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  1. #1
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    Hands on review of the Garmin Touring Plus?

    Anyone have it? Have you searched for an rode to destinations with navigation on the device? Or just preloaded routes from your computer?

    I'm thinking of upgrading from my Edge 510 to I can get route on the fly directions like Google maps but with more bike friendly routing and without killingthestreets phones battery life. Any info would help thanks!
    1968 Fuji Feather
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  2. #2
    Senior Member bikemig's Avatar
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    Signing on as I'm tempted to buy one.

  3. #3
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    My primary interest is in navigation. I have lots of experience with the 800 (which I really like even though it's not perfect). A friend of mine has the Touring (not the Plus) based on my recommendation (from REI, whose generous return policy reduced the risk of the Touring being a problem, which a few internet posts implied existed). I've personally used the Touring a few times and observed how it was working when my friend was using it.

    The Tourining/Touring Plus are mostly intended as navigation devices (the 800/810/1000 are intended for navigation and training). (The "old" 800 is still a reasonable option, by the way. The current price for the 800 is only $50 more than the Touring Plus. It doesn't have the same funky routing options, though.)

    One con for the newer Garmin units is that that Garmin has removed some options to disable some navigation featues to make the devices "simpler" to use (I guess). The Tourings appear to have more of these options disabled that the 1000 (for which newer firmware updates appear to be adding back) and the 810.

    Anyway, as far as I have seen, the Touring works about the same as the 800.

    The few (I believe) "problems" that the Tourings have appear to be mostly due to errors in the maps (Openstreetmap based) it uses. That impression is based on that I can often see the same problems using OSM maps on my 800. I think the OSM maps are very good but the commercial Garmin City Navigator maps are better (if you are riding on roads).

    It seems that people mostly use these devices for navigation with preloaded routes. I've used my 800 for navigation without preloaded routes but not very often (it worked well enough). I'd expect the Tourings to work at least as well. Though, given that cyclists can have rather different opinions about what is an appropriate route, using a preloaded route is more likely to give you what you want. (The Touring, and 1000, have some funky routing options but I haven't tried them.)

    When using preloaded routes, it's best to disable "recalculating" the route (when you get off track) since that doesn't do what people expect.

    (The 510 is probably a fine unit but, personally, I wouldn't buy a unit that didn't have maps.)
    Last edited by njkayaker; 09-29-14 at 08:33 PM.

  4. #4
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    I was always content with my 510...until i spent a week cycling around Seattle, constanty lost, always pulling out my phone (having a backup battery spared me). I mostly try to be open when I ride in unfamiliar places and something that allows me to search for a place while on the bike, go there, then search for a new spot has its appeal. If I was planning a serious tour, then I would do the extra work of pre-routing. I'm a little confused by "funky" routing options, could you elaborate? i read some good reviews, but have also read some bad ones. Maybe I will see if REI's warranty extends to out of state customers since there's none in my pitiful little state. thanks
    1968 Fuji Feather
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  5. #5
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    The Touring can generate routes based on reducing elevation and can generate loop routes based on distance. That's what I mean by "funky". I haven't tried using these options, so, I don't know how well they work.

    REI's policies should not be dependent on what state you live in. They sell stuff to people from across the country (that doesn't mean it will be convenient).

    People who have problems often make the most noise. That makes it hard to have an idea about how common the problems they describe are.

    I suspect that people's expectations are too high (not quite realistic). It appears that quite a lot of 800/810 users don't use the navigation features at all. The devices are a bit confusing to use and there aren't any great sources to learn how to use them.
    Last edited by njkayaker; 09-30-14 at 12:04 AM.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the clarification. Some people are suggesting using the touring and the 510 together, one for recording and one for routing. Gotta debate on this...too bad the 810 doesn't have impromtu routing and the 1000 is so expensive! Maybe I will have to mount my phone/back up battery on my bars.
    1968 Fuji Feather
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  7. #7
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    Using a Touring and 510 together that way seems odd to me.

    The Touring doesn't do cadence or power. Outside of data that the Touring just doesn't measure, the data recording isn't any different.

    If you already have the 510, it's there to be used but it doesn't make much sense to buy one for that purpose. (I actually run a cycle computer along with my 800, which lets me see other data when I am displaying the map data on the 800. I also don't have to charge the cycle computer.)

    I have no idea how many people use the impromptu routing or how well it works (I'm a bit skeptical).

    Smartphones are actually much more capable computers than the Garmins but the battery life is worse. They also tend to be harder to read in sunlight and are less weather-proof. You also it to work outside of cellular reception.

    The available software is also limited (mostly because it's hard to make enough money for the effort required). That situation could be improving, though.
    Last edited by njkayaker; 09-30-14 at 12:25 AM.

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    Yeah, I've had issues regarding smart phone navigation. Google maps doesn't factor in as much cycling friendly routes as I'd like, sometimes taking you up steep hills, super busy streets, and round about ways. I had to use a app called Co-rider as a alternate router. But it's like you say, the battery life sucks.

    I already have the 510, purchased over a year ago. For riding around here its fine because I literally know every road and route around here. I was just reflecting on my recent trip and how much I would've decreased stressful situations had I had a better way to get routes and the like on bike while saving my phones battery for more important things like pic taking (no....not selfies) and the like.
    1968 Fuji Feather
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    I think that bicycle routing is a much harder problem than many people expect. It's more difficult because cycling is much more sensitive to conditions (elevation, distance, road properties) than motor vehicles are. The data applicable for motor vehicles is also much better because it's easier/cheaper to collect and because there is a much larger market for it.

    People's experiences with car navigation may make their expectations for the Edges less realistic ("why isn't it as easy to use?"). The two things are basically the same but cycling-usage exaggerates "problems". I suspect that experience/understanding of wilderness/open-water navigation is a more useful base to start from.

    I looked at co-rider a bit and it looks like not quite a complete effort. The problem with apps is that the are hard to write and people don't want to pay for them.
    Last edited by njkayaker; 09-30-14 at 12:47 AM.

  10. #10
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    Co-rider is ok for certain areas, I assume where there is a lot of uploaded info. In Seattle/Bellevue it worked to route me around hills and/or bike routes that end on busy roads. I don't mind hills but on a borrowed beater bike, lost half the day, and running out of daylight, the last thing I wanted was a 15% incline. Google maps focuses on the quickest and/or most popular route. If I take up REI on their return policy then I'll post a review. If I get it with ample time to test it on familiar roads then I can know if I can trust it afar. I would rather run the touring/510 combo on my bars then my iphone/510 combo anyday!
    1968 Fuji Feather
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    No device will guarantee avoiding 15% hills.

  12. #12
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    Isn't there a option on the touring that says minimize hills? Or was that just someone being funny? I know some can't be avoided, but still an attempt would be nice.
    1968 Fuji Feather
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  13. #13
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    There is such an option (to minimize elevation) on the Touring (I don't know much more about it).

    www.dcrainmaker.com/2013/08/garmin-touring-computer.html

    It appears to just minimize elevation gain. It might be useful but don't expect magic.

    It could be that the route with the smallest gain could have the steepest grades.
    Last edited by njkayaker; 09-30-14 at 01:25 AM.

  14. #14
    Senior Member KDC19561954's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Antieverything View Post
    Anyone have it? Have you searched for an rode to destinations with navigation on the device? Or just preloaded routes from your computer?

    I'm thinking of upgrading from my Edge 510 to I can get route on the fly directions like Google maps but with more bike friendly routing and without killingthestreets phones battery life. Any info would help thanks!
    I have the Garmin Edge Touring model and a Garmin 810 I love both of them the touring one is great to find your way around places you don't where they are at.You can do it while riding or do it on your computer both are great bike computers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KDC19561954 View Post
    I have the Garmin Edge Touring model and a Garmin 810 I love both of them the touring one is great to find your way around places you don't where they are at.You can do it while riding or do it on your computer both are great bike computers.
    Do you use the turn by turn navigation? I love the option to search and navigate on the fly when I'm traveling but I read that the turn by turn is sketchy. Could that be just the software before the updates?
    1968 Fuji Feather
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  16. #16
    Senior Member KDC19561954's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Antieverything View Post
    Do you use the turn by turn navigation? I love the option to search and navigate on the fly when I'm traveling but I read that the turn by turn is sketchy. Could that be just the software before the updates?
    Yes I do I love the turn by turn it lets you know where you are at in any city that's why I love it so much.The first then I did was up date my Garmin Edge Touring model.I had never had a problem with mine at all.I like it a lot more than my Garmin Edge 810 for touring anyway.You will also need to update your maps on it too.It's all easy to do.I use my Garmin Edge Touring on my Surly Big Dummy that I built my self when I want to go out of town or to another state.I hope this has help you out a little both Garmin are good but if you want to go touring on you bicycler like I do then get the Garmin Edge Touring model.

  17. #17
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    Awesome! That was what I was wondering. I spent so much time on my phone looking up maps when I was riding around Seattle I was constantly worrying about if I had enough battery to get home. I think I'm gonna order one from REI as their return policy is super good even on electronics!
    1968 Fuji Feather
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  18. #18
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    I used the Touring Plus on my summer tour from Missouri to Florida and back. I rarely used the navigation features, though. I planned my routes with paper maps, Google Maps, and Apple Maps, and used the Garmin as an on-handlebar map.

    Limited preliminary navigation testing before I left on tour showed that the device selected adequately bicycle friendly routes, by not as good as a local familiar with the roads would select. That's to be expected, IMO.

    Whenever there were discrepancies between the Garmin device and Apple Maps, Apple Maps, which uses TomTom data, turned out to be the correct device. To be fair, my iPhone was a backup device once I was on the bike, so there weren't any situations where I thought it might be wrong, requiring me to double check the Garmin. At any rate, that's a knock on Garmin's map data, not the device itself. The maps on the device can be updated.

    I did try using the navigation features of the Touring Plus when I was trying to find a legal route to ride from Mount Pleasant to Charleston, South Carolina. The device doesn't recognize bike paths (or, at least, I have been unable to figure out how to get it to recognize them), and the only direct way into Charleston involved a bike path along side the bridge of a freeway. The Touring Plus was unable to find a route, and suggested I add more waypoints.

    Battery life was sufficient for a day's ride, at least if I remembered to turn it off when I was stopped to rest, eat, etc. I used an external USB battery so I could charge it while I used it when necessary, but the internal battery was rarely exhausted before I stopped riding.

    The Touring Plus essentially works like a car GPS instead of a cycle computer. If that sounds useful to you, then you'll likely find it to be a worthy purchase. If you're looking for a cycling computer, then I would skip the Touring and Touring Plus. They won't fit the bill. I want the bike version of a car GPS receiver, so I am satisfied with it. There's room for improvement, but that's going to be true with any gadget.

    Edit to add: I did discover a bug in the Garmin software. When I crossed over from the Central Time Zone to the Eastern Time Zone, I lost record of all of the day's riding from before I crossed, and also my custom configuration of the trip pages were reset. I don't know if the unit was on or off when I actually crossed, as I accidentally forgot to turn the unit back on after stopping until a few miles down the road a couple times that day. As I crossed back over into the Central Time Zone, I intentionally had the unit switched off. Upon turning it back on, the day's data was still there, but the trip pages were back to the default configuration.
    Last edited by Jaywalk3r; 10-11-14 at 11:45 PM.
    Maintain your equipment. Plan your routes well. Practice stoppies often. Keep your head on a swivel.

  19. #19
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    I need a navigation computer that isn't my phone. I can use my 510 for all my ride data tracking. I think the garmin uses osm as it's mapping source for cycle related routes and tha depends on users to update and make corrections. Im guessing because of that some areas will be better then others. In any case once I get one I will thoroughly test it on local roads and paths to see if the navigation can or cannot be trusted. I will always have my phone for back up and the next unfamiliar place I ride in I will also get a cycling related map of the area just in case. Thanks guys for all the input!
    1968 Fuji Feather
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  20. #20
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    What's the long term prognosis for Garmin anyways? Is it going to fade away?

  21. #21
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Garmin Edge devices (705 and up) can devise routes between two points based on the loaded map and some simple user preferences. IMO this does not provide enough control, so I always lay out a route using websites like RideWithGPS, Strava, etc. and then download that route to my Edge device to follow it. Also, the screen size is too small and resolution too low on these devices to really be useful at figuring out where you are and the best route to take. It much easier to do this on a computer or tablet and still much easier to do this on a decent smart phone with their much larger and higher res displays.

    I've successfully created routes on the RWGPS website using a Galaxy S4 and S5 and downloaded them to an Edge using a USB OTG adapter cable.
    Ride more. Fret less.

  22. #22
    Ex-Post-RBR Marcus_Ti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garfield Cat View Post
    What's the long term prognosis for Garmin anyways? Is it going to fade away?
    Not for a while. There's no real competitor, and smartphones are nowhere close yet.

    Smartphones battery life screen and GPS on sucks...and then there's durability and general waterproofness.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Looigi View Post
    Garmin Edge devices (705 and up) can devise routes between two points based on the loaded map and some simple user preferences. IMO this does not provide enough control, so I always lay out a route using websites like RideWithGPS, Strava, etc. and then download that route to my Edge device to follow it. Also, the screen size is too small and resolution too low on these devices to really be useful at figuring out where you are and the best route to take. It much easier to do this on a computer or tablet and still much easier to do this on a decent smart phone with their much larger and higher res displays.

    I've successfully created routes on the RWGPS website using a Galaxy S4 and S5 and downloaded them to an Edge using a USB OTG adapter cable.
    I am not intersted in spending time creating maps before the ride. I want to be able to change search destinations, change my mind, search again. As I have said before I don't want to use my phone for this, thus saving it for more emergencies.
    Last edited by Antieverything; 10-12-14 at 01:17 PM.
    1968 Fuji Feather
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  24. #24
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Antieverything View Post
    I am not intersted in spending time creating maps before the ride. I want to be able to change search destinations, change my mind, search again. As I have said before I don't want to use my phone for this, thus saving it for more emergencies.
    I fully understand. In my use, I found the edge devices to be of very limited utility for this, which is why I do it the way I described. But what works for you may be different than what works for me.
    Ride more. Fret less.

  25. #25
    Senior Member KDC19561954's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Antieverything View Post
    I am not intersted in spending time creating maps before the ride. I want to be able to change search destinations, change my mind, search again. As I have said before I don't want to use my phone for this, thus saving it for more emergencies.
    Then get the Garmin Edge Touring model I love mine like I said before I have had no problems with mine at all.I don't think you can go wrong with it.

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