In my opinion, Garmin levels the playing field for training and real-time information. My Garmin has customizable screens to show speed, time on flats, climbs, and descents, grade, distance total, elevation, and more. If you have never used a fitness GPS before, you are in for a treat. This time-tested device has been packed with relevant and surprising features that continue to evolve. Having the hard facts that my Garmin provided attached a new perspective to our pain threshold and inspired us to dig deep.
Over a decade before the Garmin Edge 810, I connected my Garmin GPS II to the handlebars of my mountain bike while camping in the Mogollon Rim. Back then, I had just discovered hill climbing bars and had a monthly budget for replacement tubes. I'm not even sure I remember which factor sold me on the Garmin platform in the beginning but I certainly remember my first forerunner 201 shortly after that.
I had been caught up in a vision of raw data collection and seeing what I had accomplished during post-ride relaxation in front of my computer. I had a desire to quantify, on paper, what I threw down on the trail so that my friends could see what I was up to and even back then the stats available were impressive. It has been 12 years since my Garmin forerunner 201, and my passion for metrics has grown nearly as fast as the technology.
Garmin leveled the playing field for training and real-time information. My forerunner 201 had customizable screens, and you could configure them to see speed, time, time on flats, time on climbs, time descending, grade, distance total, the distance on flats, climbing distance, descending distance, time of day, elevation, and more. I usually configured mine to show Speed, Average speed, Time, Time of Day and elevation gain. You could set other pages and other items of interest, but out on the trail, those things captured my attention. While taking breaks, it was refreshing to look at those things after a particularly active section of trail and brag to my riding partners. The forerunner 201 was also a GPS designed for running, and you could set mile splits to beep at you which I thought was cool. If you have never used a fitness GPS before, you are in for a treat. This time-tested device has been packed with relevant and surprising features that continue to evolve. I recently passed by a fellow Gran Fondo participant on a climb who was struggling and was able to let him know that we were both suffering up a 16% grade. We knew it was steep, our legs were screaming at us. Having the hard facts that my Garmin provided attached a new perspective to our pain threshold and inspired us to dig deep. I haven?t figured out how to see what?s around the corner on an unfamiliar climb yet, but having stats on the screen is inspiring even when mashing the pedals up a wall.
Last year I upgraded my Garmin Edge 705 with an Edge 810 and thought I would tell you about my experiences with the device so far. The features eclipse the Edge 705 even though I don?t use all of them. I can display 6 data points on my main screen. Those data points are Time, Speed, Distance, Average Speed, Grade and Time of Day. There may be other useful ride statistics to monitor out on the roads and trails, but these are what I look at most.
The development of the bike and activity profiles for the Edge 810 is a home run and one of the many things that set this apart from its predecessors. With activity profiles, I can set up custom screens and alerts for each pattern! Selecting a profile before starting the ride is just a swipe of the finger across the screen. I also have four bikes, and each bike has a unique bike profile. The bike profiles hold specific information like weight, wheel size, odometer, and crank length. The odometer is an aggregate mileage total of every time you have used that profile. These profiles allow you to separate your activities on the device. However, they are not retained when synced to Garmin Connect. Still, having the ability to customize data pages to a particular profile is a lifesaver when you want to see different things on the screen in various events. There are 15 different categories of data points with lists of metrics to choose from on the Edge 810. More than enough to view on any one of the five customizable screens that you can enable. It?s poetic training in motion.
Here is a picture of the main screen from my race profile. Each of these data points is visible in every lighting situation out on the road except for night time where there is also a backlight that you can use if you want to. I find that if I am riding at night, I am less likely to glance down at my Garmin because there are a ton more things to be thinking about. But I will glance down from time to time when street lights and other lighting sources present the opportunity. The pages are easy enough to swipe through on the screen even with full finger gloves on. I am more apt to glance at my device for longer and more frequent periods when I am riding road than I am when I am mountain biking. However, Climbing is climbing across platforms, and I am continually looking at my speed and grade on either bike.
There is also a training profile you can setup if you so choose to ride against a virtual partner. Pretty simple and super cool if you are into such a thing. I have never used it, but it is there if I feel the need.
