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Inline Speedometer Recommendations? Replies by Actual Users Discuss and Review Forerunner 305 HRM GPS

Cat Brother's picture

As previously noted, at A2A I was totally unprepared for the scathing speeds most experienced racers attain. I'll do A2A again if I think i can do it sub-6 hours...But I need to know what that speed feels like, and how to work to generated it.

I recently found (duh....) that there are indeed inline speedometers, some of which combine with heartrate monitors. Any recommendations as far as good deals, reliability, and durability go?


MikeB's picture

GPS/HRMs are cool toys

Hi Cat Bro,

Deals on these little gizmos are getting very good.  I had the same question earlier in the year and this forum really helped me.  They track: max speed, avg speed, max heartrate, avg HR, distance, elevation, workout time, plus resting time, among quite a few other neat things.  They're great tools to better understand your body's ability to sustain a certain pace for example, or a certain HR.....etc. (very key data for an event like A2A.  Plus they track your workouts via GPS which you can load into your computer with the supplied software or web based software to see exactly where you were.  Even during a workout you can just skate with abandon - come to a stopping point - have no idea where you are - and tell the gizmo to retrace the same route in reverse which will get you back to your starting point.

A few of us use the Garmin Forerunner 305 (look for eebee's post on this).  It may seem a bit bulky at first but 10 strides into a skate and you forget it's there.  I liked it b/c the price was so much better than the newly issued Forerunner 405, and the 305 has a more square screen which makes it easier to customize and view all the above data at one glance.  The main benefits of the 405 are it syncs w/ your computer wirelessly and it is more watch-like, looking like a timex ironman watch on steroids.

I did have an issue w/ my 305 where I had to do a hard reset causing some lost data, but so far so good.

Using www.garmin.com is neat too.  Under the Special Features tab is Garmin Connect where you create a user profile and upload all your workouts.  You'll see some roadskater blog posts by the roadskater himself, using additional websites like www.gpsvisualizer.com to track workouts via googlemap for example and even color coding the event with speed or elevation data.

Some skaters use Polar brand gizmos (look for a post on this from roadskater and skateymark).

I got my 305 on www.target.com which at the time was the lowest price around at $180 and still gave me a box store to walk into if I didn't like it.  Just last week Best Buy had the 305 on sale for $139.  The 405 was $375 earlier in the year but can now be found for around $275.

tell ya what though, putting one of these to good use for a while is really addicting and you won't regret the purchase.  Or perhaps there's time to write Santa.  ;-)

Cat Brother's picture

The skate speedometer that I

The skate speedometer that I saw online (brand unknown) had a receiver that went in your skate hub, so you knew at all times what your speed is - does the 305 do this? I'm thinking of doing intervals at a certain speed, checking my device to see if I'm keeping at that speed, then going again when my HR has gone down. If the 305 does all this, I"m down.
MikeB's picture

The 305/405 will show constant stats

The 305/405 will show constant stats, changing as your workout changes.  The data is in realtime.  Click a button and you can get averages + max figures.  It's fun to check your max speed as you approach a good downhill, and see if you can best it.


skatey-mark's picture

go with GPS

The hub-based sensors are junk... Definitely go with GPS. Many people are using the Garmin 305. If I were to get one today, I'd probably go with the 405. (The 305 just seems way to bulky for my taste.) I'm currently using a Polar RS800, which has an optional GPS sensor. I do like it, and especially like that the GPS sensor is separate. (So I can place it on my helmet and not worry about obstructing the reception if I put my hands behind my back.) However, the Polar is a HRM first and a GPS second. The Garmin is a GPS first and an HRM second. What I mean by this is that the Garmin software has many more bells and whistles related to the GPS functionality. The Polar software has languished for years without any significant new features. Timex also had an HRM-GPS systems a while back, and you might be able to find one cheap on eBay. But, you can probably find the Garmin 305 pretty cheap these days anyway, so I'd go with that if price is an issue. - SM -
skart's picture

305 and 405

I use Forerunner 305 and really love it. I also have Edge 305 on my bike, which is, essentially, the same device in a different body. I have, however, heard that 405 is not as good as 305. I cannot confirm that since i do not own 405, but please do your research before you decide which one to buy. And I agree with skatey-mark that hub-based sensors are not the best.
roadskater's picture

Forerunner 305 is Still the Best Overall GPS HRM AFAIK

CatBrother, most excellent question. Easy answer is Forerunner 305. The various hub or magnet and glue systems are prone to error and increasing error. Skate wheels are much smaller than bicycle wheels, so the circumference is much smaller and much more prone to inaccuracy. Even if you got things right, when your wheels wore significantly, making the circumference smaller, the data would be off. But even if all of this was trivial, the Forerunner 305 has so much to offer it is not even close. Skatey-Mark and myself are Polar fans from years gone by, but they had a few down years as far as I was concerned, and some of their attitude or design decisions annoyed me (battery changes requiring shipping to Finland in the old days). Then they were left at the dock as far as GPS and we can't understand why. Now they seem to have caught up, but Polar has always been expensive for what you get, and they price things so that the features you really want may mean a $100 difference or more in price. I'm also a Garmin fan from way back. Even when reviewing handheld GPS units before they even had 12-channel receivers, Garmin had the best software and button interfaces. The 405 looks nice, but really, after a few minutes you'll likely forget the size of the thing except to be glad you can read it under stress, and can modify the displays to show 4 pieces of data on one screen and still see it. There's way to much to cover, but it does repeat workouts based on speed, heartrate or distance as I recall. I think you mentioned this as a feature you'd like. It also has the compete with yourself little dude that you can race...you can race yourself from the day before or some other stored workout. One feature I like (and I set it as a default item for running or biking mode so I can switch to it easily) is that it will tell you Sunrise and Sunset times for the very spot where you are (not some nearby town). This is handy when going out for a long Silver Comet Trail skate or lots more. There are 37 data types you can display on 3 screens of up to 4 data items each. You can have the data screens "rotate" or come up by button press. I leave mine rotating so I know quickly if I accidentally press the stop button. (This is one complaint but I've gotten around it; the other is losing HR data sometimes when holding your hands behind your back.) The crucial data item for me is Average Heart Rate since you started the workout. This is similar to an anaerobic threshold measure in that it is a number you can learn to watch and if you find yourself above it on a long skate, you may want to back off a bit so you're not in a heap later. Also you can train this number upward over the summer, meaning train to where you can do a higher AHR without requiring stops that bring that number back down. Average Lap Heart Rate is good if you started out with your strap not working for some reason and your data is suspect. You can hit a lap and use that. Lap data is especially useful if you use the auto lap features. One way is to set it to do a lap every time you come by a particular place. No more counting laps, and you'll average lap speed, hr, time, distance, etc. Another way to do is autolap. For example, one year at A2A I had the 305 do a lap every mile automatically. Thus I had the lap data, including avg and max speed, for each of the 87 or so miles. We believe, several of us, that the elevation and calorie data are bogus. It'd be nice to have that, but the GPS data is so accurate and the HR data so good that I'm OK without the elevation and calorie data being better. The calorie data can be used as a RELATIVE measure from day to day or even to event, I guess. The elevation data can be corrected using gpsvisualizer.com and other sources that take your Lat and Long position and look up the correct elevation from the Digital Elevation Model data at NASA or other sources. There's no funny business with data storage like Polar used to do to make you buy upward in the model line. It stores up to 1000 laps, and each workout is separate. You can have several workouts a day. Uploading data is easy on a PC at least, via the USB charging cradle. You'll have your workout log without writing anything, and can add notes if you like, or use alternate software (SportTracks for example), or websites that add weather data, etc. Some people (not me) use the autopause feature to ignore the time at rest stops or stop lights. This can make you feel better about your speed! You can set up profiles for one data screen for running, biking and other (but you can't make other say SKATING or make the little ski person a skate person). You can set high/low alarms for heart rate and speed. You can set time/distance alerts including a (repeat or not) timer alarm. Here's a short quotation from their online info: "Advanced workouts: Set up workouts with specific durations and targets (speed or heart rate) "Quick workouts: Allows you to input training goals based on time, distance and pace "Virtual Partner™: Displays a graphic “virtual partner” that will run with the set goal, so you can see at a glance if you are keeping up or falling behind. Works with courses and workout features "Interval training: Allows you to set up exercise and rest intervals and number of reps And last, a biggie, it uses the SiRFstarIII™ high-sensitivity GPS receiver and it really is WAY better reception than several handheld receivers I own from previous generations, compared in full summer tree cover at Country Park. I recently told someone that getting skates is great, but the Forerunner 305 has been more important to my getting out to skate and enjoying it than most pairs of skates I've bought, if not all (but one I guess or I wouldn't be skating at all, ha). With prices below $200, it really is an excellent tool that's very flexible, easy to use without modifying, but easy to modify as well. What would I like? * color, and I would not want a smaller screen even if the case had to be as big * slightly longer life, though I usually get 10 hours if I leave it on the cradle always and until I need it * free vector maps of the contiguous 48 at least, or a way to get maps for specific regions downloadable free from the web What else? It's cool to know the time to a nanosecond, always. Set the camera to the same time and you can use software to insert your location into the data in your photos (geolocation, geotagging) and you can make useless thumbnail maps of your photos. This is especially cool, however, for vacation photos, where you might really care where those photos were taken, where you went, all that. And the trackback feature might come in handy now and then, yes. I hope these responses have let people know that the Forerunner 305 is a venerable GPS HRM workout partner. I think I've had mine two years now, and I'm tempted to buy another (but won't until I need it, unless they say they're not making them any more). There are frustrations now and then (I may write a separate article on one of those, solved by turning the heart strap reception off and back on in the wrist unit's memory, all this after the battery outage at Carolina Century), but I have had very few bad times attributable to my Forerunner 305...which I couldn't say for some of my Polar devices, particularly one of the newer heart straps with the pod and snap on strap (an early version I admit, but that's no excuse). So I think we agree...go get it! I got mine at Costco online for similar reasons to MikeB's above. Also if a good price shows up at REI, consider getting one there. TomW had a problem with his Forerunner and they just said no worries here's a new one. That's service! BTW I'd avoid the Timex. It was really a test product in my opinion and enough to convince Garmin to get into the market and do it right. I love Timex 50-lap and 100-lap and other sport watches, especially for that annoying 1-minute countdown repeater, but the strap in those was something funky, worked (sort of) by FM or some such. Oh yeah there's a 310XT or something like that. It's much more expensive, addresses the calorie issue, perhaps is a bit more submersion worthy, but not in consideration for me because it's bang for buck ratio is insufficient at this point. FOR MORE on the Forerunner 305, including pdfs of the manual so you can see features, resetting a Forerunner, etc.: http://roadskater.net/search/node/%22Forerunner+305%22 Also on the Polar RS800: http://roadskater.net/search/node/%22Polar+RS800%22
skatey-mark's picture

Forerunner 305 deal on eBay $115.99 today only

I don't know if this is a good deal or not, but it showed up in my inbox a few moments ago... http://deals.ebay.com/5000005546 Here's a direct link to the item: http://cgi.ebay.com/Garmin-Forerunner-305-Personal-Trainer-GPS-100046700... - SM -
roadskater's picture

eBay Purchases Help Roadskater.net IF

Hi to all and thanks for the eBay link. I wanted to remind everyone that... if you click the eBay ads on Roadskater.net (RSN2.com or RSN1.net classic photos), then do your shopping, it costs you the same, but part of what eBay would keep from the purchase goes to support Roadskater.net's costs (internet access, host hardware, more). Due to North Carolina law, the Amazon link does not currently assist Roadskater.net, but I have left it there in hopes the law changes soon. This law is NC's attempt to grab taxes on purchases in what many consider interstate commerce. My belief is that this is unconstitutional, but I assume it will have to be decided in the Supreme Court of the United States of America, ultimately. Meanwhile, I have no problem with Amazon regarding this. They simply canceled all North Carolina associates accounts in response to the NC power and money grab. Seems reasonable, as they don't really need Roadskater.net, but they were willing to give pennies here and there when someone came through here to go there. And I mean pennies! But everything helps pay for the huge amounts of data hosted in 31,041 photos (currently).
MikeB's picture


