Garmin Edge 705: The Future Is Now

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I had been using the 705's predecessor, the Edge 305, for a couple of years, and while it offered some unique capabilities, I wasn't enthusiastic about it.

However, the Edge 705 is a fantastic unit about which I am indeed incredibly enthusiastic. Anybody who rides with me ends up hearing about it, and I constantly unclip it from the bike and hand it to riding companions to check out what is on the screen.

This unit has a ton of features, but there are a few with which I'm particularly enamored. The big color map is at the top of the list. The 705 comes with a "basemap," which isn't very detailed or exciting. However, you can buy $100 microSD cards (like those for digital cameras) that offer an amazing level of detail with streets and geographical features.

The 4.5cm X 3.5cm screen is big enough to read 10 street names at a time, even in full sun, and the accuracy of the arrow point locating your bike on the map is astounding.

The data card is key; I wouldn't recommend buying the Edge without it. Using just the "basemap" in Sicily, the only detail I got was a triangular landmass representing Sicily and a bunch of blue around it labeled as the Mediterranean. Riding a coastal loop, the indicator often had me out in the water.

Not Just for Cycling

It is a totally different experience with the data card installed, however. I take it cross-country skiing, hiking and mountain biking, and I'm amazed at all of the lakes, ridges and old mining ghost towns it locates. In Switzerland, it found a way back to my hotel that a local said could not be done.

The 705 works better indoors and under tree cover, in narrow canyons, and among high-rise buildings than the 305 did. It's particularly cool to use in an airplane.

If you're a stickler about knowing your accurate speed at any moment, you won't like it without the optional ($50) speed/cadence sensor. The speed calculated from GPS position can jump around wildly when riding under trees and other cover.

Sonar Not Included

The Edge 305 screen I found to be too small. The 705, however, has not only a bigger screen but a toggle button with which you can go back and forth between two data screens with a flip of a fingertip.

I configured six data fields on each screen (you can set the number and size of the boxes). On one screen, I have time, speed, distance, time of day, elevation and total ascent. On the second screen I have current lap time, lap distance, cadence, heart rate, percent grade and either power or lap speed. And these are just a few of the options.

I love being able to mix measurement units, too. I have distance and speed in kilometers and kph, but I have elevation and total ascent in feet (most computers give you only the choice of metric or English measurements for all data). The percent grade is a sweet feature, too.

The 705 uses wireless ANT+Sport technology, which can move lots of data over a short distance like BlueTooth. This is how the unit talks to the heart monitor strap and the speed/cadence sensor. This is also how riders can share saved rides, waypoints and workouts. Perhaps most interesting to racers is that the 705 can "listen" to ANT+Sport wireless power meters, of which there are a few on the market.

The 705 snaps easily into its mount, which I now have on a bunch of different bikes. I'm not a stickler about speed accuracy and could care less about cadence, so I just move the unit from bike to bike as I please, including cyclocross and mountain bikes.

With the 305, I was constantly downloading it onto my laptop to see the full map, because the unit's screen only gave a breadcrumb trail. It was interesting to see where I'd been and look at the ride profile. However, despite the 705 having a lot more download features, I never bother downloading it because the on-screen maps are so good.

Features I never even tried include turn-by-turn directions (from the data card) and topo mapping, which may be helpful for mountain bikers since the data card does not have trails on it, only roads.

Riders and their coaches can analyze ride or race performance afterward with Garmin's online training site at Garmin Connect displays time, distance, speed, elevation and heart rate on charts, illustrations, reports and a variety of map representations including street, photo, topographic and elevation maps as well as on Google Earth. Riders can replay rides and watch their dot move along a mapped route while simultaneously looking at, say, their speed, power or heart rate any given point.

Garmin Edge 705

Price -- $500
The Scoop -- Bicycle-mounted GPS with heart rate monitor, maps and power meter compatibility
Weight -- 109 grams
Pros -- The detailed maps are incredible; so is wireless contact to other computers
Cons -- Mac users get fewer download features
More Info --

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