I have now used the forerunner for a couple of rides, and two rides on the same course.
Using the Garmin Training Center I had configured one of my rides as a course. This is probably the closest comparison between the Forerunner 305 and the Ciclosport Hac 4, as I used the Hac 4 for a similar ‘virtual partner’ feature that the Forerunner 305 provides.
First off, selecting a course is much easier on the Forerunner. The courses you want are named on the device. On the Hac4 I had to remember the date and time that I last did the course. I can see this as a benefit in the future as I will probably have 3 courses saved for riding, one for no wind, one for a north wind and another for a southerly breeze. My riding times are greatly effected by the wind as I am quite exposed on some parts of my course.
Once a course has been selected the three screens of active information on the Forerunner is increased to six. The extra three screens are related to the course, and provide some interesting information. On the whole there are only 2 screens that I am interested in, my configured cycling screen, with HR, Cadence, Speed and Current Time. The other screen that I am interested in is the virtual partner screen. Unfortunately the 2 screens are 3 presses of the up/down button apart.
While riding I spend most of the time looking at the cycling screen. On the bike it is easy to review all the information displayed on the screen, as the bike and my head aren’t moving around much. The screen is clear and easy to read. Occasionally after going through tunnels the computer beeped to let me know it was back on course.
The Virtual Partner screen is in my opinion a bit of a waste of screen space. At the top of the screen is a ‘visualisation’ of my current position and the virtual partner position. In reality this is two bikes on the screen with no scale. The bottom of the screen is useful as it display how far in front/behind I am against my Virtual Partner. It uses the same white text on black vs black text on white to let you know if you are ahead/behind. Personally it would be great if I could display my heart rate and cadence at the top of the screen instead of the visualisation. As far as I can tell the Virtual Partner screen cannot be configured.
Out on the ride the system works well. The only thing that would be nice is if the virtual partner could pause when I am stopped at lights. Once I load the history on my computer the system can display my ride with the pauses taken out, however out on the course the virtual partner keeps riding while you are stopped at the lights.
The other thing that I would change with the virtual partner is that I think the time you are in front of your virtual partner is more useful that the distance. While running distance is fine as your pace doesn’t change to much on the ascents and descents. On the bike there can easily be a difference between 60kmh and 15kmh on the steepest hills. If you are traveling at 60kmh, 100 meters isn’t very far in front, but at 15kmh the distance is actually a larger gap time wise. It might be that I am just use to how the Hac 4 displayed its virtual race distance.
On the whole still extremely happy with the Forerunner as a Cycling Computer.