Garmin Edge 800 GPS computer (Performance and Navigation bundle)  £449.99

9/10

GPS-enabled bike computer with masses of navigation and performance-measuring capability – the best device of its kind

Weight 104g   Contact  www.madison.co.uk

by Mat Brett   January 2, 2011  

Garmin’s new Edge 800 GPS-enabled bike computer comes packed to the rafters with the features of the existing Edge 500 and 705 models, but with a bigger display than either, touch screen operation, and faster satellite location. It’s a fantastic bit of kit.

 

There’s a shedload going on here, so let’s start at the beginning… Setting up the Edge 800 is actually really simple. You attach the little plastic mount to your bars or stem with two rubber O-rings, twist the computer a quarter-turn and it locks in place. It takes all of 10 seconds. If you’ve used the Edge 500, it’s exactly the same mount system. We’ve been using one of those for over a year and, despite our initial worries that we’d knock the computer off with a knee when riding out of the saddle, it has always stayed perfectly secure.

The Edge 800 comes in various different packages, the basic version costing £349.99. If you have a more expensive model (from £399.99) with a speed/cadence sensor, you’ll need to input your wheel size and budget a few minutes to fit it correctly – it’s the usual zip tie and magnet deal. Otherwise, you just give the Garmin a minute to find the satellites and you’re ready to roll. Working on GPS, there’s no calibration to worry about. You could tap in your personal info if you like (age, height, weight and so on), but that’ll wait.

Okay, so what measurements do you get here? There’s a complete list below. Obviously, you get your basic speed, distance and time measurements, but there is tons more besides.

We really like the elevation data, for example. As well as your current elevation, you get the gradient, the total amount you’ve ascended and descended, and a couple of vertical speed measurements. Plus, you can have your ride profile displayed on a graph.

There are loads of useful heart rate functions on offer if you’re performance minded, as long as you go for a version with a heart rate monitor strap (starting at £399.99), or already have an ANT+ enabled heart rate monitor strap. And you can get various power readings too if you use an ANT+ power meter such as a PowerTap hub.

There are some other unusual features too, including sunrise and sunset times based on your GPS position. They’re not exactly essential – we’re guessing you know roughly what time it’ll get light and dark – but who knows?

We particularly like Garmin’s customisable screen. You can opt to have anything from three to 10 pieces of data on the display at any time, and between one and three screens that you can swap between either with the on-screen arrows or a swipe of your fingers. And no, before you ask, it makes no difference whether you have gloves on or not.

You could, for example, set one screen to show just basic measurements: Speed, average speed, ride time, and the distance you’ve ridden. You could have your current, average, and maximum heart rates on a second page, along with a graph showing which training bands you’ve been riding in. And on a third page you could have the distance to your chosen destination, an estimated time of arrival and, say, the time of day.

If, on the other hand, you’re not interested in your heart rate, you don’t need to have it shown. You can choose other info for the display, or cut down to just one or two screens. The configuration options on offer are endless.

Setting up your own training sessions is simple enough once you know what you’re doing. You can set a target time, distance, heart rate and so on, and create more complicated interval workouts based on just about any criteria you want.

The virtual partner screen is either a bit of fun or a serious training tool, depending on how you look at it. You have two rider graphics on the screen, you and your virtual partner, and you can set him to ride at any speed you like. You’ll either move ahead or drop back, depending on your own speed. You’ll also get a readout that tells you the time and distance you are ahead/behind. We’ve found it pretty good for motivation and aiming at personal bests.

Okay, so that’s all pretty straightforward. Then you’ve got the navigation functions. The Edge 800 has a built-in base map that shows major roads and cities, but you need to fit a microSD card to increase the navigation potential. These tiny cards slot into the unit and provide you with more detailed maps. You can get an Edge 800 with OS Discoverer 1:50,000 mapping for the whole of Great Britain or European City Navigator for £399.99, or other mapping is available separately.

You can simply tap in a destination as with a standard sat nav, or ask the Garmin to show you the closest shops if you’re in need of food, and it’ll give you on-screen instructions to take you there, or you can follow the map of the area in 2D, 3D or as an elevation view. You can even add Garmin’s BirdsEye Imagery for different areas if you subscribe to it.

Alternatively, you can design your own routes using Garmin’s free BaseCamp software, which is available for both PCs and Macs. You just download it from the internet, create your route on the map on your desktop, and transfer it to the Edge 800. BaseCamp is a bit clunky if you ask us, but it’s simple enough to use when you get the hang of it.

