This is a complete review of the Garmin Edge Touring Navigation GPS Bike Computer. This bike computer has some excellent features. Most notably, it was the first bike computer to be able to plot courses and then give turn-by-turn navigation directions and off-course alerts. I have a habit of getting lost … so I got a Garmin Edge Touring Navigator.
I have absolutely zero sense of direction, to the point where if my instinct tells me to go in a particular direction, the safest thing is to set out in the OPPOSITE direction. So I needed a bike computer that would tell me where to go.
What I really wanted was something that would TELL me directions, like the TomTom GPS in my car, or my wife, Maggie (Mrs Average Joe Cyclist). When I am riding a bike I don’t want to be peering at written instructions – I prefer a voice just telling me what to do.
Unfortunately, no such thing exists, and I wish someone would get around to inventing one.
UPDATE: It is now possible to use Google Maps on your smart phone plus headphones to get spoken turn-by-turn directions. If you choose a destination and tell the app you are cycling, a voice will give you directions. It’s not perfect, because sometimes it tells you to use very busy roads (whereas Garmin Edge using cycling specific maps). However, if you stick to quieter roads, Google Maps will recalculate, and continue to direct you. If I did this, I would only use the headphone in one ear so I could still hear traffic. Here’s my post on how to choose the safest headphones for cycling.
The video below gives you an introduction to what the Garmin Edge Touring bike computer can do.
Tourers or Commuters?
Judging by the name, Garmin is targeting this bike computer at touring cyclists, rather than commuters, which I find odd. Bike commuters are a MUCH bigger market. However, despite the name, I could see that the Garmin Edge Touring would be the closest fit for my needs as a bike commuter.
Low Price/No Frills
I like the fact that Garmin has kept the price reasonably low by eliminating all the frills: it will not measure your heart rate or your pedaling cadence; however, it claims that it will figure out where you are, and help you to get someplace else. And that’s what I need right now.
I have lost interest in measuring my heart rate, having reached a stage of my life where I am just grateful that it is beating at all.
First impressions of the Garmin Edge Touring
My brand-new Garmin Edge Touring finally arrived in its distinctive black and blue Garmin packaging. When I ripped it open I saw that the Garmin Edge Touring is fairly large (it does have to show maps, after all). But it’s attractively styled in black and white. The manual is not supplied and must be downloaded. The only manual in the box was an amusing sheet of paper that featured a round stick person doing apparently incomprehensible things with a giant Garmin Edge Touring. After a while I realized he was demonstrating the simple quarter-turn mounting for the Garmin.
I like this eco-friendly option. I am so used to recycling huge quantities of unwanted paper when I unbox something, that it has become something of a ritual. I start with tossing out everything that is Not-English, and then move on to ditching the asinine “Safety Instructions” which tell you things such as “Do not shower with your new GPS” and “Don’t use your dog’s life jacket as a life boat.” As if anyone could be that stupid! Although I have to admit that I killed my Garmin Edge 705 (reviewed here) by taking it scuba diving at 100 feet, after forgetting it was in my pocket.
Mounts for the Garmin Edge Touring
The included mounts are excellent and easy to use. I did not have to use them, as the Garmin Edge Touring fits perfectly into the mount I was using for my Garmin Edge 200 (reviewed here). This generation of Garmin mounts are a big improvement on the previous one, being much easier to install, and very secure. With the quarter-turn mount you can also pop the Garmin off with just a casual flip of the wrist, which is great when parking your bike in public places.
Getting Ready to use the Garmin Edge Touring
Like all GPS’s that I have ever heard of, the Garmin Edge Touring cannot pick up satellite signals unless you are outdoors, so I could not play with it much indoors. I did play around with it enough to realize that it has touch screen controls (this was after spending some time flipping it over and over, peering at it as I tried to find its buttons). Fortunately, I figured it out before I had to resort to the unmanly shame of consulting the manual. Touchscreen controls are a VAST improvement over my Garmin Edge 200 (reviewed here).
I discovered that you can type in an address, and then instead of pressing “Ride,” just switch the Garmin off. Then when you switch it back on, you can access that address under “Recent Finds” – saving you from having to laboriously type in addresses on the side of the road, and possibly being mistaken for a cycling geek who will spend money on cycling gadgets as cheerfully as a gambler hurling it into slot machines. This is EXTREMELY handy, and an option I know I am going to use a lot.
Also, it has an option to find cycling-specific Points of Interest, which can come in handy. And of course you can plot a route using addresses, intersections and even GPS coordinates (handy for hiking or mountain biking).
Road Testing the Garmin Edge Touring
The first time I used my Garmin Edge Touring it was pre-dawn, which was not ideal. I battled to see what it was saying. Eventually I stopped and used the beam of my powerful LuminTrail headlight (reviewed here) to read it. Thus of course looking like an uber cycling geek, but at least it was pre-dawn, so there was almost no one around. I found my work address under “Recent Finds” and off I went.
Communicating by Squeaks
I quickly discovered the Garmin Edge Touring has a pleasant little squeak that it uses to try to get your attention – sort of like having a robotic squirrel on your handle bars. Also, as the light increased, I was more and more able to see the surprisingly clear instructions. Later, I learned that to get the backlight to come on, one merely has to tap the screen. It will stay on for 15 seconds by default, and you can easily change that default by hitting the Power button on the top left (if for example you are a slow directions-reader, like me).
