With everyone running around with smartphones in their pockets, why would you need a dedicated GPS unit? Well, a unit like the Garmin Edge 520 is smaller, lighter, more durable, more customizable, and has better battery life than your phone. The 520 is small at 2″ wide, 3″ long, and about 1″ thick. It weighs just 2oz (60g) and the battery will last up to 15 hours. The 2.3″ full color screen is clear even in direct sunlight. At night, the 520 automatically changes the display to reverse type so it’s easier to read in the dark.
The Edge 520 uses both GPS and GLONASS satellites which allow it to quickly find a signal, even in dense tree cover. As mentioned above, you can customize the screens on the 520 to show only the information you want to see. It can also be paired with numerous Bluetooth and ANT+ devices such as heart rate monitors, cadence sensors, and power meters. For those that really want to challenge themselves, you can compete against a virtual partner, race a predetermined course, or link to your Strava Premium account for Live Segments. The Live Segments is one of my favorite features, as it allows you to see how you stack up on a particular segment in real time.
You can do a lot with the Edge 520, but it does fall in the middle of Garmin’s line in terms of features. For those that want just the most basic GPS-enabled cycling computer, Garmin offers the miniscule Edge 20 for $130. At the other end, the $500 Edge 1000 has a 3″ full-color touchscreen and turn-by-turn navigation.