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New Toys from Garmin

August 18, 2011 1 comment

Garmin have recently announced 2 new devices, one of which I was initially interested in, the Garmin Edge 200 and the Garmin Vector.

Garmin Edge 200

The latest addition to Garmin’s stable of cycling computer is the Edge 200, a budget computer (well, budget relative to it’s bigger brothers) that is aimed at the customer segment that still considers the Edge 500 too fancy (see my previous post).

The newest device will show all the basic information on a ride that the vast majority of people are interested in (time, speed, distance and calories), without any of the ANT+ features that the 500 and 800 have (suchas support for cadence, heart rate monitors, power meters etc).  Indeed the edge 200 is about as simple as it gets, in that it doesn’t even have an external speed sensor, rather relying on GPS (Garmin claim that to have fine-tuned their latest iteration to be more accurate, and with faster load times).

Garmin Edge 200

The Garmin Edge 200

At an RRP of $150 it’s definitely not the cheapest cycle computer out there, but given that it will have full compatibility with Garmin Connect there will definitely be a market for it.

Garmin Vector

The second device from Garmin due to launch in 2012 is a pedal based power measurement system. Up to now fitting power meters is rather expensive and technical, pretty much out of reach of the standard sportive rider. But being a pedal meter, this means now that the average cyclist can now fit a power meter to his bike in a matter of minutes, as long as it takes to change pedals.

Garmin Vector

Garmin Vector Pedal Power Measurement System

While not the first attempt at a pedal based power meter ( Look and Polar attempted one before), this one has the advantage of being ANT+ compatible, making it more interoperable with other cycling computers (given that the Edge 500 is probably the predominant cycle computer now, it is a wide market).

But now for the drawbacks. Firstly, at present it’s only compatible with Look Keo pedals. An inconvenience, but not the end of the world. But the biggest drawback is the price, $1500! That’s a new bike for most people! Initially I thought I had misread , but no that’s the RRP. You can definitely expect this to come down in the next few years, but at this price it’s a DIY power measurement system will be out of the price range of all but the most well-to-do weekend road warrior.

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Garmin Edge 500; 6 Month Review

Intro

I’ll just do a very quick summary of this gadget, there are countless numbers of reviews out there already, going into the nitty-gritty of how easy it is to set up screens, change from one bike to another etc, so I’ll try not to do one of those.  But there are 2 things I want to cover, one is the advantages of this device over similar types and the other are some of the issues/problems I’ve had (some design faults, some because I’m a careless idiot).

Why The Edge 500?

As a new cyclist, who was struggling to cover 10 miles of flat terrain, it was kind of hard to justify spending over €200 on a device, when you can buy a bog standard cycle computer for a 10th of that. But being a techie and nerd, I like graphs and numbers, and going off of other reviews the Garmin was the device to go for.

And overall I’m delighted with it, it’s easy to use, hasn’t failed once (although it did do a funky pause- screen-thing during the Ring of Kerry, but miraculously it didn’t lose any data) and I love looking over the stats and routes at the end of the cycle. Given the amount of features it has, as well as support for the ANT+ devices it’s easy to see what it is probably the most popular bike computers out there.  I purchased mine with the Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) and also the GSC-10 cadence sensor.  As a beginner having cadence and heart rate information is very useful, as it helps to pace yourself.  (By disabling the GPS  and using  the HRM and cadence sensor you are able to usefully simulate outdoor cycling when on a turbo)

But probably one of the best reasons for going for the Edge 500 is its interoperability with analysis sites and software. Not only does it come with the free Garmin Connect (which I find to be as useful as anything for analysing rides done), it is also supported by Map My Ride and also by the Strava (reviews on these sites to come at a later stage).

Issues

Definitely the most annoying issue is how Garmin expect you to tie the cadence sensor to the crank, using just cable ties. Because of a combination of a smoothness in the crank material, and the hollow on the back side of my Tiagra crank arms the sensor was continually falling off, normally mid cycle!

Hollow on back of driveside crank, same shape on other crank

Hollow on back of driveside crank, same shape on other crank.

Having tried several methods of cable tying the senor to the crank, I finally resorted to just taping over the sensor as below, and so far it has done the trick (but not until I had to order replacement pedal senors!).

cable tied sensor, taped to hold it in position.

Here you can see that I simply used waterproof tape on top of the cable ties, to stop the sensor from moving. about 300 miles done, and so far no issues.

One possibly better idea (which I will try if the above doesn’t last), is to use one of the spoke sensors in the replacement kit I ordered. These are designed to screw into a plastic back around the spoke. But I think that by drilling a small hole into the crank, and then tapping it out, you could simply screw that magnet into the crank. I haven’t tried it, but if anyone does let me know how it works.

Summary

I really like this device, it’s nice and simple and does what its supposed to do very well. The pedal magnet is the most annoying issue so far, but the fact that I was able to resolve that issue with a simple roll of tape is a small price for a good value, highly functional device

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