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Cycling Cycling Computers and GPS Units Gear Reviews

Garmin Edge 830 Review – A great update, but still using old tech!

It’s that time of the year again! Garmin has refreshed their middle range cycling GPS unit. Turns out the Garmin Edge 830 is quite good!

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Garmin Edge 830 Review

🎶Summer time… and the GPS navigation is easy. MAMIL’s are cycling and the power is hiiiiiigh 🎶 Sorry couldn’t resist myself! It’s a sunny day here at the bar at the top of Alpe d’Huez where I’ve just been testing out the Garmin Edge 830, where I’m sitting writing up my initial thoughts on this and the Stages Dash M50

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That might sound initially like a little brag, but it is actually quite important in terms of the upgrades which Garmin has felt fit to bestow on us humble cyclists. You see, “The Big G” has increased the screen size to 6.6cm, and here is the amazing point: In doing so has finally managed to put a colour screen on a device, which is nearly as good as the touch screens available on today’s low-end smartphones!

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There are lots of little upgrades to the Garmin Edge 830, but by far the best has to be the screen. I don’t fully understand why it has been so difficult for Garmin to bring out a bright, well-saturated screen. Battery life is one possible argument, but both the larger Garmin units have the ability to charge during a ride, AND Garmin has also sold a battery pack to slot underneath. This argument crumbles though when you see that not only have Garmin increased the screen size and improved the quality of the screen, but also managed to pack in a new battery gaining an extra 5 hours battery life as well, all for a 13gram weight gain!

Part of the reason for that battery gain, along with software tweaks has been the change to Sony GPS chips. Don’t worry you still get the big three of GPS, GLONASS and Galielo to choose from

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Let’s take a look at the other changes, that Garmin has managed to squeeze under the screen in this Garmin 830 review.

Garmin Edge 830 – Design

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Typical Garmin grey box, what do we have in the bundle?

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We’ve obviously got the Garmin Edge 830 itself; the rubber band affixed mount, Garmin out-front mount, a health warning card, plastic-wrapped dead tree manual and a micro USB cable. As this is the sensor bundle you also get the latest Garmin Bluetooth cadence and speed sensors, along with their rubber ties. The heart rate monitor – nothing fancy here, just pulse rate and a Garmin premium chest strap.

The Garmin 530 and 830 continue on the design language we first saw on the Garmin 1030. I actually feel that this season’s “middle children” have a much nicer, smoother design. Perhaps have is related to the larger screen and smaller bezels?

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If you actually look closely on the casing of both the Edge 530 and Edge 830 – it is the same case, just dark grey vs black – you can see Garmin has opted to take a leaf out of the Wahoo Bolt playbook, by putting the words slightest aerodynamic moulding on the front edge

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Given that the screen is the most obvious visual change on the Garmin Edge 830 this year, let’s start there. The screen has been updated in two ways, first in terms of the capacitive sensor, but also the underlying display. In terms of using the screen to navigate around the device, I’ve found things to be an upgrade from either the 820 or the 1030. More sensitive than the 820, but less so than the 1030. Whether in the dry, gloved, or covered in sweat from Zwift

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As you can see indoors, the screen looks whiter and to have better colour saturation

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The thing I found odd, was that subjectly on the bike, I felt that the Garmin Edge 830 had a better screen. However, during objective testing, in direct sunlight whilst the Garmin 103 with its monochrome LCD obviously performed the best, the washed-out Garmin Edge 1030 didn’t appear to change, whereas the Edge 830 became less legible. See for yourselves:

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One of the reasons why I loved last years Garmin Edge 130 so much was that the screen was visible and usable in practically any situation – more so than anything else in the Garmin range. This clearly remains the case this year

I do wonder if Garmin are holding themselves back a little. When you look at the cost of most modern smartphones today, which are rocking practically bezel-less screens, it’s a little odd that one of the leading cycling GPS manufacturers still has bezels this size. Then again, given that it is now, only in 2019, that Garmin have installed a colour screen in the Edge range that isn’t frankly worse than their monochrome offerings, maybe bezel thickness is not really high on the agenda?

