Bicycle Gear Review: The Garmin Edge 705 Wireless GPS Trainer
Garmin Edge: Not Your Daddy's Cycling Computer
The Garmin Edge series of cycling computers have led the charge in recent years in the field of wireless, GPS-enabled cycling computers. From the Edge 205 and 305 units to the Edge 605 and 705 units, Garmin has succeeded in creating an entire line of feature-rich bicycle computers to meet the needs (and tech-hungry wants) of todays cycling enthusiasts.
Gone are the cycling speedometers of yesterday that were largely modeled after (and largely larger than, in some instances) automobile speedometer/odometers. Gone, too, are the wires and zip ties running down your front forks - all replaced by wireless technology, satellites in the sky, and real-time map positioning. Yes, cycling computers have come a long way.
Hey Bud, Got a Light?
And cycling computers aren’t the only aspect of the sport that has come a long way. Technology has made for lighter, stronger, faster bikes, and scientific advances have also made way for much more focused and effective training regimens.
Case in point: behold the photograph below. Do you see anything strange in this photo (other than the vacuum cleaner climbing over one of the cyclists’ shoulders)? If you look closely, you will see there is an item that one would certainly not consider a recommended item for today’s pro cycling training or race regimen – the cigarette.
Yes, do you see it there? It’s a cigarette, being passed between two of the Tour de France’s top contenders of their time. Oh, but you say, they are not training for the Tour de France in this picture, so it’s okay. Well, you are correct, they are not training for the Tour de France, because they are actually riding in the Tour de France in this picture.
Yes, in the old days (let’s call it the 1920s), conventional training wisdom said that smoking a cigarette before a big climb would allow a cyclist’s lungs to ‘open up’ on the climb, thus enabling the rider to take in more oxygen. Kind of a precursor to today’s red-blood cell doping. Well, at least in concept. (Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body -- endurance athletes have been known to red blood cell dope – transfusing their blood with red blood cell-rich blood so they can carry and process more oxygen – uh, it’s pretty dangerous, often deadly, not legal, and definitely not recommended. Unlike the pre-climb cigarette, however, the science behind red blood cell doping is sound).
Some Unique Features in the Garmin Edge Cycling Computer Line
- “Virtual Partner” – preset the speed and distance covered of your virtual partner and let loose, the race is on. Visual imaging showing relation of self to virtual partner for the entire ‘race’.
- Race against yourself – enables you to race against a previous workout, so you can gauge your improvement over time on the same routes.
- Auto Lap – starts a new lap each time you cover a preset distance or pass a certain location.
- Auto Pause – this terrific feature pauses the timer when you fall below a preset speed and resumes the timer once you regain speed over the pre-determined limit; enables you to focus on the ride and not have to worry about stopping and restarting the clock every time you come to a stop light.
Okay, So GPS Me Some of Your Garmin Edge 411
At 3.7 ounces, 2 x 4.3 inches, and less than an inch thick, the water resistant Garmin Edge 705 would have Vervaeke and Geldhol (the two cyclists in the puffing Tour de France photo above) both convinced they had been smoking a different kind of cigarette if someone had told them to put down their smoke and presented them with this magical machine from the future – kind of like telling Maxwell Smart to hang up his shoe phone as you hand him an iPhone. Eh, sorry about that, Chief.
The Garmin Edge 705 is a different kind of cycling computer -- yes, it offers all of the basic neccessities of your riding stats – speed, distance, calories burned, cadence, and time elapsed. But it also tells you your heart rate, altitude, climbs, and descents, and allows you to swap courses, routes and workouts wirelessly with fellow 705ers. The battery is billed to run for 15 hours, which is about what it would probably take me to complete an alpine stage of the Tour de France. With or without the cigarette. I like to play it safe and fully charge after every two rides -- this way, I'm sure to never lose any data.
The biggest complaint about the Garmin Edge 705, which Garmin will hopefully remedy in future editions by better communication at the point of sale and/or a more inclusive base package, is that the pre-loaded maps are not very useful. You really need to just buy the Garmin City Navigator Card (about $80.00 online) which will give the points of interest and turn-by-turn directions that most people are looking for in this type of a device. It is the mapping capabilities, afterall, that really make the 705 special.
The Garmin Edge 705 is a great choice for most cyclists needs. If you are more advanced than most in your training and are looking to get a device that tracks wattage, the 705 does have the capability to display your wattage, but you will need a third party ANT+-enabled power meter to actually capture the data to be displayed.
Finally, the USB interface provides for simple data exchange with your home computer, and there is a lot of cool training software available for download from the Garmin website.
All in all, I am very happy with the Garmin Edge 705. I started with an Edge 305 a couple of years ago and was very happy with that device, but decided to upgrade for the mapping. The Edge 305 is a terrific computer which offers most of the capabilities if the 705 except the mapping. Garmin has discontinued the 305, but there are so leftovers still available from online retailers.
In any Garmin Edge product, you will find that you have purchased much more than a cycling computer -- you have retained the services of a training assistant.