Garmin's Edge 1000 is certainly an improvement over its predecessors. The screen is bigger and easier to read, the base mapping and routing are much improved and the connectivity with other devices makes keeping track of your data a simple job. The resistive touch screen, hardware buttons and simple interface mean it's easy to use in poor conditions and when wearing gloves.
However, there's no getting away from the fact that your phone is likely catching up quickly in its ability to do what the Garmin does. The Edge 1000 offers some advantages and its up to an individual rider to weigh up whether those are worth the considerable outlay.
If you missed our initial unboxing piece you can read it here; that covers the basics of unboxing the Edge 1000 and initial setup and is worth a read. Since then we've been using the Garmin for six months in all conditions, so let's dive straight in to how it's been performing. Starting with the good stuff.
Mapping is better
Garmin have switched from their proprietary base maps (which were pretty poor) to OpenStreetMap-based mapping. OSM is an open-source, collaborative mapping project and unless you're planning to go somewhere incredibly remote, you'll probably find that the maps are complete, and accurate.
Certainly I've had no problems with the base mapping. Everything has been in its right place. The maps are good enough that you can plot yourself a route around an area you don't know just by using the screen on the Garmin. I tested this hypothesis when we spent a week in Italy in October. Both our ride down to the Furlo Gorge and my solo effort up the Cippo Carpegna were routed on the fly, in whole or in part. We didn't end up on a motorway, or in a ditch, or in France. It was pretty straightforward.
For the sake of comparison I also did a couple of rides out in Italy using an openStreetMap app on my phone (Sony Xperia Z1 compact) and that, too, was an effective way to plot a route. The Edge tended to be fine for smaller scale mapping, and the phone, with a much higher resolution screen, did better when looking at a larger area. The maps on the Garmin lose a lot of detail as you zoom out; it's a necessity, because the screen resolution (240 x 400) can't show you all the little roads on a wide view of an area. There's a certain amount of zooming in and out required if you're in unfamiliar territory.
Mapping has improved, and so has routing. Routing has been a bit patchy on Garmin's cycling computers up until now, in my experience, so much so that my default method of following a route on an Edge is simply to upload it to the computer, set it to display on the map, and then just follow the line.
The Edge 1000 is capable of more than that, though. Like its predecessors, it's capable of turn-by-turn navigation over a prescribed route, or of routing you to a location (or a series of locations) by itself. Unlike its predecessors, it does a fairly decent job of it. Probably it's the higher quality base mapping that makes the difference.
Turn-by-turn navigation on a Garmin is a subject on which much has been written, and there's a long list of variables which will influence how (and even if) the guidance follows the route you want.
For the most part, when I'm using navigation on a cycling GPS I'm asking it to direct me along a course I've already chosen. there are myriad ways of making a GPX file containing a ride you want to do; Garmin's own Connect portal will do it, as will any number of third-party websites. I tend to use Strava, although i've also tried RideWithGps, BikeHike, MapMyRide and others. Once you have your file, connecting your Garmin to your computer allows you to drag it into the New Filesfolder and next time you turn it on it'll be available as a route.
If you just want to follow the line on the map, then from there it's a simple case of setting it to display. If you want to ride the route with navigation, you'll need to make sure the settings are correct. I used this tutorial to set up my Edge 1000 for turn-by-turn, and it worked pretty well. As well as turn by turn you can simply set the Garmin to follow the route, and warn you if you stray off it.
The Edge 1000 has another feature, borrowed from the Garmin Edge Touring (and before that we saw it on Mio's Cyclo range): you choose a distance to ride, and the computer will give you a choice of three circular routes. Just pick one, and you can be off on a guided ride in a few clicks.
I've tried this a few times, and it's pretty good. Starting from my house it'll pick out a route that uses similar roads to the ones I'd choose myself, and it's never tried to route me on either a trunk road or any kind of unsurfaced path, so far. In unfamiliar territory it's slightly disconcerting to blindly put your faith in a computer-generated route but again, the results have been good. Lots of lanes and quiet riding. turn-by-turn works well, although the Edge still has some issues with re-routing you if you do go off course. It tends to favour getting you back to where you went wrong, rather than recalculating to bring you back on track. After a while it seems to switch focus, but it takes longer than it should.
