Garmin Edge 1030 Plus review

Mapping and battery life updates sees the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus enter the gravel and adventure market

Cycling Weekly Verdict

A significantly improved setup process, an improved touchscreen and route pausing options make the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus feel like a very polished product.

Reasons to buy
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    Slick setup process

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    Good touchscreen

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    Impressive battery life

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The Garmin Edge 1030 Plus was selected for an Editor's Choice award in 2020. This year's list contains 78 items which scored a 9 or 10/10 with our tech team - this gear is the best of the best, and has received the Cycling Weekly stamp of approval. 

The Garmin Edge 1030 Plus is the latest flagship cycling computer from the outdoor tech company. Much like its Edge 1030 predecessor, the 1030 Plus remains Garmin's do-it-all device for those that don't want to cut corners, however it has received several significant updates to improve its off-road and gravel capabilities.

My test model costs £519 without sensors, or is available as a bundle for £599.

Garmin Edge 1030 Plus: Setup

Typically, the setup process has been where Garmin has lost a step to many of its rivals, particularly Wahoo, who's slick smartphone enhanced setup process was a reason to buy an Elemnt alone.

However, with its latest devices Garmin has introduced 'Intelligent Activity Profiles'. As long as you're running your Garmin Edge 830 or Edge 1030's latest software, the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus will port across your previous activity profiles. My test model pulled across my varying profiles from my Edge 830, only slipping with temperature and elevation which it changed to imperial rather than metric. It's a mistake I can forgive considering that by porting across my already existing data the Garmin has slashed a process that previously took around hour to under three minutes.

Garmin Edge 1030 Plus

When setting up new activity profiles, you can also choose from 'popular' metrics, which does make the process quicker if you don't have an existing device with preferences loaded.

I did make some minor changes purely because the bigger Edge 1030 Plus affords more screen real estate than its computer siblings.

Garmin Edge 1030 Plus: Hardware

While the device is the largest that Garmin make, its display remains the same 3.5" as used on the previous Garmin Edge 1030. It's a whopper, especially when resting on an out-front mount but you quickly adapt to its size – much like a smartphone, once you size up it's very difficult to return to a smaller size.

The 1030 Plus has dropped the white and black design of the Edge 1030 and adopted the more familiar design of two-tone black and grey. Despite its size, it's a sleek looking unit and its design is certainly more refined than its rivals such as the Wahoo Elemnt Roam.

The unit has a slim bezel compared to its competitor, allowing it to maximise its screen space rather than squashing data fields into a comparatively smaller space and it presents its data in clear boxes that are easy to see at a glance. The increased screen size also works well with mapping, displaying the coloured map in good clarity.

Watch: Lightweight vs Aero challenge

Garmin's touchscreen computers have caused us headaches in the past. The Edge 820 would ping through data fields, even deleting rides, in the rain. The Edge 1030 was vastly improved, but still not quite responsive enough - leaving us preferring buttons. Recognising this shortfall, Garmin updated the touchscreen for the release of its Edge 830 model and the 1030+ inherits the same design. It seems to have done the trick, the screen we have here is responsive to single touches, allowing you to safely swap betweens screens on the road and cancel that Strava Live segment that was doomed to fail. The update is good enough to prove me wrong when I said in my Garmin Edge 1030 review that it'd be better with buttons.

The device also receives the same processor as the Edge 830 which is twice as quick as the previous 1030 model, giving the device a quicker boot time and faster route calculation – previously long and involved routes could take a fair time to load.

Garmin Edge 1030 Plus

If I had a gripe it'd be that the remaining buttons (start/stop and lap) are on the backside of the device and can be difficult to access when squished against the handlebar. Those that liked using third party mapping will also be disappointed to note the absence of a micro SD slot (it was jettisoned to allow a marginally slimmer profile), but overall the 1030 Plus is looking like a refined product.

Garmin Edge 1030 Plus: Software

No doubt recognising it had lost a step to Wahoo when it came to mapping, Garmin has thrown its weight into improving its off-road routing capabilities.

For starters, it has expanded the on device maps to now cover both Europe and North America as standard rather than requiring users to pay more to access these areas. I've noticed the maps are more granular, too, now showing more bridleways and off-road tracks although sometimes there is a discrepancy between those that exist on Strava (where I do my route planning) and those on the Garmin base map.

Those that like to explore will celebrate the new 'pause routing' feature, which is particularly useful should when you deliberately take yourself off your plotted course. It avoids the constant "make a u-turn" reminders and even gives you options to route further ahead to re-join your original course.

I've found it to be a great feature when I need routing to new trails but then want to explore them rather than carry on with my plotted route.

Pinch and zoom mapping, although not shouted about at the devices' initial release, has made a massive difference to how useful the computer is out on rides and I find myself using it much more when I'd previously have reached for my smartphone.

Performance metrics and software still make up a big part of the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus, and the new device offers you daily workout suggestions based on the training you have been doing. It has has a training section and a "my stats" page, although I'm not the type of rider to make the most of these, and with most of my "training" consisting of long endurance rides the routing and improved off-road software is more exciting for me.

Garmin Edge 1030 Plus: Battery Life

The Edge 1030 Plus receives a battery boost over the previous model, all the better to explore off road with. Garmin now tout a whopping 48 hours with "low use" (minimal screen changes, no routing and connectivity off) this drops to a still impressive 24 hours with "high use" (maximal connectivity, lots of screen changes).

On a 215km ride with routing and heart rate connected I used around 45% of the battery, leaving me very impressed.

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