Every GPS bike computer can track your route and gauge the speed and distance of your ride. The Polar M450 and the Garmin Edge 25 are two of our favorites for beginners. You might even use your phone and an software like Strava or MapMyRide to do this.

But if you’re seriously interested in biking, you must consider the Garmin Edge 520. It offers a huge amount of features high-end riders want, such as for example tracking functional threshold power (the utmost power you can sustain for one hour), estimating your VO2 Max and providing advice about how long it will require your body to recuperate from a ride. They definitely matter for me personally.

Other performance-oriented features are the ability to hook up to Shimano Di2 electronic shifters and record gear changes, along with integration with Strava showing on-device Segments instantly. There is also support for ANT+ to pair with accessories (including Garmin’s Vector power pedals and rear-view radar system), and also ANT+ FE-C, that allows the 520 to regulate smart bike trainers. In a nutshell, the Edge 520 allows a whole lot of overall flexibility with accessories, though it won’t use Bluetooth heart-rate monitors.

The Edge 520 is related to the Wahoo Element, but Garmin were able to squeeze most of these features right into a smaller sized design. And the 520 is currently available for $299, £250 or AU$450, which is $30 significantly less than the Element. That is why it’s my go-to pick for some riders.

What’s missing?
The Edge 520 has everything beginners and competitive riders would search for in a bike computer. There’s GPS, GLONASS (a GPS equivalent that adds more coverage) and a barometric altimeter to track your route and measure speed, distance and altitude, but that’s only scratching the top. The 520 is indeed feature packed, that it is better to start this review by highlighting what these devices is missing.

While there are a few basic maps, the 520 doesn’t include full turn-by-turn navigation.

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It generally does not include Wi-Fi or a touchscreen display, that can be ideal for syncing and navigating the interface, but are otherwise two features I could live without. The big omission may be the insufficient turn-by-turn directions, therefore you can’t utilize the 520 as if you would with Google Maps on your own phone or a Global positioning system in your vehicle. You can, however, import a path to these devices and receive some basic navigation that will help you stick to course. For full navigation, you need to upgrade to the Edge 820 or Edge 1000.

Features
The Edge 520 comes with an impressive set of features. Here’s everything noteworthy:

Support for ANT+ and ANT+ FE-C cycling power meters, heart-rate chest straps, speed/cadence sensors and smart indoor bike trainers
Bluetooth Best if you display call and text information when riding together with your phone and automatically upload ride information to the Garmin Connect software (no support for Bluetooth accessories)
Tracking of Functional Threshold Power (with a power meter), VO2 Max estimates (with a power meter and heartrate) and recovery time recommendations
Ability to keep an eye on Personal Records (longest ride, most effective ride, elevation and so forth)
Virtual Partner feature, where you race against a predetermined speed
Integration with Strava showing on-device Live Segments (premium Strava members only)
Live-tracking feature via Garmin Connect app. This enables relatives and buddies members to see what your location is when the feature is enabled
Support for third-party programs through Garmin’s Connect IQ platform. Developers remain slow to join this feature and I came across there to be hardly any quality apps
Appropriate for various Garmin accessories, including VIRB action camera, Vector power pedals, Varia bike lights, Varia radar system and the Varia Vision head-up display
Integration with Shimano Di2 electronic shifting for viewing battery life and front and rear gear data
Riding with the 520
It’s impressive how Garmin were able to squeeze a laundry set of features in that compact design. The Edge 520 weighs only 2.1 ounces (60 grams) and measures about 2 inches wide and 3 inches high (5 by 8 cm). The two 2.3-inch, 265×200-pixel resolution color display provides ample information (five data screens with up to 10 metrics on each), nonetheless it could be difficult to see when outdoors. This forced me to keep carefully the backlight fired up throughout my ride, which reduces the 15-hour battery life Garmin promises.

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In my own testing, the GPS signal was acquired fast and remained locked on throughout my rides around NY and New Jersey. These devices can be water-resistant (IPX7) for riding in bad weather.

My favorite feature may be the integration with Strava, a favorite tracking application and social networking employed by runners and bikers. The Edge 520 can display Strava Live Segments on the run. This lets you observe how far ahead or behind you are against the record holder, which Strava identifies as the King of the Mountain (KOM). For instance, one popular segment for riders is a 6.2 mile loop in Central Park. Ray Maker of the blog page DCRainmaker.com may be the current KOM (and I cannot ever seem to be to beat it).

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One area that may be improved after may be the Edge’s interface. Changing settings, pairing accessories and loading courses all require clicking through through numerous sub-menus until you find the appropriate one. Even after a couple of months of using these devices, I still have trouble locating certain settings.

In the event you buy it?
The Edge 520 will fit the needs of both beginners and competitive riders. It’s accurate, packed packed with features and works together with a variety of accessories, but also for riders who would like full turn-by-turn navigation, you could be better off spending the excess $100 on the Edge 820.

The higher-end 820 model includes each of the features within the 520, while also adding Wi-Fi, a touchscreen display, full turn-by-turn navigation, an organization tracking feature and an integral incident detection feature, that will alert and offer a map to a set of preset contacts in case of a crash.

If these don’t interest you, the Edge 520 continues to be a solid buy which will be serve you well for a long time to come.