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Garmin Edge 130 review: Garmin’s best-value GPS cycle computer?

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
170

Small, lightweight and packed with features, the Edge 130 is a pleasure to use

Pros 
Good value
Excellent screen
Compatible with ANT+ and Bluetooth sensors
Cons 
Buttons can be fiddly
Basic navigation tools
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Announced in April 2018, the Garmin Edge 130 is the first of a brand new series of Garmin bike computers – that is to say, it has no immediate predecessor. In terms of features, though, it’s perhaps most easily compared to the hugely popular Edge 520, which was first released in 2015.

With a starting price of only £170, it’s Garmin’s most affordable bike computer to support both ANT+ and Bluetooth sensors. But how does the Edge 130 perform on the road? Read on to find out.

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Garmin Edge 130 review: What you need to know

The Garmin Edge 130 packs a surprising number of features for a device that weighs only 33 grams. As well as tracking your speed, distance and time and offering basic breadcrumb navigation, it’s compatible with the full range of Garmin ANT+ and Bluetooth sensors including heart rate, speed and cadence sensors and power meters. 

The Edge 130 also supports Strava Live Segments, so you can compete against yourself and your friends in real time, and it’s compatible with Garmin’s Varia accessories such as the RTL 510 radar, which detects approaching cars and makes you more visible to drivers.

READ NEXT: Best cycle computers

Despite its diminutive size, the bike computer displays up to eight different data fields on its screen at a time (a big step up on the more basic Edge 20 and Edge 25 models) and it also supports smart features including notifications, weather info and Garmin LiveTrack (which lets your loved ones check your location when you’re out riding).

Like other Garmin trip computers, the Edge 130 charges via micro USB connection, and Garmin claims it can last upto 15 hours between charges. Note that it does not come with the Garmin out-front bike mount pictured, which must be bought seperately.

Garmin Edge 130 review: Price and competition

The Garmin Edge 130 has a recommended retail price of £170, but you can already buy it for closer to £150. The only cheaper GPS computer from the manufacturer is its Edge 25 (£140), which was first released in 2015.

The Edge 25 has breadcrumb navigation and is compatible with heart rate, cadence and speed sensors, along with smart features such as Garmin’s LiveTrack. However, it won’t work with power meters and there’s no support for Strava Live Segments. It can also only display three data fields per page.

Moving up the Garmin range, there’s the Edge 520 (£170), which has broadly the same features as the newer Edge 130, but a larger colour display and slightly superior mapping and training tools. For more advanced navigation including turn-by-turn instructions, though, you’ll need the newer Edge 520 Plus (£250) or the Edge 820 (£240).

Outside Garmin’s own range, the Edge 130’s main competition comes from the Wahoo Elmnt Bolt, which is both larger and slightly more expensive than the Garmin device at £200. The two have comparable features, but the Wahoo perhaps just edges it thanks to its superior turn-by-turn navigation.

Buy the Wahoo Elmnt Bolt from Wiggle

Garmin Edge 130 review: Design and features

The most striking thing about the Edge 130 is just how small it is. At 63mm x 41mm, it’s significantly more pocketable than the Edge 520, which measures 73mm x 49mm by comparison. That might not sound like a huge difference, but it’s also nearly half the weight, tipping the scales at only 33g.

As you’d expect, the monochrome screen is smaller than the Edge 520’s colour display, but what’s impressive is that it has a higher resolution 303 x 230 pixel panel. This makes text and menus appear pin-sharp, and it’s easy to see in all manner of light conditions from bright sunlight to pitch black (thanks to the built-in backlight).

Because it doesn’t have a touchscreen, menu navigation is via five different buttons. One key on the left side wakes and turns off the device, while the buttons on bottom edge lets you start/stop your activity and return to the previous screen, respectively. Finally, the two buttons on the right side are for scrolling through data screens and options, and long-pressing the top-right button opens up various settings menus.

