Garmin Edge 800. The best bicycle GPS?
When I am out riding, I like to know long time I have ridden, I like to know average speed and many other data. That is what any bicycle computer gives you. But what about knowing where you are and where you should go next? Sure, you can always bring a paper map on your ride, it is not a bad idea for overview purposes. But when it comes to getting the most quality riding out of your few moments that you have time, a GPS is better choice. But I already have a smart phone you say? Yes, but sometimes a proper GPS still is better.
Read my review of the best iPhone case here ->
Garmin currently have two bicycle GPS models on the market that also lets you view a map, Edge 800 and Edge 810. The hardware is exactly the same, except the 810 has Bluetooth built in. More details on that later. In this review we are focusing on the Edge 800, but most of it applies to the Edge 810 as well.
Here are some of the highlights of the Edge 800
- It has a thermometer built in so you always know how cold it is
- It has a great bike mount
- Battery life is 15 hours
- It's water proof to the IPX7 standard
- Operating temperature -20 to +60 Celsius
- Barometric altimeter - you know how many meters you gained or lost
- Turn by turn guidance on maps
- Virtual Partner - race against yourself
- Advanced workouts - make your intervals etc from the computer and transfer to the Edge
- Alert sound
- Usable touch screen with gloves on
If you like to know all the details, read DC Rainmakers excellent review here ->>>
Now, lets focus on the planning of routes part that you probably came for.
First, you need to get maps for your Edge. There is a built in "Basemap", but that is totally useless. You have some options:
- Free maps based on openstreetmap, like velomap and openmtbmap
- Road maps, like Garmin City Navigator
- Terrain maps. in Sweden we have the excellent Firluftskartan V3
The free maps are great maps. But they tend to lack some basic road data sometimes. Even larger roads on my surroundings can sometimes be missing or cut off the middle. The main advantage is that you can actually improve the maps yourself. Another advantage is that the sometimes have bicycle specific roads in larger cities.
Garmins road maps are called City Navigator. They are excellent road maps. The usually are dead on correct on normal roads. For road riding on the country side they are the best map to get.
Garmins TOPO Maps for Sweden are called Friluftskartan. They are currently up to version 3. They include lots of data about the terrain, lakes etc but most important they also includes paths. This is how it looks default from Garmin:
As you can see there is a lot of data, but it gets very difficult to read, especially on a small screen. Fortunately it can be modified to look like this:
This is the same map data, but it's .TYP files are changed so that it becomes more clear what is a path and what is a road. For you to compare the Google map is below:
So, now you have the map, what next? On the Edge you can't actually plan a route on the device itself. I would say it would take too much time anyway. To plan your route Garmin has an excellent application called Basecamp. When you plug your GPS to the computer Basecamp can use those maps on the computer too. This makes it very easy to deal with the maps. To start your route creations, select the "Creat a route" tool:
Click on the first point where you like to start from. The you click next point and so on until finished. After your route is done, you select "Transfer/Your new route to Device". There are som tricks you can use if you like your route to take you to places where there is no path or road on the map. Just select CMD-I while routing and you see all your VIA points. On the last one, select the most right button and change from "Bicycling" to Direct:
After that you select the next point on a road/path and you change from "Direct" to "Bicycling". That will make Basecamp continue make a route on the road again. This will make a "Mixed Travel" route. The Edge handles this very good. Even much more expensive and larger GPS units, like the Monterra can't manage this.
Sometimes you like to share your created route with friends. That is fine as long as your friends have the same map as you do. A safer bet is to create a Track of the Route. You just select the Route in the bottom left, right click and chose "Create Track from Route".
So how does it look on the GPS after you are done?
All in all, the Egde 800 is a very mature unit. It's a product that makes it easy to live with technology.