With the launch of the Garmin Edge 530, choosing a premium bike computer just got a whole lot easier. Especially since it has been launched at an attractive price point. In this post we sum up the upgrades, so you can decide if these upgrades have value for your own cycling needs – and if this bike computer is the one for you. If you are a mountain biker, this may turn out to be a no-brainer …
Garmin’s newest upgraded bike computer is more like a new brand-new bike computer than a simple upgrade – the Garmin Edge 530. I am not sure why they didn’t just rebrand with a new name. In any event, up to now, if you wanted a premium-performance bike computer, you could be forgiven for being a bit confused. There were many options that sound very similar, notably in the Garmin Edge 500 and 800 series. But with the launch of the Garmin Edge 530 at a very reasonable price point, the choice has got a lot simpler.
In this post, I summarize the most important upgrades, so you can decide if these upgrades have value for your own cycling needs.
The Story of the Garmin Edge 500 Series, so Far
This well-loved series first launched with the Garmin Edge 500 in 2009, followed by the Garmin Edge 510 in 2013. At that point, it was pretty much the budget option if you wanted premium but you didn’t want to splash out on a Garmin Edge 1000. But it lacked many of the premium features found in the 800 and 1000 series.
The Garmin Edge 520s
However, when the Garmin Edge 520 was launched in 2015, it caused a lot of well-deserved excitement. It was a major upgrade on the Edge 510 – possibly one of the most thorough upgrades ever (until now). As a result, the Edge 520 was, for a long time, our pick for best bike computer.
But then when the Garmin Edge 520 Plus was launched in 2018, there was yet more excitement. This bike computer combined all the sophistication of the 520, with much better maps and some (limited) navigation abilities. This positioned the 520 Plus as a more affordable alternative to the top Garmin Edge models – the Edge 830 and Edge 1030. So, for a long time, it has been our pick for best bike computer. Almost as good as the 830 and 1030, but way cheaper!
I published my in-depth comparison post comparing the Edge 1030 vs. 820 vs. 520, and it was extremely popular. I thought my work here was done, but then in less than a year, Garmin released the Edge 530. Gosh Garmin, can you give a guy a break? Do you know how much work goes into keeping track of these constant upgrades? Not to mention that they’ve just released the Garmin Edge 830! But more about that in another post.
Performance Issues with the Edge 520 Plus
Jokes aside, it is interesting that the 530 was released less than a year after the 520 Plus. Apart from making my job more difficult, what was Garmin’s aim? Frankly, I think it was a response to performance issues with the Edge 520 Plus. The Edge 520 Plus should have annihilated competitors like the Wahoo ELEMNT, but it didn’t. Partly because many users complained that adding on the maps slowed down the performance, which kind of took away from the “it can do (almost) everything” glow.
Double the Speed with the Garmin Edge 530
The Garmin Edge 530 has dealt with that performance issue in no uncertain terms, as it comes with a processor that is claimed to be twice as fast (but which in actual use sometimes feels even faster than that). Beyond that, it comes with an entire raft of awesome new abilities, which have led reviewers as authoritative as DC Rainmaker to say that this looks like the best bike computer ever.
But other reviewers caution that while the Edge 530 might be best for some cyclists, at the other end of the scale, the Edge 520 might have everything you need, and it’s a lot cheaper (around $230, as compared to around $300).
I am currently working on in-depth posts comparing the new Garmin Edge 530 to the other Garmin Edge models. But those posts take a lot of time, so in the meantime, I am just going to summarize the most important upgrades, so you can decide if these upgrades have value for your own cycling needs.
Upgrades offered by the Garmin Edge 530
Upgrade no. 1: Speed
The processor is twice as fast. This is by far the most important upgrade, in our opinion. Who hasn’t been irritated by having to stand astride your bike, waiting for your bike computer to get done processing, so you can ride your bike already?
Upgrade no. 2: Full Navigation Maps
Thanks to the pre-installed Garmin Cycle Map, you can re-route on the fly while cycling if you go off course! You also get back to start routing. But it still doesn’t let you input an address direct to the unit and then have it calculate a route. You still have to pre-download your routes (with some exceptions – see our in-depth post comparing the Edge 520 and Edge 520 Plus).
Upgrade no. 3: ClimbPro
The Garmin Edge 530 has a feature called ClimbPro. This upgrade is awesome for those who like to cycle up hills. It only works on downloaded routes. But it’s really quite awesome – it basically shows you graphically the grades that lie ahead, as well as the grade you are currently climbing. This could be immensely useful on long-distance, hilly rides.
Upgrade no. 4: Mountain Biking Metrics
The Garmin Edge 530 is a whole lot better for mountain biking. Several of the upgrades are directly related to mounting biking, notably:
- Grit rating – this shows you how difficult a route is.
- Flow rating – this shows you how well you descended a tough route. This gives you a metric to try and beat the next time!
- Hang time – this shows you on the fly how long you were in the air after a jump. Later, you can analyze every single jump in great detail on Garmin Connect. How far did you jump, how long were you in the air, and how fast were you going?
- Trailforks – this app is now integrated into the unit. This means that maps for 130,000 mountain bike trails are included in the unit, along with their difficulty rating. So, you can see the difficulty level of the trails you are cycling on. If the trail forks, you can make an informed decision as to which trail to take. For example, if you’re tired, you can choose the trail with a lower difficulty level.
Upgrade no. 5: Brand New Performance Metrics
You can now get even more data on your bike computer – assuming you want still more. These metrics include:
- Performance power curve – this will track your power over various periods of time – very useful if you are training and want to track improvements. Of course, you need a power meter.
- Heat acclimation – how well are you adjusting to heat?
- Altitude acclimation – how well are you adjusting to high altitude?
- Water and calorie requirements – this bike computer will remind you to drink and eat on a long bike ride, based on your individual profile. You can even meticulously record all the hydration and nutrition you take on board.
Upgrade no. 6: Better Structured Workouts
The workouts built into this bike computer now rival those offered by dedicated apps. So, if you are interested in training, this could be super useful for you.
Upgrade no. 7: Bluetooth
The Garmin Edge 530 has Bluetooth Smart connectivity, so you can use sensors that connect via Bluetooth Smart. This is of course in addition to ANT+ connectivity.
Upgrade no. 8: Longer Battery Life
The built-in battery offers 20 hours (up from 15). More importantly for long-range cyclists, the Edge 530 can be used in conjunction with a Garmin Edge Charge Power Pack, so you have power for more than 40 hours!
Upgrade no. 9: Bike Alarm
You can use this in situations such as running into the bakery or the washroom. If anyone moves your bike an alarm will go off, and you will get an alert on your phone.
Upgrade no. 10: Find my Bike Computer
Let’s say you do a huge jump and your Garmin Edge 530 manages to come loose and land in the bushes. With this feature you can get it to make a noise, so you can find it. I would be more likely to use it to find where I left it. The only reason I wore an Apple watch for a few years was because I could use it to find my iPhone. Very useful feature!
Bottom Line on the New Garmin Edge 530
This is such a great upgrade, and yet the price is very reasonable, relative to other Garmin Edge bike computers. No wonder the most authoritative bike gear reviewer, DC Rainmaker, has said that the Garmin Edge 530 “may be the best bike computer Garmin has ever made.” If you cycle long distances, if you are seriously into bike training, and most especially if you are a mountain biker, the choice of bike computer is now simple – get the Edge 530!
For cheaper options, please see our popular post on 7 of the Best Bike Computers.
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