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Garmin Edge Explore | Full review of the most affordable navigation device

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Garmin's Edge Explore saga has been around for years, and until now it has always been a model-specific version. The Edge Touring came from the Edge 810, the Edge Explore 1000 from the Edge 1000, and the Edge Explore 820... from the Edge 820.

In addition to the fact that we were starting with another, better-known model, there was another problem, a price that hardly varied from the full version, which made little sense.

Until today, because the Garmin Edge Explore is a model in itself and since it is not derived from any other specific model, its price is much more interesting than in the past.

It doesn't mean it's any different from the rest of the range, not at all. In fact, it drinks from them in every way: aesthetics, menus, etc. But now it's a specific device with its own characteristics and, in my opinion, they do it much better to cover the segment you want to cover.

If we add to these features a very interesting price for the type of user offered I think we are in front of a winning device.

Garmin Edge Explore

Summary

Overall - 9
Training possibilities - 7
Platform and applications - 9.5
Autonomy - 9
Finishes and comfort - 9
Price/performance ratio - 9.5

8.8

Total

If you don't use a potentiometer, don't do structured workouts, and don't worry about not having Strava segments, the Garmin Edge Explore is by far the best option available today as a full-colour, fully navigated GPS cycle computer.

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The good

  • Point-to-point navigation with the possibility of creating routes from your own computer
  • Very interesting price
  • Enough inches to comfortably navigate
  • The screen is of good quality, in some situations with more contrast than the Edge 1030

The bad

  • The most important absence for most users is the lack of a barometric altimeter
  • No front support included, only handlebar support

Garmin Edge Explore, what's it like?

Garmin Edge Explore sits somewhere between Garmin Edge 520 Plus and Garmin Edge 1030. It's a simpler version of Edge 1030 with a more contained size, but with a screen large enough to comfortably follow routes, something neither Edge 820 nor Edge 520 plus can claim.

Its aesthetics are totally reminiscent of Edge 1030, but it is much more contained in size, but far superior to Edge 520 and Edge 820 which, with a screen size of 2.3″ is a worse choice when it comes to following a route.

Garmin Edge Explore - Edge Explore vs. Edge 520 vs.

And it's not just a matter of size to display the maps, but also to represent the numbers at a larger size (those who have a vision problem will understand perfectly what I mean).

The fact that it's a simplified version doesn't make it an unhelpful device. In Edge Explore we're going to find the features that, let's face it, most riders look for in a bike computer: a good-sized color display, route navigation, data screen customization, support for external sensors, and even mobile phone notifications.

So, where has it been cut? Well, everything that has to do with training functions, starting with the impossibility of connecting a power meter.

Be that as it may, let's clarify what features we do find in Garmin Edge Explore:

  • Colour touch screen from 3″ with 240×400 pixel resolution
  • Complete navigation with maps, turn-by-turn advice, points of interest, route creation and direct route calculation
  • Possibility to create a route on the device to a specific point of interest or address (take me to the nearest gas station or to the main square of such a village)
  • Creation of routes based on a certain distance (for example, ask him to design a 50 km route). These routes are also based on the Trendline function to find routes for cyclists
  • Ability to upload routes externally (from files or created through Garmin Connect or other applications)
  • 16GB of internal space with map of the region where you buy it (in our case, Europe)
  • Compatibility with external sensors both Bluetooth and ANT+: heart rate, speed and/or cadence, external lights, Garmin Varia radar...
  • Several data pages, two of them customizable
  • Incident Detection, Tracking Other Friends with GroupTrack, Messaging Between Group Cyclists, Sharing Live Training with LiveTrack, Mobile Phone Notifications
  • Support for Connect IQ applications and data fields
  • Up to 12 hours of battery life
  • Guest mode for companies to provide the device with specific configurations (bike rentals, routes, etc.)

Therefore, almost all basic functions for most cyclists are included, and 100% for tourists or cyclists whose objective is entertainment and not competition.

