Friday, 9 September 2011

Gaining The Edge

I like gadgets. I love cycling. Combining the two where possible gives me an inordinate amount of pleasure. This is probably a very male thing but I would hate to be sexist and suggest women do not have this compulsion too (although they would need to colour match everything where I am happy with black or plain).

I have: a Cateye wireless trip computer, a SON dynohub with associated high power lights and a Pedalpower+ power converter/battery, a ContourHD bullet cam with RAM mount and I have a GPS. The GPS is a Satmap Active 10. It's a great bit of kit I originally bought for hillwalking but have found very useful at times cycle-touring. It's fun to see where I have been and has been very useful on occasions when I could not place myself on the paper map or, in other words, was a little bit lost (belts and braces me!).
Satmap Active 10
The Satmap uses an electronic version of OS maps so is very familiar and very useful on the hills as it shows all the normal OS features you would expect. Wonderful when the fog comes down and you lose sight of any landmarks (I can use a compass but am no expert). On the bike it does have it's limitations though - mainly its largish physical size and the scale of the OS map. I chose a full UK map at 1:50,000 which I find more than enough to supplement a paper map and compass on a hillwalk.

The problem with this scale when cycling is that it does not give enough detail in built up areas when choosing which street to take. You still use it like a paper map and need to reference points on the map with your environment. Not enough detail means difficulty determining exactly where you are. It does not 'do' the navigation for you like a car based sat-nav but rather shows you where you have been along with your current position and gives a straight line direction to a marked destination. This lack of turn by turn directions has never been a major problem though - there is usually someone to ask after all!

I know dedicated cycle GPS units from the likes of Garmin use vector based maps so can give much more detail at street level and can give turn by turn info' as well but of course they are not very good on a hill with a 2000 ft sheer drop somewhere in the fog. Essentially they show roadways and not landscape. They do combine mapping with cycle computer functions and wireless heart rate monitoring though. They provide a huge amount of information for the cyclist should they choose. Would I like one? Of course. Can I justify it? No. Or so I thought...

I have a roadie cycle buddy called Col. He's a bit of a fanatic, sorry, enthusiastic road cyclist and has been advising me on things to look for in a CF road bike. He works hard and plays hard. He enjoys his cycling, chooses the best gear and makes good use of it too. He's got a top end Pinarello Dogma road bike which he did the Manchester - Blackpool cycle ride on. It took him about 6.5 hrs. That is 6.5 hrs to get to Blackpool and return to Manchester as well! 126 ish miles, average speed somewhere up around 18 mph. On this ride he also used a top end Garmin Edge 705 GPS unit.

The 705 has recently been usurped from it's premium position in the Garmin stable by the Edge 800. This, as Col told me, does all the 705 does but has a touch screen and is a little bit more aerodynamic (I kid you not). I joked "When you upgrade to the 800 i'll take the 705 off your hands for £50.00". He replied "Nice try. RRP £300.00". I thought no more about it. A few weeks later though guess what? That's right. He'd only gone and upgraded!
Garmin Edge 705
He offered me the 705 and I really couldn't turn him down as did feel somehow responsible for his new purchase. We agreed a price for the 705 along with a full UK map and a wireless cadence sensor. A bit more than £50.00 but a lot less than £300.00. Am I happy with it? You betcha. It can give me turn by turn directions and it's more aerodynamic than the Satmap. Just what I need for Audaxing!


  1. I have a Garmin Etrex that I bought off eBay for Geocaching. I've only ever used it for tracking rides. But I've been looking recently on Bikely for some local routes. If it works I'll use it when I do Way of the Roses route.

  2. Please let me know how the WotR goes. I'm hoping to take some colleagues with me and do it over 2 or 3 days next year.

  3. I soooooooooooooooo want a garmin edge but alas I too cant justify it, when your mate upgrades his edge 800 get him to give me a shout ha ha

  4. Mark

    I'll let him know.

    Col. Are you reading this?