garmin edge 305 bike gps

I always liked to keep it old school during training. I didn’t like the added distractions from fancy gadgets and doo-dads, especially if they were on my wrist or handlebar.

But when my friend was upgrading to a newer GPS unit, I figured it wasn’t such a terrible idea to take an old Garmin Edge 305 off his hands. After all, the GPS data would make an excellent addition to any training log!

This Edge model is one of the older Garmin GPS units for bicycle use, and now in 2013 as I finally write this review, it has officially been discontinued. But they can still be found on eBay and are a practical investment for someone looking for their first ever GPS computer.

It sure was a welcome change after how annoying it could be when using GPSLogger II on my BlackBerry (likely the old Blackberry’s or Verizon’s fault rather than the app itself,) and really, who wants to carry a $400+ smartphone while cycling? It’s simply too easy to damage it in a crash or have it go flying out of your pocket.

A JerseyBin keeps my phone safe from sweat and rain – not from a crash!

What do you get in the box?

The Edge comes with three bike mounts that work on either the handlebar or stem. The mounts are held on by small cable ties – the thin, 8″ ones are best. It’s better than a rubber band system like on many computers since it’s hard to find the exact size replacement rubber band in case of breakage. With these ties, you probably already have them. If not, a lifetime supply is about $1 at Harbor Freight.

You also get a charger and USB cord for connecting the unit to your computer.

Optionally, you can get a package that includes an HRM strap, or both an HRM strap and a cadence sensor.

I got the chest strap, and I might get an optional cadence sensor someday. Cadence functionality is great, but then that’s yet another gadget stuck on your bike. Too bad GPS satellites can’t record your cadence! (Or can they, and we don’t know it?) However, this accessory is vital if you plan to use the Edge as your primary computer during indoor trainer rides (where the GPS functions are useless.)

If you’re buying used, I don’t know if you’ll get a CD-ROM with it, but that doesn’t matter. You can download the Training Center software straight from the Garmin site, free. It’s pretty nifty. Did I mention it’s free?

Garmin Edge 305 Install and Set-up

Setting up a GPS is a little different than your standard computer. It’s much simpler from a hardware perspective, but there’s definitely a learning curve for the software side.

So to start, I attached mounts on my mountain bike stem, road bike stem, and my kayak (I added a section of PVC pipe to my yak for mounting stuff like this) with cable ties. Then all I had to do was line up the slots on the bottom of the Edge with the mount, and everything slid right into place.

Congratulations, you’ve installed it!

Now, flip the lever on the mount and slide the Edge off the mount. You’re going to connect it to your computer.

For one thing, you want to make sure it’s fully charged. For another, you want to make sure you have the latest device software update, which can be downloaded from the Garmin website. The latest software update is version 3.20 from May 2007, though, so you most likely have it installed.

Once charged, you can disconnect it, and turn it on.

It’s time to create your profiles and fill in all the details for your bikes and your body, such as your age and weight (which are used for the calorie burn estimates.)

And if you have the heart rate strap, make sure you go in the menu, under accessories, and select “yes” for heart monitor. Or else it won’t search for heart rate signal!

Now you can go for a ride, or turn the unit off and wait.

When it is time to ride, switch the unit on. It must acquire satellites, which could take 10-60 seconds. When the main screen comes up, hit start, and ride as normal. Note that you MUST hit start to start the recording! Don’t forget!

The good thing is that certain data will keep showing at “0” or “–” if it’s not actively recording, so that gives you a hint something isn’t quite right!

Key Features of the Edge 305

If this is your first bicycle GPS, you’re probably not used to all these features! They’re pretty cool.

Customize your screen display
Naturally, this unit can display your current speed, max speed, trip time, trip distance, heart rate, and all that normal stuff. But what’s super cool is that you can change the screen layout to display just the numbers you want, in whatever order you want them.

Elevation
Go ahead, display your current elevation or % grade next to your speed. The Edge 305 contains a barometric altimeter so it can record changes in elevation with pinpoint accuracy. Excellent for all Strava users.

Auto Pause
This simple feature is sometimes lost when you use a device other than a simple cyclocomputer, but not here. When you drop under a certain speed, the Edge will pause recording.

