Garmin Edge 800 GPS Bike Computer Review
Roadcycling.com reviews the Garmin Edge 800 bike computer.
I previously reviewed the Garmin Edge 500 bike computer and my latest review is on the Garmin 800 Edge cycle computer.
The Garmin Edge 800 came in an attractive box with everything you would need to use it on the bike. The accompanying instructions and CD provided additional information you would need to use the Edge 800. I was able to use the Edge 800 without the need to review the CD, but did look at its contents after I taught myself to use the unit.
The Garmin Edge 800 comes in at least three different package types.
1) The Garmin Edge 800, which only includes the GPS bike computer unit, the bike mount and charger.
2) The Garmin Edge 800 Performance Bundle, which includes the GPS bike computer, the bike mount, heart rate strap, charger and a speed/cadence sensor.
3) The Garmin Edge 800 Performance and Navigation bundle, which offers the Edge 800 computer, a bike mount, a charger, heart rate strap, speed/cadence sensor and a data card preloaded with European or US maps, depending on where you buy the unit. If you choose the packages without data card and maps, you will have to purchase these items from Garmin separately, which can be done online.
The Edge 800 is compatible with ANT+, so you can pair it with a PowerTap SL+ hub to collect useful power data. No calibration is even needed.
Mounting the Garmin Edge 800 is very easy. The unit is shipped together with a mounting kit, which includes a small plastic mount which fits well on handle bars and stems and is easily secured using two flexible rubber O-rings. This also makes it easy to move the bike mount to other bikes when needed. What makes the Edge 800 even more practical is that it is wireless.
To mount the Edge 800 on the mount all I had to do was to twist the computer a quarter turn - in the same way as the cheaper Edge 500 was mounted.
I noticed it takes about 3 minutes for the Edge 800 to locate the needed satellites. Knowing this, I powered up the unit before I changed into my workout gear.
I found it very easy to use the Edge 800 when riding my bike. It was easy to scroll through the function screens using the arrows on the touch screen. The screen was sharp and easy to read in the sun and it was larger than on previous versions, which was also helpful. Contrary to mobile phone touch screens the Garmin Edge 800 touch screen also responded to commands when I wore gloves - even winter gloves. Well done Garmin.
The computer showed me all the well-known data from bike computers. Speed, cadence, average speed, heart rate, time ridden, and so on. In addition it also visually showed me my ride in form of a graph and showed me how many meters I had ascended and how many meters I had descended. Was it too cold for my outfit? To answer that question I just checked the temperature listing on the unit. What was the grade of the current climb? The Edge would tell me. The data screens can be tweaked to the personal preferences of the rider.
The Edge 800 recorded my routes and when I needed to ride my bike to a specific location all I had to do was to tell the computer where I wanted to ride to. The GPS computer then guided me safely to the location I had chosen.
When away on travels it was very useful for me to be able to use the navigation-enabled bike computer. It can sometimes be difficult for me to find my way back to the hotel when I ride in foreign countries. With the Garmin Edge 800 these problems were now a thing of the past. No more need for me to mumble "ou est la direction de la tour Eiffel?" to local people on my vacations in France.
I also believe that the Edge 800 is a welcome innovation for younger riders and children who need to be able to find their way back to their home address after having been away on long training rides in unknown territory. With the Edge 800 mounted on their bikes all they will have to do will be to tell the Edge 800 computer to lead them back to their home address.
I used the Edge 800 from last fall to this summer while cycling. Some of our readers have complained about being forced to buy one GPS computer unit for each type of sport they take part in and found it hard to justify such major expenses for multiple GPS units. I, therefore, found it interesting to test how the Garmin Edge 800 GPS bike computer would perform when running and cross country skiing.
The unit fit well in my hand but was a little larger than I would like for running. The large display and varying output was fun to watch as I ran. Some of the useful things I had on the display were % grade, elevation, speed and elapsed time. The Garmin Edge 800 provided enough information well beyond the basics. They didn't leave any stones unturned when giving users the option to select the exact data types they need.
While running, the speed seemed to be either too fast or too slow. It makes sense that it would be this way, because your arms swing forward and backward, and they are going faster than or reversing compared to your torso. This is a good indication of how accurate the Edge 800's output is. When I finished I noticed the average speed for the run was accurate.
I also used the Edge 800 while cross country skiing. I found it to be useful and easy to use, even when the temperature was in the single digits. One thing I really liked when skiing was how you can control the back lighting; even on bright sunny days with new snowfall I was able to read the display easily.
While riding on my indoor trainer, it provided great output like wattage, heart rate, cadence and speed. The Edge 800 also had a virtual partner you could compare yourself to or race against, a very nice feature to keep your mind occupied while logging mind numbing miles indoors or doing time trial training. I used the touch screen more when riding than I did running or skiing. The screen wasn't too sensitive where the screen moved multiple screens per touch. I really liked the handle bar mount, it fit my handlebars very well and was easy to attach. I did, however, have to spend quite some time cleaning the unit after each training session, wiping sweat off the touch screen and the rest of the unit.
It does, however, remain clear to me that the Edge 800 was designed for use on bikes and this is mainly where I will use the unit in the future.
Overall I found the Garmin Edge 800 to be a very useful additional to my training arsenal. It was very easy to use and provided all the features I liked and needed. Some of the things I really appreciated were: no special adjustment needed for wattage or heart rate, I use a CycleOps PowerTap and I all I had to do was get on the bike and ride. The Edge 800 picked up the signal from the hub unit, the touch screen was an easy way to move screens I had no problem with the screen locking. The GPS directions and route recording was excellent. Having multiple screen options to pick from was a very nice feature and provided all the output I needed. There were options I didn't use but the ones I did were excellent. As previously mentioned, the screen didn't wash out in bright sunlight or fade in the shade. The Edge 800 even lit up so you could see the display in the dark.
The four main features I did use were GPS, % grade, elevation and wattage. I would highly recommend the Garmin Edge 800 to any cyclist, racer or weekend warrior. The wattage, heart rate, % grade and speed would be enough for me to feel I made a solid purchasing decision.
An added benefit of the Edge 800 unit is that you can upload training ride data to your TrainingPeaks-powered Roadcycling.com training diary account right here on Roadcycling.com after each ride. The Roadcycling.com training diary offers you many ways to analyze your training data and to share it with your coach. Beyond the training itself, this is the best possible way for you to become a better cyclist.
Learn more about the Garmin Edge 800 or other Garmin products by visiting www.garmin.com.