Van Bikeradar: High Mileage Heroes | Matt’s Garmin Forerunner 45

When it comes to tracking your rides and posting them to Strava for the world to see, there are plenty of options available.

Many people will opt for a specific GPS bike computer, from the likes of Garmin or Wahoo, and some will use a mobile phone with one of the best bike phone mounts if they’re looking to save some money.

However, I am in the minority who prefer using a cycling smartwatch, and I have never been tempted away from my trusty Garmin Forerunner 45.

Why the Forerunner 45? Well, any piece of kit that can withstand daily usage and the abuse (read: profuse sweating and dog attacks) that I’ve put this watch through, should be – no, deserves to be – inducted into the pantheon of High-Mileage Heroes.

Why use a smartwatch for cycling?

The Garmin Forerunner 45 has a range of functions that make it ideal for cyclists.
Matt Howes / Our Media

First off, I enjoy the simplicity of my Forerunner.

While it may not feature the turn-by-turn directions or route-planning functionality that is baked into some bike computers and higher-end smartwatches, when I’m commuting to BikeRadar HQ, I don’t need directions or any other data.

This leaves me to focus on just enjoying riding my bike, avoiding the usual perils found on a shared-use cycle path at rush-hour.

That does not mean the Forerunner 45 is basic. It tracks your heart rate, features customisable data screens, offers sleep tracking, and it can display phone notifications.

It might be blasphemous to admit this, but I also love running – possibly even more than cycling.

While I could take my Hammerhead Karoo 2 GPS computer out on my runs, it wouldn’t be quite as convenient, and I like that I only need to think about one device.

BikeRadar’s High-Mileage Heroes

High-Mileage Heroes showcases the products that have stood the test of time and become part of our everyday riding.

These aren’t reviews, but rather a chance to talk about the kit we depend on and the products we choose to use when we’re not reviewing fresh gear.

More from High-Mileage Heroes:

Kit to stand the test of time… and dogs

Matt’s canine companion, Remy.
Matt Howes / Our Media

As you’d expect from a piece of kit that is now almost old enough to attend school, it has had some bumps, bruises and scrapes along the way.

This has been accelerated by the addition of my six-month-old Flat-Coated Retriever puppy, Remy.

There’s nothing Remy loves more than chewing on something she shouldn’t be. High on her chewing hit list is my watch.

Despite being chomped (multiple times) there is no damage to either the screen or band. Touch wood…

In fact, apart from the odd sweat stain and piece of muddy debris in the textured band, there is very little sign I’ve used it.

The buttons are a bit smoother than when I bought it, but that just adds to the character.

The same cannot be said of my Karoo 2. One numb-fingered spring morning, I dropped it onto concrete and the computer suffered cosmetic damage. The hardy Forerunner has survived many such incidents.

Impressive battery health

Garmin watches use a proprietary charging cable.
Matt Howes / Our Media

One of the usual downsides of older tech is the dwindling battery life.

Just think about your phone – if it’s anything more than a year old, you will know the battery lasts less time than a static shock.

The same cannot be said of my Forerunner. Despite being four years old, my watch lasts about a week if I don’t use the GPS, or three to four days with four to five hours of GPS use per day.

When writing this article, I went back to check the smartwatch’s claimed battery life, and at the time Garmin claimed up to seven days in smartwatch mode.

So even after nearly 1,500 days of use, I am still getting maximum battery life.

This is undoubtedly impressive, but doubly handy when Garmin insists I charge the Forerunner 45 using an easy-to-lose proprietary charger rather than the much more common USB-C or mini-USB.

A simple watch for a simple man

The Forerunner 45 combines reliable simplicity with a stylish aesthetic.
Matt Howes / Our Media

Amidst all of the other tech built into the Forerunner 45, I appreciate how well it carries out its simple core functionality.

At the end of my run, cycle, walk or workout, I can wipe away the sweat and tell the time, and continue to do that day after day without complaint.

Sure, a GPS cycling computer might be able to do the same, but you can’t strap them to your wrist and wear them as a genuinely fashionable piece of tech (if you do, remember you got the idea from me first).

Jesting aside, a smartwatch is a great way to start tracking your rides. It’s cheaper than Garmin’s least expensive computer, they’re versatile and they provide more than enough data for even the nerdiest riders.

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