In this post I’m going to compare the characteristics and features of the Garmin Edge 510 versus its predecessor, the Edge 500.
The eagle-eyed (or perhaps elephant-memoried) amongst you may recall that I am the proud owner of the 510 version.
I did seriously consider purchasing the 500, despite the newer model being available, but ultimately succumbed to ‘shiny new thing’ syndrome.
But let’s put a (metaphorical) cool towel over our heads and consider the two options side by side to see if I made the right decision (and perhaps help you in your decision-making process as well).
Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one and then buy something, I get paid a commission. You pay the same price.
Are You Looking For A Current Bike GPS?
If the answer is ‘yes’, then you should really know that both the Edge 500 and 510 are pretty archaic in bike tech years. Garmin stopped making them decades ago (ahem, okay many years ago).
If you are after the current model in the Edge 5xx series of bike computers then that would be the excellent Edge 530:
High performance at a reasonable price. Sophisticated training and performance features. Good for trails and MTB. Not touchscreen. Complex at first but powerful when you get the hang of it.
If you’ve landed on this post because you are on a budget but want a reasonably-priced computer with all the essential features, then the Edge 130 is a worthy choice:
Small greyscale bike GPS with a surprising number of features, including ClimbPro and performance monitoring. Breadcrumb navigation rather than full on-device routing but this is enough for many riders.
If you still yearn to know the differences and same-ferences between the Edge 500 and 510, then read on (Macduff)…
How Much Do The Edge 500 and 510 Weigh?
The crucial first question to ask of anything that you plan to attach to your bike (other than if that ‘anything’ is, in fact, you).
The Edge 500 wins this round. It comes in at 56.7g versus the 510’s elephantine 80g. Essentially that’s a difference of one packet of Walkers crisps (the smallest size that you get in multipacks) [‘chips’ to those of an American persuasion]. It might make all the difference…
Whilst we’re on size (sort of), both models are the same depth. The 510 is a third of a centimetre wider and 1.3cm longer. In my (most humble) opinion, the 510 (which I’ve just lined up against my iPhone 3GS) is certainly not large.
Despite giving this section pride of place in the comparison, I’d say that the size and weight of the two GPS devices should not hold too much sway when deciding between the two.
Key Features In Common
The 510 and 500 perform the same fundamental function. That is, to use GPS to calculate (and then display) your speed whilst riding and to record the route you took. Both devices have barometric altimeters that record your elevation data and thermometers to capture temperature information.
The two versions record other data as well (including power, cadence and heart rate), provided you have the appropriate sensors attached to you or the bike.
Once you’ve finished your ride, both devices can be connected to your computer in order to upload the recorded data, either into Garmin’s own system (Garmin Connect) or a third party app (e.g. Strava, MapMyRide).
You can also send data back the other way. Having created a route on your computer using either Garmin Connect or another system (e.g. RideWithGPS), you can upload it to either version of the Edge 5xx and then follow the course whilst you ride. Bear in mind that neither the 500 or the 510 can overlay these routes onto maps or provide a ‘sat nav’ experience whilst riding – you’d need either the Edge 800 or 810 for more navigational features.
What Are The Main Differences?
The most obvious visual difference between the 510 and the 500 is that the former has a colour screen whereas the latter was old skool grayscale.
In terms of using the devices, the 510 has a touch screen, with the majority of features and screens accessed by navigating menus on the screen itself. The 500 is operated by the two buttons on each side of the unit (i.e. there are four in total).
Under the hood, the 510 uses both GPS satellites and GLONASS (the Russian version) whereas the 500 just uses the former. This means that the 510 is generally quicker to ‘lock on’ to a target (er, a satellite) after you’ve switched it on, and it has a higher degree of accuracy (although for most people’s purposes, I’m sure the GPS-only accuracy is sufficient).
A big difference between the two devices, certainly as far as the marketing of the Edge 510 is concerned, is the smartphone connectivity feature on the newer model.
Once paired with your iPhone or Android phone (via Bluetooth), you can be ‘live tracked’ by whoever you choose to grant access to. As well as seeing where you are and where you’ve been, they can see the other data you are generating (average speed, cadence, heart rate etc). Your web-connected granny can monitor your cadence from the comfort of her sitting room, making sure it stays within an acceptable range.
The smartphone-pairing makes for easy uploading of your ride data to Garmin Connect. Once configured, whenever you save a ride on your Edge 510, it’ll automatically be uploaded via your phone to the Garmin ‘cloud’.
The wireless data transfer link can be used in the opposite direction. Create a route on Garmin Connect (on your computer), open the route in the Garmin smartphone app and then hit the ‘Send To Device’ button. Eh violin – it’s on your Garmin, ready to use.
Are The Wireless Features ‘Worth It’?
I’ll leave it up to you to judge how important wireless connectivity is in your buying decision [he says, neatly avoiding the need to give an answer].
