Tested by: Greg.
Five years ago I became one of the now thousands of born again or new to cycling but probably too old to be any good cyclists. This influx of new people to cycling has brought a new market of people wanting high technology bikes and accessories. Cycling shops would admit they have done quite well over the last few years and even seemed to have thrived through the recession.
Being slightly more mature in profile most of the influx of new blood to the sport have families and often considerable work pressures on them. So the concept of road racing and time trialing is not so appealing. However, the idea of challenge rides as part of family holidays or weekends has lead to the huge growth in Cyclosportives.
Cyclosportives are normally run in scenic locations and are family friendly. Run over long distances navigation can be a big factor. Even with organisers marking the route, the capacity for getting lost is not insignificant.
Enter stage left Global Postioning Systems (gps) and in particular the Garmin Edge 705.
Garmin is an American company who has been fighting a battle royal with Tom Tom for the non manufacturer installed car gps market. Garmin also produce a range of walking and nautical navigation systems using gps.
My first exposure to bike based gps came in 2006 when I got sold on the idea of riding from Lands End to John O Groats as a way of building my cycling fitness quickly. Having recently purchased a car with gps built in. I thought surely there must be a system for bicycles. Also having ridden a few Audax rides I thought how dangerous it was trying to read route instructions whilst riding!
At the time there were no bike specific gps units let alone a gps and fitness product merged together. I headed down to my local gps stockist close to Heathrow airport. Their recommendation was a Garmin GPSMap60 with Garmin Mapsource Software. There was a cycle specific handle bar mount.
I used this device to great effect on my LEJOG journey. Luckily I was supported on my ride and so was able to upload each days route to the unit from the Garmin Mapsource software on a laptop.
Being a none cycling specific product the Garmin GPS60 suffered with vibration problems and was prone to switching itself off on Britian’s billard smooth roads. Garmin’s aftermarket service was okay and I did receive another unit which worked for a while then developed the same problem.Luckily this replacement unit stopped working at about the same time as Garmin’s new Edge 305 product was being released.
The Edge 305 was the first gps and fitness product to be merged together to give on bike navigation and heart rate monitoring.
By the standards of in built and aftermarket car gps the navigation on the 305 is basic. You can create your route in a mapping software product such as Tracklogs, Memory Map or Mapsource. The route is a dotted line or breadcrumb joining together waypoints you will have marked on the route.
The Edge 305 has a black and white LCD screen similar to mobiles from a few years ago. To navigate the route must be transfered to the Edge 305 using a USB lead from your pc. The route is then selected from the memory of the unit and a dotted line appears on screen. You follow the line as if you are Hansel and Gretal on their way home. If you deviate off course the cursor on the screen denoting your position starts to part company with the dotted line.
The downside of the Edge 305 is the limited memory of the cpu. Which means for some mapping software it will only accept 100 waypoints.
A typical 100 mile sportif ride often requires 170 to 250 waypoints. The Tracklogs software seems to overcome this by using a track not a route. The Edge 305 seems to be able to deal with 100’s of waypoints when used with Tracklogs.
The otherside of the Garmin Edge 305 proposition is the fitness information. The Edge 305 can also receive heart rate and cadence information from the heart rate strap and cadence sensor provided.
Garmin also provide a software product called Trainingcentre (TC). TC allows you to download data from a ride and overlay the route against your heart rate and cadence. Because the Edge 305 also has an altimetre within it, elevation can be shown against the recorded information.
In late 2007 rumours started to circulate that Garmin had a new product in the wings. This product being the now popular Edge605/705 range.
The 705 offered a larger colour screen and SD card slot. This with the larger chip in the 705 allowed Garmin to provide street by street mapping and car gps quality navigation combined with fitness data.
Garmin also adopted the ANT Wireless technology which meant the 705 could receive information from powermeters. Thus allowing the users of SRM Powercranks, Quinqco and Powertap hubs etc to overlay power readings to speed, distance, elevation, heart rate and cadence plus position on the route.
This information can be viewed in two of Garmins products. Training Centre and the web portal product Garmin Connect.
Garmin Connect has been developed by Garmin in response to products such as Motionbased and Mapmyride. Garmin recently purchased Motionbase. So Garmin Connect customers are currently getting performance upgrades to all of the Motionbased functionately.
