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Sunday, March 18, 2012

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Garmin Edge 605 review


UPDATE: This model has been discontinued, replaced by the touchscreen Garmin Edge 800.

Hands on with the Garmin Edge 605

The Garmin Edge 605 is one of the new mapping models in Garmin’s bike-centric Edge lineup.This is the first Edge unit I’ve had for a hands-on review; I’ve been testing it on my mountain bike for a few weeks now.


Before we get into the details, let’s compare the 605 with its better equipped sibling, the Edge 705. Both units accept Garmin compatible maps (purchased separately) and micro-SD cards. The 705 adds a heart rate monitor, barometric altimeter and the ability to share data wirelessly with another Edge 705. The 705 is also compatible with an optional cadence sensor and power meter.

Compare prices on the Garmin Edge 605

Going the other direction, the Edge 305 loses the mapping capability and micro-SD card slot, though it does support optional heart rate and cadence sensors. A newer model, the Edge 500 is more of a basic, GPS cyclometer. On to the review….

Garmin Edge 605 training features

Rather than use waypoints, tracks and routes as navigational aids, the Edge focuses more on courses, workouts and a virtual partner as training aids.


Courses

I used courses more than any other training feature. A course is a previously recorded ride that you can race against. It can be something you’ve ridden before or a ride you’ve downloaded from MotionBased (soon to be Garmin Connect). Course files carry a .crs extension and allow you to race against your previous time, shown onscreen as your “virtual partner.” I tried adding some course points (sort of like waypoints) but the current version of Garmin Training Center seems to have some problems with these.

I have to say that even though I don’t tend to ride the same trails over and over, I really liked the virtual partner. It does make you work harder, seeing your previous position that you are racing against. And it’s quite fulfilling at the end when a message pops up saying “You win! Training complete.”

Workouts

Workouts are another way to use the Edge for training purposes. Simple workouts can focus on time, distance or pace goals. Ride/rest interval workouts are also available. More complex, advanced workouts can also be created.

Alerts

Time and distance, as well as speed alerts, can be set for the Edge 605. The 705 adds heart rate, cadence and power alerts.

Garmin Edge 605 data management

History

The Edge begins recording your history as soon as you hit the “start” button, but as I found out the hard way, you can’t just turn on the power and have it start tracking you. Pressing the start button is a must!

Your recorded history can be uploaded to Garmin Training Center or Garmin Connect / MotionBased, or selected on the device to use for training as a course. All of your data is recorded as a Training Center history file (.tcx, formerly .hst).

USB mass storage mode

The new Edge series goes into USB mass storage mode when connected to a computer, just like the Garmin nuvi and Colorado series. In addition to the transfer methods mentioned above, you can use copy, cut and paste to move files to and from the courses, workouts, history and GPX directories.

Garmin Edge 605 mount

The mount goes on with zip ties, and it is recommended that you consider mounting it on the handlebar stem for greater stability.  The mount seems solid and stable, though the stem angle decreased visibility on my bike. A wedge comes with the Edge 605 to change the angle, but wasn’t included with my review unit. The Edge is easily disconnected from the mount at the end of a ride.

Edge_605_mount

Edge_605_bike_mount

Garmin Edge 605 screens

Which screens appear on the Edge depend upon the training mode you select. Data fields can be customized for five screens (bike computer 1 and 2, map, workouts, courses). Below are screenshots of the main menu and bike computer screens.

Edge_605_menu_2

Edge_605_data_screen

Next up is a shot of the compass screen in the Edge’s natural habitat…

Edge_605_compass_2

…and the course data screen

Edge_605_course_data

Navigating with the Garmin Edge 605

If there is one weakness to the Edge 605, it’s that it is not a great navigation device. While it is possible to load .gpx files and show waypoints, tracks and routes, the Edge doesn’t utilize them as well as other GPS units.

I did figure out one trick, which allowed me to show a course / track, and display a route with waypoint names on the map screen. To do this, set the Edge to follow a course first, and then tell it to follow a route that has been uploaded as a .gpx file. This worked pretty well, and while it would not display the waypoint name using the “waypoint at next” field, it would show the correct “distance to next” waypoint. This is shown in the images below, which I apologize for; the Edge does not have a built-in screenshot feature, ala the nuvi, not does it support xImage.

Edge_605_map_screen

Unfortunately, you’ll get this sort of pop-up (shown below) at major direction changes, rather than the waypoint name associated with a junction. You may be able to resolve this with course points, though it appears that they must be created on a MapSource product within Garmin Training Center.

Edge_605_map_directions

Recommendation

Here’s my key recommendation for the Edge 605. If you’re training and you ride the same routes over and over, and athletic performance / data is paramount, the Edge 605 is a great device. It seems ideal for this purpose.

If, on the other hand, navigation is important to you, get an eTrex or a GPSMap 60 series GPS (see our GPS for bikers page for recommendations).

More Garmin Edge 605 reviews

I’ll be posting more hands on GPS reviews as they appear, but in the meantime, here are some…

Other Garmin Edge 605 resources

Compare prices on the Garmin Edge 605 at these merchants:


 

About Rich Owings

Rich is the owner, editor and chief bottle-washer for GPS Tracklog. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.

Comments

  1. Have you made a tracking comparison of Edge 605, Colorado and 60CSx units?

  2. I did compare the 60CSx and Colorado…
    http://gpstracklog.com/2008/03/garmin-colora-2.html

  3. Based on your review, I get the impression that the Garmin Edge 605 is not a good GPS for bicycle touring. Will it display street names as you approach an intersection?

  4. I’m looking for something that works well on the ski slopes as well as bike trails. What are your thoughts on the 605? Am I totally off base here hoping to find something that would work when I Ski too?

  5. Jack,
    There is a pop up page for turns, and I assume this works with City Navigator maps (purchased separately), but I do not know for sure. I tried working with Garmin to unlock my maps for the Edge, to no avail. Sorry I can’t be of more help. You might want to ask at the MotionBased Edge forum, mentioned in this review under Other Resources.

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