Garmin Edge 800 GPS computer - product review - Lands End to John O'Groats ride test

Words by Aaron Scott

on 29/08/2013 18:26:00

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???? 4/5

How would a Garmin Edge 800 review when tested against the demands of Lands End to John O'Groats? A team of ten riders from Royal Air Force College Cranwell used two Garmin Edge 800s donated by Rutland Cycling in June 2012 on their ride in aid of the RAF Benevolent Fund. Chief navigator for the successful challenge was Flt Lt D John Cook and the first good news is that he found his way back to file this product review:

Ease of Use

Firstly we should point out that we did not use the Garmin Connect site for uploading our route, having already planned these on the GPSies site. The upload to the Garmin E800 from this site was a matter of seconds, though errors with GPSies itself did cause issues - so I would express some caution about adopting this procedure. Use was primarily turn-by-turn navigation, so I don't comment below on the extensive additional functionality.

  • The touch screen and buttons continued to work in heavy rain and the screen, and the screen was legible in all conditions (and we did 'enjoy' ALL conditions on this trip!)
  • The turn-by-turn navigation was clear and the audible warnings were invaluable, they were especially effective in the atrocious conditions on days 4-6 of our trip
  • The menus were simple but they could be more intuitive - for example 'display set up' was not in settings, it was in user profile. A note of caution when using the Garmin too: on a couple of separate occasions, user error resulted in tracks and routes being deleted without warning or a chance to confirm delete
  • The choice of mapping, OS rather than road, made stops necessary when the map had to be consulted due to the cluttered nature of OS mapping. Standard road maps should be an option for road riding

Navigation

The E800 can be used to navigate in several different modes, such as to an address and, as our team used, following a predefined route.

  • The virtual partner was useful, giving a clear indication as to progress and therefore expected time of arrival
  • We found very quickly that errors in the GPSies.gpx track caused the E800 to report that it was off course on numerous occasions which caused a variety of issues. Working with the Garmin Connect site should address these concerns

Photo courtesy of BikeRadar.com

Durability

  • The battery's charge lasted (just) enough for a 10 hour / 100 mile ride, the inclusion of a USB charging cable allowed the E800 to
    use any charge of opportunity
  • Through the atrocious conditions and damp camp sites the E800 never faltered, the buttons and screen worked accurately and the covers kept the water out. The screen remained unmarked despite 3 punctures on the host bike

Conclusion

The E800 performed well in this navigation role, reliable and durable in those extreme conditions we endured in June 2012. It was not fool proof, and the user needs to be attentive to some of the quirks I've highlighted. Yet once the rider becomes familiar with these utility issues the E800 quickly becomes easier to use and certainly contributed to the success of our memorable ride the length of Britain.

More info:

  • The Garmin Edge 800 is available along with the full Garmin range at our stores and online
  • Garmin Edge 800s are also available to hire at £5.99/day from any of our stores - phone ahead to reserve your trial on 01572 332 032
  • BikeRadar.com reviewed the Garmin E800 and gave it 4.5 out of 5: "Overall, the Edge 800 is the best bike-speci?c GPS unit we've used. It had us hooked on using it every ride."  Read full review
  • The RAF Cranwell LEJOG team completed their challenge on the 27th June 2012. Donations can still be made at Just Giving.
  • Read more product reviews >