As the weather forecast inches closer to “Spring” and I start getting ready for the riding season, my thoughts inevitably turn to picking up some new gear and upgrades for the bike. My first year’s flurry of purchases focused on the essentials – stuff like clipless pedals and shoes, padded lycra shorts, jerseys, spare tubes and basic repair gear, simple cyclocomputers to show cadence/speed, etc…
As I got into more long distance pursuits, I added on things like a Camelbak, a rear-view helmet mirror (go ahead and laugh, but I hate riding without one!), a pair of premium long distance bib shorts (Assos T Fi.Mille – expensive, but totally worth it… highly recommend them if you ride far!), and a Goal Zero solar charger for my iPhone (another highly recommended purchase).
Now I’m itching to upgrade something for the 2013 season. Let’s ignore the fact that I just dropped a lot of coin on my CompuTrainer and associated training videos and coaching software – I need an upgrade that will be coming with me outdoors as well! I’d love to pick up a power meter but can’t really justify the expense this year. I could buy a new saddle or some new wheels but where’s the fun in that? No, I’m thinking gadgets, and my eyes have lighted on the new Garmin Edge 810.
Picking up the Edge 810 along with the ANT+ heart rate monitor and speed/cadence sensor will run me in the neighborhood of $530. Do I need this piece of kit? Of course not. Do I think it will be useful and add value to my cycling season? Absolutely! I think having GPS on the bike would be amazing. Right now I use my iPhone for any on-the-go GPS/mapping needs, but it hits the battery pretty hard. This is why I picked up the solar charger for my long rides – there’s no way the iPhone battery is lasting for a 6+ hour ride.
Garmin also released the cheaper and smaller Edge 510, but it doesn’t allow for live routing, which I think is worth the premium. A common scenario for me is to plan some long route through areas I’m not familiar with, resulting in missed cues and a lot of time wasted on the side of the road consulting my maps and iPhone. Being able to program the route into the Edge and have it direct me sounds like something that would make my life a lot easier!
And the one feature that I think is really cool – live tracking. This is the reason I won’t consider the very similar (and slightly cheaper) Edge 800, and also the feature I think will help sell this purchase with the wife. With the Edge 810, you can send a link to your ride to someone’s email (or post on your Facebook/Twitter) and your family/friends will be able to track you in real time on a Garmin website. I like this feature just for the safety aspect – if I am not back from my ride within a reasonable time, my wife would be able to see where I am and if I am moving. This could literally be a lifesaver! It accomplishes this task by connecting to your smartphone over Bluetooth and transmitting your data. Since the GPS functions are being performed by the Edge, this results in a much smaller hit to your phone’s battery.
There are a few things that make me wonder if this is a good buy. First is that Garmin didn’t use the latest and greatest Bluetooth technology out today (they went with 2.1 instead of 4.0 which means the Edge 810 it will not be compatible with Bluetooth Smart sensors that will be hitting the market in the near future). This isn’t too big a deal for me – I am fine using the ANT+ sensors. Second, a lot of reviews harp on the fact that this was not a real upgrade from the Edge 800. There is a lot of speculation that the Edge 900 series will be a huge improvement over current models, but that is at least a year away. Finally, there is always the argument that you can get similar functionality with your smartphone and various apps, which I’ve done in the past… however, I think the Edge is a better solution because it is smaller, waterproof, and presumably more durable than a phone. I like the idea of being able to stash my phone in my pocket or seat post bag and not having to worry about it. The battery issues are another reason I would hesitate to rely on my phone as a primary cyclocomputer.
All in all, I’m strongly leaning towards the purchase since the GPS and live tracking functionality would really add another layer of convenience and safety to my cycling. I figure I can always sell it and recoup some of the cost in a year if the Edge 900 is amazing. Also, since I plan to pick up a power meter next year, the Edge 810 would work as a head unit.
If you are interested in the Edge 810, I highly recommend you read DC Rainmaker’s in-depth review. It is, by far, the most comprehensive and detailed review I have read (and that goes for every one of his other gear reviews as well). He also offers a coupon to be used at Clever Training – use coupon code DCRSAVE10 and you will save 10% on everything the store offers while also supporting one of the best athletic blogs I’ve ever read.
So, should I buy this? Leave a comment and let me know your opinion!