The Garmin Edge 520 Plus is an evolution from the 520 that adds full-on mapping with turn-by-turn navigation as well as rider-to-rider messaging without a large price jump. This competes with the high-end bike computer competition, without the premium price.
Garmin Edge 520 Plus: What you need to know
The Garmin Edge 520 Plus sits snugly in the mid-range of the Garmin line-up of cycle computers which, on a wider scale, puts this at the high-end of what's out there in terms of features. You get more budget end touch button controls, which some prefer to touchscreen, but combined with more premium mapping and navigation.
This hub will pull together all the data from your ride including ANT+ and Bluetooth connected devices like cadence sensors and power meters, for example. But you also get heart rate pairing, Strava integration and the ability to control Garmin bike lights. The big feature, which stands out above the 520 is the cycle maps including navigation.
You don't get higher end features like touchscreen or Wi-Fi - but for some that find touchscreen glitchy, especially with gloves, that's not all bad. The addition of Garmin IQ apps also make this customizable and widely adaptive to your needs.
Garmin Edge 520 Plus: Design and build
- Seven touch buttons
- ANT+ and Bluetooth
- 2.3-inch color display
The 2.3-inch color display of the Edge 520 Plus is plenty large enough to get five lines of metrics on the screen. But it's also a decent size for showing turn-by-turn navigation - although once you overlay with notifications it can get a little cluttered. The display is plenty bright even in daylight and there is minimal glare to worry about.
This is an in-the-hand sized unit which won't add a lot of weight to your cycle setup at 2.2oz. It's pretty deep at 1.9-inches but the battery has to go somewhere. Once clipped onto the cross bars it sits unobtrusively and the IPX7 rating means you don't need to worry about rain or road muck covering this hardy unit.
This has ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity as well as the usual onboard navigation smarts including GPS, GLONASS and GALILEO, plus a barometric altimeter and an accelerometer. It's also built to work with both iPhone and Android smartphones for notifications and more.
Garmin Edge 520 Plus: Features and connectivity
- Garmin cycle Map navigation
- GroupTrack and rider-to-rider messaging
- VO2 max and FTP tracking
The Garmin Edge 520 Plus is a fully fledged navigation device as well as cycle computer. That is thanks to it featuring Garmin Cycle Map software which allows you to follow routes. Crucially, this will also automatically reroute if you change that path on your way.
New to this model is GroupTrack which allows you to see the locations of other riders with capable Garmin devices. This is ideal for groups of varying abilities that want to stay in contact without grouping tightly. Also this could work well for races with your buddies.
Complimenting this connectivity is rider-to-rider messaging which, again, works between compatible Garmin devices. This requires everyone in the group to get set up if you want to use this but does have lots of pre-written messages to make it easy to use.
Garmin uses its smart algorithms, combined with heart rate data from a connected monitor, to offers you VO2 max. You can also get FTP tracking, aka Functional Threshold Power which is expressing in watts per kilo when used with a power meter. It's a helpful number to use to get an idea of the actual power you're putting out which can be really useful for zone training.
Thanks to the Connect IQ app store there are lots of customizations you can make to your device. Use an app that pulls weather data from your connected phone and you'll know exactly when to head home before getting wet, for example.
Strava live segments are also pulled into the device if you want, so you can compete against the times others have set on certain stretches of road, and more.
Garmin Edge 520 Plus: Performance
- 15 hour battery
- No Wi-Fi uploads
- Route uploading required
The Garmin 520 Plus is a great step forward without pushing up the price too much when compared to its predecessor. You get all the basics clearly displayed and easily navigated with touch buttons controls. You also get a decent enough battery life for even the longest of rides.
What you don't get, when compared to the Edge 830, is Wi-Fi to quickly upload data after your ride. That said, it'll do this via Bluetooth and Garmin Connect on your phone anyway so it's not a huge deal if you use your phone with it. This is worth having on as you can use apps with live data, get phone notifications and more.
You also don't get the power saving mode of the 830 which can near double battery life, when you have the chance to use it. This also lacks adaptive screen brightness which could help in that battery life situation - although this can be changed manually.
The re-routing and navigation work really well, albeit along routes that perhaps locals wouldn't use. You can create your own route elsewhere and then upload to the 520 Plus via the Garmin Connect app. This app also has a 'Create Route' option but it's limited to picking a distance and direction and the app will pick a route for you which can't be modified.
Should I buy the Garmin Edge 520 Plus?
If you want full turn-by-turn navigation mapping on your cycle computer, along with broad connectivity options for power meters and the like, then the Garmin Edge 520 Plus is a great device at a decent price.
However, if you want longer battery life than 15 hours, need Wi-Fi uploading and require a larger screen without touchscreen controls then you might want to stretch the budget for the Edge 830 or 1030.
Garmin Edge 520 Plus: Verdict
The Garmin Edge 520 Plus offers lots of high-end features without pushing the price up too high. You get ANT+ and Bluetooth to link up your tracking hardware while also exploring using the navigation mapping on the color screen. An all day battery and smartphone connectivity let you stay in touch while pushing the limits of where you might normally ride. For those in groups with Garmin kit, the GroupTrack and rider-to-rider messaging are also nice features to have on this model.
Some may wish to spend more for better battery, larger display and Wi-Fi but others may wish to save money and ditch the navigation. But for a bike computer that offers lots of features beyond the basics this is one of the best out there.