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Garmin launch the 800

A day with the Brownlees testing Garmin's new bike computer? 220 life is a hard one...

A day after taking the top two slots at the final leg of the British Super Series in Bryn Bach, Alistair and Jonny Brownlee yesterday headed east for the launch of Garmin’s Edge 800 bike computer. They were joined in the elite ranks by Team Garmin rider and recent Tour of Poland winner Dan Martin.

The setting for the ‘cushy day out the office/product launch’ was Hamptworth Golf and Country Club in the New Forest, and we joined Brownlee and co, and about 150 others, on a 20-mile ride-out in the Forest to test the sibling of the Edge 705.

A glorious day, rolling terrain, stunning backdrop, horses and cattle wandering onto winding roads… Yah de yah yah. What you want to know is how the new 800 performs.

Firstly, it’s simple to set up. A couple of O-rings and it nestles safely onto your stem. After the first mile awaiting a spreading of the pack, we then had time to mess around with the real USP of the 800 – its touchscreen. Aside from three physical buttons, you now flcutuate between the array of features with a dabble on-screen. An intuitive, seamless addition to your mobile phone, but what about when fingers are shrouded in thick gloves during winter weekends? I only had my flimsy autumn numbers on me; that said, even haphazard hands on the fly ensured a positive contact.

Typically for Garmin, the display is easy to read. Not surprising, really, when it’s actually about 10% bigger than the already stem-consuming 705. Its size also means you can configure up to 10 items of data on the screen at once.

A rubber-covered microSD card slot and USB port at the base of the computer open up a whole world of GPS-facilitated adventure. Via Garmin’s City Navigator or TOPO maps you can choose turn-by-turn directions or a 1:24,000 scale topographical view of the area. Garmin also show biking-friendly essentials like cafes and garages, just in case your glucose levels ae falling out your chamois. We couldn’t test the claim on our hour ride but apparently it has a 15-hour life before the need to recharge.

The 800 will set you back £349; £399 if you go for the heart rate monitor model. We’ll provide a more thorough test later in the autumn.

As for the Brownlees, after a recent tour that had included, among an A-Z of European countries, Hungary, France, Wales and Austria, they were preparing for a few weeks’ downtime back in Leeds.

More on the 800 at www.garmin.com

Profile image of Matt Baird Matt Baird Editor of Cycling Plus magazine


Matt is a regular contributor to 220 Triathlon, having joined the magazine in 2008. He’s raced everything from super-sprint to Ironman, duathlons and off-road triathlons, and can regularly be seen on the roads and trails around Bristol. Matt is the author of Triathlon! from Aurum Press and is now the editor of Cycling Plus magazine.