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Personally I love having information about the rides I'm doing, it wasn't always that way but a couple of years ago when I began commuting to work by bike I really started finding it useful to know how fast I'm going and being able to work out what my ETA to a destination was. I enjoyed using the pacer arrow to make sure I was ahead of schedule and having the odometer to see what my grand total mileage was kept my motivation up.
The next step on from that was a GPS enabled device so I could not only track my mileage, but ascent and gradient etc. While this is all possible on a smart phone these days I wanted something specific, the Edge 800 is the King as far as dedicated GPS were concerned and so I plumped for it.
My first impressions were that it's a seriously well engineered device. It has a lovely tactile feel to the casing and all of the accessories such as the heart rate strap and speed/cadence sensor seem good quality.
When you're used to using a smart phone, the control interface takes a little bit of getting used to but before long it becomes second nature and very intuitive. It's also a doddle to use the computer software supplied for uploading your data.
Out on the road the device excels and really makes training on the bike, or even being out for a leisure ride enjoyable. I would say try not to put too much information on one screen (you can customise up to 8 bits of data on any one screen) as it becomes impossible to read, instead put groups of things together on separate pages and swipe between them.
Many cycle computers now have a pacer arrow on them but the Garmin goes one step further in that it has a little guy whom you can compete against if you're doing a like-for-like ride.
Once you get home one of the most interesting features of any GPS device becomes something to keep motivated, perhaps when it's winter... You can upload the information to various social network sites such as Garmin's own or 'Strava' (my personal favourite). Then you can often see how you compare to other riders in your area... It's great!
- Battery life is good.
- Re-charge time is excellent.
- Ease of use is excellent.
- Value for money is good (if you can afford it).
- Overall quality is GREAT!
I would not be without one now!
Over the last couple of years as my participation in sports such as Football and Cricket has dwindled slightly, my desire and drive to get on my bike has increased significantly. In fact it even got to the point where I signed up and completed the London to Paris challenge in September. As a result of this new found sense of purpose, or perhaps stupidity, I've also had to increase my recreational riding and put in the hours training. To aid with this process and to give myself a guide, I thought it best to invest in a piece of technology to help me and to that end I went and bought a Garmin Edge 800 from Wiggle, my new favourite online store.
What Is An Edge 800
The Garmin Edge 800 is effectively a GPS device for use on your bike. It keeps a track of where you have ridden, can store directions of where you want to go and keep a track of vital information such as speed and heart rate. The reason the Edge is so special though is that it is the first touch screen GPS device available to cyclists and having debated the benefits of buying this over say a Garmin Edge 500, I felt the range of features this offered far outweighed the difference in price. There are various different packages available for buying your Edge 800 starting from £244.75.
In The Box
Either the base model at £244.75 you get the Garmin Edge 800 unit, which is about the size of a rather chunky mobile phone. You will also get a quarter turn bike mount and the basic map package for navigation. There are bundles available which include other items such as a more advanced set of maps, a wireless speed sensor and a heart rate monitor, but for each of these items that you ass to the basic edge the price will continue to rise and can end up costing around about the £400 mark for a bundle that includes all of the previously mentioned items.
Setting It Up
The initial set up of the device onto the bike is nice and easy. Using the elastic cords you position the bike mount on the handle bars by looping them underneath and they hold the mount tightly onto the bars. The harder part of the set up comes when you want to plug it into a computer and start to use the maps feature on the device. To do this you have to register at Garmin Connect and from here you can plan, share and analysis any details you want to about your ride. The site is a little complicated, however that's for another day and another review. In addition to Garmin connect you can also use sites such as Strava to track your performance and see how your cycling is going.
I find the Garmin connect site is the best source of information though and once your past the early difficulties of working out what you are meant to do it becomes a very useful tool. It lets you program your own rides picking out the roads you want to ride down and where you want to go before saving it and transferring it via a USB cable onto your Garmin device for use when you are out on the bike. You can also use this system to collect other peoples routes around your area, which after the first time you use it is really quite simple.
Using the Garmin
Once the bike mount is set up and your Garmin is registered it is time to hit the open rode and see exactly what this device is all about. Using a collection of Satellites the Garmin picks up a signal which tracks your location and also tracks your speed, allowing this to be displayed on the devices screen. As soon as you bike starts to move the satellite senses the movement and if you've not hit the timer will ask you if you would like to start the ride. On the devices main screen it tracks the time the ride has taken, your speed, the distance travelled, the current time and the number of calories the current ride has burnt.
All of this is incredibly useful information for improving your riding performance and monitoring how well your rides are going. The best features of the Garmin though are the navigation and the virtual partner. First of all the navigation uses either the predetermined maps created on Garmin Connect or your current position on the road to help you to decide where to go next. I prefer to create routes prior to going out and by doing this the Garmin shows my current position and where I should turn next to get to my destination and even warns me if I stray off course.
The problem with just using the maps to navigate around relies a lot on you knowing the area enough to not get lost and on longer rides this can be risky and that's why I prefer to map my rides out prior to leaving. Of course there are predetermined points of interest programmed into the system such as shopping centres and cash points, which you can also use the Garmin to navigate to.
The virtual partner is the other aspect of the Garmin I really like. It allows you to set a target pace for your ride and by using your speed and the distance you have travelled it creates a time split either ahead or behind your target speed that gives you an idea in terms of time and distance how well you are doing against your target. I have found this to be a very useful tool, particularly on longer rides to gauge how well I'm conserving energy and where perhaps my riding needs to be a little more conservative.
It also uses the speed sensor and the heart rate monitor to track your performance, however I am yet to purchase these elements but will be sure to let you know how well it works when I eventually do.
Ease Of Use
The touch screen technology used within the 800 is very easy to use. It isn't too sensitive meaning you won't change any settings should you accidently brush the screen with your finger. The screen is very clear and displays everything you want to know in mainly black writing with a splash of colour where required. The battery is also quite impressive and seems to last for a long time. My longest ride with the Edge so far has been a 4 and a half hour ride in Essex and it still had almost half the battery left once we had finished. All in all the Garmin 800 is a very useful and easy to use piece of technology.
Being the avid cyclist I am the Garmin has been an excellent purchase but the real downside has to be the initial outlay. It is fair to say that £250 plus is a lot of money to justify for a hobby but I feel that the benefits provided by the Edge 800 really do justify the cost. I use my Edge once a week at least and at this kind of use it justifies the price, but if you felt you wouldn't use your bike at least once a fortnight then maybe the edge isn't the right GPS device for you, however with its navigational capabilities and performance monitoring the device soon becomes an easily justifiable purchase.
Should I Buy One
Having debated the should I, shouldn't I for a couple of months I have to admit that I'm actually glad that I took the chance and bought the Edge 800 rather than the 500. Whilst I've not tried a 500, I have been incredibly impressed with the 800's range of features and with the use I'm getting out of the Edge 800 I'm glad I spent a little bit more on it. I will soon be setting off for Paris in the devices biggest challenge to date but with my Edge firmly fastened to my bike I am looking forward to having an account of the route and my own performance in the ride. This is an excellent piece of kit and if like me you aren't sure if you can justify the cost, if you ride enough the you'll come to regard the Edge 800 as one of the best purchases you have ever made, well after a decent gel saddle and pair of shorts anyway.
Garmin Edge 800. GPS - Cycle. Make the most of every ride with Edge 800 the first touch-screen GPS bicycle computer. Providing navigation and performance monitoring, Edge 800 is ideal for touring, commuting, competitive cycling and moun ....