But I'm sure you're wondering what we're missing compared to similar devices in the Edge range. So here we go:

  • No power meter support, including no performance metrics such as FTP or VO2Max
  • No possibility to create advanced trainings
  • Only one profile is available, we cannot have several with different data screen configurations
  • We only found two pages that can be configured, and without as many data fields as other models
  • We don't have any Strava segments
  • Without a barometric altimeter, the accumulated altitude and meter data will come from the GPS data (less accurate)
  • No light sensor to control the brightness of the display
  • No WiFi connectivity available

Yes, there are quite a few things, so only you can know if they are features you need or will miss.

Perhaps the most conflicting part of the cycling profile is the absence of a barometric altimeter, everyone likes to have accurate data and the accumulated meters in cycling is a very important aspect of every outing. Although remember, Garmin Connect corrects the altimeter data after synchronizing the activity, so the accumulated meter data you see in the activity summary is not the one recorded by the computer using the GPS.

What it offers and configuration possibilities

The Edge Explore's simplicity is certainly reflected in its user interface, which lacks as many options as the Edge 1030, but this in turn is a good thing because it makes it easier to use.

This is the main screen you will find when you turn on the device.

Garmin Edge Explore - Main Menu

You can only start the activity or choose one of the ways of navigation (I will explain later the difference between destination and routes).

At the bottom of the screen we have access to the configuration menu or the Connect IQ applications you downloaded from the store.

This is the first place you'll want to go, because this is where you'll set up your data screens. Garmin Edge Explore supports two data screens that you can set up as you wish (or one, if that's enough), along with other screens that you can turn on, off, or specify when you want them to appear.

Garmin Edge Explore - Data Screens

When customizing the data screens you can choose up to 10 values on each screen, but it is not mandatory to choose 10, it can even be 1, and the fewer values you have the bigger the screen will look.

Garmin Edge Explore - 5 data on screen

Once you have selected the number of data you want to display you can also select the layout, giving more importance to any of them so that it is the most visible (for example speed).

Garmin Edge Explore | Full review of the most affordable navigation device 2

Buscador de chollos

Garmin Edge Explore | Full review of the most affordable navigation device 3

You can also change where a particular metric appears by simply clicking on it and then selecting its new location.

As for the predefined pages we have four more: map, altitude, GroupTrack and compass. In them you will also be able to configure two data that accompany the graph in question (except in the GroupTrack page). They are the ones that appear in the lower part of the screen.

Garmin Edge Explore - Compass

I don't show you the GroupTrack one because it only appears when there are friends in the area. And apparently, I don't have any friends :(.

As is customary with customizing any Garmin Edge activity profile, there are a number of other settings you can make. Pause, lap and auto-scroll, alerts, route type settings, and more.

When you have everything set up you can start pedaling from the main menu you saw earlier, but now the buttons at the bottom of the device come into play. Pressing the one on the right starts or stops the training while the one on the left will mark laps manually.

Garmin Edge Explore - Buttons

The side button will allow you to lock the screen (or turn off the Edge Explore if you hold it down). Locking the screen does not mean you cannot move from one page to another, that gesture is supported, what it does not allow is to slide the top menu or return to the home page.

And now that I'm talking about the top menu, you can access it by sliding up and down. Here we have direct access to sensors, settings, notifications, etc.

Garmin Edge Explore - Drop-down menu

As for the recorded activity, it's the usual Garmin thing. After pairing by cable or Bluetooth with your mobile phone - instant if you have it with you - it will be uploaded to Garmin Connect and you can review all the details on the web or in the mobile application.

Garmin Edge Explore - Track

As far as GPS signal reception is concerned, it is not worth creating a specific section because there are simply no problems, at least on the road, where I spend 95% of the minutes I train. On a mountain bike there should also be no problems unless you are riding through heavily wooded areas, at low speed or through very steep canyons.

Cycling computers have it much easier than clocks to obtain quality GPS data. First of all by position on the bike, since they are always fixed on the handlebars and totally oriented to the sky. Their surface area is much larger, so no inventions have to be made to design a small antenna. In addition, the speeds at which we ride the bike are much higher than those we run or walk, so the distance between the points is greater (even recording at rates of 1 second). For all these reasons the tracks are almost always perfect.

