Sunday, April 20, 2008

My new Edge 705

I've only taken a few rides with my new Garmin Edge 705 and I'm very impressed. Gotta say right off the bat that perhaps it is a little ironic to mount a $500+ GPS receiver on a $450 bike, but I love my Trek. OK, so I've tricked my Trek 1000 a bit with a GPS and new Shimano 105 drive train, so what? I've also come to grips with the idea that I've spent more money on bike clothing than I paid for my bike. Oh well.

Anyway, my first impressions of the new Garmin toy are favorable. I don't have a power transmitter (yet!) so I haven't been able to use that function. I did get the cadence and HR attachments, and have set up the online training system and the local software. I haven't had a chance to use the plethora of option soffered by either. One thing I have noticed is that the heart rate and cadence data are in serious need of some sort of filter. As you can imagine, every now and then, you do stop pedaling. This makes the cadence track pretty noisy. There are occasional HR dropouts too - nothing serious, but there is some noise.

The unit is packed with features. I just figured out out to upload courses, and am looking forward to seeing how well it works on the bike. Fairly, the moving map is really cool, but it isn't something you can look too closely at while riding a bike. Biking just isn't a sport where you can take your eyes off the road. I imaging this will be a reference when stopped. It is very cool.

I'm really curious to see if manufacturers will take advantage of the ANT+ technology. The power meters are the first step for sure, but I've wondered about pedal stroke analysis. Sure, you can get this done on a trainer or in a lab/studio, but I sure wish I had a bike mounted device to give me some encouragement to pedal circles, not squares. Will new devices be available to make use of the new Garmin tech? I hope so.

A prerequisite for my buying one of these was Apple/Mac compatibility. I don't use PCs, so this was a must. I'm hoping to see some dashboard widgets for the training peaks software, and maybe the esoteric Garmin training software as well. Fairly though, since I've just started using the unit, I freely admit I haven't seen all it has to offer already. For sure though, the ability for people to share courses and rides is a big plus. Mapmyride.com seems to be a great source. I hope I can get my daily course maps for my upcoming Bicycle Adventures Crater Lake trip too.

One thing to be aware of: you really need the add-on StreetMaps card to make the map useful. The included pre-loaded map...well...sucks. The add on is $140. Garmin gives you 10% off for registering the new Edge 705, so that helps a bit.

The user guide could use some help, but for the most part it seems to describe things correctly. I sure would like a computer "emulator" so I could become familiar with the functions without using the unit itself.

I haven't figured out how to tie the cadence date to the speed data so I can tell what gear I should be turning, either on the bike, or with the post-ride training software. One of the plus differences to me between the Edge 305 and 705 was the latter's use of a wheel based sensor for speed, not just the GPS speed. It seems natural to me to be able to program a "shift up/shift down" indicator to tell me if I'm pushing too big a gear for my heart rate. The unit seems to know what the grade is too, so it seems like maybe it could help me figure out where I should be geared. Maybe it's in there somewhere, and I haven't figured that out yet.

If someone is looking to build an add-on for that ANT+ tech, one thing that came to mind was an auxiliary input button. It'd be really cool to have a wireless programmable pusbutton to put on the back of a glove, or up on the hoods. Hit a pre-programmed button to quickly mark a location on the GPS track. Be nice to tap a location in to mark a pothole, then download the location to the city so they could fix it. How cool would that be? And heck, while you're at it, tap that button twice to snap a photo from a helmet cam and mark that location on the GPS track?

The GPS map itself seems versatile enough that I think I want to find a suction cup to mount it in my car as well. Nice to have nav data there too. 2 for the price of one, you know.

Maybe that ANT+ tech could be linked to tire pressure sensors too? I guess this would have to be a pressure sensor built into a tube stem cap. Nice to get a warning that a tire is leaking. Maybe this is just tech looking for a problem to solve. I sure haven't needed a computer to tell me I've had a flat.

Anyway, more comments when I get more familiar with the unit.