Extended battery life is very neccesary for using the device on long brevets and multi-day endurance racing. Can Garmin Edge cycling GPS units 500/510 and 800/810 be charged while riding via external battery pack like or USB dynamo charger?

Can you plug in while riding? Are only certain devices able to charge the unit while it's recording / navigating?

  • 2
    My 500 goes into a special charging mode when it's plugged in where it can't do anything else. Can't say for the others.
    – alex
    Apr 22, 2013 at 14:12
  • 2
    Apparently it's possible. Garmin also sells a battery pack, the description of which appears to indicate suitability for 24-hour races. Apr 22, 2013 at 16:24
  • I have used a Garmin eTrex Vista HC without batteries, plugged via USB. I didn't remember if it switches between different modes upon plug and unplug, but I believe you could put rechargeables inside and also plug it to a generator-hub usb adapter. Actually I plan to do this with my new smartphone. Apr 22, 2013 at 20:50
  • A different approach would be to plan ahead and ALWAYS let the device recharging at the checkpoints. Easier to say than do... (but you'll have to rest anyway, won't you?) Apr 22, 2013 at 20:52
  • 1
    @ChrisH Boot time is about a minute depending on signal and how many maps you have. You'll lose more time than that changing batteries, as the mount and battery compartment pretty much require you dismount to change batteries. You'll get more life out of alkalines. You might want to experiment with different types of batteries. One guy in this thread states he gets 32 hours from disposable lithium AAs. Lithium are also lighter than alkaline, which is always a plus for cycling. I always us NiMH as my rides aren't that long.
    – Kibbee
    Apr 7, 2014 at 12:54

10 Answers 10


Just verified that the 510 can be attached to power while on/in use. It continues to operate. When the external power source is removed, it will give a message to that effect, but does not power down (like the nuvi/car versions do).

Note that you (obviously) have to open the weather seal to plug in power.

Also worth noting, the 510 will go into a different mode when you plug it into a computer. Unsure if it will continue to record, but the screen shows the computer attached so suspect not.

For long trips like you describe, a device like these http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=phone+battery+backup should do the trick.

  • 1
    If plugged into a PC, it switches to disk mode, and will not function as a bike computer or GPS. If plugged in to a wall outlet, it will function just fine.
    – zenbike
    Feb 27, 2014 at 18:25
  • 1
    Good news, but test before you rely on it. There are (at least) 2 ways a device can detect whether the "USB" port it's connected to is a PC or a charger. It will obviously fail to enumerate plugged in to a dumb charger (i.e. fail to talk to it), but if it relies on a charger presenting as a dedicated charging port and yours doesn't, it won't charge - in fact I once had a phone that claimed to be charging and kept the screen on in this case -- effectively discharging. Some top-up battery packs don't fit a DCP-resistor.
    – Chris H
    Apr 7, 2014 at 11:02

Garmin Edge 800, 810 and 1000 can be charged when exercise is active.

You can use for example power bank or usb dynamo charger (ie. Busch&Muller E-werk, Luxos U light or Supernova The Plug).

It is not recommended to charge anything with usb when it is raining.

Also note that Garmin 1000's plug is in the bottom so cable might not fit when device is mounted on handlebar.

  • I can confirm you can charge a Edge 800 while in use. In my case a Schmidt hub dyno + biologic ReeCharge on some long tours.
    – Rider_X
    Jul 24, 2013 at 6:15

I use the Garmin 800 and an external battery with USB output.

The Garmin will keep running for days like that, with no backlight BUT the data recording cannot cope with a 24 hour bike ride.

On my last two 24 hour cycle events, the Garmin corrupted the activity file at around 23 hours which was somewhat 'annoying'.

I have tested it on distance, with car journeys, and it can cope with 650km in 12 hours.

But cycling 560km in 24 hours is not feasible, it seems. Probably too many data points.

You should stop the timing at 12 hours, reset, and start a new 12 hour session.


I just completed a 300K brevet last weekend and my Garmin 500 ran out of juice about 2 miles from the end of the 190 miles. 18 hours. I just tried to plug it into an external battery that will charge phones and the Garmin 500, but the Garmin will not operate while plugged in and charging. Note this is the Garmin 500, not the 510.

A friend used an 810 on the ride charging through an external battery on the same ride.


Yes you can charge the Edge 500 whilst riding at the same time, and record your ride as well.


Summary: an OTG adapter cable will charge the Garmin 500 using the rear port and allow it to keep recording. The Garmin tests one of the pins to see if it should go into PC Storage device mode, which ends the ride. The OTG adapter grounds the pin under test, and the garmin just gets power.


A generic USB cable will have the Edge switch to storage mode but I've found the Garmin cables allow charging whilst using. I have an external battery pack which I used on day-long back-country rides in the alps and could plug it in whilst on a chairlift or at a bar without interrupting the tracking. Arguably I didn't need to but it does mean that when I get a USB dynamo hub I have the cable ready to go.


as far as i understand it all garmins will charge off any cable/charger combination except for the Edge 500... basically the cable needs to have pins 4 and 5 grounded to earth not just pin 4, so a normal sync cable will not work you need a special charge cable, not content with paying the £12 for a usb cable for this particular use, i made my own by cutting the head off a normal lead and attaching a new head on it readily available off ebay for a few £. obviously this requires very good soldering skills to achieve the other option is link pins 4 and 5 together on the back of the garmin with a small bit of cable, i found a small length of the copper wire from an ethernet cable worked best, but is a pain to get in and out and you have ot take it out to sync with computer or it just doesnt recognise the computer.


I can confirm that the garmin 910XT watch is also able to be recharged while recording an activity, the display changes to charging & its % so no information, the Garmin 500 cant be recharge as it will reset any activity unless there is a setting that I haven't seen.

  • I don't get the point about the 910XT, as this unit has not been in question as far as I can see. Do I get something wrong? Feb 26, 2014 at 11:42

I charge mine when on very long bike rides - but when the external power source also dies the Garmin automatically powers down unless you tap the X on the screen.

Really wish that Garmin would use bigger batteries!!!


Yes, it can.

I just did 200 mile ride and my Garmin Edge 800 charged fine when I plugged in my power brick after about 9 hours while riding.

Charged it right up and I lost no data.

  • 1
    This doesn't answer the question of "can I charge while riding".
    – Móż
    Jun 27, 2016 at 23:01

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