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Why I chose the Garmin Edge 205
Being a bit of a gadget 'freak' I stumbled across one of these on a cycling accessories website but instantly dismissed it because of its price tag of £149.99. Being a recreational cyclist who would never enter a cycling competition of any discipline there was no way I could justify the price.
However, after being introduced to the Fat fingers concept on Ebay, and seeing the bargains a close mate of mine was enjoying I decided to scour the Ebay search engine in hope of finding one of these at a 'reasonable' price.
All brand new units (I will not buy second hand electrical items/gadgets off Ebay since I have been stung before) were retailing between £95.00 plus P&P of £25 and £169.99 plus P&P of £5.95. Using the Fat fingers finder I found a "buy it now or best offer" unit for £95.00 plus £10.00 P&P.
I thought I had better have a 'cheeky' punt and submitted a best offer of £40, I didn't really want to spend over £50 since my current cycle computer gave me all the information I needed (Oh how wrong I was ........). To my amazement the guy Fisher4GPS (if you want to check out his shop) accepted my offer and the rest is history..........
Features of the Garmin Edge 205
I won't go in to too much detail about what the Garmin can do because all this can be found directly off the website, and as with all my reviews I prefer to focus on what the product is like to use rather than note down all the specifications.
In summary the Garmin can be used:
* As a standard cycle computer showing current speed, time, distance and calories burned
* As a navigational GPS unit - routes and maps can be downloaded on to it
* As a training aid using the virtual racing partner
Setting up the Garmin Edge
As with everything associated with the Edge, setting up is incredibly simple. There is an 'up' key, 'down' key, 'mode' key and 'enter' key which makes the navigating really simple.
Once charged and turned on for the first time the you can enter the riders sex, age, weight, the weight of the bike, the tyre size etc - all info required to calculate calories burn.
Using the Garmin Edge 205 on the bike
After the initial set up phase (see below) it is a case of snap on to the bike mount, turn on and pedal off. There are no wires in the way and no sensors and receivers to set up, which is an added bonus since I had great fun and games (along with a bit of bad language) setting up my Cateye Vectra wireless computer. In fact the most difficult thing is deciding whether to mount the unit to the stem or the handlebars and then cable tying the mount in the required location.
Providing there is sufficient GPS signal then the Edge will show you your current speed, calories burned, time of day and the stopwatch. It is possible to set up the stopwatch on a pause function so it automatically stops at a pre-determined speed. This is a great function since, if set at 0 mph, it shows the actual cycling time.
Using the virtual partner
When setting the virtual partner you can use it to race pre-determined distances or even routes that you have cycled before.
If you do not have the ability to down load your route, via memory map or something similar, then devise a route and time yourself to completion. It is then possible to set a speed for covering the distance of your route.
Next time you use the route you set the virtual partner at the speed you completed it in last time, or even faster and then try to stay in front of the virtual partner, which you can see on the screen of the Edge.
I never bothered time trialing until I got the Edge since it is difficult to achieve with differing weather conditions, prevailing winds etc etc. This function makes it so easy as well as really enjoyable and I have found a competitive streak that I didn't know existed previously.
Garmin produce a training manager package in order to track your activities. Whilst I have used this programme I do not find it that good and a much better alternative is to use Motion Based Agent ("MBA"). What's even better is that the motion based agent is a free download (you can choose to upgrade at a price although I have yet to see the benefit in this).
Whilst you are training the Edge collates a lot of data, using a series of satellites. At the end of the ride you can upload this data on to the software. This is done by opening MBA connecting the Edge to the computer using the USB cable and hitting 'Synchronise activities' button.
Once the data is uploaded, which takes about 10 seconds, the route is then analysed and the information given includes:
Duration, actual cycling time, maximum speed, average speed, elevation gain, elevation decline, time in ascent and speed in ascent, time in descent and speed in descent, time on the flat and speed on the flat, max wind speed, average wind speed, max temperature, average temperature and an o/s map of the route (you can even view the map on Google earth for an enhanced view).
The vast amount of information is aimed at professional athletes, and whilst it is not that much use to me I find it really interesting and it is very easy to compare different rides of the same route.
The Edge 305 has a heart rate belt, as well as an optional cadence sensor, which will even give the users heart rate information and show the heart rates at different stages of the route so you can not only see how steep the hill was, but also how hard your heart was pumping as you were going up it!! The Edge 205 does not have this function but I am not overly fussed since I have a Suunto T3 heart rate belt and monitor which I bought before the Edge.
MBA saves your routes and posts them on a 'communal' site that other users can access. If you want to other users routes can be downloaded on the Edge and you can then follow these routes with the Edge telling you which way to go.
Down Loading Routes
There are some routes that can be downloaded for free, although if you find one in the area you live or the area for which you want to ride then you are very, very lucky.
I have used memory map software to prepare a route of my local area and download to the Edge. (I will write a separate review of this at a later date since I am still experimenting with it).
Once the route is down loaded turn the Edge on, clip on the cycle mount and off you go. It really is that easy!! One thing to note is that the Edge 205 does not have a colour screen and the image is not like a TomTom or a small o/s map. It is not that advanced and at the price it should not be. Instead you have a green screen with an arrow pointing the direction you need to be heading in. Whilst this is not a great benefit for road riding it comes in to its own when navigating over heaths, through forests and other places where there are no pre-defined trails or paths.
My partner enjoys pre-planning routes and taking the actual map with us so I do not use this function to its full potential at present. It is when I upload the data and can see the route on screen that I get most pleasure.
The Edge is an amazing tool, and whilst it would be good if I had the 305 (with the heart rate belt and optional cadence sensor) for me it would be an overkill. All I was going to do was use the Edge as a standard cycle computer but now I upload info to MBA, analyse rides, share routes with MBA users, look at routes of other MBA users and download routes.
It has opened up a whole new world of cycling, even recreationally, and it is really, really good.
Since the Edge is not permanently fixed to the bike it can be used for other recreational activities such as hiking/walking, hill climbing, canoeing/kayaking/yachting (it is waterproof - this has been tested in a torrential down pour), horse riding etc etc.
As with everything it does have its disadvantages if there is a poor GPS signal then, although the information will be stored, it doesn't show it on the display. If like me, you find your current speed a motivator and an indicator of when to push yourself then this does cause a problem (especially if like me you have no other speed computer on your bike - I am going to put the cat eye back on). That said, however, it has only happened on one occasion.
I would never have sampled the Edge if I could not get one at the ridiculously low price I paid for it - so Thank you Fisher4GPS. Unfortunately my partner now wants one and I can't find any for less than £100 .
The Edge 205 is highly recommended and if like me you have a good day and can get one for £50 all in then go for it. Even if you have to pay the £100 + these are still demanding it is worth every penny. You will not be disappointed.
You're nearly there now ! Thanks for reading this long review but there is so much to say. I hope that you have not been bored and found it useful and I hope that I have persuaded some of you would be buyers to go get one and I look forward to looking at your routes, and stats, on MBA.
Take your ride to the next level with the Edge 205 - Garmin's GPS-enabled personal trainer and cycle computer. Perfect for touring and the trails, the lightweight Edge is the ultimate fitness partner. With the easy-to-use Edge 205 on your bike, you always know where you're going and how far you've gone.