Thursday, November 25, 2010

What to know when shopping for “a Garmin” for Christmas

So you're planning on buying a Garmin for someone special? So is one of my relatives.  So here's the info she needs to make a smart purchase. Thought it might be handy for someone else too....

Equipment / Vocabulary:

  • Chest strap: What actually measures your HR, goes on your… chest.  Yes, complicated.
  • Cadence Sensor: Straps to the bike, and is used to measure the pedal cadence.  Handy.
  • Foot Pod: Ties to the laces of your shoe and used by runners to track steps per minute. Handy.
  • ANT+ Stick: Small USB device that wirelessly transmits data to your computer via the monitor device, to data crunch like a true geek.  Essential (for me anyway).
  • Monitor Watch: Not actually called a monitor watch.  Just called ‘the watch’.  Although they come in more variety then just a watch, also come as a bike computer...
  • Monitor Bike Computer: Not actually called Monitor Bike Computer.  Displays all your standard bike data like speed, distance, max speed, average speed.  But also displays any specialty info by model. 
  • The word ‘Forerunner’: Means designed for runners or triathletes (who do ride bikes too btw!)
  • The word ‘Edge’: Means designed for cyclists, not so useful for multisport, useless for runners.

Garmin Forerunner 50: This is the HR monitor I have, found it on craigslist for $35. Not GPS enabled, which is ok if you have a smart phone or other GPS technology to track things for you. Includes: Chest strap, watch, ANT+ stick

Garmin Forerunner 305: Intermediate Step. Great watch style GPS HR monitor that’s been around for awhile.  Industry benchmark years back for GPS tracking of running workouts mostly.  Some folks do use them for cycling as well as triathlon.  Best part is since it’s been around for awhile people are ‘upgrading’ so you can find them for cheap online. Includes: Chest strap, Watch, Charger, and USB cord to sync to computer. Here's a great post about the 305 and it's future as a supported product line: Garmin 305 future

Garmin Edge 500: Great GPS bike computer that pure cyclists use.  It's a handy way to get powermeter data as well as HR, but it’s also a bike computer, so displays the speed, distance, time, max speed, etc.  This is my next upgrade for the bike. $250 new.  Will ‘talk to’ other Garmin devices, like the HR strap

Garmin Forerunner 310XT: Same thing as the Garmin 305, but can capture powermeter data, includes running pace on the go, apparently more accurate than GPS pace.  This is my ultimate set up.  It will include all the data I want, while also keeping everything in one package.  Albeit a fairly pricey package with fancy wrapping, and giant poofy bow on top.

Garmin Nuvi series: Disregard, it’s a car gps, and is totally being outclassed by freebie cell phone apps. Not what you want.

My Plan:

  1. Purchase cheap Garmin 50 with ANT capability. This will let me get data to crunch on the computer. Includes HR strap and ANT+ stick. -DONE
  2. Use cell phone for GPS tracking.  Include in the data crunching/training.-DONE
  3. Purchase Foot Pod for running training ($50).  Will work with Garmin 50.
  4. Purchase Edge 500 ($250) along with Cycleops Powertap power meter ($1800).  I’m anticipating pricing coming down in 2011 as there’s all kinds of new technology coming out that people will want to upgrade to.  So watching the classifieds for these items in the distant future.
  5. After all that then consider upgrading the HR monitor to a Garmin Forerunner 310XT.  But that’s just mostly for geekly satisfaction