Of course not everything is the track of the route, also the distance and speed when measured by GPS. But for the same reasons as before there is no problem. In fact I have the speed sensor connected to only one of the devices while the other gives the data exclusively by GPS, and the differences between them are minimal.

Where there is a difference is in the altimetry and cumulative meter information. As you've read, Garmin Edge Explore does not have a barometric altimeter, so altitude data is obtained through GPS 3D triangulation, which is not very effective. In fact, the altitude calculation has a typical margin of error of +/- 23m.

Is this a problem? Well, it depends on when the accumulated altitude and positive meter data are important to you. If it is during your bike ride, and if you want to have reliable data at any time (which are not exact, since they are also affected by changes in atmospheric pressure) your best option is to have a device with a barometric altimeter. The same thing happens if you want to consult it on the device immediately after finishing.

But if you want to check it quietly after you finish your trip and you don't care too much about the data at the moment, then you don't have a problem. Both Garmin Connect and other platforms (Strava, etc.) make a corrected calculation with known data, so your synchronized activity will show the revised altitude data (and not the data recorded by the GPS).

Garmin Edge Explore - Height Correction- Note of interest

I was preparing a good comparison between three devices with barometric altimeter and the altitude data through the GPS of the Edge Explore. In fact I was even "announced" in social networks...

It was finally something else I ended up trying...

So in the end today's test has been reduced to testing Garmin's incident detection... It works.#PaHabernosMatao

Published by Correr una Maratón at Sunday, September 23, 2018

A mishap at the exit of a roundabout ended a day of important training and a lot of tests I wanted to do that day, ending up embedded against a guardrail.

Luckily it all came down to a sharp blow to the inside of the leg and a lot of scratches, as if I had fought a tiger.

I don't know if I will be able to repeat the test before sending the device back (because I don't know when I will be able to mount it again), although really the result is very similar to what I can get with any other device that gives altitude data exclusively by GPS.

The positive side? We know the accident detection function works properly.

Navigation

If you're interested in Garmin Edge Explore, it's because of its navigation and maps. That's what this device is focused on. So you can rest assured that Edge Explore offers the "best of the best" available within Garmin. In navigation, the options are the same as Edge 1030, which doubles in price. Same maps, same navigation possibilities, same route calculation, etc.

The only difference is that while on Edge 1030 everything is under the same Navigation menu, on Edge Explore it has been separated on the main screen between Destination and Routes.

Garmin Edge Explore - Home

The first option of Destination is similar to what you can find in your car's navigation system. It offers you these options:

  • Search on the mapShow the map and mark the location where you want to go
  • SearchSearch: search for points of interest, coordinates, crossings, etc. Both nearby and in the location you mark
  • Address searchYou enter a known address and the route to that point is calculated
  • Saved LocationsObviously, if you have saved a location before (such as your home location)
  • RecentLast searches you have made

So in this option we'll create a route to a certain point, from A to B, in the traditional way. But the most interesting part of doing it from the device instead of creating a route from other places - for example, Google Maps - is that Edge Explore has the Trendline function for route calculation. So it won't take you to the fastest route that includes motorways, nor to the most appropriate one for pedestrians, nor even to the one that a priori might be more suitable for cycling but crossing hundreds of scary urbanizations. Garmin includes in its maps the data of routes in popular roads used by cyclists, that's the Trendline routes and they are the roads that the calculation will give preference to.

And how does Garmin know which roads are the most popular? Because it uses the millions of synchronised workouts in Garmin Connect to heat map which roads are the most popular, so it's important to select the right route mode depending on whether you're riding a road bike or a mountain bike.

Garmin Edge Explore - Route Mode

The second option of navigation is Journeys. It has three possibilities:

  • Saved journeysA route that you have downloaded or synced from Garmin Connect
  • Create JourneyYou can create an A-B navigation route as in the address search option, or do something more complex by going through several A-B-C-D places.
  • Round tripEdge Explore: routes where you specify a desired distance you want to travel, and Edge Explore will return three suggestions based on that distance, starting location (in case you are not going to start at the current point), and even starting direction of the route. But always circular routes and not going back and forth on the same road

Once you have your route designed you can start your training. The navigation offers all the information you expect. It shows you the map with the indicated route, warns you in advance before you have to make a turn (both on-screen warnings and audible warnings), in case you get lost it will recalculate the route, etc.

