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Garmin 520+

Old 11-27-20, 02:47 PM
  #1  
Alphonsus
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Garmin 520+

This will be my first time buying a bike GPS, I had previously had the Wahoo Element, but that has been soldout on Amazon as well as many websites so I'm most likely gonna have to go with the 520+. Both were around $200 which was my comfort level since I'm a college student and don't wanna be spending $300 or more especially since I'm also buying a new bike and biking shoes. Anyone got any opinions? Currently use a phone as a GPS, however it can be troublesome since it does drain battery life by a lot especially if I go on 70 mile trips.
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Old 11-27-20, 04:59 PM
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I just went through this and did a ton of research. I actually ordered the 520 plus and then cancelled the order after doing a little more research. The Garmin 520 plus was a great bike computer and kind of still is (it's been discontinued for some time now).....but, my understanding from the reading I've done is that it received a big software upgrade some time ago that was not part of it's original specs. This update gave it full map functionality which sounds wonderful but because the hardware and power of the device is fairly outdated, the most recent reviews tend to complain about it being really slow and laggy and taking a long time to lock onto GPS, etc. Here is a link to the review that DC Rainmaker made on the Edge 530. If you scroll down to the "navigation" part of the review you will see where he talks about how slow the edge 520 plus is. He is widely considered to be one of the best reviewers of all things bike tech out there.

Regardless, the Garmin 530 is the replacement for the 520 plus. It has updated hardware in it that makes the unit run much much faster and smoother. It also has both a bigger screen and better resolution without a bigger footprint and a host of features that the 520 plus does not have.

You can get one during Black Friday sale on Ebay right now for $249 It is basically the same as the Edge 830 that sells for $400 and is considered one of Garmins flagship devices. The biggest difference is that the 530 does not have a touchsreen which I personally didn't want anyway. Apparently the touch screen can be better for navigating the device and menu's in your living room but if you have gloves on or it is wet outside I've heard it can be a PITA. I'd rather have the push buttons while I'm riding.

My personal opinion would be that the extra money is well worth it for what you get (I should know, I bought one that is supposed to be delivered tomorrow) but I can't spend your money, only you can do that.

Hope that helps, happy biking!

Last edited by Yellowlab; 11-27-20 at 05:13 PM.
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Old 11-27-20, 06:14 PM
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I’ve never had issues with gloves or rain using the TS on my 1000 or 1030.

Having a TS really comes down to do you want the ability to pan and zoom on a map to navigate. If navigation is a feature you desire, get a TS unit. If not get a button unit.

Agree on the 530 vs. 520 Plus. Better unit. The OP should also look at the Edge Explore, larger, has a TS, is not a performance metric unit (power, workouts, laps, etc...), $249
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Old 11-27-20, 08:10 PM
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Spouse and I graduated from Garmin Edge 200's to the world of navigating/mapping/routing computers this past summer. Got her a 520 plus first but she decided the display was a bit small for her. So, I kept the 520 plus and she got a 530. Display is a little larger and, indeed, it is faster operating. I'm satisfied with the 520 plus. Both devices have allowed us to download routes that we have never ridden and then ride them without referring to cue sheets or paper maps.
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Old 11-28-20, 12:41 AM
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bought the 520+ about two months ago to replace an older garmin unit that had been refurbished and actually got run over by a ford f150.
i've never been a map on the fly kinda guy. if i'm in unfamiliar territory, i'll always memorize the roads/route. if it's super-complicated, i'd
actually write out a shorthand directional sheet and tape it-old school-to the stem (which i've done like 3 times in 20 years). so i don't really
use the maps feature. did preload a strava course and use it on wednesday for the first time to see how it worked and it was whatever.
didn't help/impress me at all and was generally a nuisance. i didn't need to use it at all for that but i wanted to see how it performed in that regard.
i won't use the pre-loaded route(s) again. in terms of the basics...displays, ease of access, intuitiveness...it's decent. i've been happy with it on the display basics.
have five display screens currently and i don't think i can get it to six. have elapsed time, time of day, elevation gained, miles ridden and mph currently.
depending on the ride, would like to add heart rate or actual elevation. recharges quickly. no bluetooth issues connecting with garmin connect or strava.

planning on buying the varia radar and pairing with the 520+ in the next three months. unsure how well it will pair/function. occasional riding buddy's 530
and varia seems to work/pair well and he swears by it.

would i buy it again...? i'd probably save up and buy the 530 with the bigger display instead. i got pinched and compromised. the 530 wasn't readily available
when i was ready to buy but the 520+ was and i needed a new unit pronto. have had mixed feelings about garmin and researched the wahoo stuff and still went back to garmin.

Last edited by ooga-booga; 11-28-20 at 12:51 AM.
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Old 11-28-20, 07:30 AM
  #6  
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The 520+ is weak for navigation.

It should be fine for other uses and the navigation is there if you need it once in a while.

But if navigation is a main purpose, the newer units are a better choice.
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Old 11-28-20, 09:34 AM
  #7  
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I have used the 520+ for a while, I bought it when it first was released.

Pros:
- very reliable. I've had no issues: instant GPS connection, connects via Bluetooth to all of my sensors and phone quickly, no crashing, no waiting for stuff to upload etc. It does what it says. This was not the case a few years ago with Garmin, they've come a long way.
- well constructed from durable materials, reasonably waterproof etc
- simple: no touchscreen, few buttons, easy to configure if you want, but I haven't changed anything.
- Good software. Garmin Connect is much better now than it was even two years ago, I've had no issues.
- Navigating on a pre-loaded course works very well.

Cons:
- sloooow and underpowered. In 2020, it feels like something 10+ years old. Needs a faster processor.
- on the go navigation is almost useless. If you need something to navigate unfamiliar roads and like to re-route while underway, get something more powerful. I never do this, so it's not relevant for me.
- battery life has fallen off alarmingly since I first got it. I did a 3:45 ride yesterday and came back with about 20% left on the battery despite fully charging it the night before. This has happened more frequently on rides lately. I had the thing die on a century a few weeks ago. Not sure what's going on.
- GPS speed sensing is easily interrupted by anything overhead. Of course, this also happens with any other device so I don;t really blame Garmin... but it's certainly not any better than my phone for example. This doesn't really affect road rides, but mountain bike rides in the woods can be way off both on distance and avg speed. I put Speed Sensors on all of my bikes because watching the speed randomly rise and fall was bothering me: problem solved.

Last edited by Hiro11; 11-28-20 at 09:40 AM.
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