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I rode 252 KMs this weekend: how did the Garmin Edge 810 do?

Monday, March 3, 2014 by  
Filed under Daily Blog

March
3
2014

After my original Garmin Edge 810 failed spectacularly (see “Stormy group ride yesterday; Garmin Edge 810: First ride report“), that unit was quickly returned to Amazon for a replacement.

So, how has the replacement Edge 810 fared? Was the original unit simply defective, or is the Edge 810 a flawed product?

I’ll cut to the chase, and then circle back to provide more detail: the replacement Garmin Edge 810 has performed absolutely flawlessly in every respect. I’ve put nearly 300 kilometers on the replacement Edge 810 (including Friday’s ride), and right now I couldn’t be more pleased with it.

To quickly recap the problems I experienced with the original Edge 810 (which I updated to the latest firmware–v2.90–straight out of the box):

  • When I was configuring the Edge 810 for the first time it shut down without warning.
  • While I was riding the Bluetooth connection to my phone (Samsung Galaxy S4) was lost, rendering LiveTrack functionality useless.
  • Shortly after losing Bluetooth, the Edge 810 crashed and shut down without warning.
  • Numerous attempts to re-establish a Bluetooth connection with my smartphone failed.
  • After completed the 90 kilometer (55 mile)/3.5 hour test ride, the battery level on the Edge 810 had dropped from 100% to 38%.

When I received the replacement Edge 810, I followed the exact same initial preparation procedure as I did with the original unit. First, I fully charged the battery; next, I upgraded the firmware to the latest version (v2.90 as of this writing) and power cycled the unit; finally, I performed a full factory reset. Once I completed this sequence of events, I powered off the 810 and inserted my SanDisk Ultra 16GB MicroSD card, onto which I’d installed the OSM street-level maps.

Only after completing the above tasks did I begin the actual configuration process. While I configured the Edge (which, by the way, I find to be an easy and intuitive endeavor–nicely designed UI), I experienced no problems whatsoever. The Edge 810 quickly located and paired to all my ANT+ devices (speed sensor, cadence sensor and heart rate monitor), and it also had no problem pairing to my Galaxy S4 smartphone via Bluetooth. Even though I was inside my home, GPS satellite lock was obtained very quickly (much faster than my old Edge 500).

The problems with the original unit that I mentioned above showed up very quickly; as such, I suspected that if those problems were inherent to the product (and not just the result of a defective unit), they would arise early in my testing of the replacement. I’d already decided that if the replacement Edge 810 exhibited any the same issues, it would be returned for a refund rather than a replacement.

I did a brief ~33 kilometer test ride on Friday, and the Edge 810 performed well, but the real tests were the much longer weekend rides I had in store…

I spent a lot of time in the saddle this past weekend, racking up more than 250 kilometers (156.5 miles) over two rides: Saturday morning’s 170 kilometer (105.5 mile) WMBC XFL Training Ride, followed by Sunday morning’s solo 82 kilometer (51 mile) scenic recovery ride.

The planned group ride on Saturday was supposed to be around 129 kilometers (80 miles), but my friend William–who lives nearby–suggested that we meet up and ride our bikes to the group start location. Doing so would give us about 170 kilometers (105.5 miles), and that sounded good to me.

Before I left the house I uploaded the full 170 kilometer course to the Edge 810, and set it to provide me with turn-by-turn navigation. Additionally, I turned on Garmin’s unique LiveTrack feature, which allows interested parties to follow my progress on a map in real-time (while providing all kinds of cool stats, such as speed, cadence, heart rate and so on).

The LiveTrack feature requires constant use of the Bluetooth Edge 810 -> smartphone connection, as well as the smartphone -> Internet data connection. My concerns were not just stability of this feature, but also battery usage on the Edge and my smartphone.

It was a cool and foggy morning when we rolled out at 7:00 AM. The weather report promised us a stunning day with copious sunshine, but we didn’t see the sun at all until late in the ride.

The turnout for the ride was excellent! After taking a pull, I drifted to the back of the paceline and snapped this photo:

This was from Saturday morning's 170 kilometer WMBC XFL Training Ride #2. The fog took a long time to burn off. It was around 11:00 AM before we saw the sun.

This was from Saturday morning’s 170 kilometer WMBC XFL Training Ride #2. The fog took a long time to burn off. It was around 11:00 AM before we saw the sun.

 

As I quickly mentioned early in this blog, the Edge 810 performed flawlessly. The turn-by-turn navigation was 100% accurate, the LiveTrack feature worked perfectly (I had several friends, family members and Facebook friends follow the ride) and I was able to quickly swipe between the various customized stat screens using the 810’s resistive touch screen interface.

When I completed the 105.5 mile ride, my total moving time was 5:20:41 (19.7 MPH pace); my total ride time (the Edge was running even during breaks) was 6:37:10.

So, how did the Edge 810’s battery and my Galaxy S4 battery do? Extremely well! When I completed Saturday’s ride the Edge 810 had 41% charge remaining, while my Galaxy S4 had 61% left in the tank.

Sunday’s ride was an 81 kilometer (51 mile) recovery ride; my time in the saddle was 2:51:34 (17.8 MPH pace), and my total ride time was just shy of three hours (just one quick stop). On this ride I had all the same features running on the Edge 810 as I did on Saturday’s ride. When I completed the ride the Edge 810 had a 74% charge remaining, and my phone barely broke a sweat. This data falls right in line with the data from Saturday’s ride.

Extrapolating the data from these two rides, I expect the Edge 810 will be able to provide about 11 hours of continuous use (with all features running) on a single charge. My Galaxy S4 phone had even more cushion, and the Garmin will die long before the phone (plus the S4’s battery can be swapped out in mere seconds).

Based on this information I see no reason why I won’t be able to use the Edge 810 with LiveTrack and turn-by-turn directions for the entire 274 kilometer (170 mile) Cross-Florida ride in early April. The replacement Edge 810 seems extremely stable, and the battery should easily provide enough power for the entire ride.

I am extremely happy that the replacement Garmin Edge 810 performed to my expectations. Now that the unit is operating correctly, I am 100% pleased with my purchase: the computer is a joy to use, the display is clear and easy to read, the turn-by-turn directions are perfect for someone as directionally-challenged as I am, and the innovative LiveTrack feature gives my family and friends peace of mind when I’m out riding.

It’s too bad that the Edge 810 shipped in early 2013 with so many software (and, perhaps, quality control) issues. Those early reviews–which were deserved–really tarnished the Edge 810’s reputation. That’s a shame, because now that those issues seem to be corrected I think Garmin has a pretty spectacular product on their hands.

I’ll be providing updates as I log more miles, and will definitely let you all know if I experience any problems. Also, I’m going to write an article with all sorts of Edge 810 tips, tricks and setup/usage information, so keep your eyes peeled.

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