Garmin 745 Review | High-End Forerunner For Triathlon

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Garmin 745 Review | Forerunner Triathlon

Garmin 745 Review | Forerunner Triathlon Specs
745 | 945

In this Garmin 745 Review, we take a close look at Garmin’s latest Forerunner which will be the only wrist-tech you need in your triathlon kit bag.

Garmin’s latest Forerunner 745 GPS triathlon watch ticks every triathlon-box that needs ticking AND it ticks it with a big, red pen.

It’s expensive though and I guess that’s why you are here. Reassurance. Don’t be confused by the ‘745’ number and think it’s an update on the ageing, mid-range Forerunner 735XT. It’s not. If you want a smaller-format, top-end triathlon watch and you can afford it then just go for the 745. The 745 is ideal for thinner wrists and ideal for those of you who want every triathlon feature under the sun. Think of this as a product that Garmin should instead have called the Forerunner 945s (s=small) and think instead that the Garmin Forerunner 945 should really be called the Garmin Forerunner 945 PRO. Then it makes sense in the Garmin product range. Why? Because the 745 is a smaller 945, slightly cheaper, with a smaller battery and also lacks full, onboard maps.

This review starts off with a summary, which should be all you need; however, page down AFTER the summary and there are copious notes on key features, accuracy and more. I’ve bought the 745 with my own money and have zero links with Garmin except as a customer, like you. Thank you for giving your support to this blog, I hope this review significantly helps you choose the most suitable watch for your needs – if not please ask questions below.

Garmin FR745 Verdict

Product Name: Garmin Forerunner 745

Product Description: GPS Triathlon Watch

Brand: Garmin

[ More Info, Check Prices ]

  • Price - 85%
    85%
  • Apparent Accuracy - 85%
    85%
  • Build Quality & Design - 90%
    90%
  • Features, Including App - 98%
    98%
  • Openness & Compatability - 99%
    99%
91%

Garmin FR745 Review

Garmin 745 Review | Forerunner Triathlon Specs

My Garmin 745 Review unit is a joy to use. I know Garmin devices well and can mostly navigate myself through the myriad of options, features and foibles. As a longstanding Garmin user and GB Age Group Triathlete/Duathlete, I know this will do everything I ask of it for my triathlons. It properly supports my structured and unstructured training and it links to all the power meters, heart rate monitors and other sensors I ask it to.

Whether I then train in the pool, gym or on my bike I know that the screens and data that the 745 shows can be configured to be just how I like it. I know the GPS and oHR won’t be super accurate, so I easily connect to my STRYD footpod and HRM-PRO chest strap. When I race in duathlon/triathlons then I have all the alerts and key data I need at my fingertips although I definitely prefer to interact with a bike computer on the second leg. After my training or racing, I get decent summaries on the watch and the ability to send all my data wherever else I want to. The whole experience is underlain with the highly interesting Garmin physiology features – I particularly like Training Load Focus.

It does all the sporty stuff REALLY well.

The smaller case format means the battery is smaller. It will give you multi-day usage even when used as a sports watch and it should cover your HIM race duration with ease. However the compromise here is that the 745’s screen’s beauty is ‘alright’ but certainly not in the same league as a super-pretty Apple Watch whose beautiful screen gobbles battery for breakfast, lunch and dinner (if it lasts that long). Garmin also has to justify the discount compared to the FR945 model, so you lose a few super-peripheral features like a golf sports profile! but the ‘major’ loss is onboard maps – although you CAN still download and follow breadcrumb routes even ones that have been created on the Garmin app using popularity routing.

Pros

  • Every meaningful triathlon training feature eg duathlon brick repeats with transitions
  • A vast array of physiology-related features, many of them are good
  • Unrivalled sports features and screen configurations
  • Many very good, free, sporty apps from CIQ
  • Instant links to 3rd party plans, workout
  • Music and Pay included
  • Unrivalled integration with most major sports platforms
  • Unrivalled connectivity to sports sensors
  • Interesting new ‘Daily Suggested Workout’ for unstructured guidance
  • New track workout feature
  • Latest Garmin hardware spec

Cons

  • Price
  • You get used to the many inconsistencies with the menus
  • oHR and GPS are OK but should be better
  • Garmin Pay has patchy support
  • GPS watch batteries DO degrade over time. The 745 might be a risky choice for an Ironman if you enable lots of features
  • Music is good but doesn’t cover YouTube Music (Google PLAY)…yet
  • It won’t make you go faster.

