Another upgrade for my Trek 7.5 FX: Garmin 305 Forerunner Review
I’ve done it again. I’ve upgraded something for my 7.5 FX. About a week ago, I purchased a Garmin 305 Forerunner. In addition to the 305, I also ordered the speed and cadence sensor for the 305. Finally to make sure I had a spot to mount the 305 on my bike, I purchased the quick release kit for the 305.
I was very excited when these three items arrived at my doorstep. I knew when I bought my Trek 8i bike computer that it would be a temporary solution. At the time, I hadn’t done much research into GPS bike computers so I wanted to spend time more researching the options available. I considered long and hard whether or not to purchase a Garmin Edge 605 or Edge 705. Both of the 605 and 705 have map routing capabilities. I read many user reviews of both devices. While it would be have been awesome to have map routing capabilities, I came to the conclusion that the technology still has a ways to improve. Additionally, I was not excited with having to spend additional money to get routing editing capabilities on my computer. This lead me to the 305 forerunner. Not only is the forerunner a bike computer, but I can also use it when I run to monitor my heart rate.
Installation was fairly simple for the speed and cadence sensor. The only thing I wish Garmin would have been more clear about was how close the pedal sensor for cadence needed to be with the rear chain stay sensor. Because I didn’t have the rear chain stay sensor close enough to the pedal cadence sensor, it took me longer to figure out why cadence didn’t seem to work. Eventually I did some google searching and found that I needed to have the sensors closer together. All of a sudden, cadence finally was working.
I have noted a couple of major things –
1) Be sure to really really secure the pedal sensor. I thought mine was secured. Unfortunately, I lost mine on a recent ride. I have ordered a new one. I’m going to make sure it is very tight.
2) I’m slightly disappointed with the quick release kit. It fits the handle bars OK, but even though it is tight, there is still a tendency for the handle bar mount to move from side to side or up and down. This can get quite annoying having to adjust during rides. I’m actually looking for suggestions to mount it on the stem of my 7.5.
Riding with the 305 forerunner
I’ve used the 305 on a few rides now. I currently have the auto-pause feature set to when I completely stop and have a distance alert setup for every mile that I bike. I have my screen setup to display calories burned, speed, time biked, and cadence when I am biking. There are a few default screens that display distance, heart rate, lap speed, and lap distance. It really depends on your preferences for data as to which screens you will spend the most time looking at. Because I have the distance alert setup, I feel I don’t need to know distance covered as much as the other data points. While some users have complained of poor satellite reception and slow satellite locating, I have not found this to be a problem with my 305. As long as your battery remains charged and is not nearly drained, satellite tracking and locating is done within 3-4 seconds of turning the device on. Depending on your route’s tree coverage, you may lose satellite reception. None of my routes are in covered areas, so I can not directly comment on what happens when the device loses communication with a satellite. The battery life on the 305 is outstanding (although I always re-charge mine after a ride). This was one of the negative things I read about the Edge 605 and 705 was short battery life. Not so with the 305 forerunner.
After each of my rides with the 305, I’ve imported the ride data into the Garmin training software. This displays my route and key data elements including calories, distance, heart rate, cadence, and speed. I have the option of saving my route as a future workout and sending it back to the device. By doing this, I can also make use of the virtual trainer and try to improve my times. I’m still in the process of building route a number of routes but eventually I will start converting the routes to workouts.
Things that Garmin could improve
As with any device, the 305 is not perfect. Sometimes the auto-pause function will not always kick in when you are stopped. This really isn’t a deal breaker for me. If you are really concerned, you can always fine tune the auto-pause or manually press the start/stop button. Additionally, I wish that in my 4 data point view with cadence, speed, time, and calories burned that I could also see heart rate. I don’t understand why this was left out. Speaking of heart rate, another complaint that I have is when I am on views that show heart rate, the text is very small which makes it hard to read during a ride. One other feature that would be really nice to have would be wattage or how much power/energy you are generating on your ride. Again – not a deal breaker, but it would be really great to have.
How the 305 makes me a better rider
The 305 provides me with important data elements including distance, cadence, calories burned, and heart rate. Each of these things tell me certain things about a ride. I may have only rode 17-20 miles, but if I had a high average speed, high cadence and heart rate, my calories burned will reflect that. The 305 provides me with this essential data to help improve my overall fitness. Additionally with the 305, I can record routes and convert them into workouts. This lets me try to become faster and more efficient at completing the same route.
Finally there is the capability to share routes with other 305 users and through Garmin Connect. With this feature, I can let other bikers and runners know the routes I use for training and receive new routes for me to explore.
The Bottom Line
I bought the Garmin 305 Forerunner because my research indicated that the GPS bike computers with map routing capabilities needed additional improvements. I was not prepared to spend $500-$700 on a device that I would be frustrated with. If you are like me and wanting to get a GPS bike computer with map routing capabilities, you probably are doing alright of research right now to make sure it is worth the $500 – $700 that you will likely spend on one of those devices. You might be thinking that the technology isn’t quite ready for prime time yet and may be looking for alternatives. Even with the minor flaws I have listed for the Garmin 305 Forerunner, it is still what I would consider the best alternative to spending a lot of money for a device that might really frustrate you. I have been extremely happy with the Garmin 305 Forerunner and will continue waiting for an improved Bike GPS computer with map routing capabilities. I encourage you to consider a Garmin 305 Forerunner when you upgrade your bike computer.
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