G’day and welcome to my review of the Garmin Edge 530 and HRM-Dual Strap! My name is Bryn Dickerson, I am a professional Downhill Mountain Bike racer competing around the globe on the World Cup circuit since 2012. I’m also a professional skills coach with my business Fluid Lines, and keep myself busy with a bunch of other activities such as product design, creating promotional content, trail development and bike testing.
I was really excited to get my hands on the Edge 530 and HRM-Dual strap. You see last May I was lucky enough to nab a Garmin Instinct Solar, and this little beast really opened my eyes to a whole new activity experience! You can read the review on that Here.
I’ve loved using the watch, and so the excitement was high to take things up a notch with the additional data and higher accuracy provided with the Edge 530 and HRM.
With massive amounts of training potential in these devices, I was excited to get using these and see if the performance lived up to my expectations!
What are we looking at? And is it useable?
To ensure this review useful, we are going to try keep things concise by reporting on both the Edge 530 and HRM-Dual strap at the same time. As these products are often bundled together, I’ll also cover off how they work together as if you’d gone out and brought them.
The Edge 530 is a good looking device. Slim, slippery and compact. Yet despite this, it still feels like you are looking at a decent sized display when you glance down at it’s 2.6 inches of colour. There’s no issues with reading any of the data categories, with good contrast in the display helping to read the seven I have on the screen.
Brightness is also very good on the 530. At peak it goes bright enough to compete with the big yellow thing in the sky, and the automatic brightness is a handy battery saving measure.
Talking useability, battery life is a key thing that makes this device all the more usable. Garmin claim 20 hours recording time out of the 530, and so far that has been dam close to running true.
There are a couple of issues with the design and materials of the Edge 530, and while they are minor, I need to mention them all the same.
Screen – not the actual screen itself, but the clear plastic shell that sits over it. This is pretty soft and prone to scratches, be it while riding or just sitting in a bag. While you can get screen protectors for the device, I would have preferred a tougher cover on a device worth several hundred dollars and mine is sporting a few scars from my adventures.
Buttons – While the button layout becomes quite intuitive after just a couple of uses. The shape of the device and location of the buttons is a pain. The sides of the device are contoured in towards the mounting point. What this means is that when you look down at the device, it’s actually quite hard to reference where the side buttons are. They also aren’t that tactile, and reaching underneath your finger can easily slip off them. Again, not a big issue, but I have certainly noticed it many times, to the point where I’ve changed my grip on the device to ensure the button is pressed.
As for the HRM strap. Well it’s a strap, it’s actually very comfy, with a good range of adjustment from 25 – 52 inches and it doesn’t move or slide when you have it on. It’s also very soft and it barely feels like you are wearing anything. I have actually gotten in the car after a few rides and driven off without realising I still had it on!
It’s minimalistic (which is what you would expect) and the transmitter connects with two metal snap pins. They feel solid and aren’t ever going to let you down.
The branding is subtle on the HRM and it is a good-looking strap, with a handy little reminder note on it to wet the strap after/before each use and chuck it in the wash (without the transmitter!) after every 7 uses. Though I feel this wash frequency could be increased in summer or if you get a bit sweaty while your speed dealing.
The other interesting point about the HRM-Dual is that the actual sensor is located inside the strap itself, and that it uses electrical signals to read your heart rate rather than optical signals.
Finally, the HRM Battery is a CR2032 coin cell battery, which comes pre-installed. You will need a small screwdriver to remove the 4 screws needed to replace the battery, but according to Garmin that is 3.5 years down the track, so it’s not something you’ll need to worry about for a while.
Ok so they both look like they do what they are supposed to do. Do they deliver out on the trail?
I’m currently in the middle of training for the domestic race season, and that means riding….lots of riding…it’s been a great time to get to grips with both products.
First let's talk about getting them up and running. Setting up both devices is pretty straightforward, even for someone as indecisive as myself (so many data options!). Load up on the Edge 530 is incredibly quick, and satellite connection is immediate. The HRM meanwhile decides it calls the shots and turns on or off automatically when it is put on or taken off. No issues here, it’s simple and perfect.
Connecting the HRM to the Edge 530 is simple as navigating to the sensors menu (6 presses) and then selecting your sensor. The connection happens very quickly with no fuss and no hassle. From here it will automatically connect when it is activated and the Edge 530 is on.
The user interface on the Edge530 is classic Garmin, so if you have used any Garmin computer in the past you’ll have no worries picking it up straight away.
Training Data is great on both. Seriously if you are looking for data, then oh my god these things have it ALL! They tell you more information about how you’re doing than a coach ever could and it is presented in a very digestible manner. This said, it was hard to choose what fields to pick.
For my training, I am generally fitting it in around my coaching commitments so I need to be efficient with time, these are the fields I have displayed.
