The Edge 500 used to be Garmin’s entry level bike GPS, but that’s now been replaced by the Edge 200. The first thing you’ll notice when you pull the Edge 510 out of its packaging is that it’s considerably larger than its predecessor — nearly 2cm longer, slightly wider, slightly thicker, and heavier as well. In fact, the Edge 510 is nearly the size of the Edge 810 and its predecessors. If you’re familiar with the Edge 500 you’ll also notice that the user interface is slightly different.

Gone are the four side-mounted buttons and in their place are two buttons on the front face (the “lap” button and the “start/pause” button) and the “on/off” button on the left-hand side. It actually took me a little while to find the “on/off” button as it’s tucked away and doesn’t stand out (physically or visually) like the buttons on the Edge 500.

The Edge 510 (center) is noticeably larger than the 500 (left) and nearly as large as the 810.

But the biggest change from the Edge 500 you’ll notice after you turn it on is that the Edge 510 has a touch screen with which to navigate the various screens and menus.

I’ve been spoilt by the touch-screen capabilities of the iPhone and iPad because, especially early on, I found the Edge 510’s touch screen hard to use. It didn’t seem to register my button presses and swiping between screens seems hit-and-miss. It’s a delicate balance that would be difficult for Garmin as they need to take gloves, fingers, temperature, and sensitivity into consideration.

And speaking of iDevices, one of the things that makes those gadgets so easy and pleasurable to use is that they just work, out of the box. You don’t need to fiddle around with instruction manuals or learn menu trees — it’s easy enough to leap in and get started. I didn’t have as much joy with the Edge 510’s UI — I found it hard to find the menu item I was looking for at times and combined with a temperamental touch screen and noticeable lag when switching between pages, the user experience was, at times, frustrating.

By connecting the Garmin 510 to your smartphone, you can get weather updates delivered to your handlebars.

The Garmin Edge 510 has a lot of features, as with any Garmin GPS unit, but I’m not going to go through them all here. If you’d like to read a super-comprehensive review, check out DC Rainmaker’s in-depth effort here. (Pro tip: when DC Rainmaker calls his review “in-depth” you know it’s going to be a long read.)

One of the biggest selling points of the Garmin Edge 510 is the social LiveTrack feature, as featured in this slick Garmin ad that did the rounds a couple months back.

The concept is relatively simple: you use your smartphone to upload real-time data from your ride so that friends, family, or Jonathan Vaughters can track your progress. In practical terms this means pairing you smartphone with the Garmin 510 via bluetooth and then using the Garmin Connect smartphone app to share the ride, via email, with those you want to track you.

After clicking the link in the email, your followers will see a screen like this:

As you ride, your route is overlaid on the map as a blue line, and your real-time stats (such as speed, distance covered, elevation gain, and so on) are displayed above the map.

We only tested this feature briefly but it does appear to have some promise. If you’re heading out for a long ride in the wilderness, it would be quite useful for loved ones to be able to track your progress so they know you’re ok. And I could see this feature being used by coaches to monitor a team’s performance in real-time.

But it also has a handful of shortcomings.

For a start, you need data reception in order for LiveTrack to work — not ideal if you’re riding somewhere that doesn’t have reception. There’s also the question of phone battery. If I’m doing a long ride that I want people to be able to follow — the 3 Peaks Challenge, for example — I’m going to be worried that the Bluetooth and constant data transfer over, say, 10 hours is going to suck my battery dry. And in that case, I’m going to do without LiveTrack to ensure that I’ve got enough phone battery so I can call out if something goes wrong.

The other question I have is how often I would use this feature. There’s no doubt the Garmin promo video makes LiveTrack look sleek and sexy and a whole lot of fun — and it may be for many of you — but I couldn’t see myself using it more than, say, once a month.

We originally hoped that LiveTracker would have the functionality to see your group of riding mates on the device itself. A common problem with small bunch rides in the hills is that one person loses contact and there are a flurry of texts and phone calls trying to locate him or her. Once the Bluetooth connection is set up, using LiveTracker is a piece of cake and you can use your mobile device (Android or iPhone) to track your mates. However, there is a ~30-second delay between location updates which may not make this all that useful.

You can use your mobile device to track your mates using LiveTracker.

Being constructive, it would be great to see in-device tracking in the next iteration of LiveTrack — being able to see where your mates are in relation to you could be useful (for tracking that one rider who’s always late) and fun (when smashing your mates in a training ride and seeing how far ahead you are).

It would also be great to see Garmin and Strava work more closely together. To know your time and place up a particular segment right after you’ve ridden it would be a fantastic feature.

But don’t get me wrong — the Edge 510 is still a great little unit. It’s got all the features that so many people love about the Edge 500 — the recording of a plethora of stats, the ability to upload and follow courses, and more. And the 510 certainly has improvements over its predecessor.

For example, the Edge 500 frequently takes a few minutes to get a solid satellite lock, leaving you staring at the “Locating Satellites…” screen and a progress bar that seems to make no progress at all. That lag is gone in the 510. In fact, the satellite lock-on seems to happen almost instantly. The longest I’ve had to wait is probably 5 seconds.

