The Garmin Edge 1030 Plus review in a nutshell: this is easily one of the most capable and best bike computers on sale today, with enough statistics and metrics tracking to keep every kind of cyclist entertained for months.
With the Edge 1030 Plus, Garmin has replaced its predecessor flagship model with what looks like a doppelgänger, but the updates are largely beneath the surface and include increased internal storage and a more responsive touchscreen, a bunch of new features and massively increased battery life. In essence, it has taken all that was great about the 1030 and improved upon it.
Read the preview of the successor of the Edge 1030 Plus here: Garmin Edge 1040 Solar review.
Garmin Edge 1030 Plus review: Design and build quality
Cycling computers rarely feel like works of art and tend to be fashioned from plastic to keep the over weight (and cost to the manufacturer) down. The same is true here, as the 124g Edge 1030 is both lightweight and quite plasticky.
Don’t get me wrong, it feels robust enough to withstand a few knocks, while the unit is fully sealed so it is protected from the weather, but the addition of a few metal-effect buttons isn’t fooling anyone. It’s essentially a larger Edge 830 with a few more fancy features.
As a result, it packs Garmin’s now ubiquitous three-button layout, with a module on the side for switching the thing on/off and two buttons at the bottom for manually activating a new lap or pausing the ride. Most of the interaction is via the touchscreen, which is now a much nicer experience thanks to the improved responsiveness of said screen.
Initial set-up is fairly simple with the Garmin Connect app, although there isn’t an option to mess about with data screens using this method. Instead, you have to do it on the computer, which is a bit fiddly.
However, if you’ve owned any Garmin devices in the past, the Edge 1030 Plus will use previous information and set up your new device with those setting in mind, reducing the time it takes to get out and ride.
Garmin Edge 1030 Plus review: Features and battery life
Jeez, where do we start with the features list? It is both exhaustive and a bit tedious to list absolutely everything the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus does here. In short, it records everything you could possibly want from a ride, from average speed and distance covered, to detailed nutrition and hydration alerts (if you want them).
Perhaps more importantly, Garmin has added a bunch of features that will keep the gravel and mountain biking contingent smiling. Bespoke metrics, such as jump distance and hang time, coupled with a new Grit and Flow readout, which takes GPS data and analysis the difficulty of a ride, as well as your ability to descend trails smoothly, make this one mighty MTB (or electric MTB) companion.
Pair the unit with some of Garmin’s other products, such as the latest Rally power meter pedals, its heart rate monitor and smart bike lights, and you get an even more detailed read-out of your ride, from a left/right pedal power split to audio warnings when a vehicle approaches from the rear.
The system itself is easy to use and the revised touchscreen tech means you aren’t constantly prodding the thing to move data screens around. Plus, Garmin’s Connect app is arguably the best out there and comes choc-full of additional downloads and pieces of software that make your Edge 1030 Plus an even more powerful tool. You can start to see where the money goes.
Above all else, the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus makes an excellent navigational tool and although not completely fault (more on that later), it’s easy to plan interesting rides with a simple tap and return home if you get a bit lost.
As for battery life, that has also been improved by the addition of a new Lithium-ion pack that is good for a 24-hour run and recording time, or up to 48 hours in its most basic modes.
Garmin Edge 1030 Plus review: User experience
I’ll admit that I’ve long owned various Garmin products, from fitness watches to smart bike lights, so setting up the Edge 1030 Plus took a matter of minutes. It’s simply a case of firing up the app, searching for the device when prompted and letting the wonder of technology do the rest.
Admittedly, the experience isn’t always this smooth and I’ve spent many a frustrated minute trying to pair a new set of power pedals or searching for a “off-brand” heart rate monitor, but as promised, Garmin ported over most of my existing settings, meaning the unit was good to use within minutes.
Mounted to the bike, the Edge 1030 Plus feels large and it’s a step-change from the diminutive 830 and even the largest Wahoo Elemnt Roam, which is more more of a square shape than this elongated rectangle. In an ‘out-front’ position, it’s perfectly acceptable and the big screen is awesome for navigating, but it’s not the most ‘aero’ thing on the market and could spoil your lithe carbon fibre set-up. Also, you might need a special aero mount if your expensive road bike as one of those fancy ‘cockpits’
The Garmin Edge 1030 Plus is as simple as you want to make it, with the ability auto stop and start rides when it detects movement if all you need is really basic data tracking. Of course, if you want to add power metres and heart rate monitors, there is some initial faff as the system locates these items and takes an initial data feed.
I have mine set-up with a main data screen with some of my favourite read-outs, including speed, distance covered and an average power output, while navigation is committed to a separate screen. It’s simply a case of wiping left or right to switch between these screens.
Ardent riders can also set up a number of profiles with specific data screens for the likes of indoor training, mountain biking and even racing. I’m just not that into data, so tend to use the one “training” function for all of it. However, the indoor training profile is good for controlling compatible turbo trainers and things.
The touchscreen technology has previously let Garmin down, with my older Edge 520 proving the best example of something you want to throw under a bus, but it ha largely been fixed here. It’s possible to swipe between menus with cold or wet hands and it generally responds as you want it to
Garmin Edge 1030 Plus review: Downsides
Slightly irksome things include the ultra-loud beeps whenever Garmin thinks a dangerous junction is coming up. Apparently, every roundabout in the world is the deadliest junction known to man. Similarly, it beeps when climbs are approaching and when it thinks you need a drink. Definitely delve into the settings and deactivate some of this, because it ruins the ambience of a peaceful ride
The navigation, although largely brilliant, can be a bit clunky in places, especially when routing for mountain or gravel bikes is involved. The “one-touch” routes will sometimes take you to questionable looking fields or towards areas that most definitely look like private land. A few teaks and it’s possible to quickly create a route that won’t land you in trouble
Similarly, searching for a POI in our location via the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus itself is tedious, as the keyboard layout is alphabetical (not QWERTY) and scrolling through a suggested list takes ages. Again, it’s easier to drop pins on the map instead.
That said, Garmin re-routing technology has improved vastly and on a couple of occasions where I veered off my re-planned mountain biking route on the Isle of Wight, the computer would ask me if I’d like to re-route or rejoin at a later, more convenient point. It’s far better than anything Garmin has produced before and makes for a really seamless riding experience.
Garmin Edge 1030 Plus review: Verdict
Garmin’s latest set of cycling computers is arguably the best money can buy, with more data screens and ride tracking gizmos than most cyclists will ever need. Those who love to pore over Strava figures or work out the power offset of individual legs can spend hours looking at graphs and crunching numbers.
That said, the Garmin Edge 830 packs most of the 1030’s features but comes in almost £200 cheaper. So you do need to consider this larger – it can look quite bulky when strapped to the svelte aero bars of a road bike – and fancier unit.
If you intend to use it primarily for navigation, the big screen is an absolute boon, and it’s possible to calculate routes and change settings on the fly, thanks to a larger, more responsive display. But for tracking data, the cheaper Edge 830 is arguably just as good. However, if you simply must have the best of everything, when it comes to current bike computers, this is it.