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Ridden & Reviewed: the Garmin Edge 510

February 28, 2013

I broke my Garmin Edge 500. Well, I didn’t break it as much as it broke.

I got the 500 a good number of years ago, and reviewed it here last year. It’s served me well for a number of 5,000+ mile years. But the small mounting tabs on the unit that work so simply with the standard Garmin mount or compatible after-market pieces finally gave way. One of the two small tabs broke sometime back, maybe last year or the year prior. The second one broke last week on a ride. I was cruising along, hit a large road seam that caused a pinch flat and nearly bucked me off the bike, and the little tab snapped–and my Garmin shot off ahead of me, skipping down the road.

But it’s ok. Garmin has always provided great customer service. My unit is well out of warranty, but I’m getting it refurbished for a small fee and giving it to a friend once I get it back.

The new Garmin Edge 510.

The new Garmin Edge 510.

As it turns out, the incident has given me an excellent reason to get myself the new Edge 510.

The new 510 unit is a step forward in user-friendliness. And that’s saying something since I found the 500 to be quite easy to use straight out of the box.

Like it’s predecessor, the 510 is a plug and play unit. It features the ability to customize the data you want to see in real time. With the bigger screen you can see up to 10 pieces of data at any moment–far too many for me, but it can be done. Add to that the ability to customize up to 5 screens that you can manually or automatically scroll through, and that’s a lot of data on the fly. The 510 uses the standard Garmin speed and cadence sensor, is ANT+ capable so it can talk to your favorite power meter, and has familiar alarms and personal data collection features to let you train as precisely as you like.

You can now also set up activity profiles similar to the bike profiles offered on the 500. In addition to having a number of bikes saved on your unit, the 510 let’s you save various activity profiles–think training ride, commute, race, etc.–to the unit. Now not only is the 510 plug and play right out of the box, but it’s a simple switch from bike to bike and ride to ride. Simply pick the bike you’re on and the type of ride you’re doing and the data fields and screens you’ve set up for that specific bike and ride will be displayed.

Those little add-ons are nice, but there are some changes that I think a bigger.

The first major difference is in size. The 510 is larger than the 500 and features a larger screen–2.2 inches diagonal compared to 1.75 inches for the 500. The 510’s comparatively large backlit display serves as the primary means of navigating the unit’s features as it is touch sensitive. But unlike most smart phones, the 510’s touch screen is tactile, meaning that while response time is a fraction slower than the typical smartphone, you can work it with full-fingered gloves on. Very handy for cool-weather riding or any ride where full-finger coverage is preferred.

The 510 seems much larger in size when not in use, where the bigger screen is a marked improvement.

The 510 seems much larger in size when not in use, where the bigger screen is a marked improvement.

When I first got it I thought, “this is noticeably lager and I’m not sure I like or need the bigger screen or the touchscreen.” Now that I’ve used it for a few hundred miles, I can’t imagine squinting at the smaller screen of the 500, much less using various button combinations to navigate the unit’s menus.

The second big change is the 510’s wireless connectivity. The new unit is Bluetooth capable and can be used with Garmin’s simple Garmin Connect smartphone application to instantly upload ride data when you finish a ride. This is certainly a convenience, but not the main reason I like the Bluetooth feature. The reason I like the new 510’s connectivity is for the Live Tracking feature, which lets you email a link to folks and/or post your ride to Facebook and/or Twitter for everyone who cares to to follow in real time. Gone are the days of telling my wife  “I’m heading to San Marcos” or “I’m doing the Parmer store ride.” Now instead of a vague idea of where I’m at she can see precisely where I am in real time, and easily determine how late I’ll be in getting home. A handy feature for folks that ride solo, as well as those that take the trail less traveled. While there are smartphone apps that offer tracking like this, those use the phone’s GPS capabilities, which generally rapidly drains a phone battery compared to Bluetooth.

Finally, the new 510 boasts better signal capability and faster signal acquisition times thanks to new protocols that use more satellites. Not that I thought the 500 took too long to acquire the satellite signal, but the 510 is noticeably faster and picks up signal indoors in areas where my 500 would either drop or not find a signal, such as when I turn the unit on in the shop as I head out for a ride.

For the weight conscious. 25 grams. Also known as a sip from your water bottle.

For the weight conscious. 25 grams. Also known as a sip from your water bottle.

The 510 is a veritable bargin compared to the 500. The shop currently has the 500 with cadence and heart rate sensors at $369, while the 510 with those same accessories is $399. $30 is $30. But you get Garmin’s new head’s up, out front mount with the 510 in addition to the standard, quarter-turn mount that many Garmin users know well. Add to that the nifty new features, and that’s $30 well spent in my opinion.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. troy permalink
    March 29, 2013 11:29 am

    Agree in full , picked up from 99 Bikes Brisbane Australia $323 and working great

    • djcurtin permalink
      April 2, 2013 3:49 am

      Thanks for reading Troy, and glad you’re enjoying your Garmin!

  2. Lewis permalink
    July 5, 2013 1:02 pm

    Hi mate,
    What type of mount have you used to fit this to your bike – is it barfly? And if so which one? thanks!

    • djcurtin permalink
      July 5, 2013 8:13 pm

      Hello, Lewis! I use the standard/original BarFly with my 510 and it seems to work fine. I imagine there might be some fit issues if you were running the original BarFly with the 810, which is a bit larger. Hope this helps!

  3. Allan permalink
    August 8, 2014 3:42 am

    The new 510 is fantastic, only thing I’m trying to figure out is the data fields on the 500 are custom to your liking but the 510 doesn’t look like it has the same thing/ program going on?

    • djcurtin permalink
      August 17, 2014 10:43 pm

      Allan: You can set up the number of data fields as well as what piece of information each field shows on the 510 as well. It’s part of the set up for each activity type you create. There are some “how to” videos on YouTube for setting up the 510. And thanks for checking out the blog!

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