Today was definitely not a normal Monday morning in the office! The kind folks at Garmin invited us along to the annual Garmin ride out – a chance to ride a 19.4 mile route with the Garmin Transitions team, with the added bonus this year of a chance to review the new Garmin Edge 800 GPS bike computer – sweet!

About 200 Garmin clad riders headed out in glorious sunshine, led by the team. I saw Dan Martin once, and only because he punctured, and then a few minutes later he sped past us! The route took us out through the New Forest and it’s beautiful scenery – complete with odd roaming horse or donkey to watch out for. When we returned it was pretty much a sea of Garmin shirts and everyone relaxing in the sun.

Next, we took a good look the new Edge 800, which Neil had taken out on the ride:

Here it is placed in between the Edge 500 (left) and the Edge 705 (right):

Here are Neil’s thoughts:

”I was lucky enough to be able to use a pre production prototype of Garmin’s new top line Edge 800 at the recent Ride Out event with the Garmin Transitions team in Wiltshire.

Before we set off I had a decent fiddle with the unit. Being a very regular user of the 500, 705 and Oregon units, I was quite interested to see what features carried over. Start up and satellite location was amazingly fast, quite an improvement over the already speedy Edge 500. Next up was navigating through the operating system. For those used to Garmins, everything was pretty obvious – I was quickly able to pair with my HRM strap and Power meter. One difference was the ‘sat nav’ type functions; these are accessed slightly differently, but still intuitive enough (more on this later). Touch screens have been used on the Oregon and Dakota’s for over a year now, but the screen on the 800 was a lot faster, and needed much less pressure to use – It it still worked perfectly through gloves – perfect!

Bike display set up is as simple to personalize as with any other Edge but on the bike the biggest difference becomes apparent. Even in the fantastic sunshine we were blessed with, the screen is clearly visible. Riding in a bunch of 250 riders being led by a pro bike team is never going to be the best place to get to grips with the intimate functions, but even quick stabs at the screen between hills made for swift screen or function changes – the accuracy of the touch screen meant we didn’t end up on the wrong setting. The screen is large enough that even fat fingered folk should be able to find their way around without any mis taps.  For the simple start stop functions, thankfully there is a button to press, this means even if you’re not on the right screen you can still start collecting your data.

Now back to the navigation, the biggest draw for many with the Edge 800 is the pairing of the fitness and training function of the Edge 705 with OS (Ordinance Survey) visuals. Garmin’s maps have always used the data from OS, but it is visualized in a simple recognizable way. 1:25,000 (Like an orange Explorer series map) and 1:50,000 (Purple Landranger) map microSD cards are available and this instantly recognizable cartography makes it simple to judge scale and distance at a glance. One other major benefit of the OS visual is the fact that you can easily use one unit on both your mountain bike and road bike: collecting fitness and training geeky stuff on the road before switching over to navigating across the moors on your mountain bike. There have been models available to do this before but roadies shied away from the perceived bulkiness of the Oregon and Dakotas, with mountain bikers needing a larger screen than a Topo equipped Edge 6 or 705 offered.

Everyone I spoke to was genuinely excited about this latest bit of handlebar geekery from Garmin. It finally seems to marry the best bits of previously good models. It’s sleek in design, weighs nothing and has a very intuitive operating system. It does pretty much everything you could ask of it: The Edge is Dead – Long live the Edge”

Talking to Dick and Alex from Garmin after a well earned lunch, they told us what makes the 800 so much better than the 705.

The key points are:

> Faster processing (new operating system)
> Colour touchscreen
> OS mapping for offroad use
> The combination of training and navigation functions

Here it is in action:

The other major bonus is of course the ever growing Garmin connect community; with the ability to upload, download and share your rides. Plus it is compatible with other training aids such as power meters and hubs. The main thing we are impressed with is the new units speed, and of course, that OS mapping! The ability to use it on and off road is sure to appeal to the growing number of riders who cross over, and don’t want to have to use separate computers. I think this will be a big draw for many riders on this product. Alongside  the improved speed, and the touchscreen, this could be a winning combination. It is due in stores November, so look out for more news, competitions and maybe even a chance to try one out before then!

We’d also like to say a very big thank you to all the Garmin Transitions team, the riders and everyone involved for organising todays wonderful event!

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POST UPDATE:  Here are the key details of the bundles, plus an image of the lovely white & black version!

Model and colour Key features RRP
GM5800 – Road Performance Package (white & black) - Replacement for the best selling GM5705 bundle

- Includes European road mapping, Cadence sensor and premium HRM strap

- Cool looking white & black head unit to go with your white & black bike! (see below)

£449.99

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GM4800 – Enduro (blue) - Includes full U.K. 1:50 Ordnance Survey mapping (new for Edge 800)

- Also includes cadence sensor and premium HRM strap, ideal for serious XC and Endurance racers as well as MTB’ers who want to know everything about their riding

- Good value! (head unit, mapping and accessories is almost £650 if bought separately)

£449.99

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GM3800 – Trail (white & black) - Contains full U.K. 1:50 Ordnance Survey mapping, this is likely to be the most popular option for most riders who are more concerned with navigation than training

- The U.K. OS mapping microSD retails for £199.99 on its own so getting it for only £50 more than the head unit is a bargain!

£399.99

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