What a great price.....unreal, since a year ago they were 200+.

I'm a fan of the "auto-pause" feature, mainly because if I take advantage of a few rest stops (or have to wait on SkateyMark to get his free icecream......just kiddin', he's gracious and waits for me) then that stopped time isn't built into the "work-out" time and mislead me on true exertion time.  Mine is set to go on auto-pause if speed gets under .2 mph, and the time display will show 'work-out time' and 'pause time' separately.

JonathanS's picture

love my 305

I have a garmin 305, and I won't say much as there is no way I could cover in the detail that has been stated above but I will say this. My only gripe is when my hands are behind my back it sometimes loses my HR. Everything else is awesome. I love the autolap feature, the average HR and the fact you can customize the screen. You can also have three different activites set up. So if you run, bike and skate, then you just change your activity and you are ready. I believe it will auto change, but I haven't tried that yet. But for me that mostly skates but sometimes runs, its nice for it to play double duty easily. I would highly recommend the 305 to anyone.
Cat Brother's picture

The 305 it is! Right after I

The 305 it is! Right after I pay the mortgage... And I can confirm, sight unseen, an added calorie counter will be garbage. You need something like a Bodybugg to even get close, and even then caloric burn is dependent on when you last ate, and what, stuff like that.
eebee's picture

What's that sound?!

Wait...what's that noise? Sounds like a can opening and a load of worms spilling out...:-D

Katzebruder...I hereby invite you to flog my dead horse with me! I remember you correcting my explanation of 'carbo loading' in Athens the day before A2A, and I'm thinking you've probably read up on the aforementioned can o' worms. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts about calorie burning per activity based on what you may have read along the way. I don't care really about the accuracy, just the theories behind the calculations. 

allez100's picture

Garmin Forerunner 305 and SportTracks

Hey All, I am a long time user of various GPS units, HR monitors, cyclecomputers, etc. Just want everyone who has a Forerunner 305 (which is working fab for me!!!!) to go to the Sport Tracks free download site and use their tracking, mapping, elevations, - everything - software. http://www.zonefivesoftware.com/SportTracks/ It is so much easier to use than the Garmin Connect - and more accurate too! If you really care about elevation accuracy, there is even a plugin that corrects the Garmin elevation data. It is not a barometric based unit like the Edge series, so elevation is done by triangulation from the satellites so will not be as accurate as the Edge units. For my long road rides I really wanted to know total elevation gained - and through Sports Tracks, I have it. Any inline speed skaters in my area? Cheers, Daniel in Potomac MD
roadskater's picture

SportTracks Questions

Hi allez100... Thanks for the post. I've downloaded SportTracks a time or two and played with it but have never put much real effort into it, I admit. The one time I really tried it I thought maybe it had changed some of the setup info in my Forerunner 305, but maybe that was wrong, as perhaps I made some mistake. I was interested in the mapping and elevations, also in the NASA DEM elevation corrections, but I never got anywhere with it and quickly gave up. So, if you know without much effort... 1. Do I have to do anything special to get the maps going? Is there a special plugin or should it be automatic. 2. Can you remember the name of the plugin for elevation corrections? 3. Can you recommend any other plugins? 4. I think SportTracks has a feature that can tell you your moving average even if you had the Forerunner 305 in the mode that does not AutoPause. Does that sound right? 5. Anything else you like about SportTracks? Are you using the free version or paid upgrade? Thanks! roadskater

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