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Cycling Cycling Computers and GPS Units Gear Reviews

Garmin Edge 130 GPS Review – Small & MIGHTY!

Garmin has such a range of products that sometimes the higher end units, like the Garmin Edge 1030 overshadow everything else – meaning terrific devices like the Garmin Edge 130 can be overlooked. If you want a new cycling GPS this summer, you need to check out this unit!

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Garmin Edge 130 Cycling GPS Review – Small and MIGHTY!

Garmin is an interesting company, not least because of the sheer volume of new products which get’s pushed out by the company. Occasionally that “product in every niche” approach can result in a device which feels it might have needed a touch longer on the engineering bench, and then you get an utter GEM! Just to spoil the ending for you slightly, the Garmin Edge 130 is one of those gems!

Honestly apart from the screen size, I actually find this little device better than the Garmin Edge 1000 from a few years ago, yes it’s literally that good, and excellent Strava Live Segments really is the icing on the cake

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Garmin Edge 130 – Device Design

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So a tiny device in a tiny box! But what is inside?

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We’ve obviously got the Garmin Edge 130 itself; the rubber band affixed mount, a health warning card (Yes I promise I will try not to swallow GPS!), lanyard, plastic wrapped dead tree manual and a micro USB cable – Garmin doesn’t appear to want to just USB-C this year.

Personally, I think the Garmin Edge 130 has a really great visual design. Certainly compared to the  Edge 520 and 1030. It’s chunky in a way that suggests robust, rather than cheap

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The monochrome screen is terrific in the sun or inside.

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If we compare to the new big brother the Garmin Edge 520 Ultra, when the backlights are on, things are ok. I’d still say the Edge 130 is clearer. For something like a cycling computer screen, simple is better – something Wahoo understands – and Garmin seems to occasionally forget!

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Without the backlight on, things are much worse, and these two pictures were taken INSIDE.

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There was a reason why the Garmin Edge 500 and 510 were excellence devices and loved by many; they are legible in all circumstances.

Carrying on the Garmin Edge 130 tour, on the back we have the regular quarter turn mount and various brand markers

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Above that are the micro USB slot and speaker holes

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On the RIGHT of the device are a pair of rocker buttons for navigating the menus and moving between displays. A long press on the upper rocker also allows you to access the menu system

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On the LEFT is the power button,

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Finally on the bottom are the start/pause and lap buttons

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Normally I’m not a massive fan of buttons on the bottom edge of a cycling GPS, finding them a touch fiddly such as on the Garmin Edge 820. The side of the Garmin Edge 130 buttons and the slight angle which they have been placed at makes their use much easier

Garmin Edge 130 – Specifications

  • Device weight – 33 grams
  • Size: 4.1 x 6.3 x 1.6 cm
  • Screen:
    • 27.0 x 36.0 mm; 45 mm diagonal
    • 303 x 230 – which is very impressive when compared to the Edge 1030’s much larger screen with only 282 x 470 pixels
  • Battery: 15hrs
  • Water resistance: IPX7
  • Sensor compatibility:
    • The standard HRM, Speed, Cadence, and Power
    • Smart Light system
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth LE ANT+, WiFi
  • Sensors
    • Bluetooth and ANT+ sensors (yes it still feels like I’m living in the future!)
    • GPS, GLONASS, Galileo
    • Phone smart notifications,
    • Barometric altimeter
    • Accelerometer
  • Other Bits
    • Strava segments
    • VO2 max & Recovery advisor
    • Ephemeris satellite predictions
    • Varia Radar compatible
    • Live Track
    • Assistance
    • Garmin Connect IQ Data fields – but no apps

Garmin Edge 130 – Manual

The link to the Garmin Edge 130 manual is here

Garmin Edge 130 – Using the Device

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Due to the lack of touchscreen most of the major setup is required to be done via the Garmin Connect app (iOS download, Google Play download)

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The Garmin Connect app is beginning to improve into a useful fitness app, so the chances are you are not now going to object to using it in the same way that I have done with previous iterations, where once I had previously set up Strava, I’d be running for the hills.

You do need to keep the Garmin Connect on your phone however if you want smart notifcations to come through from your phone,

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Plus once Garmin Connect is on your phone this allows you to download and install any necessary firmware updates to the Garmin Edge 130

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With the system updated, sensors are added in the usual way – it might sound daft, but I STILL find it noteworthy that Garmin can finally do both ANT+ and BlueTooth sensors! You can identify the different types as ANT+ sensors only have numerical ID’s

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When it comes to devices which you can connect to the Garmin Edge 130, it is worthwhile highlighting that this is the companies cheapest offering to able to accept ANT+ smart lights – such as the Cycliq Fly12 and the shortly due for release SeeSense ACE

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This provides a very effective integration between the light and the Garmin Edge 130, essentially meaning you can ignore your light, and the Edge will both switch the unit on, and in the case of Cycliq camera start recording, but also give heads up about the battery life of the devices

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But perhaps even more useful is the inclusion of Garmin’s Varia Radar Support, which when I’m out for a long ride on my own, I consider one of the most important bits of kit that I ride with, it just makes me feel safer, knowing what is going on traffic-wise behind me

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Even with the tiny screen, there is still enough real estate for the traffic warnings to pop up, and indicate what is coming up behind. The system with also give you a chirrup to warn you when something appears for the first time

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The dots, representing the cars will get closer until they have passed you. If there are no further vehicles behind you, the column on the LEFT disappears.

