Garmin 810 review

Garmin 810 review

GARMIN EDGE 810 REVIEW

Long term 'Garmin 810 review', Spring 2013 to 2020, Firmware 6.30

This review is not a detailed analyses from a GPS expert, there are plenty of those, some of which I link to at the end, this is from the perspective of a first time owner starting from scratch and how I've found the experience of setting it up, then using it and the pros and cons I've found along the way, much of which is just as valid to the current versions. I've also periodically edited sections relating to software updates of both the '810' and "course' planning.

Neither is it an instruction manual, although you will see a few points where I do add some instructions of my own. In effect this is a review focused on how to plan then follow a course more than it is referencing the 'training' modes, that in fairness is for many the main motivation for buying one; myself included.

Buttons and swipe screen:

There are only 'three buttons', one on the side to turn it on and off, you hold it down to turn off or a quick press will take you to the 'Backlight' screen, there are two buttons at the bottom for 'laps' and the 'timer' (to start-stop, pause-resume an activity), other than that you quickly learn to switch between functions via the touch screen; not as sensitive as my smartphone but I soon got to grips with it.

Garmin 810

GARMIN CONNECT COURSE PLANNING

Mapping:

The 810 only comes with something called 'base map', which is effectively useless, so in reality you need to add mapping to the unit. Most add free mapping like 'Openstreet maps'; 'dcrainmaker.com' has a very informative page with instructions of how to add. I personally chose to purchase my 'City navigator® europe nt' from Garmin; in hindsight I would have also opted for 'Openstreet maps.' Current relevant models are normally supplied with mapping already installed.

Navigation:

There are a variety of ways to navigate with your Garmin 810, to a new user the logical one is to plan the course on your computer via Garmin Connect as I've shown in the picture above; but, there are other free sites that are vastly superior that I will elaborate more on below.

You can also use the unit itself to direct you from your current location to a point, either by postcode and address or you can use the visual map to select a point; the 'you tube video' at the bottom of the page below gives very clear instructions on all three methods. You can also use the Garmin Connect app on your smartphone or tablet.

You can follow the course with turn by turn navigation, my 'City navigator® europe nt' mapping' is displayed as in the illustration just below and you can zoom in and out as desired, 'Openstreet maps' looks similar.

FOLLOWING A COURSE

Following a Course:

Select a stored course and click 'ride', it will load then and ask if you want to 'navigate to the beginning of the course' which you select. Note you then need to press 'start' which is very easy to forget then go unnoticed as the unit still navigates you with TBT, it's only when you realise the trip distance isn't increasing that it flags that you have forgotten; times I've done that! During the ride I normally swipe to the map screen, the route is highlighted and easy to follow, you can display additional data on the same screen, normally 'speed' and 'distance', as a navigation point is approached these change to 'dist to point' and 'time to point' as shown above, counting down until reached then reverting back automatically after completion.

Between navigation points brightness reduces to conserve battery, as you approach a navigation point the brightness increases back up again, which both draws your attention then allows you to view the display more clearly, in addition you can also have an audible 'tone'. You can also conserve battery by displaying a data screen, it will automatically switch to the map screen before each navigation point then back again afterwards.

Battery life is listed as 15 hours, but don't expect that following a course, my seven year old 810 will comfortably get about 7 hours, to maximise, turn off bluetooth, screen brightness to minimum. If I need more I will carry a power bank in my bar bag, the USB lead reaches perfectly. I have recently ridden an 8 hour day, mid way around the course I was down to 50% battery so I knew I would be pushing my luck just using the 810's battery reserve so I plugged in the Power Bank. When I got home it had charged back up to 100%, the Powerbank (a Goji G10PBWP17) itself has battery indicator with four LEDs so you know how much charge it has left; it had all four still lit. I personally went with something waterproof and robust but you can get them much smaller, lighter and cheaper with a similar input/output plus I have a USE Exposure light I could use as a powerbank if needed.

I CAN CARRY A POWERBANK IN BAR BAG IF NECESSARY

Teething issues following a Course:

When following a course the unit will occasionally freeze or crash, requiring either a 'stop-start' of the course or even a full power down (hold down all three buttons). Loosing GPS signal will often cause an issue, I live in south London so it's actually is actually quite common, under a long railway bridge, tunnel, or simply taking the unit off mid ride for safe keeping if I go inside. I have updated to the current 6.30 firmware and done a full reset (settings-system-device reset) which has helped, plus I try and keep GPS reception where possible, for example I hide it in my rack pack as apposed to taking it into the café. I endeavour to compose a route that goes around or over a railway line as opposed to under it through a cycle path tunnel; not ideal really but I have found this has helped.

