Archive for the "Garmin Information" Category

The Garmin Edge series 305, 705 and 500

This is not meant to be a thorough review of the Garmin Edge series, if you want specific reviews there are plenty of them out there and you can compare the specifications directly on the Garmin website. What you will find here is images of all three units side by side so you can see the size difference and get my valuable insights into the little gotchas with the each unit.


Garmin Edge 305

  • Reasonable size compared to the 705, smaller than the 705 and still looks reasonable when mounted on your handle bars 
  • It does have limited navigational ability, to be honest not something I ever used  and it is too limited to provide effective navigation if you are touring.
  • File format, because the 305 uses the TCX file format it will work with third party applications, more about this in the 500 section
  • The screen is the same size as the 500, if you plan to upgrade from 305 to 500 no difference there.
  • There has been reports regarding the battery contacts breaking in the 305 causing the unit to switch off during operation. This can be repaired and you find instructions on the web on how to do this.
  • Slow satellite acquisition, the 305 takes a lot longer to acquire a satellite signal. If you don’t have the cadence/speed sensor it means you will be waiting for up to 2 minutes before your speedo starts working


Garmin Edge 705

  • The satellite acquisition time is much better on the 705.
  • The screen size on the 705 is larger, as you would expect because of navigation and need to read the map while you ride.
  • Colour screen – but if you don’t use the maps this will mean little to you. Having coloured borders on your speedo means so little.
  • The size, you can see from the images, its big. I remember this was the biggest disappointment when I first got the 705.
  • The base maps (for Australia anyway) are next to useless. If you are planning to use this for touring you are going to have to pony up another $200+ for the detailed maps.


Garmin Edge 500

  • Designed with racing in mind, this has all the features a racer needs without the on-board maps.
  • Initial version did not include work outs but if you upgrade to the latest firmware the work out functionality is included.
  • There have been a number of posts on the Garmin forums reporting various problems with the 500 unit such as corrupt data and the unit locking up. For what it is worth, mine has been working fine and I’m very happy with it. It is also worth noting that the 705 has a record of having problems with corrupted data files.
  • The data recording seems to be a lot more accurate than the older 705. If you have a look at my Canberra Climbs post there is an example of the how much the data recording has improved, (scroll to the bottom of the post for details).
  • Cool new features such as vertical speed and temperature. But it doesn’t calculate wind chill factor which would be really cool. The only problem is that no software records vertical speed so you can only make use of it while you are riding and the only software I have found that records the temperature is the Garmin Connect service.
  • The screen has an auto scroll feature, initially I thought this was cool but it can be annoying when you want to know your speed and it is on the wrong screen. Also if you press the stop button, the auto scroll also stops which means you might end on the wrong screen, but you can still advance it by pressing “enter”.
  • The size is the big winner for me with the 500. After moving from the 705, having the smaller screen took a bit of getting use to but you quickly adjust so no real problem there.
  • The button placement takes a little to be desired. The buttons are fine if you are wearing standard cycling mitts and you easily feel for the buttons on the side. In winter when you have thicker gloves on this becomes a bit of an issue. It’s harder to feel for the buttons and because of the “twist off” bracket design if you press the “enter” or “stop” buttons too hard you start to disengage the device from the bracket.
  • I’ll save the worse till last, the new file format. The 500 no longer uses the TCX file format to store the data. This means you are pretty much limited to using Garmin’s own software and services to transfer your data. You can still export your data from Garmin’s applications to the TCX format and then import them into your favourite application but that adds another step, which is a bit of a hassle. The only other application I have found that will work with the Garmin 500 file format is the Training Peaks WKO+ application but this does come at a cost of US$129.

The iPhone

I’ve thrown this in as a comparison, most phones like the iPhone have some form of GPS capability these days. With the iPhone in particular there are number of GPS applications which will track your ride for around $0 to $10. Bike mounts for iPhone are also readily available such as this one.

I wouldn’t consider this an option for the racing rider, its too big and the GPS accuracy and responsiveness is nothing like the Garmin units. But if you are into touring its another matter.

