Some thoughts about the Garmin Edge 800


I have been using a Garmin Forerunner 205 for a good while. It had been fine for recording a ride to take a look at later and when strapped to the handle bar it worked well for distance and time. Unfortunately though it didn’t do heart rate or cadence and there is a limited amount of data that can be displayed on screen. I had a separate heart rate monitor but it wasn’t very good. All it really did was tell you your heart rate or % of max and allow you to set one zone. No intervals with multiple zones or work outs. You couldn’t download the info either which meant no stats geeking and besides that who takes two bottles into the shower these days anyway?

I began looking at the Edge 500 as it ticks all the boxes I mentioned the Forerunner didn’t and then some more. The more I looked into it however the more I thought if I was going to upgrade why not go the whole hog. Well I did. I found a great deal and bought a Garmin Edge 800 with the Discovery OS maps bundle. I almost went for the the full Enduro bundle with the premium heart rate monitor and cadence sensor, however I held off for a number of reasons.

  1. It seems that there are issue with how well the Premium Heart rate strap works, with a lot of people reporting that they need to use a gel to make it work properly.
  2. The strap although soft in design is counter intuitively less comfortable to wear due to a “sharp” edge on the strap. The standard “hard” plastic strap has a rounded edge and so doesn’t suffer from this. My old heart monitor strap was of a similar “hard” plastic design and that was very comfortable.
  3. Due to the position of the chain stays/swing arm on my Orange Five it didn’t look like I would be able to place the sensor so that it would be able to read both the cadence and the speed. Other users had reported problems getting even just the cadence setup on a Five. Although this is not the only bike I have and it would certianly fit on my P7, rightly or wrongly it played a part in the thinking.
  4. I’m not sure that knowing what cadence you are doing is quite as useful in mountain biking compared to road cycling. Due to the nature of the beast it’s much harder to maintain any sort of consistent pedal speed over a period of time.
  5. Sports Pursuit were offering 2 deals the one I went for at £270 and the other one at £315. Both great deals but I thought that if I wanted the heart rate strap then I could get that separately and it would be still only be a total cost of about £300, still cheaper than the Enduro bundle. Maybe some time in the future I might get the cadence sensor but for now I’m happy that I made the right choice.

So why “go the whole hog?” The main difference between the Edge 500 and the 800 is mapping. There are some other things like a touch screen and the larger, higher resolution display but in the main you are getting the 800 for the mapping. Although in the past I have used OS Maps and I have a subscription to their Get a map service having to stop to get a map out and check where you are going often breaks the flow of the ride. Specially when you take a wrong turning it can often take longer than it should to work out where you are on the map. This amplified when riding off road and all you have are typographic features to locate yourself. None of these things are insurmountable problems but the sake of spending an extra £80 or so I was happy to take the convenience. I generally only ever take a map with me when I’m specifically doing a route I hardly know or have never done before. If I ride one of my “normal” routes I tend to get locked into doing the what I know, never taking any detours off that. I’m hoping that the 800 might help to give me a bit more confidence to get off the route I know and explore a bit.

Well that’s it for now, I’ll be following this up with further posts as I use it more and get it setup the way that suits me best.

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So, what do you think ?

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