Garmin Edge 705 Review
Garmin has long been the main player in the G.P.S. bike computer market. With several models and features to choose from they cover everyone from the serious roadie to the trail obsessed mountain biker. The 705 sits at the top of Garmin’s G.P.S. line with a list of features that borders on ridiculous. It gives all the standard data, miles ridden, speed, and altitude, then throws in mapping, heart rate and watts.
The first thing many notice about the Edge 705 is it’s size. Yes other units are smaller, but to do what it does and to make the maps and numbers readable it has to have a decent sized screen, otherwise the user would be squinting and the product hard to use. While not overwhelmingly large, it is the largest I’ve come across. This is a case of good and bad in my opinion. While the extra size makes it cumbersome for some uses, it is also an advantage at other times. Each person has to decide for themselves what is their priority, ease of use and visuals or a sleek profile?
Garmin’s biggest advantage over other computers is it’s navigation capability. The 705 comes with an extensive map of roads across the country. I found that even some of the smaller dirt roads in Colorado showed up. For those that want the most detail, regional maps are also available at an additional cost. Users can plot waypoints, see the E.T.A. to that waypoint, and basically keep from getting lost. Even when you can’t view the exact roads you can still view your starting point and see if you are heading in the right direction. I know this from a personal experience while trail running. Although the trails were on the map I could see where I started and where I was so I could still navigate my way back. If you travel a lot or like to know exactly where you are headed for a new adventure the mapping is invaluable.
Don’t think the 705 is simply a fancy replacement for a map and compass, the Edge 705 has every conceivable function you need for cycling, running, hiking or adventure racing. From heart rate and distance to elevation gain and speed it leaves nothing out. Cadence and speed are picked up via a magnet on the inside of the drive side crank arm and another placed on a spoke of the rear wheel. A small sensor is then secured to the drive side chain stay. Since it uses ANT+ technology cyclists with a third party powermeter can see their wattage during the ride. Up to eight different fields can be displayed. This is where the larger display screen comes in handy. The user can choose up to seven metrics to view on the screen, like power, time and distance. With a larger screen viewing all these different number is made easier because they are fairly large. If you want to focus solely on a few key items you can set that in the user profile. The drawback here is that it would be very hard to use while running if you are not wearing a pack or waist hydration system with a large enough pocket. It’s just too big to stick in your pocket and run with. While I used it for mountain and road biking with the handlebar mount, I had to tuck it into a pack for use when running or hiking.
The 705 was easy to use despite the enormity of what it is capable of. There is a dedicated on/off button and zoom button for map reading. The start/stop button and lap button are self explanatory. Navigation is done through the mode and menu buttons along with a center joystick. After using the 705 a few times I found that using the buttons was quite easy and intuitive. Setting the unit up was easy and I liked that I could set up multiple custom screens. This meant that I could set up one screen for cycling and one for running or hiking. Then I could customize what I wanted to view in each screen and all I had to do was select the proper activity and I was off. You can also easily go from the metrics screen to the map screen by pressing the mode button. This makes it easy to make sure you are on the right road without having to stop and fiddle with a bunch of buttons.
Since the 705 uses a G.P.S. signal one main concern I had was loss of the signal in heavily treed areas. Riding and running through the trees of Keystone, Breckenridge and the rest of Summit County Colorado this was not a major issue. Yes, I did lose my signal from time to time, but it was never for more than 10 seconds and it picks the signal back up automatically so you don’t have to fumble with it.
Setting up the Edge 705 took no time. If you’ve used a technical watch or G.P.S. unit in the past this will not be a problem. The manual it comes with is extensive and their is also on-line help for those that may need a bit more help. The unit is charged via a U.S.B. to outlet cord and battery life is more than sufficient. Securing the unit to the bike is done with simple zip ties and can be mounted on your handlebars or on the stem. I mounted this on the bars of my mountain bike then on the stem of my cyclocross bike and both worked perfectly. In a nice touch, the supporting pad that sits under the unit is angled so that when the 705 is mounted on the stem the unit will angle up slightly, making it easier to read.
Garmin uses their own Internet based Garmin Connect to download all of this information. The user sets up a free account and when you plug the unit into your computer via the supplied U.S.B. cord all you need to do is log onto your account and download your information. All of your numbers and the map are clearly displayed. You can do some neat things with Connect like play back your ride in real time. What this means is that the little red balloon that represents you will travel along your route, and slow down when you slowed, say a hill, then speed up when you descended. It may not be vital, but it’s a cool trick. All of the Garmin files are compatible with TrainingPeaks, probably the most widely used training software in the country.
If you are an information junkie and want to have every conceivable option, the 705 is for you. You do pay a size penalty for this however, which is something to consider. You also need to consider the price, $499.99 with Heart Rate and $549.99 with Heart Rate, Cadence and Speed Senor. Certainly this is not cheap, but few other pieces can rival it’s capabilities.
To find out more about the Edge 705 and other Garmin products visit www.garmin.com