The Garmin Edge 530 is a feature-rich GPS bike computer clad in a small, cost-effective package
- Mapping is clear and simple
- New, faster processor
- New performance metrics
- Fiddly to set up
- Map browsing is a button-pressing marathon
The Garmin Edge 530 is the latest in Garmin's line of premium GPS bike computers, aimed at performance-minded cyclists of all disciplines. Launched in spring 2019 along with the more expensive touchscreen Edge 830, the Edge 530 is everything you need and more from a cycling computer. However, in the days of touch-screen smartphones and voice remotes, the endless button-pressing can become a tedious exercise.
As expected, the Edge 530 shares its basic characteristics, including features such as LiveTrack, GroupTrack and Strava Live Segments with the previous generation Edge 520, however, it adds a raft of new features wrapped in a more aesthetically pleasing package.
As for charging, every 20 hours should be fine, or you can double that in battery-saver mode, albeit exact times will depend on a range of factors, of course. There's also the option of the extra Garmin battery pack add-on, which will more-than-double battery life again. That's a potential of 80+ hours of riding time on a single charge.
Design and aesthetics
The Garmin Edge 530 (and Edge 830, given they share the same dimensions) isn't exactly diminutive in size, it's what we'd consider medium-sized in the world of GPS bike computers. With dimensions of 82 x 50 x 20mm, it's a few millimetres smaller, but thicker than the Wahoo Elemnt Roam (89 x 54.4 x 17.8mm), and the screen size of 2.6in means it's smaller than said rival, too.
With a (claimed) weight of 75.8 grams, it's not the lightest, but it's far from the heaviest on the market - especially when considering the Edge 1030 is 124g, the Hammerhead Karoo is a whopping 186g, and the mite-sized Edge 130 tips the scales at just 33g.
The screen of the Garmin Edge 530 is small in comparison to the Edge 1030 or the Hammerhead Karoo, however, thanks to the 246x322 pixel resolution display, it really doesn't suffer as a result. The display is crisp and clear, and thanks to the automatic backlight brightness, it's easy to see the metrics, no matter the conditions.
My period with the Garmin Edge 530 has been a largely enjoyable time, however I'd be lying if I said there weren't any hiccups. The out-of-box setup was actually very straightforward, the onscreen prompts and phone-pairing and wifi-connection processes were simple. However, after my first ride, my ride failed to upload. A few days of manual intervention ensued before a hard-reset, a firmware update, an app-delete, and multiple 'forget this device' prompts eventually put paid to my initial headaches. That aside, the Garmin Edge 530 is pretty much 'set-and-forget' in its application; exactly what users want from a GPS device.
As mentioned above, the Edge 530 has a truckload of new features to play with, from a roadie focussed café-stop bike alarm to the hang time feature that will tease the gnarly among us.
Turn-by-turn navigation was introduced to Garmin's Five series computers when they launched the Edge 520 Plus, so while mapping is not new for the Edge 530, this time we feel they've done it right. With the introduction of a much more powerful processor, it is now fast and very easy to use. In real-world terms, this means a 90km route will take around 20 seconds to load. This isn't long, but it would be nice for the routing to start immediately while the remainder of the route is calculating. Garmin, if you're listening, you can have that one for free...
The Edge 530 features full turn-by-turn navigation, although on the unit itself, you can only navigate as deep as street level. For specific addresses and points of interest, you'll either need to pre-create your route via Garmin Connect, or you'll want the 830.
There is a downside, however. Due to the lack of a touchscreen, map browsing takes a lot of button presses. There are two buttons that control panning north or south, panning east or west, and zooming in and out, and you need to use a third button to switch between the three. You can soon become comfortable and relatively fast at doing it, but it is still a laborious process.
That said, once a destination is chosen (or if you're following a preloaded route) the routing itself is fantastic. Like previous Edge models, it'll route-to-start, and thanks in part to the crisp colour display, a simple glance down is all it takes to check if you're on track (audio cues are also available).
A nice touch is the Bike Alarm which works a treat when leaving your race bike in the car park while you nip indoors to sign on or merely stop at a petrol garage for something to eat. Any time that your bike is close-by but not necessarily in line of sight - park your bike up, switch the bike alarm feature on, and should your Garmin detect movement, a loud (read: unpleasant) noise will sound and your phone will notify you.
