Bike

Reviewed: Garmin Edge 130 Plus First Ride

Tiny, crisp, and more integrated than before, the Edge 130 Plus isn't a robust training tool but it's a solid starting point.

Basics

Garmin's tiny entry-level Edge computer does the basics well of recording and measuring ride metrics, but isn't as value-packed as some of its competitors.


Pros

Compact, easy to read; tethers to your phone; plays nicely with Strava and other third-party software; offers workouts

Cons

No base map; no wifi; limited configurability; not substantially cheaper than much more robust units like the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt


Size Reviewed

41 x 63 x 16 mm

Weight

33g

Price

$199

Brand

Garmin


At the approximate height and thickness of a AA battery, the Garmin Edge 130 Plus is a tiny GPS computer. And as the entry-level model in Garmin’s six-computer lineup, it’s not the most feature-heavy. For many riders, this minimalist package could be ideal, but performance-minded riders looking for a regular training tool will probably want to spend a bit more for another Edge or the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt.

Garmin Edge attached to bike handlebars and turned on
The Garmin Edge 130 Plus is about as tall and as thick as a AA battery. Photo: Ben Delaney

Garmin Edge 130 Plus Features

Despite being the entry-level model, the Edge 130 Plus has dozens of on-screen features, and it pulls in data and preferences from Garmin Connect, the company’s cloud-based data system. So in addition to all the usual variations around time, distance, speed, power, heart rate, and elevation, you also get things like Strava Live Segments, a recovery advisor that suggests a certain amount of recovery hours after a ride, and on-screen notifications from your phone.

The computer has a super-basic navigation without a base map, meaning you just see a black line on a white screen. You can download and follow courses, with the unit alerting you to upcoming turns. Since there is no base map, though, you can’t see the names of roads or trails.

The unit has five buttons: Power is on the left, up and down are on the right, and lap and start/pause are on the front. I find the front buttons on all Garmins to be a bit awkward to push, especially if you use a front-mount computer that puts the unit inline with your handlebar. But the buttons have a positive tactile feel and an audible click. Some of Garmin’s higher-end computers have touchscreens, but buttons are hard to go wrong with, especially in the rain, and especially for small computers.

Being paired to your smartphone greatly increases the functionality, as you can wirelessly upload your rides and download routes and training plans. If you use Strava, simply favoriting a route will cause it to pop up in your Garmin now, thanks to a new feature (that Wahoo had first on its Elemnt computers).

Left image is shot of Garmin Edge screen with stats displayed, right is map with direction and speed
The tiny computer is pretty easy to read, thanks to crisp text and a super-simple design. Navigation is just a line on a blank screen; there are no base maps for reference.

Edge 130 Plus Training

I have used most of Garmin’s Edge computers going back to the Edge 500, and have appreciated how set-up has gotten easier and easier over the years. A few clicks on the computer for preference setting, then a few clicks in the Garmin Connect app, and you’re basically on your way. If you have never used Garmin Connect, that set-up process itself would take a few minutes, guiding you through preferences, personal info and connections to software you may use like Strava or TrainingPeaks.

I am using Today’s Plan currently, and was pleased to see that a few clicks imported the upcoming week’s worth of workouts wirelessly into the Edge 130 Plus.

I did a workout with the one, non-customizable workout screen, and found it to be okay. On the plus side, you can preview your workouts steps ahead of time, which is almost a must-do as you can’t go back a step once you’re going. Another plus is the bar-graph overview of the total workout at the bottom of the screen. In the middle of the screen are your wattage targets and your actual wattage, shown in numbers and in graph form. The other two data points are lap power (average power for the interval) and time to go (time left in the interval).

Garmin Edge 130 Plus showing elevation graph in left image, power stats on the other
The graphics are clean and easy to read, but presentation and functionality on the training screen are fixed. Other screens can be customized.

On the con side, you can’t tweak the format, so you’re stuck with real-time power and not 3sec or 10sec power, and you can’t zoom in or out on the bar graph to see the specifics of what’s coming up. Perhaps my biggest gripe is that you can’t go back a step in the intervals; hitting the lap button advances you one step, but there is no way to go back. So, if you accidentally hit lap twice like I did, you have to stop and delete the workout, then restart, if you want to redo it.

Again, this computer is not designed as a training computer — Garmin has far more training bells and whistles than I know what to do with on its more expensive units — but since this feature is new for the Edge 130 I wanted to test it.

Garmin Edge 130 Plus Versus the Edge 130

The Edge 130 Plus is $199 just like the Edge 130 it’s built on and will all but certainly replace. Garmin has used this method of upgrade and replace in the past with others models, such as the 520 Plus that replaced the defunct 520.

There are only a few differences, including the addition of an accelerometer (and ‘incident detection’ that comes along with that functionality), training plans and workouts, Garmin’s ClimbPro visual feature that shows gradients, the MTB Dynamics feature that rates your smoothness, and the ability to control a smart trainer.

Notably, battery life on the Edge 130 Plus is listed at 12 hours to the Edge 130’s ‘up to 15 hours’. The more you’re asking a computer to do, usually the more juice is takes. (I recently had great luck with battery life on an Edge 830, doing a 12-hour day where battery life only went down by about 40%. More on that soon…)

The Edge 130 Plus Compared to the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt

Putting the $199 Edge 130 Plus alongside the $229 Wahoo Elemnt Bolt isn’t exactly apples to apples because of the $30 difference, but for riders looking for a unit to depend on for training and navigation, I would recommend the investigation. The Elemnt Bolt is also a black-and-white, button-driven unit. It’s a bit larger, but the navigation is more robust with base maps and turn-by-turn directions, and the power-based workout functionality is also a bit more feature-rich, with the same auto download of training plans from your favorite software. Also, the Bolt has built-in wifi, so it can auto-upload your ride as soon as you’re home.

Again, this isn’t a perfectly fair comparison because of the price difference, but certainly one worth noting for performance-minded riders.

Garmin Edge 130 Plus Initial Verdict

The Garmin Edge 130 Plus packs a lot of very useable features into a tiny little body. It does the basics very well, including quickly finding and holding a GPS signal, thanks to its multi-satellite system fo GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo. For many riders, the purpose of a computer is to record a ride for later gratification, whether uploading to Strava or just looking at all the stats at ride’s end. The Edge 130 Plus does this as well as any computer; all your data can be analyzed on Garmin Connect or TrainingPeaks or wherever you like at a granular or macro level.

For navigation and training, the Edge 130 Plus technically checks those boxes, but only in the most basic way. I wouldn’t recommend this computer for someone looking to do focused training or a lot of navigation-dependent riding.

For someone looking for a discreet little unit that does all the basics very well, however, including life-friendly things like on-screen notifications of texts and phone calls, the Garmin Edge 130 Plus appears to be a tiny little workhorse.

3 side-by-side images showing Garmin Edge displaying all-time stats, Training Plan integration, and VO2 max stats
New from the original Edge 130 is a basic training option. It syncs with software like Today’s Plan, TrainingPeaks, and TrainerRoad to auto-populate workouts on the unit. You can’t tailor the presentation of the workout screen, though. The computer also gives you some estimations on training and fitness (at right), but also shows you all-time numbers from other Garmins, if you have had those synced with Garmin Connect (at left).