Garmin Edge 605/705

Garmin 605

Firstly, I have to say that I really wanted to like this unit.  I’d put it off for a while because — at £250 (GBP) for the base model (plus street-level maps) — it was two thirds of the cost of my new fixed-wheel bicycle.  I’d had some great usage out of the old Garmin, my 205, but this offered extra benefits.

The extra benefits I liked:

  • Colour display
  • Expandable with micro-SD card – store lots of routes on it
  • (With optional routing): Full European road maps

When I first unpacked it, I was slightly disappointed to find that it’s grown since the 205/305 days.  I remember likening the 205 to a small mobile phone.  The 605 is more blackberry size.  Just large enough to look wrong on the bike.  A minor point.

The display is great, so long as you have the backlight on.  It’s hard to read without.

But here’s the kicker for me… true to form, the Garmin software is quite oddly crap.  In this case, it’s the navigation.  The unit will do navigation, but you wouldn’t want to plan a ride with it.  It’s slow and fiddly, and you have no control over which route you’ll take.  I was sure I’d be able to make it do what I wanted to though!  Whip up a custom GPX route file with the Marengo Route Planner, upload it to the device, and follow that.

Er… no.  If you upload a route you want to follow, it doesn’t direct you to your waypoints, it sends you down roads it thinks you should take to get to your waypoints.  Sometimes quite bizarre ones.  It tried to get me to do a U-turn on Chelsea Embankment, and take a couple of laps of Parliament Square.

It has the option in the settings of saying “don’t follow road”, and “navigate off-road”, and turning off the street maps, but still it insists on taking me down the roads it knows are in the area.

It has other stuff, like training facilities, but, for me, the ability to plan a route, and following what you’ve planned is what I want.

Verdict: if you’re like me, and you want to ditch the paper map, plan a nice route, and let a GPS unit guide you round it, then stick with the Garmin Edge 205.  The navigation facilities of the 605 might be useful, on occasion, if you’re lost, but they’re pants for planning a route.  Avoid.

24 Replies to “Garmin Edge 605/705”

  1. I’ve been using the edge 305 in combo with the eTrex legend for this purpose. The legend does allow you to create routes (but you have to be sure to put in enough waypoints since the unit will calculate differently than the PC software). Thanks for the review, guess I’ll wait a bit longer till they work this issue out!

  2. Martyn, Interesting reading your review. What is the routefinder on the 705 like at point to point routing ? Say for instance Birmingham to Torquay – will it plan a direct ‘cyclists’ route (note that i’ll be using the Eurpoean city map software not just the basemap which is widely regarded as next to useless).
    Thanks, John

  3. Hi.

    I have just ordered this but I heard the stock map or whatever is crap so I got City Navigator 2008 NT coming, wont that make it easier? I’m going to be using the 605 on friday to get from Manchester to York.

  4. John: you *can* plan a cyclist’s route on the device, yes. As you say, you need the optional city map software, otherwise you’d be stuck on major roads.

    William: I’m using it with the optional maps. What I really want to do is not just be taken from A to B, but *plan* a route.

  5. I quite agree with you about the crapiness of Garmin’s software, both on the device and on the desktop.

    But I think I have conquered the problem you mention using Google’s driving directions and then employing their dynamic routing to make a route that follows the roads you want. Here’s my description of how:

  6. Thanks for the comments George. Interesting. I took a look at the GPX file generated by the GMapToGPX and it’s pretty similar to the GPX file generated by my site at . I wonder whether you’ve got a later firmware than me, because it simply had a mind of its own when I tried originally to follow a route like this. I’ll see if I can update the firmware tonight…

  7. Very interesting review. I’m currently thinking about getting one of the Garmin’s.

    I was thinking about a 605, but after your comments, I may go for a 205 or 305.

    I’m an Ubuntu user too, so will need to give your software a go once I’ve got one.

  8. I was also little disappointed that the thing does not really route well. Actually I think the problem is not only does it route badly, but it has no proper way of dealing with the normal GPX data (routes) that you can download from somewhere. It “auto routes” along the GPX data route and if the route goes along a road that it does not like for whatever reason, it tries to take you around to the point that would then be the next point, so that you sometimes end up making loops. If you download tracks to the device and follow them, it is a little better. The best workaround that I found though is to convert your data to “courses” and just display it. Now you can just follow the little snake on your display. Maybe next time they get it right.

