Garmin Forerunner 305 – Heart Rate monitor and navigation for mountain bikers

I mentioned a couple of weeks back that I was looking to buy a Garmin Forerunner 305 to help with my training. Well, it’s arrived and I’m pretty chuffed with it!

Garmin Forerunner 305 - heart rate monitor

I have to admit it’s still a little bit gimmicky and beyond what I really need but I’m finding that tracking my training rides and runs is providing a bit more motivation to get out there and improve myself. The forerunner is basically a watch-type device which sits on your wrist and takes a measurement of your location and heart rate every few seconds or so. From this it can plot your exact route on a map and tell you precisely how fast and how hard you are working at any given time. This can all be uploaded to your PC so that you can analyse the whole lot on a map along with accompanying graphs – something that’s far too exciting to be healthy for a geek like me!

So far I’ve been using it in a couple of ways. Firstly while I’m actually out training I’ve been using it to monitor my heart rate and check that I’m in the right training zone. As I mentioned before, there are certain heart rate zones in which you can train and if you monitor your performance on your training runs you can figure out how high you can push your heart rate before you’re overexerting yourself. I’ve figured out that I can maintain around 160 bpm for quite a long time, 2 – 3 hours at least, but if I push it up to mid 170s then I’ll burn out far quicker. Transfer this to a race and I now know how hard I can push it and still get to the end!

The second way I’ve been using the monitor is just for post-ride analysis. You can upload the data from your Forerunner to a web service called Motionbased which allows you to plot your route on google maps. Using this you’ve got a record of all your previous rides and can do something pretty funky called ‘dot racing’. This means that I can take two previous rides at Glentress and watch two little dots racing around the circuit which represent me doing the route this week and last week, so you can see real-time comparisons of how your speed and heart rate went up and down during both rides. I’m not sure about anyone else but I need motivations like this that really show you you’re improving, and it just gives me a little more than a simple start and finish time.

There are a few other features I’ve not really got round to using yet, such as the navigation capabilities. The Forerunner tracks where you’ve been obviously and it can show you the route you’ve followed on-screen. It wont show any terrain or features, but you can see your route and it can guide you back home following the same trail. You can also input routes in advance using it’s own PC software or by downloading them from the web and the Forerunner will then guide you through the whole trail, from start to finish. I’m doing the Dirty Weekender in June which involves a fair bit of navigation so I’m sneakily wondering if all this functionality might help me out a little – I’ll let you know!

The Forerunner 305 isn’t a cheap bit of kit, but for a combination outdoorsy guy/techie geek like me it’s irresistable. It does have some great features for serious racers in it’s ability to analyse every detail of your performance that justify the price but it’s up to you whether you really need it!

[tags]forerunner, garmin, 305, heart rate monitor, mountain, bike, biking[/tags]


Colin started mountain biking in the early 2000s and has haphazardly, and with barely increasing skill, dragged his bike around the majority of Scotland's trail centres since then. Colin has oodles of hard earned experience in how NOT to do things - listen, be warned and don't repeat his mistakes...   More about Colin... Google+ Colin

4 Responses

  1. Bru Blazer says:

    That looks like a great piece of kit! Might go and splash out right now… By the way, the screenshot you’ve posted looks like you cycled all round England and Wales in 1hr40, an impressive time!

  2. Colin says:

    Hah, so it does!

    Never noticed before that the Newcastleton trail has the exact same shape as the south of Britain!

  3. Very cool, have you tried the free sports track software, Much better than the stuff supplied by Garmin.

  4. Colin says:

    Thanks Dougie, I haven’t had a look at that software yet but I’ll check it out.

    The software supplied in the box is admittedly a bit on the rubbish side. The graphs are pretty good but the maps are rubbish so it’s hard to really tell where you were when you were pushing 200BPM!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *