by Franz Kelsch
For many years I used a Polar heart rate monitor for both running and later for cycling. Starting with the Polar 720i, then the 625X, with footpod, it seemed like an ideal way to keep track of my speed and distance on both the bike and running. However I had become progressively disenchanted with Polar as a company. Even to this day they do not support their products on the Mac operating system, something that Garmin now does with all their products. They also seem to have lost the technology advantage they once had by letting Garmin move ahead with the use of GPS technology. Garmin’s early GPS units were bulky and seemed quite impractical but with each new generation they have continued to advance and their GPS units now have become quite small.
I previously wrote about the Garmin Edge 500 compared with the Polar 625X for cycling. It turned out that the Garmin Edge 500, which was primarily built for cycling weights no more than the Polar 625X. See my previous post for the detail comparison.
One of the nice features of the Garmin Edge 500 was the quick quarter turn mount. The new Garmin Forerunner 310X, has an optional “Quick release mounting kit” that is designed to convert their Forerunner running watches to use the same quarter turn mount, allowing you to use it on both your wrist and on the bike.
I ordered the kit for about $25 from Amazon and received it today. It comes with a wrist stap (the part I was interested in) as well as a bike mounting kit and a back for the 310XT to convert it to the quarter turn mount. Using only the strap I was able to attach the Garmin Edge 500 directly to my wrist. The orientation on your wrist may not be the idea way, but it is workable.
It might look a bit geeky, but not as much as the early Garmin Forerunner running watches.
So how much does the strap add to the 2 oz. weight of the Garmin Edge 500? Turns out not much, bringing the total weight from 2.0 to 2.6 oz. The difference is less than the weight of the footpod I use with the Polar 625X. It is almost the same as the 2.5 oz weight of the Garmin 310XT.
Is this combination the same as using the Garmin Forerunner 310XT?
If one is primarily focused on running, or on tri sports, then getting the Garmin 310XT might well be worth the price. For those who are mostly focused on cycling and do some running, then the Edge 500 does work as a workable solution if you want a GPS to use on your runs. It will not show your pace in any readout. Even using the speed, in mph, is not very useful because it seems to be erratic. But I found the pace readout on the Polar 625X to also be useless and ended up using the average speed over the course the of the run, which the Garmin Edge 500 will do. So if you own a Garmin 500 and want to have some type of GPS unit for running, you can get there with a small investment. Even without a footpod, it seems to be quite accurate and unlike the Polar 625X, the distance measurement does not seem to be greatly influenced by the pace being run. After the run, I can download the data to my Mac computer and see my average pace, and a map of the run. It makes it much easier later on to remember where you actual ran.
You also get some features that the Garmin Forerunner 310XT lack, including barometric pressure altimeter and temperature readout, although I am not sure that the temperature reading on the Garmin Edge 500 is very accurate. I realize that Polar has some newer running and cycling devices than the Polar 625X, but their unwillingness to embrace both the Mac and the standard Ant+ communication with their components, has kept me from spending any more money on Polar products. They seem to have a lot of different products, too many in my opinion. Try to pick out from the Polar offering and it is way too confusing.
Of course if you have no Garmin device now, you could go with the Garmin Forerunner 310XT, and use the Quick release kit to mount it on your bike or your wrist. But I primarily bike and the Garmin Edge 500 is well suited for that. You might also read my other post on using course on the Edge 500.