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The best Garmin Edge Explore settings for using navigation

Published: 25 May 2020
Last updated: 11 September 2023

How to make navigation easier with the Garmin Edge Explore

I bought the Garmin Edge Explore in 2020, despite the many shortcomings, this device is the best usable navigation system for cyclists.
The Garmin Edge Explore, which was introduced July 2018, is optimized for training, not for navigation. The navigation is overshadowed by the many training facilities, which makes using navigation very cumbersome. I have therefore figured out which settings are necessary to be able to use the navigation better.

Garmin Edge Explore bug list

I have also listed many shortcomings in the hope that Garmin once will fix them, see the Garmin Edge Explore bug list.

Advantages of the Garmin Edge Explore

  • Excellent visibility in sunlight due to the transflective screen
  • The 3 "screen is small but it is good enough for navigation
  • A bicycle navigation map of Europe is pre-installed

Garmin Edge 1030

  • This device is the more expensive version (€470) but it is no better when you use just navigation.
  • The 3,5” display is a little larger but 3” is large enough.
  • Only buy this device if you need the extra training features.
  • For a good comparison with the Garmin Edge Explore see here.

Garmin apps

There are 2 apps that can be downloaded for the Garmin

  • Garmin Express for PC
    Only to update software
  • Garmin Connect for smartphone
    To download routes to the garmin by Bluetooth
  • BaseCamp for PC
    To download routes to your device when there is no internet connection with Garmin Connect


Garmin Express slows down your PC

Once Garmin Express on your PC  is started, it will use your PC power for 25%, even if it is ended. So, your PC runs slower forever. You may notice this because the fan is always running. The cause is a bug in the Garmin software that constantly uses the WMI Provider Host. Solve this with the task manager (ctrl alt del) > startup and disable Garmin Express.
After using Garmin Express you have to restart the PC or else it will continue to run in the background, eating 25% of your PC.

Garmin Express takes 8GB of space

Garmin puts 8GB of files in this location, I deleted it to free up space:

Use the smartphone

Viewing and editing routes can be done on the Garmin device itself but this is not handy because of the small 3 inch screen. It can be done better on your smartphone, which is much more convenient.

The best settings for just using navigation

In order to navigate most conveniently without being bothered by unnecessary functions, I made the following settings.
Enter the settings menu with: Main menu > bottom left icon.

Remove GroupTrack List

Ride settings > Data screens>
Select GroupTrack List > Remove this

Set Screen 1

Ride settings > Data screens > Screen 1 > Layout and Data Fields only 3 fields >

  • Elapsed Time
  • Speed
  • Distance

Set map screen on top

Ride settings > Data screens > Click on the icon at the bottom right  > select “Map” and drag up with up / down.

Turn off alerts

Ride settings > Alerts > disable all lines

Disable the timer

The timer interferes with sleep and lock screen functions. Switching off the Garmin with the power button is often refused, then we receive the following error message:

“Activity in progress. Stop the timer before putting the device to sleep or powering off.” 

This is undesirable, the device must always be able to be switched off without first going through all kinds of menus. The cause is the timer that has started. 
To be able to switch off the device without any problems, the timer may not be activated, with the following trick this can be achieved:

  • Ride Settings > Timer start mode = Auto
  • AutoStart speed = 100km/h

Another method that I have not tried myself yet is this setting:

  • Ride Settings > Timer Start Mode > Manual

Now the timer is started and stopped with the dedicated button and the Explore no longer prompts to start it when riding. Then the activity recording and navigation functions of the unit operate independently.

Battery Save Mode

Battery Save Mode > just enable this when the battery is low

Garmin Edge Explore tips

Navigating doesn't work flawlessly and you are overwhelmed by the number of beeps. Instead of active navigating you can better navigate passively by making the route visible on the screen. I use the color yellow because that doesn’t conflict with other colors on the map.

Sunlight readability with transflective color TFT displays

The Garmin Edge has a transflective color TFT display, this type of LCD provides better readability in sunlight. In practice, however, the readability in sunlight is not good enough. If the sun falls diagonally on the device, you still cannot see well. That is why it is useful to be able to tilt the Garmin smoothly on the handlebar, sometimes the display is easier to read in a horizontal position, the other time in an inclined position.


Of the device no longer responds well, restart it by holding the power button for 10 seconds. No data or settings will be deleted.


Setting the backlight is cumbersome:

Therefore, to avoid this, set the backlight to 100% and the Lighting timeout to 30 sec:

  • Bottom left icon
  • System> Display> Brightness = 100%
  • System> Display> Backlight timeout = 30 seconds

After that, you just need to tap the screen to turn on backlight.

Improving the use of the lock screen

If you want to temporarily store the Garmin in your pocket during navigation, you have to lock the touchscreen. Otherwise, all kinds of nasty functions can be performed on your device. Switching the Garmin off temporarily is not a good method because it takes a long time to switch on, the satellites have to be searched again, etc. However, the lock screen operation is inconvenient. But there is something to do about that. If you switch on the timer during navigation, with the button at the bottom right, you can then easily switch the lock screen on and off with one press of the power button. This should be improved, it should always work this way, not just with the timer on.

Garmin Connect app

To download routes to your device you have to install and use Garmin Connect on your smartphone. 
If you can't make contact with your device by Bluetooth: Remove the device from the list and reconnect again.

Garmin Connect Buglist

Needs internet

Unfortunately, Garmin Connect is an online app. On June 23, 2020, the Garmin website was offline for a long time due to a hack. All Garmin users around the world were no longer able to put routes on their device. 

Doesn't work on PC

You can also install Garmin Connect on your PC, instead of a smartphone, to download routes via the USB cable, but unfortunately that doesn't work. It opens Garmin Express and then it goes wrong.


This is an outdated program for the PC. But the upside is that it works offline and if Garmin Connect isn't working you can use Baseceamp to download routes to your device via an USB cable.