Iterations of GPS cycling computers are coming thick and fast from the GPS giant Garmin, and the new Edge 820 and Edge Explore 820 with the new ‘GroupTrack’ feature are the latest offerings.
GroupTrack is an extension of Garmin’s LiveTrack feature that lets a rider’s friends and family follow them (via their GPS coordinates) on a computer. With GroupTrack, you can have this same visibility, but from your handlebars. The idea is that you can meet up or just keep digital track of your riding companions. This is very similar to what Wahoo introduced with its Elemnt GPS computer.
For GroupTrack to work, your friends must have a LiveTrack-compatible Edge computer like an Edge 520 or Edge 1000 that is paired to their smartphone. Then the Edge 820 user can see them on their screen. Garmin will likely add GroupTrack to the Edge 1000 at the end of 2016 or early in 2017.
Both computers feature the Garmin Cycle Map, which has a base map that includes cycling-friendly points of interest and bike-friendly trails.
Both offer bike-specific turn-by-turn navigation and a round-trip Course Creator that work on GPS and GLONASS, which means the computers find a signal quickly and seldom lose it.
The Edge 820 is a little more performance-oriented than the Edge Explore 820, with metrics like FTP (functional threshold power) and watts/kg tracking, plus educated guesstimate measurements on VO2 Max and a recovery advisor. It also comes with Strava Live Segments, where you can get real-time tracking of your favorite Strava segments while riding them. You can set the default to show the time of your friend just above of you on the leaderboard, your PR or the KOM/QOM.
The Edge 820 also has an ambient-light sensor that adjusts the screen’s brightness to current conditions.
Both computers offer on-screen notifications from a paired smartphone, so you can read a text or see who is calling without taking your phone out of your jersey pocket.
The Bluetooth connection to a phone also allows for automatic, wireless uploading to Garmin Connect, which can in turned be linked to autopost on Strava and TrainingPeaks.
Both computers have all the standard cycling-computer metrics, with variations on speed, distance, time and elevation all easily user-configurable, and data screens for heart rate and power when used with ANT+ monitors.
Both computers have what Garmin is calling a build-in incident detector that uses an accelerometer to identify a crash, and can be set to automatically send a rider’s location message to emergency contacts.
Both computers have 2.3in touchscreens that can be used in the rain or with gloves, Garmin claims.
Garmin says the battery can last up to 15 hours when used on a new battery save mode that keeps recording but only shows a display when the rider prompts it.
The Edge 820 is available alone for $399 or for $499 in a package that includes a speed sensor, cadence sensor and heart rate monitor. The Edge Explore 820 is available $349. UK and AU pricing was not immediately available.