- Total Ascent – I use this as a yardstick for my training, aiming to climb 1000m vert per training day. Sir Ed Hillary watch out!
- Elapsed time – I like to try and get 400-500m vert done per hour if I can.
- Distance – I’ll admit this one is more a curiosity but it is handy to know.
- Heart Rate & heart rate zone – These two are golden for making sure I’m going the right pace/Not sending myself into cardiac arrest!
- Battery – Obvs
- Time of Day – To make sure my calculations of how long I can ride for are correct and I’m not late for anything! #snacktime
For my use, I have found this set up to be ideal. With so much data on offer, it would be super easy to get confused with what you actually need to look at. But sometimes, simplicity is key.
While I have kept a pretty simple approach to my display, it is worth pointing out that you can get incredibly detailed data if you choose. The process for switching a display screen over is simple, and then it becomes a matter of you choosing which of the over 150 displayable data fields you’d like! That is an INSANE number!
Now the disclaimer for this is that some of these fields do require extra sensors such as the HRM-Dual or cadence/power meters, but it covers everything you could ever need!
I think it is worth pointing out that before you get lost in a data utopia that some of these fields do seem a bit arbitrary or hard to quantify. For example, the Garmin Flow and Grit scores. These measure “how consistently you maintain speed and smoothness through turns”, and “how difficult the current activity is based on elevation, gradient and rapid changes in direction”. In theory that could be interesting, but in a mountain biking sense, with jumps, drops, corners, rock gardens, chutes etc all at the same time it does feel a bit hard to quantify.
However, some of these measurements are quite interesting, and at the very least pique your curiosity. The Jumps measurement for example, which is displayed after you finish your ride, provides a list of every time your wheels got off the ground during your ride, how long they were in the air for, how far you went and what speed you were going when you decided to impersonate the Wright brothers. While it’s not 100% perfect, sometimes saying you’ve jumped when you’ve gone over a crest for example. It is pretty damm impressive how accurate it is and it is a cool feature to have.
The final point worth mentioning is that the Edge 530 will connect to Garmin’s Connect IQ app and allow you download even MORE data fields, widgets and apps!
On the HRM-Dual side, it provides a constant stream of all the heart rate data you could ask for to the Edge530 or to any other device that uses Bluetooth or ANT+. This is really cool and is a tick in the versatility column for me. It’s worth noting that the HRM-Dual is a data transmitter rather than a data storer, and it needs to be connected to a device to display and then store the data it reads.
Interestingly, while the HRM does connect to just about everything, the one thing it doesn’t connect to (directly anyway) is Garmin’s own Connect IQ app. This seems a bit of an oversight, but you can connect it via another supported device and then to the app (such as an Instinct Solar) and it will sync the data each time they connect (I’ll see myself out).
One of the highlights of these devices would have to be the accuracy of them. I have a couple of training rides that I regularly do, following the same route each time. The consistency out of this pairing has been awesome. With a barely noticeable difference in distance ridden and height gained on each ride, it certainly has been impressive.
As a pairing the Edge 530 and HRM-dual work well together, with the aforementioned quick start up time and connectivity meaning you are never having to wait to get stuck into your ride, and have no issues maintaining connection throughout.
The Edge 530 will also connect to your phone and provide you with a summary of any notifications that come through, though you can turn this off if you’d like to go stealth mode!
There is also a navigation mode on the Edge 530, though I’ve not got deep into using this so I can’t comment in detail on it.
The final point I should mention is the mounting system to my handlebars. Using Garmin’s own rubber bands and mount, I’ve not had too many issues with the computer staying place. As the bands have stretched, I must admit I’ve found myself having to change the size of the rubber spacer underneath to stop the computer turning on the bars. In saying this, Garmin supply a multitude of spacers (of different sizes) with the device so this hasn’t been an issue.
This pairing is excellent. They are accurate, with great battery life, a familiar user interface and outstanding connectivity…and data… so much data, just make sure you pick what is useful for you!
I have become very attached to these devices over the past 4 months, and genuinely feel like my training has benefitted as a result. Having accurate heart rate data, training in heart rate zones, and to a set altitude gain has helped bring a purpose to each training ride. This, coupled with some quite interesting stats like the jumps feature, make them a pleasure to use even when you’re just cruising with friends, or out the back of the farm trying to see if the jump you just built is bigger than the last one!
So the final question then, would I recommend it, and should you get it?
In short, 100% yes! It’s always refreshing to find something that does exactly what it promises, and in this case a lot more!
While there are a few very minor drawbacks, these pale into insignificance when compared with the capabilities of this pairing. I have been blown away at just how useful they are and the impact regular use has had on my training.
They are a super easy to use pairing, that really feel like they have been designed to work together, and the results speak for themselves!