Garmin & Co – These Are The Only Products I’ve Recommended to Friends
There are a lot of good products out there, and many of them will be great for you or someone you know. However, it’s perhaps hard to unequivocally recommend a product to a friend, perhaps made easier if the friend has similar needs to you.
Here are some products that do a relatively generic job, and that I’ve recommended to friends at various times.
Garmin Varia Radar
You don’t have to have a Garmin Edge bike computer. All the well-known bike computers will work perfectly well with the Garmin Varia RTL515.
The big plus with Garmin’s smart radar is that it might stop you from being killed.
You get car-approaching alerts on your bike computer, and the car gets flashed like crazy by the powerful light and its variable light patterns.
It’s a relatively expensive product whose battery I would love to last much longer. It even does have the occasional false negative. But overall, I want my friends to stay alive, and this is the best product to do that.
Buy: Garmin Varia RTL515.
Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt/Roam 2
If you have really complex, unusual, or specific cycling needs, then a Garmin Edge might be the only bike computer for you. I just bought myself a Garmin Edge 540, but mainly because my special cycling need is to support the work on this blog, and I use CIQ for that.
Pretty much all my cycling buddies now have either a Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt or ELEMNT ROAM. Without exception, they’re all happy. I’m happy too as they were more than satisfied with my recommendation. None of them has any unusual cycling needs, and they just want to ride their bike without having to worry about the tech rebooting or not saving their ride. A simple power track, Strava log, and the ability to follow a route are all they need. #JustWorks
Garmin FR 965/ Epix 2
Finally, Garmin’s headline watches are more reliable and accurate, plus now with a beautiful screen. Previous models were good to varying degrees, but all that’s holding back the current lineup of watches is the complex interface and maybe some of the stats that are made up based on inaccurate topical HR readings.
I’m happy with the Forerunner 965 for triathlon and would recommend either it or the Epix 2 Pro if you prefer a heavier, metal version. I struggle to think what else I would want a sports watch to do.
Buy: Forerunner 965
Buy: Epix 2
Garmin HRM-PRO Plus
The original HRM-PRO had a physical design fault in its battery compartment; you shouldn’t buy one. Even older Garmin HRMs lacked in other areas like multiple BLE channels to support indoor activities.
However, the HRM PRO Plus now pretty much does all everyone will need an HRM to do. It’s an expensive product, but I certainly would be nervous about getting a friend to buy another brand’s offerings as they all have drawbacks. If you have specific needs like the best chance of lab-grade accuracy, then Polar H10 might be best, but a safe general recommendation for those who can afford it is the versatile HRM-PRO Plus.
Buy: Garmin HRM-PRO Plus
I find the Apple Watch to be a very useful gadget working alongside my iPhone and comes highly recommended for that purpose.
If you want to use one to log the occasional workout, then go for it; Apple Watch is pretty good there too. That said, I wouldn’t recommend one to friends looking for a serious sports watch.
Buy Apple Watch
I’d still recommend Stryd to runners who want more precise data to act upon and triathletes who already understand training with power. For the rest of you, your watch will probably already give you a vaguely actionable and free version of power for you to try.
I’d feel lost without Stryd on every run and have recommended it to lots of runner friends as soon as they realize the inaccuracies of their watches when the seconds start to become important.
Wireless or not wireless?
I love the light touch of a button to change gears or change the display on my Wahoo/Garmin. Di2 gives me that without the need to move my hand position or contort my grip.
Yet Di2 is a freakin expensive upgrade to make and probably not worth it in such a scenario. But it’s definitely worth bagging Di2 on a new bike purchase. Battery life is pretty good; however, it’s surprisingly easy to get your gears out of alignment, and that can drain the battery quicker than you’d like. The maintenance side of Di2, along with Shimano’s rubbish app, needs significant improvement. However, the in-ride experience seals the recommendation.
Wahoo Kickr V6
I’ve got a few Kickrs and am using a Kickr V6 on loan from Wahoo right now. I’d definitely recommend it to a friend and have done so on several occasions.
However, it’s a tricky one to recommend as of June 2023. At $1000/$1000 a pop, it’s expensive, and we may well see more significant disruptions in the pricing from indoor trainers over the next few years. A significantly cheaper Kickr Core is a VERY similar product, but if money is not a barrier, I’d still get the top-end Kickr V6 from 2022.
Buy: Wahoo Kickr
Favero Assioma Duo
I can unequivocally recommend Favero’s ASSIOMA pedals. A pedal power meter is a handy power solution for owners of multiple bikes. All my Faveros worked excellently from day 1, including the original bePRO model.
My only criticisms of the original Assioma Duo were that with some shoes, it needed a 1mm shim, and I didn’t like the Look-compatible cleats either. The Assioma Duo Shi version now supports Shimano cleats, so that is my recommendation.
That said, I’m using a Stages G3 Dura-Ace crankset at the moment, and before that, a Shimano R9100P. Both are accurate enough for me, and yes, I know the reported LR power issues of the R9100P elsewhere, but mine is fine (I actually prefer it to the Stages but can’t be bothered to change the crankset back over). While the R9100P is my personal favourite, I would be nervous about recommending it to a friend because of stories I’ve heard elsewhere.
Buy: Favero Assioma
I would and do recommend Nike Vaporfly to anyone who will listen. Perhaps I shouldn’t. If you pronate, need ankle support, or run off-road, then these probably aren’t for you, and most (all) of my cycling buddies probably aren’t good enough runners to warrant getting a pair.
Wheel Type: Tubeless, Clincher, Disc brake, rim brake, 11-speed, or 12-speed, 105 vs. Ultegra vs. Dura-Ace.
I would, by default, recommend an 11-speed Ultegra electronic setup on rim brakes, but only because that’s what I use. I’d probably also say to use latex tubes despite the need to check pressure every day (I do that anyway).
I wouldn’t recommend a tubeless setup because of its practical downside, even though it’s almost certainly slightly better from a performance perspective and certainly a risk reducer as a race-day tire, as a minor puncture could self-repair.
However, I would temper my original recommendation for rim brakes by warning you to be wary of braking on carbon rims in the wet. A Disc simply will be better and safer in the round.
Similarly, my setup is very much a sensible one for 2023, but moving forward to 2026, I’d see tubeless, electronic, disc brakes on 12-speed systems as the norm. Then you have to worry about where your spare parts might come from if you go with my recommendation. Almost everyone I cycle with has disc brakes, and some have tried tubeless but regretted it.
Continental GP5000 Tyre
The Continental GP5000 isn’t the fastest tyre nor is it the most durable nor is it the cheapest.
However, for about £40 a pop, it would be my recommended all-around tyre as it’s fast enough for most races and durable enough for most Sunday rides. It has excellent rolling resistance, and if you get the correct tyre width as recommended by your wheel company, then you should get the maximal aero benefit too. Add in the recommended tyre pressure for your weight and road conditions, and you’ll be going faster than all your mates.
I can’t see any reason not to recommend the GP5000. Perhaps the only exception is that I’ve been using the new Pirelli P Zero Race TT tyre, and it IS faster for races and PB attempts. That said, there are probably even faster race-specific tires out there.
Lots of other products are worthy of a recommendation. What products have you recommended?
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