Garmin Edge - A bit of a rant

So I have never been one to track “fitness” stuff. While I try to ride a bike 15-20 hours/week, I really don’t care about how fast, far, wattage, calories, or pretty much any other metric. Someone gave me a cheap bike computer years ago, but after the batteries died, I didn’t replace them.

Prior to the covid thing, I had increased my traveling greatly. And in order to keep up cycling, I am now riding roads I don’t know. There are plenty of route makers out there, I have been using for quite some time. You can use ridewithgps to make a paper cue sheet, when and which way to turn, or for a monthly fee, you can use your phone for that turn-by-turn navigation.

First, I’m pretty cheap. Monthly subscriptions bug me, I still use Adobe 6.0 on my personal computer. Also, I hate a ginormous phone attached to my bike. It is aesthetically unpleasing. Paper cue sheets are a pita to use. And quite frankly, paper, really?

My spouse/kids knows of this and just recently surprised me with a Garmin 530 for father’s day, see pic below. “Small” turn-by-turn navigation I can use with any bike anywhere in the world. Syncs with ridewithgps, and it provides speed, distance, tracks to the cloud, and other stuff too.

Outside dims are 85mm x 50mm. A little smaller would be ideal for me, but much smaller than my phone. My problem? It is 17mm thick. Like a freaking Palm Pilot from the mid-90s. wtf? The buttons are these harsh snap domes, again from the mid-90s. Micro USB? I mean, this is the latest and greatest second-tier (their 830 is the top) bike computer on the market and the tech is just plain old. Anyone know why?

Micro USB seems pretty inescapable still. I’m glad to see some devices switching over to USC C. I just got a new DJI gimbal and it is USB C. Micro USB always seems so flimsy. 17mm seems pretty thick, which is I’m sure compounded by the smaller top view proportions. An iPhone is 70mm x 145mm and even with a case on mine it is 10mm thick. Maybe they were tied to a preexisting module. That would be my guess. Or because of the smaller size they had to go with a thicker battery to get the same performance? That could be another reason. What does the mount look like? Show us a pic on your bike for reference :slight_smile:

Perhaps the GPS tech/battery needed is big?

I’m guessing it is battery, but now I want to take it apart :slight_smile: … I’m going to send this to some friends at Garmin to see if they will reply.

Could be the batteries, although thin li-polymers are available off the shelf. Looking at Garmins line-up, I think they recycle their hardware. Perhaps the guts are a few generations back. Also, ruggedness is an issue with a sports related device. Cell phones seem designed to break today. This looks like it could take a few falls.

I have a Wahoo Element Bolt and although its a bit smaller on the L+W its about the same depth. I think one thing contributing atleast on the Wahoo is the twist lock which adds a bit to the thickness but feels robust and nice. What I like overall which I think the thickness contributes to a bit (although could be a bit slimmer) is the ability to use the side buttons when going down a gravel road at +/- 20mph. and not have to search for them while feeling nice and secure.

iab, sorry you were disappointed with the Edge 530. We approached the design as a purpose built product for cycling. Our decisions are based on what is best for being used while on the bike.

As many have mentioned the thickness is driven by the battery, which gives users up to 20 hours of battery life (some have experienced longer in real world tests). While many cyclists won’t be on the bike that long we want to make sure those who are riding for 15 to 20 hours have enough battery life to track their entire ride. We constantly balancing size and performance. In this case we focused on minimizing the height and width as much as we could with the display that was selected. This is what the rider sees while on the bike, so we didn’t want it to look bigger than it needed to be. We had a battery capacity target and in the end minimizing the footprint pushed the thickness a bit. We felt it was a fair trade off for the performance and look on the bike.

The switches are tact switches. Selected to give tactile feedback when wearing gloves and out riding in rough terrain like mountain biking or gravel.

The micro USB was an engineering decision, so I don’t know all the details. I do know that having easy access to a charge cable was a consideration. We wanted someone to be able to pick one up while traveling if they forgot theirs.

Hope that gives you some insight to a few of the choices that were made during development.

DC Rainmaker has some great size comparison photos of current cycling computers at different price points in his review of the Edge 530:

battery… I called it :wink: … thanks for joining to reply to this Bikerscout! I appreciate that.

Thanks bikerscout! I very much appreciate the input.

As for disappointed, that may be a bit strong. I certainly understand design choices and you can’t please all of the people all of the time. And increasing market segmentation is costly.

I would say some of the choices you made were based on the 20 and not the 80. In fact, it may be closer to or less than 5% of the user experience is driving decisions. The General Magic documentary comes to mind. Just food for thought.