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  1. #1
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    Garmin 500 Opinions

    I did a search that didn't produce any results. So here goes with an open ended question.

    I bought a Garmin 705 with microSD card containing the maps. I had the idea I could use one device for both bike and car. But, today I discovered the maps in the microSD card are not upgradeable. Plus, I discovered a couple other items.

    But, I am fully satisfied with the bike data portion. Except for the download of routes from mapmyride which I have not used.

    The dealer is willing to take the 705 back for credit or to sell me a 500. What to do?

    What have your experiences been with the 500? How is it as a bike computer? Does it work satisfactorily downloading rides and following them (like when traveling and you want to know where to ride)?

    In short buy the 500 or go back to the non-gps bike computer and call the whole thing a failed experiment?
    It is better to smell the flowers than taste the roots.

  2. #2
    gone ride'n cyclinfool's Avatar
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    I have neither. I use an old Garmin Forerunner 201. On my Tarmac that is the only instrument - no speedo.
    i like the GPS because I can down load the ride to the computer for me records, I also like it for club rides with que sheets, since the distance is exact I know exactly where I am on the que sheet.

    So to give you my thoughts - I would stay with the GPS but get the features you need. The two features I wish I had are cadence and a barometric altimeter. I don't want a physically big package - which is what I like about the 201.
    "Of all the things I ever lost I miss my mind the most." Mark Twain
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    I have both the 500 and the 705. I like the 500 better because of it's small size and better customizable screens. It is a great bike computer and has some extra features over the 705. However, if you are riding in unfamiliar country and would like a map to orient yourself or want to follow routes you have generated on Mapmyride then the 705 is the ticket.

  4. #4
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    Any bicycle GPS product is going to be mediocre or worse in a car IMHO. You can get a really nice Garmin wide screen auto unit pretty cheap, so I would go with two units. There are some great reviews on line of both the 705 and the 500. I struggle with the same decision.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevie47 View Post
    I have both the 500 and the 705. I like the 500 better because of it's small size and better customizable screens. It is a great bike computer and has some extra features over the 705. However, if you are riding in unfamiliar country and would like a map to orient yourself or want to follow routes you have generated on Mapmyride then the 705 is the ticket.
    Since the thing that got me in this situation was bad information from Garmin in the first place let me ask again, just to be clear. A user cannot use the 500 download and use maps from places like mapmyride or ridewithgps? Or, another way, a user can upload and share ride data through Garmin Connect but cannot either upload or download any navigation information using the 500, but can do all with the 705?
    It is better to smell the flowers than taste the roots.

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    I understand that the 500 was developed in response to requests from the Garmin Professional Cycling Team. They wanted a unit that was smaller, and had no need for maps (that's why they have course officials and team cars.) So it's a compact unit that shows lots of data with very limited route capability. Also has the ability to communicate with power meters.

    I have an old 305. Works fine, but if it ever goes bad I would get the 500, not the 705. I ride locally on known routes and have no need to follow maps. As a basic bike computer the Garmin has a great range of data and fully customizable screens. So I can have elevation, grade, lap time, etc., all of which I use. And I can upload data from my Garmin and have a record and map of all my rides.

    I'm really a fan of the Garmin products.
    Gunnar Roadie with Campagnolo Centaur
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Latitude65 View Post
    Since the thing that got me in this situation was bad information from Garmin in the first place let me ask again, just to be clear. A user cannot use the 500 download and use maps from places like mapmyride or ridewithgps? Or, another way, a user can upload and share ride data through Garmin Connect but cannot either upload or download any navigation information using the 500, but can do all with the 705?
    I can't help you much there except to say I'm not sure it CAN'T be done. There is a "course" feature which might do what you want except the 'net is full of reports that this function does not work well, so I have never tried to use it.

    The 500 is a great piece of equipment, but if you want maps/courses go with the 705.
    Wiggy wiggy scratch yo yo bang bang

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevie47 View Post
    I can't help you much there except to say I'm not sure it CAN'T be done. There is a "course" feature which might do what you want except the 'net is full of reports that this function does not work well, so I have never tried to use it.

    The 500 is a great piece of equipment, but if you want maps/courses go with the 705.
    Thanks for your input. Thanks to Garmin's pathetic documentation and mixed messages from their service reps a person doesn't know what the things will do until either you try it or get info from those who own one.

    Mostly I ride familiar routes so have no need for navigation. But, several times a year I go to other places where it would be nice to be able to load up routes to ride instead of just blundering around getting in trouble. Plus, it promised to work in both car and bike.

    As a straight navigation tool I don't think the 705 is very good. A poster on this forum said he used it in his car. I just tried that for the first time yesterday. At best a two person job and even then it picked routes that were obtuse. So, I've written off the car navigation function.

    Has anyone tried to download a route/course from something like mapmyride using a 500? Seems to me that is the key to the decision.
    Last edited by HawkOwl; 06-19-10 at 04:33 PM. Reason: Clarity
    It is better to smell the flowers than taste the roots.

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    Latest in the Garmin saga.

    I tried to use Garmin Connect and Mapmyride with the Garmin 705. Guess what? The USB cable supplied with the 705 is defective. So, no connection. In sequence: I bought the 705; found it had a defective altitude function; exchanged it for a new one; the new one has a defective USB cable. Plus, I discovered the CityNave on microSD is not updateable.

    Fortunately I have a spare USB cable. So, ultimately the only problem was working through Garmin's pathetic quality control and documentation. But, once done the 705 does a very good job. It handles bike rides, car navigation and data gathering with aplomb.

