Garmin Edge 1030 cycling computer

7
£499.99

VERDICT:

7
10
A feature-packed GPS computer with very good navigational capability, but it'll cost you
Weight: 
190g
Contact: 

The Garmin Edge 1030 is a highly capable bike computer for those who want navigation functions, offering longer run-times than the previous model and compatibility with Bluetooth Smart sensors along with several interesting new features such as rider to rider messaging and training load analysis.

  • Pros: Navigational capability, clear mapping, larger screen and longer battery life than the Edge 1000...
  • Cons: It's a penny off £500

The new dashboard is fairly intuitive while the touchscreen works with most gloves and isn't bothered by rain, but the price will make many baulk.

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The Edge 1030 is packed with features (go to Garmin's website for the full list). I'll stick to the key stuff in order to keep this review reasonably concise.

In the box

Along with the Garmin Edge 1030 unit you get a standard mount which you can fix to your handlebar or stem with rubber rings, and an out-front handlebar mount. You also get a tether that you can attach to the unit so it won't fall onto the road if it comes off the mount in a crash, say. Personally, I've never used the tether on any Garmin device, but it's there if you want it.

Garmin Edge 1030 - side.jpg

You also get a USB cable and a Quick Start Manual.

Garmin Edge 1030 - back.jpg

Initial setup

The Garmin Edge 1030 is operated by both buttons and touchscreen. It has three buttons:

  • On/off, also lets you enter sleep mode and wake up the unit
  • Lap
  • Start/stop

I encountered an issue early on in that I couldn't get the Garmin Edge 1030 to pair with my iPhone, which is necessary if you want to use the connected features which make up a large part of the computer's capability. Frustrating! I assumed I was doing something wrong so read the instructions again and followed them a bunch of times before gradually realising that, for once, the problem wasn't me being a dumbass.

Garmin Edge 1030 - screen.jpg

I Googled it, watched a third party YouTube video, then went through a specific sequence of turning stuff off and back on again. Bingo! But if you're paying this kind of money you've a right to expect that Garmin would have this sorted out rather than having to rely on some bloke coming up with a solution and sharing it on the internet. That's time I won't get back!

Once paired, setting up the Edge 1030 is straightforward enough. As usual with Garmin, you can set various different activity profiles that you can move between by just tapping the screen. So, for example, you could set up a 'road' profile with up to five data screens that you can swipe between as you ride. You can set up each screen with anything from one to ten data fields.

You could have a page with all your basic ride information like speed, distance and time, for instance, then a page with all your power data – current power, 3sec average, overall average, pedal smoothness perhaps – and a navigation page that shows information on the course you're riding: ascent, distance and time remaining, for example.

Garmin Edge 1030 - screen stats.jpg

Setting all that is simple. You just tap on the relevant section of the screen and then scroll through the list of data fields until you find the one you want.

You can set up an entirely different activity profile for riding on the turbo, where the navigation features aren't going to be relevant, or for any other discipline, so you'll only have the information you want in front of you as you ride rather than having to sift through a load of irrelevant stuff.

I won't go into detail on how the user interface works, but suffice to say that navigating the unit is pretty logical and you'll get the hang of everything pretty quickly.

All of your ride data is recorded as a .fit file. You can download other file formats – .gpx and .tcx, for instance – through Garmin Connect. You can sync your rides to other apps like Strava and TrainingPeaks.

Operating the unit

As mentioned, the Edge 1030 is operated via both buttons and a touchscreen.

The start/stop and lap buttons are positioned on the bottom edge of the unit, facing you. I found them a little fiddly to operate, especially while using the out-front mount. They'd be easier to use if they were positioned on the top or even on the sides.

Garmin Edge 1030 - base buttons.jpg

The colour touchscreen works very well with your bare fingers and it's better than previous Garmin touchscreens I've used when wearing gloves. With most gloves you can swipe between screens easily, with a second attempt required just occasionally. I couldn't get the Edge 1030 to respond at all, though, when I was wearing some big, padded gloves from Caratti. That's not ideal when you're riding flat out and just want to get to the info you need with the minimum of fuss, which is why, on the whole, I'd prefer to swap between screens via buttons you can push.

I've used the Edge 1030 in the rain on many occasions and it hasn't been freaked out by the experience. It just carries on operating normally. Dripping sweat hasn't had any effect on it either.

Garmin Edge 1030.jpg

The Edge 1030 measures 58mm x 114mm x 19mm. For comparison, the Edge 1000 is 58mm x 112mm x 20mm, so there's really not much difference there.

Garmin Edge 1030 - side 2.jpg

The Edge 1030's screen is a little larger, measuring 88.9mm diagonally with 282 x 470 pixels (the Edge 1000 measures 76mm diagonally with 240 x 400 pixels). I've found the screen easy enough to read on the fly, even on bumpy gravel roads. If you struggle, you can always customise the display.