Garmin Connect allows a user to open a free account on Garmin’s web page and download data from their Garmin fitness product to a data store to be viewed and retrieved via the internet. The beauty of this for the user is you can download training data anywhere in the world if you have web access and you can make training data available to public sources anywhere in the world via the internet. So pro althetes can talk to coaches whilst competing and or training and discuss each days events whilst being in a completely different places.
Garmin Connect also has a dashboard function. Which animates the collected data into a replay of the ride. A dot follows the route on a map and the dashboard displays the althetes biometric information in display boxes. The dot can be stopped or slowed so the rider and coach gave look at certain parts of the ride in detail. Such as power v heart rate v incline whilst climbing a Col for example.
Garmin Connect Screen Image
TC as yet does not display power so Garmin 705 users have to use Garmin Connect or other software to evaluate power readings.
So how well does it work?
I was lucky enough to secure one of the first 705’s into the UK in April 2008. Inconjunction with Mapsource and Memory Map the navigation part has been superb. Having already used Garmin products and software I had probably had a big advantage in making it work quickly and getting the benefits.
Creating a route for road riding or a track for MTB using Mapsource is very simple. We will be providing a separate feature on this soon.
The larger colour screen more than justifies the bulker size of the 705 over the smaller 305. A complaint levelled at the 705 on it’s introduction. I have good eye sight but most people can see the turn by turn instructions on the screen. The backlight which can be turned on permanently during a ride is a great aid to people with poorer vision and is superb during evening and night riders.
The 705 boasts long battery life and even with the backlight on I have never got close to a flat battery.So far I have done rides up to 9 hours with the backlight on.
Having used TC since acquiring an Edge 305 in August 2006. I now have three years of cycling data stored. It is an invaluable record of my training and the routes I have ridden. It is a constant inspiration for rides and evaluating my training progress.
The virtual racer function allows you to race against yourself over a course you have ridden before and have stored in your 705. This function is excellent for riding Time trials and Sportifs. Especially if you are trying to improve on personnel best times.
In late 2008 I decide to invest in two Powertap hubs to go with the 705 head unit. One was fitted to a bog standard road wheel so I could train over the winter, and the other into a Zipp 808 for next seasons time trialling events. Both have worked really well with the 705 head unit. Reading without fail through some fairly nasty UK weather.
Many articles have been written about training with and riding with power over the last five years. Some people coming across as having found the holy grail of training.
It is my intention to give a more detailed account on riding with power in a further article for the VC10 web page. But for now I would say from a time trialing perspective it is a more valuable tool than a heart rate monitor. If for some reason I have to put my spare wheel on and ride without power I feel lacking in the final ingredient.
It is the ultimate gauge of your output. The more time trails you ride using the powermeter you get to judge where your fitness is and whether you can unlock that ultimate ride for a PB on given course.
Highly recommended as an investment.
For training. I would say it is a good investment for an out of season training period. It will tell you where you are starting from and your improvement.
Evaluating positional changes and power loss or gain against weight is also very helpful.
The biggest surprise will be how it can smooth out your riding style. Your coach may suggest you should be training at 200 watts as an average and a max heart rate of 140.
On my first ride with similar perimeters to the above. I went out for 60 miles and came back feeling like I had been on a hard ride not a zone 2/3 winter block training ride. You have to ride at a very constant power to achieve your goals. It made me realise that you spend a good proportion of your ride soft pedalling or coasting down hill. Then going too hard up hill.
It is almost like riding a single speed. To stay close to the set perimeters you have ride with a very constant effort over the whole distance of the ride.
I would say recommended as an investment if you can afford it. But you may choose to spend your bike money on other toys. Such as MTB or Cross bike. You will have to look at return on your money and make a judgement. It maybe better to hire a power meter for this period as an alternative.
The Garmin 705 is a great product. The navigation works really well and there are so many good features we have not covered in this article. Such as file transfer and loading training programmes.
The fitness side is as a good as any other product and the Garmin Connect product is a great tool for club riders and pros. VC10 make their club runs public on the Garmin Connect site so visitors to our area can try the route at their leisure
It is a great product that has revolutionised my cycling.
I have given it a 9/10. Why not 10/10. The instruction manual is very poor. Plus a couple of the build quality issues need improving. Such as the rubber blanking plate on the mini USB port.
Further reviews will cover handing hints on how to use your 705 and thinks to watch out for.