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Garmin Edge Touring: 2 GPS devices designed with cyclists in mind

Garmin Edge Touring: 2 GPS devices designed with cyclists in mind

Thu 14th May 2015

Garmin is one of the biggest names when it comes to bike-mounted GPS devices, and whilst their outdoors mapping models such as the Oregon range can be used by bikers ----- they do have several devices aimed specifically at bikers named Edges. However care is needed when choosing which model you need as the high end of the range seems to be targeted at those competing in sportives, races and triathlons where heart rate cadence etc is vital in monitoring performance

The Edge Touring models plug a gap in the range –there are 2 models –the Touring & Touring Plus which both have the sat nav capabilities of the top-level edges without the cost or complexity. The 2 models are the same size and offer the same sat nav functions - however the plus model has the added features of recording and displaying the temperature while you ride; barometric altimeter and it can also be linked to a heart rate monitor

The Touring name holds a clue to who Garmin had in mind when designing the units– riders who are planning to spend longer days in the saddle, who want navigational aids and the capability to record some data, but donít need the full specifications of weather forecasts and extensive power, cadence readouts etc connectivity. So they are more route planners than performance tools.

Route finding is where the Touring models really come into their own. They work like a sat nav in a car, but with maps tailored for cycling (they come loaded with the Garmin Cycle Map on microSD card covering the UK and Europe). However they can also function equally well with Garminís OS UK 1:50 mapping , or their Birds eye mapping which can be downloaded direct from Garminís website ……or…. they are also compatible with Open Street Mapping  which is extremely useful for cycling in many other countries

Menus let you specify whether you want to stay on roads or use cycle paths (or off-road trails for mountain biking).They can display cycling points of interest, and there are the usual navigate to a point and return home options. If you donít have a specific destination in mind but just want to ride a certain distance, you can use RoundTrip routing ----- get yourself a GPS fix, tell the device roughly how far you want to ride, and the Touring models will suggest three different routes to choose from. The ability to set waypoints and move them around is also useful.

You can plan and then download routes from your computer through Garminís Connect software which will also give you access to many other cycle routes around the world which others have uploaded to the site, and once you have completed your  ride the data can be uploaded and used on Strava and the like. The devices can also be used with Garminís basecamp software which then also gives you access to their Adventures which again are rides which other folk have undertaken and created and you could also submit your own adventure via the software. 

If you use Garminís basecamp you can plan your rides using the cycle map which comes preloaded with the units and you could also plan with OS mapping if you obtain them via garmin retailers or via Garminís birds eye imagery [accessed via their Basecamp software]. The Connect software uses Google, Bing or Open street mapping so my preference is to use Basecamp as I have OS 1:50 mapping for this country and then use the Garmin cycle map or open street mapping for the European countries that I visit because many countries can be automatically uploaded into the Basecamp software for free

The rides get sent through to the devices as GPX files onto the internal storage similar to all Garminís outdoor units ---one annoying factor is that rides, courses and locations[waypoints] sent to or created on the devices cannot be deleted simply and quickly using basecamp like you can on their other outdoor units. Hopefully this fix will be added to Basecamp updates…..

The physical unit of the Touring or touring Plus is the same as the Edge 810 and 1000 models; same dimensions, same screen size (3.6 x 5.5cm) and definition. The 160 x 240 pixel screen offers enough detail and colour to give a decent enough display that's usable while riding. In order to save the battery, the screen darkens between junctions, but brightens as you approach, and there are audible notifications to alert you too.

Controlling the screen is easy with bare hands, although the screen isn't as responsive as a smart phone. Navigating through menus while wearing gloves can be tricky, because you can't press the screen as accurately.

The Touring models are reasonably fast to start up and scroll through menus. As with many GPS units, the way it navigates you can take a bit of getting used to – one niggle with the navigation is that while the increased detail of the junction screen is useful, it tends to stay on screen for too long after youíve completed the junction before reverting to normal navigation. You can exit the screen manually, but it's not ideal to be fiddling with a GPS while riding close to a junction.

Navigating on the map screen is done through zoom touch screen buttons and a Ďhandí button to move the map. As well as viewing the map screens, you can swipe sideways to display customisable ride data such as speed, total distance, distance count-downs, altitude, estimated calorie use and temperature.

Thereís also a screen showing your ride profile, and the plus modelís ANT+ receiver means you can link up to a compatible heart rate monitor or other ANT+ device, such as the RideSense sensors on Giant bikes Data from these devices can be programmed to appear on the various ride screens.

The handlebar attachments are good for both road and mountain bikes and for my type of bike riding both off and on road in several European countries the touring models fulfil my needs admirably.

You can see both these models in the GPS Training store.

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