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review

Garmin Edge Explore 2

8
£249.99

VERDICT:

8
10
Large screen and quick, clear navigation, plus loads of connectivity options
Plenty of sensor pairing options
Large screen is easy to read
Good battery life
Preloaded maps included
Mapping can send you down private roads/tracks
No out-front mount included in the price
No wifi
Weight: 
105g
Contact: 

At road.cc every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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Garmin's Edge Explore 2 has a plethora of changes and updates over its predecessor, and they've made it a very rounded GPS that is just as capable as a ride companion and data logger as it is for big tours and unfamiliar lanes. The large screen shows plenty of detail, it's simple to use and it even includes metrics dedicated to eBikes. It's probably the only computer most of us will need.

When it comes to Garmin's large-screen range, if you like to explore either locally or in pastures new then the device with the white case is the one you want. Starting with the Garmin Touring many years ago, the white-bodied units have focused primarily on quality mapping and directions above all else.

With the new Explore 2 though, there is a lot more data and connectivity to keep you involved.

Setup

The Explore 2 is easy to set up using the Garmin Connect app for your metrics, and the actual device for your various data pages. You get three activity profiles: Road, Indoor and Off-road. A Gravel option would be nice too, especially if you ride mountain bikes as well and want different metrics, but it isn't a deal breaker. If, like me, you ride a mixture of road and gravel, then you can just use the off-road one for the gravel rides.

If you aren't massively into your data and just want the basics, you can be ready to go in a matter of minutes, to be honest. Like many of Garmin's latest devices, whether they be bar-mounted or smartwatches, you get a widgets page before entering the main display page.

The widgets show various data fields such as your last activity, the weather, your direction or saved courses, to name just a few. I didn't really mess about with with this page much, but if you are a data fiend it's customisable.

Via the menu settings button there are huge amounts of data and metrics you can set to either show on your screen, or to work in the background for post-ride analysis.

The Explore 2 will link with power meters, indoor smart trainers, cadence sensors, heart-rate monitors and more – it'll connect to pretty much everything from the Garmin catalogue as well, of course, such as the VIRB action cameras and Radar system. Even without that, its built-in barometric altimeter, temperature sensors and dedicated eBike sensor support means you'll never run out of things to look at.

2022 Garmin Edge Explore 2 - screen 3.jpg

You can set up alerts for things like power output, speed or heart rate to keep your training on track, plus many others alerts like reminding you to eat or drink or, who knows, maybe breathe.

The Explore 2 will also link to your phone, showing your notifications on the screen and allowing you to control your music.

2022 Garmin Edge Explore 2 - base buttons.jpg

Another neat feature is LiveTrack, which allows you to share your position with people either from a 'look at what I'm up to' point of view, or as a safety feature. You can also set up contacts for your device to notify (via your phone) should it detect a crash. I've used this on various Garmin devices, and it is very good, with very few false alarms.

You can get as involved as you like with the Explore (or not), which I found to be ideal. The more I used it, the more I'd find myself tweaking settings for various bikes until I ended up with the package that worked for me.

Recording

After clicking the button to get the Explore ready to record it's a simple and straightforward unit to use, and it's quick to latch onto the satellites, sometimes even locating them from inside the house before leaving. Should you want to change data screens while riding, the touchscreen is responsive to your fingertips whether they're gloved or not.

2022 Garmin Edge Explore 2 - side.jpg

As mentioned above there are loads of data fields to look at, plus pages showing the built-in mapping and cool graphs for ClimbPro (showing the elevation of the route when navigating), heart rate and so on.

Running the Explore alongside other GPSs (a Garmin Fenix 6 Pro watch and a Bryton computer) showed it in close agreement: all three were within a tenth of a mile-per-hour for current speed, and were close on elevation too.

2022 Garmin Edge Explore 2 - screen.jpg

I had no problem with satellite signal strength under heavy tree cover or blips from any outside interference, and on the odd occasion where tunnels were long enough to kill signal, the unit soon reconnected once the sky came into view. The Explore does Garmin's usual thing of connecting the dots either side of the signal loss, so the result has no missing details and things like average speed are still intact.

