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Compelling new GPS-based training system for cyclists

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September 1, 2005

Compelling new GPS-based training system for cyclists

Compelling new GPS-based training system for cyclists

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September 2, 2005 It seems we are suddenly approaching the tipping point in the GPS market as the perception of GPS moves from an interesting high-tech novelty to a handy tool everyone can use every day. Garmin has introduced a new line of integrated personal training systems focusing on the needs of recreational and advanced cyclists. The Edge is a compact, lightweight, waterproof unit that has the ability to accurately monitor pedalling cadence, heart rate, calories burned, vertical profiles (via a a barometric altimeter), climb and descent, altitude, speed, distance, and time. Because the Edge is GPS-based, the information may be overlaid onto a cyclist's course map, including hills and curves, so the cyclist can easily analyse every aspect of their workout. The Edge 305 with heart rate lets you see whether you are training too hard or not enough. The heart rate monitor data is stored with each track point for post-workout analysis. There’s also “Virtual Partner” which lets you "race" a virtual competitor, making training fun and you can also "race" against a recorded course to try to match previously set speeds at every point along the way and a full “Training Center software” which gives you the ability to create workouts, manage and download courses, and create a detailed post-ride analysis that charts your performance.

"The Edge is the ultimate fitness partner for a cyclist taking a relaxing weekend ride or participating in a competitive race," said Gary Kelley, Garmin's director of marketing. "It offers extensive user-configurable features and built-in performance tracking that will help athletes reach the next level in their personal training."

The Edge is a completely new design that is cyclist-friendly, attractive and waterproof. Its sleek and durable case frames an easy-to-read, large, backlit display. Users may customize the display to show up to eight different data fields, as well as altitude and a map view. It attaches to either the stem or handlebars of the bicycle, and is designed for easy removal at the end of the workout.

The Edge is the first Garmin device to incorporate the new-generation SiRFstarIII architecture, a platform offering extremely high performance and sensitivity from SiRF Technology Holdings, Inc, a leading provider of GPS- enabled location technology. The SiRFstarIII architecture provides a rapid time to first fix, enabling cyclists to determine and track their location -- even under challenging conditions such as heavy foliage or "urban canyons" created by city skyscrapers.

Cyclists wanting to take their training to the next level can choose between the Edge 305HR (with a heart rate monitor) or the Edge 305CAD (with speed/pedaling cadence sensors). Heart rate and speed/cadence sensors are also sold separately as accessories to allow Edge 305 users to incorporate both features into their training.

The Edge 305HR heart rate monitor uses a robust wireless technology that eliminates cross-talk and interference and delivers real-time heart rate data exclusively to the user's device. This data is stored with each track point for post-workout analysis. Compared to the Forerunner 301, the Edge 305HR heart rate monitor uses a new softer, more comfortable strap design.

The Edge 305CAD incorporates a self-calibrating, wireless speed/cadence sensor that mounts to the rear chain stay of the bicycle, in addition to the primary unit that mounts on the stem or handlebars of the bicycle. Like the heart rate monitor, the speed/cadence sensor uses the same robust wireless technology that eliminates cross-talk and interference. The 305CAD is self- calibrating and easy to install.

Designed to be flexible for cyclists taking long or short rides, the Edge may store up to 13,000 track points per track, including altitude, at every point of the ride. Altitude is recorded using GPS position for the Edge 205 and a barometric altimeter for the Edge 305HR and Edge 305CAD. This accurate altitude data makes it much easier for cyclists to match their altitude profile with their speed, cadence, and heart rate during post-ride analysis.

Customizing the Edge is achieved using several innovative features: Workouts: Design workouts with multiple steps based on time, distance, calories or heart rate. Establishes workout targets based on speed, calories, cadence and heart rate (only Edge 305CAD and 305HR, respectively). Virtual Partner: Team up with a virtual training partner that provides continuous feedback. Depicts a digital cyclist (desired pace) in relation to the user's real-time pace and notifies if ahead or behind desired pace. Courses: This innovative new feature allows you to race against a recorded course and match previously set speeds at every point of the way, or navigate a brand new route. Combine the Courses and Virtual Partner features and race an opponent that varies speed while climbing hills and navigating tricky turns. Bike Computer: Customizable Bike Computer screen shows up to eight different data fields. The user may customize the display for the size and placement of the data. Auto Pause: Pauses the timer when the user's speed drops below a pre-set threshold. Alerts: Program alerts to sound if the user strays outside the range of speed, heart rate, or cadence values. Alerts can also indicate when a set amount of time or distance has passed.

Although the Edge is completely self-contained, Garmin's PC-based Training Center software puts the Edge ahead of the pack by helping users plan and analyze their workouts. Users may create their own workouts or use workout templates that can be downloaded into the unit for any level of personal training. It also offers interactive analysis tools that let the user chart their performance. Speed, heart rate, cadence, elevation, and pace may be graphed all at once or individually. As with other Garmin fitness products, the Edge may be used with MotionBased.com, a unique internet-based performance analysis and mapping tool for GPS and heart rate information. Endurance athletes may use the Edge with TrainingPeaks.com, an easy-to-use web based training system designed to help athletes train for any event.

Other specifications of the Edge 205, 305HR and 305CAD:

    GPS: High sensitivity SiRFstarIII(TM) architecture Weight: 3.1 oz. Display (WxH): 1.17" x 1.44" (128x160 resolution, 4 level gray scale) Physical size (WxHxD): 1.75" x 3.7" x 0.9" Battery: Up to 12 hours (typical use) / Rechargeable internal lithium ion Water resistance: Submersible to one meter for up to 30 minutes (including speed/cadence sensor and heart rate monitor)

Specifications of the Edge 305CAD speed/cadence sensor:

    Physical size (WxHxD): 2.0" x 1.2" x 0.9" (not including adjustable speed sensing arm) Transmission range: approximately 3m Battery: CR2032 (3 volts)

Specifications of the Edge heart rate monitor:

    Physical size (WxHxD): 13.7" x 1.4" x 0.5" Transmission range: approximately 3m Battery: 3 years (1 hour per day) / CR2032 (3 volts) Weight: 21g

The Edge 205 is expected to be available in November 2005 and has an estimated retail price of US$249. It includes a bike mount, USB PC interface cable, AC charger, Training Center CD, owner's manual and quick-reference guide.

The Edge 305HR and 305CAD are expected to be available in November 2005 and have an estimated retail price of US$349 each. These devices include a digitally coded heart rate monitor (305HR only), speed/cadence sensor (305CAD only), AC charger, USB PC interface cable, extension strap, bike mount, Training Center CD, owner's manual and quick-reference guide.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
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