Battery life

The Edge 1030 is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery with a claimed battery life of up to 20 hours. This compares with a claimed 15 hours for the Edge 1000.

That 20 hours is a best case scenario. Out in the real world I didn't manage to get that, no matter how I configured the various settings (run-times vary greatly according to how you have it set up).

If a longer run-time is important to you, a new Garmin Charge Power Pack (£119.99) is being released which plugs directly into the Edge 1030 to offer up to 24 hours of additional life (we've not used this). It fits into the bottom of the out-front bike mount. (You can read more here.)

The Power Pack can also be used to charge other devices via a USB charging cable.

Sensor support

The Edge 1030 can be used with wireless ANT+ sensors and also with Bluetooth Smart sensors.

It can be used to display data from speed and cadence sensors, for example, hear rate monitors, power meters, and so on. You can also use it with Shimano Di2 electronic shifting, SRAM Red eTap, and Campagnolo EPS. It can also serve as a dashboard for Garmin's Varia Smart lights and Rearview Radar.

I've used the Edge 1030 with several different sensors – heart rate monitors, power meters and smart trainers – and they've always remained paired, although other people have reported the need to re-pair sensors regularly.

Navigation features

The chief reason for choosing an Edge 1030 over a cheaper unit is for its navigational capability, and it has a lot to offer here.

As well as the ability to display courses created elsewhere and imported, the Edge 1030 allows you to browse the preloaded Garmin Cycle Map, search for particular places (points of interest, addresses, and so on) and create your own course on the unit itself.

Garmin Edge 1030 - screen map.jpg

One interesting new feature is Garmin's trendline popularity routing which 'uses millions of miles of Garmin Connect ride data to show the best on- and off-road routes'.

Essentially, when you ask the Edge 1030 to take you from one place to another, it'll do so via the roads (and trails, if that's what you want) most used by cyclists. The idea is that this keeps you on bike-friendly routes given the seal of approval by others.

When you want to create a route to a particular place, the Edge 1030 does a good job in most circumstances. It's 12 miles (18km) from my house to Bath, for example, and it was perfectly happy to work out a route for me in seconds – as you'd expect – and it also sorted me a route to London, a distance of about 100 miles (160km), in under a minute.

On the other hand, every time I tried to get a route to Bristol – only about 25 miles away – I got a 'route calculation error' and was asked to 'consider adding via points'. Sub-optimal! When I did what was requested, the Edge 1030 was happy to supply a route.

Getting a route from Bath to Durham – which constitutes a helluva distance for a bike ride, but let's go with it – took nearly four minutes and the result wasn't in any way direct. It suggested going via west London even though I'd opted to 'minimise distance' while calculating routes. Fair enough, that might be a good route if you wanted to pick up a Chelsea away strip on the way, but otherwise, not really. That's a bit of a glitch in the system, then, requiring sense checking before you set off. Adding a few 'via points' would get you a more sensible route.

> Buyer's Guide: 11 of the best cycling GPS units, from £50

The Edge 1030 offers other navigational functions from earlier Garmins, such as Round-Trip Course which will suggest three different routes of a chosen length with a start/finish point of your choice. That's a tried and tested feature that you might well find really useful.

I've found the mapping to be clear. You do lose quite a lot of detail when you zoom out, and on the whole I'd prefer to plan more complicated routes on a desktop and then transfer them to the Edge 1030, but it's certainly a highly capable device.

The onscreen instructions are clear, the Edge 1030 giving you plenty of warning of turns and counting you down in both distance and time. It'll also alert you to any sharp turns in the road that are coming up (like pretty much everything else, you can turn this feature off if you don't want it). It doesn't throw a tantrum if you go off course either, it simply re-routes you and keeps going. This is an area where other devices have struggled in the past but I've not had any worries here.

On the whole, despite a couple of little niggles, I've found the Edge 1030 to put in a solid performance when it comes to navigation.

Rider to rider messaging

One new feature the Edge 1030 offers is rider to rider messaging. It's an interesting addition although probably not a deal breaker for anyone. This is how it works:

You can set up a GroupTrack list that allows you to connect with other Edge 1030 users and see where they are in realtime on a map. You can also choose to send all or selected contacts on your ride a message from a non-customisable list given to you by Garmin. These are short messages like 'need mechanical help', 'running late' and 'wait at next stop'. You just drop down the list of options until you get to the one that's relevant and then ping it out to the chosen recipient(s).

Handy? It could be in that you can send a message on the fly and it'll show up immediately on the screen of the other rider(s). You do need to have mobile phone service for this feature to work, so you could equally give them a call, but this function could be more convenient.