It's easy to use in all weathers
One of the main draws of a dedicated GPS like the Edge 1000 over a smartphone is that it's always on, out there in front, doing its thing. Smartphones have come a long way, and many are now sufficiently waterproof that you wouldn't worry about sticking them on your bars with a Quadlock or something similar. The main two drawbacks of the phone-as-GPS solution are the screen and, erm, the screen.
Smartphone screens use capacitive technology. That means that the screen carries a charge and the natural conductive properties of your finger affect the screen's charge when you touch it. That works very well until you throw something into the mix that affects the screen's ability to discern where your finger is. Out on a bike, in the cold and rain, there are two. Firstly, if you're wearing full-finger gloves then you can't directly touch the screen. If your gloves are dry then they won't work well, unless they're specifically designed to. Secondly, water is conductive and your phone can be fooled into thinking you're clicking stuff when raindrops fall on the buttons.
The Edge 800 and 810 used a resistive screen. That means looking for the pressure of your finger, not its electric signature. And that means it works the same in all weathers, regardless of whether you're wearing gloves or not. Well, up to a point: giant winter mitts can make the buttons difficult to press, of course. The Edge 1000 has moved to capacitive technology, but for me it didn't affect the performance over previous units. I didn't get any false input from rain and it worked fine with gloves on. That's interesting in that it shows that capacitive technology can work in an all-weather device. Phone screens presumably are less effective because they're trying to resolve a higher level of detail. But some now come with a glove mode or rain mode which is better at coping with the elements than the standard touch mode. I'd expect to see that development ramped up now that many phones are waterproof out of the box.
Phone screens, with their HD resolution and high output, suck up a lot of power. My Sony Xperia Z1 compact has a very good battery life, but if you set the screen to always on and use it for mapping on the bars the run time does suffer. I do use it as an up-front GPS and when I do I set the screen timeout to a minute or so: enough time to check the map when I need to. The Garmin screen is crude by comparison, but LCD displays are more frugal on power than the OLED screens phones use, and they can be read in daylight without a backlight, extending the battery run time further.
Connectivity and sensors are an improvement
The performance bundle comes with an HRM strap which looks unchanged from previous bundles, and two new sensors for speed and cadence.
The new sensors don't rely on a magnet passing a switch, but instead use accelerometers to determine the rotation of the wheel and the cranks. As such, they're incredibly easy to set up. The cadence sensor attaches with a rubber strap, and the speed sensor has a silicone housing, a bit like a Knog light, that wraps around your hub.
Cadence doesn't need any calibration. One turn of the cranks is one turn of the cranks, after all. The speed sensor needs to know the circumference of your wheel. You can input this manually, but if you don't the Edge 1000 will calibrate the sensor using its GPS data and the rotational data from the sensor. It makes a pretty good job of this in my experience. Once it's calibrated the Edge 1000 takes speed and distance from the sensor rather than from GPS, which makes it more accurate. You can check the stored wheel circumference in the sensor settings.
In use I've not had any issues with either sensor (this post by DC Rainmaker is a good read if you want a more in-depth analysis of the new sensors) and the fact that they require no set up in terms of fiddling with magnets and tolerances means that it's a simple job to switch them from one bike to another, which is a bonus if you have a big fleet and a constant need for data. The speed sensor will work fine on the rear hub so it's good for the turbo trainer, although you'll need to manually calibrate the wheel size if you haven't already ridden outside.
The Edge 1000 uses ANT+ sensors, and will pair with any ANT+ device. That includes various power meters (including Garmin's Vector pedals), weight scales, Shimano's Di2 widget (to display gear data on the Edge), and Garmin's remote switch. You can pair as many things to the Edge 1000 as you like. Displaying the data is simple enough: within each profile (you can set up as many as you need) you can configure five data screens with up to ten metrics on each. The full list of metrics available is enough to fill a small encyclopaedia so I won't list them here, but suffice to say that if it can be measured, and you have an ANT+ sensor capable of measuring it, it can probably be displayed.
One other ANT+ feature of the Edge 1000 is that you can sync it to your Garmin Virb camera – you do have one of those, right? – and use the Edge as a remote control. That works pretty well and it's useful if you have the Virb located somewhere inaccessible: rear facing behind your seat,for example.
The Edge 1000 also has a low-power Bluetooth 4.0 chipset. This is predominantly so that it can pair with a smartphone, because you'll have that in your back pocket, right?
