Life with a Garmin Edge 705

My first “Computer” on a bicycle was one of those little metal odometers that were actuated by a peg fitted on a spoke. The unit was mounted on the front RH dropout and the peg clicked away every wheel revolution. Cyclists of a certain age will remember them well. Mine eventually bit the dust by flying off across the road when I was flying down a hill, the poor thing couldn’t keep up with the revs!

This was back in the 1960s, and by the 1980s, I’d moved over to something a little more modern. It was made by Huret and driven by a pulley and belt system. It was still fitted on the front dropout, but had the luxury of a reset facility for a trip meter, and the ability to convert from 26” to 27” wheels by moving the drive belt on the pulley.

A few years went by, and the silicone chip made it’s presence felt, and I splashed out on a ‘bar mounted unit connected to the now familiar detector on the forks and a magnet on the spokes. A fantastic bit of kit: programable for wheel circumference, odometer, two trip meters, time of day, current speed, average speed and maximum speed. I can’t remember the make, but it worked well for many years. I recorded my first E2E with it in 1994, and I had it for a few years after that. My Huret was chucked in the bin.

I started to keep an accurate rides diary, and was bitten by the bug of recording everything. Sadly, one day my computer stopped working. I was mortified! So soon after, I bought a Cateye Mity8, even better bit of kit. Again, it had all the facilities I needed – perhaps even more – and my rides diary became more and more sophisticated.

Again, nothing lasts forever, and my Mity8 developed a fault. The rubber button cover perished and fell away, no doubt the button was worn out due to my constant prodding to get the info! The problem with these units, is that the central single button does just about everything, and the display toggles from one parameter to the next, sometimes you have to press six or seven times to get to the display you want to see. Simple, but tiresome.

Enter, The Garmin Edge: I bought an Edge 305. These units are GPS enabled bicycle computers with a large screen that can display up to eight parameters at once! The screen is programable, it can do some navigating, it follows you by GPS wherever you go and records absolutely everything. With suitable software – Garmin have their own basic version, Garmin Training Centre, but I use Ascent. This is a Mac based program and I love it.

The Edge system is designed for fitness training and performance monitoring, but you can use as much or as little of the system as you want. I have a heart-rate monitor and a speed/cadence sensor. This unit records your cadence primarily, but will also record your speed when there is no GPS signal – indoors on a trainer for instance. The Garmin continually checks on your wheel circumference so accuracy is spot-on. The speed and distance are also spot on, and with the software you can see exactly where you’ve been, how high you climbed, how fast (or slow) you were going, how hard you were working – it assesses calories consumed! – your overall average speed, your moving average speed, and a whole host of other information. All this is stored in the Garmin’s memory and when you upload into your computer, it’s all stored and reviewable in there too.

The main drawback with the Edge 305 is its lack of maps. This is not much of a drawback as the unit is solid and reliable and you can actually navigate with it. After two years of faultless operation and information heaven, I moved up to the Edge 705. This is the top of the range, and has all sorts of mapping software that you can purchase and install. At the single touch of a button, you can go from displaying details – speed, time, altitude, heart rate, trip distance, cadence, – or as much as you want – to going to a detailed map of where you are. You can search its memory and look up any address or place in UK and it will find a suitable route to it from where you are. You can upload routes and follow them, whilst it gives you turn by turn directions too if you want.

With all the maps, it still has all the stuff that the Edge 305 has, so the 705 is quite a package. It’s slightly bigger than the 305, and also has a full colour screen. The batteries are lithium ion with the 305 lasting 12 or 13 hours, but the 705 has a massive 15 hours plus. I tested mine, and it was still running at 17 hours.

Data space is limited on the 305, and a long day in the saddle of 100 miles or so will make a big dent into the capacity, whereas the 705 is almost impossible to fill. It has a massive 1GB of memory, and a typical 100 miles would only take up less than 2MB, so there’s plenty space, and it even has the facility to add a MicroSD card into a little watertight slot.

The downside to the 705, is that the firmware is a little fragile. It seems beset by hiccoughs and system freezes. A quick look at the in-house Garmin forum for the 705 will show how many problems people have. Contrast that with the 305 forum. for the 705 for the 305

I’m SMICKF by the way!

Once or twice I’ve had to telephone Garmin Tech Support to sort out a problem or two. The thing about forums is that you get inundated with opinion, not fact, so a call to a real expert is worth the time and effort. What I wanted, was an Edge 305 with maps. What I seem to have bought, is far more than that, and somehow just a little less.