It’s pretty easy to learn what all the different buttons do in different contexts and in many ways it’s preferable to a touchscreen, which are used in some of Garmin’s more expensive devices and don’t mix well with cold fingers or gloves.

In practice, my only gripe with jumping between data screens while riding was caused by being left handed. In short, I found I had to either use my right hand – which I’d prefer not to – or I’d reach across with my left thumb. Eventually, I opted for the ambidextrous option because the left-handed approach meant I’d block the display with my arm.

Other than that small gripe, though, the Garmin Edge 130 was mostly a pleasure to use. It consistently found a GPS fix within less than a minute (there’s GLONASS and Galileo support too, if you have any problems with the GPS-only mode) and starting an activity is as simple as pressing the device’s bottom right button. After doing this, all the important information including speed, distance and time immediately appears on the main screen.

When you pair a sensor with the Edge 130 for the first time – whether that’s a heart-rate strap or a power meter – the device invites you to add a custom data screen to display the relevant info. This saves plenty of fiddling around in menus, but should you want to see the data on an existing screen, you can do this with a few button presses.

Each custom screen (you can add up to five of them) can display up to eight data fields. This can look a little cramped if you opt to use all eight, but it’s entirely up to you – you can cram lots of info onto one screen, or opt to keep it simple with a handful of larger, more legible data fields. This flexibility is particularly handy if you want to keep a close eye on your speed or power output at a glance while riding in a group, or when tackling more technical off-road terrain.

Along with the custom data screens, the bike computer can also show compass, elevation, map and segment pages, as well as screens for weather info and notifications from your smartphone.

Garmin Edge 130 review: Navigation

As you’d expect for an entry-level Garmin, the Edge 130’s navigation tool is pretty basic. You can only download routes to the device from Garmin Express (on your PC or Mac) or via the Garmin Connect mobile app, and directions are via a simple breadcrumb trail. There’s no turn-by-turn directions and the bike computer will only notify you if you go off course – it won’t re-route you.

Having said that, you can activate turn alerts, which prompt you when a junction is coming up and tell you which direction you need to take. On paper, this sounds great, but in practice the icons rarely depicted the shape of the roads you see if front of you. Too often when approaching a roundabout, for example, the Edge 130 displayed an icon that implied I should carry on beyond the 12 o’clock point, even though the exit in question was situated long before that.

You can probably get used to some of these quirks, but equally I wouldn’t recommend embarking on a ride on totally unfamiliar roads without taking a smartphone as backup. If you’ve got a rough idea of where you need to go, the Edge 130’s tools should be enough to keep you on track, but don’t expect much more than that.

Garmin Edge 130 review: Garmin Connect app

When you finish a ride, the Edge 130 lets you pick from a range of different riding types including road, commuting, gravel and mountain so that it’s listed appropriately in Garmin Connect. It then shows you a summary of the ride and advises you on how long you should wait for before getting back on your bike from a recovery point of view.

Of course, you can view a more detailed breakdown of your ride data (including speed, heart rate and elevation charts) in the the Garmin Connect mobile app and generally syncing is so fast that this is the more sensible option. Indeed, providing I had my phone with me, my ride had normally uploaded to both Garmin Connect and Strava – which it interfaces with – by the time I’d finished locking my bike away in the garage.

Garmin Edge 130 review: Verdict

The Garmin Edge 130 breaks new ground by offering features such Strava Live Segments and Bluetooth and ANT+ sensor compatibility in a small, lightweight package that costs only £150.

The only thing that stops it from being a shoo-in for a Best Buy award is that you can pick up the older Garmin Edge 520, which has several more features (but lacks Bluetooth sensor compatibility) for only £20 more. Spend £30 more still and you can get your hands on the Wahoo Elmnt Bolt, which has superior navigation tools than both the Garmin devices.

If you want to track your cycling performance over time and improve your fitness, then this tiny GPS device has plenty to offer. Otherwise, one of its pricier stablemates is also worth considering, especially if you think you’d benefit from more advanced navigation.

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