Do I need this? Garmin Edge 520 (I think)- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Do I need this? Garmin Edge 520 (I think)

    My neighbor walked over looking for the new bike (don't ask) and plopped this little thing on my hand. He said to check it out , see if I like it and we'll talk then.

    I don't know anything about bike computers, pure GPS devices, or anything similar. I know my phone and use Strava to track my ride and record (or inform me) of distance, elevation gain, BPM, etc. I have't felt there was more to be had. Probably because I don't know if there is more to be had.

    So what could I gain from using this device over what I'm using now? What won't it do?

    Do I need this? Garmin Edge 520 (I think)-garminrear-large-.jpgDo I need this? Garmin Edge 520 (I think)-garminfront-large-.jpg

  2. #2
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    Lol I just picked one up from Amazon. I'm new to GPS as well but for me it was a cleaner cockpit, and hoping to start adventuring in the near future. Also not always having to carry your phone will be nice.

    I had an additional phone line just for riding, and had a Quadlock mount on my bars for my main bikes. So I will save a few bucks too in the long run.

    I set it up last night, and hopefully I can ride this week.

    The experts will tell you the "real" benefits, but I'm happy I made the move.

    Edit: I was sold on the 130 but I paid only $5 more in Amazon for the more robust 520.
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  3. #3
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    Do you mount your phone on your bars? If so the garmin is much smaller and less prone to damage, and if not it's kind of nice in some circumstances to have data available while rolling.

    IMO if the price is right you definitely need it.
    I brake for stinkbugs

  4. #4
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    It's more accurate than your phone. It's capable of recording more data than your phone. It's a separate, smaller device on the bars than your phone. You don't stuff it into a pocket. The battery lasts longer. The user interface is more simplistic requiring more button presses and some settings are located deeper within menus than on the phone.

    You might bitch that it's not as easy to use as your phone. But it is better, whether you want to admit it or not.

    Do you need it? I dunno. How much are you going to bitch about it not being like your phone?

  5. #5
    Bikesexual
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    Actually the set up was quite easy, and I'm not mr.techy, plus they have tons of videos and the website is quite helpful.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    Do you mount your phone on your bars? If so the garmin is much smaller and less prone to damage, and if not it's kind of nice in some circumstances to have data available while rolling.

    IMO if the price is right you definitely need it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    It's more accurate than your phone. It's capable of recording more data than your phone. It's a separate, smaller device on the bars than your phone. You don't stuff it into a pocket. The battery lasts longer. The user interface is more simplistic requiring more button presses and some settings are located deeper within menus than on the phone.

    You might bitch that it's not as easy to use as your phone. But it is better, whether you want to admit it or not.

    Do you need it? I dunno. How much are you going to bitch about it not being like your phone?
    I don't mount my phone on the bars. Pretty much just hit record on Strava and it goes in my pocket.
    Other than that, if I'm on new trails or going for a new route, I'll pull it out and check my location on MTB project or alike.

    Would the Garmin have trails loaded into it? What's a used one worth?

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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    You might bitch that it's not as easy to use as your phone. But it is better, whether you want to admit it or not.

    Do you need it? I dunno. How much are you going to bitch about it not being like your phone?

    Huh? I heard zero bitching from the op.



    Quote Originally Posted by JimF777 View Post
    What's a used one worth?

    I always figure about half of what you could get one for new is a pretty good deal for used. Maybe around $100?

    I used a phone for several years and like you just stuck it in my pocket until the end of the ride. Just got a garmin (520) and I do like having the onboard data and it's easier to start/stop a ride than the phone. The buttons are nice because the touch screen on my phone wouldn't usually work with gloves on. Also my phone now has many cracks on the screen because I dropped it a few times while fumbling with it during rides. The 520 is just better.
    I brake for stinkbugs

  8. #8
    since 4/10/2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimF777 View Post
    I don't mount my phone on the bars. Pretty much just hit record on Strava and it goes in my pocket.
    Other than that, if I'm on new trails or going for a new route, I'll pull it out and check my location on MTB project or alike.

    Would the Garmin have trails loaded into it? What's a used one worth?

    Sent from my Pixel 3 XL using Tapatalk
    No trails loaded onto it. You can load some, but the process requires a little computer know-how on your end and a little work to find a decent quality map in the format you need (or the skills to make one).