The Garmin Edge promo video (which I linked to in the section above) certainly makes them look very cool. Using the app does involve less hassle than attaching the device using a USB cable (and means you don’t have to switch on the computer then and there).
That said, I’ve literally only just installed the Garmin app over the course of writing this post (almost 4 months after I started using the 510) and I haven’t found the more manual upload process particularly onerous.
Partly the delay was due to my misconception that the Edge uses Bluetooth Smart (the lower energy version, which is only available on iPhones from 4S onwards) to communicate with a smartphone rather than ‘normal’ Bluetooth. It does use the standard Bluetooth protocol (hence why it was a misconception…).
Moreover, and although I haven’t tested it, having the phone linking to the Edge and transmitting the data out into the ether is likely to overwhelm the poor battery performance on my 3GS. This was one of the main reasons for switching to a dedicated bike GPS device in the first place.
For me, the ability to ‘live track’ is likely to be something of a novelty feature (primarily because I have no one desperate to sit by their computer watching me plodding along). I can see it being useful for spectators looking to find you on the RideLondon route.
I can see me getting far more use out of the wireless upload facility, and the ability to plan routes on the Garmin Connect website and easily push them to the Edge for use on the road.
Is The Edge 500 Still Supported By Garmin?
For some people, this is probably one of the biggies when it comes to deciding between the Edge 510 and the 500.
In this day and age, we don’t seem to buy an electrical gizmo and then use it til it dies. Instead, manufacturers release firmware updates that fix bugs and add new whizzbang features.
Over the course of its 4-year lifetime, the Edge 500 has received frequent firmware updates. According to the esteemed DC Rainmaker, we shouldn’t expect any future ones (at the very bottom of the comments on the linked post). What it is (and does) now will be what it is (and does) for all time.
That said, Garmin continues to make the 500, so it will obviously continue to support its customers that buy it. You’ve got to imagine that most of the fixable bugs in the unit will have been sorted out by now. In any event, I reckon that most people don’t use the new features that firmware updates bring, at least to begin with.
Cost! You Forgot About Cost!
Oh yes, sorry.
The Edge 500 is cheaper than the 510 (no shug, Sherlock).
Looked at through the Amazon price discombobulator (erm, their discounted prices, as opposed to RRP), the difference between the device-only prices is around £60 / $130.
This relationship pretty much holds true if you go for a package that includes the heart rate strap and the speed/cadence sensor. You pay £40–50 / $70-100 more than the base unit price if you want those extra tings.
I’ll come out now (not like that) and say I am very happy with my Edge 510 purchase.
Whilst I may not yet have got round to using all (many?) of its features, I’ve been pleased with the data it has recorded, its ease of use on the bike and the speed with which it has picked up satellite reception.
I’m looking forward to getting more to grips with the as-yet unused features. I want to try out live tracking (for kicks!) and make more use of the route planning to navigate unfamiliar areas without having to check Google maps every 5 minutes.
That said, pretty much all of the features I’ve used on the 510 so far are present and correct in the 500. I could have spent £60 less and been perfectly happy. Based on all that I’ve read, the Edge 500 is a great bike GPS device. If the wireless features don’t get you salivating and you’re prepared to forego a colour touch screen (the importance of which tends to lessen as time goes on), the 500 might well be the one to go for.
21 thoughts on “Garmin Edge 500 vs 510: What Do You Get With The Extra “10”…?”
I am your dream blog reader: clicked through from the twitter link; read the advice; clicked the amazon link; bought an Edge 500!! I think you owe me half a packet of peanuts next time I see you…
My rationale (based on your arguments):
1. I’m a luddite when it comes to smart phones, so can’t see much personal benefit in the connectivity features of the 510
2. As a ‘heavier’ cyclist, the walkers crisp-packet saving in weight means that I can eat an extra packet of walkers crisps later
3. Being tight as the gnat’s proverbial, I couldn’t bring myself to part with the extra 50 notes
Request for next blog post: why should/shouldn’t Adam buy a cadence sensor?
Anna Langlands liked this on Facebook.
Sadly I haven’t purchased anything that will result in commission for you by virtue of already owning an edge 800 (though I may go for one of those tracking thingies on you most recent post in due course… Which gives me an idea: they could also double up as virtual tracking devices for people wanting to see your progress, much like the 510, if you activated them before your race). I would however be interested in thoughts on how to view/interpret garmin data on various platforms eg garmin vs strava vs whatever. I use garmin connect which is generally good (also have an iPad app called connectstats which is also good) … What it can’t do is that strava segments thing which I like the look of but no idea how to use it with my garmin. Saw the strava vs mmr post but that was more using your iPhone I think.
On the list John…
First run-out of my new 500 this morning. Total failure. It mapped my 21km route to work (as measured by google, MapMyRide and my legs) as 10km, and returned a top speed of 60mph…….I’m almost glad of the latter clear stat glitch, as if I’d believed the former I’d have been pretty depressed!
