Garmin launched their new top-of-the-range Edge 820 GPS cycling computer last summer, and the Edge 820 Explore is its lower priced sibling with fewer training and performance focussed features in the same body.
Much smaller than the Garmin 1000 which it replaces, the 820 Explore measures just 7.3 x 4.9 x 2.1cm and weighs just 68g, sporting a 2.3in hi-res (200 x 265 pixels), capacitive touch screen display that can even work with gloves.
When we first got the unit the touch screen was actually so sensitive it was activating before you even touched it, leading to a frustrating experience - especially in the rain, when it got worse. Thankfully this is easily sorted by changing the sensitivity setting - depending on whether you're riding with or without gloves. A screen saver mode extends the battery life by some 50 percent.
Anyone who remembers the frustrating bar mounts of the early Garmin Edge units over a decade ago will love the new mounting systems. In the box are several stem mounts as well as a beautifully machined extended out front bar mount - all of which you simply attach the unit to with a 90-degree twist-in action.
GPS functions include turn-by-turn address and course navigation with the unit's preloaded Garmin Cycle Maps, as well as route logging, time, distance, speed, position, cadence and GroupTrack functions. This last is a new feature whereby the Edge Explore will display other Garmin Connect using riders in your group on the unit - a nice feature for those long climbs or fast descents where it's easy to get separated.
You need to pair the Explore with an internet connected smartphone via the Garmin Connect Mobile app to access the GroupTrack feature. In the same way the Edge Explore 820 can keep you connected with the rest of the world by displaying smart notifications, such as incoming phone calls and texts (if you really want to know!), as well as provide live tracking so you can be kept an eye on. The unit can also auto upload your ride metrics to ride sharing and training community sites such as Garmin Connect and even to Strava.
A last but impressive feature of this connectivity is an incident notification mode, which uses an inbuilt accelerometer to detect when you crash, and then (after a warning period during which you can cancel it!) notify an emergency contact via your phone.
If you want a GPS bike computer which acts like an on-bike cycling coach, collecting a myriad of training and performance metrics and delivering tailored workouts onto the screen, then you should look to the Edge 820 Explore's older sibling, the Edge 820.
As ever, an impressive, if expensive piece of cycling tech that brings the latest in GPS navigation, real digital mapping and route logging to a little waterproof screen on your handlebars.