I've been using the Edge 1000 with my Sony Xperia Z1 compact, and I've had no problems connecting and staying connected. The main reason I've set this up is because it makes uploading rides so simple. With the Garmin Connect app on your phone and a Bluetooth connection to the Edge 1000, as soon as you save a ride it's automatically uploaded to Garmin Connect. And because Connect now plays nicely with Strava, from there it's automatically synced to Strava too. It all works very seamlessly.
The Bluetooth tether to your phone also allows you to use Garmin's live tracking via Connect. If your significant other likes to know where you are on a ride, or you're doing a charity hop, or just showing off, you can broadcast your position as you ride using the phone's data connection. I've done this on a number of rides and it works very well; obviously it relies on a data signal being available, so if you're riding through the wilds of Wales or somewhere else with limited coverage, updates will be patchy.
The Bluetooth connection with your phone allows you to sync routes from Garmin Connect to your GPS. This has limited use in the real world in that you can only sync routes that already exist, and you're unlikely to want to get a pre-planned route mid-ride.
Lastly, the Garmin is Bluetooth Smart compatible so it allows you to receive push notifications for weather warnings, text messages, and incoming call alerts, to your Garmin's screen. You can't do anything with them from there, they're information only, and to be honest I haven't had a lot of success in making them show up. It's not a feature I'd use anyway, so it's not a deal-breaker for me that they don't really seem to work that well.
As well as ANT+ and Bluetooth 4.0, the Edge 1000 is WiFi enabled. That means you can set it up on your home or work network, and as soon as you get back it can auto-sync your ride data that way instead. You can set up however many networks you need through the Garmin Express software on your computer. That's very handy if you don't go out with your phone, or don't want to sync with it.
Battery life is okay, but could be better
With all these network connections competing for battery resources, and a bigger screen, it's not really a surprise that the Edge 1000 doesn't have quite the same battery life as other Edge units. The stated run time is up to 15 hours, compared to 17 hours for the 810 and 20 hours for the 510. In real world conditions, it's not as much as that.
The extra connectivity options do have an impact on the battery life, but it's the things that are always on – the GPS chipset and the screen – that result in the most battery drain. The screen is bigger than the other Edge units, and that's likely to have a significant impact. The Edge 1000 is better for having it, so it's swings and roundabouts; Garmin could have made the battery bigger but it's already a large unit.
In my real-life usage of the Edge 1000 I've been getting a battery life of between 10 and 12 hours. That's long enough for the vast majority of day rides but if you're off on a weekend tour or a long Audax you'll need to have a recharging strategy if you want the Edge to stay with you until the end. I tend to carry a battery pack on rides like that and it's a simple enough job to plug the Edge in for a quick boost when you're stopped at a café, or overnight.
The screen backlight is the thing that most obviously affects the battery life and if you set it to always on and maximum brightness you'll not get anything like 10 hours out of it. The backlight settings are easy enough to access mid-ride, so you can turn the screen brightness down, or reduce the backlight timeout, mid-ride if you get a low battery warning.
I had one episode in Italy where I left the Edge 1000 outside on the bike in the hot sun, and it turned itself off and wouldn't turn back on again. I'm not really sure if it was protecting itself from the heat or if it was some kind of malfunction, but it was fine the next day and has had no ill effects.
Garmin Connect is good, but segments aren't
The Edge uses a program called Garmin Express to communicate with the Garmin Connect portal. Connect has been comprehensively redesigned in the last year. Your home page now uses a series of cards showing different data that you can re-order or remove. You can find all of your ride data in there, and you can create routes and workouts to upload to your device. You can connect with friends, set yourself goals, track your weight, compile reports of your riding... all sorts of stuff. It's a very fully-featured service. Training plans aren't available at the moment, but they are coming online soon.
Garmin went directly up against Strava with the ability to create and rank yourself for segments: pick a hill, or sprint, or whatever, set the start and finish points and you pick up a time every time you ride it. You can rank yourself against everyone, or people you're connected to. If you're following a route on the Edge 1000 you can ride segments in real time: it'll tell you a segment is coming up, notify you of the start and then give you a virtual partner of the fastest time to chase. It all works pretty well.
Except, of course, that there aren't any segments. Because everyone's using Strava for that. And Connect links seamlessly to Strava now anyway.
Garmin are too late to the party here. Strava launched and offered this functionality, for free, and everyone put their time and effort into manually entering all the segment data into that platform, for free, because it was a new thing. For Garmin to offer more or less the exact same functionality and expect everyone to repeat the work, for free, a second time, is folly. I mean, why would you bother? I went out for a 50km ride the other day and didn't cross a single segment on Connect. The ride shown above above goes up six of Bath's hills, all of which have multiple segments on Strava. Only three of them are even logged once in Connect.
If Garmin want Segments to work then they're going to need a strategy for getting useful data into the system that doesn't rely simply on the goodwill of their users. Strava has too much of a head start now. And Connect plays nice with Strava these days, too: I can upload my ride data to both platforms just by walking into the house. The WiFi connection does the rest.
Overall: the best dedicated GPS yet?
The Edge 1000 isn't perfect but at its core it's a more finished device than it predecessor, the Edge 810. The screen is better, the new sensors are easier to use, and the base mapping and routing are better. Connectivity with a smartphone continues to improve, although that still feels a bit like a work in progress. Battery life is down from the 810, which is a pity, although it'll cope with most day rides you'll be rolling up to. The £499 package we tested, with the new sensors and the HRM strap, is better value than the base unit on its own (£440 RRP) although if you have sensors already you can save yourself the difference; the new sensors aren't so much better that you need to upgrade. The performance bundle and the base unit can be had for a lot less than RRP online.
The Garmin Connect package has improved considerably, although the segments functionality won't fly unless Garmin are willing to invest to populate it. There needs to be a critical mass of segments in there before the average user will feel there'smuch worth in it.
Garmin are competing against other GPS manufacturers, of course, and although most of the direct competition is at least a bit cheaper, it's the Garmin that feels like the most complete offering. But increasingly they're also fighting with smartphones which can do much that a dedicated GPS can. If you're already carrying a phone, why would you need to fork out the best part of £500 for a separate GPS like this?
There's a few reasons you might want to. You might want to keep your phone charged for emergencies, rather than rely on it for guidance on the road and communication too. You might want a year-round solution that's simple to use even in the worst conditions: smartphones aren't as effective on the bars in a downpour or when you're wearing your lobster mitts. You might want to target rides that your phone battery would struggle to reach then end of, although it has to be said that the gap there has narrowed considerably in the past couple of years.
Overall I've enjoyed using the Edge 1000 and if you're after a dedicated GPS unit with mapping this is the best one I've tried. That's the bottom line; it's up to you to decide whether you need one.
The best dedicated GPS unit yet, but not without its flaws
road.cc test report
Make and model: Garmin Edge 1000 performance bundle
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Bike Computer for Competing, Connecting and Navigating
In-ride competitions through Garmin Connect™ segments
On-road or off-road navigation and points of interest with preloaded Garmin Cycle Map
Input a distance and choose from up to 3 round-trip ride options
Instant uploads to Garmin Connect™ Mobile to analyze and share
Connected features: incoming call and text alerts, live tracking, sending/receiving courses, social media sharing, weather
Whether you are riding to improve your own personal best or see where you stand against the pros, Edge 1000 lets you connect, compare and compete. Turn every ride into a race by competing on Garmin Connect segments and seeing real-time results on your Edge, including alerts for segment start and finish and leaderboard rankings. The segments feature keeps you motivated and helps you push for continual improvement.
Own the Road
Along with in-ride challenges and connected features, Edge 1000 offers advanced bike-specific navigation and mapping capabilities. The preloaded Garmin Cycle Map includes OSM (Open Street Map) content with routable road and bike paths, elevation data, points of interest and address search. Mapping data is stored onboard the Edge, so your access to navigation and performance capabilities isn't dependent on cell coverage, and map updates are free.
Know Where to Go
Now you can explore more, on and off road, thanks to this device's round-trip routing feature. Simply enter how far you want to ride, and Edge 1000 calculates up to 3 cycling-friendly routes. You can even review the elevation profiles before making your selection. It also offers a new route planner capability that allows you to create routes directly on the Edge 1000 using the map, POI and segments you've downloaded from Garmin Connect. Again, you can preview the elevation profile of your custom route before you roll. If you do get off course or want to end your ride sooner, Edge can always guide you back to start or calculate the most direct route and provide turn-by-turn directions to get you back.
At Your Fingertips
Edge 1000 features a 3-inch high-resolution color touchscreen display with dual orientation. It has an ambient light sensor that automatically adjusts the screen brightness to changing light conditions to improve visibility. Unlike your smartphone, the display is optimized to work with gloves and in the rain�. You can customize your training pages with up to 10 data fields and use activity profiles to allow for easy transitions when you switch cycling activity, such as road, mountain or touring.
Advanced Performance Analysis
Edge 1000 is compatible with ANT ™ sensors, including speed, cadence, heart rate and compatible weight scale. It's the first Garmin bike computer that integrates with Shimano Di2 electronic shifting systems4 to display your current gear on the screen. Edge 1000 is also compatible with ANT power meters, including Vector™, our unique pedal-based power meter that measures total power, left/right balance and cadence. A preloaded power-based workout on Edge 1000 allows you to calculate your functional threshold power (FTP), from which you can base your power training zones. The 1000 offers a training calendar and is compatible with advanced workouts, which you can plan, schedule and upload from Garmin Connect.
When paired with your smartphone and the Garmin Connect™ Mobile app, Edge 1000 offers a suite of connected features, including live tracking, incoming call and text alerts, social media sharing, weather, wireless uploads and sending/receiving courses and segments. As soon as your ride is complete, the data can be automatically sent to Garmin Connect via Bluetooth® or Wi-Fi®. This lets you stay connected and instantly share the details of your ride with friends, family and social media contacts. LiveTrack allows your friends and family to follow your races and training activities in real time. Invite followers using email or social media, so they can view your live data on a Garmin Connect tracking page. Once they get your email invite, they can click to follow and see your stats and location on the map.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Physical & Performance:
Physical dimensions: 2.3" x 4.4" x 0.8" (5.8 x 11.2 x 2.0 cm)
Display size, WxH: 1.5" x 2.6" (3.9 x 6.5 cm); 3.0" diag (7.6 cm)
Display resolution, WxH: 240 x 400 pixels, touchscreen
Weight: 4.0 oz (114.5 g)
Battery: rechargeable lithium-ion
Battery life: up to 15 hours
Water rating: IPX7
High-sensitivity receiver: Yes
Maps & Memory:
Ability to add maps: Yes
Accepts data cards: yes
Features & Benefits:
Heart rate monitor: Yes (Some versions)
Bike speed/cadence sensor: Yes (Some versions)
Foot pod: No
Automatic sync (automatically transfers data to your computer): Yes
Garmin Connect™ compatible (online community where you analyze, categorize and share data): Yes
Virtual Partner® (train against a digital person): Yes
Virtual Racer™ (compete against other activities): No
Courses (compete against previous activities): Yes
Auto Pause® (pauses and resumes timer based on speed): Yes
Auto Lap® (automatically starts a new lap): Yes
Auto Scroll (cycles through data pages during workout): Yes
Multi-sport (changes sport mode with a press of a button): No
Advanced workouts (create custom, goal-oriented workouts): Yes
Pace alert (triggers alarm if you vary from preset pace): No
Time/distance alert (triggers alarm when you reach goal): Yes
Vibration alert: No
Interval training (set up exercise and rest intervals): Yes
Heart rate-based calorie computation: Yes
Training Effect (measures impact of an activity on your aerobic fitness): No
Customizable screen(s): Yes
Barometric altimeter: Yes
Unit-to-unit transfer (shares data wirelessly with similar units): Yes
Power meter compatible (displays power data from compatible 3rd party ANT ™-enabled power meters): Yes (records data approx. 1 per second)
Temperature (displays and records temperature while you ride): Yes
On-device segments: yes
Wi-Fi® compatible: yes
Smart Notifications: yes
Compatible with Garmin Connect™ Mobile: yes
Round-trip Routing: yes
Route planner: yes
No issues with build, nicely made and well sealed
Very good performance across the board
Rugged enough to take a few knocks, the silicone case is a good extra if you're clumsy
The heaviest unit Garmin make
£500 is a lot of money. You get good performance, but I wouldn't say it was great value
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Mapping and routing much improved, Garmin connect better, screen better, easy to use in all weathers
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Battery life down on previous models, phone connectivity patchy at times, segments a waste of time unless Garmin are prepared to invest
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? I'd consider it but I don't think I'd be able to justify the outlay over using a smartphone
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, if they specifically wanted a dedicated GPS
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
It's the best dedicated GPS I've used in terms of all-round performance. It's expensive though, battery life is down, and smartphones are closing the gap. If it were simply about performance it would get an 8, but the spend and the fact that there's more options around these days mark it down.
About the tester
Age: 42 Height: 190cm Weight: 100kg
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.