Garmin have updated what is probably the most popular bike computer. The new Edge 840 comes with a touchscreen, a large battery, a solar panel display, and a well-deserved software update. But how does this all-in-one device perform in our long-term test? And does the solar charging feature actually work?
The US company Garmin specialise in GPS navigation, making bike computers and sports watches a natural fit to their product lineup, which they have been successfully developing and producing for years. Garmin have become an indispensable part of the cycling scene with their Edge products, with the Edge 1000 series standing out as the cutting edge of innovations. Its little brother, the Edge 800 series, packs most of the features and performance of the top model into a compact body, at an attractive price, making it a GPS device for the masses. Now, this device has received a significant update, boasting a wide range of new features. But can it outshine their flagship model, the Edge 1040?
The Garmin Edge 840 Solar as flagship killer?
As with the previous generation models 800 and 1000, the Garmin Edge 840 is giving the top model 1040 a run for its money. But with the new Edge 840 Solar, Garmin went even one step further and introduced some innovations that its big brother doesn’t have. But first things first: The test device, like its predecessor, comes with a 2.6-inch touchscreen, however, it can also be operated entirely by using the buttons on the sides. It offers greater battery capacity and processing power, as well as the ability to be charged via solar power. Garmin have not only updated the device, but the software too. You’ll find the familiar features from the Edge 1040 with a fresh look, improved training apps, and the excellent ClimbPro that identifies climbs even without a downloaded route.
But the combination of touchscreen and buttons is probably the biggest innovation. While some of you may argue that a touchscreen is unnecessary, it does make life way easier, especially for navigation and to quickly change settings. It also helps to handle the typically complex menu navigation of Garmin devices. Still, touchscreens can be challenging to operate when it’s wet, cold, or unpleasant. This is where the Edge 840 excels with its analogue operation. Another notable feature is the solar function, which comes at an additional cost of € 100 to the device, retailing at just under € 600. The solar module around the display allows the Edge 840 Solar to charge when exposed to sunlight.
The Garmin Edge 840 Solar long-term review
We took the Garmin Edge 840 Solar and put it through its paces in our long-term test. On a total of over 7,000 test kilometres – and almost 11 days of accumulated riding time – we thoroughly examined the device, extensively exploring its new features and chasing the sun.
Compared to its predecessor, the new Garmin Edge 840 is slightly larger and weighs about 10 grams more. However, it offers a good balance between size and weight.
The touchscreen is noticeably improved compared to the previous model, and it is much less prone to rain and moisture affecting the functionality. The integration of buttons allows for easy and fast operation when in unfavourable conditions for touchscreen use, and on rough surfaces. The Garmin Edge 840 combines the best of both worlds, leaving the choice of operation up to you. We often found ourselves using a combination of both systems.
On the software side, the ClimbPro feature is particularly impressive. It reliably recognises upcoming climbs, displaying information such as length, gradient, and altitude, and guides you along the ascent. Unlike on the previous model, this feature works independently of loaded routes and provides more detailed information. Especially in unfamiliar terrain, the device provides valuable insights about the upcoming climbs, helping you pace yourself to the summit.
The training software also pleasantly surprised us. Garmin have made significant improvements in this area, analysing your fitness level and suggesting suitable workouts.
Sun worshipping – testing the solar charging function on the Garmin Edge 840 Solar
With the Edge 840 Solar, Garmin take a big step forward in terms of battery life. In addition to the increased battery capacity, the bike computer harnesses the power of the sun with its solar feature. However, the amount of energy generated can vary greatly depending on the sunlight intensity and weather conditions. During our long rides, we were able to gain up to an additional hour of battery life, resulting in total battery runtimes of just over 30 hours with the display and GPS turned on.
Considering the already impressive battery life of the device, the solar feature is a cool gadget but may not be a game-changer for everyone. It truly shines on multi-day tours with limited charging options, making the € 100 surcharge for solar integration worthwhile.
Garmin take a significant and important step forward with the Edge 840 Solar. Packed with new features, the device impresses with its high-quality finish and flawless performance. The combination of buttons and touchscreen provides real added value and is ideal for a bike computer. The inclusion of the solar function ensures that you won’t run out of energy on long rides, although for the average user, it may be more of a cool gimmick than a necessity. Overall, it is a well-designed device and perhaps the most exciting product in Garmin’s portfolio at the moment.
- plenty of technology in a small housing
- excellent operation thanks to the combination of touchscreen and buttons
- solar function as a practical and cool feature
- navigation-independent ClimbPro is a real highlight
- Not cheap, at just under € 600
Test duration: 4 months
price: € 599.99
Weight: 89 g
Manufacturer’s website: garmin.com
Intended use: Gravel, Road, MTB
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Words & Photos: czajac