THIS FIRST LOOK AT THE GARMIN EDGE 1000 IS A BIG DISTRACTION

Which view would you rather focus on during your ride? Here’s my reaction to Garmin’s new Edge 1000 and where the company is trying to lead cycling enthusiasts.

 

I like tech toys as much as the next guy. I readily admit it. For years I’ve advised business and consumer technology product companies, amongst others, on how to grow their business, what markets to enter, and how to innovate their products around customer and technology changes. I even had a hand in helping Nokia see and act on the opportunity to combine communications and computing technology into what became the first commercially successful smartphone, a segment they led globally for years until their engineering focus outran their business smarts.

 

So I’d naturally be a guy that would be attracted to something like Garmin’s new Edge 1000 cycling computer, right? Wrong. I like riding too much to lose sight of why I do it.

 

Don’t get me wrong. I like to track my performance on the bike. It helps me see whether I’m training well and progressing toward my (modest) goals. I have ANT+ and Bluetooth sensors on my bike, can instantly see my cadence, HR, speed and power on a standard sized screen, and use an app that captures all the measures important to me on the iPhone I carry in one of my back jersey pockets. I upload my results after each ride and review my numbers after key rides to see how I’m doing. That’s plenty geeky already.

 

But, during the ride, I want to focus on whatever my plan is for that ride and go. I don’t want to be regularly looking down at my cycling computer to see what my instantaneous or average or segment performance is other than when it’s timely to do so, like at the end of an interval or while charging up a big climb. I want to dive into the corners and power out of them and not be looking or listening for ‘turn by turn’ navigation instructions. I want to be soaking up the countryside I’m riding through and not be comparing my data in real time with the performance of someone I don’t know over the same stretch he was took three weeks ago. I want to do the work on the bike and enjoy the experience and thrill of the ride and not be marveling over a touch screen with bright colors. And when I’m riding in a group, I want to focus on contributing to the ride – both keeping my place tight in the bunch and pulling when it’s my turn – and not scrolling through screens on my computer to look at a dozen different data points.

 

While I haven’t and don’t plan to do individual product reviews, now that some ‘first looks’ (here and here) and an ‘in-depth review’ (here) have appeared for the new Garmin 1000 unit, I feel that I’ve got to speak up. Where Garmin is going with this product, with their earlier 810 and even the 510 head units, and with their Garmin Connect is wrong.

 

Their units are nearly as expensive as a good groupset and as large as your smartphone, asking for more of your attention on the bike, connecting to a narrower range of Garmin controlled apps and becoming less about advancing your riding than fulfilling your inner geek. They are becoming more about increasing your fascination with data and devices and less about enhancing your enthusiasm and performance when cycling.

 

Besides the fact that the Edge 1000 as released has so many bugs in it that it doesn’t yet do what it hopes to, why would you want to do some of this stuff other than to say that you can? Will it really improve your performance? Make for a better riding experience? I think not. It’s way over the top.

 

Cranking hard on a ride last week, I was thinking about one of the reviews I’d just read of the new Garmin unit. I was also enjoying a beautiful ride while pushing myself to keep up with the ride plan I’d set. At one point, I came across the farm pictured in the photo above and thought to myself – would I rather be taking in this incredible scene and others like it along my ride or staring down and scrolling through an oversized screen full of interesting, nonessential data? When I passed the pond pictured below during my warm down, I already knew my answer.

Garmin vs. Pond

 

There may be a market for this product, but for the cycling enthusiast like me, answering that simple question suggests that Garmin has missed badly with their new head unit and their push toward ever bigger, data rich, and expensive devices.

 

What do you think? What cycling computer do you use? Are you happy with it? What kind would you like to have? Why?

4 comments

  • Going by the Theory, of what you “want to do” vs. your “work on the bike and enjoy the experience.”
    With the “data and devices” that you say to have sacrificed.

    Such a computer, to operate & page through, during the bike-ride: simply being the equality of when a cell-phone being operated by an active motorist.

  • A typical thoughtful review from Steve. One of the best parts of cycling is what you see along the road. I spend most of my days staring at a computer screen. Why would I want to do that on a bike ride? The one exception I can see to something like a Garmin is if you do A LOT of rides exploring new roads and need to have your route charted and visible (in which case a smartphone can do the trick). Otherwise, reality is so much better than pixels. What a shame to miss it.

  • I found your website whilst searching for power meters to purchase. What a breath of fresh air your site is! I’m now trying to figure out what computer to get with my soon-to-be-purchased Stages crank sensor.

    Question: in your take on the geekfication of riding, you say “I have ANT+ and Bluetooth sensors on my bike, can instantly see my cadence, HR, speed and power on a standard sized screen, and use an app that captures all the measures important to me on the iPhone I carry in one of my back jersey pockets.” Can you give specifics on what sensors and computer you have on your bike, and what app you use on your iPhone?

    • J, Thanks for your comment and sorry for the geek speak. I was referring in that post to the Wahoo Fitness app on my iPhone, the Wahoo cadence/speed and heart rate monitor sensors that communicate in Bluetooth and ANT+ protocols (http://www.wahoofitness.com/devices/bike-sensors.html) and the Wahoo RFLKT+ which is a head unit that serves as an ANT+ bridge between the sensors and the iPhone app. The RFLKT+ has a screen the same size as my Garmin 520 and has a superior layout if not as bright a screen. I don’t remember exactly how much it cost me but it was less than a couple hundred dollars. Steve

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