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Featured, Life in Madison

Garmin EDGE 705 – Bugs, Bells and Whistles

I got a new Garmin EDGE 705 bike computer about 6 weeks ago. I’ve been riding 3 or 4 times a week with Garmin and have synced to several applications and a web site. The Garmin EDGE 705 has great bells and whistles but the basic function, turn-by-turn directions, is buggy and unreliable.

What I bought: I bought the Garmin Edge 705, with the Heart Rate sensor, Speed/Cadence sensor & Data Card with Street Maps (SKU 010-00555-40). It came with version 2.2.0 of the firmware. I have also tried version 2.3.0 and 2.4.0.

What I like:

Installation: I love the fact that there is a single sensor that picks up both speed and cadence. The sensor is also sensitive so you don’t have to set it extremely close to the pedal or wheel for the device to work. The Garmin EDGE 705 discovers the peripherals automatically and flawlessly (at least for me. Others on the forum have talked about cadence problems).

Set Up: There are a lot of menus to cycle through to set up the device. This is a mixed vote from me. I like the ability to set up how each screen looks (how many data fields are show, what information is displayed in each data field, etc.). I have had to dig to find settings and I know that someplace I set the minimum speed for autopause. I have yet to figure out where I set that so I can change it.

Post Ride Data Analysis: This is where the bells and whistles ring out. The device syncs brilliantly and easily (for me, YMMV, see the Motion Based Forums) to the Garmin software on my Mac. It also syncs to the MotionBased web site (see the list of my rides in the sidebar on this site). I also bought Ascent from Montebello Software. The default Garmin software provides basic analysis of your ride data. MotionBased and Ascent provide detailed analysis some of which is pretty cool.

What I don’t like:

Turn-By-Turn Navigation: Supposedly, you can load a GPS Track File (in GPX format) into the Garmin. You then tell the Garmin that you want to follow that track. The Garmin will navigate you around the route. Supposedly. I have tried to get this to work a half dozen times. I have created GPX Track files in GMap-Pedometer, Google Maps and MapMyRide.com. I have tried making sure that the start and end points aren’t near each other.

This has never worked correctly. I’ve had the device start to tell me to make u-turns in the middle of my ride. I’ve had the unit tell me to make a turn 5 miles early, then shut off. I’ve had the unit say that I should cut through a barn and corn field though I preferred to stay on the road.

I do have hopes that Garmin will patch the software so turn-by-turn works. Garmin does seem to be responsive to their users and they do seem to issue patches regularly.

Managing the Buttons: You need to push and hold the power button to on the Garmin. You need to push the timer start at the beginning of the ride. You must push timer stop at the end of the ride or the Garmin will keep recording even though your wheel isn’t turning. The Garmin added the drive back from one ride to my total ride. I could hear it chirping away as I drove home. Compare that to my simple CatEye computer that just starts and stops on its own or my Polar that I needed to push start but it could figure out the ride was over all by itself. It feels like I need to pay more attention to managing my cycle computer than I really want to.

Software Updates, Syncing et al: All of this works flawlessly (so far) but it is another device that gets software updates and that you need to sync to your computer. It is fine but just another digital device to fuss with.

Conclusion:

The set-up is easy. The unit will automatically calibrate for wheel size and speed. The post ride data analysis is great. It makes it dead simple to keep a work-out log. The turn-by-turn doesn’t work so I still ride with a paper map to navigate by. I would love to be able to rely on this device for navigation when I’m riding. It is fussier than other computers that I have used but the post-ride data analysis is a beautiful thing.

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About jimphelps

Chair, ITANA Enterprise Architect, Sr. IT Architect; UW-Madison

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