Garmin Edge 1030 Plus Review: The Bike Computer for Demanding

Garmin Edge 1030 Plus Review: Turned-on 1030 Plus with a blurred flowering pink tree

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This is my Garmin Edge 1030 Plus review. Until the introduction of the Edge 1040, it was Garmin’s highest-end bike computer and one of the best bike computers on the market

I am a Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM/BOLT user, so I wondered what the differences are.

Based on about two months of experience, I am pleasantly surprised.

Spoiler alert: The Garmin Edge 1030 is overkill for weekend warriors. I recommend it for demanding cyclists who can leverage comprehensive navigation features and training suggestions. Feel free to buy it here

Or continue reading to learn more about my experience and comparison with other head units.

Garmin Edge 1030 Plus Pros & Cons

These are the main pros & cons of Garmin Edge 1030 Plus I found during its use.

Pros

  • Large (3.5in, 282×470px), easy-to-read, colored, and touchscreen display
  • Long battery life (up to 48 hrs – easy use, up to 24 hrs – heavy use)
  • Responsive display
  • Excellent navigation features
  • Advanced training and recovery suggestions
  • Possibility to use 3rd party apps from Garmin Connect IQ store
  • Crash/incident detection
  • MTB metrics (grit, flow, jump)
  • Compatibility with Trailforks and ForkSight apps
  • Relatively quick start-up time (~15 seconds)

Cons

  • Too big for casual riding
  • No possibility to set up via a smartphone
  • MicroUSB charging cable (no USB-C)
  • The touchscreen display is not 100% reliable in non-ideal conditions
  • Alphabetical keyboard (not QWERTY)
  • Pricey

Garmin Edge 1030 Plus (released in June 2020) is the upgraded version of the Edge 1030 from 2017. 

The ‘Plus’ version brought multiple updates, including a black case, larger internal storage (16GB + microSD card vs. 32GB), workout suggestions, improved display, longer battery life, etc. I will explain them more in-depth later.

It was replaced by the Edge 1040 in June 2022, which has longer battery life, redesigned user interface, and many other improvements.

Also available at amazon.com, wiggle.co.uk, and wiggle.co.uk

Below, you can see comparison pictures of Edge 1030 Plus and Edge 1040.

Unboxing & Setup

The Edge’s 1030 Plus includes standard accessories like stem and flush-out-front mounts, MicroUSB charging cable, safety tether, and manual. 

To set up the 1030 Plus, you have to log into your Garmin Connect account (where you can set up settings like your weight, preferred units, etc.) and then go through the pairing process with your phone.

The mobile app then guided me through additional options and settings. Everything was easy to understand and ready to go within about 3 minutes.

I didn’t encounter any connection issues, but the pairing process was not as straightforward (e.g., scanning QR code) as on Wahoo.

NOTE: If you have already used a Garmin bike computer, the 1030 Plus will use the same settings based on your Garmin Connect account.

My Experience

Below, I share my experience with Garmin Edge 1030 Plus. 

Display

Honestly, the Edge 1030 Plus display is great, and I quickly got used to the touchscreen. After all, I use a smartphone every day.

Its coating is glossier than on Wahoo ROAM, for example, so it is harder to read from some angles, but most of the time, it’s fine. Read this article comparing ROAM and 1030 Plus.

The 3.5-inch screen is one of the largest bike computer screens on the market. It’s perfect for displaying multiple data fields (up to 10) or large maps (more about maps and navigation below). 

I was pleasantly surprised by its responsiveness. For example, changing data fields was much simpler and faster than I expected.

Changing data fields on Garmin Edge 1030 Plus
Changing data fields on Garmin Edge 1030 Plus

But, don’t expect today’s smartphone-level performance. The responsivity and refresh rate are not there yet.

More about usability in the following section.

Control & User Friendliness

I am used to button-based bike computers, so I was curious about the touchscreen. I heard complaints about them because of their bad controllability in wet conditions or with gloves.

I would summarize my experience as follows. If the conditions are good (e.g., I don’t sweat or wear full-finger gloves* or it doesn’t rain), using the touchscreen is better than button-based bike computers. Browsing the menu or map is quicker and more convenient than pressing buttons. 

*The gloves have to be touchscreens compatible.

However, once the screen is wet or I wear full-finger gloves, it doesn’t always react as intended, and its reliability is not 100%.

Wet Garmin Edge 1030 Plus control
Using Garmin Edge 1030 Plus with wet display

Unfortunately, I couldn’t test it in more extreme conditions – for example, on muddy forest roads with full-finger gloves. So, feel free to share your experience in the comments below.

I think the 1030 Plus is not the best option for MTB because of its size. Edge 830 and Edge 530 seem like better alternatives for mountain bikers.

Garmin could improve user-friendliness. For example, when I used Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM for the first time, I intuitively knew what button to press or what menu to open. 

Due to the wide offer of features and complicated menus, Edge 1030 Plus will probably take you some time to get used to. 

My learning curve was about 3 days. However, I still sometimes struggle to find some features.

I would also appreciate it if I could perform settings (of data fields, for example) using a smartphone app like the Edge 1040 or Wahoo ELEMNT computers. 

Yes, the Edge’s touchscreen is responsive, and the interface is cleverly designed, but dragging & dropping data fields in the ELEMNT Companion app is more satisfying and efficient.

On the other hand, if you want to adjust data fields on the go on Wahoo, you have to put your phone out of your pocket.