Battery life is decent at around 16hrs while navigating and having everything operational, although there is a battery saving mode which will pretty much double that – easily so, if you aren't using it for navigation.

2022 Garmin Edge Explore 2 - USB port.jpg

The one thing the Explore 2 can't do is support workouts, so if your main aim is structured training, look elsewhere in Garmin's range or at other brands.

As soon as you finish your ride, everything is uploaded to your Garmin Connect account, where you can go through a load of post ride data. You can also choose to get it directed to Strava or whatever other app you may use.

Navigation

This is the main aim for the Explore 2, so as you'd expect it's pretty good at it. You can either create a route on Strava, Komoot or whatever and upload the file to the Garmin – quick and simple – or you can follow an existing route stored on the device in the Course Creator.

2022 Garmin Edge Explore 2 - 2.jpg

If you have no routes stored, you can knock one up on the device itself. It's a little clunky though, as you have to keep zooming in and out to see the points you want to tap.

My favourite though is the Round-Trip Course option, especially if I'm away for the weekend or travelling a lot with my bike for work. It's not quick by any stretch of the imagination, as it requires a few minutes to come up with the routes, but it is effective. You just tell the device how far you want to ride, and it comes up with three routes.

> Best cycling computers 2022 — navigation, ride data and training features in one package

It's not infallible – a couple of routes tried to send me down private roads or tracks – but to be honest it's not on its own in this respect. Should that happen though, you can just ride past the junction and the Explore will quickly reroute you. Alternatively there are points of interest you can navigate to, or you can just enter a postcode as with a standard satnav.

2022 Garmin Edge Explore 2 - screen 1.jpg

Overall, the Explore is a capable unit for route finding. Directions are easy to follow regardless of what data page you have on display, as the map pings up with the route and countdowns to any turnings, which reduce confusion should there be multiple junctions.

Value

The Explore 2 is £249.99, which is a tenner cheaper than the Garmin Edge 530 that I own and use on a daily basis. Considering that the Explore 2 is a larger unit with a bigger screen, and the fact that it is a touchscreen too (the 530 isn't) makes it look very good value for money.

The 530 does include an out-front mount though, which the Explore doesn't. It comes with just the standard handlebar/stem mounts in the box.

2022 Garmin Edge Explore 2 - mount.jpg

Competition wise, the Bryton S500E is £259.99 and, while it does come with a colour touchscreen (one I didn't find that responsive), it is a much smaller screen than the Explore 2's. It does offer around 24hrs of battery life though, and can connect to a multitude of devices too.

Wahoo's Element Bolt is the same price as the Explore 2, and the latest version has a colour screen. It has loads of features as well, although again it's quite a small unit if you want to use it for navigation.

Overall

Having used the original Explore, I think the Explore 2 is a massive improvement. It now has many of the attributes of Garmin's more expensive units, and while it lacks the ability to offer structured training (which might be a non-starter for some), if you want a general GPS that works quickly and gives excellent navigation, it's highly recommended.

Verdict

Large screen and quick, clear navigation, plus loads of connectivity options

road.cc test report

Make and model: Garmin Edge Explore 2

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, "When you need a dependable, easy-to-use GPS bike computer, Edge Explore 2 is there when you need it most. So ride on and discover new trails – Edge has got you covered."

The Explore 2 is a capable GPS computer for collecting and displaying general data, with the added bonus of great route finding and planning if you find yourself away from your local roads more often than not.

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

General:

DIMENSIONS: 106.1x 55.7 x 20.6 mm

TOUCHSCREEN

COLOUR DISPLAY

DISPLAY SIZE: 3.00

DISPLAY RESOLUTION: 240 x 400 pixels

WATER RATING: IPX7

BATTERY TYPE: Rechargeable lithium-ion

BATTERY LIFE: Up to 16 hours

BATTERY SAVE MODE

Maps & memory:

ABILITY TO ADD MAPS

BASEMAP

STORAGE AND POWER CAPACITY: 16 GB internal memory

WAYPOINTS/FAVOURITES/LOCATIONS: 200

NAVIGATION ROUTES: 100 Courses

HISTORY: 200 hours

Sensors:

GPS

GLONASS

GALILEO

BAROMETRIC ALTIMETER

ACCELEROMETER

Daily smart features:

CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth®, ANT+

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

REALTIME SETTINGS SYNC WITH GARMIN CONNECT MOBILE

CONTROLS SMARTPHONE MUSIC

VIRB® CAMERA REMOTE

SMARTPHONE COMPATIBILITY iPhone, Android

Safety and tracking features:

LIVETRACK

GROUP LIVETRACK

RIDER-TO-RIDER MESSAGING

INCIDENT DETECTION

ASSISTANCE

FIND MY EDGE

BIKE ALARM

WEATHER ALERTS

INREACH COMPATIBLE

Activity tracking features:

CALORIES BURNED

INTENSITY MINUTES

Training, planning and analysis features:

CUSTOMISABLE SCREEN(S)

AUTO PAUSE

AUTO LAP

VO2 MAX

RECOVERY ADVISOR

TRENDLINE POPULARITY ROUTING

AUTO SCROLL

Outdoor recreation:

CLIMBPRO ASCENT PLANNER

Cycling features

GARMIN CYCLE MAP (ROUTABLE CYCLING-SPECIFIC STREET MAP)

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

COURSES

ON-DEVICE COURSE CREATOR

ON-DEVICE LOCATION SEARCH

POPULARITY HEATMAP

POWER METER COMPATIBLE

COMPATIBLE WITH VARIA RADAR (REAR-FACING RADAR)

COMPATIBLE WITH VARIA LIGHTS

EBIKE SMART RANGE ROUTING

Connectivity

EDGE REMOTE

VARIA REMOTE

SMART TRAINER CONTROL

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
8/10
Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

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

Apart from the odd navigating blip where it wanted to send me down private tracks on gravel rides, it performs very well, offering a multitude of tasks and the ability to be linked to a lot of sensors.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Responsive touch screen.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

No out front mount included.

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

It's a tenner less than the Bryton S500E and comes with a larger, more responsive touchscreen. Wahoo's Element Bolt is the same price as the Garmin, but has a smaller overall size and therefore screen, which means the mapping isn't as clear. There is also no touchscreen if that is on your must-have list.

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

The Explore 2 is no longer primarily aimed at mapping and navigation. It has the majority of the capabilities found on Garmin's more expensive devices, offers decent battery life, and is priced well against the competition.

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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27 comments

Avatar
SecretSam | 1 month ago
0 likes

So, if there's no WiFi, how do you upload routes? I'm considering a new GPS unit and need one with decent mapping - I have a first gen Element bolt, and its mapping is hopeless.

Avatar
Steve K replied to SecretSam | 1 month ago
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SecretSam wrote:

So, if there's no WiFi, how do you upload routes? I'm considering a new GPS unit and need one with decent mapping - I have a first gen Element bolt, and its mapping is hopeless.

Bluetooth via your phone?

Avatar
Rendel Harris replied to SecretSam | 1 month ago
0 likes
SecretSam wrote:

So, if there's no WiFi, how do you upload routes? I'm considering a new GPS unit and need one with decent mapping - I have a first gen Element bolt, and its mapping is hopeless.

When you finish riding the data is automatically uploaded to Garmin Connect via your phone's Bluetooth or to any other app, like Strava, that you designate.

Avatar
Wingguy replied to SecretSam | 1 month ago
0 likes
SecretSam wrote:

So, if there's no WiFi, how do you upload routes? I'm considering a new GPS unit and need one with decent mapping - I have a first gen Element bolt, and its mapping is hopeless.

Note that 'WiFii' here specifically refers to the ability to pair directly to the internet via your home's wireless modem, which is still a relatively new capability for head units in general. It's not a catch all term for any type of wireless connectivity such as Bluetooth and ANT+, both of which it does have, as do plenty of older head units which have been able to sync through your phone for years before WiFi capability was introduced.

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HendersonWorldw... | 1 year ago
0 likes

I have owned an Edge Explore for about a year
I am debating whether to purchase an Edge Explore 2
What are the biggest differences between these two products? I have heard through others the batter life might have improved
Would you recommend people upgrade?

