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Thread: GPS Choice?

  1. #1
    Endorphin Junkie
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    GPS Choice?

    Does the search function not work on this site? I can't believe no one has discussed GPS devices... Anyway, I am thinking about getting one of the Garmin Edge units for a new bike. Can these also be used like a regular GPS for hiking and such? Is it worth the extra $$ over the 500 series to get the 800 series to get maps? Your thoughts? My current computer is a Cateye Dual Wireless from around 2005 or so. I am planning to leave it on the old bike.
    "Riding the wheel, our powers are revealed to us..." Maria Ward, Bicycling for Ladies, 1896

  2. #2
    Roadbike Rider
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    I just got a Garmin Edge 500 as a gift. I added a HRM but not a power meter, maybe later. I really like the post ride analytics on sites like Strava and ridewithgps. I do not really like the unit as an on-board bike computer. As compared to the Sigma's I've used. I find it hard to read with my sketchy reading vision and it's more awkward to operate. I think the 800 has a better larger display with more flexibility.

    These GPS units generally look pretty ugly sitting out there on a barfly like they are trying to imitate a starship bridge.

    This unit does not have maps and if I wanted a car gps I would buy one separately
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  3. #3
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    I have been riding with a Garmin 510 for the last 3 months. As a cycling GPS, I like it a lot. I probably wouldn't use it as a hiking GPS unit, unless I only wanted to track similar data (distance, elevation, total time, etc). I haven't found a way to display map coordinates, etc. You could jump up to the 810 and get basemaps, but some of the handheld Garmin units with maps can be acquired for a lot less money.

    If you know where you want to go before you start, it's easy to create a Course on the Garmin Connect website, and upload it to the unit. I have done that when I didn't want to miss a particular turn. But normally, I just go out and ride, and use it to view my statistics when I get home.

    One thing: I couldn't get the distance and speed from the wheel sensor to match what I was getting from the GPS readings. I probably could adjust the setting for the diameter of my rear wheel, but , so I ditched the sensor.
    Justin
    Salt Lake City
    2012 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp 29
    2006 Specialized Allez Expert Double

  4. #4
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    There is also a GPS forum on the Mountainbike Review site:

    GPS, HRM and Bike Computer
    Justin
    Salt Lake City
    2012 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp 29
    2006 Specialized Allez Expert Double

  5. #5
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    With a 500 and 510, you can download a TCX course to it that your create on various websites and it can be displayed as a track on the screen showing your position along it. There are no roads or other map data displayed. The Garmin 705, 800 and 810 can have maps installed, which variously include address information, points of interest, etc.. Like automotive GPS units, they can plot a route to an address, POI, or saved coordinates, but you have little control of the route it selects. With these, you can also create and download routes from various websites. The device will "navigate" these routes, that is it will match them up to roads on its maps and provide turn-by-turn guidance as you ride.

    You can certainly use the 705, 800 and 810 for driving, hiking, skiing, etc.. Be aware that the screens are small and relatively low resolution.
    ... 'cuz that's how I roll.

  6. #6
    Man, I'm Awesome
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    I have been using a Garmin 500 for the past month and I love it. I was looking for a simple GPS unit with HR and thats exactly what it is.

    I really like the adjustability of the screens so that you can display 1 to 8 different fields of data. I have five screens loaded. The first 4 screens only display 2 items. This makes the numbers much larger and easier to read on the go. The first screen has speed and time. Screen two has heart rate and speed. Screen three is distance and average speed. Screen four is Time of day and % grade. My last screen I have all 8 fields with my averages for the ride. I only check the lasts screen at the end of a ride as with all 8 on there the type gets pretty small and is hard to read when riding.

    All in all I really like it. I download all my information to Strava and I like using the Garmin over my phone as it saves my phones battery on longer rides.

    I got mine from Merlin Cycles in the UK. They were having a sale on the bundle and Garmin was having a mail in rebate for $50. I got it all for under $200. Pretty good deal I think.
    "I like to ride my bicycle." - Lance Armstrong -

  7. #7
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    I'm old school so obviously I don't think like you young technology wizard folks do. Personally I think a GPS for a bike is just an expensive toy. I've used paper maps for years in cars, and now I use maps on my bike when I go touring. You can either get Adventure Cycling maps, or go to Google maps and hit the bicycle icon then directions (but be careful with Google because some of the routes it comes up with may be on dirt or gravel). I use a combination of Adventure Cycling and Google maps so I have another reference. Google is good if you want more detail of an area that Adventure Cycling map may not have. You can also get free state maps at most state highway rest stops, you can also go on line and most states have bicycle route maps you can print. I put my map inside a clear vinyl map cover on my handlebar bag.

