How To Create And Upload A Route To A Garmin Edge 510

As you may know, I’ve owned a Garmin Edge 510 for over a year (here’s when I ‘unboxed’ it; here’s where I compared it to an Edge 500).

In that time, I have been woefully bad at learning how to use all but its simplest features. I’ve done little more than use it to record where I’ve been and to display how fast (slow) I was whilst doing it. That’s all set to change.

One of the features that I’ve been meaning to try out is the ability to upload a route and then have the 510 give me directions as I’m cycling.

Other than the usual inertia, some light research had given me the impression that ‘cookie crumb’ navigation (i.e. using GPS waypoints rather than maps within the unit itself) was next to useless, and that the Edge wasn’t very good at giving advance notice of upcoming turns.

SPOILER ALERT: I was very wrong.

After finally pulling my finger out, I discovered that it is both very easy to design a route and, when uploaded to the Edge, follow it whilst cycling. Whilst the topic is fresh in my mind I thought I’d write a quick ‘how to’ to explain my process.

Box Hill Leith Hill Garmin route profile
What Garmin thinks Leith and Box Hills look like…

Disclaimer: blah blah. This is only one way of doing things, rather than the right way. I’d guess the other Garmins use a similar process but since I only own the 510, I can’t guarantee that.

Right then, there are three steps to (navigational) heaven.

1. Design a route

I use RideWithGPS to plan out a route. It’s pretty straightforward. Head to ‘Plan’ in the menu bar at the top, select a starting point and then click around the map to start ‘routing’.

RideWithGPS, like most mapping applications, uses Google Maps data (I think). By selecting the appropriate options you can ‘optimize’ (sic) for cycling and avoid highways (motorways).

If you’re not sure of the area, or you’d like some inspiration, click ‘Find’ in the top menu bar in order to search for routes near you (or near to where you’re going).

NB. Other mapping websites are available. I’ve heard good things about Bike Route Toaster (which gets bonus points for the name). You can use Strava (I’ve literally just created my first route whilst typing this post), Garmin Connect, my RAC Road Atlas 2003. They all work in a similar way (other than my Road Atlas, which doesn’t seem to use a mouse).

Back to RideWithGPS. Once you’ve got your route, you need to save it down as a file that the Garmin can interpret.

For the sake of argument, let’s use this route I ‘designed’ last September as a training route for people wanting to acclimatise to Leith Hill and Box Hill (i.e. ahead of RideLondon):

Box Hill Leith Hill Loop (opens route in RideWithGPS)

Here’s a screenshot of what you should see:

ridewithgps screenshot leith hill loop
Click to see a larger version

In the top right of the screen, there is an orange link ‘Export’. Click that and you get some handy info on the appropriate file type to download for your Garmin type. Currently the info looks out of date. There is no mention of Edge 510.

Whatevs. The file type you want for the 510 has a .tcx suffix so click the link, ‘TCX Course’. A pop up should appear asking you where you want to save the downloaded file. You’ll want to remember where you saved it…

(Another NB. I think you can upload .gpx files to the Edge 510. Apparently these contain less of the cue sheet information that makes the ride followable on the non-map 510/500 (as opposed to those with inbuilt mapping), so I’d advise sticking to the .tcx files for now).

2. Upload the route

Now I’m no technology expert, but I think a lot of the information on t’interwebs about problems uploading files to bike GPS devices (mainly Garmins) is down to historical factors.

Garmin updates the ‘firmware’ (they call it software, but I think it amounts to the same thing) on its units fairly frequently. It may well have done so after you bought your Edge (or whatever). Many of the issues of the past are no longer issues, provided that the unit is up to date.

So make sure you have the latest firmware/software running. To check, it’s a convoluted process (or it seemed to be for me). I think (think) you need to log in to your Garmin Connect account, download a piece of software called ‘WebUpdater’ and, once that’s downloaded, run it to check and update your unit.

The good news is that having downloaded the WebUpdater, you can use that to check in every so often (perhaps every couple of months).

Right, now things start getting straightforward. To upload the route:

Upload route to Garmin 510
You need to copy your route .tcx file to the ‘NewFiles’ folder shown here.

a.) Make sure your 510 is connected to your computer with the USB cable

b) Find that .tcx route file you saved down (you remember where you saved it, right?) and copy it (in Windows, right click and ‘Copy’ or Ctrl+C)

c) Navigate to the following location on the Edge: “Garmin Edge 510/Garmin/NewFiles”

d) Paste the .tcx file into the ‘NewFiles’ folder (only paste one file here – don’t copy in multiple files in a bid to save time – I don’t think it works)

e) That’s it.

Unplug the Edge from your computer. Turn it on. I find that it takes a little longer to boot up (~ 1 minute) after I’ve just uploaded a route (I’m guessing this is when the Edge is converting the .tcx file into the .fit file that it can use).

3. Follow the route

Now, I could spend a few hundred words describing what to do next, along with a few screen shots. But I won’t.

Instead, by way of a little experiment, I MADE A FUGGING VIDEO!

It occurs to me now (having uploaded it to Youtube) that I could have had the decency to shave, wear a clean t-shirt, look at the camera rather than just off to the left. C’est la vie.

I used my new iPhone and the free video editing software that comes with Windows. Hence why it’s a bit trud.

Hopefully the content of the video is clear. If you have any questions (or video presentation tips) leave them in the comments section below.

