Garmin's unique GPS tracker arrives, and it raises a question: what is it for?

First developed for military use, GPS has become almost a standard way of tracking a ride for many  cyclists, as the technology has got smaller, lighter and more affordable.

Finding a niche though is the interesting Garmin GTU 10. Unlike the Edge series of GPS computers, this one doesn't show you any data when you're riding. Instead, it records and transmits your positional data to anyone who wants to view it. Essentially, it's an Edge without the screen.

Who, or what is it for? A good question. Years ago I rode a night time 80-mile mountain bike event, and was kitted out with some very home-brewed GPS equipment that transmitted my position to a Google map, so interested people who chart my progress. It worked rather well, and the few hundred people who followed my progress seemed to enjoy it.

The Garmin GTU 10 saves many hours in the shed. A compact design, it measures just 3in x 1.25in, and just under 1in at its thickest. The rubber power button is waterproof and there's a  mini-USB port underneath a rubber flap. An LED shows its charging state and indicates whether it's on or off. It's supplied in a small zipped pouch that makes it easy to attach to something.

Pondering it's usefulness, we immediately think of Mike Hall's recent record breaking ride around the world. It was possible to follow his progress as he used a Spot tracker. For such epic rides, a GPS tracker has almost become required, certainly if you're racing against the clock.

But what if you're not planning an attempt on Mike's ride? We're certainly not. We could see it being a novel attraction for more down to earth challenges, like sportives or charity rides. You could let your friends and family follow your progress, up and down hills, puncture stops, all from the comfort of their homes.

Another possible use is as an anti-theft device. If you leave your bike in a bike shed outside the office for example, you could leave the Garmin in a saddle bag and, if the worst happens, at least you'll stand a chance of tracking your bicycle. You can set a geofence (virtual boundary) for your device, so if it strays from that bike shed, you'll be the first to know. It's an expensive anti-theft device however. And we're not sure of the practicalities.

Out of the box it's simply a case of charging it up and heading over to Garmin Connect to register it before you can get out and use it. Which we're going to do right and a give it a test.

£149.99 from Garmin.com.

How would you use the GTU 10? Got any ideas for us to demonstrate it?

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.