Sure, there are newer models of bike GPS out there, but the Garmin Edge 800 Touchscreen GPS Bike Computer is still the best. Here’s why.
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It’s only natural that manufacturers want to sell stuff. They create new “must-have” features to take the shine off our existing tech and make us crave the new model. Sometimes of course, it’s worth it. If the new version actually translates into more benefits to us, the users, then it’s worth considering.
This was obviously the intention with the release of the Edge 810, the successor to the tried and tested market leader, the Edge 800. Perhaps it was a sign of a lack of confidence on Garmin’s part that they chose not to name it the edge 900. The 810 makes it sounds a bit like the afterthought model, with features that never quite made it into the 800, or were deliberately left out so that we’d all go shopping twice.
Of course, on paper there are indeed some great new features in the 810, and the revised user interface alone is a big improvement. But as an upgrade, most existing 800 owners didn’t feel that the 810 was worth it.
What’s more worrying however, is the apparent instability of the 810. I’ve read too many accounts of the unit crashing half way through rides and losing all the data. This problem has been so persistent that many users, including one I know personally, have gone back to using their trusty old 800. I even heard of one optimistic soul who sold his 800 on eBay, only to have to buy another one back when he realised how erratic the 810 was. First world problems, eh?
I’ve held off writing a post like this in the hope that all the problems would be ironed out with a swift firmware update following release, but over six months on, the situation still appears to be the same, and the bottom line is the 810 is not as reliable as the 800 for recording your rides. Trying to look on the bright side, the 2.8 firmware update seems to have resolved some issues, but the official Garmin 810 forum seems to contain more “problem” posts than simple “how do I…?” posts.
So here’s my Garmin Edge 800 review, and why I think it’s still the best bicycle computer for your money.
In a nutshell, it’s the same thing as the 810, but more reliable and £80 cheaper.
The quality of the GPS tracking on modern Garmin bike units is fantastic. They’re fairly quick to lock on to the satellite signals and hold it very well, even under tree cover. I’ve posted previously comparing my Garmin tracks with a friend on the same ride with an iPhone app. Big discrepancy.
The 800 can provide you with full mapping, whether you use the commercial products such as the brilliant City Navigator, my own personal choice for road use, or free open source mapping.
Some people seem to struggle with getting the turn by turn directions set up correctly but if you follow my guide, you’ll realise it’s actually very simple.
You can hook up all your monitoring gizmos to keep track of your heart rate, cadence and/or power. Handy alerts can be set up too, so it’ll beep if you work too hard, or too easy.
I’ve cycled 10,000 miles through pretty much all weathers (except sharknados, but I reckon the 800 would even stand up to one of those). As long as you don’t go in the rain with the little rubber USB cover open, it’s very waterproof. Technically, it’s IPX7 rated. I’ve always used the protective silicone case too.
Ease of use
Despite the improvements in the 810 ‘s interface, the 800 is still pretty simple and intuitive to use, once you’ve got the basics down. Many people complain about the quality of the manual, but honestly, I’ve never needed to use it. If you’re remotely techy, you’ll just dive in and get on with it.
Compared to virtually any mobile phone, the battery in an Edge 800 will last for ages. Officially, Garmin say 16 hours on their website, but that will depend on settings, and keeping the backlight off. I’ve never actually run my battery down to flat. If I’m out on a long sportive, the unit might be on for say, 6 or 7 hours, and will still be around 30-40% charged at the end. The phone would have become a paperweight.
Perhaps the little silicone case helped when I dropped my edge unit on the floor, but it’s still going strong, despite some pretty harsh conditions. I would advise the use of a screen protector, because you’ll end up swiping your fingers across it with gloves caked in mud and grit at some point.
Benefits to you, not just features you won’t use.
The 810 has a few more features, but to be honest, I’m not sure if I’d use them anyway. So you can get a live weather update? Just look at the sky! Bob Dylan was right, you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.
Check out my other posts related to Garmin Edge 800.
If you’re thinking of buying one, check out the full spec and other reader reviews
Don’t forget, if you need a heart rate monitor and the cadence monitor too, you need to look for the “performance bundle”
If you do get one and find yourself getting stuck, do feel free to contact me. I’ve helped countless folks and am more than happy to do so.
Garmin page at Wikipedia