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review

Garmin Edge 840 Solar

8
£519.99

VERDICT:

8
10
A very impressive all-singing, all-dancing device offering navigation, data recording and full training partner
Solar panels boost battery life
Responsive touchscreen
Loads of data on offer
Secure mount
Nav doesn't work off full postcode
Takes you a while to learn the layout
Weight: 
89g
Contact: 

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Garmin has updated its mid-range computers, and the Garmin Edge 840 Solar is one of the new products resulting from that revamp – with its solar charging increasing its battery life by an impressive amount. It's also user-friendly, has excellent resistance to the elements and it's capable of doing way more things than I need it for. Yes, the purchase price represents a big chunk of cash, but if you ride a lot and want the maximum amount of info possible the investment may well be worth it for you.

Check out our best cycling computers buyer's guide, which covers our favourite products from just £50.

Getting Started

Garmin released its range-topping Edge 1040 last year – and earlier this year was the turn of the units sitting below that, with the 530 and 830 becoming the 540 and 840. Garmin has also added solar charging to the mix, and its the 840 Solar that we're reviewing here.

2023 Garmin Edge 840 Solar - boxed.jpg

Tom reviewed the 540 Solar in July and his feelings about it were mixed. He found a lot of things that impressed him, but also quite a few that he found a bit frustrating – my feelings on the 840 Solar are more uniformly positive.

One of the reasons could be that I'm a long-term Garmin user. I've used GPS computers from Bryton, Mio and Wahoo over the years, but it's Garmin that I'm most familiar with in terms of where to find things, setting up data pages and the like.

I currently own an Edge 530 and various Fenix watches and I've had the Garmin Connect app for years, and whenever I add a new device to my account I find the integration is simple and seamless.

But even if you are starting from scratch, it's not that difficult. I found this out recently when I set up accounts for my teenager and wife to facilitate their Garmin watches, which was all done without any glitches.

One thing for sure: you can get a lot of data from Garmin's Edge computers, and working your way through them can be a steep learning curve as you try to remember where everything is. But depending on how much data you want to use and collect you'll soon find your way around things.

One of the most obvious benefits of the 840 over the 540 is that it has a touchscreen – and a responsive one at that. This makes it much easier to navigate backwards and forwards through menus. It does also have buttons, for power and stop/start, which does take a little while to get used to, but if you are using it regularly these soon become second nature.

2023 Garmin Edge 840 Solar - unit side 1.jpg

I'd say the best thing to do is to spend some time getting familiar with the unit before you head out for a ride. That way you'll find things a lot less frustrating in the long run.

Battery life

Garmin gives various battery life figures for the 840 depending on whether you're using Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and sensors attached using ANT+.

2023 Garmin Edge 840 Solar - unit back.jpg

With the basic GPS on and just recording your ride data you should be able to achieve a claimed 48 hours, whereas with the kind of load I was using – Multi-GNSS Multi-band GPS, data recording every second, two or three sensors connected – heart rate and power – and connecting to my phone via Bluetooth, I still managed to string the battery out for over 26 hours, which pretty much matches what Garmin claims for mid-level usage.

Add the Solar claims to that and you are looking at 78 hours for the minimal drain and 34 hours for the mid-level.

2023 Garmin Edge 840 Solar - on bike 3.jpg

The solar panels sit around the outside of the screen, and they will only charge the battery when the unit is powered on or in sleep mode. Sadly, you can't just leave it switched off on the window sill to top up between rides!

During summer heatwaves I could achieve a battery boost of just under 30% when riding under a clear sky in conditions about as perfect as you could get. This isn't bad considering just how little area the solar cells take up.

We don't actually have weather like that much here in the UK, so I'd say you're likely to get around 15-20% for most of the year. That obviously drops as autumn blends into winter when you'll be gaining quite minor benefits from the solar panels.

The Solar version is £70 more expensive than the standard 840 and unless you regularly tackle long-distance rides, or are going to be away from a charging point for a long time, I personally don't see the point in paying the premium – though you may think differently.

