Sunday, 15 May 2011

Garmin 800

When I got my new bike I also got a new bike computer. A Garmin 800. I’ve wanted one of these for quite a while but as they are pretty expensive I’ve not got round to getting one. When I bought my new bike I could get a discount on any accessories I ordered so it made sense to get buy it at the same time.

My last cycle computer had many of the features that the 800 does:

  • Speed
  • distance
  • Cadence
  • heart rate
  • calories
  • heart rate limits

It kept records of the last 8 rides that I had done with distance, average and max speed and cadence ect but that was it, it only recorded totals and averages not details of the route itself.

The Garmin 800 records all of the same data but it records all these points for the whole ride so that you get graphs of all these over the ride along with a map of where you have been. The Garmin also records temperature and elevation. It also calculates calories more accurately using heart rate.

All this data is uploaded to a website and you can share the page with anyone you would like in many different ways.

Here is a sample ride that I did today:

If you click on View Details you’ll see all the information recorded. There are graphs of Speed, Elevation, Heart Rate, Cadence and Temperature. If you click on player you can plot 2 of these data sets against each other and play the route back.

If you upload all your rides you can also get reports of miles per week over the last year for example.

I am a gadget geek and like quantifying things. I like getting all this data about my rides. I also like knowing how hot it is when I am out for a ride and knowing what grade I am currently going up or down.

As well as all this data you get the cycle computer is a full blown sat nav that you can use to navigate home or to navigate cross country through a track through a forest.
If I do another Evans ride I can download a GPX file before that ride. I can then upload it to my cycle computer and then just follow the directions on the cycle computer rather than have to look out for arrows and rely on maps (which didn’t always work).

Another feature is a virtual training partner that you can race against. This can either be a previous recorded route that you are doing again and you want to race yourself the last time you did it or you can just set a speed that the virtual partner will stick to.

The computer is also very configurable. On the timer pages you can display up 10 different data fields from a selection of about 50! My first page is set up like this:

This shows:

  • Speed
  • Distance
  • Average Speed
  • Heart Rate
  • Cadence
  • Grade

These are all the fields that I am most interested in as I am cycling along to see how I am performing.

My second timer screen looks like this:

This shows:

  • Speed
  • Distance
  • Calories burnt
  • Time elapsed
  • Temperature
  • Time of day

These are fields that I only want to look at a few times on my ride. I include Speed and Distance again as these are the 2 most important and I always want to see these,

I could if I wanted to set up another 2 screens like this but this is plenty for me.

There are also a whole load of other things that you can do with the computer but these are the features that I am most interested in.

I’m really pleased with the computer and I look forward to it telling me in a years time how my weekly mileage has varied over the winter for example and to keep track of my performance on routes which I do a lot such as my commute.

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