Top positive review
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A bike GPS computer that won't push you over the Edge
on 19 October 2015
I made a return to cycling, three years ago. Initially I was using a mountain bike with a phone app to record my rides. This was great but as the phone was in my pocket, I had no visual indication of how far I had travelled, how long it had taken me or how fast I was going. When I upgraded to a road bike in May 2014, I decided the time was right to splash out and upgrade to a proper GPS cycling computer. I wasn’t expecting there to be much of a choice but I was surprised at the number of different cycling computers on offer, each with slightly different functionality and pricing associated with it. After much research and deliberation, I settled for the Garmin Edge 200 cycling computer.
All about the Edge 200
The Garmin Edge 200 is Garmin’s entry level GPS cycling computer. If you are a casual cyclist or someone who doesn’t need accurate statistics about how much power you are generating or what your cadence is (the amount of times you spin the pedals in a minute) then the Edge 200 will be ideal for you. The Edge 200 is a monochrome cycling computer and does not contain any maps but don’t let that put you off.
Unboxing the Edge 200
The Edge 200 comes in a nice compact box with a plastic frontage, allowing you to see the cycling computer before you even open the box. In the back half of the box, behind a cardboard divide, you will find a mains lead, USB to micro USB connector and two fixing kits. There is also a 15 page owner’s manual which is actually pretty good and easy to follow. For most functions you won’t need to refer to the manual but it is always useful to have close by as an aide memoir for the lesser used functions.
The Garmin Edge 200 comes with about 50% battery life so the first thing you need to do is to charge it up. Full charge can be achieved in a couple of hours but it is very rare that it will ever drop too low unless you are going on a full day’s ride. Whilst the unit is charging, it is a good time to get familiar with the manual and install the Garmin software.
Garmin Connect is a web portal where you can record all of your rides. Setting up a Connect account is quick and easy. You can either elect to create a username/password style account or log in with your Facebook credentials for even quicker access. Once inside Garmin Connect, you can analyse your rides and even follow other Garmin users, giving the portal a social aspect. Personally, there are better ways to evaluate your rides which I will come onto later but Garmin Connect should be the only place you need to upload your rides to as most of the other reputable analysis sites have plugins that will read the Garmin Connect data.
So you’ve been out for a ride and you’ve got the data on your Edge 200, but how do you upload it onto Garmin Connect? Simple, you just connect your Edge 200 to the PC using the USB to micro USB cable and as long as you have Garmin Express installed, any new rides will get automatically uploaded into Garmin Connect. Providing you have set up synchronisation to Garmin Connect from your third party analysis sites, these sites will automatically get the data from Garmin Connect which is a great feature which saves a large amount of time uploading the same data to multiple sites. When I was using a smartphone app to record my rides, I had to upload the data to each site individually.
A tour of the Edge 200
The edge 200 is a very small device and easily fits in the palm of my hand. As previously mentioned, it has a monochrome screen and is easily visible in all forms of light. I’ve used it in all conditions from heavily overcast to perfect sunlight and have never had any problem when viewing the screen.
The top left hand button is the power button which turns on the device. The Edge 200 takes approximately five seconds to boot up. Once booted, it is now ready to record your ride (hooking on to satellites may take a little bit longer though)
Once booted, all four buttons have different functionality depending on the screen you are on.
You can turn any ride you have already done into a course. A course is basically a ride that you intend to ride again. By turning it into a course you can compare your current time with the time of a previous ride. The Edge 200 will tell you if you are going faster or slower than at the corresponding point of the previous ride and by how much. This can be displayed either numerically or graphically with two bikes on the screen. I find this a great motivational tool for beating my personal bests on my most popular routes.
Another great feature of courses is that it will map out your route, giving you something to follow if you are riding in unfamiliar surroundings. Now, earlier I said the Edge 200 doesn’t have the capability to display maps, which is true. However, it can display breadcrumb lines based on GPS co-ordinates. This breadcrumb will show you the route you need to take and also when you need to change direction. If you veer off this route however, the Edge 200 will beep and tell you to get back on course but it will not be able to re-route you as it doesn’t have the knowledge to know where you are. I use a site called ridewithgps.com to plan all my routes and then upload them onto the Garmin to use.