  • Given in Australia a 705 is going to cost around $500 plus $200 for the maps you’re well on the way to buying a GPS enabled phone outright.
  • The iPhone comes with Google maps included or you can buy another app for around $10.
  • The screen is bigger on the Iphone which map reading on the go much easier.
  • Obviously you can play your tunes as well on the Iphone, another bonus for those long lonely rides.
  • The Iphone is not waterproof, so no touring when it is raining.
  • I have issues with how proprietary the standards on the Iphone are but this is no different to having to buy the maps from Garmin so I guess they are even on that one.

So everything considered, I would highly recommend a Garmin 500 and if you need mapping as a feature seriously consider the phone option.


Security concerns with Garmin Connect

OK this might be me being paranoid but I started playing with Garmin Connect last night and noticed a real issue with privacy and security with the service.

To start with, when you upload your ride data by default Garmin Connect shares your data with the world unless you specifically change the privacy settings. So all things being equal the average user wont give this a second thought and will leave the settings on public access. Furthermore even if you do change the default settings it wont change the settings for any rides you have already uploaded, you’ll have to go back and manually change the setting for each ride.

So what’s the problem I hear you say with sharing my ride data. In a word “profiling”. As an anonymous user I can go the Garmin Connect site, search on my area of interest and find riders in that area. All the following screen shots were taken without logging on to the service. Here are a couple of riders I have picked at random. As you can see it’s not going to be to hard to figure out where they live


From here I can zoom in on their activities and see when they are out riding, walking etc. From here I can quickly look for patterns as to when the user will be out of the house and for how long. As a thief this is wonderful news and I’m going to guess that if you have a Garmin your a reasonably keen cyclist and as such you’re probably going to have a couple of bikes (btw I can also find out what type of Garmin you have). So I know where you live, what time you go out and how long you will be out for, thank you the bike shop is open. As you can see from this user I just need to go around to their place on a Saturday or Sunday morning and I will have about an hour to do what I like.

image image image

I don’t mean to pick on Garmin Connect as I’m sure other services probably have the same issue but if you are going to use these services this is probably something you want to keep in mind.


Garmin 305 with altitude problems

If your Garmin 305 has become faulty and the altitude reading no longer works here is a good work-around I have found. Firstly let me say by faulty I mean the elevation shows up as something like 5,000 or 20,000m.

The work-around is really simple, instead of using the Training Centre software supplied by Garmin head over to Zone Five and grab a copy of their excellent application Sports track, best of all its free.

Here is an example of the fix in action.

21-09-2008 7-01-09 AM

Screen Shot of a ride taken from the Garmin Training Centre software

Training North of Canberra 27-09-2008, Elevation - Distance

Same ride but with the data in Sports Track.


Why you can’t always trust your Garmin Edge

I thought this was an excellent demonstration of why you can’t always trust the elevation reading on your Garmin Edge. Because the elevation is recorded using the barometric pressure the weather can do some strange things at times.

This is a comparison of two rides 24 hours apart on a 40k course. So what happened? Firstly I should say the blue course is the correct elevation. On the second ride a severe weather front hit while I was out riding. I’m guessing as the front passed over the pressure dropped which would account for the sudden and unexpected rise at the 25k. Well that’s my theory at least, happy to be corrected on this. But at any rate the change in the elevation is curious.

Gps error


Garmin Support

Here’s a surprise. I’ve been having problems with my Garmin Training Centre software crashing continually, as I don’t use TC as my authoritative cycling dairy I wasn’t too worried so I lived with the application crashes. Every time the application crashed it would present the usual application error and ask that you send it to Garmin Tech support, being conditioned to ignoring these types of messages as you do when working with Windows I ignored it.

Then a couple of nights ago, out of boredom I think it was, I actually sent the error message to the address given. Thinking it was just going to some automated mailbox I didn’t think too much more about it. Then imagine to my surprise when I woke up this morning to find a reply a from Garmin detailing how to fix the problem. Well I tried the solution and it worked. Good stuff Garmin.

The interesting thing I have found with Garmin support is that the local support in Australia erm umm sucks! Whereas the US support is really on the ball. Last year when I was having problems with my EDGE 305 the local support was dragging its heels so I fired off an email to the US support team and then suddenly the next day the local support responded to my query. This happened on more than one occasion.

Morale of the story: If you have a problem with your Garmin product try the US support team first.