Garmin Edge 1040 vs 1030 Plus: Right Now I’d Buy THIS One…

It was a day that none of us expected to see. They said it was impossible. I said it was impossible. But it happened.

In late 2022, this deep pocketed, short armed Yorkshireman dropped the best part of £1,000 on just two bike computers.

Two bike computers that just happen to be right at the top of Garmin’s range of touchscreen GPS devices, the Edge 1040 and the Edge 1030 Plus.

And now, after over 6 months of use, I’m going to pitch them head to head, tete a tete, mange a toute.

In return for the next few minutes of your valuable life juice, you will discover:

  • a very brief overview of what the two devices do and where they sit in the overall GPS consumerscape;
  • a random but illuminating smattering of similarities and differences; and
  • some brainfarts on value and the all-important synapse-tickler, which should you buy.

All judged through the mental lens of a somewhat flaccid 44 year old MAMIL.

You’re welcome.

Can’t Be aRsed To Read? Here’s The Video!

So What Are We Talking About?

If you’re watching a video comparing two muy expensivo (scorchio!) bike computers, I’ll assume you have a reasonable handle on what they do.

The Edge 1040 and 1030 Plus are both sophisticated bike GPS devices with large colour touchscreen displays.

Edge 1030 Plus vs 1040 comparison

Both have all the ride tracking, training, and navigation features you could ever need, alongside a host of bells, whistles and klaxon horns that Garmin has crammed in to justify the wallet-wobbling price tag.

Where Do The 1040 and 1030 Plus Sit In The Garmin Range?

The Edge 1040 was launched in June 2022 and perches proudly at the top of the Garmin range.

The Edge 1030 Plus, released in June 2020 was the prior occupant of the big dog spot. It sort of sits in second spot, although the new (smaller) Edge 840 could challenge this assertion. If it had a voice. And was a conscious being.

Here’s a grid that summarises the complex, multi-dimensional braintangle that is the Garmin Edge range:

CategoryEdge x40 family (Current generation)Edge x30 family (Previous generation)Generation Comparison Posts
Large touchscreen1040 Solar / 1040 (my Edge 1040 review)1030 Plus (replaced 1030)Edge 1040 vs 1030 Plus
Compact touchscreen840 Solar / 840830 (my Edge 830 review)Edge 840 vs 830
Compact button-only540 Solar / 540530 (my Edge 530 review)
Budget miniNot yet released130 Plus (replaced 130)
TouringExplore 2Explore
Category Comparison PostsEdge 1040 vs 840Edge 1030 Plus vs 830
Edge 830 vs 530

Edge 1040 vs 1030 Plus build quality

The 1030 Plus remains a powerful bike computer. Garmin continues to sell it and support it with firmware updates.

And In The Bike GPS Market As A Whole?

Looking at the wider bike computerverse, the 1040 and 1030 Plus float, like a Chinese weather balloon, at the very top. At least in terms of price.

The closest high end touchscreen competitor, the Hammerhead Karoo 2 is a step change cheaper.

The very excellent non-touchscreen Wahoo alternatives, the BOLT and the ROAM are in that same, lower-priced, ballpark.

A comparison of all bike computers from across the political spectrum is the subject for another video, but if you plump for an Edge 1040, your loins can bask in the warm, slightly damp, glow of knowing, right now you have the top of the range and the market bike GPS affixed to your handlebars.

And with our collective loins a-glowing, let’s move on to some…

Differences Between the Edge 1040 and the 1030 Plus

I’ll attempt to order these by importance, at least from my perspective.

Like the mileage, Your Importance May Vary.

User Interface

The user interface on the 1040 is fandabidozee. The 1030 Plus is just ok.

The 1040 makes better use of the touchscreen and has a somewhat smartphone vibe. The home screen has a number of widgets that take you straight to core functionality. The quick access menu that you pull down from the top does exactly what it says on the tin. There is a proper main menu as well, but it’s easy to navigate.

Edge 1040 vs 1030 Plus ride summary

To be fair, the 1030 Plus was already moving in this direction, and the large touchscreen helps, but it still has the hangover multi-level menus and sub-menus inherited from Garmin’s button-fiddled devices.

