John Galea's Blog

My blog on Gadgets and the like

Garmin Edge 305 review (take 2)

Dedicated followers may recall that I previously reviewed this device. Sadly I lost it not long after I got it so didn’t really get to totally explore all it’s features.


Currently I mountain bike with a Garmin Foretrex 401 and love it. The navigation is excellent, takes AAA batteries (so you can carry a spare set) and connects to ANT+ heart rate and wheel/cadence sensors. It has enough memory for 500 waypoints (the only device in this category even today). The large number of waypoints means I can carry all of the locations I go in memory and not have to preload them. 5 years later it’s still a fabulous device. It’s starting to show it’s age, the battery connector got bent. And my number one disappointment with this device is that it basically ignores the wheel sensor and always uses the GPS for speed/distance. Now on a road bike where your pretty straight this doesn’t make a huge difference but on a mountain bike where you are winding around constantly turning it can be off by a fair amount, think 10-30%.

To get around this I bought a Garmin FR70 just to record (and display) the data from the heart rate monitor and wheel/cadence sensor. Although I have to say I ignore cadence (the rate of rotation of your pedals). The FR70 has no GPS in it.

So I grabbed this Edge on ebay. The device has an ok size of screen, but given the size of the device Garmin has not made good use of the space on the display. Like a number of us, my eyes are not getting any better so having an option to have a larger font is nice, sadly this is missing on the Edge. It is however extremely flexible in terms of what is on the display. Completely customizable as most Garmins are. They do this very well.

The Edge connects by Ant+ to wheel/cadence sensor as well as heart rate monitors. Ant+ has the ability to transmit to multiple devices at the same time. A very nice feature. Now if you buy a dual band device (ant+ and bluetooth) you can add in connectivity to your phone as well. I’m on an iPhone. When I was on Samsung it too had Ant+ and the flexibility that offered was amazing. To check the wheel size I mapped out a route on Google using there distance calculation and then rode it and compared (once I manually set the wheel size).

Neither the FR70 or the Foretrex allow any kind of alerts for things like heart rate. Eureka, it’s there on the Edge. And very configurable. You can set a min/max heart rate and be alerted if you cross it. The Edge alerts you five times with a nice albeit annoying beep and then shuts up until your back in range. It really works well. If there is anything I wish Garmin had done was to make it easier to turn this on and off.

Waypoint memory size is limited to 50 you you have to pick and choose which to save. And if you add another one when it fills, it starts dropping ones off using some incredibly intelligent (I can only guess) method to it’s madness.

Navigation on the Edge is excellent. Well for the most part it is. You can navigate to a saved waypoint and it will show you a big display showing direction and distance as the crow flies to that way point. Garmin have always done this well. They have improved the usability to track back to the start and it shows your with a nice beep everywhere you need to turn to get back. Shows distance and time to get there. Perfect right? well on the road yes, but totally useless on a mountain bike path filled with turns. It just kept beeping at me telling me a turn was coming up. Ya how about you tell me when there isn’t one? And there is no way to silence the alerts (that I’ve seen). Oh well … There are two things on the Foretrex Navigation they didn’t include on the Edge. If you press and hold button on Foretrex you can navigate to a waypoint. On the Edge you have to press numerous buttons to get to the same point. On the Foretrex it remember where on the list of waypoints you last selected, on the edge it goes to the top of the menu each time. A little irritating.

I also noticed the Edge the map only shows the points on the map for the current lap. On the Foretrex it showed even past rides. I can see both good and bad in that.

The unit runs on an internal rechargeable battery that is charged by a mini USB port. So sadly you can not carry a spare battery and you better remember to charge it, or you may find yourself on a trail in the middle of nowhere with a dead GPS.

The Edge has heart rate alarms which you can use to insure I don’t spend too much time maxing out your heart rate. I either slow down, control my breathing or flat out stop. Using the alerts I have managed to lower my max heart rate by 20-30 BPM which has to be healthier. Similarly using the low alarm you can remind yourself when you are dogging it 🙂 I love this feature and it will become a must have on future devices.

The Edge comes with two nice mounts making it possible to mount it on two bikes. And there are two different bike profiles you can setup and choose from. I had to dig to find how to choose the bike profile and eventually just stumbled on it (press and hold mode). The bike profiles allow you to set the bike’s weight (I have no idea what it does with that), as well the size of the wheel (or auto). I don’t really trust auto so set my own. I had read some reports that the Edge can fall off the mount so I put an elastic around it to the handle bars as a precaution.

The Edge unlike the Foretrex will always favor speed/distance from the wheel sensor! And in fact, there’s even a GPS off mode for using on a trainer. And next time you turn it back on it turns the GPS back on for you.

The screen scratches REALLY easily and is flush so if you drop it …

Once back in the house you sync your route with Garmin connect (their portal) using the Garmin Express app. It works Ok, but I am kind of disappointed it does not sync over ANT+. Firmware updates are also done this way.

Garmin do include an app called Basecamp to allow you get and edit your data (waypoints, maps and routes) to/from the Edge but this app is pretty poorly done. I prefer the older Garmin Metroguide.

I did have an issue with USB 3 on my laptop not working correctly with the edge. The way around it was to put a USB hub in between, odd but manageable.

So all in all I like the Edge, it’s discontinued now but there are lots around on ebay etc so dirt cheap!


June 23, 2016 - Posted by | GPS Stuff

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