Teething problems, maybe, but it has not inspired faith!
I haven’t yet got it speaking to my cadence/speed sensor (only setup last night), and it did seem to have problems finding satellites for the first couple of k’s, so both could have something to do with it.
Anyone else encountered these issues? Any suggestions? If it’s purely down to satellite coverage then I will be pretty miffed, as I can’t do much to alter my commute route.
Oh no! It shouldn’t be an issue with the satellites (or rather, I understand that on the whole the Edge 500 is good for this – meaning yours might be faulty).
Does the Grimpeur Heureux hive mind have any suggestions?
Based on your remarks it sounds like you started riding before the GPS had a chance to lock onto the satellites. It also works better out in the open as opposed to under trees or close to tall buildings.
Good article. Read it to see if 510 was worth upgrading to from 500. I like touch screens but it seems the 510 offers little more in the important areas. Colour screen is no deal maker as I’m surrounded by HD full colour 3D while riding 🙂 I shall stick with my 500 which has never missed a beat. Thanks for writing the article!
Anna Langlands liked this on Facebook.
Interesting read, we went a different way, and have bought a Garmin Touring Plus to give us the route planning, Sat Nav and route logging features (no smart phone link, but we’re luddites) and then I’ve added a wireless Cat Eye with cadence to the Sportive bike for training. Early days yet, but seems like a good mix and the cost saving over all the extra bits I don’t think I’d have used was handy.
I have a 510 which, like you am very happy with but I have not yet got to grips with everything it can do. What I liked a lot?: the setting for max / min cadence and heart rate; I used this very effectively on the London- Surrey to stay ‘in range’. What I really don’t like?: the touch screen in the rain; you instinctively wipe the rain off and Wallop! where did that screen come from? What is it? How do I get back to where I was? I haven’t seen a clear plastic shroud that provides a but of cover from the rain.
I have had a Garmin Edge 500 for about two and half years. Last week while charging it, the unit apparently crashed and will not boot up. Now a dilemma is upon me to spend 89 dollars to have Garmin repair it or purchase a new 510 or 810. I like the idea of elevation being able to be displayed while riding. Will wait on a decision a bit longer, but my rides lack a little technical information that I miss a lot.
Which model(s) have elevation shown while riding – anyone know? I thought both the 500 & 510 had this feature? Have just ordered a 500 after reading this review and am now worried I might have made the wrong choice!
You might have received it by now and found out already, but I’m pretty sure the 500 does show elevation data whilst riding. The Garmin website shows an Edge 500 screenshot with the elevation chart on there:
Hi Andrew, Thanks for that. As it happens, my Garmin still hasn’t arrived yet so it’s good to hear the good news that you’ve sent me about it displaying elevation as I ride. (It’s quite important because in summer I’m going to make an ‘Everesting’ attempt and need to know when I’ve hit the magic target of 29029ft and can stop!)
Wow (re: Everesting)! Which climb do you plan to do it on?
Just a little local climb to me between Preston & Blackburn. My main reason for picking it is that one of my good friends lives at the top, so I have a base for any breaks (meals or mechanicals). The plan is to do it on May 9th weather permitting. Check on Strava (David Bamber – Preston) to see if I managed it!
BTW my Garmin 500 is working a treat & does indeed display elevation 🙂
Thanks again for your great review.
Tossing up between the 500 & 510. My question is how often do you have to charge it?
I presume you have to stick it on a charger which can be linked to the computer (at which time you can upload any rides)?
I currently have a Forerunner 210 which I use for the bike as well. I charge it after each ride anyway.
Hi Paul, thanks for your comment.
I don’t need to charge my 510 after every ride. I don’t have the back light on the screen generally, so it seems to stay charged for ages. As you say, whenever I connect it via USB to the computer, it charges, and is most done by the time I’ve finished pouring over my strava stats. That said, with Strava now syncing with Garmin Connect, which in turn syncs with my iphone automatically via Bluetooth, I don’t need my Edge to go anywhere near a USB cable in order to launch my ride data into the stravasphere. So the Edge stays on the bike – I’ll need to be careful that I don’t forget to charge it every so often….
Hi everyone, Just thought I would add my experiences with these two devices.
I had the 500 for over a year, but updated to the 510 for two reasons: my 500 would get condensation under its glass everytime it got wet, and my eyesight (510 has larger figures).
I have had the 510 for 18mths now and it has been great until recently. The touch screen is playing up to the point where it cannot be used, and it seems more frequent when it is hot / sunny.
I’m not sure if my problems are common, but I think I will move to the 520 when some second-hand ones pop up for sale (it has just been released).
Hey, I have owned a edge 500 for over 6 years now and I love it. Never had any major issue with it. Once in a while it does take a little long to connect with satellites, but that is pretty rare. One thing I do wish it had was the wireless feature to upload your rides directly to garmins cloud, I get lazy and don’t feel like powering up the ol pc just to upload. I would highly recommend the 500.