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.
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):
Here’s a screenshot of what you should see:
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:
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:
🥊 High performance at a reasonable price
🧩 Intelligent route mapping (unlike previous 5xx models)
🕹 Not touchscreen (not a dealbreaker for me)