Our "Rider Review" article series features honest reviews from verified purchasers of Worldwide Cyclery. They contain the photos, thoughts, feedback & overall review you are looking for.
One of the staples in riding bikes, in general, is wanting to keep track of your mileage as well as seeing different routes along the way. The bike computer isn't a new invention but the modern computer has a tone of features. Our friend Derek shares his experience with the Garmin Edge 530 Mountain Bike Computer Bundle. Check it out!
I’ll admit, I love gadgets, but I’m also a creature of habit, so when I find a gadget that works well for what I need I tend to stick with it… until it doesn’t. Such was the case with my trusty Garmin Edge 500. Such a rock-solid, a basic device that just “worked” despite the abuse of being strapped to the bars on too many rocky descents. But, when I literally began to wear the buttons off the side of the device and the battery life would start to wane after just a couple of rides, I knew it was time to find its successor. The success I had with the Edge 500 certainly colored my decision-making and I really never considered any other brand besides Garmin, but I did do some comparison shopping between the wide range of Edge models available. As I looked at the options, the features I knew that I wanted were:
The Edge 530 checked all the boxes nicely w/ some new functionality (called ForkSight) in this latest model that builds in all of the Trailforks data, making it immediately accessible as soon as you stop your bike during a ride. All my sensors, from ANT heart rate monitors to Bluetooth LE power meters paired up easily, and the Edge can connect to the phone w/ Bluetooth, or it can even connect directly to wifi for post-ride uploads. The Edge 530 is very similar to the equally-new Edge 830, but the 830 has a touchscreen which gives the added benefit of being able to enter in street addresses directly. Personally, this wasn’t a terribly important feature as I could still drop a pin on the map w/ the 530 and still get navigation instructions. I also felt the touchscreen was more hindrance than a help as I often ride with full-finger gloves and navigating a touchscreen can be problematic. I prefer the simple (albeit repetitive) interface of the side and bottom buttons which are easy to find, even by feel in the dark. Price-wise, none of these devices are cheap. $300 isn’t something I throw around lightly, but when I compare all the functionality of this device with the others in the lineup, the Edge 530 definitely seemed to have the best bang for the buck. Its predecessor, the Edge 520 Plus, definitely would save a few bucks, and if it weren’t for the additional mountain bike-specific features (most notably ForkSight), I’d probably have considered it as another good option, but for my purposes, I thought the additional functionality well worth the difference in cost.
All in all the Edge 530 was the gigantic leap forward in technology from the Edge 500 I’d expected it to be, and so far the only idiosyncrasies I’ve found have been in phone connectivity. I regularly use the LiveTrack feature of the Edge to let my better half know where I’m at during a ride (since I’m a terrible time estimator), and I’ve had a number of occasions where the LiveTrack hasn’t properly started, even when it appeared the Garmin computer had connected to my iPhone. Is this an Edge 530 issue? An iPhone issue? A Garmin Connect App issue? Maybe some of each, but I think there’s probably a “magic order” of powering up devices and apps that just need to be fleshed out in order for the behavior to work consistently the way I want it to. It is annoying, though, to have a “LiveTrack failed to automatically start” message keeps popping up on the screen throughout a ride, especially since it either works fully from the start or doesn’t work at all. After dismissing the message for the 15th time I usually give up and just don’t worry about seeing the bottom half of the screen until I finish the ride. I’m sure, though, that either I’ll figure out the best way to pair everything up at the start of a ride or Garmin will release a firmware update that will resolve the issue. Regardless, just an annoyance and certainly not something that has me wishing I’d have purchased a different product (Update: it seems to reliably connect and start the LiveTrack if I first power on the Garmin, and then launch the Garmin Connect app fresh by killing it if it’s running in the background before opening it on the iPhone.)
After living and riding with the Edge 530 for the past six weeks, I’m very happy with most everything about the device and would repeat the purchase without hesitation if I was to do it again. It has far more functionality than I’ll probably ever use, especially from an athletic training perspective, but you also don’t need a master's in electrical engineering to access the key features that make it a great all-around cycling computer.