The Garmin Fenix 5 Plus is the recent offering from Garmin. The Garmin Fenix gained itself an incredible following leading on from its predecessor the Fenix 3, which was and continues to be a firm favourite for those into outdoor adventures.
The Fenix 5 Plus is probably the most complete multisport watch on the market. It was an incredible offering and then Garmin upgraded it by adding music storage, the ability to use contactless payments and improved the navigation tools
Furthermore, the Fenix 5 Plus is one of a family of three with siblings the 5X Plus and 5S Plus).
The Fenix 5 Plus has been specifically designed with cyclist-friendly features. One showstopper on the Fenix 5 Plus is the enhanced navigation. It has Garmin’s full-colour topographical maps for the entirety of Europe (with the option to purchase regions elsewhere). The maps are great for cyclists who want to use the maps they’ve created on Garmin Connect. It’s smart enough to recommend routes to avoid the busiest roads and instead chooses smaller trails and roads used by other cyclists.
It boasts a heart rate monitor, thermometer and a barometric altimeter.
One of the coolest new things is that if you use Spotify Premium you can sync your music wirelessly. Great if you want to ride without being attached to your phone. The only problem here is that it does drain your battery if you use it continuously.
You can get 18 hours of GPS use, but it falls to just 8 with GPS use too, which is a little disappointing compared to the Fenix 5.
As it’s a smartwatch, you’ll get all the notifications you’d expect. If you’re on Android, you get the bonus of being able to reply to messages via your watch.
As for the features important to cycling, the 5 Plus will track indoor activities but it’s designed for the outdoors. The Galileo tracking function ensures there are no black spots on your route, even staying with you in the forest or other areas known to cause GPS to drop off. It also enables the use of a function called TrackBack that allows riders to go back over a route.
Garmin offers a race pacer across a few of its devices. It lets you set a target for time and distance, and gives you a gentle nudge as you’re going along.
When you’re finished on your ride, it gives you specific feedback on your aerobic and anaerobic fitness level, being scored from 1-5. It will then recommend a recovery time between training sessions. You can get this information for up to 7 days, and it will also give you a rough VO2 maximum.
Activity tracking is what this watch was made to do. It will tell you the basics such as calories burned, steps, floors climbed and active minutes during the day.
It also offers advanced sleep tracking and will analyse your night into sections of REM, deep and light sleep, plus any time you spent awake and how much you moved around.
If you’re into outdoor cycling, the Fenix 5 Plys has a waterproof rating of 10ATM so you’re good to go near water (or in, if you’re unlucky).
There are three preset profiles for cycling which are indoor, bike and mountain biking with significantly advanced data specific for your two-wheeled activities.
Finally, it’s compatible with both the Radar series and Varia Bike Light, which have notoriously had very limited compatibility with other devices. Potentially the best thing about it is the seamless syncing with your Strava account.
Other useful features
- You can use Garmin pay for contactless payments
- Live tracking lets your loved ones know where you are in real-time, for your safety
- Sleep monitoring capabilities
- Use your phone to find your watch
- Garmin Move IQ will track your less adventurous activities during the day
The Fenix 5 Plus is pretty huge. It weighs a stonking 86g (although there’s a titanium version at 76g). It’s noticeably heavier than its sibling, the Forerunner 935. Despite the bulk, it’s pretty good looking and you shouldn’t feel any need to swap it when you go out. If you want to, though, the wristband is changeable so you can pop on a silicon, metal or leather one if you want to change your look.
The benefit of it being such a beast is that you won’t fail to see your map on your wrist as you ride!
You can spend a little extra and opt for a scratch-resistant glass screen ($100 extra, to be exact). The display itself offers 240 x 240 full-colour pixels, making it super easy to read in sunlight.
- Brilliant cycling-specific GPS features
- Colour maps and the ability to retrace routes
- Spotify Premium feature for wireless music
- Costly compared to alternatives
- Music and GPS features significantly drain battery life
- Heavy on the wrist
For the price, you get exactly what you pay for and that’s an advanced piece of kit. It is one of the single best multisport watches on the market. It will actively encourage your progression, including appropriate rest and recovery times, meaning you avoid over-training.
Garmin put everything they had into the Fenix range and the addition of music and advanced navigation gives cyclists an elevated level of enjoyment and control into their ride. Every feature on the Fenix has been executed with precision and reason. The only real major downside is that because there’s so much on board, using it all at the same time means you only get so long to do so. The battery life is quickly drained so as much as you might want to enjoy it for a longer ride, you’ll be quickly seeking a charger.