On trial was the Garmin 705 Edge. The Edge 705 pushes you to do your best, then shows you the way back. This GPS-enabled cycle computer knows no limits. You get heart rate, cadence, turn-by-turn directions, power data (from ANT+?-enabled third-party power meters) – the works. You can even share your data with other Edge 705 buddies after your ride. All wireless with a color display, this is no ordinary cycle computer.
The display unit can be mounted on your handle bars or on your stem. Setup of the unit proved to be so amazingly easy, the bike mount went on super easy and initially that’s all you really need to do as the speed and mapping are taken care of with GPS, the additionally supplied Cadence/speed sensor can then be added to enhance the accuracy of the unit, The units, user/bike details are also very easy to setup along with training zones for heart rates.
You can also setup the on screen display (screens) as you wish, zoom levels on maps, information on the display is all user defined and is great for being able to see exactly what you want, when you want.
The unit comes with basic maps which are suitable for seeing roughly were you are. We went one step further and added route-able maps from OPENSTREETMAPS, an open source mapping community built by the users. These maps work brilliantly on the Garmin 705 edge, though of course they require upkeep by us, the users, so the more people who contribute the better.
Having done a few longer rides over various different style roads, the unit worked flawlessly. The data was easily readable, quick to respond to when pressing keys and the backlight proved to be a really useful addition. The satellite connection is very stable, remaining fixed through underpasses and tunnels. The chest strap for the HRM is really comfortable and never loses connection to the unit, something which plagued old Polars, so another bonus point for Garmin.
Installing the speed and cadence senor was relatively easy, using zip ties and adhesive tape on the back of the crank for the cadence sensor. The cadence and speed sensor provides a further level of accuracy and uses both satellite and real time data from the sensor to establish speed. The cadence sensor sits on the opposite side to the drive train using zip ties and you attach the pedal magnet by adhesive tape the magnet must pass within 5mm to the unit.
Speed, heart rate and cadence alerts can be set to five different heart rate zones, 50-60%, 60-70%, 70-80%, 80-90%, 90-100%. The speed alerts also work with the barometric altimeter and change the speed zones automatically as you ride. It’s also compatible with ANT+ power meters, for more serious cyclists.
Most cyclists don’t pour over the statistics from their bike computers; however some of us love to analyze our rides, the route and data. One thing to consider with the Edge is that it is not just a GPS mapping unit, rather also gives you the option to overlay one of your previous rides. The ability to download a GPX file from one of the training websites is very helpful as you can upload a ride from someone else to your Garmin and simply follow the line on the map. The MapSource maps allow you to plot your ride on as well as see charts of all your stats.
The Garmin can be used with Garmin training center, a PC application in which you can download all your data from the 705 to your PC so to analyse it. This includes your heart rate zones, altitude climbed, average speed according to the steepness of the road. The Training Centre gives you a general overview of your data but for more serious cyclists there is other software available for more in-depth analysis.
The Edge has 1Gb of memory which is more than enough to have access to all your ride data plus you can plug a 2gb micro sd card into the unit and backup your rides.
The unit performs well in the wet, although the USB cover on the rear could be discribed as “not quite adequate”. In practice however on wet rides there have been no issues and online forums discuss have also not highlighted this as a problem.
Garmin claims a battery life of 15 hours and although we haven’t had the opportunity to test this for 15 hours straight, we are assuming that is an accurate estimate based upon our rides with the 705 EDGE. Even with the HRM on and using the back light occasionally we believe this it would meet these claims. The battery is also easily charged with any Micro USB cable either from the PC/MAC or from the mains power.
The Edge 705 performs flawlessly and can be a valuable training tool. The GPS maintains a strong satellite connection and reliably tells you where you are and points the way to your destination. The detailed maps and directions are spot-on. A single disappointment is that the screen isn’t anti glare, something which you would really assume would have been considered. At the end of the ride however, this is one of the most useful gadgets a rider can buy.
For what you pay ($570) you get the head unit, Heart Rate Monitor Strap, 2x bike mounts, Cadence and Speed sensor plus magnet, USB cable, Charger, CD’s and manuals (which are somewhat minimalistic in terms of detail).