    But to spend $500 for a technological toy for something you could spend a max of $50 to get seems a bit extreme to me, but that is my opinion. Today a lot of young people don't even know what a paper map is and if they saw one wouldn't be able to read it, so you have to do what you feel comfortable with.

    If paper maps are something you may be considering you can get a threadless stem mounted compass from here: StemCAPtain Compass 3.0 -- NEW! | Catalog Products | Products | StemCAPtain Enter code: TWOSPOKE for a 15% discount if interested.
    Last edited by froze; 08-03-2013 at 06:55 AM.
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  8. #8
    Matnlely Dregaend
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    With respect to using the device to hike... it's not ideal. I use the 800 for this purpose and have found the following deficiencies:

    1) The 800/810 does not use WAAS or GLONASS. This makes the signal significantly less reliable and I've experienced reference and signal problems I didn't have with a regular handheld GPS right next to it (using WAAS). It should also degrade accuracy, but I haven't found this to be a practical issue.
    2) There are no available lanyard mounts made for the 800/810. There is no lanyard loop. This is actually my biggest practical gripe.
    3) No replaceable batteries. This means that if you run out of juice in the woods you better have a USB solar charger or a power pack on hand. With an eTrex you just need some AAs.
    4) The tile limit is pretty low on the 800 (I would imagine it's the same on the 810 but I'm not sure). This means that unlike a lot of handheld GPS units, you can't have a 32GB card with the US 24K topo map in the device's memory. There are kludgy workarounds.
    5) The display is fairly low resolution and in my opinion, too dim.

    I mostly use the 800 on my travel bike to follow routes/courses, and for that the 800/810 is fantastic. If you hike a lot, buy an eTrex.

    Also it should be mentioned that the Google maps app allows you to download / cache any maps you want on your smart phone, and this data can be used without cell service once downloaded. Open up the program, go to the map you want to cache onscreen, hit search, and at the bottom of the screen click "Make this map area available offline."
    "I haven't @#&$ed like that since I was an altar boy." Hank Moody
    “Bicycling has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.” Susan B. Anthony 1896
    "Brifter" is the coolest cycling word

  9. #9
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrSmile View Post
    ... The 800/810 does not use WAAS or GLONASS. This makes the signal significantly less reliable and I've experienced reference and signal problems I didn't have with a regular handheld GPS right next to it (using WAAS)...

    No replaceable batteries. This means that if you run out of juice in the woods you better have a USB solar charger or a power pack on hand. With an eTrex you just need some AAs.
    ...Google maps app allows you to download / cache any maps you want on your smart phone, ...
    WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) is separate satellite that transmit propagation corrections to your receiver. This doesn't affect GPS satellite reception, but it can improve position accuracy. My Edge units without WAAS have been accurate to 20-30' just about always (in single story stick built houses, under trees, etc around buildings, etc.) so good enough for my purposes. GLONASS of course is the Russian GPS equivalent so offers additional satellite signals and redundancy.

    I use a Gomadic AA battery pack ($20) for auxiliary power and charging.

    I've read somewhere that Google is changing or discontinuing that for some reason. Could be wrong. However, the OsmAnd app allows downloading open source maps and using a phone's GPS with them.
    ... 'cuz that's how I roll.

  10. #10
    Matnlely Dregaend
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    Quote Originally Posted by looigi View Post
    WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) is separate satellite that transmit propagation corrections to your receiver. This doesn't affect GPS satellite reception, but it can improve position accuracy. My Edge units without WAAS have been accurate to 20-30' just about always (in single story stick built houses, under trees, etc around buildings, etc.) so good enough for my purposes. GLONASS of course is the Russian GPS equivalent so offers additional satellite signals and redundancy.

    I use a Gomadic AA battery pack ($20) for auxiliary power and charging.

    I've read somewhere that Google is changing or discontinuing that for some reason. Could be wrong. However, the OsmAnd app allows downloading open source maps and using a phone's GPS with them.
    WAAS error corrects the satellites as you said. I have personally seen this keep the GPS position stable as compared to a unit without WAAS. If you've ever had issues with the GPS location bouncing back and forth between two locations a few miles apart you know what I'm talking about.

    Google had discontinued the map downloads, but re-instituted it due to complaints. If you follow my directions you'll see it's still available.
    "I haven't @#&$ed like that since I was an altar boy." Hank Moody
    “Bicycling has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.” Susan B. Anthony 1896
    "Brifter" is the coolest cycling word

  11. #11
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    My Garmin 705 is great for following a course that I drew using ridewithgps.com

    I've used it in the car to find out where I was, but it's not very practical for ad-hoc route finding in the car.

