The Garmin Edge 1040 Solar is a fantastic bike computer with a huge battery life – in a month of testing I charged it once. Add to this the big but easy to read screen, a load of accessories and that it's simple to use, and it's one of the best cycling computers available.
The Edge 1040 Solar is essentially the updated version of the Edge 1030 (we reviewed the Edge 1030 Plus a couple of years ago), sitting at the top of Garmin's bike computer pyramid. It's slightly larger than the Edge 1030, coming in at 59.3 x 117.6 x 20mm vs the 1030's 58 x 114 x 19mm.
While the difference isn't particularly noticeable, and it's always good to have a bit of extra screen space, it won't work with regular Garmin out-front mounts, which is a little frustrating if you have a plethora you've collected over the years, as I do. The mount provided by Garmin is pretty good, though, and I didn't notice any kind of movement even when I was using it for particularly rough gravel riding.
The unit is a bit cumbersome if you choose not to use the out-front mount, taking up quite a bit of bar real estate. I put it on my stem using a regular Garmin mount for a couple of rides, but it's quite big.
As a side note, I am particularly pleased that Garmin has moved to an out-front mount where the bolt runs from the top. It's a really small thing, but I have lost several from older models simply because they can fall out if you over-loosen them.
Garmin doesn't just provide out-front and stem mounts with the Edge 1040 Solar, it also includes a load of accessories including a tri-bar mount, lanyard, and, my favourite, a silicone case. For something of this size and expense, having some additional protection for it out of the box is a really nice touch.
I found the device very simple to set up, mainly because I am already a Garmin user, so all of my data was just transferred across from the Garmin Connect app. Even if you don't have previous experience with it, it's still a pretty straightforward process – just choose your language and follow the on-screen prompts.
I did have a little challenge initially connecting it to my phone – I had to repeat the connection cycle a few times before it worked – but I can't say whether this was down to my phone or the Edge.
One of the biggest selling points of this unit is its battery life. Not only is the battery itself impressive but, as the name suggests, it also uses solar charging, which sets it apart from almost all other bike computers. There are a few other solar-powered units entering the market, such as the TrimmOne for around £230, but few at this end of the market.
Essentially, it charges as you're using it or you can just leave it in direct sunlight when not in use and it will charge too, whether it is turned on or off.
As it's charging while in use, the computer uses very little battery power when you are on a ride. For instance, I used it on a two-hour gravel ride on a gloriously clear day and by the end, my total battery consumption was just 4%. In a month of testing I have only 'had' to charge it once, and even then it was at 20%.
Garmin claims a 45-hour run-time on standard mode or 100 hours if you use it on battery saver mode. Considering the amount I used it and only needing to charge it once, I think these are fairly accurate claims, and a significant improvement on any competitors. The Hammerhead Karoo 2, for example, lasts 7-14 hours and the new Wahoo Elemnt Roam a claimed 17 hours.
Charging is via a USB C cable, which is a big upgrade on the mini-USB port Garmin has previously used, allowing faster charging. Although, if you're only charging it once a month then does it actually matter?
Data, viewing and use
As we've come to expect from Garmin, it's easy to set up and the data screens are intuitive and easy to understand, as well as customisable.
The massive screen also makes viewing this data at a glance easy. I am used to an Edge 830, which has been my go-to for a couple of years, but I can see all my data so much more clearly on the Edge 1040 Solar. With its screen resolution of 282x470 pixels, everything is bright, clear, and easy to read, even in my favourite setup of seven data fields.
From the rider profile page you can add or remove screens, and navigating between them is just a case of swiping across the device. For instance, I have it set so that my favourite data screen appears as default, with my secondary data being the last screen so I just need to swipe right, and navigation as my second screen so I just need to swipe left.
You can set up the data that appears within these screens easily, on the Garmin Connect app or on the device itself. You can also customise where it appears and what kind of prominence it gets. So if you are riding through the Royal Parks with a particularly officious-looking gentleman nearby, you might want to have your speed displayed as large as possible, or if you're planning a particularly hilly ride then gradient and heart rate might be given more prominence. It's all very easy to make it look and feel how you want.