The 1040 also offers the flexibility to change settings, ride profiles and data screens from the Garmin Connect app, rather than having to do it all on the device. The 1030 Plus requires you to do this on the device itself – the settings available to change in the app are much more limited.

So the UI on the 1040 is a significant upgrade. It’s definitely quicker and more intuitive. But any competent person, with a bit of patience (a bucket into which you – yes, you – definitely plop), will get the hang of where stuff is on the 1030 Plus. For all it’s quirks and muchos menus, the older GPS is still, for me, a very usable device.

ClimbPro

Many of the software features are shared between the 1040 and the 1030 Plus. The upgraded UI may impart a different look and feel, but fundamentally they are similar. There are only a few features where there is a real difference, and ClimbPro is one of them.

I’m a big fan of these new-fangled climbing-specific bike computer screens that have popped up over recent years.

Edge 1040 vs 1030 Plus ClimbPro comparison

The frailty of my mental resolve is only matched by the fragility of my legs. I must know where I am on a climb and whether I can make it to the top.

Obviously, Garmin has had ClimbPro for some time, and I liked it on the 1030 Plus.

But the 1040 version is better. The Edge 1040 doesn’t need you to follow a pre-loaded route. It’ll spot them in ‘free ride mode’ (as I like to call my life), as well as identify them on the map with little icons.

Edge 1040 Climb Explore

If you find yourself on the climb, the ClimbPro display kicks in, with much more multi-colour gradient detail than in previous versions.

(Right now, this is a beta firmware feature on the 1040, so you’ll have to google how to get it – it’s dead easy. But the new ClimbPro comes by default on the 840, so it’s safe to say that this is a feature that will come via standard 1040 firmware update soon.)

Update: the new version of ClimbPro now forms part of the standard Edge 1040 firmware. BUT! In order to make use of the Climb Explore bits of it, you’ll need to download the latest ClimbPro version of the maps for your region. And these are big map files, so you’ll need to do it from a computer with a USB cable, using the software “masterpiece” (I of course jest) that is Garmin Express.

Training

The 1040 has a smattering of new features focused on performance (your performance rather than the bike computer’s).

These include:

Power guide

This tells you what power your leg bazookoids need to be pushing out (or reducing down to – possibly more important) over the course of a pre-loaded route (based on the nature of the route and some other parameters you set).

Cycling ability

My 1040 told me I didn’t have any cycling ability and suggested I take up kabaddi.

I am sure your 1040 will tell you, based on your VO2 max (which the 1040 estimates), power data (if it’s there) and your recent ride activity, your mix of anaerobic capacity, aerobic capacity and endurance, and therefore what sort of rider you are and what course type would suit you.

Garmin Edge 1040 Cycling Ability

Course demands

This one takes the cycling abilities concept and transmogrifies it based on a route you’ve uploaded and selected. The Edge 1040 will [sound of old fashioned modem] work out which cycling abilities best suit said route. So you can either focus on training those characteristics or, if it’s too late, you can panic about your lack of them.

Edge 1040 Course Demands

Real-Time Stamina

This one claims to tell you how much you have left in the tank; how many matchsticks left to burn; how many sheaths left in the packet (I think the Garmin website says).

The 1040 uses a combination of the Recovery Time feature (also on the 1030 Plus; tells you how long to rest after a ride), estimated VO2 max and real-time heart rate data to project how long you can continue at your current intensity level. If you step it up or down, the real-time stamina (gu-)estimate re-whizzywigs accordingly.


None of these new training features have been bestowed on the 1030 Plus as a firmware update, even in beta, so we can assume they will remain 1040-specific, and therefore a difference, until, ooh, the end of time.

The materiality of each of these features in driving your 1040 vs 1030 Plus decision will depend on whether you foresee yourself using them (obviously…).

If you don’t own a power meter (and you don’t plan to) then the presence of the power guide feature on the 1040 is somewhat academic.

But in the round, the new additions do add quite a bit of value to the more performance-focused rider (which, right now, I am not) – particularly if you’re looking for real-time insights during a hard event or (dare I suggest it) race.

Solar

Ok, sure, this is only a difference if you buy the Solar version of the 1040. If you don’t then, well, … erm… this is awkward.

