Garmin Edge 520 bike computer review
For many years, Garmin has had a monopoly on the market in GPS bike computers.
Although now faced by stiff competition for the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt, the Garmin Edge 520 bike computer is my choice for the best bang-for-buck bike computer out there today.
Full disclosure: This post contains compensated links (more detail below).
The Edge 520 is a small (4.9 x 7.3cm) and good-looking unit. While some may prefer a larger screen, I like the compact size and have never found myself straining to see it.
The unit is operated by buttons on the sides and bottom. Other units have a touch screen, but I have never felt the need for this, especially given I'm often riding with full-finger gloves that don’t work on a touch screen. The unit comes with a range of good quality mounts.
The screens are easily configurable for anything between one and ten different fields. In addition to basic data (speed, power, heart rate, distance, elevation, etc.), I particularly like knowing the distance to your route destination, what route profile is coming up when it's going to get dark! Elevation sensors are remarkably accurate when compared to map data and roadside markers.
Battery life is acceptable but not outstanding. Ultra-distance specialists regularly riding for more than 8 hours may wish to look at the competition from Wahoo, but for most riders it will be adequate. Charging is via a standard micro USB cable, so there is never any stress with remembering or locating a specific cable.
The unit connects flawlessly to our range of power meters, heart rate monitors and other sensors. I also use it to connect to the Shimano Dura Ace Di2 9150 D-Fly unit, allowing you to control your Garmin from your shifter hoods and check your di2 battery level.
You can also connect it to a VIRB Ultra 30 action camera and shoot photos and videos from your Garmin, as well as integrating with Garmin Vector pedals. Very nifty stuff!
When I first experienced wireless uploads from this unit via Bluetooth, it was life-changing! No sooner do you roll up to your front door, than your ride is synced to TrainingPeaks, Strava and Garmin Connect.
When it comes to navigation and routes, the Edge 520 performs well. Base maps can be uploaded and accessed for every destination, and turn-by-turn routes (like those we provide in our ride guides) can both be uploaded, which is a godsend when you’re in an unfamiliar location. While the upload process for these is not wireless and a bit old-fashioned (changing file names, moving files between directories, etc.), it all works well (read our tips on how to do it, here).
But don’t expect to be able to navigate to a destination like you would on the mapping apps on your smartphone.
If you’re in the game of chasing Strava segments, the functionality is impressive. It gives you warning of your favourite upcoming segments and even tracks your progress through the segment. There are automatic updates on FTP, VO2 max and recovery metrics. They are interesting for the recreational rider but unlikely to be accurate or useful enough if you’re a performance athlete.
The Garmin Edge 520 bike computer is an excellent, reliable and compact all round bike computer that integrates well with your smartphone, training apps and sensors.
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Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, we will earn a commission. This comes at no additional cost to you. We recommend the Garmin Edge 520 bike computer because it’s a superb all-round cycling computer, not because of the small commission we make if you decide to buy one. Read our disclosure policy for more information.