Avatar
Mathemagician | 1 year ago
0 likes

Wondering if any of the Garmin users here might be able to help with something. Bought an Edge Explore for my wife a couple of weeks back, but we can't seem to get the favourites to work on the Garmin Connect Android app. She can add someone else's route to her favourites via the GC webpage on a PC/laptop, or via the app. But when she goes to her favourites it shows as empty. She can create a route on the webpage on a PC/laptop- and that will show up in the app to push to a device. She can import a route via a GPX or TCX file, and that will show up in the app. But her favourites list remains empty in the app.

I tried installing GC to my (Android) phone and logging in with her account- same issue. Routes that she created appear, but her favourites list is empty- even if she just favourites one of her own routes. Randomly on a hunch I installed GC on my work phone- an iPhone. And her favourites appear on the iPhone app? So it's clearly an issue with the Android app...anyone heard of this? We tried Garmin Support but so far they've been useless- they've just said we can upload a GPX of a route (...duh).  

Avatar
Miller replied to Mathemagician | 1 year ago
0 likes

Wy doesn't she just use the route stored on the Edge Explore itself? I hardly bother with the Connect app other than to check a ride has uploaded.

Avatar
Mathemagician replied to Miller | 1 year ago
0 likes
Miller wrote:

Wy doesn't she just use the route stored on the Edge Explore itself? I hardly bother with the Connect app other than to check a ride has uploaded.

So...you're plugging in your unit to manually put routes on the Edge? If not, how are you doing it if not via Connect / bluetooth?

For context, we're in a cycling club, they publish a route for a group ride, so in theory all she has to do is open the link, favourite it, and then push it to the device via Connect et viola. Any other method is more long winded unless I'm missing something. It's not the unit itself that's the problem, it's the Connect android app - as I said, it works fine on the iPhone app. 

Avatar
mark1a replied to Mathemagician | 1 year ago
1 like

I know this isn't solving the favourites issue, but if you're opening the route to favourite it, could you not just click "send to device" and then see ir on the Edge after the next GC app sync.?
 

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Mathemagician replied to mark1a | 1 year ago
0 likes

Thanks- will try that.

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Miller replied to Mathemagician | 1 year ago
0 likes

I think the favouriting thing is a red herring. Anyway I use komoot to create routes. As soon as it's created on komoot it automagically appears on the Garmin. I've also sideloaded routes by attaching the Garmin to PC and copying the GPX to the Garmin newfiles directory.

Avatar
mark1a replied to Miller | 1 year ago
0 likes

Likewise with Strava if the accounts are connected but Mathemagician is not making the routes, they are being sent by the club, so beholding to whatever platform the club sends them on. 

Avatar
Mathemagician replied to mark1a | 1 year ago
0 likes
mark1a wrote:

Likewise with Strava if the accounts are connected but Mathemagician is not making the routes, they are being sent by the club, so beholding to whatever platform the club sends them on. 

This^^

Avatar
wycombewheeler replied to mark1a | 1 month ago
0 likes
mark1a wrote:

Likewise with Strava if the accounts are connected but Mathemagician is not making the routes, they are being sent by the club, so beholding to whatever platform the club sends them on. 

my club sends out routes either on ridewithgps or strava, depending who is leading the ride. My accounts for both of these are linked to my garmin connect account. If I save/pin these routes on starva/rwgps they appear almost immediately on my device. via mobile data/bluetooth. The only thing I have found is that once you are recording an acitivity it will not download a new route. So if I ride to the club and then try to pin the route, I will need to save my ride to the meeting point first and then start again once upload/download has finished. Or if I abandon a ride and need to route to home/trainstation on the fly, then stop the existing activity to download the recovery route.

Once my ride is finished, it feeds from garmin connect to strava immediately. Normally there is kudos before I even have a chance to name the ride and add photos

Avatar
mark1a replied to wycombewheeler | 1 month ago
0 likes
wycombewheeler wrote:

Once my ride is finished, it feeds from garmin connect to strava immediately. Normally there is kudos before I even have a chance to name the ride and add photos

I get round that by setting Strava activities to be private by default, then that gives me a chance to name the ride, add photos, etc before making it public.

