Garmin Edge 705, Part 2
If you started with part 1 of our Garmin Edge 705 review, you know we think it's a pretty nifty device, though one that might be a bit overkill if all you want is a bike computer. Nothing wrong with having "The Norelco" mounted to your stem, but the value of the unit is more apparent when it goes beyond standard bike computer features.
Even if you don't have the map card installed, the 705 should be able to take you home. "Home" in this case can be either where the ride started or where you've manually entered your coordinates into the machine. Without the map card, you can enter the location with coordinates or simply marking it when you've got the 705 on and your location pinpointed by satellites. You can be anywhere and you can get to "Where To" in the menu of choices. You can choose "Back To Start," or find your location in "Find Places." "Back To Start" for those without a map card should be easier, and it's the natural choice because that's generally where people want to go at some point. Choosing this option retraces your route thusfar.
Retracing your route is not necessarily the shortest way back. A limitation of the option is that if you get off-course, the machine doesn't recalculate. In order to find the route back, you can use a compass with an arrow pointing which way you should be going. Above the compass is a measure of how far you have to go until the next turn and how long it should take you to get there. You can also use the map screen to see your route back. With the map card you can zoom in or out to see the streets, trails, bodies of water, etc. you'll be passing as well as the overall direction. Still, if you miss a turn, all you see is the arrow pointing you to go back the way you came until you get back on course.
If you choose to return to the start by going to "Find Places" and then "Favorites," the 705 with the map card will find the quickest route back. You have a number of choices of how to use the unit when going to a favorite place. You can have the screen show your next several turns, what the distance is to the next turn and what the estimate of time is for you to get there. You can look at a map with information above it, or you can look at your regular screens and the unit will tell you when to turn -- there is a sound feature on the device and for this, having the sound on is a good idea.
A nice plus of going with finding your home in the Favorites menus is that if you go off course or decide to change the route, it will recalculate as you miss or choose to skip a turn. Of course, it needs the maps to do so. There are a few drawbacks to finding your way home by entering a favorite location as your terminus. Calculating the trip back can take a few minutes. A few minutes of standing around in the cold is not so great. We've tried to have the thing recalculate as we rode and it didn't seem to work. Occasionally, we got directed onto a highway, even though we specified we were using the GPS on a bike (there is a choice of driving, riding, or walking in the preferences). Also, the map card does street maps only. We took a bike path one day to see what the GPS would do, and we were directed off the path at every intersection we passed. Still, it did recalculate each time we missed a recommended turn.
And, like a full-functioning GPS, or, as a friend calls it, "an Olive Garden finder," it can locate all manner of retail establishments. Disappointingly for a bike GPS, there isn't a category for bike shops. You can look for them under "specialty retail" and then type in "bicycle." The Edge found many bike shops. The longer we left the unit alone, the more shops it found.
Getting places is fine, and is a boon if you want to explore, are new somewhere, or want to travel, but the people who want to pair the Garmin with their ANT+-equipped power meter want to use it as a training tool, possibly more than as a mapping toy. This is definitely where our interest lay with the 705 as well.
We updated our wireless PowerTap hub with PT's ANT+ Updater device and then installed the wheel. You need to go to the ANT+ menu choice to scan for ANT+ devices. It found the hub pretty quickly. Once it found the hub, we could also get cadence and the Garmin could use the PT for speed as well, thus making the GSC10 redundant.
A huge plus of the 705 is that you can have up to eight metrics of your choosing showing at one time. For us, having power next to average power was definitely a boon on days we wanted to work on tempo efforts. If there was a limitation it's that all the metrics are the same exact size, whereas the SRM we're used to has three different sizes for the six metrics it shows. Even the PT makes it fairly easy to figure out what data you're looking at. Just something to get used to. There are two preferences you will want to have checked off before you ride with power. One is you have to make sure the calculation includes zero watts; our first ride or two it was off and we wondered how we were going so hard when it felt so easy. The power data on the unit cannot be smoothed (averaged for a few seconds) so it is pretty hard to keep the power number very smooth unless you have lots and lots of practice.
We also tried having heart rate next to average heart rate. We liked having total ascent on the screen, but didn't really see much value other than impressing ourselves; probably could have spent more time comparing ride to ride to figure out value here. On a ride where we were focusing on the climbs, we'd have ascent during a lap next to gradient so we could start a fresh lap at the bottom of a hill, see the gradient and altitude gained as we went up, finish the lap at the top.
Another feature of the Garmin is you can program alerts. That is, you can tell the 705 that you have certain minimum or maximum speeds, cadences, heart rates, and/or power range that you want to stay above, below, or in between. There is also a time and or distance alert where you can tell the unit how long or how far you want to go before an alarm goes off. Most people who have been metering their training can do this sort-of easily on their own. By force of habit, they know how to keep half of an eye glancing at the unit and making the mental calculations. The 705 does the thinking for you. It's easy to set it up. We consider the alarms a kind of tether. Can be a good thing.