Find My Edge
While the most obvious benefits are for off-road rides where chattery terrain or a crash could send your Garmin device into a nearby bush, this is a useful peace-of-mind feature for all. Should your Garmin ever come unhitched mid-ride, your phone will save the exact coordinates of the point at which the connection is lost. Then, even if you don't notice until you're 5km down the road, you can simply open the app and ask it to redirect you back to that point. If you still can't find it you can ask the Garmin to sound an alarm (assuming you're close enough for a Bluetooth connection to be re-established).
ClimbPro is a useful tool that tells you all the necessary information about a climb. It'll let you know that a climb is coming, along with the important numbers (distance, gradient, ascent, etc). When it begins, it will bring up a new screen, which gives you a profile, with a few key metrics such as the average remaining gradient and distance.
I'd personally like the ability to adjust what is considered a climb. Throughout my time with the Garmin, ClimbPro was offered for very small lumps in the road, yet I also had long climbs arrive without warning.
Better structured workouts
This feature allows you to integrate the Edge 530 with training planners such as TrainingPeaks. It's not only clearer than previous iterations, when you've loaded your workout, you can pick a route on which to ride that particular session.
The newly added performance measurements are vast, and provide insight into myriad performance-based metrics such as training load and load focus - are you predominantly training your aerobic or anaerobic energy systems? The power curve is a useful addition, providing mean-max power for any given duration - great for on-the-fly training and intervals. Recovery suggestions remain, and heat and altitude acclimation is now calculated when above 22 degrees and 800m respectively, offering adjusted training zones and corrections to your VO2 Max.
Gear (clothing) suggestions and consumption reminders
Based on your chosen route, the training session planned, and the weather, the Garmin Edge 530 will even tell you how to dress - often suggesting rain gear for us British folk. It will also suggest the amount of food (or more accurately, the number of calories) you should carry. This isn't an essential feature, but it's a helpful, quick checklist to make sure you avoid the dreaded bonk - we've all been 20km from home, reached down for a bottle, only to realise you've left it on the kitchen table!
I know, I know... you're a road cyclist, me too. Therefore, I didn't get to use these features to their full potential, however, to touch on them briefly, the main additions are calculations of Grit and Flow. Grit will measure the difficulty of a course itself, whereas Flow measures how well you rode it; were you braking too much? Were you stop-start all ride? That sort of thing.
Theoretically, if you were to go for a ride with friends, you should all get similar Grit scores, but you'll likely get vastly different Flow scores. I am an unashamed sheep of the gravel cycling movement, so while pretending I was Mathieu van der Poel, I did enjoy playing with another new feature which uses the Garmin's accelerometers to measure hang time, jump count and jump distance - my record was an entirely unimpressive four metres (and a new pair of bib shorts). Finally, TrailForks has also been integrated into the base map of the Garmin Edge 530, and with my current gravel bias, I was keen to try it out. While the Connect IQ app previously existed, it's no longer required to find new trails, which I can assure you, will come in handy when out on your next lazy Sunday of off-road junk miles, wondering in which direction to head next.
On the whole, my time with the Garmin Edge 530 was great. There were a few initial headaches with setup, but once they were out of the way, the long list of features made for a great device that was fast, clear, and a genuinely beneficial addition to my ride. At £259.99, it's not the most expensive unit on the market but if it were my own hard-earned cash, I have to say I would opt for the Edge 830 and its touch-screen refinement. See, the majority of my fitness building phase is done in the middle of winter where two pairs of gloves - not to mention a frozen moustache - is not particularly conducive to button-pushing and fiddling about on the bike. My advice would be to spend the extra and get the touchscreen Edge 830.
- Display: 2.6 inch colour display with 246x322 pixels resolution
- Weight: 75.8g
- Storage capacity: 200 waypoints/locations, 100 routes & up to 200 hours of history
- Water resistant: IPX7
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ANT+
- Sensors: GPS/GLONASS/Galileo, barometric altimeter
- Battery: Rechargeable (micro USB) Lithium ion with 20 hour-rated life
- Dimensions: 82 x 50 x 20 mm
Need a better alternative?
Cyclingnews has reviewed a range of cycling computers so are in a position to offer helpful buying advice. We've put together a roundup of the best, so if you're still unsure, this can help you decide whether the Edge 530 is the right option for you.
If you're unsure what else sits in the Garmin range, we've put together a handy line-up that explains the range in full.
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