Garmin 745 vs 945, What’s the Difference?

The 745 is smaller but the features are highly similar. The main feature difference is the lack of onboard maps, and the smaller casing means the battery life is less but still good. Naturally, the 745 is a little cheaper by $100.

Mini Verdict: Key differences are the overall size and battery. That’s it.

Garmin 745 vs 735XT, What’s the Difference

These are two wholly different watches. The 745 is simply newer, faster, better-featured and better-made and boasts MANY significant new features including new CIQ app capabilities; a barometer; Garmin Running Power support; body battery; heat acclimation; training load focus; Garmin PAY; music support; new ELEVATE oHR with SpO2; new Galileo-enabled GNSS chip; track mode; PacePro; automated daily workout suggestions; contactless payments; track mode and personal safety features.

Mini Verdit: Yes…upgrade. #NoBrainer

Organising Training

This is immense in scope

You can follow a calendarised, 3rd party plan; Garmin‘s plans, or simply create one yourself and any plan can contain highly-complex, structured, guided workouts. If you prefer ad-hoc training then Garmin’s numerous physiology features include a revamped recovery time that gives you general guidance or there are more specific recommendations for you with the new Suggested Daily Workouts.

 

Training & Racing – Garmin 745 Review

My Garmin 745 Review unit is simply an awesome tool for training and racing. You can create custom multisport profiles and you are thus covered for any combination of Swim-Bike-Run and those sports profiles can show multiple pages of data and just about every possible data metric you could want – pace, speed, power, targets, muscle oxygen…and WAY more. You can have manual or automated alerts to tell you to slow down and reminder for drink/fuel.

Garmin 745 Review | Forerunner Triathlon GPS Watch Specifications running

  • For swimming, you are fully covered with custom pool lengths, links to H.U.D. swim goggles (FORM), and with OWS you can of course cache and retrieve HR from a chest strap OR record it with the inbuilt optical sensor. Structured swim workouts were introduced a long time ago and yes, of course, you get fancy swim metrics like SWOLF, a pool rest timer and pool drill mode.
  • For cycling, you have very many of the top-end features found on the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus, really all you’re missing is the larger screen and navigation as you can fully connect to power meters, your indoor trainer, Shimano Di2 or the Awesome Varia Radar/lights.
  • With running you have STRYD support via CIQ and the new track mode. If you have an HRM-RUN/HRM-TRI or HRM-PRO then that will still give you all the running dynamics you could possibly ever need.

You get 99.5% of the swim-bike-run features found on Garmin’s top-end watches.

 

Analysing Training – Garmin FR745 Review

Naturally, you get a great post-workout summary showing you a range of information from simple laps to more complex insights into the physiological impact the training had such as the anaerobic/aerobic training effect. It’s good to know you achieved your workout target but…what next? Well, the physiological info on the 745 gives you insight about your readiness to train, the time to recovery and training load focus tells you how your completed training matches the optimal balance of differing training types. These are all useful pointers for self-coaching triathletes plus useful for those following a 3rd party plan just to review its suitability as you progress.

Garmin 745 Review | Forerunner Triathlon GPS Watch Specifications running

Special Feature – Garmin PAY

Garmin PAY must be supported by your specific bank and thus coverage can be limited, especially outside of the USA. I had to open an account with UK-based Starling bank to get this to work. Once setup, it’s accepted everywhere as a Mastercard/Visa.

Garmin 745 Review | Forerunner Triathlon GPS Watch Specifications running

Special Feature – Music

There is support for connecting to Spotify, Amazon Music, and audiobooks/podcasts too. You CAN use your own collection of MP3s but you can’t link to YouTube Music (Google Play Music). Garmin’s music features can be a little bit clunky BUT the ‘rub’ here is that they ARE STILL superior to just about every other competitor offering and Garmin’s button interface works better than a touchscreen when in the middle of a sweaty workout.

Garmin 745 Review | Forerunner Triathlon GPS Watch Specifications running

Special Feature – Garmin Running Power (GRP)

Garmin’s Running Power ‘algorithm’ is free to use but is dependent on the accuracy of inputs from several sensors one of them being GPS another being a generic wind forecast.

 

I encourage you to give running with power a go and to try out the free GRP CIQ app. FWIW I use running with power every week with STRYD and consider it ‘accurate’ and certainly better than GRP.