Here is a sample of the data points you can use if you have a power meter or other goodies. My new bike has a Quark power meter that I still am unfamiliar; however, it was easy enough to pair with my Edge 810! Along with the power meter comes metrics like cadence, power max, and average, and left and right balance. I always felt like my legs were equally powerful, but now I know the truth! This Edge will also pair with all Ant + devices like heart rate monitors, cadence sensors, temp sensors, and power meters. I use Garmin Edge Out Front Mount to connect it to all of my bikes, and it?s positioned out in front of the bars where I can see all the data quickly. It has the power of a personal trainer without the cost associated with one. However, it may take a personal trainer to really dig into, and add value to, all of the extra readings. Of course, there is also your time management after the ride, and after the protein shake. We never stop learning new things, do we? I, for one, embrace it!
Here is another winner for this device. Unlike the Edge 705 the Edge 810 can save or delete tracks if you don?t want them and it even asks you if you’re going to remove a GPS track after you have completed it. How cool is that! You may be shaking your head at me right now, but my edge 705 had no such thing. This allows you to save each track as you complete it rather than having the syncing process do it for you. And, who hasn?t started their GPS for a ride and made it to the edge of the parking lot just to realize you forgot your water bottle, camelback, shoes, helmet, camera, wheel, or some other important thing. This allows you to start fresh just as if it had never happened. No more friends digging you about practice loops around the parking lot! You can take this thing on a weekend trip with several rides and?rest assured that every time you use it, there will be a unique track. Not one incredibly long track spread over 3 or 4 days that you have to comb the internet for hours trying to find a way to break it apart.
There are some elegant technical things that you can do with this Garmin Edge 810 too. If you have a phone with blue tooth, you can pair your phone to this device. The pairing in conjunction with the Garmin connect app will open your activities up to some fantastic things. You could send your friends at the office an invite, and they will get a link to your Garmin live tracking page so they can follow your progress in real time. You can also get real-time weather conditions, and alerts. No longer will you be surprised by weather on a long ride. You may still get wet, but you will have the opportunity to prepare, or not. I was once in a high country valley where I saw two systems of clouds collide; it wasn?t any more than 10 minutes later when it started raining buckets! Sometimes, you are unable to see the systems forming, and they appear quicker than you could ever anticipate. You will be more prepared than ever. On the Garmin site, it shows a weather overlay as well that shows temperature, wind speed and time of day. Now that?s impressive!
Garmin connect has also evolved. You will have to categorize your synced activities as well as label them appropriately, but it shows you a great deal of useful information. Also, there is a long list of events you can use to categorize your adventure. There is also a section for personal notes which I use to add things like wind speed and other things that my Garmin does not track.? I also track how I was feeling, what I did well, and where I had difficulties. If I missed nutrition in any way, like if I ran out of something or another. You can also share your activity on Garmin Connect to social media!
There are also color graphs that are pretty sweet to look at which will give you more insight into your activity.
There is also a more comprehensive listing of stats if you are interested but unfortunately, I have not yet found a way to customize them. You do have export features as well which can export your activity in a few different GPS formats for use in other applications or Google earth if you choose.
It would be nice if the All Stats section of Garmin Connect would parse other information out of the GPS track like max grade, max speed, time and distance on flats, climbs and descents. There are a ton of different metrics you can pull out of a GPS file, but this is a good start and a decent layout for sure.
I am a firm believer of Garmin GPS units. They have grown super powerful and versatile over time, and there is a Garmin GPS designed for virtually every sport you can think of. If the content of this review has answered your questions and you are interested in buying one now even more than ever, you will not be limited in any way by the Garmin Edge 810. I recently got my brother a Fenix 3 HR which has a ski mode along with a long list of other things. It even has a trackback feature that you can use while hiking in low visibility that retraces your steps! We used his Phoenix 3 this past ski season and recorded over 300,000 feet of vertical! You do not have to be a racer to own one of these things, and there are devices for more activities that you can think of offering a broad range of price points. Especially for cycling and running! I like the mounts for the Edge series of GPS units for cycling, and in over ten years of cycling, I have never lost a GPS due to a mounting malfunction. They are reliable, dependable and offer way more stats than you could ever use which means they are perfectly scalable! I bought my edge 705 in 2006, and it still works today, and my Edge 810 is built just as reliable. Whichever price-point you choose, be sure to research it and make sure it has everything you need. You may not initially need or want any Ant+ devices to go with it so a bundle might not be right for you. Don?t overspend or anything like that but since it?s a device you will be using often you don?t want to be looking at it and feeling like its inadequate or should have more fields. The idea is to future proof the device and make it relevant for years. My edge 705 is now insufficient in a lot of ways, but it?s price and specs allowed it to remain relevant for years. The core features were also robust and reliable. The Edge 810 is an excellent future-proof device that will keep you happy for years to come.