In my previous post, I talk about the merits of having a cycling computer and why one would want one. I was luckily gifted one last year for my birthday, so I’ve only recently started using one ever since my road bike was stolen off the front of a bus in 2013 along with the cycling computer that was mounted on its handlebar. So after about 6 months of using it on the road for various rides and tours, I think I’d like to share with you my thoughts about the Garmin Edge Touring edition.
When you’re talking about cycle computers, chances are, Garmin would be the brand that would come to mind almost immediately. The company was founded in 1989 and have been hugely successful in getting their GPS units in the market ever since. Their line of bicycle related GPS were normally designed for those who were looking to track their recreation rides until 2013 when they released the Garmin Edge Touring edition. This GPS was targeted for people like you and me, bicycle travelers who don’t really want to go fast, but rather, just want to go and be able to come back home.
The Edge Touring edition is a very user-friendly device. You turn it on and wait for the device to find the satellite connection before you can use it like any other devices out there. Once connected to the satellite, you just hit the bottom right button and the GPS starts tracking your trip. It’ll keep track of your speed, distance, elevation, etc. until you hit the same bottom right button, at which time it will ask if you want to save the information tracked or discard it. You can also turn the unit off before hitting that bottom right button. It’ll just ask if you want to save or discard the information the next time you turn on your device. Simple to use right?
While the GPS is running, you can either track your ride by looking at a map, or you can switch to what they call the “Time” view by swiping left on the screen, where it shows statistics about your ride, like your current speed, the time you’ve been moving, and distance you’ve traveled. They also have a way to show things, like average speed, max speed, calories burned. You could customize how many panels you’d like to see through the Setup sections. You can have the “Time” page show just 1 data point or up to 9 different data points. I personally like the time riding, current speed, average speed, current time, direction (think compass), calories burned (once you enter your age and weight), time remaining, etc. -definitely a ton of things to look at if you’re so inclined.
On the 1.44” x 2.2” display, the map view is quite small. Zoomed in, however, you can read the streets nearby, but zooming out makes it really tough to see things. You get standard features similar to a car GPS, like the ability to provide directions if you need it, points of interests (POI), turn-by-turn directions. Really helpful when you don’t have a paper map or when you’re lost with a dead smart phone. No, you don’t get a voice prompt, but rather different beeping patterns to tell you when to make turns.
The device is very rugged and is shock resistant, as well as waterproof up to 1 meter for 30 minutes. This was tested during a couple of rainy situations during my New England bike tour last October. My brother-in-law also had the same device on our trip down the Pacific Coast, where we had rain for 3 days in a row in Canada. No issues whatsoever.
It boasts a 17 hour battery life. I can say that my experiences were up to par in terms of the excellent battery life. On longer days, I would still have about 40% left after over 10 hours of tracking our trip.
There are 2 features that we’re scratching our heads about.
The first feature is what they call “Round Trip”. This is where you have the device compose a round trip route for you based on a mileage requirement you provide. For me, that’s a strange feature as I can’t imagine any scenario where this would make sense to utilize unless you are going out for training rides. On bike tours, that just doesn’t make sense.
The last feature that leaves me scratching my head is the “Auto-lap”. Why would you want that? Are you really going to be riding in circles to have this happen? I think I may be missing something here, but I would rather have them remove any lapping features. There is absolutely no scenario where I would want to keep track of my laps unless it is more to see my pace as I reach 5 miles. My old Garmin would do this and tell me how long it would take for me to ride every file miles, so I can see if my pace was better or worse.
There is one feature that I haven’t used, and that’s the Points Of Interest specific to cyclists. I would imagine this would be useful information when you’re looking for the nearest restaurant or place to grab a quick snack while you’re on your tour.
In order to get your statistics synchronized from the device, Garmin provides a software called Garmin Express which puts your data into their Garmin Connect and Garmin Adventures online system. From there, you get to share your ride routes with other people or vice versa, find routes from other people to ride. You can also plan your routes and import them into your Garmin as .FIT files.
What Worked For Me
What I really like about the Garmin Edge Touring isn’t anything unusual from other GPS navigation devices. The interface is fairly easy to understand. I like the information the device tracks without having to install additional magnetic wires and configuring your wheel size. I like that it is small, durable, and light. It recharges and connects using a mini USB connector, so it’s easier to carry a single cable for all your mini USB devices. The battery life, as I mentioned before, is incredibly long. I can have it on the entire day and still have enough battery for another half day before requiring a recharge.
Once you have a loaded route and use it, it’s incredibly useful as you have turn-by-turn navigation. Knowing that I would be able to use it to find my way home in most scenarios is a great security blanket when I am riding around somewhere I am not familiar (like Canada).
What Was Annoying
There is also a way to customize the route that the device provides you. You can pick from 3 methods of routing: minimize distance, minimize time, or minimize ascent. When we were in Canada, we tried to reroute using one of these options (I forgot which) it led us on a wild goose chase, and we ended up climbing hills that we would have avoided if we had just stuck to the original setting. Ever since then, I learned that the directions should also require some vetting before you blindly continue on your journey. Understand that blindly following the GPS will lead you on some unpredictable outcomes and allow yourself time to recover from it both physically and mentally.
One of my favorite feature as mentioned above is using the turn-by-turn prompting. This is great if you follow the EXACT route. If you go off route, the GPS would constantly bug you to go back on the route. This gets really annoying, especially when you have audible beeps every few feet. I would end up turning it off until I get back on track again. I just wish the system was intelligent enough to figure out what you’re doing and reroute you back on to the path based on your current progress.
The last thing I’m not too crazy about is the slow start time of the device. I understand it takes time for the device to find the satellite, but when you’re anxious to get on your way, it’s annoying to have to wait or the GPS would not track your start. This is a minor thing, but anything to shorten the lag would be great.
Who Should Get One
The Garmin Edge Touring is perfect for the following individual.
- You don’t currently have a GPS navigational device.
- You just want the basic ride statistics tracked, like your speed, distance, and time.
- You don’t care about other ride statistics like heart rate monitor or cadence (although the plus model and Garmin Edge 800 series have those features
- You understand that the GPS is not the end all be all in terms of navigation, meaning you have other means to verify your route.
- You don’t mind making sure it gets charged everyday of your trip.
- You have the time to configure it so that it gives you the information you need.
- You plan on going on more bike tours than around your neighborhood.
For $249.99 USD, it is the cheapest navigation enabled GPS device with maps offered by Garmin. The Garmin Edge Touring Plus is $299.99 while the Garmin Edge 800 series starts at $399.99. This isn’t a bad price if you’re just looking for the basics.
I actually have a love-hate relationship with my Garmin Edge Touring device. It is nice to know that I have a piece of technology that can help me find my way around when I need it, but it is also bothersome to constantly monitor the battery life and to rely on it when you just want to ride and enjoy the scenery. I remember the days when I would just ride and find my way back without ever using it. In fact, I rarely use the directions when I am in my home town. It’s there just to track my adventure. Sometimes, I ride without it. In this example, the device is just nice to have, but on longer trips, where I don’t know my way around, having it available is comforting, yet not an absolutely must have. I am sure I can still get around using other tools.
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