Thursday, March 11, 2010

Garmin Edge 500

The Garmin Edge 500 is a new GPS based cycle computer.  As you may have read, I purchased the Edge from Bike Bling to ride with at the Tour de Cure, however, I didnt get it in time.  Garmin makes several pure cycle computers: the Edge 205, Edge 305, Edge 605, the Edge 705 and the new Edge 500.

My previous computer was an Edge 305 that I absolutely loved. That is, until the battery connectors became a problem.  This was a fundamental problem with that model (and possibly with the 705 as well).  One side had the battery and connector, the other side had the pcboard and little springs that pressed against the battery connector to give the unit power.  What happens is: The springs get worn after a period of time and the unit begins to shut down unexpectedly if you hit a bump.  It began to get progressively worse until I had to take it apart and try and fix it.  The fix worked for several months - but it was just too annoying to go on.

The Garmin Edge 500 comes with either just the unit or the unit with cadence/speed and HR for a hundred bucks more.  Previous cadence/speed and HR sensors work with this version.  So - My old 305 sensors were detected immediately.  The head unit is a very attractive blue/silver.  It is much much smaller than the 305 and even smaller than the 705. In the box you get the usual CD and handful of little books, a little packet full of black 'rubber bands' and two mounting plates, a USB cable, and a multi-function wall charger.  The wall charger comes with a euro and american plug attachment. I didn't get the more expensive model with the sensors, so that is all that came in the box.

Why are there rubber bands in the box?  Well - this is how the unit mounts to the bars.  It sounds weird, but it is an awesome method of attachment.  The mounting plates have four protrusions that allow you to wrap the rubber bands from one side to the other - securing it to the bar very tightly.  There are multiple sizes of bands for thicker handlebars, stems, etc.  This is so much nicer than zip-ties, because you can just take off the rubber bands if you want to move the mount.  The unit itself is put into the mount and turned 45 degrees to lock it into place. I think it will be very difficult to oops the unit off the mount and onto the road or trail. (as I did a couple of times with my edge 305)  Since it comes with 2 plates and a ton of rubber bands you can easily set this up to go with two bikes - in minutes. You can also get the wristband for the 310xt and attach this unit to your wrist.  That would be a heck of a weird watch - but its a cool option.

The screen is a simple black/grey screen with backlight.  There are two buttons on each side that have multiple functions.  Menu/page/enter, Power/back, Start/Stop, and Lap/reset.  I cant say it again, but this thing is tiny if you are used to the bigger garmins, but it is fairly big if you are used to the svelte little cateyes. The unit only weighs 2 ounces. 

Anyway, you get an absolute ton for the money. I am not going to go into a super in depth review - there are quite a few out there,  Check out DC Rainmaker's Garmin Edge 500 review .  He goes into far more detail than I want to go into with this review. One thing, I think he does not mention is the newer firmware version 2.20 that includes 'workouts'.  This allows you to setup a prefab workout routine such as heart-rate based intervals, speed intervals, time intervals, power intervals, etc. I do not think, however, it includes the virtual partner. Im a little bummed about that, since the virtual partner is a great motivating tool.  If you are in the market for a cyclocomputer - this is one that demands serious consideration.

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