The sun is shining on my back when suddenly I hear a beep – my Garmin 705 is delivering its next set of instructions. Written on the screen is turn left at the roundabout with a big arrow making things simple. I’m riding on the outskirts of London following a beautiful ride and I barely have to use my brain. Perfect! There is nothing like a bit of escapism from the busy London life.
Devices such as the Garmin make following rides an easy experience. No more wrong turns and having to double back on yourself. That’s not the only purpose cycling GPS devices serve. They are also useful for keeping track of how much cycling you are doing and how you are performing. I can quite happily tell you that on the 3rd of September 2010 I rode back to my house with an average speed of 11.4 mph. I’m a little bit less impressed by my average speed a few days before that. I covered 1.77 miles and did a speed of just 10.3 mph. Must of been feeling a little tired.
Of course, I’m not someone enthralled by performance cycling and you probably won’t find me doing hill repeats in Richmond Park on a Sunday morning. In fact you’ll probably find me still in bed. However, there’s something quite encouraging having that cycling data in front of you. It gives you a gentle push in the right direction.
If you want to try out a cycling GPS device you’ll probably come across a Garmin. I’ve briefly reviewed each GPS device below and also compared an option from another company.
Garmin 800 Cycling GPS
With the Edge 800 Garmin have embraced touch screen technology and it definitely works in it’s favour. However, despite making this drastic improvement to the navigation they’ve still failed to simplify the interface. Even a simple operation such as customising a screen involves diving deep into a complex array of menus. If you put these nuisances aside you’ll be impressed with what is by far Garmin’s best GPS device for cyclists so far.
There’s a lot to rave about with the Garmin 800: faster processor, highly accurate and beautiful colour touch screen that works even with winter cycling gloves and ridiculously long battery life. The big downside: Price!
- Best price: £404 Wiggle (Includes performance bundle and maps)
- Other prices: £404 Chain Reaction Cycles (Again performance bundle and maps)
Garmin 705 GPS
With the Edge 705 the big new feature added was ANT+ connectivity. Allowing the Garmin 705 to receive and store data on heart rate and from other ANT+ sensors. I’ve used the 705 extensively and it’s a great device. Whilst navigation around the features is a little slow, even after you do get used to it, it has everything you’d expect from a cycling GPS device. Including a backlit display, excellent battery life and total waterproofing.
Unfortunately, the Edge 705 still won’t make a great routing device. So those expecting Google Maps style “Get me from A to B along the best route” will be a little disappointed. This is definitely no Tom Tom. However, those wishing to track their performance and follow GPS rides will be very satisfied with this cycling GPS.
- Best price: £214.25 (Amazon, budget to buy maps or use free from OSM)
- Other option: £319.49 (Wiggle – includes either Road or MTB maps)
Garmin 605 Bike GPS
The older Garmin 605 has similar basic features as newer models. Turn by turn directions, automatic route re-calculating if you go wrong and a display of calories burned, speed and so forth. It also has excellent battery life.
The main thing lacking from the Edge 605 GPS device is ANT+ connectivity which means you don’t get heart rate data and so forth – although, this is definitely not something everyone needs. Some users have also complained the device is slow to calculate directions and often doesn’t take the most logical route. Therefore, the best way to use the device is by importing a ride.
The basic model can be picked up for £163 on Amazon. However, this lacks the additional maps you’ll need to follow rides. These will need to be purchased separately.
- Best price: £163 Amazon (lacks additional maps that will need to be purchased separately)
- Other prices: Wiggle £238.49 (includes much more detailed road maps) and Chain Reaction Cycles £256.00 (again includes detailed maps)
SatMap Active 10
The outsider choice! The SatMap was heavily praised on the gadget show. The accuracy of the GPS, the fast speed of getting a lock on signal and the quality of the maps were all highly regarded. Whilst the SatMap is mainly designed with hikers in mind it’s also possible to buy an additional bike mount to strap it to your handlebars.
Cycling GPS devices roundup
Overall, these are some of the best GPS navigators for cyclists. Unfortunately, none quite offer the same “Get me from where I am now to B” functionality as you’d expect in a Tom Tom and it’s disappointing to see Garmin cashing in so much from forcing users to purchase additional maps. None the less, any cyclist wishing to discover excellent rides and follow them with minimum effort will be very pleased with one of these cycling GPS devices. They are also excellent for tracking statistics to improve your cycling.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.