As with the older Garmin Edge 1030, the new Garmin 830 now has five metal connectors on the bottom, allowing it to interface with the Edge Battery Pack to boost the battery life out on the road

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Speaking of battery life. Charging is dealt with by the micro-USB port under the flap on the bottom of the unit. Given we are in 2019 now, and there are many products now using USB-C I think it is a shame that Garmin has kept to the older, slower standard. But I suppose it does align with the screen given Garmin’s older hardware philosophy

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Visually the Garmin Edge 530 and 830 are easy to consider identical at a quick glance. The 530 is differentiated by additional side buttons due the lack of touch screen, and the matt dark grey cast, in contrast the Garmin 830’s shiny black

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On the very back of the unit is the identifier badge in case you really get mixed up, and the ports for speaker which is surprisingly loud

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There is a lanyard port at the back

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Whilst the start/pause buttons on the unit are are the very bottom, of the unit, and the power on the top LEFT

At some points, I do feel that the Garmin Edge 1030 can be a little too big for some bikes. Especially if you are considering your race machine. whereas as the 830 manages to balance a compact size, with good screen coverage

Garmin Edge 830 – Specification

  • Device weight – 33 grams
  • Size: 4.1 x 6.3 x 1.6 cm
  • Screen:
    • 27.0 x 36.0 mm; 45 mm diagonal
    • 239 x 303 – which is very impressive when compared to the Edge 1030’s much larger screen with 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 830 – Setup

Once you are charged and up and running you need to setup the Garmin Edge 830. This can be done via the Garmin Connect app (iOS download, Google Play download)

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However, with products which feature potentially large maps, I’ve found that I prefer to do the initial setup using Garmin Express on the computer. I can easily input the Wifi details if needed, as sometimes that can be a pain on the Garmin connect app

Plugging into the computer for that first setup does mean than if for some reason I’ve got poor internet access, then I can leave the Garmin chugging away, and not be constantly concerned about losing a connection to my phone, and breaking the download

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Going forwards, rides are uloaded, and software updates are downloaded OTA, and rarely need to plug in again

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Garmin now spun off their Garmin IQ App Store into a separate app, (Google Play, iOS) which I think does make a lot of sense. As the Garmin Connect app can be a little clunky at times

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The Garmin Edge comes preinstalled with Strava Segments, and BestBikeSplit, but it is definitely worth while poking around in the IQ store to see if there are app which may be of use to use. Or more likely a data field which you find gives you a better display of your performance when out in the saddle

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Personally I’ve found the data field, if you can consider it that, SPH Graph to be an excellent whole screen page. If you have a compatible IQ unit, I’d really suggest taking a look at it

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Although it has to be said, this is again one of the areas where the Garmin Edge 830 looses out to the 1030, that little bit of screen real-estate really does make a difference when you are using such a date dense screen

Garmin Edge 830 – Using the Device

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One of the simplest ways to get around the Garmin 830 is the drop down menu and widget system. You simply swipe down from the top of the screen to quickly access setting, check battery performance mode, adjust back lighting and quickly enter the sensor pairing screen.

Garmin’s continued march towards complete Bluetooth sensor connectivity continues. Now the Edge 830 is able to use it’s Bluetooth radios to talk to both your phone and your power meter if you desire. HOWEVER this is Garmin we are talking about here, so that doesn’t mean universal coverage.