The other resource you’re bound to find useful is the Garmin Connect website which allows you to upload all your ride data from the Edge 800. We won’t go into all the details here but it’ll show your ride on a map, give you your heart rate, speed and elevation on graphs, list all your split details… There’s tons of performance data for you to get your teeth into. You can also find other users’ courses on Garmin Connect and send them to the Garmin Edge for you to follow

If all this information sounds confusing, it’s not. That’s one of the best things about the Edge 800. It’s as easy as falling off a log. Well, that’s not quite true but you’ll get the hang of things pretty quickly. On the device itself, you just go to the menu page and follow the labels. It’s all logical enough. If in doubt, the downloadable manual is easy to use too (although the instructions for customising data fields are wrong, which drove us nuts until we worked out how to do it for ourselves).

What else can we tell you? The Edge 800 weighs 104g (complete with mount) while the speed/cadence sensor weighs another 24g, and it measures 51 x 93 x 25mm so it’s not massively intrusive. It works from a rechargeable lithium-ion battery with a claimed runtime of 15 hours, although we’ve never got more than about 12 out of it. Still, unless you’re planning some super-long rides, that’s probably not going to be an issue. It’s waterproof too – we’ve given it a couple of proper soakings and it carried on regardless.

The basic unit costs £349.99 with several other options available, topping out with the £449.99 model with cadence sensor, heart rate monitor and mapping.

Should you buy the Edge 800? If you’re after an accurate navigational tool, it’s Garmin’s slickest, most intuitive offering yet – the potential here is huge. And if you want a generous amount of web-supported performance information too, you’re onto a winner. If you tend to ride the same routes most of the time and don’t need the navigation facility, you could save some cash and go for the Edge 500 instead.

Footnote: Why should you buy the speed/cadence sensor?

The cadence bit is it obvious: it gives you your pedal revolutions per minute (current, average, and lap average). And taking your speed from the back wheel rather than from GPS means the signal is never interrupted by trees or buildings. The truth is, though, that we’ve hardly ever lost the GPS signal anyway – just occasionally on roads through wooded areas – so we’ve been sticking with the satellites. If you’re a real stickler for accuracy or you’re a mountain biker, the speed/cadence sensor might be worth the extra cash.

Those measurements in full

• Speed

• Speed – average

• Speed – lap

• Speed – last lap

• Speed – maximum

• Speed zone

• Laps

• Time – stopwatch time

• Time – average per lap

• Time – elapsed

• Lap time

• Time of last lap

• Cadence

• Cadence – average

• Cadence – lap

• Distance

• Distance – lap

• Distance – last lap

• Odometer

• Elevation

• Gradient

• Total ascent

• Total descent

• Vertical speed

• Vertical speed – 30sec average

• Calories

• Calories – fat

• Calories to go (if you have set a calorie target)

• Reps to go

• Course part distance

• Distance to destination

• Distance to go (when you are using a distance target)

• Distance to next point on your route or course

• Estimated time of arrival at destination

• Estimated time of arrival at next point on your route or course

• Heading

• Time to destination

• Time to go

• Time to next point on your route or course

• Sunrise time (based on GPS position)

• Sunset time

• Temperature

• Time of day

• Heart rate

• Heart rate – percentage of heart rate reserve

• Heart rate – percentage of maximum heart rate

• Heart rate – average

• Heart rate – average percentage of heart rate reserve

• Heart rate – average of maximum heart rate

• Heart rate – average on lap

• Heart rate – average percentage of heart rate reserve on lap

• Heart rate – average percentage of maximum heart rate on lap

• Heart rate graph

• Heart rate to go (amount you are above or below a heart rate target

• Heart rate zone

• Location at destination – the last point on route or course

• Location at next point on route or course

• Power (all power measurements require a ANT+ power measuring device)

• Power – percentage of functional threshold power (FTP)

• Power – 30sec average

• Power – 3sec average

• Power – average

• Power – total in kilojoules

• Power – lap average

• Power – maximum

• Power – watts/kg

• Power zone

• Battery level

• GPS accuracy

• GPS signal strength

Verdict

GPS-enabled bike computer with masses of navigation and performance-measuring capability – the best device of its kind

road.cc test report

Make and model: Garmin Edge 800 GPS computer (Performance and Navigation 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?

Garmin say, "Make the most of every ride with Edge 800 — the ultimate touchscreen GPS bike computer for training, touring and on the trail. Providing navigation and performance monitoring, Edge 800 is ideal for touring, commuting, competitive cycling and mountain biking. It has a built-in basemap and tracks your distance, speed, location and ascent/descent. Use it with an ANT+™ heart rate monitor¹, speed/cadence sensor¹ or compatible power meter² for a finely tuned analysis of your ride."

Yep, they're right, it is the ultimate device of its kind currently available.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
9/10
Rate the product for value:
 
8/10

Did you enjoy using the product? Very much

Would you consider buying the product? Yes, it's pricey but you get loads for your money

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 40  Height: 190cm  Weight: 74kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding,

16 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Nice little review. Looking forward to the schwag grab competition that has a road/performance bundle as the prize!

cavasta's picture

posted by cavasta [214 posts]
2nd January 2011 - 13:13

9 Likes

don't hold your breath, eh Smile

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7504 posts]
2nd January 2011 - 16:18

8 Likes

dave_atkinson wrote:
don't hold your breath, eh Smile

But at £450 a pop Surprise winning the schwag grab's my only chance of owning one Smile (unless I can come up with a cunning plan... Thinking )

cavasta's picture

posted by cavasta [214 posts]
2nd January 2011 - 16:54

7 Likes

dave_atkinson wrote:
don't hold your breath, eh Smile

…on the other hand it would make a stonking Schwag Grab prize Thinking

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4160 posts]
2nd January 2011 - 17:01

6 Likes

tony_farrelly wrote:
dave_atkinson wrote:
don't hold your breath, eh Smile

…on the other hand it would make a stonking Schwag Grab prize Thinking

Go on boys, cast your charm on the chaps at Garmin Batting Eyelashes

cavasta's picture

posted by cavasta [214 posts]
2nd January 2011 - 19:48

7 Likes

We'll do our very best Smile

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7504 posts]
3rd January 2011 - 8:07

4 Likes

The review is okay but is it not a bit lacking in comparative data? I'm not seeing any real reason for upgrading from my existing 705 other than a bigger screen. This is not a pop at Garmin as I have been more than delighted with my 705 plus all the benefits of Garmin Connect and of course Training Center. Would be happy to win one but the improvements that are impled in the review don't allow me to justify a purchase.

I'm fat and fifty - I'm going as fast as I can!

posted by Fionnghal [11 posts]
4th January 2011 - 18:47

8 Likes

Love that device. I'm very happy with my ForeRunner 305, and a bunch of cadence units.

Big advantage of the cadence sensor at this time of year is that you can use a turbo trainer, and get the same data capture capability (HR/Time/Power/etc)

I personally can't wait for the Garmin/Metrigear pedals to appear....

Bring me sunshine, and dry roads

MalcolmBinns's picture

posted by MalcolmBinns [107 posts]
5th January 2011 - 16:11

9 Likes

Fionnghal - what else do you want to know? We've listed everything it does.

We'll give you all the info and tell you how it performed - but we can't decide how you spend your money for you, I'm afraid. Although, personally, if I couldn't see any reason to upgrade, I wouldn't.

posted by Mat Brett [1956 posts]
5th January 2011 - 21:01

10 Likes

Quote:
I'm not seeing any real reason for upgrading from my existing 705 other than a bigger screen

you don't need the ordnance survey mapping then? if not, you're likely fine with your 705 as the mapping is the major improvement IMO.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7504 posts]
6th January 2011 - 11:49

7 Likes

Nothing is said about the behaviour of the colour display under the direct sunlight. Is everything seen well? OR Garmin 500 is better?

Daggert's picture

posted by Daggert [1 posts]
25th April 2011 - 10:27

10 Likes

the display is perfectly usable under direct sunlight; the edge 500 has the, erm, edge when it comes to clarity in those conditions but i've used the 800 on plenty of sunny rides and the mapping and data screens are still very legible.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7504 posts]
25th April 2011 - 13:33

11 Likes

Can anyone help...
I've just brought one.
I was under the impression that I could make a route and download it to the garmin edge 800.
I've downloaded basecamp but this seems to only have the A3 and M25 on......
I was expecting the detail in a website like MapMyRide or google maps.
Do I need to buy the city Nav card?
If I do, can I then plot detailed routes?

Please please help.

posted by mccann.ben [28 posts]
24th August 2011 - 18:00

9 Likes

you can use totally free OSM maps, which are routable! There's a tutorial on where to get one and how to install it here: http://www.scarletfire.co.uk/2012/01/tutorial-how-to-install-free-osm-ma...

deadhead1971's picture

posted by deadhead1971 [26 posts]
2nd February 2012 - 22:59

9 Likes

Cant fault the unit but the heart rate strap is poor quality.I think using strava with the Garmin is additive so be warned.That said i love it.It makes all rides competitive and if you are looking for speed well its the way to go

big mick

posted by big mick [189 posts]
25th April 2012 - 17:56

8 Likes

ppf,RE. Garmin Edge 800.Does anyone know if the 800 has a proper memory? can it hold the entire europe mapping? Why do you have to upload each section of mapping? I have had a very frustrating 5 years of 705 ownership. Is it more 'user friendly'? What are your experiences of ERRR...customer support? I have sent over 40 emails since owning the 705,got my first reply a few weeks ago, (only taken 5yrs garmin!) 3 emails since have had no response!
As a cycle computor its great,they (garmin) havent mastered the satnav and mapping yet! Same problems on their car satnavs! I would appreciate any feedback from 800 owners.

peasantpigfarmer

posted by peasantpigfarmer [46 posts]
3rd July 2012 - 9:53

10 Likes

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