You probably know already that the new Garmin 1040 comes with a Solar glass option. It recharges, slightly, as you ride along (providing you ride along in conditions that are not the pissing English rain).

Edge 1040 solar time gained

The 1030 Plus does not have a solar option. You’ll have to rely on good old fashioned coal fired power stations (other forms of electricity generation are available).

Still on the subject of protons, electrons and Ford Cortinas…

USB Charging

With the launch of the 1040, Garmin’s bike computers finally entered the space age, at least in terms of charging aperture.

The 1040, like recent devices from Wahoo and Bryton, as well as the Hammerhead Karoo 2, revels in possession of a USB-C charging port.

The Edge 1030 Plus… doesn’t. It still has the retro micro USB port (or whatever they call it).

Edge 1040 vs 1030 Plus USB-C micro-USB

It probably isn’t a major issue, unless you have transitioned all your devices to USB-C and you maintain some sort of strict one charging cable rule in your manor.

USB-C charging is quicker, so perhaps a consideration if you regularly find yourself with a flat GPS battery just prior to a ride.

And still on the subject of electrification (for the masses)…

Battery Life

The 1040 has a longer one (battery life). But peeple. I ask. Do we need more battery life?

(Oh, okay. We do. Fine.)

So Garmin has sorted you out then. The non-solar version of the 1040 purports to give 35 hours of battery life, under what they describe as a ‘demanding’ use case (following a route, heating the kettle, doing a spot of TIG welding).

I still say we’re at the point, for both the 1040 and the 1030 Plus, where battery life is excellent. Both will handle a number of longer rides and many shorter ones. It shouldn’t form a major factor in deciding between the two.

Font Size

This probably falls into ‘user interface’ but I’ll give it a separate section because it’s my blog (and I’ll cry if I want to).

Also, because this is actually a point of contention on older Garmins.

Edge 1040 on handlebars

The Edge 1040 generally uses larger fonts than the 1030 Plus for the same size box in the data grid. There’s less redundant empty space.

It’s not quite Wahoo big font sizes, but it’s a step in the right direction for those that want to see big numbers (and big letters) on their bike computer screen.

Construction

Both devices are solid, well-made bike computers. Neither feels heavy (they aren’t heavy) but they both have some heft and feel quality in the hand.

The main difference, as far as I can tell, is that where the 1030 Plus, like every other bike computer on earth, uses plastic for the cleat type thing on the back (that attaches to the out front mount), the 1040 version is metal (I assume aluminium).

Edge 1040 vs 1030 Plus mount comparison

I’m not sure why. I’ve not heard people complain about mount fittings breaking. Perhaps Garmin is just pre-empting a potential fear from high end buyers. Or maybe they wanted to add a bit of bling. Either way, add a bit of bling it does.

GPS Tracking

The 1040 uses multi-band / dual frequency GNSS/GPS. Which looks, frankly, like a jumble of random words and acronyms.

But let me man- velo-splain. Dual multi GNSS frequency band made-up-science-word improves the GPS tracking accuracy on the 1040 versus the older device.

I think it’s quicker to lock on to satellites. It’s definitely more accurate, particularly in more challenging terrain (for the spaceships rather than the rider). It also uses more battery juice.

I’ve not personally had any issues with the 1030 Plus lacking precision. It sounds like a bigger benefit to those navigating high rise urban jungles rather than the agricultural cow muck jungles I encounter in rural Derbyshire.

guess it’s nicer to have more accurate tracking, particularly when you’re spending top-of-the-market money, but I’m not sure this is an obvious enough improvement for me to plump for the 1040 over the 1030 Plus (certainly compared to some of the other improvements we’ve gone through).

Cost

This is a moving target, particularly for the older device, so I’ll keep it brief.

The 1040 obviously costs more than the 1030 Plus. It’s newer. It’s objectively better. You’ll have to judge whether the objective better-ness justifies the extra moolah.

At the time of writing, Garmin’s recommended price is (for the device only, rather than a bundle):

  • Edge 1040: $600 / £520
  • Edge 1040 Solar: $750 / £630
  • Edge 1030 Plus: $600 / UK site not showing a price

There are definitely deals to be had on the 1030 Plus, as befits its older status. The 1040 is still too new to see any significant retailer discounts.

