January 22, 2018

Brandon Anderson's avatar

By Brandon Anderson

There are endless options these days when it comes to cycling computers. Everything from simple entry-level computers providing traditional capture of data like speed and ride time to the more complex varieties that allow for in depth data analysis and act as a coaching tool.  All are readily available for those serious about training and looking to have every possible piece of data stored and analyzed.


Many of these gadgets include some type of accompanying software that puts things into an understandable and easily accessible format for future reference. Long gone are the days of analog mileage trackers that look like a carnie’s handheld tally counter has been attached to your front axle. Today’s cycling computers are high tech devices that track your rides using GPS software and can measure just about anything you wish to capture.


For our test, we chose Garmin’s Edge 520 GPS cycling computer, which has recently become their most popular unit, providing the premium features of their higher end computers at an affordable price point. (Edge 520 retails at an MSRP of $399.99 when bundled with a heart rate monitor and speed and cadence sensors or $299.99 for just the computer). We put the 520 through a rigorous series of tests allowing us to really see how it performs and to see how it stacks up to the other models in Garmin’s line and those of their competitors.



When you first pull the 520 out of the box it is unmistakably a Garmin. It features the sleek, lightweight design Garmin has become known for with its previous GPS computers.  But with the 520 Garmin has utilized most of the available real estate to accommodate a larger screen than the previous model Edge 500 while keeping the compact size consistent with the former model, albeit slightly thinner, which is a welcomed change. The function buttons are conveniently placed on the sides of the unit as Garmin has opted to ditch the touchscreen operations found on the higher end models in their line-up, increasing ease of use while also helping to accommodate the larger screen. The 520 also features the traditional turn-lock mount typical of all Garmin computers which quickly connects to the included out-front mount and standard rubber band mounts, making switching between bikes a breeze.



The new Edge 520 comes packed with features unavailable on previous generation Garmin devices, though there is a slight learning curve to accompany the new tech. Many users have described the new software format as “counterintuitive” and even “bad” but after multiple rides with the device and giving ourselves some ample time for exploration we think that most of the confusion lies in either A) user error or B) the fact that the new interface is just simply different than that of the previous generation Garmin ride computers.


The new Edge 520 is also far more customizable than previous models and relies heavily on phone connectivity and live tracking features such as Strava live segments, which can be confusing and hard to set up initially. But once you wrap your head around things and get integration options between software and hardware configured, it is a far superior unit when compared to anything previously available in the Garmin line up at this level. Other features include a water-resistant case and integration with multiple sensors including lights, proximity sensors, Shimano Di2, SRAM eTAP and Campagnolo EPS.



After spending over a month getting up close and personal with the new Garmin Edge 520 we are pleasantly surprised with the results and would even go so far as to say that this is the best available product from Garmin at the moment. It is reliable and Garmin seems to have worked out some of the bugs present on previous Edge models such as the dreaded save/data loss and GPS errors that seemed to plague the 500 and 800. Overall, the new 520 proved to be extremely reliable and the only performance issues we found were probably due to a poor WiFi signal rather than anything hardware or software related. The new 520 gets the WRC seal of approval and is available for purchase now in store and online


Learn more about setup, functions, and features of the 520 here: