I was looking to buy a new cycling GPS recently and narrowed it down to a Garmin 530 or a Wahoo Bolt (v2). The purchase in the end came down to flipping a coin as someone a triathlon forum suggested although overall the chosen product got more votes too and was discounted.
I was toying between those 2 and the other products that both brands had in their range – Garmin 830 and 1030 plus as well as Wahoo Roam). As I am new to the bike GPS market, I had to first workout what I wanted.
So far, I had used my GPS watch on the bike too with a basic holder. It displayed all the data I needed although since I had bought a power meter, I had to swap between screens for all the data now. What prompted me looking further was that I started using navigation on the watch which in itself is quite basic but more importantly in my case the watch couldn’t cope. The reason for this I am unsure about. I had done some testing on this with the help of Garmin and will probably still have a look at solving it as it could come up when running too. I have a Garmin 935 Forerunner watch. This was basically the trigger to look for a bike specific device. Delving into what they could do I was realizing how basic the watch was for navigation with no map to speak but just a breadcrumb trail – i.e. a green line. Also, the so-called turn by turn navigation was rather erratic. On the watch it would give you a suggestion that you now at several kilometers until the next turn although there were numerous turns in the meantime. By keeping your eye on the green line, you could ensure that you didn’t miss any of those turns – mostly but it wasn’t ideal.
Wahoo had recently brought out a new bike computer – an upgrade to the Bolt which look like a very viable alternative to the Garmin options. The main arguments for the Wahoo would be a more simplistic approach, the option to program a lot of it from the phone and bigger buttons. On the other hand, the Garmin had more options, I was already very much using their eco system (having been part of that for nearly 15 years, and overall recommendations seemed to go that way. That said I am keen to support new ideas and approaches too and also own 2 Wahoo products with the Kickr smart trainer and the Tickr X HRM chest strap.
The higher end Garmin models had a touch screen which although reviews were generally favorable wasn’t really something I wanted to explore. I find touchscreen with the phone in bad and cold weather an issue so having buttons seems a safer option to use.
The decision came down to price – well a discounted price for the Garmin 530 – I may try the Wahoo at a future stage.
Since receiving the device just over a week ago I have used it both on the mountain bike and the road bike for both navigation and to just ride. Having come from just using a watch it is a joy to have all the data in front of me on a well-lit and easily readable display. The navigation function is great although I still need to work out how to get it to reroute better than just telling me to turn around. My mountain biking has always been with the watch on my wrist, meaning that I couldn’t see much.
The Garmin 530 comes out of the box with 2 different holders – one out front of the handlebars and one that best fits onto the stem. I have the out front one on the road bike now and the stem mounted one on the mountain bike. It is probably easier to look down onto the out front one on the road bike than the stem mounted one on the mountain bike but then I’ll probably be looking at that one less anyway.
The reason why I had not bought one of these in the past was that I was happy for one device to cover all options but having a decent display with all the info in front of you is a definite bonus and the navigation is well worth it. I recently was up in Dundee and let Strava create a 90-100km route for me to follow. I followed this on my Garmin watch but had to stop several times to check the route on the phone to make sure I was doing it right. Now this will be a much easier ride.
If the coin flip worked or not time may or may not tell.