Garmin Edge 540 (Solar) Review: Better than Ever, but…

Garmin Edge 540 Solar review: Me holding the Garmin Edge 540 Solar showing its display.

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A few weeks ago, Garmin introduced the Edge 540 (Solar) and Edge 840 (Solar). I’ve been using and using them for a few weeks.

In this Edge 540 review, you learn what you can expect, how it compares to the previous generation and other alternatives, and whether it is worth it.

In short:
Garmin Edge 540 brings many improvements, including a new user interface, longer battery life (and Solar version), new features, and more. However, because the 840 also has buttons and a touchscreen, I believe it’s worth paying more. Using the new UI with just buttons doesn’t feel user-friendly. I also think you can skip the Solar version entirely. Continue reading to learn why.

Thanks to for lending me Edge 540 for this review.

Garmin Edge 540 (Solar) Pros & Cons

These are the main pros & cons of Edge 540 I found.


  • Ideal display size
  • Customizable via a smartphone app
  • Long battery life
  • Available in Solar option
  • Features rich (including Real-Time Stamina, Power Guide, and more)
  • Relatively quick start-up time (about 13 seconds)
  • USB-C charging port
  • Improved GPS accuracy thanks to the multi-band GNSS
  • Downloadable data fields from Connect IQ store
  • Full on-device navigation
  • Easy-to-press buttons


  • No touchscreen
  • Downloading maps requires a wired connection between the head unit and a computer
  • The new user interface doesn’t feel as user-friendly as the competition. It’s not designed for button-based bike computers
  • Outdated design (thick bezels)
  • ClimbPro feature doesn’t offer enough customization flexibility

What’s New Compared to the Edge 530?

The major changes include increased battery life from 20 to 26 hours, a new user interface (the same we know from the Edge 1040 or Explore 2), Real-Time Stamina, Power Guide, an improved ClimbPro, and more.

All changes include:

  • Availability in standard and solar option
  • Thicker bezels
  • More accurate GPS (Multi-band GNSS)
  • Redesigned user interface
  • Data fields customizable via a smartphone app
  • Simplified setup
  • Real-Time Stamina and Power Guide features
  • Switching from MicroUSB to USB-C
  • ClimbPro provides more gradient information and works for non-planned routes

Honestly, Garmin Edge 530 was not the cup of my tea. I struggled to use it because of its unintuitive user interface and buttons.

As I predicted, Garmin implemented the same UI from the Edge 1040 and Explore 2 to the 540s and 840s.

However, it was probably designed for touchscreen devices, so using it with buttons only is not as smooth (but more about it later).

If you’re interested, you can learn more about the differences between Edge 530 and 540.

Unboxing & Setup

The package still contains the standard contents we are used to:

  • Garmin Edge 540
  • Out front mount + stem mount 
  • USB-C charging cable
  • Tether
  • Manual

Garmin simplified the initial setup. Now you just scan a QR code like on Wahoo ELEMNT bike computers.

Additionally, if you are already in Garmin’s ecosystem, your previous settings will be loaded onto the new device.

One of the new features that I appreciate is the possibility of setting the head unit via the Garmin Connect app.

Due to the button-based user interface, it’s easier and faster to set the data fields via the smartphone app. But you can still use the bike computer itself.

This is one of the differences between Wahoo. ELEMNT bike computers cannot be set up directly on the device. This makes them smartphone-dependent.

My Experience

I’ve been using Garmin Edge 540 for about a month now. Here are my main takes:

  1. The Edge 540 is more capable than the 530 thanks to many new features, but not all will use them.
  2. I like the improved ClimbPro, but it could be more flexible.
  3. The new user interface looks more modern and intuitive than the older one, but it’s not designed for button-based bike computers, making it awkward to use sometimes.

Let’s now talk about individual features in more detail.


The display size of the Garmin Edge 540 is the same as the Edge 530, at 2.6 inches, with a resolution of 246×322px.

It’s not a touchscreen display, so you have to control the computer using buttons. In my opinion, the 540’s size is perfect for most people.

The head unit is compact, lightweight, and suitable for daily riding. However, if you have poor eyesight, you might want to consider the larger Edge 1040 for easier readability.

Here are the screen sizes and resolutions of some of the Edge 540 alternatives.

Edge 540 has an ambient sensor, so it can automatically adjust the brightness based on the outside light conditions.

The brightness is high enough to provide good readability in direct sunlight. However, the display’s finish is glossier than displays of Wahoo computers, so it reflects more glares.

Garmin Edge 540 Solar and 840 with Power Guide turned on.
Edge 540 Solar and 840 readability in direct sunlight

The 540 can fit up to 10 data fields on one data page, which is the same as the Edge 840. However, unlike ELEMNT computers, the 540 doesn’t allow you to zoom in and out to make the data fields larger or smaller. Instead, you have to change the entire page layout. This is one of those details that set Wahoo and Garmin apart in ease of use.

Adjusting the data fields on the Edge 540 is more complicated than on the 840. Browsing the menus using buttons is slow. However, the customizability of the device via Garmin Connect helps alleviate this issue to some extent. I’ll talk more about this in the Control section.

