Garmin's new Edge 130 offers a lot of performance in a small package, with ANT+ and Bluetooth sensor and smartphone connectivity, decent battery life, an easy-to-use button-controlled layout and, perhaps best of all, an absolutely pin-sharp display. You don't get fully fledged navigation like the pricier Garmin models but the basic setup is usable if that's not your top priority.
- Pros: Compact, easy to use, pin-sharp display, buttons not a touchscreen
- Cons: Basic navigation, no mapping
Garmin's GPS computers have been getting bigger and more feature-packed over the years, but the new Edge 130 harks back to the iconic 500. It's not only compact, but the stripped-back features focus on offering the core functions and fewer superfluous ones that, in my opinion, have been bloating some of the bigger and pricier Garmins at the expense of solid reliability.
It's an all-new product line too, sitting above the smaller and cheaper 20, 25 and 200 computers, but below the 520 Plus, 820 and 1030. It will appeal to performance-minded cyclists as it pairs with a whole bunch of sensors, but shuns a lot of the features found higher up the range, which keeps the price down and makes it easier to use.
No touchscreens here, the Edge 130 is operated by five buttons located on the side. That means no touchscreen reliability issues to worry about, plus it's good for battery life. It doesn't take long to be fluent in using the buttons to navigate around the Edge 130, it's very simple and intuitive. The user interface is a breeze, so much easier to use than any of the 'better' models.
The screen is 1.8in in size. It's not as indulgent or colourful as Garmin's bigger devices but it is pin sharp and legible; reading the numbers at speed with a quick glance is simple. That's true in any light conditions as well, from gloomy low light to bright sunlight. It's probably the crispest display I've used on any computer, Garmin or other brands.
Its screen might be small but the Edge 130 lets you pack up to five data pages with eight data fields, so you can get all the important ride information you need. I was easily able to set up a data page to show speed, distance, power, heart rate, cadence, elapsed time, timer and total ascent, all I really need for an average ride. It's quite handy to have a couple of other screens set up with less data, especially for racing when all you might need is speed, power and time, with the subsequent larger numbers making it easy to glance at in the heat of a race.
You have to determine the configuration of the data fields in the main menu of the Edge 130, which isn't quite as easy as setting up a Wahoo via a smartphone app, but it's pretty straightforward and it's likely to be something you only do once. In fact, setting up the Edge 130 out of the box for the first time is a simple affair. And every time you add a sensor you get a prompt to add a relevant data page, which saves mining through the menus.
Packed inside the small unit are sensors that use GPS, GLONASS and Galileo satellites for positioning with a barometric altimeter. I found it picks up the satellites very quickly so there's no delay to starting a ride, and it hasn't shown any sign of dropping signal during any rides so far. That's using just the GPS mode, which the Edge 130 is set to by default. It worked fine. For more challenging areas you could try either the GPS + GLONASS or GPS + Galileo but they come with a battery penalty. Unless you're having issues in the stock mode you shouldn't have to worry about changing anything.
Recording and connecting
Recording rides is a doddle. Once the Edge 130 has locked onto a GPS signal, which I found it did impressively quickly, press Record and it starts tracking your ride. When you're done, press the Stop button and you'll be prompted to save or discard your ride. Hit Save and then you'll have the opportunity to categorise your ride with options including road, mixed surface, mountain and gravel. It's a nice touch, given the diversity of cycling these days. You only get one activity profile compared to the multiple profiles on the 520, say, but it's not something I missed.
Like all modern Garmin computers, the Edge 130 supports both ANT+ and Bluetooth. The latter means you can connect a smartphone so you can get alerts for incoming text messages. I like that; it lets you know if it's something important that you need to stop and respond to, or just some junk mail. It doesn't work with WhatsApp, though, which is a shame.
Bluetooth also means easy uploading to Garmin Connect or any other training package. I found the Bluetooth to be reliable and worked fine every time, which is an improvement on my experience with some older Garmin computers which were frustrating, to say the least. You can use LiveTrack if you want to share your route with friends and family.
Strava Live Segments is supported if you like to challenge yourself that way on a ride. It also supports Strava routes but you have to plug the Edge 130 into a computer and manually copy across the files, there's no easy way of doing it via the smartphone, which might limit its appeal with dedicated Strava fans.
The Edge 130 is compatible with sensors including heart rate, cadence, power meters and more, and the Varia radar rear light. You get a reasonable selection of metrics for monitoring these sensors, but if you're a data-hungry performance-focused cyclist then you might prefer the full suite of power metrics you get with Garmin's more expensive computers.
You don't get proper navigation like on the 800 or 1000 series, as there's no base map installed. You can still download a map, easily done from the Garmin Connect app, and you're presented with a line you can follow, with prompts to upcoming turns. It can be hit or miss; for countryside riding it's doable, but in urban and city areas I found it tricky when you get to a roundabout with lots of possible exits.
