Monday, June 17, 2013

Quick Thoughts on the Garmin Edge 200 and Edge 500

On a typical ride throughout much of my adult biking life, I have found that I have little interest in speed, feet climbed, or how I stack up against any other cyclist on the road. I can be competitive when I want to be, but I find that I enjoy riding more when it isn't a race and I can go at my own pace. That said, the last year has brought about a few changes in what I'd like to do on my bike and I wanted to be able to better track some of the rides more accurately, and through a more reliable means than the simple and inexpensive mileage computer I had attached to my bikes.

There are a lot of GPS bike computers on the market and I was quickly overwhelmed, but I decided to keep it (slightly more) simple and stick with Garmin products; admittedly, partially because Sam had already received in trade a Garmin Edge 500. Garmin has an array of products to choose from anyway, and that was enough to give way to hours of seeking out information. The most primary concern for me was that the computer not be overly complicated. I know there are many who enjoy widgets, apps, and the like of today, and while they certainly have their place, I didn't want to be in the middle of a ride and be confused about how to do anything with the bike computer.
Garmin Edge 200 (left) and Garmin Edge 500 (right)
For some time, I considered shelling out the dough for the Edge 500, but from what I could find, it seemed as though the major differences between that model and the lower cost 200 model were insignificant for my purposes, so I opted for the Edge 200. There are actually differences in the two, however.
There are other differences as well, but these were the ones that stood out to me (if you're curious about more side-by-side comparisons of features, see here). The feature that has challenged me most is actually the lack of the barometric altimeter on the 200. When riding with others who use the 500 on the exact same ride, there has been up to 100 feet of climbing difference on even fairly short distances. I realize that 100 feet isn't much, but if one were to take on a serious climb or a longer distance, it could certainly make an even larger difference. I am not a climber by nature, but when in training for a longer ride, I do attempt to get more climbing in to prepare myself, and it would be nice to have a slightly more accurate reading.
Garmin 200 main menu
As you can see in the photo above, the devices have the same measurements. They also function very similarly. I did note that the 200 seems to get to the main menu screen much quicker than the 500, making it easier to get going quicker (if like me, you forget to turn the device on until the last moment). The 200 is pretty simple and easy to figure out. The rider chooses one of the four options and then selects from a menu on the next screen. Starting a ride is easy by choosing "Ride" on the main menu, and then "Start Ride." When you stop for any reason, the device pauses (and has a timer that lets you know how long you've been stopped as well). This feature can be turned off in the settings, but I like being able to see the difference at the end of the ride in actual riding time and the total time of the ride.

The 200 has the ability to save courses for future rides, but admittedly I am not one to use this option as I prefer to freestyle and go where the wind takes me most of the time. However, it is a nice feature to have if an individual wanted to follow a specific course on a ride. The "History" section is obviously a place for the history of your rides until they are downloaded/uploaded. Garmin has its own website to keep track of your rides (I have not used this service), or you can upload to Strava and keep track of your progress through that service.
Garmin 500 main menu
Pictured just above is the start up menu on the 500. As you can see, it looks different than the 200 model. What I do like about this model is that the user can see what time it is as well as all the pertinent information one may want while riding right from the start. On the 200 model, some of this information isn't available at all, but the time, speed and distance are shown after actually starting a ride. The buttons on the side of the 500 are also marked (unlike the 200) to let the user know exactly what each button does.

This is obviously not an all-inclusive review of these two units, but I think having even basic information about the two is helpful. There are a lot of reviews to be found about each of these - as well as many other GPS devices online and through helpful bike friends. If you have really awesome bikey friends, they may even let you try theirs out for a bit before making an ultimate decision, as one of the biggest differences in the two models is the price point. The 500 is frequently found at almost twice the price of the 200, which in the end is what caused me to gravitate toward the "lesser" model. Since I don't use a heart rate monitor, nor a cadence sensor, it seemed excessive to spend more merely for the ability to have a more accurate feet climbed reading. Others may have completely different thoughts on that matter, which I can respect, but the 200 is doing what I wanted it to do - to keep me on track with how far I've traveled and my average pace. If I were to do it again, I think if I were able to find the 500 at a closer-to-the-200 price point, I would perhaps consider it, but ultimately I am happy with the 200 as a functional, easy to read-and-use device.


  1. I think my primary reasoning for getting the 500 over the 200 still stands, the Barometric Altimeter. Beyond that, I feel like the do the same job for me. Track time, distance, average, speed. Most who had reviewed the 200 had said that it was slightly less accurate because of the Altimeter (or lack of), and that concerned me with mountain riding. It seems like most had no issues with standard accuracy (besides altitude), on the 200.

  2. For anybody out there who doesn't want to spend ANY money on such a gadget, or don't need something quite so hifalutin, lately I've been turning on the MapMyRide app and throwing my iPhone into my saddle bag. It creates a nice map of your ride, which is fun if you head out without knowing quite where you'll be going. Perhaps a good gateway drug to fancier bike computers for the novice rider!

    Also, I'm tickled to see that my recent Rubenesque Cyclist post magically appeared in your blog feed! xoxox

    1. There are definitely free and inexpensive ways to track mileage. Personally, I don't like using my phone for long rides because it drains the battery completely. Sometimes, I can't even complete the ride before the battery goes, sadly. Albeit, my phone isn't the newest and is probably on its way out, but I also fear getting trapped somewhere and having no way to contact anyone. I definitely think Map My Ride is a great app though, as well as some others out there. Certainly nothing wrong with going with a free or inexpensive option.

      I've actually had a link to your blog up for quite awhile. I wonder why it wasn't showing up before? Sometimes the wonders of the web seem to take their sweet time. Perhaps it's because the links to blogs load based on the newest post for each one? So, perhaps it was just lower down on prior visits? Hmm... not sure. But, yes, I am happy to link to you and enjoy reading your thoughts. :O)


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