    The plain jane edge 520 is what I ride with. It has limited memory for extra maps. You cannot pan the map at all, and zooming it is a pain. Do not expect to be able to use it like mtbproject or similar. It might be enough to let you keep your phone in your pocket some of the time. But unless you really know your route ahead of time, you will still need the phone or a paper map to navigate something unfamiliar.

    It has some navigation capability, which I find a bit less useful on the mtb than on the road. I have played with it, but was unimpressed with how it actually wprked on the trail.

    I use mine probably 99% of the time for recording. And for that, it does a particularly nice job.

    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    Huh? I heard zero bitching from the op.
    No, but I am harkening back to countless other people who bitch about how Garmins don't work like their phones, because they expected them to be the same, or at least similar. I am attempting to prevent that notion from ever entering OP's mind.



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  9. #9
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    Don't worry about that, just from looking at it, I don't think I was going to expect smartphone usability out of it.

    Playing around with it for the last hour or so, I think I connected my strava account with the Garmin account. Hell, if I can record a ride on the Garmin and have it drop all the info into my Strava, I think that would be a win, if not for the ability to use with full fingered gloves.

    But I'm not sure if that's how it works.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimF777 View Post
    Playing around with it for the last hour or so, I think I connected my strava account with the Garmin account. Hell, if I can record a ride on the Garmin and have it drop all the info into my Strava, I think that would be a win, if not for the ability to use with full fingered gloves.

    But I'm not sure if that's how it works.

    Yep, that's how it works. Push stop at the end of your ride and it uploads to strava as soon as it gets anywhere near your phone.
    I brake for stinkbugs

  11. #11
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    If you do not want the device connected to Strava, you can always use a computer to selectively export the data from Garmin Connect then upload to Strava.

    I use a Garmin watch and don't really log runs on Strava. So linking the two isn't the best choice for me.

    But yeah, I think the 520 will be good for you to have since you are already interested in data. There are some different metrics, or at least different views between Garmin Connect and Strava too.

    As long as it's cost efficient to you.
    Are there any accessories? Does he have any mounting brackets? Speed sensor? If any of that is an interest to you, and he doesn't have any to provide, then you will need to purchase those -at which point will the amount you invest in it worth that of a NEW unit.

    Check out Craigslist for those devices to see if you can get a price comparison. Search other major cities outside of where you live if you don't find any. It's rare I see one for sale (guess that means people don't get rid of them).

    There are about 1000 threads here for the 520 and 820 models. Do some quick research for features. The 820 is similar with a few upgraded options, touch screen and a larger screen, but otherwise similar to at least get an idea of capabilities.

  12. #12
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    You nailed something on the head, I've often pulled the trigger on something that looked good, only to find out shortly down the road that it is not capable of doing many of the more sought after features, or you have to pay for them.

  13. #13
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    Is the neighbor about to upgrade to a new unit -using some of the 'sale' money towards the new purchase?

    By accessories I mean sensors that you may be interested in. Or a nice mount instead of lets say the rubber strap mount.

    Features alone will provide plenty of data. The newest models have additional features that may or may not be useful (to any of us). Time will tell for that.
    But yeah, there should be plenty of useful features. Unless you need to buy additional items like a speed sensor which I guess gives better distance/speed readings. A $40 sensor. Of course you still need to buy the speed sensor for the same $40 if you purchase a new unit.

    Just things to consider. Not trying to deter you from it at all.

  14. #14
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    If you just record for social reasons, just use your phone.

    If you care about data, and it is a GREAT deal, then get that GPS.

    If you care about data, and it ISN'T a great deal, then yes you need one but you don't need that one.

  15. #15
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    One thing you want to keep in mind, Garmin just announced the Edge 530. Your neighbor is selling his Edge 520 to pay for an upgraded Edge 530. Nothing wrong with that, but the price better be right for you to purchase a used product when the new product has significant upgrades.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimF777 View Post
    You nailed something on the head, I've often pulled the trigger on something that looked good, only to find out shortly down the road that it is not capable of doing many of the more sought after features, or you have to pay for them.
    for mtb use, I recommend using a wheel sensor. An accurate GPS will ALWAYS record distances short. Because a lot of phones are NOT accurate positionally, they'll actually record distances much closer to what you actually rode, even though the track is messy on the map. I have a HRM, but I only use it occasionally. I have a cadence sensor for my road bike, but don't find it as useful on the mtb.