    It's very accurate on my ride recordings, except for some drift when riding between tall buildings or in heavy woods.

    For example, here's a mapped ride recording. I headed north and returned south, turning right onto the side road. Each dot is a one-second data point, and it's color coded by speed. I was going slower up the hill heading north. The map is from the excellent, free, My Tourbook software.

    You can see which side of the road I was on:


  12. #12
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrSmile View Post
    WAAS error corrects the satellites as you said. I have personally seen this keep the GPS position stable as compared to a unit without WAAS. If you've ever had issues with the GPS location bouncing back and forth between two locations a few miles apart you know what I'm talking about...
    The only time I've experienced this with Edge units is when I had "Lock on Road" set to on. Then the track would jump from where I was to a nearby road for a while, then jump back to where I actually was, then back to the road.
    ... 'cuz that's how I roll.

  13. #13
    Matnlely Dregaend
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    I looked into this some more and I believe it is due to a Garmin calculation error similar to this one:

    Random Things: Some Garmin GPS receivers output wrong coordinates in NMEA sentence

    I looked up where I was the last time this happened and the latitude does change minutes at that location. I'm not sure if this has been fixed by firmware.
    "I haven't @#&$ed like that since I was an altar boy." Hank Moody
    “Bicycling has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.” Susan B. Anthony 1896
    "Brifter" is the coolest cycling word

  14. #14
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    I'll put a vote in for the Garmin Edge 200. If you don't need heart rate, cadence, or power tap, you don't need the 500/800 series. The little Edge 200 can be had for about $115. It boots up and acquires GPS super fast, lasts 8 hours, and does just about everything the 500/510 does, but is smaller and half the price. Great little unit and so much better than a wireless cyclocomputer.

  15. #15
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    Question. With the 810 or 510, can I plot courses on ridewithgps if I ride the route and then upload from the Garmin to my account at that site? If I do will it automatically populate the cue sheet with turn by turn directions or am I on my own for that?

  16. #16
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    Re: GPS Choice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Social Climber View Post
    Question. With the 810 or 510, can I plot courses on ridewithgps if I ride the route and then upload from the Garmin to my account at that site? If I do will it automatically populate the cue sheet with turn by turn directions or am I on my own for that?
    Not sure about the x10s, but with the 800 on RWGPS, you don't get cue sheets automatically on routes created from uploaded rides.

    I just tested this, and when I do a Garmin Write (as gpx) of one of these ride-to-route conversions, the 800 gives me a cue sheet on the device itself.

  17. #17
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    Hi,
    1st time posting here. I've been thinking of getting a GPS unit, not for HR and cadence (I have a cheap Decathlon BTWin unit for that) but for off road navigation. Some very interesting info above but, my questions would be:-
    1. Is Garmin the only make that is worth considering?
    2. When a unit which is compatible with maps is loading up, and you've you download an off road route (I'm thinking MTB training), will it accurately direct you? down the right track/path?

    Thanks in advance
    Pete

  18. #18
    NewRoadEnthusiast-Again
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    Re: GPS Choice?

    Quote Originally Posted by PeetB View Post
    Hi,
    1st time posting here. I've been thinking of getting a GPS unit, not for HR and cadence (I have a cheap Decathlon BTWin unit for that) but for off road navigation. Some very interesting info above but, my questions would be:-
    1. Is Garmin the only make that is worth considering?
    2. When a unit which is compatible with maps is loading up, and you've you download an off road route (I'm thinking MTB training), will it accurately direct you? down the right track/path?

    Thanks in advance
    Pete
    1. Other than a smartphone, I don't know of another GPS than the Garmin 800 or 810 that would serve that purpose. That's not to say there isn't one, just that I don't know of one.

    2. If the off-road path you're using is on your loaded maps, I can't imagine why it wouldn't route you properly. Mine (with OpenMaps loaded and routes loaded from Garmin or RideWithGPS) works on greenways, trails, and other non-street paths.

  19. #19
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    I have a 510 that I got not too long ago. I haven't used it for guidance yet...becuase the screen is tiny and it doesn't have maps...and I've already got an iPhone that does that fine. I'll just get an easily removable bar attachment if I decide I need it.

    But as a bike computer, it's good. Mine came with a HR strap and cadence/speed sensor (the sensor is more accurate than GPS). And apart from occasionally freaking out and thinking I'm climbing a 400% hill, the data is very useful and nice. I like it.

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