Hands on: Garmin Edge 820
14 May 2018 | 0
This review must start with a confession.
The Garmin Edge 820 comes in a much respected series of cycle computers that offer a full range of tracking and metrics and navigation.
The 820 adds a group function where your mates and you can ride as a group and see each other’s stats, or commutes to work or whatever, which is pretty cool.
However, this tester did not use this device on a bicycle.
One simply did not have time. So, with the versatile mounting kit, I put in a 1000cc motorcycle and tested it that way.
The turn by turn navigation was particularly good, and copes well with both urban and more rural situations and easily accommodates off-road riding. What it does not do is handle motorways. On the basis that a bicyclist should not be on a motorway and therefore spends its time finding the nearest exit to get one off it, it does not actually help much. But, even at motorcycle speeds, the navigation worked well and the 820 still gathered metrics as if one were some kind of IronMan burning calories like a star consumes hydrogen.
So, the 820 is a small, GPS-enabled, touch-screen, cycle computer weighing in at just 68g with a 200 x 265 resolution screen. On the basis that you are unlikely to be staring too hard at it, that is enough of a display. It does mean scrolling a lot to get to the deep level of metrics, but a reasonable trade-off for size and battery life, which is in general rather good. The touch screen is backed up by two hard buttons, which is handy for gloved hands.
There is enough memory to record 100-odd routes, with history of up to 200.
When linked with the Garmin Connect app, and via Connect web site, the information builds into a very comprehensive suite of data.
There is everything you would want in terms of speed, distance, time, performance comparisons, calorie burn etc, but under the heading of advanced performance, the 820 is compatible with ANT+ sensors, for speed, cadence and heart rate. There is also accommodation for ANT+ power meters, including Vector, Garmin’s own pedal-based power meter that measures total power, left/right balance and cadence. It can even record cycling dynamics to give a picture of form, including where power is being applied on the pedal and throughout the pedal stroke. It also integrates with ANT+ electronic shifting systems and ANT+ bike trainers.
Garmin says with the addition of a heart rate strap, it opens up access to a variety of physiological data. In this manner, it can measure cycling-specific VO2 Max, along with a recovery advisor, which analyses the data and tells you how long you should wait before attempting another hard ride. This connected system of sensors, accessories, cycling computer and post-ride analysis at Garmin Connect, says the maker, allows you to keep track of how your body performs from ride to ride.
The mode of testing aside, the Edge 820 is a worthy member of a line of well established devices for cyclists from the merely curious to the tour-de-wherever specialists. It is pricey at €400-odd, but for what it does, and being able to cope with slightly higher speeds that its initial design envelope, it is to be commended.