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(Pocket-lint) - Many will look at the price of the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus and wonder if a bike is included. Indeed, for many normal folk, an asking price in the several hundreds will seem simply absurd.

But then this product isn't for casual riders. It's for hardcore cycling folk and athletes who want to have everything at their fingertips and compatibility with all the cycling accessories you might want to further assess your training. By the time you've added those, though, you might need to remortgage your house.

If you can afford the outlay it'll pay you back with buckets of data. Because the Garmin Edge 1030 is as complete and comprehensive a cycling computer solution as you can get - without any real rivals. That said, if you won't use all its sensor add-on capabilities or intend to grow into more products in the future then we'd advise you look further down the range.

Design & Display

  • Display: 3.5-inch colour touchscreen, 282 x 470 resolution
  • Dimensions: 58 x 114 x 19mm / Weight: 124g
  • IPX7 weather resistant build
  • Micro-USB charging

We're so used to using the latest and greatest smartphones - it comes with the job - that a cycling computer invariably looks a bit "meh" by comparison. The screen isn't as large - although the Edge Plus is the largest in the cycling computer market - or as bright or as resolute.

Pocket-lintGarmin Edge 1030 Plus review photo 15

So what gives? Well, much as having a phone-like device on the front of your bike might sound nice, it'd soon crumple under true pressure; a crash would see it smashed to smithereens. The Garmin? No chance. This thing is hard as nails. We've been using it for months. We've crashed (thanks rogue tree braches of Kent). We've skidded off (thanks surface water). We've got soaked to the skin and caked in mud (thanks, er, man upstairs). And the Edge Plus hasn't even given a little shrug about such bother.

Plus, while that 3.5-inch screen might sound small - it kinda reminds us of the original iPhone's scale - it's actually got enough real-estate to display what you need. In legible resolution. And in colour, too, rather than the simple monochrome setups of some cheaper models. A built-in light sensor knows when it's dark enough to require illumination, to ensure you can always catch what you need at a glance.

Sure, in the future Garmin will no doubt up-size the screen to give an even more comprehensive view, but right now this is as big and as brilliant as you can get. And we're just fine with that.

Pocket-lintGarmin Edge 1030 Plus review photo 7

It's a similar story with the Micro-USB charging port. We had previously used an Edge 1030 (i.e. not the Plus model) and even five years of use into that - to its point of death, actually, because that USB port was the eventual fail point of the product when it would no longer make a connection - we had been saying all along "why not USB-C?". We still think the same.

Plus, why not add wireless charging? Chucking this computer on a pad for recharging rather than having to open any ports - bad for water/mud! - would be a far, far more sensible solution (and, frankly, at this price there's no reason it doesn't have something as fancy as such technology).

Anyway, those points aside, the Edge Plus utilises a combination of touchscreen and button-based control. The buttons are three fold: an on/off to the upper left; a lap button to the lower left; and a pause/start button to the lower right. You may never need to use the touchscreen during a ride.

Pocket-lintGarmin Edge 1030 Plus review photo 6

Oh, and if you're worried about rain messing things up during a ride, then fret not: rain detection will know it's not you thumbing around the screens and it'll ignore the pitter patter of raindrops (a phone, by comparison, would go into meltdown).

Setup & Customisation

  • Garmin Connect app compatible with Google Android and Apple iOS
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ANT+

The Edge 1030 Plus comes in two forms: standalone; or bundled with a heart-rate monitor (HRM), cadence sensor and speed sensor. If you don't have those accessories then we would certainly suggest you go with the bundle. It's not a crazy amount of extra cash and that extra data you can source from such readings will be very insightful.

Pocket-lintGarmin Edge 1030 Plus review photo 2

To get everything up and running there's the Garmin Connect app, available on Apple iOS and Google Android devices. It's free to download and is the home of all that data. Well, it sort of is: we've set it up to automatically push all data to Strava, which it will happily do, among other service options. Garmin doesn't force you to be locked into the one system.

Connect has improved over time though, as have Edge products. With our older Edge device we had to plug it into a PC to get a firmware update (which even then didn't work). With the Edge 1030 Plus, however, it's network connected and will get the latest software over the air as it needs. It'll even upload data - it does for us the moment we're within reach of our home Wi-Fi network - which is handy as it's only possible to connect one mobile device to it (we'd like the option of more, be that a second phone, work phone, partner's phone, etc).

But you shouldn't shrug off Connect. It's got stacks of data within. A ride will show you segments, average speed (incl. moving speed), max speed, time, elevation, calories burned, temperature, and any additional inputs - cadence, heart rate, power, VO2 max, etc - too. You can compare to your age groups, set challenges, join groups, and more.

You can even setup an emergency contact, as the Edge 1030 Plus is clever enough to detect what it believes is an incident and reach out to your emergency contact with the details and location. If, like us, you ride out in the sticks then that's a rather good reassurance. It uses the built-in accelerometer to assess this, so small lumps, bumps and potholes won't be a bother - it's looking for bigger, more unusual - i.e. crash - information. Not as useful for MTB, though, we should imagine!