Riding off course seems to confuse it as well, easily done if you use Garmin connect to plan a course, I have some other course planning recommendations later that should help with this.

Garmin 810 settings for following a course:

Following a 'course' with Turn by Turn direction and text, audible tones and off course warnings.

To keep turn by turn navigation: (note that if you lose satellite reception turn by turn navigation both in terms of text and the navigation arrows switches off and does not automatically come back on when satellite reception is reacquired; the course map will still be visible and your position still updates, to be honest this easy enough to follow and a setting I would actually like to be available)

Activity Profiles > Navigation > Map > Guide Text then select 'Always Display'.

Audible Tones:

Home screen-settings spanner icon-system-tones-'on', the 810 will give an audible peep at each navigation point or if you have added 'way' points created with route planning sites like www.alltrails.com

Off course warnings:

Courses> Then select the Course> Settings> 'Off Course warnings' then select on.

Turn off "off route recalculation":

Activity Profiles > Navigation > Routing > Recalculation then select 'off'.

NOT AS COMPACT AS THE SOME MODERN UNITS BUT STILL NEAT ENOUGH

Uploading maps, courses and routes:

In addition to Garmin Connect there are quite a few websites that offer both 'free' and 'subscription' course planning, popular choices being Komoot.com, mapmyride.com, alltrails.com, and ridewithgps.com; Strava is very popular but they currently do not offer route planning for free.

Each have their pros and cons and loyal followers, I revisit them all every so often, normally prompted when a 'free' feature moves to 'subscription' based. In each case if composed on a pc when you've finished creating a course you 'save" then 'export' it onto your pc, then connect the 810 via usb (make sure it is the genuine lead, copies that seem to fit perfectly may not transfer the data fully), you then simply drag the course into the 'F Drive-New folder' to add it to the unit. In theory a saved course on your computer can be imported into Garmin Connect, but I have found when you then send that to the unit via bluetooth they are inclined to not always transfer the data as created and be less stable in use and often crash during navigation. The only courses I send to the unit from Garmin connect have been created in Garmin connect.

IN 2020 MY COURSE PLANNING OF CHOICE IS USING THE FREE VERSION OF ALLTRAILS.COM

My personal choice of creating and uploading a course, Summer 2020:

I seldom use Garmin Connect, since I've had my 810 it has improved but it has been consistently behind other free course planning software. It still shares routing with runners so it will still often send you the wrong way around roundabouts, the wrong way down one way streets and take you down tracks even if you have selected 'follow roads', overriding this on route effectively going 'off course' often causes the 810 to crash.

In 2020 I normally use the free version of www.alltrails.com (was GPSies) to create the course and add to the 810 via usb, unlike Garmin connect their software navigates roundabouts and one streets correctly. I've found it quite user friendly, a course is intuitive to plan, then edit if needed. The user experience is very similar one of the most popular which is www.ridewithgps.com, but with the added bonus that you can add your own notes in the form of a 'waypoint'; like 'café', 'bikeshop', a feature that is no longer free with ridewithgps; hence my switch to Alltrails.

One handy feature I like is you can toggle between 'hiking-cycling-driving' when creating, so you can switch to 'hiking' if you want to take a shortcut over a footbridge for example then back to driving if you want to stay on roads. There are two cycle focused modes, 'Bike touring' may include a smooth trail where as 'Road biking' will be on paved roads and paths that support bicycle access.

Note if you do wish to follow something other than the road you need to uncheck 'lock on road' on the unit as the 810 will try and reroute you; to do this select Activity-Your profile-Navigation-Routing-Lock on road-Select 'No'.

DATA SCREEN

Data Screens

Naturally there are many of my familiar routes I don't need to follow on a map, so I swipe to a screen displaying data instead, on those occasions I simply select 'Ride' from the Start up screen then press the 'timer' button at the bottom and the unit will default to one of the 'data' screens as shown above. On ride completion you press the 'timer' button to stop then you either discard the 'ride' or save it for later viewing on Garmin Connect and Strava, uploaded via Blue tooth instantly should you wish.

