At the same time as Garmin introduced their all-new compact, connected Edge 130 device, they also unveiled a quiet internal overhaul of the workhorse 520 into the new, more powerful Edge 520 Plus. Their Varia rear-facing radar device also gets functional updates, plus improved tail light visibility.

Edge 520 Plus updated GPS cycling computer

The new all-black 520 Plus keeps the same form factor and crisp 2.3″ color display of the popular Edge 520. Interestingly the new device is 2.5g heavier as it gets updated internals, which appear mostly to focus on increased internal memory to now store larger base maps and up to 200hrs of ride history.

Turn-by-turn navigation update

Its core update is then mostly the improved mapping, now coming preloaded with the Garmin Cycle Map and able to provide turn-by-turn navigation for both riding on & off road. A big benefit in the new navigation is also route popularity data (like Strava Heatmapping) stored on the device that points you to commonly used routes for better directions as opposed to defaulting to the shortest possible track. The previous 520 (which I use daily) is limited by 110Mb of total internal memory and requires regularly replacing the base maps to ensure detailed mapping if you ride in new places, thus making navigation more of a chore (and requiring a bit of effort with the 520 plugged into your computer.)

Tech details

Some of the other features quoted for the new 520 Plus seem to be the adoption of previous over-the-air updated that had been available to users since the original 520’s release back in 2015. Some of that started with the customizable Connect IQ apps, as well as overall better performance monitoring, especially related to the expansion and improvements to power metering & data analysis that has arisen in the past three years since the 520’s debut.

Strava Live functionality does look improved with more preloaded segments and better second-by-second status display of your efforts. Strava integration goes a bit deeper with a new Strava Routes Connect IQ app that makes it easy to wirelessly send routes to the 520 Plus (a feature that should most likely work with existing 520 devices as well.)

Full connectivity remains the same with Bluetooth, BLE & ANT+ to link with sensors like heart rate, cadence, speed, power meters & indoor trainers. But the new 520 Plus now also adds remote control for the VIRB camera, as well as the preformatted rider-to-rider messaging developed on the Edge 1030 last year.

Pricing & Availability

The new Edge 520 Plus will retail for $280, twenty bucks cheaper than the 520 when it was announced, but thirty more than it actually ended up selling for. The new GPS will become available in late May/early June. It will also ship with a new flush out-front mount designed to (mostly) align the top of the device with the top of the mount’s clamp. I’m unclear why it still isn’t lower, aligned with the bar, but it is much more usable than the high & bulky out-front mount currently shipping with devices (that I have never been tempted to use.)

Both a road sensor & mountain bike bundle will be available as well. The Sensor bundle sells for $380 with the 520 Plus, a standard o-ring mount, the new out-front mount, plus speed, cadence & heart rate sensors. The MTB bundle at $330 includes the device, an o-ring mount, a silicone protective case for the 520 Plus, and an adjustable mountain mount to put the computer above the stem.

Varia RTL510 rearview radar & taillight

Garmin’s Varia radar device at first glance seems like a bit of technological overkill to show you that a car is coming up behind you. But those who use it speak highly of its simple functionality and added security, especially for those who clock tons of miles on the bike or ride frequently on high-trafficked roads. One of the points that swayed my opinion in favor of the device was riding with ex-world champ Alessandro Ballan who uses the current Varia for everyday riding and training.

The new version essentially retains the same functional tech inside, but builds the rear-facing sensor into a new unit that you hang on the seatpost. The new Varia RTL510 looks a lot more like a typical flashing tail light now. And that’s probably a good thing, because it replaces the small line of red LEDs with a larger, much brighter peak 65 lumen rear taillight that will significantly increase your visibility out on the road – both behind and from the sides a bit.

Tech details

The Varia still works the same by translating the oncome of vehicles behind you into beeps & little colored dots on a screen attached to your bar – either on the dedicated Varia display, or on the side of your recent & compatible Edge head unit. White for slow moving, yellow for regular speed vehicles, and red for those coming up fast. In addition to the display and beep, the taillight flashing changes as cars get close to warn them to watch out for you more I guess.

The USB rechargeable and ANT+ connected Varia is said to run for up to 15 hours flashing, 6 hours on solid. Light output is 20 lumens solid on, 29 lumens in night flashing mode, and 65 lumens for daytime flashing. The 71g device is roughly 4″/10cm tall and attaches to a round or aero seatpost with the included mount. Or you can use any other Garmin 1/4 turn mount since it uses the standard interface.

Pricing & Availability

Pricing for the Varia RTL510 remains the same as before starting at $200, meaning that tech doesn’t come cheap. And it will cost you another $100 for the display if you don’t have a compatible Garmin Edge GPS head unit. The new units are expected to ship in about 3-5 weeks time from now.

explore.Garmin.com

9 COMMENTS

  1. Nice that Garmin has improved the Varia which was one of the ugliest carbuncles I’ve seen added to a bike still cant see the validity of such an expensive tailight that doesn’t have a camera or ability to measure distance laterally so the offending driver can be reported to authorities or at least to provide data to local planning authorities. Ship has sailed on me for Garmin, once my edge 800 dies I cannot see buying one of their newer units literally 100% of complaints around head units revolve around Garmin and most of those are software issues that the company seems reluctant to work on.

  2. Maybe will have improved battery life and less crashes? Slim chance. On my third Garmin head unit and feel like the next will be another brand. Already been “taken” 3 times hoping for improvements (500-520-820)

  3. I use my varia every ride. Feels like not wearing a helmet when its not on the bike. I got hit 4 yrs ago; never heard the car coming from behind. Now I know when something is coming; I can turn to look and see if I need to take action.

  4. I was hit by a car 2 months ago at 62mph and the reason I am not dead is because I heard the car coming and looked back in enough time to start my lean to get off the road but she still hit me and threw me in the ditch. I was lucky that I heard her coming. The Garmin Varia lets me “hear” every car coming and now I use the 3rd Eye Mirror on my sunglasses so I see every single car coming from behind and if I need to bail out again or not. It is expensive but it is better than being dead.

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