Review of "Garmin Edge 520"

published 08/01/2017 | craggybuk
Member since : 15/02/2007
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Tempted to write a new review. Been away for so long, I'm a little bit rusty.
Pro Stats on virtually every aspect of your ride
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"Get the edge on the competition with the Garmin Edge 520"

Garmin Edge 520

Garmin Edge 520

When I got back into cycling 3 or 4 years ago, I wanted a no thrills GPS cycling computer that would just plot my routes accurately. The Garmin Edge 200 (reviewed here was perfect for this and has served me well ever since.

I am however a bit of a stat freak and I was now ready for a little bit more data about my rides, not just so I could ogle stats, but also, I wanted some pointers about how I could improve my rides. Ever since last summer, I had my eye on the Garmin Edge 520 GPS computer but I was finding it hard to justify the £240 price tag that it would cost with the additional sensor bundle or £180 for the device alone. As it was coming to the end of my cycling season, I held off in the hope that over the winter months, the device would drop in price significantly, allowing me to make a big saving. Alas, this did not happen so I ended up buying the Edge 520 with the heart rate monitor, cadence sensor and speed sensor from Amazon for £235. Was this money well spend or just an expensive extension to my trust Edge 200? Read on and all will be revealed

Inside the box

Considering there is a lot of kit inside the box, the packaging is really compact and not much bigger than the box of my Edge 200. The first thing you see once the box is open is the Edge 520 itself, sitting there in its own slot in all its glory. To view all of the other goodies, you will need to remove the upper casing of the box to find everything else wrapped neatly in its own packaging so you can be crystal clear as to what components belong to what device rather than having to guess or even worse, read the manual!

The Edge 520 comes with a USB charger which allows the device to be charged via a computer. For some reason, there is no mains plug with the 520 so if you want to charge the device via the mains rather than your computer, you will to make an additional purchase. As the 200 did come with a mains charger, I won’t need to do this.

With the 520, Garmin have included a premium mount which can be used to house the device in front of the handlebars. This allows for the optimum viewing position of the screen, meaning you hardly need to take your eyes off the road for a split second to view your performance or study your next turn. Garmin also include the standard frame mounting kit if you would rather have the device on the stem of your bike although, personally, I don’t know why anyone would want to do this. The premium mount alone retails for approximately £20 if you were to buy it separately so this helped me to justify the cost of buying the device.

The Garmin heart rate monitor included in the bundle, normally retails for £38 if sold separately, so again, it is a no brainer, going for the bundle if you don’t already own the extras. The monitor is worn around the chest area and communicates with the Edge 520 via the ANT+ wireless interface, allowing you to get real time heart rate information during your ride.

The cadence sensor fits on the inside of the pedal and monitors how many times you are pedalling per minute. Again, this is an ANT+ device so there are no cables. Just pair it with your Edge and then forget about it. As with the other sensors, you can get real time cadence information during your ride.

The final item in the box is the speed sensor. This needs to be fitted to the hub of the back wheel and it confirms the speed that the GPS signals are returning. I must admit, I’m not entirely sure how it works but, with a bit of research, it does appear it is accurate for fine tuning your actual distance data.

All of these devices come ready paired to the Edge 520 so there is no setup with the exception of installing them onto your bike. The Edge 520 will need charging before you use it for the first time. Mine had 33% charge when I plugged it in and it took about an hour and a half to get up to full power. This gives you plenty of time to get the other equipment ready.

Setting up the Garmin Edge 520

When you have attached all the sensors to the bike and are wearing the heart rate monitor, its time to switch on the Edge 520 for the first time. You will be asked a series of questions such as what scale do you want the units of measurement (imperial or metric), language, your cycling proficiency level and some personal details such as age, height and weight etc. You can then chose to add extra sensors if you own any (the ones bundled with the device will already be paired) plus you can pair the Edge 520 with your phone via Bluetooth. If you do pair your phone, you will still need to download the Garmin Connect app in order to communicate with the Edge 520.

