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Cycle Computers

In May 2009 I bought my first bicycle.  A Trek FX7.5.  Before long the data geek in me was on the hunt for a cycle computer, so I could track speed and distance.  The gadget geek in me narrowed my search down to SpeedTrap compatible models.

SpeedTrap is the Trek / Bontrager name for the ANT+ 2.4 GHz digital wireless speed sensor that fits into a recess in the fork leg of the FX7.5 and other models in the Trek Range.  The Trek Incite 8i was my first cycle computer.


Photograph courtesy of Evans Cycles

In January 2010 I got my first road bike.  I needed another cycle computer to go with it, because the Easton EC90 SLX fork on my new bike didn’t have a SpeedTrap mount.

By that time I was riding farther afield, and had already gotten lost a few times.  So a GPS-enabled device with mapping seemed like a good idea.  DC Rainmaker’s excellent in-depth review of the Garmin Edge 705 convinced me to break out my credit card and get one.

Garmin Edge 705

Fast forward to the end of 2016.  Cycle computer technology has, along with the technology in most consumer electronics, progressed by leaps and bounds since 2009. Today’s cycle computers have touch screens, are Bluetooth and wifi enabled, receive GLONASS as well as GPS signals, function as remote controls for certain lights and cameras, display missed phone call and text notifications, and do a host of other things that the Edge 705 is incapable of.

My Edge 705 is more than five years old.  It still works well, apart from the occasional spontaneous shut down, which I think I cured recently by doing a hard reset.  My Edge 705 does, however, show its vintage everytime I have to tether it to a PC via a USB cable to download ride data to Garmin Connect and Strava.  Newer devices do that wirelessly.

A more serious problem is ever-shortening battery life.  I had taken to carrying a power bank on longer rides.

The DC Rainmaker website was again my source for reviews of potential replacements for my Edge 705.  The Edge 820 is the latest Garmin offering, and DC Rainmaker’s preview post made it an appealing option.  Appealing, that is, until a trickle of negative comments from early buyers turned into a deluge.


Photograph courtesy of Garmin

There were too many issues with the Edge 820 for my liking.  So I decided to buy a Garmin Edge 1000.  That model came out almost three years ago, but firmware updates have given the Edge 1000 most, if not all, of the capabilities of the Edge 820.  And three years should have been enough time for Garmin to flush all the bugs out of the Edge 1000.


Photograph courtesy of Cycle Solutions

Some people complain about the size of the Edge 1000.  At 58.0 x 112.0 x 20.0 mm (2.3″ x 4.4″ x 0.8″), it is not a svelte unit.  But those dimensions give the Edge 1000 a 30% larger display than the Edge 820, which in turn has a slightly bigger display than the Edge 705.  A key consideration, given the age of my eyes.

In November 2016 I went shopping online, and found the best deal at Bike Tires Direct.  34% off the RRP.  An Edge 1000 was soon on its way to me.

My excitement upon the unit’s arrival was quickly extinguished when it crashed and died during initial setup.  I was left with a paperweight.  A major bummer.

A visit to AECO Technologies, the authorized Garmin distributor for Malaysia, did not immediately solve the problem.  The unit would have to be sent to Taiwan for repair, at my expense.  Garmin does not provide a world-wide warranty for the Edge 1000, so I would have to foot the bill for shipping and repairs.



The alternative was for me to send the unit back to Bike Tires Direct in the United States, where the unit may have been repaired under warranty.  I decided to swallow the cost and work face-to-face with AECO Technologies folk, rather than communicate via emails and telephone calls to Bike Tires Direct and Garmin in the United States.

Anyway, the cost to send the unit to Taiwan for repair was slightly less than what I had saved via the discount I received from Bike Tires Direct.  That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Six weeks later AECO called to say that the Edge 1000 was back.  It turned out to be a new unit, so there must have been something seriously wrong with the unit that failed.

Happily I had no problems setting up the replacement unit.  And it is working perfectly.

It is, however, going to take me some time to decide on my preferred layouts for all the data screens.  With the Edge 1000 you can have five data screens per activity profile, with each screen containing up to ten data fields.  You also have a map page, a compass page, an elevation chart page, the lap summary page, and the virtual partner page.  Each of those special pages allows you to specify two additional data fields on them.

And the list of data fields to choose from is extensive.


Table courtesy of DC Rainmaker

If you set up the maximum of ten activity profiles, you could have up to fifty data screens and fifty special pages to manage.  With a total of six hundred data fields.  Talk about overload!

That is all too much for me.  I deleted all but one activity profile.  For the time being I have turned off two of the five data screens, and three of the five special pages.

If managing activity profiles doesn’t take up enough of your time, you can fritter more time away by going online to the Garmin Connect IQ Store.  You can spend hours scrolling through the Applications, Data Fields and Widgets available there.

This is my favourite data screen layout – for now anyway.  My EDGE is a customizable Data Field downloaded from the Connect IQ Store.  This one data field takes up an entire data screen, but it contains multiple data items which are user selectable.  The analog speedometer is particularly cool.


A final note.

I own two Edge 705s (it’s a long story).  On one unit, some of the threaded plastic holes, where the screws holding the case together are inserted, have cracked.  So four of the six screws are missing.  Garmin no longer stocks spare parts for the Edge 705.  Not even replacement screws.  The advice from a technician at AECO is to use the damaged Edge 705 as the donor of spare parts, as needed, for the other unit.

Fortunately, replacement batteries for the Edge 705 are available from a number of online vendors.  I bought one from  It was simple to install.


Photograph courtesy of BatteryShip

Now have a rejuvenated Edge 705 as a backup for my Edge 1000.  For which replacement batteries are also available.  Contrary to what AECO told me about the Edge 1000 battery being non-replaceable.

A final final note.

Don’t get me started on the 36 hour battery life of Bryton cycle computers.


Kilo Months

I started keeping track of my rides in January 2010.  I had a new road bike, and an even newer Garmin Edge 705 cycle computer.  Uploading the details to the Garmin Connect web site after every ride became standard practice.   That year I rode 3,173 kilometers.

The heat map below shows where I rode for the first six months of 2010.  The most-ridden routes are depicted in red.  Click on the heat map to open the image in a new window.  You will see that most of my kilometers were accrued on the West End Tuesday and Thursday evening rides, and the Sunday Taco rides through Houston.

2010 Heat Map

Heat Map courtesy of Strava

I had some big rides outside metro Houston:  The Humble Lions Club Ride, The Space Race, and the BP MS150.  But I didn’t have a kilo month, which is my term for riding more than 1,000 kilometers in a month.

In mid-2010 I moved with my biker chick to The Netherlands.  The excellent cycling infrastructure there gave me more opportunity to ride, albeit on my own as I didn’t connect with a cycling group until the following year.

I started riding with the Not Possibles in March 2011.  The Saturday and occasional weekday rides with them boosted the distance I rode in 2011 to 6,985 kilometers.  In 2012 that number increased to 11,054 kilometers.  Almost of those kilometers were around Den Haag, with the 2011 and 2012 Ronde van Vlaanderen sportives, and the 2012 UCI World Championships sportive in Belgium thrown in for good measure.

Heat map courtesy of Strave

Heat Map courtesy of Strave

I racked up my first kilo month in August 2011.  The fine summer weather allowed me to ride eighteen times that month for a total of 1,085 kilometers.

Somewhat surprisingly I didn’t have another kilo month until January 2012, when I rode 1,091 kilometers.  I then had four more kilo months that year.  March, and three in a row from June to August.  My Not Possibles friends and I had a good summer that year.  My biggest ever kilo month was in July, when I rode 1,718 kilometers.  I had the luxury of being able to go on twenty five rides that month.

In October 2012 my biker chick and I moved home to Kuala Lumpur.   My ride frequency and average distance dropped dramatically for some months before slowly increasing again.  So it took more than a year before I had another kilo month, in September 2013.  Helped by five rides of at least 100 kilometers each.