Here are some links so you can check out the latest prices and availability:

 
 

Garmin's brand new tippity-top of the range bike GPS. The Solar option recharges whilst you ride. Super powerful with an easier-to-use UI than Garmins of old.

High spec bike GPS with large colour touchscreen and super fast processor. Similar features to the 830 (i.e. lots of sophisticated ones) - the larger screen makes them easier to use.

Garmin's brand new tippity-top of the range bike GPS. The Solar option recharges whilst you ride. Super powerful with an easier-to-use UI than Garmins of old.

High spec bike GPS with large colour touchscreen and super fast processor. Similar features to the 830 (i.e. lots of sophisticated ones) - the larger screen makes them easier to use.


But life isn’t just about celebrating differences, sometimes it’s about high fiving the…

Similarities Between the Edge 1040 and the 1030 Plus

I won’t spend too long here. What’s not on the list of differences gives some helpful hints.

Ultimately the 1040 and the 1030 Plus have the same core functionality. Fundamentally they do the same thing.

They both track your rides, recording and presenting on the display data from the device or from the sensors secreted about your bike and your person. And both devices support all the same sensors (heart rate monitor, power meters) and other connections (indoor trainers, electronic gears, your clever-fridge).

Size

The 1040 and 1030 Plus are pretty much the same size. The 1040 is a soupcon longer.

Either way, both are at the top end of the bike GPS heft spectrum.

Edge 1040 vs 1030 Plus size comparison

I know some consider this size of device a bit much for a bike GPS, but relative to even a mid-sized smartphone, to my mind they’re still quite trim.

Irrespective though, size-wise they’re in the same decisioning ball park, so we can move on.

Display

There’s little that separates the 1040 and 1030 Plus in terms of the screen.

Even the solar generating bit (on the 1040 Solar) sits around the display rather than in it (behind it? bethruxt it?).

Edge 1040 vs 1030 Plus ride summary

To be honest, both are a bit less bright and a bit less contrast-y (technical term) than some of their sexy-screen competitors.

BUT, said eye-ticklers have their own compromises. The Karoo 2 battery life is perhaps a third to a quarter of the 1030 Plus or 1040. The ELEMNT BOLT V2 (and ROAM V2 for that matter) are button-only devices with a narrower range of software features.

So it’s horses for GPX routes. Talking of which….

Navigation as a feature on top-end Garmins has been stable for a while. Some of the data may change (recent Garmins have more bike-tailored points of interest) but the fundamental functionality tends to remain the same. Any material difference in user experience derives from device processing power and storage (for the maps files).

And in the case of the 1040 and 1030 Plus, there is no material difference.

Edge 1040 vs 1030 Plus map screen

The 1030 Plus has always been fast in terms of moving around the map screen and calculating (or re-calculating) routes (certainly fast enough for me as a casual user). The 1040, as you might expect, continues this trend.

Both devices tick the box as great for navigation (and probably are top of the list if you expect to be doing a lot of bikepacking or cycling in an unfamiliar location).

Safety…

… Which is a catch all half-a-euphemism that covers features including ride-tracking (for people to dot watch you from the safety of their home); incident detection (the Garmin phones a friend if it thinks you’ve taken a tumble); and the bike alarm (emits a louder-than-your-average-goat thweeping if the Garmin, or the attached bike, gets moved).

To be perfectly honest, I’m not a frequent user of any of them: my wife is not interested (in my location or my incident status) and I don’t have time to stop at cafes.

But. Were I interested. I would be happy to know that the feature set between the Edge 1040 and the 1030 Plus is pretty much the same.


Right then, that’s a smattering of similarities dealt with.

Now time for, the thrupenny-bit dollar question…

Should You Buy The Edge 1040 or the 1030 Plus?

I have a sneaking suspicion that whatever I say, a large proportion of you will go for the 1040.

Both cost a fair chunkachange. But if you’re spending big, you want the newer device, with the brand spanking UI and a rear mounting cleat that you can buff to a dazzling silver.

Garmin Edge 1040 vs 1030 Plus

As we stand here now, the 1040 will stay ‘current’ for longer, and continue to be supported by firmware updates and feature upgrades for years to come.