You are not going to be connecting to your indoor trainer for control over BT FMS, only ANT-FEC. But you can access the power, cadence and speed from the turbo on Bluetooth if you desire

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Another area that Garmin is still keeping ANT+ only is the control of eBikes. So there is no love for the Zehus hub on my Hummingbird Bike. Now that might seem like an odd thing to complain about. However, having control of an e-bike on the cycle computer would make life a little simpler. If I’m low on battery, I can grab my phone, kill the boost, and crank up the regenerative braking to recharge for later in the day perhaps. Similarly getting feedback on battery life directly on the handlebars would have been nice, as it helps plan your charging. Yes Zehus could code an IQ app, however, it should be easier than that when part of the control is baked into the main software

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Many devices have crash alert features. Many of the Garmin Edge units, including the predecessor to the 830, the Garmin 820 has this very useful tool. Out of the box to the sensitivity of the Garmin 830 crash detection is both excessive and a little bit poor. Now to be fair, Garmin does warn when you set up Incident Detection that false positives can occur…

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Why does it seem a little too sensitive? I was cycling in London, and hadn’t loaded up a route, as I thought I knew where I was going – I didn’t as it turned out – and kept pulling over to check GoogleMaps on my phone. Almost every time I stopped, the crash detection alert would start. Which is VERY annoying. When the alert comes up you have 30 sec to long-press the bottom of the screen to stop an alert being sent to your phone and emergency contacts. Who will receive a message saying there has been an incident, and your GPS location.

I wanted to try and get a picture of this for the review… but in spite of the unit being seemingly over sensitive in London, I couldn’t replicate it back at home. In fact, I couldn’t trigger it either! I even stopped and tossed the 830 on the grass – no dice, no alert. It just sat there saying there was a blinking Strava segment coming up. Which don’t misconstrue me, I do love the Strava segments, but I wish that when you cancelled a segment, it stayed cancelled for that ride

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Garmin has really pushed the safety angle with the Garmin Edge 830, maybe it is the clumsy rider aspect? I say this as the Garmin 830 also contains a Find my Edge function. If you do crash, or by some twist of fate the Garmin decides to part company with the mount, it will record the location of the GPS Edge to your phone, so you can hopefully find it later.

Now initially when you read that, you might think, I’m a roadie, not a mountain biker (which this is clearly designed for) why should I care? Well the roadie is not immune to mishaps. Last time I did the Ride London there are a lot of cables placed across the roads, and plastic hubs to cover them. At each of those locations, were collections of bottles and GPS head units which had gone flying. Perhaps we should just use the lanyards Garmin includes in the box after alll?

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In addition to the Bike Crash feature, Garmin has used the same gyroscope to enable a Bike Alarm for the Edge 830. Similar features can be found on the Cycliq Fly lights and the SeeSense ACE lights for example units. However, they tend to rely on activating an alert on your phone. The Garmin Edge 830 is able to use its own internal speaker, and here is the crucial bit, to emit are rather LOUD alarm if someone attempts to steal your bike.

You don’t need to engage the alarm from your phone, as with the similar products, but can access from the swipe down menus at the top of the device

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When engaged, that display changes, acting as a security feature for the Edge as well. Given the sensitivity of the system, the alarm will trigger if the bike gets a bit of a jolt, so I’d say use judiciously on cafe stops.

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Personally, I prefer the silent alarm set up and just carry the lightweight lock like the HipLok FLX in my back pocket. But if you don’t have anything with you, it’s a great option.

Garmin Edge 830 – Cycling

Cycling with the Garmin 830, is pretty much dependent on the level of depth you want to go. IF you want to use the unit as a simple method of recording your exercise – well you should be looking at a cheaper model – you can. But you’ll get much more out of the unit as a training tool, but in quantifying your work out, but also as an assistant for your exertions when on the bike. A big example of that is when you are riding on a set route one feature which I’ve found made the riding more enjoyable – well when slogging up a mountain anyway – was Garmin ClimbPro.