  9. Help, just purchased an Edge 605 and am having great difficulty in getting it to talk to my computer (Windows 7). Hopefully it’s just me, as I am rather computer illiterate! I have got Memory Map Region 1 on my computer, have managed to copy it to an SD card. Does Memory Map work with the 605? When I sut the card in the computer it recognises it, but the 605 does not. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Thankyou, Kevin Shepherd.

  10. Hi,

    Recently got a 205 but am thinking of selling it to get the 605. What i was wondering is – can you get it to work out a route when you’re out and about (e.g. pop in a post code or find a place on the map and have it direct you to there from wherever you are) or do you have to pre-programme the route on a PC every time? i was really hoping to have something that would stop me getting lost when i’m out cycling round london…


  11. Also, am i right in thinking that maps can’t be uploaded and viewed on the 205, but that you can only view lines between waypoints?

  12. Hi Chris

    Yes, the 605/705 will auto-route. Which is nice because, as you say, if you get lost you can tell it to get you found again :)

    Now that the Marengo GPS Route Planner ( now properly supports the 605/705 units for directed routing (i.e. that you’ve planned on your computer), you have the best of both worlds with the 605/705 units.

  13. Hi Martyn, thanks very much! i think i will update to the 605 (anyone want to buy a 205? :P )

    It seems like it’d be worth installing a proper topographical (sp?) map – roughly how much do these cost (if you can’t get them for free?)? I guess it’d be great to have a UK one, or at least a London and surrounding areas one…

  14. Depends what you mean by topographical. My 605 came with a full western Europe road map on micro SD.

  15. ah excellent, that sounds perfect! i will see if i can get a version that comes with that too… Thanks for your help, i’m sure i’ll be back once i’ve got it to ask for help!

    thanks again,

  16. I use the openmaps (converted to an IMG) to route on my 705. Google for the project and the garmin formatted maps. You just put your maps into the Garmin directory on your SD card. I mount the SD card, write the images then put it back in the unit- kind of a PITA but Garmin doesn’t support Linux. Anyway- the openmaps are better than garmin’s in my area and of course, I can update them as I please.

  17. Hi Martyn,
    I have a 305 edge and like so many of us only use Windows to get the info from the Garmin. Now you said that your 205 was just found by Ubuntu. Well I’ve tried everything I can think of but Ubuntu does not seem to find it. Any suggestions?

  18. Hi FD, when you say Ubuntu can’t find it, what are you doing? Feel free to contact me direct – you can use the contact form at

  19. Martyn, I have an Edge 605 and I ran across your article on this device while trying to figure out how to use my 605 in a non-standard way. A little background…

    I’m doing a river race in July on a very large river. Being in the right spot on the river is critical, because there are many obstacles, both man-made and natural.

    I’ve created a route that I would like to follow down the river. The route is designed to keep me away from obstacles – For example, to keep me on the correct side of the river when there are dikes on the other side.

    Given your statements on the 605, it sounds like I may have trouble getting it to show me my route, but I’m not sure if that’s still true if I make it a course rather than waypoints.

    Also, I’m unsure if there are any more detailed maps than what comes by default on the 605. When I look at its rendering of the river, it shows me little more than a blue stripe, with very little detail. I’m hoping that a commercial map might have more detail, but I also want to make sure that I can upload it to the 605.

    Thanks very much for any advice you can provide, I appreciate it!


  20. Hi Mark, if you sign up for a trial of the Marengo GPS Route Planner ( you’ll find that I’ve now improved support for 605/705 – we can now get it to do point-to-point navigation (as opposed to using maps) well without it trying to auto-route. Hope this helps…!

  21. Hi Martyn,

    Your route planner is excellent – I have been using it to plan routes on my Edge 305 for several years. I am going to upgrade to an Edge 705. How does the 705 recognize supplemental maps on an SD card? As you know the 305 doesn’t have base maps or SD slot.

  22. Hi Mark, thanks for the kind comments. The 705 works well (now) with the Route Planner, giving you the same point-to-point navigation you’re used to. You also have the advantage of the SD-based maps and auto-routing in case you go off route and need to get, say, to the nearest train station!

  23. I like this gps unit, it was a hassle to get one in South Africa though. There’s mostly car gps units for sale and you have to order at Garmin’s online store specifically to it

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