Garmin is changing the game with the addition of solar charging to its new line of Edge 1040 computers. That’s not the only update; lots of small changes, super easy setup, a new mount, and some training advice for those looking to best their next ride. So is it the best Garmin head unit yet? Read on and find out….
Garmin 1040 Solar: What’s in the box?
The Gamin Edge 1040 Solar comes with everything you need to start riding, except a heart rate strap.
- Garmin 1040 Solar unit
- Lanard strap
- Type-C charging cable
- Silicone bump case
- Classic mount with bands
- New “aero” bar installed out front mount
- New “above stem” shorter bar mount
- Grommets for fitting different bar diameters from 26.0 to 35mm
The new Garmin Edge 1040 Solar is available for purchase now for $750, including everything mentioned above.
Check out our news piece here for a full rundown on features and the non-solar Edge 1040.
Are those new mounts?
Yes — The older version of the classic bar-mounted Gamin mount looks to have received an aero-ish make-over. Plus — an excellent new mount, with a hinge in the middle to allow the head unit to hover over the stem.
I can see the new hinge mount being popular with the MTB race crowd for number plate placement — though it would be big MTB race-day computer. The other would be for those using front luggage or handlebar-mounted bags. Either way, it’s a nice addition to the mount arsenal, especially for those that like to have their computer tilted upward.
The new aero-classic mount is nearly the same but with updated sculpting and rounded-off edges. It does seem to be beefier and less prone to movement, but I found the past mount very adequate.
Adding a solar panel to the front of the unit is a nice upgrade, especially for those (like me) who forget to charge their computers after a ride.
The solar power screen allows the user to see how much power they are getting from the sun at any given time and what they could do to make it more efficient, like leaving their bike or just the head unit out in the sun during a cafe stop.
The screen will tell you the intensity and how much charge is coming. It’s a nice bit if only to let you know that the solar is working and remind you that you can get extra juice from placing your bike purposely in the sun.
Garmin 1040 Solar — Install and setup
If you own previous Garmin units or have a Garmin Connect account, setting up for the Edge 1040 Solar is easy. After pairing the unit with your phone, it will sync with Garmin Connect and populate the correct user profile metrics.
The only process you’ll have to sift through on the actual unit is laying out the screens. I thought this would be much easier on the app like Bryton and Wahoo have, but there doesn’t seem to be a method that’s quite as easy.
The buttons for power on-off and screen lock are the same, as are lap and start/stop. The buttons themself have a metallic finish/cover and appear ready for the long haul. For charging, Garmin updated the charging port to a Type-C style, matching most modern head units and the newly launch Garmin Varia Radar unit.
The user interface is bright and uses a slightly larger font than the Edge 1030 Plus — though they both use the same 3.5″ screen size. The Power Solar glass charging lens is at the top and bottom of the screen. At first, it appears to be a bit of dead space, but closer inspection shows the grid of the panels.
The touch screen is very responsive and has a natural feel, more like a smartphone than a cycling computer. The actions for the menu, user data, etc, are the same as the previous version, though the user home screen has changed to a graphical interface.
The start screen has changed from a fairly drab “Road, Indoor, etc..” to a graphical screen that shows a decent amount of information, some more valuable than the others.
Garmin 1040 Solar — First ride impressions
The change from the Edge 1030 Plus to the new Edge 1040 Solar was straightforward, though I imagine those coming from other head unit manufacturers would have a slight learning curve.
I found the audio prompts to be slightly louder on the Edge 1040 Solar, though there is no mention of a change.
The screen is easy to read and doesn’t present any glaring on the road. The feedback is quick and constant; I’ve yet to notice a difference in screen brightness or battery drainage because of excessive power to the screen. The photocell for the screen brightness is expertly hidden behind the top solar panel.
Along with the home screen, users can scroll through their past workouts, suggested training rides, and other metrics before they start. The visuals invite the user to be more active with the head unit.
I like the navigational settings on the home screen. You can easily tap your starting point and trace it back with the navigation tool later in the ride if you’re lost or need a direct route home.
This type of navigation would be great when exploring some new places on trips and eliminates a few steps from the original process.
Garmin Varia integration
Those who read the new Garmin Varia news will be happy to know the new radar integrates quickly into the new Edge 1040 Solar. The only bit of extra feedback that the Edge 1040 Solar offers is a small “beep” when the car passes and clears from the screen entirely. The initial “beep-beep-beep” is loud enough to hear over city traffic, and the tiny singular “beep” alerts the rider the car has passed entirely.
The operational setting and quick changes to the Vaira function are the same as when we tested; you can easily change light modes and recording modes on the fly.
Your next training partner?
With predictive training and AI training on the rise, the new Edge 1040 Solar integrates training suggestions without being too abrasive. The training recommendations are pretty predictable, with the algorithm looking for slight holes in the riders’ perceived fitness from the backlog of workouts. Most of the training recommendations are blocks of threshold, tempo, or endurance, though I’ve seen a VO2 suggestion or two. The training recommendations come from Garmin’s partnership with Firstbeat analytics, the same that gives you predicted marathon times, etc., from the Garmin family of smartwatches.
If you give proper feedback to the system and stay within the parameters of the training suggestions, you can get the system to provide you with a “productive” training rating. Go over or not enough, and you get “unproductive” or “overreaching.” The system is steady and I don’t see it overtraining athletes like many other AI models can do. The workouts are basic enough for most to perform, but the system will not replace the expertise of an actual cycling coach anytime soon.
Edge 1030 plus vs. Edge 1040 Solar
From my initial week riding with the unit, I can say I like it more than the Edge 1030 Plus so far, but only time will tell. Solar charging is a huge advantage, and the new user interface is simple to navigate. I haven’t experienced any dropped rides or uploading issues, but our time has been short with the unit — so look for this in our long-term review in the future.
As of right now, I’ve been very pleased with the Garmin Edge 1040 Solar. The head unit size is significant, and I could see myself getting more practical use from a solar Edge 830 or 530 sized unit, it’s uncertain if those are in the product pipeline, will have to wait and see. I’m excited to see solar photovoltaics making their way into head units — if only it charged my groupset…
The price ($750 for the tested unit) is a hefty ask for a cycling computer. Garmin does offer an Edge 1040 for $600 without solar capabilities. More to come with a long-term review, so stay tuned. More information or to purchase an Edge unit, at: