For years, Garmin has been a leader in on-bike navigation, tracking, and data collection. For 2017, the brand has made some nice improvements in their versatile head units. With continued upgrades in battery technology, Garmin has taken to making units smaller and more functional. One example is the brand’s new line of Fenix 5 multi-sport watches. If you’re like me and prefer to keep on bike electronic gadgets to a minimum, the Fenix offers up an array of useful GPS and tracking tools in small stylish wristwatch package.
All Fenix 5 models feature an extensive list of functional training information and tracking, including basic cycling, running, and swimming functions, GPS tracking and waypoints, barometric altimeter, and magnetic compass. All 5 units also feature a broad range of connectivity via USB, Bluetooth SMART, and optional WiFi. All models also have an extensive line of interchangeable band options, and can fit most any wrist size. A full list of features can be found at garmin.com
FENIX 5s is smallest in size of the bunch at 42mm in width and features activity tracking, an optional “indestructible” sapphire glass upgrade also includes a very practical WiFi feature, the Fenix 5 is the midsized option at 47mm in width and includes all the same features of the 5s but in a slightly larger package. The largest and most capable of the bunch is the Fenix 5X which at 51mm in width features full mapping and navigational capabilities, comes with preloaded topo maps of the country of sale, and is only available with the sapphire glass and retails at $699.
Battery life on these units varies based on conditions and functions in use, but can run up to 24 hours in GPS-on mode, up to 75 hours in UltraTrac tracking mode, and 9-days while not utilizing GPS tracking, all vast improvements over previous versions.
Other new products from Garmin include the Varia rearview radar, a product that alerts a rider of rear approaching traffic via a stem mounted display. The unit is the first of its kind and warns riders of vehicles approaching from behind up to 153 yards or 140 meters, and the included taillight unit brightens and flashes to notify approaching traffic of a cyclist ahead. The Varia works independently or can be wirelessly integrated with compatible Edge cycling computers. Many other safety features can be added to the basic $199 Varia like bike specific turn signals. Like the new Fenix 5’s, the Varia system is available now through any Garmin retailer.
This article is part of RoadBikeReview’s coverage of the 2017 Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California. For more from Sea Otter CLICK HERE.