My 2013 heat map looks a lot like my 2010 Houston heat map in that most of my rides are limited to a couple of routes.  Int his case KESAS and the Guthrie Corridor Expressway, with Putrajya and Genting Sempah thrown in for variety.  Scattered around the map are the one-off events that I rode in Johor Bahru, Kuala Terengganu, Kuantan and Penang,  My Racun buddies and I also rode to Fraser’s Hill, and I joined Dave Ern on a ride to Cameron Highlands.  You can also read about the Bike X and Broga 116 rides.

Heat Map courtesy of Strava

Heat Map courtesy of Strava

It looks like I will ride about 7,300 kilometers in 2013.  And perhaps have another kilo month this quarter.  Garmin Connect will reveal all.

By the Numbers

I bought a Garmin Edge 705 when my first road bike was delivered.  I used it initially to record where and how far I had ridden.  You can download the details of your rides to a Garmin website called Garmin Connect.  Among other things Garmin Connect displays maps showing exactly where you went on your ride, or run or hike.  It was fun to be able to show my biker chick where I had gone on my bike.

Garmin Edge 705

When I started doing longer rides with the West End group I used the speed display to help me keep a consistent pace when I took my turns at the front of the peloton.  I hadn’t bothered to install the speed sensor, or the cadence sensor for that matter.  I depended on the speed data calculated by the GPS chip. I used the heart rate monitor out of a casual interest in what my pulse rate was rather than as a training aid.

I rode solo during my first year in the Netherlands.  The “Back To Start” function came in useful on more than one occasion.  One canal, or windmill, 0r field of cows looks much like another.  No help when you are lost and 40 km / 25 mi from home.

The heart rate monitor saw some serious use once I started doing organised rides (by that I mean longer and faster than I was used to) with the Not Possibles.  By that time I had a rough idea of what my heart rate zones were.  Tracking my pulse rate helped me manage my effort so that I didn’t wear myself out before the end of the ride.

Since 31st January 2010 I have been transferring all my rides to Garmin Connect.  There are 412 rides in my account.  I took a look at all that data today.

The first set of numbers shows how much ground I have covered on my bicycles in three and a half years.  Enough to get me from Kuala Lumpur to Warsaw and back.  24,448 km / 15,191 mi.

Total KM

68% of my time since January 2010 has been spent in the Netherlands.  It follows that most of that pedaling was amongst windmills and canals.

What surprised me was the average length of my rides.

Ave KM

I hadn’t expected the average Houston ride to be slightly longer than the average Den Haag ride.  I must have done more 20 to 30 km / 12 to 18 mi rides in Holland than I thought.

I am not surprised that the average ride length has dropped in Kuala Lumpur.  I do the Damansara Heights ride fairly regularly.  That one never exceeds 16 km / 10 mi.  The Putrajaya ride tops out at just over 20 km / 12 mi.

The shorter rides in Kuala Lumpur are somewhat made up for by more frequent rides as compared to Houston and Den Haag.

Ride Frequency

I rode on average every 4 days in Houston.  In Kuala Lumpur it is every 2.6 days.  I put that down to linking up with a group of cyclists as soon as I arrived in Kuala Lumpur.  There are four or five groups rides per week in Kuala Lumpur.  There were three weekly group rides in Houston, and only one per week in Den Haag.

Elevation data is suspect.  The barometric altimeter in the Edge 705 is not accurate if it is not calibrated before every ride..  I don’t bother.  Websites like Strava and Ride With GPS allow users to overwrite GPS elevation data with data calculated using a variety of data sources and algorithms.  This “corrected” elevation data is often, but not always, more reliable.

Nevertheless, it is interesting to look at elevation data for comparative reasons.  I did expect the data to show that rides in Kuala Lumpur require the most climbing.

Ave Climbing

The average for Houston surprised me at first, but upon reflection it makes sense.  Chappell Hill was within easy reach by car.  We rode quite a bit there.  Training for the hills of Austin that were to come in the BP MS150!

The Netherlands is as flat as advertised.  Cyclists are only partly joking when they say they go to a multi-storey car park to practice hill climbs.  The Dutch hide some elevation in the dunes along the coast but that is about it.  The climbing average for Den Haag is padded by a few visits to Limburg and Belgium, where there are some real hills.

