PROS / The Edge 500 offers good functionality for its price.
CONS / A monochrome screen, press-button navigation and no smartphone integration make the Edge 500 feel a bit dated.
VERDICT / The Edge 500 is no longer the premier bike GPS on the market, but it's still a reliable unit with excellent functionality and value.
Garmin introduced the Edge 500 in late 2009, and soon it became a fixture of the bike GPS market. It remains a good choice today because of its low price point and essential features.
The Garmin Edge 500 is one of the smallest cycle computers on the market, weighing only 2 ounces with a 4.5-centimeter diagonal screen, so you won't have to worry about weight or size slowing you down. It comes in a variety of colors with an impressive 18-hour battery life.
The Edge 500 has all the basic features you need in a GPS-enabled bike computer. It displays your speed, distance traveled, trip time, elevation and more in real time. You can also pair the Edge 500 with ANT+ sensors that will detect your heart rate, pedal cadence and pedal power. This means you can monitor your training levels in real time and ensure you're working at optimum efficiency.
The Edge 500 uploads data via a USB cable to the Garmin Connect website. You can use this website to see a map of where you've gone, along with all the aforementioned ride data the Edge 500 gathered. You can share your ride data with your friends or the public and see others' ride data as well.
Garmin Connect has advantages pre-ride as well as post-ride. Before taking your bike out, you can draw a route on satellite map and load it onto your Edge 500. This will enable a type of navigation called course navigation or breadcrumb navigation. As you ride, you'll see a line on the Edge 500, often called a breadcrumb trail that represents your course. You'll also see an arrow representing you, and additional data such as upcoming terrain, directional heading and time to destination.
Breadcrumb navigation is obviously not the same as maps-based, turn-by-turn navigation, but it can prevent you from getting lost on those long training rides in unfamiliar territory.
The Edge 500 has a monochrome LCD screen that can be backlit for night or early morning riding.
You can customize the data the display shows, and separate different data categories into screens. You can set the Edge 500 to auto-scroll through the data it collects so you won't have to press a button in-ride to find something that's not on the primary screen.
Perhaps the greatest testament to this cycling computer is that, in the ever-evolving world of technology, Garmin still manufacturers the Edge 500 fours years after its introduction. You won't get any fancy extras, such as a color screen, touch interface, maps navigation or smartphone integration, but if you just need the essentials, the Edge 500 is an excellent value at the manufacturer's price point.