Personally, I'd say it would be a more useful feature if you could alter the list of messages to include ones of your own.

Strava

As well as being compatible with Garmin Connect segments (if you've not been concentrating for the past couple of years, segments are essentially virtual race courses,), the Edge 1030 is, of course, compatible with Strava Live Segments (you need to subscribe Strava Premium to get this function). As with existing Garmin Edges, it tells you when you're approaching the start of a segment you've starred so you can get yourself ready.

During the segment, as well as distance and time to go, it gives you a course profile. This might be useful if you're taking on a climb you've never ridden before.

You can choose the effort you're compared against: your own PR, the current KOM/QOM or the time of athletes you're following.

Then, when you complete the segment you're told how you got on relative to the time you were chasing.

A Strava 'Segment Explore' widget uses your connected smartphone to show you nearby segments when you're out and about, plus real-time data on them. That makes it easy to find a few segments, string them together over the course of a ride and go hunting for some PRs.

Training status

If you connect a heart rate monitor (and a power meter, if you have one) the Edge 1030 will start to compile information on your training status (this comes from Firstbeat). After a couple of weeks of regular use, the data will begin to stabilise and you'll be given your level of fitness, training load and the recovery time you need before you should train again.

The idea of all this info is that you can see how your riding affects your level of fitness and make your training decisions based on this. So, for example, at its simplest level you might find out that you could easily handle more training or you might learn that you're over-reaching and should scale back what you're doing.

Workouts

You can create your own multi-interval workouts on Garmin Connect, either on desktop or now on the smartphone app for the first time, and transfer them directly to the Edge 1030.

Connect IQ

Like existing models, the Edge 1030 supports Garmin Connect IQ apps. It is preloaded with Strava Routes, Best Bike Split and TrainingPeaks IQ apps and other apps can be offered by other developers.

The Strava Routes app makes it simple to get routes from Strava onto your Garmin, for example, which you can then use for navigation, while the TrainingPeaks app allows you to access training sessions planned on this platform directly on your Edge 1030. It'll guide you through your workout in real time.

Conclusion

The Garmin Edge 1030 has such huge capabilities that it's not possible to go into everything here. I hope this review has explained some of the key characteristics and features without boring you to death with too much detail or confusing you with too much jargon.

I've experienced a few challenges with the Edge 1030, such as it initially not speaking to my iPhone, the touchscreen not responding when wearing certain gloves, and a couple of navigation issues. This stuff can be annoying but I managed to work around all of it.

On the plus side, if you're after a dedicated GPS unit with mapping, this is the most advanced that I've used. Although the rider to rider messaging isn't going to change the world, you get a larger screen and a longer battery life than with the Edge 1000, improved integration with Strava routing and some neat training status capability. If the vast majority of your rides are on familiar roads and you're not going to make much use of the navigational capability you won't get your money's worth out of the Edge 1030. If you like to explore, though, it has a lot to offer. Whether or not you're prepared to pay £500 for this is something you have to decide for yourself.

Verdict

A feature-packed GPS computer with very good navigational capability, but it'll cost you

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Garmin Edge 1030 cycling computer

Size tested: 58mm x 114mm x 19mm

Tell us what the product is for

Garmin describes the Edge 1030 as the "ultimate GPS bike computer with navigation and connected features".

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Garmin lists these key features:

* 3.5in bike computer with comprehensive navigation, performance and cycling awareness features

* Trendline popularity routing uses millions of miles of Garmin Connect ride data to show the best on- and off-road routes

* Preloaded Garmin Cycle Map provides turn-by-turn directions and new navigation alerts

* New rider-to-rider messaging lets you stay in contact with other cyclists in your group

* Challenge yourself every ride with newly updated preloaded Strava Live Segments feature

* Battery life: up to 20 hours, extendable up to 40 hours with the optional Garmin Charge power pack

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

It's well made and comes with an IPX7 waterproof rating.

Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10

Despite some annoying niggles, it works well.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

It's reasonably rugged.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
7/10

It's not especially light compared with other bike computers, but that's unlikely to be an issue.

Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

The Edge 1030 offers a zillion functions, but £500 is still a big wedge of cash.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Once up and running, it has performed very well for me.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The navigation features are generally strong. The training status feature is very good too, helping you to zero in on an effective training programme.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

It's a big investment, particularly given that your smartphone probably offers many navigational features these day.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? The price would put me off.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, if they wanted a dedicated GPS computer with good navigation features.

Use this box to explain your overall score

I'd say that in terms of overall performance the Garmin Edge 1030 does enough to justify an 8, but the price has to drag it down to a 7.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 43  Height: 190cm  Weight: 75kg

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: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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