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Garmin Edge 500 Review: Compact, Sharp-looking, Feature-packed GPS Cyclecomputer

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating
User Rating 1 Star Rating (3 Reviews)

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Garmin Edge 500 GPS cyclecomputer

Garmin Edge 500 GPS cyclecomputer.

Fred Zahradnik

The Bottom Line

Update: Garmin has issued a July, 16, 2010 firmware update to fix the freeze/lock problems described in user reviews below.
The Garmin Edge 500 is compact and has a clean, no-wires installation. It has a customizable, multi-mode display, accommodates an optional heart rate monitor and cadence/speed sensor, and is compatible with third-party power meters. Its sturdy, waterproof construction, and tough new handlebar/stem mount make it suitable for road or mountain biking and easily transferable between bikes. Big difference between the 500 and the 705/605 models: The 500 does not have color mapping or GPS navigation.
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Pros

  • Compact, feature-packed, highly customizable.
  • Sharp appearance, nice detail and finish.
  • Convenient and sturdy stem or bar-mount system.
  • Compatible with heart rate monitor, cadence/speed sensor, and third-party power meters.

Cons

  • Smallish display size = difficult to see text if more than five data fields displayed.

Description

  • Suggested retail price: $249, or $399 with for heart rate monitor + cadence/speed sensor package.
  • Heart rate strap and cadence/speed sensor also available as separate accessories.
  • Unit size: 1.9" x 2.7" x 0.85" (4.8 x 6.9 x 2.2 cm)
  • Display size: 1.17" x 1.44" (3.0 x 3.7 cm)
  • Weight: 2 oz (56.7 g)
  • Battery: rechargeable lithium-ion, 18-hour life
  • No maps, or map/nav capability. However, route maps displayed and shareable via Garmin Connect site.
  • Barometric altimeter works with GPS-rendered altitude for quicker and more accurate elevation data.
  • Auto-pause, auto-lap
  • Courses (compete against previous workouts)

Guide Review - Garmin Edge 500 Review: Compact, Sharp-looking, Feature-packed GPS Cyclecomputer

Garmin adds a powerful, sharp-looking, and compact device to its already-strong sports & fitness GPS lineup with the introduction of the Edge 500 cyclecomputer. Garmin is the lead sponsor of a professional road racing team, and the company's designers and engineers tapped the pros' knowledge to create the new Edge 500. The result is a much-slimmed-down unit (compared to the 605 and 705 models) that packs 15 functions, and is compatible with an optional heart rate monitor strap, cadence/speed sensor, and third-party power meters.

Compared with the wider, longer, and heavier Edge 705 and 605 models, the Edge 500 returns to a more traditional cyclecomputer look and shape. However, the 500 has exceptional look and finish detailing, with a carbon fiber-like weave pattern in its face plate, and soft-touch, Garmin-blue trim, and white accents. It has a sturdy feel, and proved completely waterproof in my immersion test.

Like the other models in the Garmin sports & fitness line, the Edge 500 has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. I was able to get the claimed battery life of 18 hours during my road and mountain bike ride testing. Also in keeping with other Garmins, the Edge 500 may be connected to a PC with its included USB cable, and detailed data may be stored and displayed on the free Garmin Connect service.

Handlebar and stem mounting is one of the weaknesses of the 705 and 605 models that Garmin corrected with the new 500. The 500 uses a baseplate that quickly, easily, and firmly attaches to a stem or handlebar with included, different-sized rubber o-rings. The computer mounts with a 1/4-turn click into the baseplate.

Like the other cyclecomputers in Garmin's line, the Edge 500 has many functions (see link to manual .pdf), all of which may be customized in the multiple display modes, depending on your preferences. Not only that, you may set up three display pages with different configurations that you may easily cycle through while you ride. It's a very impressive and huge set of display options. You may also select between one and eight data fields to display per screen, with the font sizes and display segments automatically adjusting to fit.

As an example of the usefulness of this feature, I set up three display pages. The first is a general screen with speed, average speed, distance, time of day, and heart rate. The second is a custom "climbing" screen with total ascent, vertical speed, grade percentage, and elevation. The third is a custom heart rate screen with rate, percentage of max, and zone. For more details, explore the Edge 500 user manual (link below).

Key differences between the Edge 500 and Edge 705/605
-Size: 500 (1.9" x 2.7" x 0.85"); 705 (2" x 4.3" x 1")
-Display Size: 500 (1.17" x 1.44"); 705 (1.37" x 1.71")
-Weight: 500 (2 oz (56.7 g)); 705 (3.7 oz (104.9 g))

The biggest difference between the 705/605 and the 500 is the 705/605 color mapping capability. See my 705 review for more details.

See also: my Edge 500 photo gallery.

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User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 2 out of 5
Mostly Works, Member vray67

I bought the Garmin Edge 500 4 months ago to replace my old Polar 725. I love the small size and the multiple display features however the main reason I purchased the Edge 500 was the ability to follow courses imported from GPS mappings. The first few times I used the course feature it seemed to work but the last 2 times the unit failed miserably! I did a 100 mile ride, following a course and sometime during the last few miles the unit froze forcing me to do a 'master reset' (press all 4 buttons at once) which resulted in a total loss of all ride data. This happened to me twice and I no longer can trust this functionality. Yes, I am using the latest Garmin software (2.40.0.0 as of Nov, 2010) and if you read the Garmin forum board, you will find that several other people have had the same issue. I would give the 500 a '4' star rating if I didn't need the course feature, but I can't. Do your research before purchasing this, it still has quite a few bugs and I'm hoping Garmin gets its act together and fixes them soon.

29 out of 29 people found this helpful.

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