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Garmin Forerunner 745 review

Does this runner’s favourite have enough appeal for cyclists?

Our rating 
3.5 out of 5 star rating 3.5
GBP £400.00 RRP | USD $500.00 | EUR €450.00 | AUD $849.00
Garmin Forerunner 745 smartwatch

Our review

Very impressive, but opt for the Garmin 945
Pros: Variety of features; usability; fitness analysis
Cons: Battery life; less appeal for pure cyclists
Skip to view product specifications

The Garmin Forerunner 745 is a streamlined version of the Forerunner 945; similarly styled and with the same clear 1.2-inch display.

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The 945 is mightily good, as is the 745 but with quibbles. A key advancement of the 745 is its coaching capabilities – it gives you detailed daily workout suggestions based on recent training load.

You also receive a seven-day training load to assess intensity and volume, especially useful to avoid overtraining, and it tells you recovery time based on your training load and recent training experience.

The face is large enough to assess data on screen, but you can dial down for more detail in the Garmin Connect app.

Like many of these features, accuracy improves the more data the 745 has to crunch.

There’s a Pulse Ox sensor to measure the oxygen saturation of your blood. It works via a red light that detects changes in the colour of your blood and is a useful gauge to see how well you’re adapting to altitude.

A green light measures heart rate. It’s accurate enough but isn’t as reactive to rapid surges as a chest strap, of course.

The ClimbPro feature is very handy for hilly courses. It dissects and divides sections of climbs, informing you of the distance and gradient remaining, which then guides your pacing strategy. The 745’s navigation is reliable, but the screen size means it’s more of a breadcrumb trail.

Garmin’s wireless communication includes both ANT+ and Bluetooth, so the full gamut of power meters should be covered. You can tap into wireless music and it stores up to 500 songs, or you can stream via your phone. There’s even menstrual tracking so women can adapt their training.

All of this is navigated via five buttons. They work fine, although the three on the left are too close together for use with thick winter cycling gloves.

Battery life is significantly down on the 945 – 16 hours with GPS on compared to 36 hours – and it lacks the 945’s more vivid and usable mapping functionality.

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The fact that Garmin categorises the 745 as a running watch also highlights that many of the features are redundant unless you switch between cycling and running or triathlon. If not, it’s hard to justify spending this money on a 745 compared to, say, Garmin’s Edge 1030 bike computer or the Forerunner 945.

Smartwatches for cyclists

Are smartwatches truly essential for cyclists when an all-singing bike computer, such as a Garmin Edge 1030, will give you all the two-wheeled features you’ll ever need… and probably some that you don’t?

A smartwatch can do a lot though: provide 24/7 data; comprehensive cycling stats; sleep pattern, recovery status and physical fitness analysis; and some can even tell you how well you’re acclimatising to altitude and give real-time advice on when to fuel your rides.

Combined with data from any other sports you’ll have a holistic view of your training and can create training plans and analyse your routes/rides in detail.

There is a lot to choose from though, and some of these features you simply won’t need so, beyond our test of six popular options, make sure you do your own research too. We’ve also got a guide to choosing the best cycling watch, with our top-rated options.

Also on test

Product Specifications

Product

Price AUD $849.00EUR €450.00GBP £400.00USD $500.00
Weight 47g
Brand Garmin

Features

Heart Rate Monitor Type Garmin Elevate™ wrist heart rate monitor
Battery life Smartwatch mode: Up to 7 days / GPS mode with music: Up to 6 hours / GPS mode without music: Up to 16 hours / UltraTrac™ mode: Up to 21 hours
Connectivity Ant+, bluetooth and wifi
Dimensions 43.8 x 43.8 x 13.3 mm
Display resolution 240 x 240 pixels
Water resistance 5 ATM