Battery Life

The claimed battery life of Edge 540 is 26 hours (same as Edge 840), which is a 30% increase.

The Solar version can extend the battery life by up to 25 minutes per hour of riding in ideal conditions. This means up to 32 hours in total. For comparison, Edge 1040 has a claimed battery life of up to 35 hours.

Remember, the solar panel can’t recharge the device. It only extends its battery life.

I squeezed around 27 and half hours from Edge 540 during my testing. I had my HR monitor, power meter, Varia RTL515, and phone connected to it. I also used navigation on about 30% of the rides.

Due to bad weather, the solar power didn’t add much to the battery life. The Edge 540 Solar lasted only 3 hours longer than the 840 in the same test. Yes, the conditions for solar were not the best (it was often cloudy). On the other hand, how often do you ride in ideal conditions, unless you live in, for example, California, to maximize the solar potential?

A screenshot of the Edge 540 Solar charge during one of my trips in Italian Dolomites.
Garmin Edge 540 Solar charge – during my Passo Fedaia trip

I honestly don’t think the Solar is worth the extra $100 on 540 and 840. Due to their size, the solar panel is much less effective than the Edge 1040 Solar.

You can turn on the battery-saver mode if you know you will struggle with battery life during your ride. It allows you to preserve the battery by turning off some features, including the display. For comparison, Wahoo computers don’t have it.

Another change is that Garmin switched from MicroUSB to USB-C charging port. This is not a surprise but rather an obligation in 2023.

Me holding the Garmin Edge 540 Solar and 840 showing their bottom side.
Garmin Edge 540 Solar and 840 USB-C charging ports

Control & User Friendliness

The Garmin Edge 540 has no touchscreen display, so you must use one of its 7 buttons to control it.

This can make setting up data fields a bit tedious. Luckily, you can now use your smartphone to set them, which makes things faster and easier.

Compared to Wahoo computers, the Edge 540 is less user-friendly due to its many more features.

The 840 is easier to use thanks to its touchscreen display. And those who prefer buttons can now use them on the 840 as well since it has the same buttons as the 540.

While Garmin deserves praise for its new UI, it’s still not as simple as the UI on ELEMNT computers. The question is whether this is even possible with this number of functions.

It’s also clear the new UI was designed for touch-screen devices. I wouldn’t be suprised if Garmin ditches the button-only bike computers in the future.

Maps and Navigation

Edge 540 features full on-device navigation and most navigation features of modern bike computers.

However, it has the same storage size as the previous generation (16 GB), so it only fits about 2 regions. The units come with maps preloaded for your region.

Unfortunately, there is no way to download the maps wirelessly. You have to connect the device with a USB cable to your computer and use the Garmin Connect desktop app. This is so old-school.

Anyway, the bike computer is now significantly faster when loading and calculating routes.

You don’t have to wait about a minute for the route to load. Now, it loads almost instantaneously. Thumbs up!

Remember that the Edge 540 doesn’t offer address search or on-device course creation like the 840.


The 540 supports GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and newly Multi-band GNSS satellite systems. The Multi-band GNSS improves the accuracy, especially in areas with worse signals.

I tested 540’s accuracy in Italian Dolomites. I have good experience with Edge 1040 accuracy in our area, but the story is slightly different in the high mountains. The devices are still pretty accurate, but not 100%.

Screenshot from Strava of my ride recorded on Edge 540 Solar.
Garmin Edge 540 Multi-GNSS Accuracy – Passo Pordoi (ride dated 5/27/2023)
Screenshot from Strava of my ride recorded on Edge 840.
Garmin Edge 840 Multi-GNSS Accuracy – Passo Pordoi (ride dated 5/27/2023)

Here is the full route from Edge 540 Solar. You can see the identical route from the Edge 840 here.

I also tested 540’s accuracy on my favorite segment in the forest, where I test all bike computers. Unsurprisingly, its accuracy is comparable with the Edge 1040.


ClimbPro is a popular feature that displays details about climbs. The earlier version only worked for planned routes.

However, on the new Garmin Edge devices, it also works for unplanned routes (just like Hammerhead’s Climber). I tested this feature, and it’s not 100% accurate yet.

Sometimes it starts displaying the climb too early or too late. Additionally, sometimes the percentage gradient displayed is not correct. I assume that the accuracy will improve with future firmware updates.

Another improvement is more detailed info about the climb. See the following picture that compares multiple ClimbPro-like features.

Garmin Edge 540 Solar, Hammerhead Karoo 2, Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt v2 and Garmin Edge 840 on my handlebar with the ClimbPro, Climber, or Summit features open.
Viewed information in ClimbPro vs. Climber vs. Summit

I have a couple of annoyances with the ClimbPro feature. First, its data fields are not very adjustable. The map and gradient take up two-thirds of the screen, leaving less space for important metrics.

Second, when you start a climb, the bike computer automatically switches to the ClimbPro page. So, if you want to monitor other metrics, you must manually switch data pages.

Real-Time Stamina

Real-Time Stamina and Power Guide were first introduced on the Garmin Fenix 7 watch and later implemented into the Garmin Edge 1040 and 1040 Solar.

