so you are covered either way with the Edge 1030. Plus it’s pretty easy to hit “back to the start” from within the unit to get you home from the coffee shop
Garmin has considerably refined process of generated your route by using Trendline Popularity Routing. Rather than simply have a computer draw the best routes based on distances on the map, the Garmin navigation engine is also able to draw on data from heat maps of the area you want to ride. Utilising past data which has been uploaded to Garmin Connect to generate a route for you that will be the best according to the performances of other Garmin users.
That might have the effect of pulling you off some roads you’d expect it would take you down and route you through cycle lanes and parks, but at least you know that those lanes are actually USED routes – Plus for me, anything that gives me a better route, whilst reducing traffic is a plus!
Simply the functional navigation on the Garmin Edge 1030 is best in class when it comes to Turn-By-Turn instructions. Giving you a clear overview of your route, and when the next turn is, and the direction you are going.
You can also customise the bottom of the screen with two data fields, which makes using the map function really nice for long distance rides, as you can pretty much keep this single screen up mosrt of the time, even if you are pushing hard
Yes, the Wahoo Elemnt may have border LED lights which are terrific being used as turn by turn indicators. But the issue with the Wahoo unit is that it cannot reroute if you take a detour, or miss a turning. Whereas the Garmin Edge 1030 will give a little electronic sigh, and then get you back on course, or reroute a better path.
Even if you’ve decided to take a larger detour on gone completely off-piste – we ended up trying to fox the unit by descending the stairs when heading to the coffee shop after the CVR World Cup PARIS recently. Irene Ossola, third place Elite Female, was quite happy to mount the unit for a few test photos. The unit didn’t bat an eyelid and quickly crucial point, happily adapted and indicated the next turning we needed.
Ultimately to my mind, Garmin has definitely created a worthy successor to the venerable Garmin Edge 1000, both from a hardware, software and end user perspective, but what about that price?
Garmin Edge 1030 Conclusion
Well honestly, I’m not sure what else to say. This is the most fully featured cycling GPS that Garmin could have created. Perhaps the only thing they could have done to make this unit any better is putting a sim card slot on it. Thus allowing you to leave your phone at home completely – which might be a good idea for something like a triathlon for example, which Garmin Live Track isn’t going to be available, as not many people will want to take their phone on the swim section!
One of the reasons I think about a sim card, if I’m going to be candid, is that I was three days into a fever when I started writing this review, and I actually thought that the micro SD slot WAS a sim card slot!! The matter of fact I’d just removed an SD card from the slot was irrelevant to my addled brain at the time – sufficed to say at that point I stopped trying to type and returned to inhabiting the couch and chewing on antipyretics. But back to the Garmin 1030
I’ve always been a fan of the Edge 1000; I like being able to display as much data as I desire! With the Garmin Edge 1030, you get an even bigger screen, and now battery life to spare. Plus if you want extra juice – whilst there might not be “an app for that”, it seems that Garmin will certainly be happy to sell you an accessory battery pack, as they try to integrate all their products more tightly into their ecosystem.
Yes, the unit isn’t perfect. The buttons are a little awkward, the software be a little slow, and the screen could do with being a little brighter in use, but screen brightness is something that Garmin has always struggled with to my mind. But swings and roundabouts, as the screen is also now much bigger, and fits more easily into the aesthetics of the device – which to my mind is top notch! Maybe we’ll see better screen tech in the next version – OLED in three years? Please?
I had actually thought of ditching my Edge 1000 for an Edge 820 earlier in the year… I’m glad I waited! The Wahoo Elemnt has it’s edge light features, and a price tag to encourage you, but currently… I don’t think you are going to find a better cycling GPS… So the next two questions are linked:
- Do you think the Garmin Edge 1030 is worth FIVE HUNDRED POUNDS??
- Do you think it is worth DOUBLE the price of the Wahoo Elemnt?
Only you can answer those two questions… but for me… £500…. that is a large amount to spend on a cycling GPS. If you are looking to upgrade from something like a Garmin 520 or even an Edge 820 and can afford the entry fee, the do it, you’ll get a great device. But for someone with an Edge 1000 already, it is a harder sell, as that is still a hefty price tag, but the Edge 1030 is a hefty bit of kit. So the simply eye-watering dint to your wallet, and for that reason ALONE, is why the Garmin Edge 1030 is dropping a star to 4* and is not 5*
But what do you think? Drop a comment below!