Pushing Miles: Garmin Edge 500 (Blue) Review

Edge 500 (blue) *picture omits AC adapter*

Edge 500 (blue) *picture omits AC adapter*

The Edge 500 is a GPS- enabled cycling computer. It comes with all the necessary accessories to make it useable straight from the box: the GPS unit, bike mount, AC adapter (with several attachment plug-ins – see picture), USB cable, quick start guide ( in six languages), owners manual (on disk), safety and product information, and Garmin connect start-up information (Garmin connect requires internet).

Plug-in Attachments

Plug-in Attachments

I couldn’t find these on the website, but these requirements were on the box.

PC – “Windows 2000 or newer, minimum 32 MB of RAM, minimum 2 MB of free hard drive space, CD-ROM drive, Adobe Acrobat Reader software 6.0 or newer”

Mac – “Mac OS X v10.4 or newer, minimum 32 MB of RAM, minimum 2 MB of free hard drive space, CD-ROM drive, Adobe Acrobat Reader 6.0 or newer”


According to the Garmin website:

The edge 500 is mainly used for the “performance-driven cyclist” (I view this as not the touring cyclist). It uses satellites to record distance, speed, location, and elevation data for easy download to the computer. It has Ant+ capabilities which give you the option to connect it with other Ant+ items (heart rate monitor, power meter, cadence sensor).


How I used it on tour:

I used the Garmin Edge 500 mainly for use when checking grades of roads, temperatures, and distance traveled. It would simultaneously track the information Garmin advertises.


The Good:

The information available online by third parties and given by Garmin with the purchase gives the user an incredible amount of power. I found hundreds of helpful people on YouTube (including Garmin personnel) showing how to use the device. They usually are very helpful with figuring out the navigation and set-up of the device for your needs.

The back-light of this device is awesome and can display images at any time during the day without the user having to strain their eyes. It’s easy to set the time the back-light will stay on after the user presses a button with a range from 15 seconds to 1 minute (or always off/on).

While on the bike – I found this GPS to be a great counterpart to the Adventure Cyclist maps, because it was extremely accurate with its ability to track distance traveled. At the beginning of every map I would hit the lap button so it’d continue tracking the day’s distance while also tracking the distance traveled on a particular map.

While off the bike – I found you couldn’t really do much with the GPS (except for review your day) without a computer with internet. With that being said, if you use Garmin Connect the GPS will transfer your data online with ease and show you a bucketful of statistics. My favorite feature of Garmin Connect for touring was it’s ability to show me a map of the traveled route and any data from a particular point I wanted (temperature, grade, speed, etc.).

I did notice the charger was the same as my Net10 pay as I go phone (and my Phillips mp3 player). This may not be the case for you as cell phone chargers tend to change with models.

Garmin Plug-in (Same as cell phone AC adapter)

Garmin Plug-in (Same as cell phone AC adapter)

The Bad:

Connecting to satalites / Backlight

Connecting to satellites / Backlight on

Using the back-light noticeably degrades the battery life of the unit. I would often have it set to “always off” to ensure maximum battery life.

The Garmin estimation of “30-60 seconds” to find satellites to be a bad estimation, unless the unit was in a perfectly ideal place (no tree cover, few clouds). Sometimes my unit would take up to 4-5 minutes to find a signal along the Cassiar HWY in Canada.

The Ugly:

The battery life of the unit renders it useless if you’re in an area where you will have no plug-ins for multiple days. I could only use it along the Yellowhead HWY in Canada, through the parks along the Ice-fields parkway, and along the Northern Tier. While I was cycling the Alaska HWY and the Cassiar HWY it was rare to find a plug-in.


I would recommend this GPS to people using the Adventure Cyclist maps for exact distance measurements and lap distances; however, I wouldn’t use this GPS for any other touring. It is an excellent training tool, but lacks with its capabilities as a touring tool.


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