    There are lots of little extras you can get if you want them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Montana93 View Post
    One thing you want to keep in mind, Garmin just announced the Edge 530. Your neighbor is selling his Edge 520 to pay for an upgraded Edge 530. Nothing wrong with that, but the price better be right for you to purchase a used product when the new product has significant upgrades.
    You seem awful certain that his neighbor is buying an Edge 530. Whatever. IMO, the changes aren't THAT significant. Maybe he wants the new Wahoo, or maybe the neighbor wants a bigger device that displays more things at once? I'm not "upgrading" my Edge 520 for a long time, since it does most of what I need.

    Also note that Garmins that have performed solidly and are desirable tend to maintain a fairly high resale value. Look at how much you'll have to spend to buy a used Garmin Edge 305, which is quite old from an electronic device standpoint.
    https://www.ebay.com/bhp/garmin-edge-305

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    for mtb use, I recommend using a wheel sensor. An accurate GPS will ALWAYS record distances short.

    Not always. I've used my phone on lots of group rides where just about everyone else is using garmins and my mileage almost exactly matches theirs.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    Not always. I've used my phone on lots of group rides where just about everyone else is using garmins and my mileage almost exactly matches theirs.
    No. This is not a debatable subject. It's part of the definition of how an accurate GPS works. The distance of a recorded track will ALWAYS be short.

    If you are comparing your phone to recorded rides of people using wheel sensors with their Garmins, then your phone is not recording each position accurately. If you are comparing with people who have Garmins and NO wheel sensors, then your phone is recording each position fairly accurately.

    The gap between these two situations will narrow, sometimes significantly, if the trails are fairly straight. If the trails are really straight, it might not be apparent to a casual observer that there's a difference. It might take LOTS of sample runs and some statistical analysis to tease out the difference because you'll be flirting with the general margin of error and that will confound things a bit.

    However, if there are a lot of tight twists and turns in the trails, the difference will become extremely glaring very quickly. On trails like this, a 10-20% difference between a wheel sensor-measured distance and GPS-calculated distance is not uncommon. I ride a wide variety of trails. So yeah, sometimes I'm on the straighter ones. But sometimes I ride twistier ones, too. And I see how this variation comes into play for the recorded track.

  19. #19
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    The accuracy is VERY dependent on where you ride. In most of the places I ride a wheel sensor is a waste of money. The amount of distance you lose is just silly because you have such great satellite reception. I believe JB lives it the Southwest like I do and probably rides in relatively open sky areas like I do. I have the same experience; my friends using their cell phones come out of very close numbers to mine. And for me, mileage RARELY matters, I only care about the hours. If my ride comes up 10% short but my workload was captured, that is all I care about.

    If you live in an area of dense foliage and/or really care about mileage accuracy, sure a wheel sensor is a good idea. I have nor need either, so I don't use one. I have a powermeter that captures the data that is important to me

    As an example, I did the Belgian Waffle Ride Sunday. The official map on ridewithgps.com was 134.2 miles. My Garmin reported 133 even. Over 99% accurate is plenty good for me. I clicked on one other random rider and luckily on the first shot got someone who used his iPhone. His iPhone was more accurate than my 520+, reporting 134.7 miles.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    No. This is not a debatable subject. It's part of the definition of how an accurate GPS works. The distance of a recorded track will ALWAYS be short.

    Some people in our group use wheel sensors and some don't and at the end of the ride our mileages are all about the same, within 2% or so. How is that not debatable?
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by J.B. Weld View Post
    Some people in our group use wheel sensors and some don't and at the end of the ride our mileages are all about the same, within 2% or so. How is that not debatable?
    Like I said, the difference may vary, but it always exists. An accurate gps will always shortcut corners and will always measure distances short as a result. It is the core nature of gps because it is not recording the full curve. It always drops points and connects them with a straight line. The more sharp corners that get cut short, the wider the gap between a wheel sensor and GPS calculated distance. This happens irrespective of reception or terrain obstructions. This is the not debatable part.

    It is HOW GPS WORKS.

    I will always recommend a wheel sensor to people new to gps. Invariably a someone new to the tech will read y'all's comments about a wheel sensor being a waste of money and then they do a ride where one would be beneficial and then they start to complaining about how their garmin was inaccurate and somone's phone was accurate. This is not a correct assessment. The ACCURATE GPS will always short distance and the INaccurate one will add distance back though wandering signals that miss the path they actually rode back and forth, making their path look twistier than it actually was. On a device without a barometric altimeter, this will also result in the climbs being inflated because when you upload the ride somewhere, the elevations will be "corrected" based on the gps track.

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