As well as downloading a route, you can use the 'back to start' via the same route or in a straight line – handy if you need to get home sharpish.
Garmin claims 15 hours of battery life, but that is in the best possible scenario. For real-world riding with everything turned on and connected to a smartphone and a couple of sensors (heart rate and power meter), I found I was getting in the region of 10-12 hours. That's enough for a week's worth of riding for many. More sensors will drain the battery quicker; turning them off will increase it a bit.
I know Garmin users have had their fair share of issues. I've had plenty – most recently with the 820 and it's unusable touchscreen, thankfully fixed with firmware updates – but I'm pleased to report the Edge 130 bucks this trend. It's been solidly reliable and free of gremlins and bugs during the couple of months I've been testing it. It's not once thrown a wobbly or had me cursing it, it just does what you expect of an expensive computer and works all the time. So well done Garmin on releasing a product that is bug-free.
Price and rivals
Garmin asks £170 for the new Edge 130, which is £90 cheaper than the also-new Edge 520 Plus, though that offers a lot more performance data metrics and navigation. If you need proper navigation and you're seriously into tracking your fitness and want the full suite of performance data then it's worth the extra, but if you know your way around then the Edge 130 does everything most cyclists will probably need, and in a very compact and sharp looking computer.
Shop around and you can find the regular Edge 520 for about the same price as this new 130. It's an older design but does pack more performance metrics, though it doesn't do a proper map. The 130's small form-factor and more modern design tip it for me.
Tougher competition comes from outside the Garmin stable: Wahoo's increasingly popular Elemnt Bolt is pricier at £200. It's a chunkier unit and, to my mind, not as smart looking as the Edge 130, and the display is not as crispy sharp, but it does offer proper navigation with a base map and it matches all the same performance parameters as the Edge 130.
Usability is a little better with the Bolt, too, especially when first setting it up as you conduct all changes through the smartphone app. The Edge 130 is still cheaper, smaller and has a nicer screen, and if you don't need navigation then pocketing the change might be reason enough to choose the Garmin.
The Edge 130 pretty much does everything I want in a computer. It tracks rides reliably, provides all the data I need being compatible with heart rate, cadence and power meter sensors, has a decent battery life, is easy to use and is contained in a small and sleek package.
There's no navigation but it's not something I miss as I rarely need to navigate on unfamiliar roads. What I really like is that it provides all the key features I need for my regular riding, with a sharp screen, compact form factor and, finally, solid reliability with no software issues.
Possibly the best Garmin yet if you don't need mapping
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Garmin Edge 130
Size tested: 4.1 x 6.3 x 1.6 cm
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 says, "It's the little things that make all the difference, which is why you're going to love Edge 130. This ruggedly compact but capable GPS cycling computer has everything you need to navigate your ride, monitor stats, stay connected with loved ones and much more. And it's all in a compact device that goes where you go and won't weigh you down.
Small but powerful
Whether you ride on single-track, open roads or city streets, Edge 130 is the perfect riding partner. Its compact, lightweight design features a 1.8" mono Memory in Pixel (MIP) display. That means you'll get a completely crisp view of the screen, even in direct sunlight when you'd normally be squinting at your smartphone screen. Its five-button interface is easy to navigate, and you can even customise the display to show up to 8 data fields on each screen. And don't let its slight stature fool you – Edge 130 is packed with additional features and gets up to 15 hours of battery life between charges."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Simplified, rugged design with 1.8" display that's crisp and easy to read in sunlight or low-light conditions
With GPS, GLONASS and Galileo satellites and an altimeter, you'll know how far, fast, hard and high you've ridden on the longest climbs or on your way through the city
Includes navigation with turn prompts and even shows you how to get back to start; download courses from the Course Creator feature in Garmin Connect™ online community, and race in real time against Strava Live Segments
Compatible with Varia™ cycling awareness accessories, including rear-view radar and smart bike lights
Connected features include smart notifications, weather and more; LiveTrack and Assistance features make it easy to share your location
Battery life: up to 15 hours
It's priced about right and on par with competitors: you can get a few more features with the Wahoo Bolt, but you're paying a bit more. I reckon it offers a good feature to pound ratio.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Several months of riding later, and I've been really impressed with how well it works.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Really easy to use, very reliable and I love the clear display and button interface.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
No proper mapping but that's not a deal breaker for me, and on a screen so small mapping would be compromised.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
I think it compares well. If you're not bothered about having the latest there are some bargains to be had, such as the older 520 which offers a few more performance metrics.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
I've been left disappointed by the last few Garmins I've tested, but the new Edge 130 has restored my faith. It gets all the key features bang on, is reliable and easy to use and the screen is super-sharp.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.