I have Strava set up for specific segments and it clearly shows when I am approaching these and my time vs the KOM. It also tracks you as you are going up a hill, giving you accurate visualisations of where you are, gradients, and how far you have to go.
The screen also adjusts to the lighting conditions to help you see what it's displaying more easily, so if it's overcast it will be duller, and at its most bright in direct sunlight.
The size of the screen lends itself very well to navigation. I have to admit I have never been a massive fan of Garmin's navigation on smaller devices. Here, because it is so much bigger, I think it works well. Maps feel a little more spaced out and you can see where you're going at a glance, even in mainly built-up areas where you're more likely to take a wrong turn.
Setting it up can be done in a variety of different ways. Garmin has its own routing options, so you can plan your rides through its app, but it also integrates with Strava and Komoot so you can build your ride on either platform and it will transfer over to the Connect app, and from there to your device.
The Garmin routing is fairly easy, although I have found that with gravel riding there is still some work to do with updating bridleways and footpaths. I used it to plan a ride in my new rural haunts and found myself in the middle of a ploughed field where I imagine a path had probably been a few years ago. However, Garmin is not alone in this – I've had similar challenges with all map providers, especially in less-travelled areas.
This is an excellent bike computer, but, as with most things, excellence comes at a price.
At £629.99 this is towards the top of the scale, and the most expensive cycling computer we've tested, apart from the Everysight Raptor glasses at £699.99, though they're not really comparable.
The Wahoo Elemnt Roam I mentioned earlier is £349.99, while the Hammerhead Karoo 2 is £359.
We've yet to review the new Wahoo, but Anna liked the Hammerhead Karoo 2 when she tested it last year. It isn't as big as the Garmin, but it offers comparable visuals and features, although the battery life doesn't even come close.
This is a fantastic cycling computer, offering unbeatable battery life, excellent data displaying, and an intuitive interface. Many will baulk at the price, and its size means fewer mounting options, but this really is an example of getting what you pay for as it is a genuinely excellent bike computer.
Expensive and big, but easy to use, hugely customisable and the best battery life available – an excellent computer
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
Make and model: Garmin Edge 1040 Solar
Size tested: 59.3 x 117.6 x 20mm
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?
"Never stop cycling with the ultimate solar powered GPS bike computer you can depend on when you need it most. Edge 1040 Solar is ready for any ride, from remote gravel trails to epic climbs.
Keep on pushing. Power Glass™ solar charging1 extends battery life up to 42 minutes per hour in battery saver mode.
Ride farther, charge less. With solar charging, get up to 45 hours of battery life in demanding use cases and up to 100 hours in battery saver mode.
Go deep. Dense tree cover and the urban canyon are no match for its spot-on accuracy with multi-band GNSS.
Ride like a local with ride type-specific maps and navigation.
Know how much is left in your tank with stamina insights."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
DIMENSION 2.3 x 4.6 x 0.8in (59.3 x 117.6 x 20.0 mm)
DISPLAY SIZE 3.5in (88.9 mm) diagonal
DISPLAY RESOLUTION 282 x 470 pixels
WEIGHT 4.7 oz (133 g)
WATER RATING IPX7
POWER GLASS SOLAR CHARGING
BATTERY TYPE Rechargeable lithium-ion
BATTERY LIFE 45 hours
BATTERY SAVE MODE
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 Yes (64 gb internal memory)
NAVIGATION ROUTES 100 Courses
HISTORY Up to 200 hours
AMBIENT LIGHT SENSOR
Daily smart features
CONNECTIVITY Bluetooth®, ANT+®, Wi-Fi®
CONNECT IQ™ (DOWNLOADABLE WATCH FACES, DATA FIELDS, WIDGETS AND APPS)
ON-DEVICE CONNECT IQ™ STORE
TEXT RESPONSE/REJECT PHONE CALL WITH TEXT (ANDROID™ ONLY)
REALTIME SETTINGS SYNC WITH GARMIN CONNECT™ MOBILE
