Garmin announce GPS stuff, lights, and radar

I do like a good gadget, and was therefore delighted when Garmin announced a slew of them over the last few days.

Your best bet for more information is the DC Rainmaker blog, as Ray has already had a play with all of the goodies.

Here’s what’s coming in September 2015.

A new mid-range GPS, the Edge 520

Edge 520 images

This looks like a big update to the 500 and 510 (ie the middle-of-the-road GPSes that do everything you could want except for navigation). This has a bunch of extra features (again, go see DC Rainmakers review), but the most intriguing of which is the addition of Strava segments.

As you approach the segment you get a distance count down and then a virtual partner showing you the current fastest time on Strava. My Edge 810 has always been able to do this with segments from Garmin Connect and it works really well, except no-one uses segments on Garmin Connect. Strava, however, is wildly popular, and hopefully is the start of a glorious partnership between the (relative) sturdiness of Garmin hardware and the much better software of Strava.

I’m also happy because a load of the new 520 features (including the Strava-ness) are coming to the Edge 810 and 1000 later this year. Given the 810 is now almost three years old, that’s some pretty decent hardware support.

Two new entry-level GPSes, the Edge 20 and Edge 25

The Edge 20 and 25

GPSes is an ugly word, isn’t it?

The Edge 20 and 25 drop in at the bottom end of Garmin’s lineup, but if all you’re after is some basic GPS tracking and speed and the ability to then dump that data online, this might be all you need. The RRP of just over £100 is still a lot to ask given most smartphones could do the job, but these are a lot neater on your handlebars (not too mention having a better battery life than a phone using GPS, and being waterproof and rugged).

Not for everyone, but nice to have the option available.

Both use GPS and GLONASS (handy if the USA decides to stop sharing its space-based military hardware), with the Edge 25 adding in Bluetooth and ANT+ support so you can pair with your phone as well as other bike sensors (cadence, power, etc).

The Varia bike-mounted radar system

Varia lights, radar and display
Smart lights on the left, rear-facing radar in the middle, radar display on the right

Talking of military hardware…

The Varia system consists of a rear-facing radar with built in rear light, front and rear “smart lights”, and a radar display (which sadly isn’t a glowing green screen).

This does a couple of things, depending on how you set things up:

  • The radar detects vehicles approaching you from behind. Those are displayed as approaching blips on either the standalone radar display, or on the right hand side of the screen of a compatible Edge GPS. The range is about 150m, and it can track multiple approaching vehicles.
  • The radar comes with a bank of red LEDs. As each vehicle gets closer more LEDs light up and then start to flash. Which presumably makes you more noticeable when you need it, and saves battery life when you don’t.
  • The Varia front light pairs with your GPS and adjusts the beam angle depending on your speed. As you go faster, it throws more of the light further down the road.
  • If you’ve got the Edge 1000 (which has an ambient light sensor), both Varia smart lights will adjust their brightness to avoid dazzling those around you.
  • If you’ve got two rear smart lights and an Edge in navigating mode, the left or right rear light will blink as you approach a turn.

If I’m reading that right, to get absolutely everything you’ll end up displaying three rear lights: one radar with lights; plus two smart rear lights which give you the indicating. Plus obviously a fourth “dumb” rear light, because having all your reward visibility dependant on the Edge on your handlebars not crashing would be A Bad Thing.

Unless you’re in a velomobile that isolates you a bit more from the outside world and also needs indicators (because you can’t stick you arm out), I’m not really convinced that the radar unit is much more than a gimmick. For it to work you’d need the display/Edge to be constantly in your line of vision, and the only bike where that is the case is a recumbent.

Cockpit view

Which comes with a mirror.

Still, lights that adapt to speed and ambient light are definitely good things (my Luxos IQ2 does so already), and if Garmin are going to throw research money into expanding their range of cycling kit, everybody wins.


PS: All images from the Garmin website, with the exception of the M5 carbon recumbent cockpit just above, which is from the review I wrote here.


Add Yours →

Well these new Garmins certainly look good and are a step in the right direction, but what I’d really love is a device that hooks up to the wifi accesspoint on my phone for live data, both of segments, real time location tracking (especially for solo wild adventure rides where people at home want to know my whereabouts) and the ability to see where on the road my friends/approved fellow riders are.

I’m sure that more integration between Garmin and Strava is possible. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if Garmin didn’t do a corporate takeover of Strava shortly, they can afford them and when you look at Strava’s About Us section on their website you realise just how small they actually are.

Nice site btw, found it while looking for Garmin reviews, but will read around more now!

Hi Tony

You can get some of that already: if you’ve got an Edge 510 or 810 and a handy Android or iOS phone then you can use Garmin Connect for location tracking. See here for more on that!

Thanks for the comments on the site!

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