After having used a Garmin 500 since I started 'road' cycling pretty much with mixed success especially on the longer rides I started doing a couple years ago, it has come time to upgrade this.

Mainly - power charging while on the go has been inconsistent(keeps disconnecting from charger etc, could not find cables to use with common power banks, cannot use the same cables for charging phone/lights).

Courses with bread trails and no base maps has been ok, but as I ride more and more strange routes which I upload having a base map would be nice.

I dont tour, even when on exploratory rides I tend to map them out and put them on the phone or device and just follow the route. So re-routing etc is not essential.

Training info would be useful as well as hill profiles(though I try not to look at this too much). But I cant afford a power meter, should use a heart rate monitor I suppose though I have been too fix the one that came with the 500 when it stopped working (probably battery).

Have been tossing up between the Garmin 520 $289 and the Magellan 505 $219.

All info and advice is appreciated.


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I will reply in more detail later but the Garmin 520 is likely to do all you need and the Evans price is $40-$50+ less than elsewhere right now, a good price, tempted myself

The one negative is the restricted amount of space for maps, the supplied base map is pretty useless without much detail (it covers the whole world), so you have to replace it with an Opem Street/Cycle map. Available space is about 50Mbs or almost 100 if you remove the supplied base map too. By selecting individual OSM tiles (rather then getting the whole OSM of Australia which would be too big), you can get a map covering most of NSW which would be about 65 Mb. All ok you say then but if you were say doing the PBP in 2019 then 100Mb would not be enough for the French tiles west of Paris due to the much greater density of roads in France.

The bigger Garmin options (810 or 1000) have slots for SD cards so this is not a problem but they are more expensive and (especially 810) much older technology.

While the Garmn forums are full of problems and people threatening to get some other brand the reality is the those other brands generally don't cut it for the more serious rider.

Ps the 520 charge is claimed at 15 hours so you still have the charging issue but I have never had a problem doing this, has my cable not worked, might be a 500 issue rather than cable?
PSS space for Frence maps might not be a big issue as you would still have the breadcrumb trail to follow, 520 looks good to me

Bread trails will be fine for major events like that Bill.  anyways and its 3 years away. Smaller events are more the danger and lone riding for long periods. Am told the Magellan cant be used overseas for maps as well.

On the go charging is a problem for the 500, plush my actual port seems to disconnect/connect from the gomadic charger which is one of the few chargers i could get to work with it. This is the problem that lead to my more recent night riding in the rain and getting lost adventure ;)

Yes have to say despite the small problems and occassional unrelaibility the 500 has lasted through some horrendous conditions, roads, a couple of falls of the bike, so leaning towards garmin.

Thanks for input as always :)

I use the 500 - it has had enough battery life for my longest rides of up to 14 hours or so. My biggest complaint is shitty satellite reception - my 500, and plenty of others I think, takes ages to get a lock on satellites, and in hilly country with tree coverage it often loses the plot, sometimes never getting a satellite lock again .....

So I'm considering the upgrade to 520 which has a far better GPS chip with much quicker and reliable lock.

Battery life is less than the 500 though, which probably won't bother me - 14 hours is enough.

Maybe it's not enough for you!?!

Since you don't use any ant+ add ons you could just use your phone with a good usb battery backup - use the Strava app, and get top shelf navigation, map and document storage.

Takes up a lot of cockpit space though :-( 

Yes have a had a bit of the unreliability as well.

Either way with 500 or 520 I will need to charge it on the go. Am told the 520 charging is less complicated though and uses a normal micro sd connection like the phone, so will allow me to carry 1 less charging block as well.

Better GPS lock will help with the navigation for sure.

Regarding the mapping, have you taken a look at what your phone is capable of? Assuming you have a smart phone, these devices are incredibly powerful. So much so that there is now a company that uses the same hardware found in a phone to power low-cost ( >$10K) satellites.

I often use my iPhone to have Google Maps give me directions in the car (Edit: using the hands free voice directions). Maybe worth taking a look at what your phone and apps are capable of, can you set a pre-determined route and have something like Google maps give you directions via your phone? You've already indicated you can charge your phone while on the move.

Bhanu has a (bad) habit of doing 600km rides (40 hours). My experience with smart phone based GPS is that it chews through battery, maybe in 5 or 6 hours and even a big USB battery will only recharge them maybe twice. I also like to have the phone somewhere safe and protected for emergency rather than sitting out on the bars. The smaller Garmins will last 15+ hours and the USB will recharge them 6+ times.While phones do Bluetooth they generally don't do ANT so speed, cadence and heart rate monitors don't work

Battery is a problem, but I meant Bhanu could run the phone as a navigation device only, separate to the Garmin. That way you could run the phone with Bluetooth, Wifi, etc turned off. Plug in some headphones and keep the phone in your back pocket. This would, of course, work best with a GPS enabled phone like most Androids. Battery life will still be a problem, but a bit more of a manageable one.

Thanks Tim, John on the phone advice.

Yes I did some research on this and actually got an app that works very well offline(no need of phone coverage) - osmand (free) and ridewithgps (paid) am also told works well - both allow you to follow a course turn by turn. Audax now has a club membership for ridewithgps so we can not use this for free and also all the routes will be available right of the home page.

I intend to use this as a backup device(which i did not have setup. My xperia z3 compact has massive battery time even with gps on + with a charger this will work well. However, mounting is a bit of a problem. Handle mounts are no good for the kind of riding we do and relying on voice navigation alone might be hard though I do use this sometimes for other rides.

But I still feel I need a main device separate from the phone and leave the phone as a backup.

cables can be a problem, crap quality will not hold in very well, some limit charge due to very thin gauge wiring, especially prevalent on phones that require higher current for charge.

I rode Wing it West 200 recently just off the paper cue sheet, such a good experience I'll be doing it again for the next ride. I suspect off course warnings will be a bit slow.

Paper is nostalgic and fun to have arguments when on a group ride Rob ;) but no good in the rain and after a few 100kms and in the dark judging distance done becomes a nightmare. On the other hand, I always take cue sheets for the longer rides especially!

the ride organiser was good enough to hand them out so I thought I'd play along Bhanu.


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