Real-Time Stamina is a feature that provides accurate energy and recovery guidance during activities, while Power Guide provides real-time training targets and alerts to help optimize performance.

Honestly, I didn’t find them very appealing when testing the Edge 1040, although I understand their usefulness for a certain group of riders.

Especially for Real-Time Stamina, it’s important to have collected riding data so that the algorithm can “get to know you” and provide accurate recommendations.

Garmin Edge 840 Real-Time Stamina data page.
Edge 840 Real-Time Stamina data page

You’ll achieve the best accuracy, particularly when you use Garmin watches with the same functionality. These watches can track your data throughout the entire day/night, not just during bike rides.

Since I have mainly used non-Garmin bike computers in the past, I haven’t collected that much data yet.

However, in the Dolomites, I turned on Real-Time Stamina on some routes for fun.

Logically, it showed a shorter estimated distance when riding at the limit than when riding at a more relaxed pace.

My Stamina during the visit of the Giro d'Italia Stage 18.
My Stamina during the visit to the Giro d’Italia Stage 18 (the beginning is flat because my HR monitor didn’t work)
My Stamina during the visit of the Giro d'Italia Stage 19.
My Stamina during the visit to the Giro d’Italia Stage 19

It was also interesting to watch the decrease in so-called potential. I never completely exhausted it, but its value also decreased as fatigue increased. Its lowest value was around 12 %, and I remember being tired.

Someday I’ll try pushing it down to 0 and see if that means I can no longer pedal.

Power Guide

Power Guide is a handy feature, perhaps even more valuable than Real-Time Stamina, although it may not appear that way at first glance.

Here’s how it operates: First, you select the route for which you’d like to create a Power Guide. Then, you provide a few additional details, such as the combined weight of your bike and accessories, your preferred riding position, and, most importantly, the desired intensity of your ride.

Based on the route’s characteristics, the algorithm will suggest target wattages specifically tailored to the profile. Typically, the suggested wattage intervals are higher during uphill segments, while they are lower for descents or flat terrain.

This function is particularly useful for individuals who prefer to have some structure in their workouts without strictly adhering to predefined wattage zones. It can also benefit those who aim to enhance their performance on their favorite circuits by incorporating a workout that challenges both their endurance and speed.

However, it’s worth noting that this feature is better suited for solo than group rides.


I want to highlight the following features Garmin Edge computers are known for:

  • MTB Dynamics measures your jumps, grit, and flow. It’s useful mainly for mountain bikers.
  • Incident/crash detection detects if you crash and notifies your emergency contacts.
  • Virtual Partner helps you pace yourself. 
  • Trailforks allow you to find trails in your area.
  • LiveTrack allows you to share your location with others and view it directly on the bike computer. This is helpful, for example, for safety reasons and during group rides so you can see where others are.

Garmin crushes its competitors (mainly Wahoo) with these features, but it comes at a cost. From my experience, Wahoo ELEMNT bike computers are more user-friendly and easier to use.


Garmin Edge 540 has ANT+, Bluetooth, and WiFi connectivity. 

You can pair it with additional sensors like HR monitors, power meters, cadence and speed sensors, cycling radars, etc.

Of course, Edge 540 can automatically upload your activities to 3rd party apps like Strava or TrainingPeaks, or control your smart trainer.

Despite Bluetooth and WiFi, you still have to download maps to it via a desktop app Garmin Express. This is one of the biggest disadvantages of the Edge 540.

Hopefully, Garmin will include this functionality with future software updates to match Wahoo computers.

Garmin Edge 540 Alternatives

Here are some of the Garmin Edge 540 alternatives worth considering.

Garmin Edge 540 FAQ

Garmin Edge 540 Technical Specifications

Here is the summary of the main features and the technical specification of the Garmin Edge 540.

Technical Specifications

  • Battery life: 26 hours (USB-C charging), Solar up to 32 hours in ideal conditions
  • Screen size: 2.6in / 66mm
  • Touchscreen: No
  • Weight: 80g (Solar – 85g)
  • Strava live segments: Yes
  • Smart trainers control: Yes
  • Smart navigation (rerouting): Yes
  • Connectivity: ANT+, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
  • Waterproofing: IPX7
  • Internal memory: 16GB
  • Sensors: GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Multi-band GNSS

My Verdict

Although the Edge 540 is an improvement over the previous generation, the Edge 840 is a better choice thanks to its buttons and touchscreen display.

I’m not saying that the 540 is a bad bike computer. It’s one of the most capable on the market. However, I recommend spending more on the Edge 840 or taking advantage of discounts on the 830. The touchscreen display is more practical.

Feel free to skip the 540 Solar. It has relatively low effectiveness while costing an extra $100.

I hope you find this review helpful. If you are considering the purchase of the 540, please, use the links below to support my website.

Recommended Accessories

Below, I include a few accessories worth using with the Garmin Edge 540.

Garmin Varia RTL515 Radar

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

Garmin Varia RCT715 Radar with Camera

Me holding the Garmin Varia RCT715.
… for your safety (read my Garmin Varia RCT715 radar review)

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