2023 Garmin Edge 840 Solar - unit base.jpg

When it comes to charging the old-fashioned way, Garmin has moved to USB-C for the 840, a welcome improvement over the earlier version's micro-USB

Plug it into a wall socket and it will fully charge from flat in around four to five hours.

Navigation, mapping and connectivity

The 840 comes loaded with a full-colour, routable basemap, which considering the 2.6in (66mm) screen size and 246 x 322 pixel resolution is very easy to read, and routes are easy to follow with on-screen prompts helping out regardless of what data screen you are on.

Re-routing and calculations are carried out quickly too.

You can add maps if you're venturing away from the UK and mainland Europe thanks to the device's 32GB storage capacity.

You can also create your own courses to follow and store up to 100 on the device itself along with 200 waypoints, favourite places or locations.

In terms of navigation on the fly you can search addresses and points of interest, and to facilitate this the GPS connection is not only quick to latch on and stable in use, it's also extremely precise.

2023 Garmin Edge 840 Solar - unit top.jpg

The only minor quibble is that you can't add a destination by way of a full postcode, which you can on your phone or on most car satnavs.

For example, if I was heading to the road.cc office and searched BA1 1JB the 840 Solar will say 'not found'. I'd have to put in BA1 1 and hit search, then I'd have to add the street name and then the number. It's not a major issue, but it feels a bit more of a faff than it needs to be.

As with everything else on the Edge, you can tweak the navigation settings to the Nth degree in its various menus.

Part of the navigation whether gives you access to ClimbPro, a neat feature that gives you details and data of upcoming ascents. Originally, it would only work with pre-loaded routes, allowing you to see which climbs were on your route ahead of time, and when you're riding it would tell you how far it is to the next climb, showing the climb data for when you reach the base.

2023 Garmin Edge 840 Solar - mount.jpg

It doesn't just work on the road either – it gives you data for gravel routes, byways and so on.

ClimbPro now comes with a Free-Ride mode so it switches to the ClimbPro page when riding without following a route, should you want it to.

Other neat features are Garmin's Livetrack and Incident Detection – Livetrack lets you share location with people you specify while Incident Detection sends a text message with your location to your stored contact or contacts should things go a little pear shaped. I found it worked well, and while it did send out a few false alerts, you do have around 15 seconds to cancel the alarm before the text is sent.

You can also keep in touch with the rest of the world when you're riding, as the 840 will show any messages received from your phone.

If you have an Android phone connected to the Garmin you can also respond to phone calls with a text.

Thanks to a full suite of Bluetooth, ANT+ and Wi-Fi your Edge 840 will connect with pretty much every sensor going, from heart rate monitors, power meters to speed and cadence sensors, and many many more. They don't necessarily need to be Garmin devices either.

You can connect electronic groupsets too, which will allow you to see your battery level and what gear you're in.

Training & Analysis

If you are following a training plan or want to start one, then you won't be surprised to hear that the 840 has access to a plethora of options.

After each ride you can get a breakdown of all of your stats and data, including things like training status, VO2 Max and pretty much everything else you can think of. All of this data is uploaded to Garmin Connect once you save the ride, which allows you to look over things when you have finished.

2023 Garmin Edge 840 Solar - on bike 2.jpg

It also helps you build up a picture as you spend more time riding on how you are responding and feeling. I found a lot of this data very useful when returning to riding after a bout of pneumonia earlier in the year. With all of the data I had built up from Garmin's devices over the years I could easily detect peaks and troughs in my performance and wellbeing, which allowed me to back off when necessary.

Training plans and workouts can be used, and they adapt to recent metrics uploaded from previous rides or those being constantly uploaded from wearing a Garmin smartwatch.

If you have a power meter you can tailor your training using Power Glide, which gives you the ability to ride to certain output targets and will also give you predicted times to finish the route you have uploaded depending on your average power.

It's an ideal way to pace a route or race.

You can also program in nutrition and hydration alerts to make sure you don't want to run out of fuel, and you can also see a break down of your stamina on a ride.

Value

The standard Edge 840 has an RRP of £449.99 while this Solar version costs £529.99.

In the box you'll find the unit itself, a secure-fitting, bulky but sturdy out-front mount, standard stem/bar mount, USB charge cable and manual.

