Reviewed: Garmin Edge 1030 Plus
Tiny upgrades to the monstrous Garmin Edge 1030 make the “Plus” version a worthwhile purchase for triathletes looking for very specific functionality.
The Garmin Edge 1030 Plus brings small but significant updates to the feature-packed “do everything and more” Edge 10xx line. The huge 3.5-inch display is not for everyone, but for those looking for an adventurous computer, this may be a match.
Navigation and course creation on the unit with global basemaps; sweat resistant touch-screen; plays well with third-party apps like Strava and Trailforks; smart-trainer control
Large computer body (think smartphone sized);Garmin’s tricky menu logic makes it challenging to find and change features
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After putting the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus through some sweaty miles in the real world, and (even sweatier) miles in Watopia, I can say this computer has something for everyone. The main upgrades from the Edge 1030 predecessor are an improved touchscreen, an advertised longer battery life, global mapping, and daily workout suggestions. There are a number of other great updates—like integrated Trailforks data that will appeal to mountain bikers—but for this review, I focused on the features I use most in triathlon-adjacent training, racing, and travel.
– Unboxed: Garmin Edge 1030 Plus
– Cycling Computers: Comparing Two of the Latest Options
– Video Review: New Garmin Forerunner 945 GPS Smartwatch
Garmin Edge 1030 Plus: Plus What?
The first thing anyone will notice about the Edge 1030 Plus is the size, as it shares a form factor with its predecessor. This could put triathletes on edge (pun intended) because the Edge 1030, with an unreliable battery, finicky touch screen, and mediocre trainer integration, was not worth its weight on a bike. Subsequent software updates have dramatically improved the Edge 1030, but as a Seattleite and profuse sweater, the older, glitchier touch screen didn’t work for me. Garmin has since made a slew of software updates, and the Edge 1030 has most of the same features as the new Edge 1030 Plus, with a couple critical differences—like the screen and battery life.
Garmin Edge 1030 Plus: The Setup
Pairing the new Edge 1030 Plus to a phone is a dream come true. Garmin has dramatically improved the user experience—by using the Garmin Connect App on my iPhone, all of my existing sensors automatically paired, unlike previous setups with Garmin devices. With a few clicks the Edge had already recognized my smart trainer, power meter, heart rate monitor, and smart lights. It also synced training screens and workouts from my previous Edge computer. I may only go through the setup once, but this new flow saved me hours of anguish—especially on such a feature-rich device.
There were very few settings I needed to update on the device directly, but those that I did reminded me of how frustrating Garmin’s menus can be. I was sponsored by Garmin for 10 years (though I’m not any longer), and I still fumble through menus searching for settings. If you value your life, do not try to change settings while riding!
Garmin Edge 1030 Plus: Ride Outside
The big 3.5-inch display begs to be used for navigation, and the Edge 1030 Plus offers some key features to help with that. You can now create a route directly on the device, and there’s even a one-touch option for automatic course creation using heat maps. I put in my desired distance and the cardinal direction I wanted to ride, then three route options appeared for me to choose from. This was previously only available online and in the Garmin Connect App. (Though the app version still has more options).
Being stuck at home the past four months I was eager to try a new route, so with a 20-mile course to the south selected I took off to explore, using the Edge 1030 Plus as my navigator. Immediately I noticed the base maps are much nicer than previous Edge devices with mapping. It was easy to see street names, landmarks, and different types of roads. Of course, the large screen helps too. The navigation worked well, beeping with plenty of time to glance down and see the directions. The only wrong turn was when the device went into “ClimbPro”—a screen that shows the profile of the hill you are climbing and that can also sometimes be the bane of many Fenix watch owners—and thereby took the map away from view at a critical intersection. Overall, this was by far the best bike navigation I’ve seen, and much nicer than using Google Maps with a headset.
A big screen is a clear advantage for navigation, but the advantage for triathlon training comes down to metrics. For the data junkie with all the sensors, like myself, the larger screen really helps. To test this out I had Vector 3 Pedals and an ANT + heart-rate monitor paired up. My screen showed the maximum of 10 fields: Speed, Cadence, Lap Time, Lap Distance, 3s Power, Lap Power, Left/Right balance, Heart Rate, Time, and Distance. Fully loaded, the screen didn’t feel cramped or require squinting.
Garmin Edge 1030 Plus: Indoor Riding
Taking the Edge 1030 Plus indoors let me truly test how the screen handles water and sweat, and how the device works with a smart trainer. I used a Wahoo Kickr and didn’t turn on a fan to ensure full sweat testing.
As a smart trainer controller, The Edge was acceptable. I used erg mode, manually setting the target power for each interval. The trainer can also be controlled by setting resistance or percent grade. My workout had a number of intervals, going from low watts to high watts. In erg mode each screen press changes the power by 5 watts, so going from 150w to 300w takes 30 screen presses. I found that at least once or twice I would press the screen wrong, and it would activate the home screen or a menu. Luckily, there are better ways to control the trainer for workouts if you plan ahead. You can create a workout or download a workout that will run the trainer from the Garmin, or you can ride any course loaded onto the device—a cool option for those stuck near home, pining to relive races gone by. Finally, you can use “Garmin’s Daily Workout Suggestion” to load a workout designed for you based on recent activities and your measured recovery. (This requires two weeks of workout data; I’m looking forward to testing it out.) The manual control works in a pinch, but it’s the courses and workouts that really shine here.
Another advantage of the large screen for indoor use is utilizing cycling dynamics. When paired with a compatible power meter, like Garmin’s Vector 3, you can view a number of pedal efficiency metrics, which helps you make the most of those indoor workouts.
As for the sweat tolerance? The screen worked wonderfully. In my testing I had no false button presses from water, and a simple wipe of the screen let me use the soft keys without a problem.
Garmin Edge 1030 Plus: The Bottom Line
The Garmin Edge 1030 Plus is a big-screen bike computer with a feature set that can appeal to both wanderlusts and pain-cave dwellers. Though fully discovering and using the features that matter may take some time, it seems like Garmin may have finally justified the hefty price tag of the Edge 1030 Plus.