For my second installment of products I love, I am going to explain why I think the garmin edge 500 is another must have product.
Let me start by saying yes, I love technology. However, I love simple, easy to use, no need to mess with technology. I love having the ability to go for a ride and completely forget about the technology, but then when I get home I can pour through scores of data.
In my opinion the 500 fits the needs and wants of 95% of riders out there, both in terms of what it can do as well as its price range. Speaking of price range, you may be wondering how much this thing costs. List price for the bundle (includes HR strap, cadence, etc) is $350, however, before you start freaking out about how expensive it is let me give you a couple pieces of advice if you are looking to buy one.
I must preface my next statement by saying I fully support shopping at local businesses and giving them business over online retailers, this is one case where if money really is an limiting factor for you, that I would suggest looking to purchase online. If your local bike shop can give you a deal you are happy with on this computer, great! I do know, however, that this is one of the few products where the local guys have virtually no wiggle room in price and that is why I suggest going to the web. There are many sites such as amazon that regularly offer sales and discounts on the garmin 500 bundle. In addition, online bike retailers will routinely run 20% +free shipping specials, which make a great time to pick up this computer. If you are willing to do your homework (and purchase online), you can definitely get this bundle in the 275-300 range (or less!), assuming you are not in a rush to get it immediately.
So now that I have covered price, lets move on to why it is such a great computer for cyclists. I’m going to try to describe its benefits without going into a full review mode, as you can find 100s of those online already. First, I think the size is a major advantage of this computer. Unlike its big brother the 800, the 500 is not bulky and can be placed on the stem (vs the handlebars) on virtually any size frame. I have a very short stem on my small frame bike, and I am still able to mount this to the stem. A small size also means it is very light, for those of you weight weenies out there.
My next big plus is in terms of support and connectivity to software. Garmin does a great job of offering firmware updates on a regular basis. These updates add new features or fix bugs that users have come across from using the device. The best part is these are not only free, but can be easily downloaded from any computer, as long as you have your device. In addition, garmin has forums for users to suggest changes or new features, which I think shows the company wants to continually improve. In addition to this, garmin provides their own site where you can upload your workout files very quickly and easily.
Speaking of software, I am not about to tell you which software to use, as I think there are many pros and cons to the various choices out there. However, what I will tell you is the garmin 500 is compatible with virtually every one out there. The great thing about this is, you get to decide. Unlike other computers that lock you into their own software, you really can have the best of both worlds with this device. Want to use nike+ website, go ahead, no need to have a nike product. Some of the other most commonly used sites: strava, training peaks, etc all support the edge 500.
Drumroll please…guess what, the garmin edge 500 can also be used for NON-CYCLING activities. What do I mean by this? Well for starters, with the size of the 500 it is easy to throw in a back pocket during a run. If you are planning to do both activities this not only saves you money from having to buy a second device, but it’s actually a highly recommended product (unlike most running watches out there). Ok, so what if you want to be able to see the screen, do splits, etc while running you may ask. Great question and I have the perfect solution for you, especially triathletes. Speaking of, have you seen the size of most triathlon specific watches (or even a good number or gps running watches)? They are HUGE, and I don’t know about you, but I could not be comfortable running with something that size on my wrist (plus I have a small wrist and many wouldn’t even go tight enough).
So what is the solution? Enter in my brilliant husband, who took the last product I love (RoadID) and combined it with this product to solve my problem of wanting to run with my edge 500 and still see the screen or hit the lap button when I needed to. He took the original sport RoadID, since its roughly the size of an athletic watch band and he put the bike mount for the edge 500 right on it. What??? Yes, you read that correctly, that is the great thing about the edge 500, the bike mount is virtually a small piece of plastic on the back and some “rubber bands.” This meant I ended up with a versatile computer that I could use for a wide range of activities.
Obviously, I’m sure you can think of many other activities in which you can use this computer (hiking, skiing, snow shoeing, rowing, etc just to name a few), but did you know you can actually use this as a gps tool? Let’s say you are visiting another city or going overseas to travel. The battery on this little device is good enough to get you virtually an entire day of walking around. Also, let’s assume you reach a place that you would like to save, well just hit the lap button and you are good to go. This way when you get home from your trip you can upload your file and actually see (even on googlemaps) exactly where you were. I find this to be a really cool feature, especially since the unit will fit easily in a jean’s pocket or small travel wallet.
So overall, here are my thoughts. Yes, there are cheaper products out there, however, they will not do some of the fundamental measurements cyclists want/need. They may be great as entry level computers, however, everyone I have seen buy one upgrades sooner rather than later, so why waste the $100 in the first place. On the other hand there are definitely more expensive units with more features, but my question to you is have you actually looked at what those features are? Unless you are someone who needs to watch tv (I mean map) while you are out riding, I can’t think of more than 0.5% of the population that would use the additional benefits provided to you, especially for 100s of dollars more. Also, as I mentioned when you look at running or triathlon watches, everyone has their own opinion on which is better, and there is no real industry leader on the market today. This is not the case with this device, as every cycling computer review you read will recommend this product to at least 90% of riders out there. I think that is a testament to what a truly great product this is, and with the added bonus of being able to use it for so many OTHER things besides cycling, I again think this is a no brainer purchase for any cyclist out there that does not yet own one.