All in all, I’m not too happy with my new purchase, but hopefully I can get to grips with its foibles and get some serious data retrieval!

My fingers are crossed.

24 comments on “Life with a Garmin Edge 705”

  1. Patrick wrote:

    The urge to measure and record things must be in your bones!

    To me, battery life is the thing, whether it's a GPS, mobile phone, or digital camera. It's such a nuisance having to keep bothering about batteries. In my Garmin eTrex Legend HCx I use Energizer Ultimate lithium batteries (non-rechargable, bought online in bulk) and they seem to last ages, although I haven't any measurements. Over 36 hours, I'd say (without the backlight).

    I don't use a bike computer any more as I'm not so interested in distance as much as time spent cycling (it's the hills!), and a watch is fine for that. But I really like the GPS for playing about with routes and maps. I use City Navigator maps, and one covers the whole UK. Hand held in the car, it does the turn by turn directions to any UK post code.

    You can spend ages messing about with these things – they're great fun. I'll be putting our Denmark route (for May) into mine. I didn't have it last year. Hopefully I'll be tracking the route as well.

    Have you tried uploading your favourite routes onto Google Earth and doing a virtual fly-along? That's fun too.

  2. Garry wrote:

    My first ever computer may have been the first electronic one on the market. I still have it somewhere. It was an Avocet. Since then I've had numerous Cateyes a couple of Sigmas and some really cheap nonentity brand ones and an expensive German one whose name escapes me now. ?VDO. The Cateye mount design if awful in that the contacts get worn and they stop working. I've had wireless ones but then the battery life is more Mayfly than Methusaleh.
    I got a Garmin Etrex Vista Hcx for doing Lejog last summer, as it was recommended for it, and it took me three weeks to get used to it. I use it periodically now. It gives about 4 days on alkalines and 1 day plus on rechargeable NIMHs.
    I've had ones with pulse-meters (very good for holding yourself back) but I've learnt to recognise pretty accurately how hard I'm going so I no longer use them.
    The software for Garmins is obstreperous to say the least.. I bought the full maps for the UK before doing Lejog and it was pretty useful.

  3. Mary wrote:

    Very interesting Mick, thank you for sharing your experiences with gps. I dont think there is a 'perfect' bit of kit out there as yet – for cyclists at any rate. I have a SATMAP, and the unit its self is great, I get on with it well, considering I am a technophobe with stuff like this. But I have 3 times now had to send Map Cards back to SATMAP for inaccuracies, which is maddening, as I need height profiles in particular to be correct, and the Map Cards keep showing up pockets of flat where there should be 150m of height etc.

    I was thinking of ditching it to be honest for Garmin, now Im not so sure....

    How does the Garmin fit to the bicycle?

  4. Patrick wrote:

    My Garmin sits on the handlebars on a mounting set like this. I can't remember where I got it – it wasn't Amazon (I should keep records like Mick F). The GPS just clips in and out. The type of mount required will probably depend on which Garmin model it is, but browsing around, they're easily obtained.

  5. Mick F wrote:

    The Garmin Edge series fit on a little clip/bracket that is firmly fitted to your bars or stem. Dead easy to clip in and out, very much like a front light fitting or like a Cateye computer mount, though there's no electrical coupling. The unit is completely wireless. The battery is easily charged, either by your computer USB or by a separate charger unit very much like you'd have for your mobile phone.

    My Edge 305 was great, I had no issues with it and can't recommend it highly enough, but the 705 is taking some head-scratching.

  6. Mary wrote:

    Mick, does the Ascent software work a bit like Bikehike used to? Ie. can you plot routes and maps using this, and have the ascents/descents showing up? Ive had a quick look and it looks fab, not sure if it will work on the SATMAP, but there is a contact address to check this, I am waiting a reply.

    Ive had a look at Map my Ride, and its a bit complicated compared to Bikehike which I used to use all the time – so sad, its no longer usable as saved data anymore.

    Getting other half to view it before I download Ascent's onto my Mac.

    Thats the disappointing thing as well about most GPS systems, none of them are very Mac friendly, although SATMAP now has free downloadable software for the Mac, only available since Dec 09.

  7. Mick F wrote:

    Ascent can't plot routes, though it will convert file types – gpx, tcx, kml, tsv, csv and others. You can import and export to your heart's content.

    I usually plot a route on BikeHike then download and import into Ascent. From Ascent I can then upload into my Garmin – also you can upload into Garmin straight from BikeHike of course. I didn't use the BikeHike storage system much, so I don't mind the lack now. As I say, I would generally download the routes and put them into Ascent. I have a few planned routes already on my hard drive. When I plan my Chopper JOGLE properly, I'll view it all in Ascent.

    Ascent has a forum. Rob, the software developer comes on from time to time. I'm Mick F on there. The guys are very helpful and it's worth reading the stuff.

    Ascent is only Mac based. If Rob could bring out a PC version, he would wipe the floor with the competition. Somehow I know he won't as he's busy enough with other projects. If he branched out, he wouldn't be able to give the same service and the quality would drop.

    Good luck with Ascent, Mary, I know you won't be disappointed.

  8. Chris wrote:

    Very interesting stuff, Mick. I think I would worry about compatibility/support issues as you update, or change to a different brand. Maybe I’m a pessimist, but I’d also hate to think that I’d spent all that time recording the info and then maybe losing it. I have to admit to being impressed with the amount of information that is recorded and can be analysed by these things though. And your post on the CTC forum, in particular, was fascinating in its detail.

    I haven’t quite got the bike computer/GPS bug yet. I use to plot routes and mileage. I thought about getting an iPhone 3GS so that I can download the app and routes I’ve plotted. But I didn’t. You’re all making me feel very out of the loop with your gadgets, especially since I work in IT. I bought a Raleigh wired cycle computer with front and rear lights all for twenty quid yesterday. That’s about where I am at the moment.

  9. Patrick wrote:

    Mary wrote: ... its a bit complicated compared to Bikehike which I used to use all the time – so sad, its no longer usable as saved data anymore.

    Gosh, I've just noticed that. Database gone. How strange. He mentions possible litigation as a result of having routes assessible via this website. I wonder why. Are cycling routes legally protected?

  10. Mick F wrote:

    Odd, isn't it.
    I wonder why the general warnings aren't enough. Any road up, the site is still a good 'un for route construction, but the main problem is, you can't link your route so others can see it. There must be hundreds of threads on forums that are now ruined because the links no longer work.

    I mean, say I had a good route somewhere, and I wanted to impart my knowledge to others. A good example is "Rob's Passage". I described this on the CTC Forum: but the links are now useless. Happily, I still have this route saved in Ascent, and I could follow it via my Garmin. Now in order to show others, I have to either send a .gpx file via email or show it on a map and do a screen shot.

    Perhaps there is another site other than BikeHike that works?

  11. Patrick wrote:

    I've used Bikely a few times. It's not quite the same but it works well once you get used to it. You can publish your cycling routes, and they don't just do the UK either, although it's nice to see it is a British website.

    It is annoying how old links stop working. On one of my other websites, which has hundreds of outgoing links, I regularly have to check them all (with some desktop software) and try to update the ones that are broken, or delete them altogether. At least Bikehike gives a reason why it's beyond their control. If it was me who'd done all the development work, I'd have transferred the website to a £100 Limited Company and carried on.

  12. Patrick wrote:

    How's life with a Garmin Edge 705 coming along?

    Battery life is why I bought a Legend HCx, rather than the Vista HCx which has better altimeter and profiling but uses more battery. But the MapSource software that comes with the unit does a profile, sort of.

    The 20 miles I rode today. Part of it includes my regular climb up Winter Hill. It's a bit crude, but there it is. I had to walk the last bit to the top as the final length of road is still covered with snowdrifts. The vertical line to the right of centre is where I stopped at home for a cup ot tea, turning the unit off and on again before I did the second part. It seems to have recorded a marker that's much too low while it was searching for satellites.

    Does this work? View the route on Google Earth »

  13. Mick F wrote:

    Does this work?
    Yes it does!

    Garmin 705 is still problematical. Only today, I connected up to my Mac and it locked up. I sorted it quickly and all is fine, but I feel that my knowledge of the 705's foibles works better than the 705's firmware.

    Your route, Patrick, looked great. I remember some of the area from yonks ago!

  14. Patrick wrote:

    I looked on the Garmin forums, by the way. They have a Windows software forum, and it seems the latest release of MapSource (the software for the Garmin eTrex HC series) doesn't work too well on Windows 7. I'm not sure this program is even available for Mac. Mine is an older version which probably would be okay in Windows 7 (I'm still running Windows XP) but you'd think this sort of issue would be fixed post-haste, and it hasn't.

