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The new Garmin Edge 510 is a reasonably compact GPS-based bike computer that can work alongside a smartphone to provide interesting features like LiveTracking – where your family and friends can follow your position and performance online.
The 510 is 5.2cm wide, 8.6cm tall, and 2.4cm deep. That's somewhere between the existing Edge 500 (4.8cm x 6.9cm x 2.2cm) and the new Edge 810 (5.2cm x 9.3cm x 2.5cm). It sits on the same quarter-turn mount that Garmin use for both of those other computers. You can fix the standard mount to your bars or stem with variously sized O-rings, or use the out-front mount to position it... well, out the front of your bars.
The quarter-turn mount system is the same as Garmin use on many existing computers. Some people have apparently had the tabs on the back of the head unit fail but we've never encountered any problems in three years of using the Edge 500. You do get a tether in the box if you're worried that the unit might come off in a crash.
When you start it up, the Edge 510 get its satellite communication fixed really fast – the time varies but it's usually just a few seconds and about half the time of my Edge 500. That's because it's compatible with both GPS (the US system) and GLONASS (the Russian system). I don't think I've ever been without a signal during several weeks of testing, not even when riding under tree cover or next to tall buildings.
Operation is different from that of the 500 but it's still pretty simple. You get just three buttons, one of those being the on/off, and you can flick between pages and scroll through the various options via the touchscreen.
That touchscreen is a full colour LCD (176 x 220 pixel) and you can adjust the brightness easily. I must say, though, that although it's very clear most of the time, in certain light conditions it doesn't have the same level of contrast that you can set on the 500 so it's not as easy to read. Plus, being full colour doesn't really add a whole lot of benefit because there's no mapping here, so I wouldn't say it's a massive step forward.
The touchscreen works fine with gloves and also in wet conditions. My only problem with it is that if you have mud, energy gel or something on your fingers, you can smudge the screen. Still, it's a handy, easy-to-use feature.
Basic use is really straightforward, although setting up the fully customisable pages initially can take a while. You can have up to five different pages of data, each of them containing between one and 10 data fields. So you could have a page with all your speed and distance information, for example, a page with your heart rate data, and so on.
The information you get to choose from is vast – there's a full list down below – including heart rate if you use a compatible HRM (ANT+, included in the £299 Edge 510 Performance Bundle but not included in the basic £249.99 package) and power from any ANT+ power meter (more on that in a mo). Switching between screens is just a matter of swiping your finger across the display. You can even switch a data field while you're out on a ride. You stick your finger on the measurement you want to swap, then go through the list until you find the one you want to substitute in.
As well as the data fields, you can set up alerts, autolap, create training sessions based on heart rate, speed or whatever, and when you're riding it'll let you know if you stray outside of your chosen parameters.
The Edge 510 will display power from any ANT+ power meter (which is nearly all of them) and you can create training sessions based on that. Many people had problems with this to begin with, although Garmin's latest firmware appears to have sorted the issues (let us know if you've encountered anything since the latest firmware update).
On top of all the standard data pages, the 510 offers a workout page, a map page (which is effectively a breadcrumb trail rather than the full mapping that you get with the 810), an elevation page, and a virtual partner page, where you can race another rider at whatever average speed you like. You can switch off any of these pages if you don't want to use them.
You can fit a speed/cadence sensor to your bike if you like (again, it's included in the Performance Bundle). To my mind, the reason to do this would be for the cadence measurement much more than for the speed.
The 510 can store various profiles. So if you want to display one set of data fields during training, another lot for commuting, and others during racing, it's easy to swap between them. Rather than going through and altering all the variables, you just switch one setting. It takes no time.
As with the Edge 500, all of the info is stored on the unit for uploading to your PC/Mac via USB when you get home. You can then display it all on Garmin's free software on your computer, on the Garmin Connect website, or transfer the data as GPX or TCX files to use on other training sites.
A few of the key differences between the 510 and the 500 require it to be paired with a smartphone – either an iPhone or an Android – using the free Garmin Connect app. Hook them up via Bluetooth and you can provide Live Tracking for friends/family on the Garmin Connect website. They can see where you are and look at your live data while you're out riding. You can also set the app so that it will automatically upload your ride data to the Garmin Connect website as soon as you have finished.
The Edge 510, like the 810, can get real-time weather updates via your smartphone – the current weather, temperature, wind speed and wind direction, plus the weather for the next three hours. On top of that, it'll give you any weather alerts. Granted, you could take your phone out and check the weather there, but this system puts forecasts and alerts in front of you without you needing to bother. It's an interesting feature but it wouldn't say it's all that useful in most circumstances. It would be more useful if it gave you weather info on your chosen route rather than where you are at present.
Another new feature is the ability to search and download routes from your Garmin Connect account and send them to the Edge 510 via your smartphone, although I found this of limited value without any mapping. All the routing is basic, just giving you the direction you need to ride and alerting you when you've gone off course.
Should you buy the 510? Well, it puts more data at your fingertips than any similarly priced unit, it's easy to use, and the Garmin Connect system is user-friendly too. The reason to choose the 510 over the 500 (£169.99 basic package) would be for those smartphone features – so it's only worth the extra cash if you're actually going to make use of them.
Very clever GPS bike computer that's relatively easy to use, but only worth the price hike over the Edge 500 if you're going to use alongside a smartphone
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Make and model: Garmin Edge 510 Performance Bundle
Size tested: One size, one colour
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?
"GPS bike computer for cyclists seeking performance
* Connected features: live tracking, send/receive courses, social media sharing, weather
* Compatible with GPS and GLONASS satellites for faster satellite acquisition
* Distance, speed, ascent/descent and GPS position
* Optional heart rate, speed/cadence and power
* Wireless data transfers to Garmin Connect to analyse and share
* Activity profiles store preferences for different cycling activities"
Here's a full list of features
* Garmin Connect compatible (online community where you analyze, categorize and share data)
* Virtual Partner (train against a digital person)
* Courses (compete against previous activities)
* Auto Pause (pauses and resumes timer based on speed)
* Auto Lap (automatically starts a new lap)
* Auto Scroll (cycles through data pages during workout)
* Advanced workouts (create custom, goal-oriented workouts)
* Pace alert (triggers alarm if you vary from preset pace)
* Time/distance alert (triggers alarm when you reach goal)
* Interval training (set up exercise and rest intervals)
* Heart rate-based calorie computation
* Customizable screen(s)
* Barometric altimeter
* Power meter compatible (displays power data from compatible 3rd party ANT+ enabled power meters)
* Temperature (displays and records temperature while you ride)
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Garmin claim the battery life is 20hrs. I never got that – I got about 16, usually (it varies depending on the backlight setting, how often you swipe across the screen and so on). It's about three hours less if you connect it via Bluetooth to your smartphone.
It has huge capabilities. It's a good buy if you're going to make use of those capabilities, including the smartphone features. If not, get something cheaper.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
I got the idea of it really quickly and it performed exactly as it should.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The huge amount of data and the fact that I found it so user friendly.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I don't find the screen as clear as that of the 500.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Age: 41 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: time trialling, 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.