Completely off-topic, for automatically setting activity name, activity type, bike used,  etc have a look at activityfix.com - link your Strava account to it and you can set up "if this then that" type rules, for example, setting a ride name or commute based on going near a GPS location, setting bike based on sensors used, and so on.

Avatar
Steve K | 1 year ago
1 like
Quote:

You can also set up contacts for your device to notify (via your phone) should it detect a crash. I've used this on various Garmin devices, and it is very good, with very few false alarms.

The crash detect feature is ridiculously over sensitive on my 1030 Plus and goes off if I ever brake reasonably sharply and come to a complete stop.  Mrs K just ignores the alerts - though that may say more about the state of our marriage.

Avatar
IanMSpencer replied to Steve K | 1 year ago
1 like

You had to brake to get it to go off? You got a good one.

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Mathemagician replied to Steve K | 1 year ago
0 likes

I was surprised to read this too. I don't have a Garmin, but lots in my club do and whenever we come to a stop there seems to always be a Garmin chirruping away, needing an intervention before it informs the next of kin of one rider's sad demise. 

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NickJP | 1 year ago
0 likes

Will it interface with electronic gearing such as eTap or Di2? My old Edge 1000 can do this, but the battery and power button are both on their way out. I'm not interested in power measurement or strava segments etc, so this unit sounds like a good replacement if it can mate to gearing sensors.

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Secret_squirrel replied to NickJP | 1 year ago
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Nope.  Thats missing.  Both Ant Gearing (SRAM) and Shimano DI2 custom.

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wycombewheeler replied to Secret_squirrel | 1 month ago
0 likes

sounds like a downgrade on the edge 530 then.

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mark1a replied to wycombewheeler | 1 month ago
0 likes
wycombewheeler wrote:

sounds like a downgrade on the edge 530 then.

I think it is yes, hence the price, I think Garmin deliberately remove features from the Explore range (which are aimed more at navigation than the performance side), otherwise nobody would be buying the 5xx, 8xx or 10xx models.

Avatar
Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago
0 likes

Reading this it seems much more fully featured than I had expected.  Its basically midway between the 830 and the 1030 in size and with all the training and competitive tools removed.  But a good £50-£100 cheaper than the 830!

The training I could live without but missing Strava live segments would be a step too far for me but could see it appealing to others who value a big screen.

Bit wierd to have smart trainer control on it however.

 

Avatar
Miller | 1 year ago
0 likes

I've had an Edge Explore 2 since its release in July and I like it very much. I have accumulated a few nitpicks with it of course. The main one, if you're riding to a GPX route, is that the on-screen display of the track you're following isn't sufficiently different-looking to bigger roads. The track displays in dark purple and it looks a lot like an A-road. I wish they made the track stand out more. Another minor annoyance is that previous Garmins I've had give a warning chirrup if I go off-track. This Explore 2 is quiet at those moments and instead silently displays a 'pause navigation' footer. That's caught me out more than a few times. Maybe I've missed some configuration options to improve on those points, do let me know if so. Other than these points it's the best bike computer I've owned with a good touchscreen, multiple options for loading routes and rerouting on the fly, and reassuring battery life. 

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IanMSpencer replied to Miller | 1 year ago
0 likes

Sounds like the problem I had with the 830. The problem is not A road colours but the Heat Map option (is that what it is called?) so all roads are virtually identical to the route. Switch off the heat map option and main roads are easily distinguishable.

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Old fat man on ... replied to Miller | 1 year ago
0 likes

The route and arrow position colours don't stand out enough at all and it's pretty rubbish in this day and age that these are not editable. I switched the map type to least detail which does help.

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JohnnyG replied to Miller | 1 year ago
0 likes

I upgraded from an Edge 520 plus and have been very pleased with the additional features. However one major complaint is the lack of shifting sensor support (which even the 520 plus had). Why have e-bike settings but no ability to connect to SRAM ETAP or Shimano Di2? Makes no sense.

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