Garmin Edge 1030 GPS review

The Edge 1030 is the most recent addition to Garmin’s cycling GPS range. It replaces the now-three-year-old Edge 1000 at the top of Edge range and sits above the Edge 520 and Edge 820. It’s been several months now since the Edge 1030 was released and we’ve spent much of that time riding with and testing the unit. So how does it stack up? And is it worth your money?

Size and shape

There’s no getting around it: the Edge 1030 is large. It’s considerably bigger than the Edge 520 and Edge 820 and fractionally longer than the already large Edge 1000. But despite having similar dimensions to the Edge 1000, the Edge 1030 has a considerably larger screen.

The Edge 1030 is also marginally heavier than the Edge 1000, and substantially heavier than the Edge 520 (double the weight) and Edge 820 (nearly double).

In short, if you’re looking for a light and compact GPS unit with a minimal footprint on your bike’s front-end, the Edge 1030 is probably not for you.

Despite its size and heft, the Edge 1030 doesn’t take much getting used to. It only took me a few rides to become accustomed to the shape and size of the device and for other, smaller, GPS units to feel lacking in comparison.

The Edge 1030 is controlled by: an on/off button on the left-hand side; a start/stop and lap button on the bottom; and a large touchscreen on the front. Wired connectivity comes courtesy of a Micro-USB port between the two bottom buttons.

Garmin’s familiar quarter-lock mounting system returns, along with a new out-front mount that allows the unit to sit flush with the handlebars. A noticeable difference between the back of the Edge 1030 and other Edge units is the presence of five electrodes on the newer device. These allow for easy, cable-free charging via the Garmin Charge — a power pack (sold separately) the connects to the underside of the new Edge 1030 mount.

Also new is a slot on the back of the Edge 1030 which can house a microSD memory card. This can be used to increase storage on the device or install other maps, although the vast majority of users won’t need to do either.

Aesthetically, the Edge 1030 is a smart, sleek-looking unit, in spite of its size, courtesy of a swish black and white combination that features on the outer shell.

Getting going

Getting the Edge 1030 up and running is a familiar process for anyone that’s used an Edge device in the past few years. Choose your language, measurement system and time format; enter personal details such as your gender, age and weight; connect any heart rate monitors, powermeters or other ANT+ devices you might have; then you’re good to go.

The home screen is likely to be a familiar sight too. You can head to the navigation page to get directions, visit the training page to get more targeted with your riding, see your ride history, check your personal stats, access the device settings, or use widgets via the IQ system. Of course, you can simply start a ride too — just choose one of the default activity profiles (mountain, road or indoor) or one you’ve created yourself (for full data-screen customisation), let the unit connect to satellites (a matter of seconds), hit the start/stop button and you’re recording.

The user interface is intuitively set up and it doesn’t take long at all to work out where to find what you’re looking for. When it comes to riding, the data screens are easily customisable, either via the activity profiles section in settings, or while you’re riding. For the latter, simply press and hold the data field you want to change, then select whatever data you’d prefer that field to show.

And with such a big screen, the Edge 1030 can show plenty of data.

Navigation

If you’ve used the Edge 820 or Edge 1000 in the past, the Edge 1030’s mapping capabilities will have you feeling right at home. From the navigation tab on the home screen you can browse the map, route to locations you’ve saved or places you’ve recently been, or search for a destination.

Sadly, the last of these isn’t nearly as easy as it could be. Rather than simply punching in an address — as you would in your smartphone’s map app — you first need to choose “Addresses” from a menu, choose your state, your town/suburb, the house number and then the street name. It’s a cumbersome process, particularly when the likes of Google Maps have become so quick, easy and familiar to use.

Once you’ve searched for your address though, the Edge 1030 will do a great job of getting you there. Beneath the surface of the Edge 1030’s routing algorithm is a new feature called Trendline. According to Garmin, Trendline “uses billions of miles of Garmin Connect ride data to show the best on- and off-road routes”, thereby sending you down roads and paths that are already popular with cyclists.

It’s a nifty feature and, from my experience, it does seem to have resulted in safer, more cycling-friendly routes. The Edge 1030 has certainly sent me down fewer busy roads and fewer indirect sidestreets than the Edge 1000, making for a more pleasant cycling experience.

The navigation page also allows you to follow a course you’ve uploaded to the device, create a course by inputting several locations (also a cumbersome process), or create a selection of “Round-Trip Courses” of a certain distance, starting and finishing in your location. This last feature was good with the Edge 1000 and is even better here.

Say you’ve travelled away from home with your bike and you want to get out for a ride. You haven’t got all day and you want to make sure you ride on quality roads. The combination of Edge 1030 and Trendline data provides a great solution.