The traffic alert will occur on any screen, even over your Strava read out the page, which may be an irritation for some, less so for others

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Regarding screen realestate, you can customise 8 data fields on the screen – but I find that gets a little cramped.

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Given the size I found 2 two be much more usable out of the ride

 

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The main headline feature which people talk about with the Garmin Edge 130, is the inclusion of power compatibility on what is fair to describe as an entry level cycling device.

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Although it has taken Garmin a while to close that gap compared to other units such as the Polar M460 – which have been able to connect power meters, and at a lower price.

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There is navigation after a fashion – in that you get direction instructions, but no maps nor the ability to re-route.

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In some ways when it comes to cycling navigation devices I find the ability to reroute perhaps the most useful feature, in case of road closures, or map issues, so find that the token effort here on the Garmin Edge 130 isn’t really worth the time to set up.

Which is similarly a shame as the Garmin Edge 130 has the inclusion of Garmin’s GCM course creator is interesting. Simply set the type of terrain you want, then the distance and direction, and select your starting point to generate a courseTitaniumGeek IMG 1182 Garmin Edge 130 GPS Review   Small & MIGHTY! Cycling Cycling Computers and GPS Units Gear Reviews    Image of IMG 1182

From there upload the course to your device and off you go! Which is a shame as the course creator is a neat bit of kit, just that the Edge 130 doesn’t quite have the chops to do the navigation thing properly

TitaniumGeek IMG 1184 Garmin Edge 130 GPS Review   Small & MIGHTY! Cycling Cycling Computers and GPS Units Gear Reviews    Image of IMG 1184 I think the thing I like about the course creator is I’ve found this an effective way of finding new routes in areas which I thought I already new – a little in the same way as people sharing Strava Segment challenges – speaking of which, you actually need to get out on the road, to snag that KOM!

The Garmin Edge 130 tends to acquire a GPS signal pretty much instantly – which is no surprise given the range of satellite types which the unit can connect to, including the new European Galileo satellite system. But occasionally there can be a bit of a gremlin, and I’ve been riding for three mins before a lock is made, not sure why that is currently

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Garmin Edge 130 Strava integration 

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Basically, today, if as a company your cycling GPS doesn’t have Strava integrated, you may as well go home. Thankfully the Strava integration with the Garmin Edge 130 is surprisingly strong for such a small device

You can review which segments are loaded onto the device from the menu, to plan your next KOM hunting trip, or just ride and wait for the unit to tell you that a segment is about to be started

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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

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On each segment, you get an overview of the section you are riding on, along with your time in relation either to the current KOM holder or your own PR

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At the end of a section, you are greeted with a little summary of your efforts, on that mini part of your ride

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Once you have finished the whole ride, you are asked to categorise your ride. This is instead of having different ride profiles. If I’m honest, I don’t often change between ride profiles, but happy with my displays, so this approach is preferable to me at least. Others may disagree however

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Once you have classified your ride, you get notified or any new achievements, before you get the standard finish screen

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Once Strava has finished patting you on the back, Garmin then displays the cards for VO2 Max and Training Load

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While 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. For people who own a have a couple of Garmin devices, such as running watch and a separate cycling GPS each device has its own records. So your VO2 max, your achievements, such as longest distances and 20 min power etc. will be different between your watch or cycling GPS.

Garmin Edge 130 – Navigation

Navigation here is very much a minor addition, using a breadcrumb approach

You can have an overview of your course, and also simple direction navigation. You do get alerts before junctions, but this is a very rudimentary navigation feature

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By that, I mean there is no ability to set a route on the device, needing to return to your phone and Garmin Connect to produce a course, or download a map. Similarly, if you do leave you route, you’ll get a warning, but the unit is not able to reroute you back.

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Garmin Edge 130 – Conclusion

I’ve absolutely no hesitation in giving the Garmin Edge 130 a 5* TG award – and I think that’s a fair way to start the conclusion. The Garmin Edge 130 is just such a cracking bit of kit, and part of that is down to the price. If you are not hung up on navigation or colour screen (as mentioned this is much better than any colour screen Garmin have yet produced), then you are going to struggle to do better for the price.

The feature set covers what just about every rider could wish for, and also the inclusion of Radar support which is incredibly important to me now that I’ve been knocked off my bike by a car.

I’m really pleased that Garmin has made this unit, but also surprised as it does make ALL other GPS units in their range look somewhat overpriced!!

 

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Run and Ride who provided this review sample are offering a 10% discount on the Garmin Edge 130 using the code “Garmin” via their site 

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James Gill

Author of TitaniumGeek, which started after smashing off my RIGHT elbow. Feel free to drop me a line about sports tech, medicine, or frankly anything that you want to chat about!!