Mapping, Navigation & Features

  • GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, altimeter, accelerometer, thermometer, ambient light sensor
  • On-device course created using Garmin cycle map (cycling-specific street map)
  • Breadcrumb and turn-by-turn navigation

While Connect does a lot, it's the cycling computer itself that's of greatest interest. We've setup our Edge Plus' main screen to show six segments - speed, average speed, distance, time, calories, elevation - but you can customise this as you please, even set multiple screens of data to swipe through. We do wish that a more intelligent connection to Connect would allow us to do this via a smart device though.

Pocket-lintGarmin Edge 1030 Plus review photo 8

It's possible to set Road, Indoor, and Mountain profiles in the one device. So if you have multiple bikes for multiple agendas then the Edge knows what you're doing and can track accordingly.

It's possible to set courses on the Edge itself, upload given courses, then have it alert you to turn-based instructions. Even if you're not on a specific course then Garmin's cycle map - which is a cycling-specific street map - knows the road data and can pre-warn you of sharp bends and such like. When you're not on turn-based riding and it bleeps at you then it's a good idea to look, as we've found.

The detail of the map, in full colour, is great - and something lesser products might not offer. That's really one of the things the 1030 Plus adds in to justify its price point.

Tracking is accurate, too, thanks to GPS (with GLONASS and GALILEO) ensuring fast acquisition of location and sensible reads. When you are off the beaten track it'll say 'Lost Satellites', but still be performing a pretty accurate read of all the necessary data as best as possible - with that mapping to fall back on. It doesn't usually take long to relocate a signal either.

Pocket-lintGarmin Edge 1030 Plus review photo 10

In short: the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus offers a clear view of whatever data you might want to see, in a detailed and customisable at-a-glance format, whether that's map data, numerical data, or graph-based data in real-time. It's great at giving you what you want to see right in front of your eyes, without ever becoming an unwanted distraction.

Sensor Compatibility & Accessories

  • Syncs with huge range of sensors: from power meters to Varia rear-radar and lights
  • Shimano Di2 Synchro Shift integration compatible, ANT+ smart trainer compatible

But one of the biggest reasons to buy the Edge 1030 Plus is because it can do everything. Happen to have Shimano Di2 Synchro Shift - and who wouldn't want electronic gear-shift? - then it's compatible with the Edge. Want to know your power output? You can buy power meter Vector pedals and all that data will be accurately conveyed.

Pocket-lintGarmin Edge 1030 Plus review photo 9

Which is to say: the Edge 1030 Plus is a professional grade piece of kit. You could hand this to your trainer post ride to get an assessment of how much power you're outputting over what distances/inclines and work out training programmes to advance that for specific races or sportifs. Heck, you could analyse it yourself and work out how to better yourself.

Because the data becomes rather addictive. You want to be faster, stronger, better. And when you've got the knowledge and applications to be able to get there, it all makes a lot of sense. However, buying into a full system where you're tracking power, cadence, speed, heart-rate, and so forth, will cost you a pretty penny. But you could grow into it - it is a hobby after all.

If you happen to not ride as much when the winter months come in then the ANT+ connection is handy for use with a compatible turbo trainer. You'll still get all the various assessments for your personal indoor training. So if you're a Zwift enthusiast then it can cater for all your data, even if Zwift is assigning resistance to the trainer.

Pocket-lintGarmin Edge 1030 Plus review photo 14

Beyond those setups, Garmin also sells Varia radar detection systems, which alert to rear-approaching vehicles. We've never used one, but can see its worth - especially after being 'overtaken' (read: almost murdered) on a country lane blind bend at 30mph by a Toyota Land Cruiser - as wind-in-the-ears downhills make it impossible to know what's approaching by sound alone.

Verdict

So what's so special about the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus? Not only is it the largest cycling computer screen on the market - even though that's not large compared to a smartphone - as the company's flagship cycling computer it naturally comes with all the bells and whistles too.

Pre-installed mapping is a big reason to buy this product over a step-down model in the range. Mapping is expensive, and here you're able to get hold of whatever you wish without additional cost.

But, really, just like the other Garmin cycling computers, the Edge 1030 Plus is all about data. Build up a variety of accessory additions - and this computer will connect with anything ANT+, from heart-rate monitors, to turbo trainers, to power pedals, and beyond - and you'll be able to map out incredibly detailed training data.

All on the largest, longest-lasting and most comprehensive cycling computer around. Yes, it's absurdly expensive, but it's absurdly good at its job too.

Also consider

GarminCompetition photo 1

Garmin Edge 830

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The smaller cousin in the range doesn't come with the mass of pre-installed mapping, and of course its screen is smaller, but it's also a couple of hundred less - which will make it widely appealing to many.

Writing by Mike Lowe. Originally published on 13 November 2020.