As you would expect, the history function gives you access to information of previous rides. You can analyse your previous ride, your rides or order of fastest average speed, your rides in terms of distance or all rides that are on the device. For each of these rides you can view the stats and breadcrumb map. You can also opt to turn it into a new course for challenging yourself against in the future.
The Edge 200 also has two odometers, much like a standard car so you can see how far you have travelled overall using one odometer and maybe set the second one to show how far you have travelled in the current year for example.
Once entered, settings on the Edge 200 are not really going to change but it is worth taking the time to get them right to ensure accuracy in the data records.
Alerts are only useful if you want to be really strict about how much exercise you do. You can opt to set alerts when you hit a current time, distance or calorie count. Personally, I always have these turned off as I roughly know how far I am going due to forward planning and I don’t really mind how long it takes to get there, as long as I do eventually get there! I’ve never been a fan of calculated calories counters so this setting is a definite no-no for me.
This feature is used when you want to compare times for a specific party of your ride. For example, if you want to be able to measure your performance over a long climb against other attempts, you would turn on the auto lap function and tell it where the lap starts and ends then each time you navigated that part of the course, your lap information would be stored. Personally, I turn this option off as there are better ways of doing this with third party sites.
Auto pause will automatically stop your ride clock when you come to a standstill. This is particularly useful if you are forced to stop at traffic lights for example as there is nothing worse than seeing your average speed drop through something out of your control. I did try using this feature once but I prefer to manually pause the device as I was worried about it not starting again when I got moving, thus failing to record a portion of my ride. I’m sure this wouldn’t be the case but I wanted to be in full control.
The user profile allows you to record information about your gender, birth year, height and weight. This information is used to calculate the amount of calories you burn during a ride. You can either enter all of this data directly into the Garmin or you can enter it via Garmin Connect and download it onto the Edge 200.
The final option on the Edge 200 is the most important one and that is Ride. This is where you tell the device to start recording your exercise. Assuming you have hooked onto the satellites, pressing the top right hand button will start the timer and you are free to pull off. During the ride, the Garmin will display the total distance you have travelled, the amount of time you have taken for the current ride and your average speed. All of this data is updated in real time, giving you a full picture of how your ride is going. At any time, if you want to pause the Garmin, just click on the top right button again. Once paused, you have the option to resume the ride, save the ride or delete it.
The Garmin Edge 200 has enough capacity to store 120 hours of rides which is more than enough to keep the casual cyclist going for many months. Rides will need to be deleted manually when you are getting close to capacity. This can either be done through the device, a ride at a time or can be done in bulk by connecting the Edge 200 to your PC and deleting them as you would do with any other file or files.
Installing the Edge 200 on your bike
The Garmin Edge 200 was so easy to install on my bike. It literally took me five minutes, and that was with me taking my time and referring to the instructions. The Edge 200 comes with two fixing kits, meaning that you can install them on two separate bikes, making the Edge 200 easily transferable. The main part of the fixing kit is a circular mount. Place this in a suitable location (handlebars or handlebar frame are good places) and use the securing bands which are wrapped diagonally around the mount. All you need to do now is to place the Edge 200 at a 90 degree angle on the mount and twist it. This will lock the Edge 200 into place on the mount and it will not release until you twist it 90 degrees counter-clockwise.
It is worth noting that the Edge 200 comes with a waterproof rubber USB cover which will enable you to use the Edge 200 in wet weather without worrying about all the internal electrical components getting wet or damaged.
Third party sites to monitor your ride
As previously mentioned, Garmin Connect will quite adequately store information of all your rides but there are much better places to use that will allow you to get so much more out of your Garmin Edge 200. Perhaps the best site is Strava.com which will allow you to compare individual sections of your ride with every other person (who uses Strava) who has ever ridden on the same section as you. There is nothing better than seeing yourself climb up the leaderboard when you beat your personal best. Another favourite is Endomondo.com . This site enables you to analyse your ride in a slightly different way to Strava. I won’t elaborate on these sites but they are worth checking out if you are serious about cycling
I love my Garmin Edge 200.If you are looking for an entry level cycling computer that has tonnes of functionality and a minimum setup, the Garmin Edge 200 is the one to go for. In my opinion it is far better value for money that the rest of the Edge family can get quite expensive for the top of the range model.
I can’t speak highly enough about the Garmin Edge 200. It has probably been my best purchase of the last 12 months.