    It is too bad the documentation and sales information is so poor. It doesn't speak well for the company. Due to problems I'm in the process of deciding whether to just return the thing and call it a day, or to see if I can get an updateable version of CityNav and a new USB cable.
    It is better to smell the flowers than taste the roots.

  10. #10
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    I recently purchased a refurbished 305 with HR, speed/cadence sensor for $175, and I have been very happy with it. The equivalent price for the 500 would be $350. To your point, I have found it very easy to download and to follow courses loaded on the 305. Although the street names are not given, the routes are easy to follow. I should say courses, since there is also a route function which I have not used. I agree that the documentation is sparse, and i have had some glitches with uploading to Garmin connect.

    My buddies and I took a wrong turn on a recent metric century ride, and I was able to use the Garmin to find our way back to the course without any difficulty.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Kurt Erlenbach's Avatar
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    The customizable screens on the 500 are great - they provide all the info you could ever want about any aspect of your ride. I went through three 305s with turning off disease and finally bought a 500. I don't need the maps and I've not used the courses feature yet, but I might give it a try on vacation in a few weeks. It's pricey and the documentation is bad, but the feature set is great, the battery life is great, and it has few glitches as Garmin products go.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Latitude65 View Post
    Has anyone tried to download a route/course from something like mapmyride using a 500? Seems to me that is the key to the decision.
    Here's a comparison chart from the Garmin website.

    https://buy.garmin.com/shop/compare....areProduct=331

    I think the answer is that the 305 (which I have) and the 705 both allow you to download routes and "waypoints" to the unit (although I've never actually done this.) The 500 does not.

    The 705 of course is the only one of the three with actual maps.
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  13. #13
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    I appreciate all posts that have been put forth. In this case I see what the chart says. I saw it before I became familiar with Garmin's inconsistent use of terminology and inaccurate/incomplete documentation. My original question in this thread was really pointed to finding out what can actually be done with a 500.

    The item: "Courses (compete against previous activities" seems to say that a person could download a course from something like "mapmyride". Also, some have said that once a course is online through Garmin Connect or another site it can be downloaded and used in the 500. Comments like " My buddies and I took a wrong turn on a recent metric century ride, and I was able to use the Garmin to find our way back to the course without any difficulty." are unclear just how they did that.

    Definition: The big difference between a Course and a Route is that map. If I'm following a Course I could be riding the exact same track as a person following a Route except I wouldn't know from the GPS what the street names were.

    Did they use a Course that had been downloaded into the 500 and just backtrack? If not how?

    I'm trying to penetrate the confusion generated by Garmin to determine just what users have found can actually be done. Can a user download a course from an internet site and then ride that course. The chart seems to say a user can do exactly that. Especially since a person can upload to the internet.
    Last edited by HawkOwl; 06-20-10 at 09:27 PM.
    It is better to smell the flowers than taste the roots.

  14. #14
    Senior Member ttusomeone's Avatar
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    I have had my Garmin 500 for a couple weeks now and am very satisified with it. As far as routes from Map My Ride, you can add them to the 500 (I've only tried it with Map My Ride). On MMR, choose to save the route to your Garmin (.crs file). Move this file to your Garmin under the "Courses" folder. Once you turn on your Garmin and navigate to "Courses" under the menu, your Garmin will install the course. You can follow-it while you are riding, although the map doesn't have a great deal of detail. It is nice to use when on a road you are semi-familiar with, but I would be hesitant to use it as my sole navigation in unfamiliar territory.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ttusomeone View Post
    I have had my Garmin 500 for a couple weeks now and am very satisified with it. As far as routes from Map My Ride, you can add them to the 500 (I've only tried it with Map My Ride). On MMR, choose to save the route to your Garmin (.crs file). Move this file to your Garmin under the "Courses" folder. Once you turn on your Garmin and navigate to "Courses" under the menu, your Garmin will install the course. You can follow-it while you are riding, although the map doesn't have a great deal of detail. It is nice to use when on a road you are semi-familiar with, but I would be hesitant to use it as my sole navigation in unfamiliar territory.
    Thanks. I appreciate someone who actually owns the machine reporting real experience.

    A follow up question if you don't mind: Just how do you get your cues for navigation? Track following arrows? Cue pages? Image on the screen?

    From what you say other than having CityNav so you know street names and references the 500 does all the navigation a biker needs.
    It is better to smell the flowers than taste the roots.

  16. #16
    Senior Member chasmm's Avatar
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    I have a Garmin 500, and have been pretty happy with it. The customizable screens are great...you can have 3 pages of data with up to 8 fields of data on each page. You might find it hard to read while riding...but it's possible.

    With regard to the "Course" feature. You can indeed prepare your route on the various websites (MapMyRide, RideWithGPS, GPSIES, etc.) and then download it to the 500 as a .CRS (course) file. The 500 does limited navigation. It's at this point that I have to stop talking about it...because there appears to be a Garmin software problem that is more likely to occur when riding a COURSE. There have been reports of the unit locking up and losing the data for that ride. This has kept me from playing around with the COURSE feature anymore than I have.

    Garmin is aware of the problem and says that it is working on a firmware update, but has not provided any type of timeline. With a personal history in software development, I can certainly appreciate their hesitancy in giving themselves a deadline.

    For more info, I'd like out the Garmin Edge 500 forums at https://forums.garmin.com/forumdisplay.php?f=219 ...just keep in mind that as with most internet 'product' forums, you're going to find more people with problems...

    Good luck!

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