The nextgen-vUltra-GTi ClimbPro on the 1040 is a bit of a hero feature (which may or may not be the term). (I’m starting to wonder if my ClimbPro obsession is starting to turn unhealthy).

I’ve been using the 1040 alongside the new 840 for some time now and I prefer the larger device. Which means, for me, the 1040 is Garmin’s best ever bike computer.

Garmin Edge 1040

Garmin's brand new tippity-top of the range bike GPS. The Solar option recharges whilst you ride. Super powerful with an easier-to-use UI than Garmins of old.

Check price - Amazon Check price - Competitive Cyclist
If you click this link and make a purchase, I earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

The Edge 1030 Plus Is Still A Good Bike Computer

Of course, there will be a good number of you that want to balance function with value. Perhaps you’ve bought older generation bike computers in the past.

The Edge 1030 Plus should appeal. It’s hardly out of date. It remains a very sophisticated and highly usable bike computer.

It is the better value way to get a large screen device with very good battery life, top notch training and safety features, and super-quick (and usable) navigation.

There is nothing frustrating about the 1030 Plus that the 1040 solves (there is nothing really frustrating about the 1030 Plus at all).

Garmin Edge 1030 Plus

High spec bike GPS with large colour touchscreen and super fast processor. Similar features to the 830 (i.e. lots of sophisticated ones) - the larger screen makes them easier to use.

Check price - Amazon Check price - Amazon UK
If you click this link and make a purchase, I earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Are There Alternatives To The Edge 1040 and 1030 Plus?

Well there are always alternatives.

Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT V2 maps versus Garmin and Hammerhead

If you’re prepared to accept a smaller screen, or you actually want a mini-er device, then we have the newly launched 840 (which has both a touchscreen and full button functionality*, as well as super-ClimbPro).

(* Mont shakes his head. What does ‘full button functionality’ even mean…?)

If you’re all about the navigation, and much less about the training, then the Garmin Explore 2 might be right up your strasse.

Outside of the Garmin realm, the Hammerhead Karoo 2 (has a touchscreen) and Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT and ROAM (button only) all have very beautiful displays (better than any Edge) and are user friendly and intuitive. They all trail the Edge 1040/1030 Plus in terms of feature set though and, certainly in the case of the Karoo 2, have much shorter battery lives.

But I think that if you’re genuinely considering either of Garmin’s two top-end devices then you want some combination of a large display (so you can see ‘more map’), long battery life and all the training/ride-tracking bells-und-whistles that any heart could desire.

And really, you’ll only get that from an Edge device that starts with a 10 (and, for the avoidance of doubt, ends with a 40 or a 30 Plus).

 
 

Garmin's brand new tippity-top of the range bike GPS. The Solar option recharges whilst you ride. Super powerful with an easier-to-use UI than Garmins of old.

High spec bike GPS with large colour touchscreen and super fast processor. Similar features to the 830 (i.e. lots of sophisticated ones) - the larger screen makes them easier to use.

Garmin's brand new tippity-top of the range bike GPS. The Solar option recharges whilst you ride. Super powerful with an easier-to-use UI than Garmins of old.

High spec bike GPS with large colour touchscreen and super fast processor. Similar features to the 830 (i.e. lots of sophisticated ones) - the larger screen makes them easier to use.

Monty - Sportive Cyclist
Monty is an enthusiastic road cyclist with only moderate talent. He started Sportive Cyclist in 2013 to record the journey to his first 100 mile ride, the RideLondon 100. Over time the blog has expanded to include training advice, gear reviews and road cycling tales, all from the perspective of a not-very-fit MAMIL. Since you're here, Monty would also like you to check out his YouTube channel. Also, Monty really needs to stop referring to himself in the third person.

3 thoughts on “Garmin Edge 1040 vs 1030 Plus: Right Now I’d Buy THIS One…”

  1. Very interesting article. Kudos.
    Regarding the mount fittings, I am one of those who complains about this because almost one year after I bought 1030, the fittings broke and I had to change the whole back cover. And I have heard that are other people complaining about this as well.
    So, the metal replacement is a must, at least for me.

    Reply
  2. The humor in this left me smiling and wishing I were British for a few moments there, or really just that I could sound British. Thank you. Also, I’ll stay with the 1030 for now and hope for more whenever the 1050 arrives.

    Reply

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