I have to confess that I am a bit of a gadget guy when it comes to bike gear.
I like to try new things to see if I can find something that will make my riding more enjoyable and my training more efficient. I also like simplicity and function as opposed to show and flare.
Last year I switched from using a Cycleops Powertap power meter hub to a Quarq Sram Red crankset powermeter.
The reason I switched from the Powertap to the Quarq was simple. I liked the Powertap a lot but it limited me to that particular wheel if I wanted to view and more importantly, record power data.
I used the Powertap setup for two season, and I never had any problems with it, but I decided that I wanted to be able to use an aero wheelset for racing, especially since I targeted several time trials as important events last year. I considered getting a second Powertap setup with an aero rim, but I decided that since I only had one road bike, that I would rather buy a Quark and not have the expense of two Powertap wheelsets. If I had more than one bike, this would make my decision a lot more difficult.
in deciding to purchase the Quarq crankset, I realized that I would also need to get a new head unit display to go with the Quarq. The Powertap head unit that I had was not compatible with the ant+ wireless technology that the Quarq uses.
I considered several options, but eventually decided to purchase the Garmin Edge 500.
Some of the features that initially attracted me to this computer were its small size and simple design. I remember seeing some of the first available Garmin bike GPS computers and they were huge and looked ugly mounted on the handlebar stem. The Garmin Edge 500 was much smaller than some of the first versions and not much bigger than many simple cyclometers.
In addition to its small size, the other main aesthetic feature that I liked about it was the simple screen layout and four control buttons.
I chose to get the heart rate strap with the Garmin however I discovered that the ant+ Powertap strap that I had worked with it so I believe that any heart rate strap would work as long as it is ant+ compatible.
Once I got my Garmin Edge 500 I found that it was super easy to sync with the powermeter and that setting up the user and bike profile was not difficult at all given the menus and instructions that were simple and easy to follow.
Once I set up my user profile and bike settings, I had to set up the three different page views. This is another feature that I really like about this computer. It allows me to set up different pages so that I have a display that shows what I want to see no matter what I am doing. If I am just doing a trainer workout or race warmup and don’t need to see speed or distance, I can have a page setup for that. In my case, I have four data fields showing-power, heart rate, time and clock for this type of workout. I also have two other pages setup, one for training rides and one for racing. These are easily customizable based on the information that you want to have available to view.
Some of the things that I found most important to be able to do was to go into the Settings>Bike Settings>Data Fields menu and change the data fields to my preferences. Also in the Bike Settings menu, you will find the Auto Pause setting. This allows you to set the computer to auto-pause or not based on whether you are riding or just using the trainer and thus are stationary. .
In the main menu, under GPS>GPS Settings you can disable the GPS feature if you are riding inside and don’t want to be bothered by the unit telling you that it has lost satellite connection.
The most important function to be able to change is found in the Settings>System>Tones menu. This allows you to turn off the annoying tones that sound every time the Edge does something it thinks you should know about. I personally don’t like when it beeps at me all the time and I don’t use the alarm feature for heart rate or power zone alarms.
The Garmin Edge 500 uses an internal rechargeable battery that charges using a mini usb cord. The battery holds very reasonable charge and is able to be used for several 2-3 hour rides without needing to be charged.
The same cord is also used to download completed workout data to your favorite software. I use Trainingpeaks and so I use their downloader, which works flawlessly for me. I’ve also downloaded the GPS files straight into Strava without any problems.
Since the release of the Garmin bicycle computers, Garmin and several aftermarket companies have released mounts for them that extend the computer in front of the stem and handlebars making it easier to see the face of the computer. I don’t currently use one and don’t plan to since I am able to see my computer just fine due to my long stem however, if I did want one I would purchase the K-Edge Computer Mount for Garmin. It is constructed of CNC’d, anodized aluminum and comes in several colors. I have the K-Edge GoPro mount which I reviewed and I love that, and am sure the mount for the K-Edge Garmin computer mount is of the same quality.
The Garmin Edge 500 is a great little computer head unit that is compatible with ant+ devices and is simple to use, yet has plenty of features.