I quite enjoyed making my first documentary. I may well make some more.

Do You Need To Buy a New Bike Computer?

Normally at this point in a post, I link to the products I’ve talked about so you can buy them (and I can earn a commission at no extra cost to you).

That doesn’t work so well if you already own an Edge 510. If you don’t (well done on performing some very in-depth research), here are your buying options on Amazon:

Garmin 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.

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.
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.

32 thoughts on “How To Create And Upload A Route To A Garmin Edge 510”

  1. That was awesome, Andrew, Bought one last year as well.Well ,yes, turned it on and forgot to push start till half way thru ride, But that was a start, now you have given me faith to go on and ,,,I know read the manual yet again!!!

    • Thanks Kevin. Glad you found it useful. I didn’t show the navigation in use on the bike, but I was pleasantly surprised how useful it was. I used it to ride a loop last weekend in an area I don’t know well, where I was keen to avoid a main road going straight down the middle of the area I wanted to cycle. It did the job well. I made just one wrong turn (probably more a fault of the mapping software/tcx file) and it told me I was off course within about 2 seconds.

  2. I have a new 510 and have successfully uploaded GPX files to it but when I load a TCX file (from RideWithGPS) it simply doesn’t show up under Courses after being transferred to the 510. Help! I bought the device to get the TBT directions that are part of TCX files.

    • That’s odd Roger. The only things I can think to suggest would be to make sure the software is up to date on the Edge and also only to transfer one file at a time before restarting the Edge and having it move it from the new files folder to the courses section of the unit. Does the TCX file have the same name as an already uploaded GPX file? I don’t know but this might cause a problem. Sorry not to be more use!

  3. Hi, just wanted to inform you about a free software tool you can use when you have to convert gpx to kml format and vice versa. No need for installation, simple and easy to use. Just upload your files, select any option wanted: way point, route or track and see the results.

  4. Hi Andrew. Hello from sunny California. I am here with my wife on our annual cycling tour of Sonoma and Napa (fourth) having driven down from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It is a two-for-one trip covering cycling and wine-tasting. I just wanted to thank you for Garmin 510 route upload instructions. I have been using my 510 for three years and I just never got around to figuring out how to create and load a course. Your instructions and video were simple and I am converted. I also like the blog – enjoyably unpretentious and helpful.


  5. I’m looking to buy a 510 for planning courses so I don’t get lost, does the 510 just use GPS to follow turn by turn on the map or course i downoad or do I need internet data access on my android phone as well ? I’d like to save the phone battery for phone calls if needed.

    • Hi Rob – sorry for the delay in responding. The navigation uses GPS on board the Edge 510 to follow a set of instructions that you upload to it. It doesn’t have true mapping – it only knows to follow coordinates. It doesn’t ‘understand’ that there are roads, rivers etc like you car GPS does (and I think the Edge 810 and 1000). You don’t need to have it connected to the internet via your phone, unless you want live tracking (i.e. where someone can watch your progress on the Garmin Connect website from their computer at home).

  6. Hi Andrew thanks for the presentation and the video 🙂 that’s helpful.
    I have a question : can I see the path that I have ride in Garmin 510 ?
    I know that’s a little stupid but yesterday I was lost my way in my first match…in a crossing…I’m not good at this so I always need sb or sth to tell me when and where I should turn…
    But the problem is that the entrepreneur will not offer the tcx courses so I want to know if I can see my path that I have ride in the first loop and than I can follow it in the next loop…
    I don’t know if my question is clear…thank you in advance 😉


    • Hi Sheng – there is certainly a ‘map view’ screen on the Edge 510. This plots where you’ve gone on a ride. It’s not a true map – there are no other symbols, roads etc. It’s just a wiggly line. Still, if you zoom in on it, you should be able to tell if, for your second lap, you are following the same route that you did for your first lap.

      • make sure in “activity profiles” that you have the map screen as “on”. it’s taken me months to figure out why the heck I couldn’t see a map like on my 510.

        hopefully when I try it out tonight, everything works fine.

  7. Hi Im still struggling to get a route someone else created from Strava and have my 510 show turn by turn navigation for said route.

    I wonder if I need to ‘mark up’ the waypoints/turn points in say BikeRouteToaster, RideWithGPS in order for the 510 to work.

    Thanks for any advice

    • Hi Rick,

      The short answer is yes, in that the 510 just uses GPS coordinates. Provided your route file you upload takes you down a bridleway then the Edge would display this.

      So it depends which route planning site/app you use (and the underlying map data that they use). I’ve certainly planned routes using RidewithGPS (and similar) where I’ve discovered when riding that the route is taking me down a country track. Perhaps play around with RidewithGPS and Bike Route Toaster – if you can get a route going down bridleways, then it should transfer to the 510 (famous last words…)

  8. Great write up – thanks. I’ve never seen the cue pages before and this blog post helped me find a web site that is superior to the Garmin Connect course planner, which is basic at best, and full of bugs

  9. Great! thanks for the step by step. I’ve had a 510 for a few years but never got round to using this feature – sooo lazy, always rely on other rides to have the route, but have to do a solo today in an area I dont know. Easy peasy.

  10. Hi Monty, I converted a gpx file from Map my Fitness to a .tcx and located it in the new files folder on my 510. It appears in courses but the extra navigational screen that you show in the video does not appear, any ideas why? Many thanks.


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