Monday, March 7, 2011

Ready, Set, Go! The Garmin Edge 500 Pt.II

On your mark!
Get ready!
Okay, time for the stuff that makes the Garmin Edge 500 the Garmin Edge 500.
I mean compared to all the other cycling computers out there.
The GPS.
First of all, it's not like full featured GPS with feminine voice telling you where to turn and where to stop.
You don't even get any maps.
In fact there's a whole bunch o'stuff you can't do.
Here's what you can.
The unit connects to your computer via USB port which allows you to download data to the Garmin Connect website.
If you've been following along at home, you clicked on the link I gave and saw yesterday's ride.
If you haven't been following along at home, it's here.
Now that's a whole lotta stuff!
Okay, here's the map:

Now that route looks pretty goofy, but if you zoom in, you can see where I double back and go around in circles.
This is pretty cool if you want to share your route with others.
Not so cool if you don't want folks to know exactly where you live.
To keep Flat Tire Central's location a secret, I started to record my data down the street.
Secrecy aside, it's also good if you do a particular loop like me and want to compare your performance from day to day.
Like what I'm going to show you now.
The Edge 500 won't give you directions to a certain chosen position.
At least I don't think it does.
What it does do is let you download a course into the unit, then it can give you directions to the course.
See the map above?
See the map on the unit:

You can also preview the course in elevation, via a graph like display:

Now to do the course, all you have to do is select "do the course" and you are off and running!
Er, riding.
Now the other thing the unit does is it sets you up with a virtual partner.
For those of you who don't like riding with living and breathing partners.
The Edge 500 will tell you if you are behind or ahead, time wise, of the last time you did the route.
Or the time of the person who did it before you for you can download routes other folks have uploaded and put them in your Edge.
Then you get a screen that looks like this:

That screen will tell if you are crushing souls or if you really suck.
Which may be a good or bad thing.
Now since I've only got this one route in there, I haven't had the chance to use this feature, I'm not really sure I want to use this feature.
If you know what I mean.
The Edge 500 will also give you directional prompts if you go off course, or it will direct you to the beginning and end of the route.
Sort of neat.
Okay, there's a couple of other things the Edge 500 does that I'm not even sure of how to do like lap settings and inputting other way points.
I'll figure that stuff out eventually.
For now though, it provides me with all the information I need.
More than enough.
The thing is, I've been wondering just how useful all that info is?
I mean conditions change day to day so comparing that stuff doesn't seem to make much sense.
How useful that info is, will remain to be seen.
I guess it's better to have it than not have it at all.
The GPS data like the percent of grade seems to compute a bit slow, not in real time. I guess the unit takes some time to gather and compute the data and give a reading.
I'm also not to sure what to make of the elevation data. Even when corrected, it seems sorta off(see the link).
I'll have to remember to check it when at the beach to see if I get zero, or sea level.
Same with the temperature information, it doesn't look right.
Finally, I think for the average rider, the other higher end Edge units maybe worth exploring. Having full mapping features seems like the way to go, especially if you like to go exploring around.
The Edge 500 is sort of bare bones, great if you are training and have like a PowerTap or something like it.
The unit is great if you want to share rides or ride information, or basically just show off how fast you are.
Or in my case, how slow you are.
For now though, I'm pretty happy with it.
We'll see how I feel in a couple of weeks.
I may be reviewing the Edge 705.
Okay, maybe not.


Big Oak said...

It looks very useful. Are you able to download maps on the unit? That's what I would find most useful, as I'm really slow, and I don't need to know how slow I really am.

Steve A said...

What's next? Rapha?

John Romeo Alpha said...

Rearview camera. It lacks.

limom said...

Big Oak, maps are not downloadable on the Edge 500, neither are there slots for memory cards.
It's pretty plain jane.
The great things is now I have proof that I am slow.

Steve A., I hadn't really given Rapha any thought.
Until now.

JRA, the data shows that I desperately lack a Flux Capacitor.
Or warp drive.
Or something.