Courses
You’re able to set courses, which saves the map as a race course where you can race against your virtual self later. This is probably the best training feature on the device.

Virtual Partner
This function lets you compare your current performance on the course to your performance during an older ride.

Workouts
You can also program workout protocols into it, such as interval timing. It’s a good idea, just somewhat tough to use outside of a velodrome or closed course.

Navigation
Here’s a feature that sounds great, but if you think the navigation functions are anything like those on Garmin’s car GPS units, you’ll be severely disappointed. It’s a lot trickier and more hands-on here. You’ll need to prepare your track or course file in advance, download it to your 305, and then during the ride, pay close attention to the waypoints on the very simplistic map view.

What about the Garmin Edge 205?

Putting the Edge 205 vs the Edge 305 ends up being a very simple comparison. The units are essentially the same thing, except the 305 offers the true barometric altimeter, while the 205 calculates elevation based on map data. (And calculating elevation data based on maps is nowhere near as accurate as using barometric pressure.)

If you like to track that data, especially if you’ll be uploading it to Strava, pay for the Edge 305. If you want a new bike computer that lets you view your rides on a map, the 205 is just fine.

ANT+ confusion

The Edge 305 does use ANT+ wireless technology to transfer workout data. But it only transfers that data from the heart rate monitor and cadence sensor to the head unit.

The question people keep asking is, “will it mate to a PowerTap hub that broadcasts ANT+ data?” No, it won’t! Just because the Edge supports ANT+, does not mean it supports power data. For that you need to upgrade to the Edge 500.

Problems with the Edge 305

Oh, the 305 has its problems, too!

Multiple rides were recorded as the same day.

If I didn’t plug it in and download my rides every night, each ride showed up as being on the same date. I could manually separate the data later, but it was a huge pain. Also, it was annoying turning the unit on and not having it zeroed out at the start of a ride. This would be terribly annoying if I was on a multi-day bike tour!

Since I’m addicted to Strava, 99% of the time I do plug in the Edge to download the data right after each ride. So I never did get around to finding a good solution to this dilemma!

It shuts off randomly during rides.

This problem is far worse because it cannot be predicted or prepared for.

What happens is, you’ll be riding along like normal, and next thing you know, the screen is blank! At first, I was mildly annoyed. I thought I’d have multiple tracks composing a single ride. Not so!

The reality was much worse. Not only would the screen go blank, all the data that was recorded but not yet saved as a ride, was gone!

Imagine you were on a huge ride and you had just demolished your previous best times on all the local climbs (and earned a few KOMs along the way!) You’re heading home with a smile on your face. One mile from home, you notice your Garmin is off.

“Oh well, no point recording this last mile, I already got the good stuff” you say.

Then you get inside, go to download the ride, and there isn’t a single recording on the Edge!!

Yeah, it’s a huge bummer. Supposedly there was a design flaw around the battery contacts and this is a common problem for Edge 305 users. What can you do about it? Either cross your fingers and pray it doesn’t happen, or buy a new one.

garmin training center

How does it help your training?

I’m glad you asked!

It’s all about analyzing your past performances and comparing them. This device records detailed data that allows for extremely precise comparisons between rides.

You can see exactly where you’re improving over time (and where you are stalling out!)

Whether you do this with Garmin Training Center, Strava, or other software, as long as you do it, you’ll learn something!

My final verdict is…

This is a pretty sweet device and makes a great training aid. If you’re into Strava, or just want the extra data, I’d definitely get a Garmin Edge.

The 305 is now outdated, and had some problems, so get the Edge 500 instead. It’s only $200 brand new, much nicer, and supports power data from PowerTap rear hubs and others.

Official website: www.Garmin.com

Buy the Edge 500 online: www.REI.com


Product Review Details
Company: Garmin
Product: Garmin Edge 305
Reviewed by: Coach Levi
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Date last updated: 2013-12-23
Obtained Product: Purchased used.
CoachLevi.com Advertiser: No.

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1 Comment
  1. Make sure you update the 305 to the latest software.

    https://my.garmin.com/mygarmin/dashboard/dashboardScanDevice.htm

    Sounds like you either have some old firmware on the device or you need to do a full reset to clear out the old data. I have a 205 and it never has any issues and it definitely doesn’t record all the rides on the same day.

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