Garmin Edge Explore - Navigating the route

I insist, in this respect Garmin has not made any cuts with respect to the superior models.

Buy Garmin Edge Explore

I hope that this complete analysis has helped you to decide if it is a valid device for you or not. All the work I do you can consult it without any cost, but if you want to support the web and with it the work I do, the best way to do it is to buy your new device through the links I provide below. And if you don't buy it today, remember to stop by when you are going to do it!

Through these links not only will you get a very competitive price and the best customer service, but I will also receive a small percentage without costing you any additional outlay, which is what allows me to continue offering you proofs like this on the page.

If you have any questions, remember that you have the comments section at the bottom, where I will try to answer all your questions.

My opinion of Garmin Edge Explore

Garmin has finally succeeded in bringing an Edge Explore to market. Gone are the models that are simply trimmed versions. It's still software like any other Garmin model with less features, but now it's a model in its own right. And above all, it's temptingly priced and not slightly trimmed from the original model, of which it's simply a rehash.

The screen is high quality and perfectly sized to make navigation comfortable. In fact, I would love the Edge 1030 to be this slightly more compact in size.

Otherwise it has all the functions that we can ask from a device of this type, perfectly valid for the vast majority of weekend cyclists.

There are only two details that may be missing from the Edge Explore if this is your profile: the barometric altimeter and the Strava segments. And of course, if you use a power meter, it becomes a no-go. If none of this is a hindrance, you'll be just as happy with the Edge Explore as you are with an Edge 1030. It's the best possible choice for a computer with a color screen and navigation, period.

As I say rather than liking the device - which is not new in any way - I like Garmin's proposal and that they have finally hit the nail on the head with what this type of user wants.

For me it is not an option because it is not compatible with a potentiometer, but in case it is, it could perfectly be my reference cyclocomputer over the very expensive Edge 1030.

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72 Comments

  1. How do these mountain bike GPS's work? Not to follow tracks but to follow trails, to do enduro. Usually I go with my mobile with Google Satellit maps where you can see the forest in detail and see where I am and where the trail goes. Does this type of maps offer this navigator? Would it be useful? Thank you

    1. No, keep in mind that these are satellite images, they have nothing to do with topographical maps.

      1. But do you have both options? I mean, if I go out by track can I put these topographic maps so that I can tell left/right. But can I also put satellite maps and follow a GPX by coordinates, without voice instructions?

  2. Hi! v650 ( I have it ) does have maps, openstreet as the base of some of garmin; but it follows tracks, no guided navigation. Better to have it than not to have it, it has been good for me, but you need some experience to be useful to guide you without tracks, improvising a route.
    What do you think of Vector 3 and V650 together? I'm expecting Vector S, and according to thisisant they won't work together despite the Vector's Bluetooth smart. Could I get a nice surprise? I see myself putting my cell phone on the handlebars.
    Thank you, a greeting.

    1. That's right, the maps were added later. I didn't remember that update.

      As for the Vector 3S and V650 you should have no problem, after upgrading to the latest version the pedals (the first units came with the BT off).

      1. By the way, this last month was the presentation of the new Polar (new v800), but between suunto 9 and fenix upgrade; what a month! Let's see who can put a high range of such machines on the market!
        Thank you, Eduardo.

    1. It is not included (unless you get a "pack" version), but it is compatible with any pulse sensor, both ANT+ and Bluetooth.

      1. Hi, do you know if it would be compatible with the polar tape (H7) or is it only compatible with garmin's?
        Thank you!

  3. Hello good afternoon, now I have doubts between the explore and 520 plus, I do not know which to choose now, I want it for mtb and follow some routes of wikiloc, for the touch and a little larger screen I do not care, I want it for data and follow some routes of wikiloc Thank you very much.

    1. If the routes are from Wikiloc, then the Trendline feature will not give you much because the route is already designed in advance. The main difference between Edge 520 plus and Edge Explore is in what it allows at the training level (configure workouts, values, more data screens, smart roller control, etc.). And it also has a barometric altimeter.

  4. It has real-time Strava segments, or as the 820 explore either.
    Thank you very much, your reviews are very good. Let's see if your time allows you to open the field of your tests to some other field like potentiometers or action cameras... Few websites are as analytical and independent as your blog. For me you are a reference in the panorama of this country. I hope you can grow and expand your analysis little by little. Greetings and congratulations for your work.

  5. Hello in August I bought the Garmin 820 Bundle, because I am interested in the heart rate, when I suffered a heart attack 5 months ago, I bought it when you made a comparison, it goes perfect, my question is how can I see in Strava after making a route the heart rate that I have had? I had to install 2 applications Ant Radio and Ant +Plugins and I do not know how to make it a greeting

    1. Simply connect your Garmin Connect account to Strava, either from your mobile app or from the web. (Settings - third party applications)

    1. Yes, because the altimetry is with reference to the route. The fact that we don't have a barometric altimeter has nothing to do with it.

  6. Hi Eduardo. The Explorer can be connected to a Specialized Turbo Levo via Mission Control to generate the August oil of the bike in the device, I know the Edge 520 can.
    Thank you for all your comments.

    1. No, the Explore are not compatible with potentiometers or electronic switches, it is not possible to connect and receive data from them.

  7. Hello, for 195 euros you can sell me the garmin edge explore 1000, which would you choose the edge explore or the edge explore 1000?

  8. Hi Eduardo, you mentioned that you can load the TopoHispania in the Edge Explore, some stores in the area told me that it was not possible, I have it loaded in a card in the Garmin 800, could you tell me how to pass it to the Edge Explore?

    Thank you very much.

  9. Hi Eduardo, although the accumulated altitude measurement is not very precise, is it a data that can be put to show on screen during the activity? I see in the photos you have put that you see one that marks 5 meters altitude and I would like to know if it has that field available.

    Greetings and thanks for these reviews.

  10. Hi Eduardo. Can you tell me if you can take a field on a screen that indicates the accumulated ascent in the route you are doing??, although as you say it is not exact.

    Thank you.

    1. Edges no longer have separate profiles for each bike, nor does the Edge Explore or any of the others. Now there are profiles that can be configured and called up as you wish. But the Edge Explore only has a single profile.

  11. Good morning, Eduardo,
    Thank you for answering a question I asked you in December.
    I wanted to ask you something else.
    I have a temperature sensor that I used with the Oregon 600, is it possible to use it with the Edge Explore?
    Thank you in advance

    1. Well, I'm not sure if the Edge Explore supports Tempe.

      Anyway, so I'm reading after the 4.00 update that the Edge Explore already records temperature data in the FIT file, so even though Garmin doesn't indicate it, it does have an internal thermometer. There is no data field, but it's as simple as putting one through Connect IQ.

  12. Hi, Eduardo.
    congratulations on your efforts
    how can you connect explore to the mission control of the 2019 turbo levo?
    thanks

  13. I'd like to know how I can enter a map. I'm going out in the field and the one I've got doesn't fit.

  14. Congratulations on the work you're doing, Eduardo.
    One thing:
    I've always been a Polar user, now I'm thinking about what to do to change the GPS, I only bike, both road and MTB, what do you think is better for the Polar V650 or this Garmin Explore?
    Thank you

      1. Good morning, Eduardo.
        In the end I got a Garmin Edge Explore, I followed your recommendations, among other things because the Polar V650 has quite a few timing problems and I considered it to be an "old" product not in itself because of the firmware but because of the hardware. I don't understand Polar's policy on cycling, I think it's founding everything on the Vantage, hopefully they will reconsider their product policy, as there are users who have always valued the brand as a very good brand.
        Greetings

  15. Hi, Eduardo,
    The edge explore is not compatible with strava segments, but I can use it to upload the outputs to strava?
    Thank you very much, good job!

    1. Yes, that depends on the integration of Garmin Connect, so all of the brand's devices allow this to be done without problem.