This is all the setup you will be required to do. My Edge 520 was initially showing the wrong time as it defaults to US Eastern time. Once it had locked onto the satellites though, it automatically changed to UK time to reflect my position.

Using the Edge 520

Garmin have taken the decision to go back to physical buttons with the Edge 520. Personally I am a fan of physical buttons as the touchscreen on the 510 looked very clunky from what I’ve seen of it. The 520 has 3 buttons on the left (power, up and down). On the right hand side there is enter and back up. These buttons allow you to navigate through the menus before you ride and through the information screens and maps during your ride.

All information screens can be configured to show up to 10 different pieces of information. On my first ride, I used a screen with 10 widgets on it but it was fairly unreadable and difficult to find the information I was looking for before I needed to look at the road again. A more sensible approach, and one that I have since taken is to have a second screen and have 5 widgets on each.

As well as displaying information, the Edge 520 can also display map data. It is worth pointing out that the Edge 520 is not a routing device so will not redirect you, should you go off your chosen route. The map is purely an overlay. The map which comes with the Edge 520 is extremely limited and will only show major routes, not very helpful if you prefer a quiet ride out in the country. Thankfully you can install third party maps on the Edge 520 and these work much better.

When paired with a smartphone, the Edge 520 really does come into its own. As well as giving you on screen notifications when you get a phone call or text message, the Edge 520 has several in-built security features. The main feature is called Incident Detection. If you have this turned on, your device will automatically send a text message to any emergency contacts you have specified, should you fall off your bike. This is triggered by an in-build accelerometer within the device once the bike height changes in an erratic way. You do have 30 seconds to override this text message if it is triggered by mistake, for example, if your bike is leaning up a wall whilst you are having a break and then falls over.

Another great feature is called LiveConnect which means you can broadcast your ride in real time to email contacts or on Facebook and Twitter. Viewers will be able to see on a map, exactly where you are as well as your speed and time information. Whilst this is a great feature, it needs to be used wisely as you will be informing people that you are away from home, plus you will also be pinpointing where you live (and where your bike is kept) if you start and finish your ride from your home location.

For competitive riders, the Edge 520 features Strava live segments. Strava is the only side you need to be on if you are a keen cyclist due to the segment leaderboards which puts you in a table of your fastest effort on a particular segment. Historically, riders were not able to see how they had done on a segment until they uploaded their ride once they had got home. With Live Segments, you can now see how you are doing on starred segments as you are actually riding them, with instant feedback as soon as you have completed the segment. This is a great form of motivation and, although you need to be a Strava Premium member to enjoy it, the Edge 520 comes with 2 months free Strava Premium membership so you can try it out before deciding whether to continue with premium membership.


I loved my Garmin Edge 200. For a budget GPS computer (around £70) it does a great job. The Edge 520 is on another level however and gives you all the stats you are ever likely to need to analyse your performance and, in my case, know what I need to do to improve. The screen is extremely clear and is easily visible in any type of lighting. It even has a night mode which it will switch to automatically once daylight fades.

The battery life isn’t as good as the Edge 200 but this is to be expected due to the fact the 520 has a colour screen and is managing connections to different sensors and smartphones. Saying that, you will still get 8 hours out of the device on maximum brightness. This can be lowered to prolong battery life and the screen can even be turned off whilst still recording if you don’t need to read the display.
In my opinion, this device is worth every penny I did look at the 820 which is about £100 more expensive for full turn by turn maps and touch screen but I couldn’t justify the extra expense when the 520 does everything I need it to. The device isn’t cheap and is probably only a consideration for people who like to get out on their bike each week. If this is you, I would definitely recommend looking at the Garmin Edge 520, it’s a lovely piece of technology.

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Comments on this review

  • calara published 18/03/2017
  • LiveMusicLoverLyn published 14/01/2017
    Thanks for a great review
  • BlurredLines published 13/01/2017
    An excellent review that is very well written
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Product Information : Garmin Edge 520

Manufacturer's product description

Product Details

Manufacturer: Garmin

EAN: 4139052259763

Type: Bike Accessories


Listed on Ciao since: 26/05/2016