Regular readers will already know that I was startled by the degree of climbing required when riding around Kuala Lumpur.

Total Climbing

It won’t be long before I surpass the number of meters I climbed whilst in the low country.

The final number is also for guidance only.  You know what I mean if you have ever looked at the “calories burned” numbers that exercise machines produce.

Bic Macs

However I won’t let details get in the way of feeling pleased with myself for burning the caloric equivalent of 1,802 Big Macs.

A milestone ahead, pardon the pun, is 25,000 km / 15,534 mi total distance.  I’ll be beyond 1,000,000 calories burned by then.  I wonder what number that would be in nasi lemak terms?

Where Do I Go From Here?

The Netherlands is criss-crossed with a network of dedicated bike paths.  Every part of the country is accessible by bicycle.  If your bucket list includes riding every path, you would have to cycle about 29,000 km.  There isn’t anywhere that you can’t cycle to.  It was clear from my “Bicycling 101” class that all I had to do was wheel my bike outside the front door, choose a direction and start pedalling.  And be sure to avoid the 53 ways to pick up a road rules fine.

I used a Garmin Edge 705 GPS cycle computer in Houston.  It came with a detailed road map and points of interest.  So I could use the unit to navigate with exact, turn-by-turn directions to any address or intersection.  I used my Edge more for tracking where I had been rather than for planning routes.  Nevertheless I installed a map of the Netherlands.  If nothing else I would be able to see on the screen exactly where I was hopelessly lost.

The best thing about the unit is that when maps and sign posts fail, it will get me back to where I began my ride.

Garmin Edge 705

I quickly discovered that I would have little use for the navigation functions on my Edge 705 in the Netherlands.  The 29,000 km of bike paths are sign posted.  And since the Dutch are nothing if not meticulous, they didn’t stop at just one sign post system.  They have four that I know of.

The first type of sign post is much like what you would see on normal roads.  Signs point in the direction of cities and towns, listing the distance to each.  A more distant major destination is listed on the bottom of each ‘finger’, and the closer, minor destination is shown on the top.  Once a destination is listed, every subsequent sign along the route will list that destination until you reach it.

The sign posts for cyclists feature red or green lettering on a white background.  The options shown in green are less-direct alternatives that offer scenic routes through the Dutch countryside.

Maassluis to Hoek van Holland Ride 02

The second type of sign post for cyclists sits low to the ground and is mushroom-shaped.  These signs are located in more rural areas where the bike paths intersect away from roads.  Each of the four sides has direction and distance information for destinations nearby.  The sign below with the red lettering on a white background is a newer one.  The older style has the same shape but features black lettering on a white background.


The third system of providing directions for cyclists is the Bicycle Node Network (Fietsknooppuntennetwerk).  Each junction on the cycling path network has been given a unique one or two-digit number.  You need a map showing all the ‘knooppunten’ or nodes.  These maps also list the distance between nodes so you can work out how far away your destination is.

Planning a route from the starting node to the ending node is a simple matter of making a list of all the intermediate nodes that you want to cycle through.  There is a list of online route planners at to help with this.

Knoppunkt Map 2

Each junction or node is marked with a sign showing the node number and a map of the immediate area.

Knoppunkt Map

Signs like this show you which way to go to the next closest nodes.

The fourth system is a network of long-distance, or LF (Lange afstands Fietsnetwerk) routes.  There are currently 30 LF routes covering some 4,500 km in total.  These routes include the LF 1 North Sea Route, which starts in the south near Sluis at the Belgian border, and continues up the coast to Den Helder in the north.  The Not Possibles often cover sections of this route between Hoek van Holland and Zandvoort during their Saturday morning rides.

The LF routes are marked in both directions with rectangular white signs with green lettering.  In this case the sign pointing in the opposite direction reads “LF 1a”.


With few exceptions the various wayfinding systems on the bike paths served me well.  I would pick a destination and let the signs show me the way.  Confident that if I did get lost, which happened on a few occasions, I could always access the menu on my Edge 705 and select “Back to Start”.