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  1. #1
    Senior Member jeneralist's Avatar
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    Basic Question: What do Garmin bike computers *do*?

    I used to have a Garmin 60cx handheld GPS unit.

    I had street maps loaded on to it, and had mounting brackets so I could use it on my motorcycle and on my bicycle. It was great for travelling out of town, following the route from one location to another, or finding my current location on a map. When I got to a new town, I could find pizza, campsites, laundromats -- it would even tell me how long I had to pitch my tent before the sun went down.

    Then it got stolen. (I left it in the car went I went to a quick-oil-change place, and I didn't realize it was gone until the next day.)

    Now, I'm trying to decide whether I want to get a similar gadget for my touring bike, or if I can just make do with a $20 cyclocomp and my cell phone. I'm looking at the Garmin 62 series -- the closest replacement for the 60. I'm also trying to understand the Edge series.

    Can I use an Edge to find services (hotel, lodging, doctors) near a given location? Does they accept City Navigator data? I don't really care about my cadence, or my heart rate going up a particular hill. I want to know how to get from here to there (or from there to way over there), and how to find a convenience store on the way.

    With thanks for your patience.
    - Jeneralist

    See video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gv4CrEEg_N4 to see me in the Outrageous Outfit Challenge for the MS Society; or go straight to http://goo.gl/bALZDg to donate

  2. #2
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeneralist View Post
    ...Can I use an Edge to find services (hotel, lodging, doctors) near a given location? Does they accept City Navigator data?.. .
    Yes (services) and yes (CN data/maps), for the 705, 800, 810... However, I find the small low res screen to be very limiting. It will calculate a route and provide turn-by-turn navigation from where you are to an address or service, but you have little control over the route it decides. The way I use these devices is to navigate routes that I create on websites (RWGPS, GPSies, BRT, Garmin Connect, etc.) and down load the device. On the road, if I need to figure out a routing or major deviation, or find a service, I'll pull over and whip out my smart phone.

    IMO, what these devices are best at is recording ride data; track, speed, cadence, elevation, power, etc...

  3. #3
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    I have a similar impression to Looigi's, namely that Garmin GPS units cannot compete with smartphones around the services and features you're talking about. The smartphones (and my experience is iPhone, btw) are simply easier to use, more versatile, more graphical, and offer more features. Apps like Motion X GPS Drive not only provide tracking and turn-by-turn navigation, but also put destination searches just two or three finger-taps away, so that if you wanted to find a bank, a campsite, a wifi hotspot, or a point-of-interest, you could literally do the search, call them, and navigate there in 5 taps, without typing anything.

    Garmins, like the 500 I now use (after trying and finding wanting the 800), as Loogi said, are great for doing those things you, the OP, don't actually need one to do! I do like the ride data, and while I could capture that on my phone with Strava or something similar, I also like the low risk of keeping a durable GPS unit on my bars rather than an overly large, expensive, and comparatively delicate cell phone.
    Chaad--'95 DeKerf Team SL, '02 Lemond Buenos Aires, '05 Novara Buzz, '73 Schwinn Collegiate, '06 Mountain Cycle Rumble, '09 Dahon Mariner D7, '12 Mercier Nano, '12 Breezer Venturi

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
    I have a similar impression to Looigi's, namely that Garmin GPS units cannot compete with smartphones around the services and features you're talking about. The smartphones (and my experience is iPhone, btw) are simply easier to use, more versatile, more graphical, and offer more features. Apps like Motion X GPS Drive not only provide tracking and turn-by-turn navigation, but also put destination searches just two or three finger-taps away, so that if you wanted to find a bank, a campsite, a wifi hotspot, or a point-of-interest, you could literally do the search, call them, and navigate there in 5 taps, without typing anything.

    Garmins, like the 500 I now use (after trying and finding wanting the 800), as Loogi said, are great for doing those things you, the OP, don't actually need one to do! I do like the ride data, and while I could capture that on my phone with Strava or something similar, I also like the low risk of keeping a durable GPS unit on my bars rather than an overly large, expensive, and comparatively delicate cell phone.
    Only thing I'd add here is it's important not to use the 500 as your benchmark for what Edge computers can do. The 500 was Garmin's first attempt at a device for those who didn't want to shell out the bucks for the top-of-the-line model and just wanted to track their rides and metrics. Thus, the 500 doesn't have a lot of the user-directed navigation functionality as the 705, 800 and 810; it can just tell you where you've been along with your metrics.

  5. #5
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    Keep in mind that engineering is managing compromises.

    The Garmin 800/810 are small form-factor GPS units with navigation. They work like car and smartphone navigation systems.

    They also provide display cycling-specific data cadence/hr/power (smart phones can display this but it's a bit more effort). The smaller size makes it easier to mount on a bicycle but the display is small. The Garmins have much better battery life than smartphones generally and better weather resistance (you'd need some case/cover for the smart phone).

  6. #6
    An Average Joe Cyclelogikal's Avatar
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    I think they are just geared to be smaller; more bike mounted friendly in appearance; and not weigh much of anything. Garmin is Garmin though in the end.

  7. #7
    Senior Member 01 CAt Man Do's Avatar
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    Looks like Looigi made all the good points.

    For me the choice was simple; No matter what, I always carry a phone. That being the case, why carry two devices if one will do the job of both. The less stuff I have to carry on a ride the better.

  8. #8
    An Average Joe Cyclelogikal's Avatar
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    With my 810 however I do use my Galaxy phone to do the LiveLink so people I have added can follow live my ride. Not to be a show off but for safety reasons in case the movement stops for a long period of time. I don't rest long on rides. In fact a 2 minute rest would be long for me. So the bike specific Garmins do have their place and when coupled with smartphones.............or at least with me plus my phone has my tunes for riding.

  9. #9
    Si Senior dbg's Avatar
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    I still have/use the same GPSMap 60cx (bought it off a guy from JiffyLube -just kidding). I use it for an annual WI trip but I have to import the supplied gpx files into city navigator and manipulate them. In the end, creating breadcrumb tracks was the only way to generate a track that exactly followed the group supplied route. I've just switched over to etrex20's and am liking the convenience of cheaper maps and ridewithGPS. I'm not necessarily interested in the purpose built bike Garmin stuff. I just want a moving map route on my handlebars that exactly matches the group maps/cuesheets, etc. And I agree that my smartphone will be my guide for general purpose navigation on last minute stuff.
    David Green, Naperville, IL USA "The older I get, the better I used to be" --Lee Trevino

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by 01 CAt Man Do View Post
    Looks like Looigi made all the good points.

    For me the choice was simple; No matter what, I always carry a phone. That being the case, why carry two devices if one will do the job of both. The less stuff I have to carry on a ride the better.
    Keep in mind that 1 device = 1 very overtaxed, non-replaceable battery. If you're just doing routine workout loops over familiar ground, or have a really good memory and only need to consult the phone map occasionally, it's no problem. But, if you're like me and you like long "adventure" rides in unfamiliar areas, you probably want something that will give you a continuous map display for several hours. Continuous GPS nav drains a smartphone battery like crazy. Of course you can add a weatherproof bar mount, external battery, etc. so that might be workable, but also adds complexity. I've never tried it so I don't know how much more battery life you can realistically get.

    Lately I've been using a Garmin Oregon 600 which uses rechargeable AA's so I can go indefinitely, but there are other things about that unit that aren't as nice as the Edge series. And, in general Garmin maps and firmware aren't up to the quality of the continuously updated online maps on phones (except for Topo).

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