By comparison the 540 Solar costs £449.99 with the standard non-solar model £349.99, but I would definitely go for the 840 over the 540 purely for the touchscreen interaction.

Early this year I reviewed the Bryton Rider S800E, its flagship model that costs £339.99. You aren't getting solar charging, but you do get a much bigger 3.4in colour touch screen, which is closer to the Garmin 1030.

There is no Wi-Fi, but that's hardly a deal breaker, but you do get Bluetooth and ANT+ giving you full compatibility with sensors and your smartphone. Its 36-hour claimed battery is similar to what Garmin claims you'll get from its non-solar 840.

The Hammerhead Karoo 2 scored highly when reviewed by Anna a few years back, thanks to its large 3.2in screen and easy functionality. There are no solar charging cells, but it is much cheaper than the standard 840 at £359.99.

The Hammerhead doesn't have all the 840's training capabilities, so it really boils down to just what you want from your bike commuter.

Conclusion

I think the value and desirability of the Edge 840 Solar comes down to exactly what you're looking for from your computer. If you just want mapping and ride data, then it's probably a bit overkill, and you can spend a lot less either on Garmin's lower-end but still highly effective devices or those from other brands.

It's the same with Garmin's Solar option too. Put simply, most of us really don't need it and I personally don't think it's worth the extra £70 unless you're on a remote adventure, when charging your unit the usual way may not be possible.

If you want a computer that can be a training companion, data recorder and a bridge between your bike and your smart phone then the Edge 840 can't really be faulted. But if you don't need the extended battery life plump for the standard version.

Verdict

A very impressive all-singing, all-dancing device offering navigation, data recording and full training partner

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Garmin Edge 840 Solar

Size tested: n/a

Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Garmin says: "Improve every day with Edge® 840 Solar, the touchscreen and button-controlled cycling computer with event adaptive training1. It's the optimal gear to prepare you for upcoming races or personal milestones."

It's a very capable device offering everything and more that a cyclist needs.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

General

DIMENSION 57.8 x 85.1 x 19.6 mm (2.3in x 3.4in x 0.8in)

WEIGHT 88.9g

WATER RATING IPX7

TOUCHSCREEN

DISPLAY SIZE 2.6in (66 mm) diagonal

DISPLAY RESOLUTION 246 x 322 pixels

COLOUR DISPLAY

BATTERY TYPE Rechargeable lithium-ion

BATTERY LIFE Up to 32 hours

BATTERY SAVE MODE

POWER GLASS SOLAR CHARGING

IN-RIDE POWER COMPATIBLE (POWER MOUNT AND GARMIN CHARGE BATTERY PACK)

Maps & memory

ABILITY TO ADD MAPS

BASEMAP Preloaded Garmin cycle map

STORAGE AND POWER CAPACITY 32 GB

WAYPOINTS/FAVOURITES/LOCATIONS 200

NAVIGATION ROUTES 100 Courses

HISTORY Up to 200 hours

Sensors

GPS

GLONASS

GALILEO

BAROMETRIC ALTIMETER

GYROSCOPE

ACCELEROMETER

AMBIENT LIGHT SENSOR

MULTI-BAND GNSS

MAGNETOMETER

Daily smart features

CONNECTIVITY Bluetooth®, ANT+®, Wi-Fi®

CONNECT IQ™ (DOWNLOADABLE WATCH FACES, DATA FIELDS, WIDGETS AND APPS)

ON-DEVICE CONNECT IQ™ STORE

SMART NOTIFICATIONS

TEXT RESPONSE/REJECT PHONE CALL WITH TEXT (ANDROID™ ONLY)

WEATHER FORECASTS

REALTIME SETTINGS SYNC WITH GARMIN CONNECT™ MOBILE

CONTROLS SMARTPHONE MUSIC

VIRB® CAMERA REMOTE

SMART TRAINER CONTROL

SMARTPHONE COMPATIBILITY iPhone®, Android™

Safety and tracking features

ASSISTANCE

LIVETRACK

GROUPTRACK

GROUP RIDE (CYCLING)