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The Garmin Edge 830 will display exactly how much pain and sweat – ok, ok, how much distance and elevation there is still to go via ClimbPro. Genuinely at points when you are hanging over the handlebars this is a good feature to have, and let’s you more effectively set your pace on the climb

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Work has been done with regard to the Garmin Edge 830’s ability to advise on performance and recovery. Two additional acclimatisation reports are now included. Heat Acclimatisation and Altitude Acclimatisation. Using previous data on your performance, the unit will comment on your adaptation to heat and humidity and the impact on performance and thus recovery advice. The unit clearly lies though, the one thing I was NOT adapted to was 37-degree heat… on a mountainside

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The Altitude Acclimatisation does the same for your elevation. I’m not too certain how useful this will be on a cycling head unit, as riders tend to cycle up hills, and then back down again. Both, hopefully, in a short period of time.. I would expect this to be seen on future updates to either Fenix firmware, or more likely the Garmin Fenix 6, which is rumoured for the end of the month of August 2019.

Hydration, particular when doing a high-level work out – whether it is summer or not is very important. Hydration when dealing with indoor cyclists is perhaps even more important, due to the sweat loss.

As a result, I’m really pleased to see two new features which feed into this. Hydration and Nutrition Smart Alerts and Hydration and Nutrition tracking. If you are using a course/route, the Garmin 830 is able to calculate from the perceived difficulty on the route and your previous performance metrics when and how much water and fuel you should be taking. Many riders will just use time markers, or distance alert to time their feed and fluids. The Garmin Hydration/Nutrition smart alerts gives an additional refinement to this, to help riders maintain their performance.

If you prefer to just ride with no particular course programmed in, you can still set timed/distance feed alerts. Which is going to be much more use on Zwift for example. At the end of a ride, you are able to track your consumption as well, to ensure better recognition of your losses / surpluses

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For more information on fluid balance, electrolytes and training there is an article on indoor cycling. Plus during the UK’s heatwave this year, I also pushed out an article on heat stress in training. Both of which seem relevant links given the new Garmin 830 features.

One for the serious cyclists, and certainly the Zwift brigade is Garmin’s inclusion of the Performance Power Curve. For those of you have haven’t looked into your power data with much detail, the easiest way to describe the how to use the power curve is it will give you an idea of the maximum power you could theoretically hold over different races – eg. distances and times.

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Hunter Allen of the Peaks Coaching Group – who literally wrote the book on training with a power meter – has a great video on understanding your power curve. I’ll let him explain more:

At the end of a ride you get quite a large data dump. Initially looking at Aerobic TE and Anaerobic TE, following by suggested recovery time and the actual data summary from your ride

If you want to dig a little further into your details at any point when off the bike, Garmin 830 has a very in-depth “My Stat” page that lets you dig into your Training numbers. These are based both from your previous 1-2 weeks exercises, but also on Physio TrueUp where you should have a unification of your physiological metrics across all Garmin devices.

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If you tap on the icons for VO2 Max and Training Load you get even more depths of information, but along with descriptors to explain to users who might not be 100% familiar with them, what these numbers actually mean, if not how they are derived

You can also go a little further into the self-monitoring by doing a Stress Score. Simply stand with an HRM connected for three mins, and wait to be told how stressful your life is! As you can see I’m as calm as a cucumber. But in all seriousness, demonstrates why, after a couple of stressful days at work, I was seriously off my game when going for a ride

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You can set the Edge 830 to update you it calculates performance changes

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Garmin Edge 830 Review – Turn by Turn Navigation

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One MAJOR advantage of the larger Edge series such as this over units such as the Wahoo Bolt or Garmins own 130 is the 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. A new processor has made the whole unit feel much snappier than the older Garmin Edge 820, and even the larger Edge 1030

When I reviewed the Garmin Edge 1030 I commented “There is the very “Year 2000″ lag when using the nav interface”, which honestly meant I didn’t often use it for on the fly navigation.

I’m lucky enough that I frequently get to cycle into work, normally just put an address into Google Maps on my phone when doing home visits on the bike – yes even in the rain. But this also gives me the opportunity to test gear in the “real world” rather than just on review bench kind of way.

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I’ve mainly used my phone as ALL bike GPS units are slow, and little infuriating when it comes to navigation to specific addresses, particularly individual homes. Given Garmin’s new processor, that is certainly not the case with the Egde 830. Part if this may be due to the inclusion of a new heat map with the map, making it easier for the device to calculate on the fly navigation too. We’re talking seconds, certainly sub 30sec

Inserting navigation destinations is very easy, with no annoyingly long pauses whilst the unit looks which roads to use. Genuinely the time limitation to using the navigation function is the time it takes you to insert the details into the device

The speed of navigation is now brilliant. But there are possibly two more important factors. Using the heat maps means that the routes are no longer stupid, and rerouting is handle onboard rapidly!! On the Garmin Fenix 5 Plus, often routes I was suggested to were considerably longer than I would normally take, so it’s nice to see Garmin getting this right – even if it feels as though users were beta testers before getting it right!

In fact I found the navigating around London with the Edge 830 was not only possible, but was actually very easy!

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There is also the option for POI navigation, point to point map routes, and loading pre-defined courses, either created on Garmin Connect or from a straight forward GPX file uploaded

I genuinely feel that the Garmin Radar is probably the most important bike of cycle-specific safety kit out there for riders. BUT if the overlay impacts on the GPS use, then people are less likely to use it, thankfully on the 830 there is a good balance

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When actually riding around the Garmin Edge 830 screen gives you enough space to see a clear overview of your route, and when the next turn is, and the direction you are going. But more importantly is that there is space for the Garmin Varia Radar function to unobtrusively fit as an overlay.

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As mentioned you can get a huge array of screens and data fields from Garmin IQ, which it might feel you lose out on in Navigation mode. But all is not entirely lost, there are two fields as the bottom of the map screen you can customise which makes using the map function really nice for long distance rides, as you can pretty much keep this single screen up most of the time

Garmin Edge 830 Review Conclusions

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Garmin has often a variable approach to devices, sometimes hit sometimes miss. The Garmin Edge 830 is certainly a hit, and frankly put’s it’s bigger brother the Garmin Edge 1030 to shame, which only really has the benefit of a larger, but a less bright screen.

I’ve found that on many rides, I’ve actually opted for the Garmin Edge 830 in preference to the 1030. Using the navigation in London for example has been a breeze. The new processor has made navigation a much more effective feature on the Edge 830

BUT, Garmin is the market leader in many of it’s fields. Not least cycling GPS units. At some point, that means that Garmin needs to LEAD the field, not merely be better than their competitors. We’re in 2019, and there is no USB-C, and Garmin have only just managed to install adequate screen technology.

The Garmin Edge 830 is probably the best cycling GPS unit on the market currently – certainly with navigation built-in.

The £90 is quite a difference between the 830 and the 530 is quite a lot. The question is, do you feel that the touch screen, and address specific routing on the Garmin Edge 830 is enough to justify the difference? Previously I would have suggested possibly not. £90 is quite a lot. HOWEVER, given the improvements to the navigation on the 830, if you feel this is a function you’re going to be using, I would strongly recommend it.

I actually feel that the best bang for the buck is STILL the smallest of the Garmin line, the Garmin Edge 130. The Garmin Edge 830 is certainly the best fully-featured unit, but whether the value is there is slightly debatable especially as it could have been much better at least from a screen perspective. Heck the Hammerhead Karoo, for all its size, is demonstrating there is a market for a GPS unit where the screen is a key selling feature.

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Following the acquisition of Tacx this year, I know that some of Tacx’s most creative engineers have met with Garmin’s teams. Hopefully, some of Tacx’s desire to push the envelope will be seen in Garmin’s products over the next couple of years!

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This review was made possible by a loaner unit from Run and Ride – you can pick up an Edge 830 from there is you wish to support a local chain

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James Gill

Author of TitaniumGeek, which started after smashing off my RIGHT elbow. <br /> <br /> After learning a lot about olecranon fractures, I was introduced to the world Zwift, and slowly transitioned into writing about sports gadgets and the like<br /> <br /> Trying to keep up cycling, swimming and running whilst being a busy General Practice Doctor