Buying a Bike Computer; The Garmin Edge 705

Posted on March 25th, 2010 by Tim Bell in Garmin Edge 705, Getting Started, The Road to Tourmalet

As soon as I had decided to cycle up a lot of mountains, I knew I would want some way of sharing my ride histories. This is the internet era, and I wasn’t going to do all the climbs of the Tour de France without leaving a digital trace. Someone showed me an iPhone app called Runkeeper, which looked ideal. It would use GPS technology to trace my position, and automatically upload my route before I even got home. If I took pictures with the phone’s camera along the way, it would represent them as photo icons on the Google Map route at their precise location. The only downsides were:

1) Sharing this data on a blog like this, rather than just the Runkeeper website, didn’t seem possible

2) iPhone battery life is notoriously limited

3) I wanted ride stats available to me during the ride

Garmin Edge 705

Garmin Edge 705

Garmin Edge 705

Having started doing some turbo training, I also found that I wanted some way of monitoring my cadence. I wanted to periodically raise my cadence / gear combination up a few notches and sustain the effort, but found that keeping an eye on my watch was interrupting TV-viewing concentration. So I asked around to find out what kind of device could; a) record and share my route and b) display my cadence. Concensus gathered around Garmin computers, and their latest model was the Edge 705.

Not only would this device record / share my routes and display my cadence, it would also provide every imaginable ride stat along with heart rate and – the killer sales pitch – cycle sat nav. Here was true cycling freedom, a digital map of the world on your handlebars, no excuses for getting lost ever again.

Of course, top of the range comes at a price, but not quite the £399 it was on pre-crunch launch in 2008. The Garmin Edge 705 now normally sells for around £350 in a bundle which includes heart rate monitor and cadence sensor or a map. To make full use of the Edge 705 you will want the following:

  • Garmin Edge 705 computer
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Cadence sensor
  • Maps: either City Navigator (road cycling) or Topo (MTB)
Garmin Edge 705 Bundle

Garmin Edge 705 Bundle

You can get a much better price for three of the above bundled together, new, on eBay. The essential extra maps are another expensive slide on the slippery slope of cycling accessorising, given that Garmin sells them at well over £30 per country per map (per format), and you cannot navigate minor roads without them. The European City Navigator map is over £80 but with a little ingenuity I was able to acquire one for a fraction of that.

The internet is awash with reviews and blogs decrying the usability of the Garmin Edge 705 and its accompanying websites, but I seem to have opted in at a good moment after the guinea pigs have ironed out most of the issues. I haven’t used every aspect of the computer yet, and haven’t tested it enough to know if it is completely reliable, but so far it has been easy to get what I want, namely:

  1. Ride stats on my handlebar including cadence and heart rate: All very simple, although aligning the cadence and speed sensor magnets was a delicate task.
  2. My routes and stats on a website where I can see and share my ride. I can’t yet post details on this blog without getting my hands dirty with HTML, but Garmin assure me a widget is coming in the next release of Garmin Connect which will allow this. In the meantime I can share links of my training rides which lets friends see and ‘play’ my route, heart rate plotted over speed or whatever (see below).
  3. Navigation. The ability to follow previously ridden routes, and to find new routes to follow. You can easily find places you have been before, or download GPX files of other peoples’ routes from places like and stick them in the GPX folder of your Garmin’s file directory.

I have only scratched the surface of what the Garmin Edge 705 offers, like being able to race against a ghost of your own previous laps, but this much will keep me going for a while. In the meantime, here are stats on a few of my first rides with the Garmin – hit the ‘player’ button for the good stuff:

My local Regent’s Park loop:

A favourite ride around Richmond Park:

A new ride taking in some North London hills:

Cycling on Facebook

5 Comments on “Buying a Bike Computer; The Garmin Edge 705”

  1. Lialla Igneb

    Great tips to follow. Being professional and showing them there’s more to come I think are the most important. You need to give them a great article, that makes them want to come back. And then make sure you don’t disappoint.

  2. Hertha Amateure

    Ich bin dabei, wo kann man sich anmelden 🙂

  3. King of the Downs 2010 | Tour Climbs

    […] activated the device then roll out in a group of around 20 people. The route was plugged into my Garmin Edge 705 which bleeped irritatingly at every bend in the road rather than at every junction. It was fairly […]

  4. goldy

    This bike computer is the nuts regarding mountain biking. I can’t imagine something more beneficial since the topo maps supply every fine detail in complete color about the places I am, just how I got there and also where I’m really going. Export it to Google Earth and you can save all your preferred rides on your personal computer to access later on. The Garmin Edge 705 is awesome.

  5. Brad Jackson

    Another handy piece of equipment from Garmin!

    This kit comes in three basic parts; a sensor unit, which is about the size of a matchbox, and two magnets about the size of your pinky nail. Several zip-ties are included for mounting purposes; the entire kit weighs at most a couple of ounces.

    Installation is pretty straightforward, but do follow the directions carefully and don’t snug down the zip-ties until you’re sure you’ve got all three components just where you want them and have tested the system!

    The sensor mounts to the left chain stay with a pair of zip-ties. Garmin thoughtfully added a piece of rubber padding to the bottom of the sensor unit, so it won’t rough up your fancy carbon frame or your paint job 🙂

    A single zip-tie attaches the crank magnet to the crank, although I had to use a large (3/4″) shim on my FSA crank (which has a curved profile and a hollow back) to place the crank magnet in the proper position for the sensor to “see” it. The spoke magnet clamp has both a round hole and a square hole; make sure you use the right hole for your spoke profile! I mounted mine on a spoke directly opposite the tire valve, just to help keep the wheel in balance.

    The sensor unit must be positioned along the chain stay such that it can “see” both the crank magnet as it passes by the cadence sensor (the round part on the side of the sensor unit), and the spoke magnet as it passes the speed sensor (the part that looks like a lever in the picture).

    Testing is accomplished by pressing a small button on the sensor unit, which prompts it to flash a red LED, then a green one to indicate that testing is started. As pointed out by another reviewer, the LEDs are hard to see in bright ambient light; I’d recommend testing in a garage if possible. Hi-intensity LEDs would have solved this problem, although I suspect these LEDs were chosen for their low power consumption, so maybe it’s a smart design decision after all.

    Once the test button is pressed, the next 60 revolutions of the crank should cause the red LED to flash when the crank magnet passes the sensor, while the spoke magnet passing the sensor should generate a green LED flash. If you saw the red/green flash when the button was pressed, but don’t see a flash as each magnet passes the sensor, chances are one or both magnets are not properly aligned with the sensor (there are alignment lines on the sensor and both magnets), or the magnets are passing too far from the sensor (this is the problem I encountered and solved with a shim).

    When you’re sure everything is in the right places, snug the zip-ties and cut them flush. Then set up a screen (typically the Biking screen) on your 305 to display Cadence in one of the data fields, and go ride!

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