RIDER-TO-RIDER MESSAGING

INCIDENT DETECTION Yes (includes off-road)

FIND MY EDGE®

BIKE ALARM

WEATHER ALERTS

INREACH® COMPATIBLE

Activity tracking features

CALORIES BURNED

INTENSITY MINUTES

Training, planning and analysis features

CUSTOMISABLE SCREEN(S)

DOWNLOADABLE TRAINING PLANS

DAILY WORKOUT SUGGESTIONS Yes (event specific)

PRIMARY AND SECONDARY WORKOUT TARGETS

AUTO PAUSE®

INTERVAL TRAINING

ADVANCED WORKOUTS

AUTO LAP®

VO2 MAX

TRAINING STATUS - CYCLING

TRAINING LOAD - CYCLING

TRAINING LOAD FOCUS - CYCLING

REAL-TIME STAMINA - CYCLING

CYCLING ABILITY ANALYSIS

COURSE DEMANDS ANALYSIS

TRAINING EFFECT

RECOVERY ADVISOR

VIRTUAL PARTNER

RACE AN ACTIVITY

SEGMENTS

AUTO SCROLL

PHYSIO TRUEUP

UNIFIED TRAINING STATUS

Outdoor recreation

CLIMBPRO ASCENT PLANNER - CYCLING

CLIMBPRO - COURSES

CLIMBPRO - FREE RIDING

Cycling features

COURSES

ALERTS (TRIGGERS ALARM WHEN YOU REACH GOALS INCLUDING TIME, DISTANCE, HEART RATE OR CALORIES)

GARMIN CYCLE MAP (ROUTABLE CYCLING-SPECIFIC STREET MAP) Yes (multi-region)

MTB DYNAMICS

COMPATIBLE WITH VARIA™ RADAR (REAR-FACING RADAR)

COMPATIBLE WITH VARIA RADAR CAMERA

COMPATIBLE WITH VARIA™ LIGHTS

POWER METER COMPATIBLE

ON-DEVICE COURSE CREATOR

ON-DEVICE LOCATION SEARCH

POWER GUIDE

TRENDLINE POPULARITY ROUTING - CYCLING

POPULARITY HEATMAP

CYCLING DYNAMICS COMPATIBLE

INTEGRATED TRAILFORKS TRAIL DATA

EBIKE SMART RANGE ROUTING

Connectivity

EDGE® REMOTE

VARIA™ REMOTE

ANT+™ ELECTRONIC SHIFTING

SHIMANO DI2 SYNCHRO SHIFT INTEGRATION

EXTENDED DISPLAY (ALLOWS A GARMIN WATCH TO SHARE DATA SCREENS ON EDGE®)

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

A tough and durable unit, and thanks to an IPX7 rating it is highly resilient to poor weather.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
8/10
Rate the product for value:
 
5/10

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

It has everything covered in terms of training, navigation and data recording.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The touchscreen makes it easy to navigate through the options.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

You can't search by postcode alone.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

No other brand offers solar charging so comparing the standard Edge 840 to the competition shows that the price is still higher than those offered by Bryton or Hammerhead. However, the Garmin offers much more in terms of options and data should you require it, which balances things out.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

This is a very impressive unit that literally has more options and capability than most of us need, but it delivers all of that in an easy to use package. The solar option does add to the price, but you can easily go for the cheaper standard option if you don't require the boost to battery life.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 44  Height: 180cm  Weight: 76kg

I usually ride: This month's test bike  My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,

As part of the tech team here at F-At Digital, senior product reviewer Stu spends the majority of his time writing in-depth reviews for road.cc, off-road.cc and ebiketips using the knowledge gained from testing over 1,500 pieces of kit (plus 100's of bikes) since starting out as a freelancer back in 2009. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 170,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him, he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. With a background in design and engineering, he has an obsession with how things are developed and manufactured, has a borderline fetish for handbuilt metal frames and finds a rim braked road bike very aesthetically pleasing!

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1 comments

Avatar
boblo | 2 months ago
0 likes

The reviewer says 'you can send texts'. Are these still the silly predefined ones from Garmin with no option to define your own from either the unit or Connect?

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