Maps & Navigation

If mapping and navigation is something you are into, you probably won’t find a better option than Edge 1030 Plus.

This is mainly thanks to the screen and detailed maps. I am not their frequent user because I use them only when I ride to places I don’t know or on vacation abroad (which is not often). 

Both units include global maps. However, additional detailed maps are preloaded based on the region where you buy the 1030 Plus. 

You can also download maps for additional regions. Thanks to the 32GB storage, you will have enough freedom to download the countries you want.

It’s a shame that you can’t download them to the 1030 Plus via Wi-Fi, unlike on Wahoo bike computers, and you have to plug the Garmin into a computer and use another app (Garmin Express).

On the other hand, they are now free. You had to pay for them on the Edge 1030.

Garmin Edge 1030 Plus navigation
Garmin Edge 1030 Plus navigation
Garmin Edge 1030 Plus and Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2 mounted on my handlebar
Navigation turned on on Garmin Edge 1030 Plus and Wahoo ELEMNT BOLT v2

Edge 1030 Plus can navigate you to so-called points of interest – for example, to a grocery store, gas station, restaurant, and more. So you basically don’t have to put out your phone to find these locations.

This is a pretty handy feature in places you don’t know well.

Battery Life

The battery life depends on the number of sensors and features you use. 

Garmin claims up to 48-hour battery life if you don’t pair any sensors and only use essential functions like GPS or recording your ride. However, this is a perfect scenario. So, what about a more realistic example?

1030 Plus should last 24 hours on heavy usage. This means GPS+GLONASS and navigation enabled, multiple sensors connected, etc.

I’ve been using the Edge 1030 Plus for the past weeks, and it lasted for about 18 hours and 30 minutes. I had a power meter, HR monitor, Garmin Varia RTL515 radar, and my smartphone connected to it. 

Based on the frequency and length of your rides, this results in about 2 to 3 weeks of battery life. I ride about 5-10 hours per week, so I didn’t have to recharge it for about two weeks.

This battery life belongs among the longest on the market and surpasses all Wahoo ELEMNT bike computers. But, the Edge 1040 and Edge 1040 Solar are on another level. You can read more info about it in my Edge 1040 review.

Edge 1030 Plus also has a ‘sleep mode.’ So, I recharged the unit to 100% and turned on the sleep mode. The battery dropped by only 1% in 24 hours. Cool.

Connectivity

Garmin Edge 1030 Plus has Bluetooth, ANT+, and Wi-Fi connectivity. 

This means you can pair it with basically any sensors with the same communication protocols. It will also sync your rides to 3rd party apps like Strava, TrainingPeaks, and more.

What I find cool is the compatibility with Garmin’s Varia radars like the RTL515, RCT715, etc. For example, when the radar is in standby mode, Edge head units can wake it up, so you don’t have to turn it on (or off) manually.

You can also control their modes via the head unit.

This feature is missing on 3rd party bike computers.

Garmin Edge 1030 Plus Alternatives

Here are some of the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus alternatives worth considering.

  • Garmin Edge 830 is almost as advanced as the 1030 Plus and is more affordable. But it has a smaller screen (2.6″) and not so many features.
  • Wahoo ELEMNT ROAM has a smaller screen and is not packed with as many features. However, you can set it up via smartphone, and it’s cheaper.
  • Garmin Edge 1030 is the previous generation of 1030 Plus that is cheaper but has a less responsive screen and smaller internal storage. It is also not packed with as many features. 
  • Garmin Edge 1040 is the next generation with more accurate GPS, a new user interface, features, and many more improvements.

Garmin Edge 1030 Plus FAQ

Garmin Edge 1030 Plus Technical Specifications

Here is the summary of the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus technical specification.

Technical Specifications

  • Battery life: 24 hours (MicroUSB charging)
  • Screen size: 3.5in / 88.9mm (282×470px)
  • Touchscreen: Yes
  • Weight: 124g
  • Dimensions: 114×58×19 mm (4.5×2.3×0.8 in)
  • Strava live segments: Yes
  • Smart trainers control: Yes
  • Smart navigation (rerouting): Yes
  • Crash/incident detection: Yes
  • Connectivity: ANT+, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
  • Waterproofing: IPX7
  • Internal memory: 32GB

My Verdict

Garmin Edge 1030 Plus is packed with so many features that it will take you some time to discover them all.

It’s mainly suitable for road cyclists and people who appreciate excellent navigation features, workout suggestions, and rich metrics (including MTB).

It has some downsides, though. The most annoying thing for me was the absence of the setup via a smartphone app as we know it from ELEMNT bike computers.

The big elephant in the room is also the price. The Edge 830 offers a much better price/value ratio. With 1030 Plus, you basically pay for a larger screen and a few extra features.

But in the end, it all depends on your preferences and use case.

Also available at amazon.com, wiggle.co.uk, and wiggle.co.uk

What are your thoughts on 1030 Plus? Do you think it provides a better price-value ratio than the recently released 1040? Let me know in the comments.

Recommended Accessories

Below, I include a few accessories worth using with the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus.

Garmin Varia RTL515 Radar

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… for your safety (read my Garmin Varia RTL515 radar review)

Garmin Varia RCT715 Radar with Camera

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… for your safety (read my Garmin Varia RCT715 radar review)

Two Bolt Out Front Mount

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… for integrated cockpits
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