Let me start by stating that I am writing this without any commercial interest whatsoever. I have just blindly bought a product due to a brand’s reputation and learnt my lesson. My aim is to make people aware that the Garmin cycling computers are really not the greatest product out there, neither is their support.
I am into cycling with my road bike since a couple of years. It is an old hobby that I revived back in 2014. I discovered all the great enhancements since my youth and one of them was how cycle computers had evolved, or actually also cycling apps. My bike was initially installed with a wireless cycling computer from Cateye. I felt this was already a huge improvement over the wired cycling computers that I remembered. Then I discovered that there were heart rate sensors, speed and cadence sensors (2 in 1) and a very powerful app called Strava. Suddenly I could analyse my rides and see how to improve. On youtube many video’s where explaining a lot of helpful things, how to read the data that was collected during my rides. In 2016 I took my hobby to the next level and decided that I needed a serious cycling computer instead of an app on my phone. I heard about Garmin and I started to define my requirements, they were very simple: reliable connectivity to Strava and navigation. Particularly navigation seemed to be a great benefit, so that I could commute to work, a 55km ride. I had my eyes on the Edge 810 and started to do my typical homework when I want to purchase something: reading reviews on the Internet, basically a little bit of due diligence. Reviews on the Internet basically told two stories, one that there is virtually no competition for Garmin and that the Garmin Edge 810 (and Edge 1000) were both great products, yes even flawless. Wow, that is an easy choice then! Was it that easy, that easy as for instance picking a real great tire for your road bike, e.g. the Continental Grand Prix 4000S II? Were the reviews really that honest and did they take the devices really through its paces? I don’t think so….
the first weeks
The first weeks were really exciting and I really believed that I had purchased one of these products that you will never regret. It appeared flawless and solid like a brick. During my ride all data was captured, the battery lasted really long. I didn’t have to worry about losing data while taking a selfie with my phone or that the battery would die on me. And wow did that device look great with the out-front mount. I felt like a pro!
I did notice however a few quirks, but I took them for granted at that time.
the commute to work
My commute is 55km’s and I am not very familiar with the villages and roads in between, so I would need to rely on navigation, hence it was a requirement for the device. Even if I would be familiar with the roads you would like to avoid as many traffic lights or any other form of unnecessary stops, and you would like to drive as much as possible on tarmac or concrete. In the morning my time is precious. So there I went: I logged into Garmin’s online portal, called Garmin connect, and started drafting a route on my map. It took me a while, but there it was, a nearly perfect route. This nearly perfected route I perfected even more after my first ride.
On my second ride things didn’t go that smooth. I was cycling for a while and suddenly discovered that I was ‘off course’, had I missed a turn? how could that be possible with the audible alert? I stopped and looked at the map, here is where trouble started. The display has a actually a very low resolution depending on the light the display is too dim and colours are very pale. Despite this, I was able to make out that I had missed a few turns and that I really was a couple of km’s away from the course. I had to continue my ride by looking at the display and making out the route. This slowed me down considerably and caused me being late at work
Investigating the issue I found that many people on forums had found this problem. It was there for at least two years and people did not find workarounds or whatsoever. Instead Garmin had released many firmware releases but non of them tackled the problem. Contact with Garmin was reported to be futile and in fact Garmin never acknowledged problems missing turns.
The problem for me was not limited to a single incident, but it happened every ride from now on. It was very annoying, you end up in the middle of nowhere and looking at the device on the very poorly displayed maps slows you down considerably. Did I say that in the morning time is precious?
I contacted Garmin and they advised to do a full factory reset. That didn’t help, but then fate struck. I fell with my bike and broke my hip. I was grounded and did not pursue the problem with the device anymore.
A new season
This year I started cycling early in March, making the most of it. Of course I expected the turn by turn problem still to be there, but in fact it had gotten worse. Turn by turn navigation would still stop somewhere along the ride, but also the device would crash by switching itself of. It meant that I had to stop and boot up the device. After that the best I could expect is that the device started to behave normally again; but missing the information that I had already cycled. At worse the device would not display speed etc, but it would not display a route on map. Nevertheless I found that almost always I was able to recover data from my ride by looking for .fit files on the device when connecting with USB.
Once again I contact Garmin and stated that the problem is so severe that I had lost trust in the device and requested the device to be swapped for a different model, when necessary I would pay extra, as long as I would get a different model. I proposed the Edge 820 (new) or the Edge 1000. From here on a couple of emails went back and forth resulting me to believe that Garmin does not take their customers serious, nor are they reading their mails very well. After all they offered me to swap my device for a refurbished device. Same device = same problems, a different model was not possible.
I started to live with the issues. After all, having a technical background I also believe that I should limit the system resources as much as possible. I deleted as much as possible stored information in the device, only necessary courses stored and yes it did help. But then other funny things started to happen. I had downloaded a public course in Garmin Connect for a holiday in France. I had made a new course based upon this course and when I sent it to the device it reported the correct course length with all its correct details, but when starting the course it took the public course without my changes. Sigh, it never stops.
I had made more small quirks, such as displaying an Arabic name and not my own name when logging in into Garmin Connect. Drawing routes in Garmin Connect also causes problems, some roads are not visible when using the Google maps, and vice versa with the Openstreet maps. Also sometimes the course drawing ‘hangs’ and no more waypoints can be made.
I have given up on Garmin, I feel they are a company that had a couple of great ideas (in the past), but now lacking the right implementation.
Don’t buy Garmin, really don’t. They are bad guys that try to steal your money and then leave you to your own devices. They even try to sell you expensive maps for top dollar. These maps are opensource and downloadable for free on the Internet. They have lost the plot big time, their newest device, the edge 820 even switches of the display during a ride to conserve battery power. Think about that, how ridiculous is that, you can’t even see your ride information unless you start pressing buttons.
There are new kids around the block, they offer more sophisticated portals/tools, have better integration with online platforms. They are more eager and provide you simply with a better product. And with features that do in fact work and don’t let you pay for things that are freely available on the Internet. Don’t buy Garmin.