As PM’s resident bike nut, I couldn’t believe my luck. An upgrade of Garmin’s Edge – pretty much the standard for GPS enabled cycling computers – was launched on the eve of this year’s Cape Argus Pick n Pay cycle tour.
So what’s new? Thanks to its Live Tracking app, a ride can be tracked online in real time. (With hindsight, my rather… er… moderate 2013 “Argus” would not exactly have provided the most riveting viewing.)
I tested the flagship Edge 810, which along with the 510 and the Garmin Connect mobile app forms part of the new Connective Range. To the existing Edge 800’s formidable list of features, the 810 adds the ability to connect to the social world and share/receive data during their cycling activities in real time.
The app – available for Apple and Android devices – plugs in to the Garmin Connect online fitness tracking community as well as social networks.
So, while standing at the big ride’s start line on March 10th, the 810 connected to my Samsung Galaxy S III by Bluetooth, all I had to do was select from my Gmail contact list, enable the alert to my Twitter feed, and touch “Live tracking”. Instantly my wife, up the road, could follow me on her BlackBerry, while my daughter, in London, could
do the same on her Samsung Note. Well, in theory, anyway: a dry run had proven the principle, but with 30 000-plus riders as well as supporters, on the day there might have been some network overload that prevented them getting consistent updates. Hopefully, the apparently minimal data consumption recorded by my phone (only a few megabytes) was accurate.
As for the unit on its own, there’s more than enough to keep the geekiest rider busy. Multiple customisable screens and the ability to create different bike profiles make the 810 a fabulously versatile gadget. It tracks speed and distance of course. But it also records GPS position, climb and descent (there’s a built-in barometric altimeter) and calculates calories burned. ANT+ technology connects accessories such as third-party power meters and the included heart rate monitor and speed/cadence sensors. Optional detailed maps are available (a basemap is standard). Two mounts are supplied: the standard stem mount and a new out-front design that, frankly, positions the Edge too far out front for peace of mind.
One final note: you’ll need to spend some time familiarising yourself with the finer details to get the best out of its touchscreen operation – like avoiding my annoying tendency to reset the Virtual Partner feature accidentally.
STUFF YOU NEED TO KNOW
Dimensions: 51 x 93 x 25 mm
Display: 36 x 55 mm, touchscreen
Weight: 98 g
Battery: rechargeable Li-Ion
Runtime: up to 17 hours
Storage: up to 180 hours; microSD socket
Price: R6 100