Navigating with the Garmin Edge Touring
As you ride, the Garmin Edge Touring gives you turn-by-turn directions and countdowns. As in “turn left on Parker St. after 500 feet.” It will squeak to alert you to an upcoming turn, and squeak again if you miss your turn. This missed turn alert is very handy if you become absorbed in the scenery and forget to consult your bike computer occasionally.
As you approach your turn, you get a visual countdown of how far the turn is, so it is fairly hard to miss it – even for me, although I do manage occasionally. Luckily, if you do go off-course, the unit the unit will recalculate a new route, just as a car GPS does when you ignore it.
One of the best things about the squeaks is that once you reach your destination, the Garmin Touring plays a succession of happy, congratulatory squeaks. That’s fun! It makes me smile and feel good.
Another fun feature – this unit will show you points of Interest (POIs) specifically for cyclists!
Battery Performance on the Garmin Edge Touring
You recharge this bike computer with a USB mini cable. A 1-hour commute uses up exactly 11% of the charge, so I estimate the battery would last for 9 hours on one charge.
Things That You Can Do Online with the Garmin Edge Touring
There are of course many impressive and fun things that you can do with this bike computer, including: Create a user account with Garmin Connect, and use it to record your riding history. You can see various reports, such as how many miles you’ve done over the last month. Connect via GPS to satellites and record all the relevant stats of your ride, including distance, elapsed time, moving time, average speed, maximum speed, elevation gain, plus a map of the route you took. All the time you’re moving, you can see most of these stats on the clear, readable face of the Garmin Edge Touring with your speed the biggest of all. Once you get home, you can plug your Garmin into your computer, upload, and see all the details of your ride. You can see how many calories you burned on your bike ride.
Also, following popular demand, you can sync all your cycling data from the Garmin Edge Touring with Strava. You can read about how to use Strava here.
Are These Cycling Safety Gadgets worth the price?
The Cycling Modes on the Garmin Edge Touring
The Garmin Edge Touring has three modes: Cycling, Tour Cycling and Mountain Biking. Its default is Tour Cycling, which is reasonable, given that it is called the Garmin Edge Touring. You can also choose to avoid unpaved roads and narrow trails.
The Garmin Edge Touring has a Touch Screen!
The touch screen navigating system on this Garmin is really quite easy to use. Which reminds me of another great feature of the Garmin Edge Touring – I can control the touch screen wearing cycling gloves (lampooned here). This is a HUGE plus. It’s not as easy as without gloves, but it is possible. I cycle to work in sometimes pitch-darkness on secondary roads and off-road tracks. Before I had the Garmin Edge Touring , I often missed turns. But now I KNOW that I have to turn because of the squeaking. Plus the screen lights up so you can glance down to see what you are supposed to be doing.
Other things the Garmin Edge Touring does
As with other Garmins, you can customize the Time/Speed screen, although personally I have never felt the need to. The only things I am usually interested in are how fast am I going, and how far have I gone (i.e., am I nearly there yet). As with all other Garmins, these are great options. I love having all that data at my fingertips while I am riding, and then being able to upload it to Garmn Connect website.
As with all Edge models, you can use the Edge Touring with the Garmin Connect website. You can upload and save all your rides here, plan new rides and download them to the unit. You can also use it with the Garmin Adventures website where you can share your ride stories and swap routes with other people and enjoy it later. My favorite is being able to see my top speed for each ride, and also being able to go to “Reports” and see how many kilometers I have cycled in the last month. That becomes like a competition with myself, to see if I can cycle more than last month. It also has a compass mode, which I find useful when I completely lose my sense of direction (all too frequent, which is why I had to buy this in the first place).
What I LIKE about the Garmin Edge Touring
I LOVE this little bike computer. It sits there on my handlebars, looking good, telling me what time it is, how fast I am going, how long I have been going, and all those other good things that techie cyclists love to know. I usually keep it in the standard mode of showing data, not the map. AND THEN, just as I am approaching a place I have to turn, it suddenly lights up, SQUEAKS, switches to map mode, and tells me that my turn is coming up – such as, “Turn right on 10th Street”. Brilliant! Already there have been many, many times when it has saved me from getting off track, as I become zoned out in the pre-dawn or after-dusk, and simply pedal along blindly and sleepily. It has saved my butt on numerous occasions, and for that I am grateful.
In addition to the standard quarter turn handlebar mount, Garmin now offers an out-front mount. It’s a great way to mount your bike computer on your bike – way out front so you don’t have to take your eyes off the road as much.
Bottom Line on the Garmin Edge Touring
You can get a Garmin Edge Touring for a good price from Amazon, which is where I got it from. It picks up satellites fairly quickly, and almost always knows where you are. It looks good on your bike, and is dead easy to take off and carry in your pocket. As with all Garmin Edge bike computers, it is impervious to wind, rain, sleet and snow. Also as with all Garmin Edge products, uploading your routes to your computer is easy and fun. The noise it makes is pleasant. The back light is very good, and the writing is very legible. It would be better if it TALKED to you, like GPS’s in cars do. I hope this gets invented one day – I am sure it will.
I would recommend the Garmin Edge Touring Navigator Plus to four groups of people:
- Bike commuters like me who have no sense of direction;
- bike commuters who frequently bike in the dark;
- pedestrians who tend to get lost; and
- absolutely anyone planning a long-distance bike trip.
No. 4 is actually the intended target demographic of this product.
The next time I do a cycle tour I am looking forward to using the Garmin Edge Touring, instead of having to stop and pull crumpled maps out of my pocket!
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