CONTROLS SMARTPHONE MUSIC
VIRB® CAMERA REMOTE
SMARTPHONE COMPATIBILITY iPhone®, Android™
Safety and tracking features
FIND MY EDGE®
Activity tracking features
Training, planning and analysis features
DOWNLOADABLE TRAINING PLANS
DAILY WORKOUT SUGGESTIONS
PRIMARY AND SECONDARY WORKOUT TARGETS
VO2 MAX (RUN)
TRAINING STATUS (LETS YOU SEE IF YOU'RE TRAINING EFFECTIVELY BY TRACKING YOUR TRAINING HISTORY AND FITNESS LEVEL TREND)
TRAINING LOAD (YOUR TOTAL TRAINING LOAD FOR THE LAST 7 DAYS CALCULATED FROM ESTIMATED EPOC)
TRAINING LOAD FOCUS
CYCLING ABILITY ANALYSIS
COURSE DEMANDS ANALYSIS
TRAINING EFFECT (AEROBIC)
RACE AN ACTIVITY
TRENDLINE™ POPULARITY ROUTING
CLIMBPRO™ ASCENT PLANNER
GARMIN CYCLE MAP (ROUTABLE CYCLING-SPECIFIC STREET MAP) Yes (multi-region)
ALERTS (TRIGGERS ALARM WHEN YOU REACH GOALS INCLUDING TIME, DISTANCE, HEART RATE OR CALORIES)
ON-DEVICE COURSE CREATOR
ON-DEVICE LOCATION SEARCH
CYCLING DYNAMICS COMPATIBLE
INTEGRATED TRAILFORKS TRAIL DATA
POWER METER COMPATIBLE
COMPATIBLE WITH VARIA™ RADAR (REAR-FACING RADAR)
COMPATIBLE WITH VARIA™ LIGHTS
EBIKE SMART RANGE ROUTING
ANT+™ ELECTRONIC SHIFTING
SHIMANO DI2 SYNCHRO SHIFT INTEGRATION
SMART TRAINER CONTROL
EXTENDED DISPLAY (ALLOWS A GARMIN WATCH TO SHARE DATA SCREENS ON EDGE®)
Rate the product for quality of construction:
Well made, with a stable out-front mount that keeps everything in place even while rough gravel riding.
Rate the product for performance:
Really good, offering excellent visualisation combined with unbeatable battery life.
Rate the product for durability:
The unit itself feels like it would survive a few drops, but the inclusion of a silicone case makes this even more impressive.
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
Rate the product for value:
This is a difficult one – it is the most expensive bike computer we have ever tested, but it may well be the best bike computer we've ever tested.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well. Visualisations are crisp and clear, there is a huge amount of customisation, and the battery life is superb.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The battery life – only one charge in a month of use is unheard of.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The size – it takes up a whole lot of bar real estate.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Wahoo Elemnt Roam is £349.99, while the Hammerhead Karoo 2 is £359. We haven't reviewed the new Wahoo yet, but the Karoo 2 was well liked by Anna when she tested it last year. It isn't as big, but offers comparable visuals and features, although the battery life doesn't even come close.
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
It combines excellent visuals, customisation and usability with battery life that is unmatched by anything else currently on the market. It might be expensive and it might take up a lot of space on the bar, but this is a small price to pay for what is an excellent bike computer.
Age: 35 Height: 6 ft Weight:
I usually ride: CAAD13 My best bike is: Cannondale Supersix Evo
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed,
Really uncanny. This does mean that AI has huge amounts of hate to train on. Which is a worry. The only thing it didn't do, which JC would have...
Presumably they're ones that escaped from earlier experiments?...
I don't know about this. It's not exactly a Swiss watch of mechanical complexity. It's less design copying than it is the minimum structural...
Ghost-bikes in prominent places are a London 'favourite' since no human is at additional risk and there's plenty of time for the stationary traffic...
How about air bags on the outside, but not on the inside?
Best stay away from fires: straw is quite inflammable.
Have you tried that? I have. For a light it's useless, doesn't lift the beam clear of the bag (not by a long way) so you ride in the shadow of the...
All nice and well but what I still miss on all those Garmin devices is the possibility to simply reverse a set course ......
Could be. They've also splashed out and repainted some give way markings where redways cross roads, some at junctions where cyclists often don't....