And there are some handy default screen options as well. When you use the unit for the first time there’s a screen that features a shadow rider (or “Virtual Partner”) that moves at an average speed of your choosing. This feature could be really useful if you’re trying to set a PB on a climb — just set the shadow rider’s speed to the average you need, and try to match it. (I believe there is a similar feature in the Edge 500 but it’s not as front-and-centre as it is in the Edge 510).

I’ve had some great little battles with the 20km/h shadow rider on my home commute. Because the average speed is taken for the entire time the ride is in progress, not just when you’re moving, you lose time on the shadow rider when you’re stuck at traffic lights. I like to imagine my shadow rider tapping away at a constant speed regardless of the terrain, blowing through traffic lights at a leisurely 20km/h while I’m impatiently stuck in traffic.

Game on, little buddy.

The Garmin Edge 510 will set you back roughly $300 for the basic unit and close to $400 if you want to get the “Performance Bundle”, which features a heart-rate monitor and speed/cadence sensor. If you’ve already got an Edge 500, upgrading to the 510 will get you LiveTracker, a larger color screen, and a many more minor features. Is it worth the upgrade if you already have an Edge 500 in good condition? Probably not. Is the 510 worth buying if you’re in the market for a new GPS? Most definitely.

Coming up in the next few days will be the Garmin Edge 810 review.

Wrap-up

A worthy successor?
To put this review into context, we're comparing the Garmin Edge 510 to is its predecessor, the Edge 500. There are so many new features and functions to talk about, but did we find them useful? Yes, there's no doubt that Garmin makes remarkable devices that has added a new dimension to our riding. If you already have a Garmin 500 and it's still in good condition, it's probably not worth the upgrade. What you're essentially getting with the Edge 510 over the 500 is LiveTrack, which is in the early stages of something that could be great.
GOOD STUFF
  • Improved battery life
  • Lots of new features and functions, including LiveTrack
  • GPS acquires satellites much more quickly that previous models
  • Larger screen means more data on one page, but is it larger necessarily better with the 810 as an option?
  • ...and much more
BAD STUFF
  • Size has increased much closer to the Garmin 810 without incorporating maps
  • LiveTrack - is it really that useful? It has great potential, but it's not quite there yet
  • Touch screen seems to lag when trying to naviage

CTech Rating

7.5

Performance
8.0
Presentation
7.0
Value for money
7.0
Quality
9.0
Design
8.0

USER RATING

0.0

Quality
7.6
Design
6.7
Performance
8.0
Presentation
7.1
Value for money
6.3



3
N/A - 22.03.2014
Quality
2.0
Design
3.0
Performance
6.0
Presentation
4.0
Value for money
2.0
After riding with a 510 for about half a year now, I am pretty unhappy with it. The 510 is slow - takes almost a minute to boot up, but more importantly there's a very noticeable delay between touch presses and it responding. This is compounded by a flaky touch screen, which only seems to register every one in two presses. You press, wait, go to press again thinking you didn't push hard enough again and *then* the screen changes and you end up hitting something else. So frustrating! More recent firmware upgrades seem to be causing more of a lag between hitting Start/Pause at the end of a ride and the Save button appearing (several seconds now), and between hitting that and it starting to sync the ride with your phone (10-15 seconds). Just to reiterate: it's getting worse with newer firmware - you're probably better off not upgrading it at all. The 510's user interface is stuck in the 90's. Having a touch screen is nice except that it doesn't work half the time (see above), and it's not like a phone touch screen with nice swipe gestures and what-not, it only lets you press soft buttons on the screen with it. It's hard to navigate around the UI like this and while some customisation is possible, it is very restricted. You are free to choose which of Garmin's pre-defined data pages you want, and how many things on those pages to show, but only if they're in the right order - so if you only want the first and last items on a data page, then you are out of luck. You're also out of luck if you want to customise the order in which you cycle through the pages. Similarly, if you want to customise the pages - this just isn't possible. I'd love to have cadence on the first page rather than the extremely useless calorie count, but there's no cookie there for me. The 510 is buggy. Pressing Start/Pause then kicking off often results in the "Movment detected!" warning bleating at you. Maybe it's just being slow again? The GPS trace simply stops for periods, sometimes several times in a ride, even if there's clear sky. The result is long straight lines between the last point before it lost the plot and the first one after it regains it. You will lose 1 in 10 or 20 rides to this. Keep that in mind the next epic ride you do. The 510 either too large, or the screen is too small - you pick one. Given the size of the bezel around the screen, it really should be at least 20mm shorter and 10mm narrower. This doesn't sound like much, but that's around 20-30% of the current size of the thing, making it seem huge (for the screen size). The 510 app for your phone that handles sync'ing and accessing weather reports and what-not was recently upgraded. This upgrade broke the weather report on the 510 - bad luck if you were using it. It's also stalking your contacts - requiring permission on Android to access them all and presumably uploading them to Garmin's servers, just waiting to be compromised by electronic organised crime gangs or the NSA. Why does a cycling computer need my Mum's phone number?! Finally, not that any one else cares, but if you run Linux then you're out of luck in terms of easily uploading rides to Strava, or upgrading the firmware, or creating pre-defined rides or uploading maps. Bad luck for me.< The 510 seems to be left over from the bad old days of mobile phones. It is a Nokia N95 just waiting for a iPhone to come along and consign it to history. Let's hope that happens sooner rather than later. In the mean time, don't encourage them by buying one.