Regardless of how you’ve created a route on the Edge 1030, following it is easy and intuitive. The device alerts you on screen and with an audio alert when a turn is coming up, even when you haven’t got the map screen open.

The Edge 1030’s bigger screen shines while on the map screen. More screen real estate obviously means more of the map is visible, and that’s never a bad thing, particularly if you want to scan ahead and see what’s coming up.

On the subject of what’s coming up, the Edge 1030 also brings with it “Sharp Bend Warnings”. In theory this is a clever idea — warn the user (on-screen and with an audio alert) when a sharp bend is approaching. It turned out to be far less useful than I was expecting.

I found the alerts to be annoyingly frequent, largely unnecessary and oftentimes inaccurate. For example, the Edge 1030 would often alert me to sharp bends onto minor side-roads or trails when I was simply travelling straight ahead. Thankfully these alerts can be turned off via the settings menu.

It’s a minor point, but having the map trace where you’ve been is very useful when you want to explore all the MTB trails in an area.

As good as the mapping is on the Edge 1030, interacting with the map still feels clunky and cumbersome when stacked alongside Google Maps (or equivalent) on a smartphone. The Edge 1030 loses out by not having pinch-zooming or the sort of refresh speeds that a smartphone is capable of. When you do the vast bulk of your mapping on a smartphone, these omissions stand out.

Touchscreen troubles

The touchscreen has other issues too. Swiping between data screens can sometimes be frustrating, with a sort-of landing page sometimes popping up instead of moving between screens. Conversely, trying to bring up that landing screen (to get back to the home screen) doesn’t always work as planned.

In the past I’ve been critical of the Edge 820 and Edge 1000 for the quality of their touchscreens and how they stack up against a smartphone. I feel the concern is even more valid here. Given the Edge 1030 costs roughly the same as a smartphone, it seems reasonable to expect a touchscreen that performs on par with a smartphone.

Sure, the Edge 1030 has capabilities that a smartphone does not, but smartphones are more feature-rich than ever before. And, given the size of the Edge 1030 is approaching that of a smartphone, it poses the question: will there soon come a time when using a smartphone might be a more sensible and cost-effective option than something like the Edge 1030?

Garmin claims the Edge 1030 works fine with gloves and in the wet. I had no major issues getting it to work while wet (besides the occasional water droplet changing screens, as with the Edge 820), but gloves proved a trickier prospect.

Connectivity and the smartphone app

As mentioned, the Edge 1030 connects to various sensors via ANT+ but it also has WiFi for easy data uploads at the end of your ride. Bluetooth returns as well, allowing you to connect the Edge 1030 to your smartphone and unlock a range of features with the Garmin Connect app.

LiveTrack, originally introduced with the Edge 510, is back, allowing friends and loved ones to track your progress on a ride. As usual, you’ll need to have the Edge 1030 connected to your phone, you’ll need to be within mobile range, and you’ll need to create and send out a LiveTrack webpage link. (For more on LiveTrack, check out our review of the Edge 510).

GroupTrack also comes over from the Edge 820, allowing you to see where your riding buddies are. To get this working you and your mates will each need a compatible Edge device, a smartphone Bluetooth connection, and to enable LiveTrack and GroupTrack. (For more on GroupTrack, check out our review of the Edge 820).

Incident Detection, which first debuted with the Edge Explorer 1000, also returns, providing peace of mind for yourself and your loved ones. To get this going, you’ll need to make sure Incident Detection is turned on via the Garmin Connect smartphone app, and you’ll need to have your Edge connected to your smartphone. (For more on Incident Detection, read our review of the Edge 820). Call and text message alerts return with the Edge 1030.

As you’d expect, the Edge 1030 is also compatible with Garmin’s Varia rearview radar and smart bike lights, both of which are sold separately.

New features

Among the features to debut with the Edge 1030 is the pre-loaded Strava Routes IQ app. Once your Edge 1030 and your smartphone are connected via Bluetooth you should be able to pull in any routes you’ve created on Strava, without having to download the TCX or GPX file on your computer and upload it to your Garmin.

This is a terrific little time-saving idea but, sadly, I couldn’t get it to work. Even though my Garmin Connect and Strava accounts were linked, I always received a “Trouble connecting to the server” message when trying to access the Strava Routes IQ app. I’m not the only one that’s had this issue, but others have certainly got it working.

Strava Live Segments get an upgrade with the Edge 1030 too. Now, when you start riding a Strava segment that’s already loaded onto your Edge 1030 (make sure your Garmin Connect and Strava accounts are connected), you won’t just get a timer on screen showing how long you’ve been riding for. You’ll also be given second-to-second updates on how your effort compares to that of the KOM/QOM holder, your previous best, and a Strava friend.

