Which Garmin features do you use?

Data abounds, but what is most useful for your rides?

Garmin Edge cycling computers have more features than many of us know what to do with. But chopping out features, Garmin engineers have told me, would result in complaints as seemingly everyone has their own unique wishlist. So what metrics do you most appreciate? 

Garmin engineer Ross Stirling explained to me a year ago that part of the impetus behind Garmin Connect IQ was allowing developers and users to riff on data — in type of measurement and presentation.

Instead of trying to tell people what to do, Garmin has basically stepped back and said, 'here are the dozens of stock features we have, and if you want to measure and present other things in other ways, go for it'.

Connect IQ has nearly 3,500 apps currently. Not all are for Edge computers, but the number is growing steadily.

Garmin fitness product manager Andy SIlver said the company sees a huge amount of variation in regional Edge usage. "As a general rule, navigation-capable devices with true turn-by-turn guidance and their associated features (8xx / 10xx series) are much more popular in Europe (where road / trail density is so much greater) than they are in North America, where the 5xx performance-oriented series is more prevalent," Silver wrote in an email.

After being a longterm owner/user of the Edge 500, I've tested most of the Edge computers in recent years, from the diminutive 20 up to the brand new 1030.

For personal use, here are my short lists of vital features, handy features and just plain fun features. 

Vital Garmin Edge features

Time / time of day: Picking up my daughter on time is Thing #1

Distance: There are myriad ways to navel gaze, but mileage is standard for me

Power: I use 3sec power on my main screen 

Heart rate: As with a lot of power data I'm more interested in HR data afterwards than during

Wireless ride file upload: If it's not on Strava it didn't happen

'Good to have' Garmin Edge features

Incoming call / text alerts: Knowing when you can ignore a call and when you should pull over is handy 

Elevation: I'll peek at this on longer rides in the mountains or at the end of the day

Navigation: I seldom use turn-by-turn directions, but boy are they handy when you need them. For longer rides in foreign places I put a route on the Garmin. For short commutes in new places I'll usually just use my iPhone

'Fun to have' Garmin Edge features

Live Strava Segments: If testing wasn't part of my job I probably wouldn't have tried this. But, since I did, I've really enjoyed chasing my friends' times on completely random stretches of road

FirstBeat analytics: This suite of features includes measurements for FTP, V02 Max and recovery time, among others. I was very skeptical, but the more I've learned about the research behind it the more impressed I've become

Graphic presentation: Is pretty more useful than plain? I don't know, but I appreciate good design

Over to you — what do you use?

So how about you? I'm curious about how many features most riders use on a regular basis. I don't mean how many fields you set on all your pages, I mean which fields you actually look at regularly. Is it one to five? Five to 10? More than 20? And which is the most important feature on your Garmin? 

Ben Delaney

US Editor-in-Chief
Ben has been writing about bikes since 2000, covering everything from the Tour de France to Asian manufacturing to kids' bikes. The former editor-in-chief of VeloNews, he began racing in college while getting a journalism degree at the University of New Mexico. Based in the cycling-crazed city of Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and two kids, Ben enjoys riding most every day.
  • Discipline: Road (paved or otherwise), cyclocross and sometimes mountain. His tri-curious phase seems to have passed, thankfully
  • Preferred Terrain: Quiet mountain roads leading to places unknown
  • Current Bikes: Scott Foil Team Issue, Specialized S-Works Tarmac, Priority Eight city bike... and a constant rotation of test bikes
  • Dream Bike: A BMC Teammachine SLR01 with disc brakes and clearance for 30mm tires (doesn't yet exist)
  • Beer of Choice: Saison Dupont
  • Location: Boulder, CO, USA

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