  15. Mick F wrote:

    Hi Patrick,
    I think Garmin have many things to fix with the Edge 705 and their maps too – they seem to have a strangle-hold on their maps. My Edge 305 was faultless, and to be honest, I should never have upgraded to 705. Oh well, I've done it, and I will make the most of it.

    I wonder if Garmin are made by Toyota? if so, they should do a recall .........

  16. chas66 wrote:

    I've just got a refurbished Edge 605, and have tip about saving cash on the maps – try and see if OpenStreetMap or OpenCycle will meet your needs as they are free and better than the Garmin ones in some areas. Edge compatible Garmin OpenStreetMap images are here:
    I use the Cloudmade ones:
    I've just done a 200km Audax ride using the 605 as primary nav tool (with paper cue sheet) – well impressed, worked a treat!

  17. Patrick wrote:

    On my virtual travels I found this: GPSies.

  18. Paul wrote:

    Hi. I got alot of help from the writing on this website:

    Frank worked out most of the problems I experienced with mine and helped me to become happy with what was initially a very annoying product.

    Frank has a good sense of humour too.

    Hey does anyone have tips for a belt clip or similar mounting so the 705 can be used when running? I stick mine in the pocket of my running shorts but its a pain to get out and look at. I suppose its a bit big for the job.

  19. monxton wrote:

    Don't give up with BikeHike – despite the annoyance of having to save your routes elsewhere, it's just the best featured router, at least if you are in the UK.

    Here's some reasons:
    – you can use either OS Maps or the OpenCycleMap for planning your route, as alternatives to Google maps, which are pretty lacking for understanding appropriate cycle routes.

    – there is an alternative routing algorithm which uses OpenStreetMap data instead of the Google routing algorithm. This is >so< much better. Nearly all the alternative sites are using Google routing as the only option. For example, near me, where the OSM router will correctly take a cyclist through a bikepath subway to cross a motorway junction, the Google router, even when set to "Walking", takes you on a crazy two-mile diversion.

    – BikeHike can automatically add Garmin course points to your route as you draw it. Then when you download the route, it will shift the course points to a distance of your choosing, say 300 feet, earlier. This allows you to have the Garmin 605/705 pop up a turn direction in advance of reaching the junction.

    Loads of other features too, but these are the standout ones IMHO.

  20. Mick F wrote:

    Thanks Monxton,
    Here we are, fifteen months after I started this thread, and still comments come in!


    I agree with you about BikeHike, I'm STILL learning about the 705 and the available tools and I must say BikeHike has it all. BikeRouteToaster is ok but not perfect and at least I can store interesting routes on there that I can refer others to by link.

    If I'm producing a route for personal use, I'll use BikeHike.


  21. Gary L wrote:

    What a great thread so thanks Mick F for starting it.
    I have recently bought an Edge 705 after being very impressed with a near faultless 305.

    Thats where the problems started...its now back with Garmin for a second time as well as using their 'support' I am still no further forward.

    The unit is 6 weeks old and my advice to anyone is get it back to the retailer before 28 days is up or you will have the pleasure of dealing with people (at Garmin) who appear to run out of ideas very quickly.

    I run Windows 7 and use Garmins Training Centre, MemoryMap and Sport Tracks. I too am a bid of a recording nerd (comes from working in local govt) but MemoryMap and Sport Tracks wont even recognise the unit. The 305 by comparison works perfectly.

    You would think it would be reasonably easy to identify, 3PCs all work with the 305 but none with the 705 ergo the fault is with the 705?

    What should have been a joy to use and a treat to myself has turned into a bit of a pain...has anyone tried the 800 😯

    And as someone once said DLTBGYD

    Thanks a lot


  22. john valentine wrote:

    I have recently had problems downloading recent history any others having problems with interaction with garmin TC ?
    Otherwise it works great had it 12 months worked great when lost last sunday on event ride direction finder got me back to route.

  23. Mick F wrote:

    Hi John,
    I don't use Garmin Training Centre at all, so I cannot help.

    I find GTC a waste of time as there FAR are better programs available.

    If you have a PC, use Sport Tracks.

    If you have a Mac, use Ascent.

    Forget GTC!


  24. Henry Bentall wrote:

    Edge 800 is the way to go! Work's brilliantly with Bikehike, once you've got the hang of it that is.
    Few tips.
    Download from bikehike to edge as gpx track, not gpx route. Once on edge find route under courses, touch the spanner and turn turn guidance on, virtual partner off and off course warnings off. Hope this helps!

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