For those that use Strava and enjoy pushing themselves, this is perhaps the most exciting feature to come along with the Edge 1030. You can easily see, at a glance, whether you’re on track to snag that KOM, beat your mate’s best time, or set a new PB (or all three, of course).

On track for a new PB, but just behind Sammy Rix’s time.

Those that use TrainingPeaks will note that the Edge 1030 also comes pre-loaded with a TrainingPeaks IQ app that will guide you through workouts in real time. Simply create structured workouts through the TrainingPeaks website, link your TrainingPeaks account with the IQ app, then follow the instructions on screen as you ride.

Note that you don’t need TrainingPeaks to do this — you can create structured workouts in the Garmin Connect smartphone app and send them to your Edge. From there you can get access to and ride your workout from the training menu.

While Edge units have always broken down your ride data after you’ve finished, the Edge 1030 takes that to the next level. Adding to FTP tracking and other data in previous iterations, the 1030 collects your fitness and performance data and collates it via the My Stats menu on the home screen.

There’s a lot of data to play with here: VO2max calculations, training load tracking, personal records and so on. Data junkies will enjoy what the Edge 1030 has to offer in this regard — just bear in mind that you will need a powermeter to get the most out of this functionality.

Also on the new features list is rider-to-rider messaging. This allows you to send pre-written notes to your riding buddies via the Edge 1030; messages like “Heading home” or “Finished ride”. It sounds like a good idea but, in reality, it’s likely to be one of those features that most users don’t touch.

It’s so much easier to pull out your smartphone and send a quick text message saying whatever you want, rather than relying on pre-written messages. Particularly when you’re only able to send messages to “Connections” that you’re currently linked with on GroupTrack.

Battery life

The Edge 1030 boasts a bigger battery than any other Edge unit before it, with Garmin claiming a run-time of up to 20 hours. This is compared with the 15-hour run time Garmin claimed of the Edge 520, 820 and 1000.

The Edge 1030’s 20-hour battery can also be extended to a claimed 40 hours if you connect the Garmin Charge to your Edge.

Price

The Edge 1030 certainly isn’t cheap. At an RRP of AU$749 (US$599.99/£499.99), it’s the most expensive GPS unit Garmin has produced and seemingly the most expensive such device on the market. That price jumps up to AU$849 if you opt for the bundle with its heartrate strap and cadence and speed sensors. And if you’re looking to pick up the Garmin Charge power pack as well, be prepared to spend another AU$189 (US$129.99/£119.99).

Final thoughts

While the appeal of the Edge 1030 will likely depend on how deep your pockets are, it’s difficult to justify the cost of the Edge 1030. For a few hundred dollars more than the cost of other units in the Edge range (and from other brands), you’re getting a bigger battery, a bigger screen, and a few extra features. But many of these features are available on other Edge devices with a firmware update and many — such as rider-to-rider messaging — are likely to be of limited appeal to the average user.

At first glance the Garmin Edge 1030 is an imposingly large device but in reality its size is easy to get used to. The device does the basics very well and its navigation capabilities are impressive, not least because of the massive amount of screen real estate available. That said, users might find the navigation interface a little clunky to use in comparison to their smartphone’s navigation tools. The touchscreen isn’t perfect either which, at the Edge 1030’s price point, is more of an issue than on the more moderately priced alternatives.

It’s not that the Edge 1030 is a bad product — it does just about everything you could want in a cycling GPS unit. It’s just that, given the price and what you get for it, it’s hard to argue that the Edge 1030 represents good value for money for the average consumer.

Photo gallery

Wrap-up

Big and pricey
The Garmin Edge 1030 is Garmin's top-of-the-line cycling computer and it comes packed with features. It does the basics well, records and displays all the data you could ever want, and has useful mapping tools for easy on-bike navigation. The new features probably aren’t enticing enough to prompt purchase on their own though, particularly given the unit's hefty price tag.
GOOD STUFF
  • Fully featured cycling GPS
  • Big screen means more data visible at once
  • Great mapping tools
  • Strava Live Segments upgrade,
BAD STUFF
  • Very expensive
  • Doesn't offer enough for its pricetag
  • Smartphone-like size
  • Cumbersome to input navigation points
  • Touchscreen is a little underwhelming
  • New feature set is again slightly underwhelming.

CTech Rating

7.7

Form
8.0
Function
8.0
Marketing claims
7.0
Serviceability
8.0
Appeal
7.0

What do each of the individual ratings criteria mean? And how did we arrive at the final score? Click here to find out. You can also read more about our review process.