  16. Hi, I bought the Garmin Edge Explorer and I know it doesn't have a barometer, but my question is: When I put the meters in my city into the Garmin, the altitude is reset to zero on the device. Is there a way to do it? I looked at YouTube tutorials and I do it as it is, but when I put the meters in, it resets to zero when I leave the screen. Thank you.

    1. Well, you must be doing something out of the ordinary, because when you enter the altitude, it should stay put.

  17. Good morning Eduardo
    I have Garmin Edge Explore and I can't see the full stage profile on any screen, only the area of the profile I'm in. How can I get the whole profile to show and see if I have any ports left to go up or is it all down, etc...?
    Thank you very much.

    1. Right now I don't remember if it's possible in Edge Explore, but if you click on the top left of the profile screen you can vary the distance to display up to 5km.

  18. Good afternoon:
    Two questions
    Can it be installed on all MTB powers or depends on its size (standard power of an Orbea Alma M50)
    Can it also be used for the car? I mean, does it come with cartography for national roads, highways, etc...?
    Thank you

    1. The support is with rubber, so there is no problem with the power.

      As for the use in the car, it can be configured for that use and in a very sporadic way I don't see a problem (it can be configured to navigate as a car or a motorcycle), but keep in mind that for example it doesn't have vocal instructions...

  19. I have had an Edge Explore for a few days and cannot find the option to see the incline or percentage of slope of the road.
    Is there a solution to this problem?

  20. Hi Eduardo, what disadvantages does the edge explore have in relation to the gloneass and galileo? I am an amateur MTB and route rider and I want a browser that helps me to find new trails and routes or if I enter an unknown trail that helps me to leave by the best possible path, but I have doubt if the simple GPS is enough or if it is necessary to have the gloneass and galileo, in case you think it is not enough you think they will make an improvement to the software and include it, the truth I like all your information about the edge explore which I appreciate

  21. Good afternoon,
    On the Garmin website I read that Edge Explore supports up to 100 tracks (or paths), but I was only allowed to load 5 tracks from Wikiloc and there is no way to load more. Does the number of tracks in each path depend on whether you can load more or less tracks on the device?
    Thank you and a greeting.

    1. The Edge Explore has 16GB for data, so there's more than enough room. Are you loading the paths from the Wikiloc application? If so, I think that's the limitation you're having, because you shouldn't have any problem doing it.

  22. Good one,
    All Bluetooth sensors are compatible with the Edge Explore? I am trying to connect a heart rate band from a heart rate monitor purchased from Decathlon, which works perfectly via Bluetooth with the heart rate monitor and Runtastic for example, and with Garmin there is no way it can be connected.
    And another thing, I tried to load several tracks from Wikiloc from the PC to Garmin (via cable inside the New Files folder), and it only took me 5 tracks out of the 7 I was trying to load. Does it have something to do with the number of tracks that each track has so that I can later load them to Garmin? When I downloaded the tracks from Wikiloc I didn't summarize them to 500 tracks, I left them with the original tracks and in some of the tracks there were many...
    Thank you very much for the answer and congratulations for your website.
    Greetings

    1. Yes, Bluetooth is a standard and everything is compatible with each other.

      As for the problem with Wikiloc I can't tell you, it's an application I don't use often.

  23. Hello, very good article and thank you in advance for your informative effort.
    I have my doubts about this device regarding its autonomy (I have read somewhere that it is not as high as the other models... but how many hours does it really reach with normal use?), and about whether there is a possibility of installing Open Street Maps or another type (satellite ones would be the ideal option), in which usual trails in the countryside (paths) come, if they do not come in the default map.

    A salute.
    Paul.

    1. Autonomy is around 10-12 hours.

      No problem installing Open Street Maps (which is what Garmin's map is based on anyway), but no satellite images

  24. Hola estoy interesado en este explore,tiene virtual parhner ?para poder competir con un trayecto ya hecho, gracias

  25. Estoy contento con mi Garmin edge explorer. Pero siempre que salgo pongo el strava del tlf en la mochila . y luego el gps. y siempre mi gps me da menos recorrido y menos tiempo y menos desnivel acumulado.

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