STRYD Review 2020| Running Power | Footpod Meter | Over 2000 Miles of use |

Special Features – STRAVA

You can upload your completed workouts to STRAVA and you can easily sync your STRAVA Routes and favourite STRAVA Segments directly onto your FR745 from STRAVA. For STRAVA subscribers there is extra functionality on the 745 where you can compete LIVE against your PR or KOM on your favourite segments and there are also apps/widgets like STRAVA Relative Effort that you can also view on your 745. It’s all great functionality but it works best if you are a paying STRAVA Subscriber.

STRAVA Live Segments – Hammerhead Karoo vs Garmin vs Polar vs Wahoo vs Polar vs Sigma

 

Special Features – Physiology Insights

There are several other physiology features on the 745, WAY more than just VO2max. Here is a link to much more detailed explanations

Garmin Forerunner – Firstbeat Insights

Special Feature – Garmin CIQ Apps

You can download Garmin’s app store to your smartphone as described below. From there you can choose from MANY types of free apps developed by third parties. I’ve also included a second link to the best apps nominated for Garmin’s annual app award.

New Garmin App Store – iOS and Android

 

Best CIQ Apps 2020 – Winners

Garmin FR745 Review – Accuracy – GPS oHR

A Very Mixed Bag and a Little Bit Disappointing if I’m Honest

Garmin does seem to have improved GPS/GNSS accuracy in some situations with the Forerunner 745 (GPS v3.1), most notably in Open Water Swimming and to an extent cycling. It even got an ‘excellent’ score in a standard test I perform on every GPS sports watch. However, the general GPS experience is variable and sometimes worse than found in competitive products, yet confusingly superior at other times. That said, I rate the Forerunner 745’s accuracy as ‘broadly acceptable overall‘. The tracks produced for swimming and cycling are generally good and for running they are broadly acceptable until you get into areas of tricky reception.

I normally recommend GPS-only for Garmin GNSS reception but I can’t do that for the 745 this time around and I recommend that you take the battery hit and use GLONASS.

Unless you have good GPS reception conditions the 745 won’t be able to accurately tell you your running pace without a footpod.

Garmin’s Gen 3 optical sensor, called ELEVATE, has been their best-to-date however the optical HR performance you see from the wrist will depend on the unique environmental and physiological factors of your workout. The 745 is a light watch and this should normally help oHR as there should be less watch movement…not this time. There were several times, in varied conditions, where the Forerunner 745 simply performed badly with the oHR.

Worryingly for Garmin, the HR sensor on the Apple Watch 6 is certainly superior to the one from Garmin for sports usage when worn in EXACTLY the same way on the other wrist. At least that was my experience.

As always, I recommend a heart rate strap and footpod if you want accuracy.

Here are the full and super-detailed test results which are only available to supporters.

 

Garmin Connect – App & Platform – Garmin 745 Review

Garmin’s app and online platform are one of the better sport and activity offerings. I like Fitbit’s and Polar’s too.

The Garmin Connect app is comprehensive covering; sleep, steps, sports, day views, trends, and physiological stuff. That’s all there and more besides. There is SO MUCH data in the app that sometimes it’s not always so intuitive to know where to look to find the information you need. But it is there. Somewhere. All your smartphone data is sync’d to Garmin Connect online and the same sort of thing is available on that platform. And it’s all free.

Here are several screenshots of the app from a few months back, including one of my GPS accuracy test route. More on that later.

 

Those of you who have more than one Garmin device will notice that your physiological recordings are starting to be synchronised across the Garmin ecosystem using Physio TrueUp on supported devices – of which the 745 is one.

Garmin 745 Review’s Specifications

Let’s have a quick look at the standard Garmin watch format before discussing some of the key specs that may affect your experience with the FR745.

The size is that of a standard, medium-format Garmin coming in at 43.8 x 43.8 x 13.3 mm (47g) with a MIP screen diameter of 30.4 mm (1.2″) and resolution of 240x240px. It’s good to go swimming toWR50/50m and the screen is Gorilla Glass DX. There is a 22m strap which is interchangeable (not QuickFit)

You have all the latest onboard Garmin sensors including ELEVATE v3 which delivers SpO2 and the Sony GNSS chip that gives Galileo if you want it.

Garmin 745 Review BATTERY

Garmin recently seems to have changed the basis on which the battery life is specified and, as such, when you compare the 745’s battery life to that of the FR945 it doesn’t make sense…like this…

945

  • Smartwatch Mode: Up to 2 weeks
  • GPS mode with music: Up to 10 hours
  • GPS mode without music: Up to 36 hours

745

  • Smartwatch mode: Up to 7 days
  • GPS mode with music: Up to 6 hours
  • GPS mode without music: Up to 16 hours

However, Garmin also says elsewhere that if you use GPS-only mode (not GPS+GLONASS) and some other settings then the 16 hours of non-music usage can be boosted up to 24 hours. So make these changes to your settings:

  • Run Settings>GPS>GPS Only
  • System>Backlight>During Activity>Gesture>Off
  • Backlight>During Activity>Keys and Alerts>Off
  • Phone>Off

Source: Garmin

Garmin FR745 Verdict

Product Name: Garmin Forerunner 745

Product Description: GPS Triathlon Watch

Brand: Garmin

[ More Info, Check Prices ]

  • Price - 85%
    85%
  • Apparent Accuracy - 85%
    85%
  • Build Quality & Design - 90%
    90%
  • Features, Including App - 98%
    98%
  • Openness & Compatability - 99%
    99%
91%

Garmin FR745 Review

Garmin 745 Review | Forerunner Triathlon Specs

My Garmin 745 Review unit is a joy to use. I know Garmin devices well and can mostly navigate myself through the myriad of options, features and foibles. As a longstanding Garmin user and GB Age Group Triathlete/Duathlete, I know this will do everything I ask of it for my triathlons. It properly supports my structured and unstructured training and it links to all the power meters, heart rate monitors and other sensors I ask it to.

Whether I then train in the pool, gym or on my bike I know that the screens and data that the 745 shows can be configured to be just how I like it. I know the GPS and oHR won’t be super accurate, so I easily connect to my STRYD footpod and HRM-PRO chest strap. When I race in duathlon/triathlons then I have all the alerts and key data I need at my fingertips although I definitely prefer to interact with a bike computer on the second leg. After my training or racing, I get decent summaries on the watch and the ability to send all my data wherever else I want to. The whole experience is underlain with the highly interesting Garmin physiology features – I particularly like Training Load Focus.

It does all the sporty stuff REALLY well.

The smaller case format means the battery is smaller. It will give you multi-day usage even when used as a sports watch and it should cover your HIM race duration with ease. However the compromise here is that the 745’s screen’s beauty is ‘alright’ but certainly not in the same league as a super-pretty Apple Watch whose beautiful screen gobbles battery for breakfast, lunch and dinner (if it lasts that long). Garmin also has to justify the discount compared to the FR945 model, so you lose a few super-peripheral features like a golf sports profile! but the ‘major’ loss is onboard maps – although you CAN still download and follow breadcrumb routes even ones that have been created on the Garmin app using popularity routing.

Pros

  • Every meaningful triathlon training feature eg duathlon brick repeats with transitions
  • A vast array of physiology-related features, many of them are good
  • Unrivalled sports features and screen configurations
  • Many very good, free, sporty apps from CIQ
  • Instant links to 3rd party plans, workout
  • Music and Pay included
  • Unrivalled integration with most major sports platforms
  • Unrivalled connectivity to sports sensors
  • Interesting new ‘Daily Suggested Workout’ for unstructured guidance
  • New track workout feature
  • Latest Garmin hardware spec

Cons

  • Price
  • You get used to the many inconsistencies with the menus
  • oHR and GPS are OK but should be better
  • Garmin Pay has patchy support
  • GPS watch batteries DO degrade over time. The 745 might be a risky choice for an Ironman if you enable lots of features
  • Music is good but doesn’t cover YouTube Music (Google PLAY)…yet
  • It won’t make you go faster.

Disclaimer: I have ZERO relationships with Garmin except as a customer like you. Thus I give my genuine opinion. I bought this with my own money and appreciate any help you can give supporting this blog. eg you can assume that all the links probably give me a small commission if you decide to buy one (some don’t!).

 

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John Kissane

Thanks for the review. If one could acquire a new 945 for ~€20 less than the 745 then presumably a no-brainer to go that direction? Asking for a friend 🙂

John Kissane

Not as small as they used to be pre-lockdown that’s for sure! Guess I may as well put all the race refunds for this year to some use.

Chuan

Well 745 just like 945 without map with few USD cheaper,the marketing position of 745 is weird

FitGearHunter

Hey! First time commenter. Great review! Random question – can we still access the Firstbeat list of devices and what FB features each have? And any idea when the 745/945 is getting the sleep analytics update?

tfk, the5krunner

no and no 🙁

1. possibly some details left in the google cache
2. sleep timing: it’s got to be soon…lots of people asking and it must be a feature for a top-end device.