You can swipe between as many as five data screens plus the map screen, with a variety of data visible on each, from one item upto as many as ten; four looks like the pic' above. My ride to work screen in the winter has speed, time and temperature, when I swipe to the next screen that I use for day rides it has more data like trip distance, then when following a route I can display even more. Note when following a route you can display a data screen instead of the map screen to conserve battery, as you reach a navigation point it switches to the map screen then back when completed. The more data you choose to display the smaller and less visible each item it becomes.

GARMIN CONNECT APP PAIRS TO THE 810 VIA BLUETOOTH

Blue Tooth connectivity:

A big selling point of the Garmin 810 is that there is a smartphone App that syncs the phone to 'Connect Garmin' website then via Bluetooth onto the Garmin 810, so in theory you can plot a route on 'Garmin Connect' and send that to the Garmin 810 without having to plug it into you computer. When you've completed a ride, select 'save' and it instantly uploads data in my case to both Garmin Connect and Strava which I can quickly view on my phone; I just turn off blue tooth on the occasions I don't want this.

Teething issues following a Course:

When following a course the unit will occasionally freeze or crash, requiring either a 'stop-start' of the course or even a full power down (hold down all three buttons). Loosing GPS signal will often cause an issue, I live in south London so it's actually is actually quite common, under a long railway bridge, tunnel, or simply taking the unit off mid ride for safe keeping if I go inside. I have updated to the current 6.30 firmware and done a full reset (settings-system-device reset) which has helped, plus I try and keep GPS reception where possible, for example I hide it in my rack pack as apposed to taking it into the café. I endeavour to compose a route that goes around or over a railway line as opposed to under it through a cycle path tunnel; not ideal really but I have found this has helped.

Riding off course seems to confuse it as well, easily done if you use Garmin connect to plan a course, I have some other course planning recommendations later that should help with this.

Garmin Edge 810 Gps

SPEED AND CADENCE SENSOR.

Heart rate strap, speed and cadence:

There are normally several bundle or package options available from Garmin, the best value for what I wanted at the time of order came with heart rate strap, speed and cadence sensor as well as the 'City navigator® europe nt' mapping', the unit displays current BPM plus you can set upper and lower alerts that can also be used in conjunction with your set training zones, should you choose the unit can download quite an extensive amount HRM data after each ride. As the name implies the speed and cadence sensor send speed and cadence data to the unit.

I have not used their 'crank arm magnet' that is designed to be zip tied to the crank as I would have to pack out the magnet significantly to get it close enough to the sensor, as my Ta Carmina Chainset is deeply fluted on the inside; so I adapted a 'Cateye wheel magnet' by removing the plastic housing, cutting the thread down to nib and simply slotting that into the back of the 'Pedal' as shown below, works a treat, sticks out just enough on my wide 'Q factor' triple chain set to bring it near enough to the sensor to achieve pick up, I have seen even neater magnets on Ebay since that don't stick out as far, although these flush magnets would make the distance to the sensor to far away on my bike. As far as I'm concerned it's actually very neat, much neater than their zip tied version in my opinion; you do have to mount the sensor further along the stay if you use that set up of course.

Garmin speed and cadence sensor:

INSTEAD OF USING A ZIP TIE TO FIT THE CADENCE MAGNET I ADAPATED A CATEYE WHEEL MAGNET.

2013 to 2020 Updated Conclusions:

I've been using the 810 since 2013 and I am still enjoying it now in 2020.

I bought it as a small neat device to enjoy planning a course on my laptop, then following that course on my 810 and for that role it has proved ideal. Garmin connect course planning is still poor and well behind the free competition, something I have always found baffling as well as frustrating.

I have no intention of updating as it still does all I want it to, arguably quite impressive for a piece of tech' now 7 years old! If I was buying one now the new Garmin Edge 530, 830, 1030 and the older Explore would all be a consideration, although for me the clear winner being the 830 as the 1030 is too big for my liking and the 830 I find far more intuitive to use. Would I still buy a Garmin? Yes; definitely, when it works as it does do most of the time I love it!

As I mentioned at the beginning this was never intended to be a detailed analyses from a GPS expert, if you would like to read something far more technically in depth probably the best I've seen to date is the Garmin 810 review by www.dcrainmaker.com. I have also linked to a few videos below that I found very useful.

Garmin 810 GPS review

For more information please click on the following link to send an email plsmith.co.uk@gmail.com