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The Garmin Edge 705 is more than a bike computer. It is a full satellite navigation system for a bicycle. It does not have the ability to "tell" you where to go by voice but it does show you what turnings to take on a small map.
At first glance the Edge 705 looks really stylish and impressive. It is larger than the previous models, the 205 and 305, but this is to be expected since it has a large 44mm x 35mm colour screen. The backlit display is clear and bright and can clearly be seen in any conditions be it dull and over cast, bright sunshine or anything in between.
The Edge 705 has eight buttons and joystick control, looks very complex and a bit of a nightmare to use, however, getting started with it is easy. Once it's charged, you just turn it on, sit it near a window so it can find satellites, set up your personal profile, stick it on the bike and go for a ride. The start/stop button tells the Edge 705 which bit s to record.
Once you get back from the ride it is possible to save the data to the PC software Garmin provides as a download on its website. If you're a bit more au fait with a computer, then it is possible to pull the data file straight out of the unit, because it mounts as a USB mass storage device. The data can then be uploaded and analysed using various software packages.
****Bike computer functions****
The Edge 705 also has a huge range of bike computer functions including speed, time/stopwatch, calories expended, cadence (providing you have the cadence sensor), altitude and heart rate amongst many others.
It is possible to customise the display so you can see up to ten of them at once, and you can have different displays for different bikes. This is a great feature since I have one for the racer and one for the mountain bike.
****GPS and mapping features****
The key features of the Edge 705 for bike riders include:
1) the ability to plan, upload and follow a route.
2) the ability to record a route and download it to a computer.
3) the ability to set a destination and get directions as you ride.
The Edge 705 comes with a really basic map that is not at all detailed. In order to get more accurate maps you need to purchase additional maps, which can be bought with the Edge as a bundle or can be bought at a later date.
I would always recommend buying a separate map since they can be sourced from many sites. I bought my Edge 705 from Handtec that had the Edge at the best price but the maps were extortionate. I found an alternative site for the maps (the site did not sell the Edge 705) and they cost less than half what Handtec were selling them for.
The maps are all down to personal preference although I find City Navigator the best. The map comes pre loaded on a micro SD card which is put in the Edge 705. It really is simple.
The fact that the maps are on SD card allows the user to buy European maps on separate cards, like you can with in car satellite navigation systems, which is great for planning cycling holidays abroad.
The Edge 705 has lots of training features. For example, you can repeat a previous ride and compare your performance with the 'virtual training partner' function. Or you can get a ride from someone else with an Edge and do the same thing.
The workout function lets you, for example, set a time and distance for a ride, or specific portions of it, and see how you are doing against your target, which should appeal to time trialists.
It is even possible to wirelessly connect a power meter, via the ANT system, and measure the wattage you are producing. This is a feature that is usually used by serious cyclists and racers.
The Edge 705 has so many features that it takes a long time to learn how to use it properly. In particular getting to know how to design routs on the PC and transfer them to the Edge is difficult and the manual (which is on CD) is quite honestly crap. It gives guidance but it is very vague. I found the best way to learn is to look at internet sites and forums. There are loads of Edge forums and the people on there are really helpful. The best one is Frankkinlan.com.
The calorie counter on the Edge is way out, despite the fact that the user not only sets up their profile on the unit itself but also has a heart rate belt accurately recording what stresses are being put on your heart. Whilst it is useful for comparing ride to ride it is not useful to be used as a calorie counter as part of a controlled diet since it states you burn off far more calories than you actually do.
The basic unit can be purchased for a little over £200 which whilst expensive for a cycle computer it is a lot more than that. It is satellite navigation and a personal trainer as well. It can help you reach your goals and provides detailed training analysis so you can see how your getting on in a clear and concise way.
For an additional £30 a cadence sensor can be bought. This allows the user to see how many revolutions per minute it is pedalling which serves as a training aid. It is really difficult to know what 90 revolutions per minute feels like which is considered to be the optimum cadence.
For an additional £500 - £1,500 you can get a compatible power meter that shows the power output the rider is producing, in watts.
Do I really need a satellite navigation device on my bicycle? I can honestly say that I do not. I ride local routes and am rarely more than 70 miles from my home so it is a bit of an over-kill but it is a nice gadget to have.
I wanted a GPS for the training data it provides and the earlier versions of the Garmin Edge would suffice. I wanted the ability to get a cadence sensor so I needed the Edge 305. The problem I had was getting one as they were £180 in a few select shops and these needed to be pre-ordered with a six week wait. For an additional £38 I could get the top of the range system (full sat nav) immediately. The decision was a no brainer really.
This Edge 705 does everything I want it to and more. The mapping is a nice feature although it took me ages to work out how to actually do it but I don't use it that frequently.
If you are a gadget lover, or someone who enjoys devising routes (remember this mapping allows both road and off road routes) and following them then the Edge 705 is definitely for you since it eliminates the need to keep stopping and getting the map out which is a pain and breaks the momentum of a ride.
If you just want the training data and analysis then I would go for a standard bike computer with the required features. Whilst one of these won't be cheap, it'll still be over £100 for a good one, it is far less than the Edge 705.