April 28, 2008

Garmin Edge 705 - First Impressions


We have been lucky to have some great weather up here near Boston - and I took advantage of it the other day to go for a shake-down ride on my bike; the first of the season, and the first with the Edge 705. The Garmin Edge 705 is probably one of the more long awaited pieces of biking gear that has hit the market in a while. I have been hoping for one for a LONG time, wanting color maps, navigation, bike computer functions with heart rate monitor capabilities. The wireless sharing aspect and the ability to send data to friends has been on that wish list too.

The Edge 705 does all of this, color mapping and navigation so you can ride to your heart's content on back roads without missing a turn, all keeping a solid lock on satellites with a high sensitivity receiver. The Edge 705 has ANT+Sport wireless short range capability that allows you to add Heart Rate Monitors (HRM), cadence and power meters to your accessory list, to capture even more data to track and analyze. The ANT wireless technology allows you to send routes to others in your group, like virtual cue sheets for the day's ride.

So how did things work out on the first ride of the year?

To prepare, I had to dust off my bike after a long winter in the basement, clean it up and mount the Edge. I put the Edge right on the handlebar stem, offering a nice look; more streamlined and centered. The Edge came with two mounts, one to sit on a bar tube that runs away from you (like a handlebar stem), and across, like your handlebars. The mounts come with wire ties to cinch tight and snip off.

I didn't do any route planning because I was only going for a short ride, and I knew the route; I know I should have taken the extra time, but I was really looking forward to riding and not sitting at the computer the first sunny, warm weekend day I had to ride.

I mounted the cadence meter on the chain stay using the supplied wire ties, and adjusted it so that it would read the magnet I mounted on the crank. By pushing the small rest button on the cadence meter, and then pedaling, the unit will start to register the magnet passing by, and signal with a little blinking light during the set-up phase. The typical little magnet thing goes on the spoke. Finally, I dig into the Edge 705 menu and turn on the fact that there is a cadence meter and a heart rate monitor, which it finds immediately. Before I knew it, it had a lock on satellites while I was still in my garage.

Set-up & Alerts

By entering a few aspects about me, birthdate, weight, bike weight, etc. the Edge can calculate things like calories, and it will know your heart rate zones. I set up two alerts - one for mileage and one for a heart rate zone. The distance alert can let you hear an alarm with every milestone that you pass; set it up for the mile count you want. The heart rate alert allows you to set an alarm according to a heart rate zone or above a certain threshold.

The Ride

My ride was admittedly short; hey it's Spring, there's sand all over the roads, I don't have a ton of time, and the bottom line is that I am also a bit out of shape. I strapped on the HRM, and take off. About a mile into the ride, things are heating up and all of a sudden there are alarms going off all over the place.

A quick glance at the Edge indicates that either my chest should have exploded, or there was a problem with the HRM connections, because my heart rate was 275 beats per minute. I mean, I am out of shape, but things aren't that bad that I should have trouble with the first mile of a flat ride.... After a couple of stops, I end up changing a few things: 1) Shut off the Heart Rate alarm for now, and 2) Get a little spit-based moisture on the HRM contacts with my skin so it has a better connection. That made the difference and the HRM was all set for the rest of the ride.

As the miles clicked off and the HRM is great, but what I might just need is a probe to jam in my thighs that read the lactic acid build-up and sets off an alarm when things are getting bad. As I think about it, that's what that burning sensation in my thighs is for anyway, so maybe not! I also know that as I get into using the HRM, I will be able to see when I am in the anaerobic zone which is when lactic acid starts to build, and plan accordingly.

After getting the HRM working, the Edge 705 worked great, collecting accurate heart rate information in the 130 - 150BPM range depending on my speed, and ascent rate. I had set the Edge to give me speed, distance, heart rate and cadence on the regular "Trip Meter" type screen where there is not map display.

Stem vs Handlebar Mount

After the first ride, I switched the mounting on the bike from the stem to the handlebar. I found that when I was in the drops, I couldn't quite see the face of the Edge 705 well. Since Garmin gives you both mounts in the box, the change was a simple one, and with the small size of the Edge, it doesn't take up a whole bunch of real estate up on the bar. With this new positioning, it is easy to see the readout, and hit buttons.


So Far So Good

I have not totally memorized where I am in the user interface, and I haven't figured out what fields I want where on the screens, and what types of alerts I want, but I do like the distance alerts, a subtle reminder of your progress. I would not recommend setting them to be too frequent, but a few alerts per ride or hour may be appropriate. If you are out on a 30 - 70 mile ride, an alert every mile might just drive your riding buddies nuts.

I am looking forward to trying out "Courses" which allows you to race versus progress on an old ride that you captured on the device, and to the general book keeping across the summer on my riding and fitness progress. So far, so good, and I can't see anything that would hold me back from loving this thing. I'll write up a full review in the coming weeks after I run up a few more rides, play with routing and work through some data analysis on the computer. Stay tuned.

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Posted by Scott Martin at April 28, 2008 8:07 AM

Recent Comments

thanks for sharing. I've been waiting for more info on the edge 705 for ever! keep it coming - thanx!!

Posted by: Christian at April 28, 2008 11:22 AM
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