What's Included1 of 12
The device-only package comes with an out-front mount, standard mount, tethers and USB cable. The bundle comes with the device-only goodies, and a premium heart rate monitor, cadence sensor and speed sensor. To take advantage of all the available features, we recommend the bundle (unless you have ANT+ compatible sensors already).
First Look2 of 12
The Edge 520 has a total of seven buttons around the edge of the device. The power button is on the upper left, and the start/stop and lap buttons are split between the bottom edges. This is different than Garmin's other cycling computer offerings, but is intuitive and works well. The lower buttons were harder to access when mounted on short stems and backed up towards the steerer tube, though.
The sleek, clear display works flawlessly in direct sunlight, and the device is housed in a compact, lightweight package. We think it's one of Garmin's most elegant designs.
The Backside/Mount3 of 12
The back of the Edge 520 has the classic Garmin quarter turn mount, compatible with many aftermarket brackets. The USB port is covered with a rubber flap.
Sensor Compatibility4 of 12
The Edge 520 is compatible with a slew of ANT+ sensors, including third-party power meters, speed and cadence sensors, heart rate monitors, the Varia bike radar and lights and the VIRB action camera. It also integrates with Shimano Di2.
With such a comprehensive list, what's missing? Although most sensors run ANT+ technology, the market is trending towards Bluetooth Smart devices. The Edge 520's lack of Bluetooth Smart compatibility will be a limiting factor for people looking for sensors in the future.
Data Transfer5 of 12
Finish a ride? Upload the data the classic way via the USB cable straight to your computer. If you're on the go, the Edge 520 can pair with your smart phone and upload ride data via Bluetooth and the Garmin Connect App.
Unfortunately, we found the Garmin Connect App to be unreliable at times. We had to exit the application and reconnect the device to upload the data on several occasions.
One plus: You can pair your Strava account to your Garmin Connect account for immediate wireless upload. Despite its sporadic temperament, the wireless data upload is a great feature and will only improve with future updates.
Mapping6 of 12
The Edge 520 is preloaded with Garmin's basemap, but more importantly it's also compatible with OpenStreet maps. The lack of a removable micro-SD card is a negative when downloading this third-party alternative and the Edge 520 has limited storage, but it has enough space to load a decent map radius for long rides. If you travel to a new area for a ride, you'll have to delete and upload a new map from OpenStreet.
You can also wirelessly upload a saved route from your Garmin Connect account on your phone to the Edge 520. The device doesn't include turn-by-turn directions and you can't plan a route on the go, but you can follow the uploaded route on the screen. The directional changes are clear, and we were able to follow unfamiliar routes without problem.
Smartphone Pairing7 of 12
In addition to wireless uploads and route downloads, the Edge 520 also supports live tracking. The device pairs with the Garmin Connect app and provides live location updates to the website.
Afraid to miss a call or text when your phone is in your jersey pocket? The Edge 520 alerts you on screen of any missed notifications. We had a few connectivity issues between the device and the app, but it worked flawlessly the majority of the time.
Strava Segment Integration8 of 12
One of the most innovative features of the device, the Edge 520 hosts onboard Strava live segments based on segments you've set a goal on or starred. Once you've chosen the segments you want to attempt, you can upload them to the device through Garmin Connect.
As you near the segment on a ride, the device will countdown to the start before beeping and flashing "Go!" on the screen. When you enter the segment, the screen will show whether you're setting a PR and how much further you still have to ride. It will then chime when you finish, and alert you if you set a new PR or if you're the new KOM. While cool, this feature is only available for Strava Premium members.
Customizable Screens9 of 12
The five data screens can be customized with up to 10 different fields per screen. The auto scroll feature will cycle through the preset data screens, map, virtual partner and elevation screens while out on a ride. Even with all 10 fields present, the data was easy to read, even at speed.
Accuracy and Battery Life10 of 12
The Edge 520 is GPS-enabled and supports GLONASS, so accuracy isn't an issue. When set to the standard one-second recording interval, the battery should last around 15 hours. We found this to be true as advertised, but when paired with the smart phone, a heart rate monitor and speed and cadence sensors, the battery life was reduced.
Final Thoughts11 of 12
The Garmin Edge 520's compact size, proportionally large screen and wide range of features will be a big draw for cyclists looking for more than just a standard GPS computer. In a culture where Strava and social fitness apps provide immediate validation, the Edge 520 will attract the competitive cyclist looking for the ultimate connectivity. Features like direct trainer control, Di2 integration and maps set this apart from some of Garmin's other offerings.
While we wish the Edge 520 was compatible with Bluetooth Smart Sensors, the wide range of ANT+ compatible products is a huge draw. The device can connect to several different ANT+ products (and your smart phone) at once, but we found it drained the battery faster and sometimes the connections would cut out. Sporadic connectivity issues aside, the Edge 520 is a small package that works well, looks great and provides serious cyclists all the necessary features and more.