The difficulty is that you can't set the alerts so they go off halfway into a ride or after you've warmed up. Once they're on, they stay on. We set an alarm to go off when our heart rate got below an endurance effort. Made sure we weren't going too easy on a blah day. Problem is, the alarm went off 30 seconds into the ride and kept beeping for the first few minutes. Get to a light, the unit auto-pauses (also a preference you want to use rather than manually turning the timer on and off), and then it starts chirping the moment we roll from a stop. We figured we'd like the alerts. Didn't think they'd be a mixed bag for us.
By contrast Garmin's "workouts" feature we didn't think we'd like at all. Programming a workout into a bike computer to take on the ride seemed from the outset to be something you'd only want to do on an indoor trainer. It's the only way we figured we'd be able to follow it closely. We were wrong. The 705 allows you to set simple workouts by distance and time, time and speed, distance and speed. You can set it ahead of time and start he workout mid-ride. You can do interval workouts by distance and rest time, distance and rest distance, time and rest time, time and rest distance. You can also program in more sophisticated workouts that use power as a metric.
For any of the workouts, there is a separate "workout" screen that appears. You have a choice of up to four metrics on the top half of the screen and then a metric that tells you both what kind of interval you're on (time or distance) and how far you have to go, and then the final metric tells you how many reps you have left (if you're doing an interval workout). You can see the distance or time counting down and then you get both a visual and audio (if you have sound turned on) warning when you're finishing the interval. When you end the workout, you get a little music and you're told that "you win."
There is also a way to create workouts on the computer-based GTC. They have created several workouts you can use or modify as well. You do the creation on the machine and then use the "send to device" button. GTC doesn't support power and we couldn't figure a way to create a power metric on it. You can, however, take GTC-created workouts and upload them to the 705 and once on the 705 you can add power into the workouts. Seems complicated, but since you can save the workouts, once you've done programming once, you have it forever.
We loved how you could use both time and distance as a metric. We can see doing all manner of short intervals with this kind of minder. There were two difficulties we encountered with the interval workout choices. One is that power isn't included in any of the pre-programmed choices -- you need to take the time to program an "advanced" workout for that. The second is that we weren't returned to our regular ride choices at the end. The workout had somehow been reset. The data wasn't lost, but we didn't have access to it again until we got home. So, if you're doing an hour of programmed intervals in the middle of a three-hour ride, it will look like you have two rides. One is the first hour. The second is the hour of programmed intervals and the ride home.
There's a way to incorporate a "Virtual Partner" into simple workouts and courses (we didn't have the patience to program any courses in). We tried a few times to get the little cyclists onto our workout screen and had no luck. A person at Garmin explained it to us, and we still didn't get it. The idea is cool; you get a visual representation of what you'd ideally be doing. If the little person is ahead, you're behind the targeted time or speed you set. If you're ahead, then you're going better than you programmed. The idea is nice, but considering the variables that come with speed, we want the virtual partner to be programmed to our heart rate or power, maybe cadence.
As any analytic cyclist knows, the ride is only a part of the equation. You still need to upload and analyze data. The computer-based GTC doesn't support power, so you can't look at your power or create power-based workouts there. The cloud-based Garmin Connect supports power, but you can't analyze the ride carefully; no way to slice up the ride après-ride, no way to look at more than two metrics at once. WKO+ supports Garmin files. Since we've been regular users of WKO+ for almost five years, it was simplest to upload the files into our WKO+.
There are a few difficulties to this. You can't just push a button on WKO+ and have the files automatically load. You need to do it manually. Supposedly, hotly anticipated Version 3.0 will make it easier, but in the meantime you go to "open workout" and take workouts one at a time from the 705 onto your WKO+.
Once the rides are uploaded, you've got all the info you want, and can slice and dice as needed. The "lap" feature functions more like the way laps on a PT works, rather than laps on an SRM. Nicely, you can see the timed length of each lap in the lap information. As mentioned WKO+ 2.0 doesn't have an altitude smoothing feature, so it is only comparable to other rides inputted, not to reality. If you want the functionality of WKO+ but want smoothing, 3.0 will have smoothing. Or, you can use their web-based Training Peaks application. Using TP, you get both mapping and power in a pretty nice package; you can do a nice split screen with the graph and map to better figure out where the data occurred.
After the better part of two months on the Garmin Edge 705, we feel we've gotten a pretty good sense of how to use it. We're still of the opinion that there is much more to the unit than we found. We're not sure, with winter fast approaching, if our gloved hands can manipulate the buttons well enough to go through the screens, and set features while riding. We're also still quite underwhelmed with the mount; it still slips sideways after rough pavement or bumpy dirt paths. Most of the mapping features seem like things we won't use for 95-99% of our riding. Some of the training features could be improved. That noted, it is an impressive training device. It's great that we're in an era where people can choose their power meters, speed sensors, heart rate monitors, and bike-mounted CPU separately. It's great for innovation, great for consumers. The mash-ups that shake out over time will be fascinating