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  1. #1
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    Bike Computer with GPS

    It's been quite a while since I bought a bike computer, and what I've had has been pretty simple. Never even went wireless.

    As I've started looking a new bikes, my LBS has recommended one from Garmin, I believe, that sells for about $149.

    Perhaps another option would be to get a mount for my iPhone and use some sort of app dedicated to cycling?

    Suggestions?
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  2. #2
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    Same position as you, never wireless. Just bought my Garmin Edge about a month ago, glad I did.

    3 screeens, 7 functions each screeen. The more the smaller the readouts. So if you use 3 on one screen, much easier to read.

    It allows me to set up one screen for flat ride, average, speed, time usual stuff. A second for climbing, elevation gain, % of the climb, current elevation level, speed, distance. Then a third for general stuff like time distance average temperature. Lots of choices.

    Plus, came with two mounts so I can swap from my roadie to the MTB with no mount changes.

    I paid about $250 for it but very happy. I tested the life of one charge and got 16 hours. I believe the difference of the lower models is battery life ( I could be wrong). But I've heard some complain that the battery life dies on a slow century (10 hours?).



    garmin2 by gulpxtreme, on Flickr

  3. #3
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    iphone battery life really sucks with GPS and screen turned on

  4. #4
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    The lower priced Garmin units are good for showing where you've been and speed etc. except they do not have barometric altimeters, so the elevation data they provide is very inaccurate.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  5. #5
    A might bewildered... Dudelsack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnny99 View Post
    iphone battery life really sucks with GPS and screen turned on
    This. I use an old Garmin 305, and I use the map function of my iPhone when I get lost. I've not had a problem with feet climbed - the Garmin seems pretty accurate.

    I can download routes to the Garmin (breadcrumb) but its hard to do using Macs. It's easier on a PC.

  6. #6
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dudelsack View Post
    This. I use an old Garmin 305, and I use the map function of my iPhone when I get lost. I've not had a problem with feet climbed - the Garmin seems pretty accurate.

    I can download routes to the Garmin (breadcrumb) but its hard to do using Macs. It's easier on a PC.
    The Edge 305 has a barometric altimeter. The Edge 200, which is probably what DG is looking at for $150, uses a GPS based altimeter like my Forerunner 305. The elevation data it provides is useless until corrected by software at an upload site.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  7. #7
    A might bewildered... Dudelsack's Avatar
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    I bet he could get a 305 for about that much online. I'd try ebay, Performance, etc. Sometimes they sell the 305 really cheap.

  8. #8
    Senior Moment bikegeek57's Avatar
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    DG before you buy anything check the iPhone apps. I have been running Digifit's software since they first came out a few years back. Have enjoyed it. I have tried a slew of others. they are all fun.
    Battery life is fine. I ride daily an hour each way to work/home. 10% battery use during that time with all the bells and whistles going. Battery life is not a problem. I did a metric with it (before my accident last year) and had hours and hours battery life left when done. I really don't know what the problem folks have with iphone and battery life but I've not had this issue.
    there are scads of apps available. check a few out.
    I used the RAM Mount until Digifit came out with a new box mount that I really like. There are others out there. YMMV.
    Best thing is if I need the phone it's right there. Has literally saved my life twice now. EMT's grabbed it and used it to call my wife. Also handy for SAG ride calls... :-)
    oh and GPS, Speed/Cadence/Distance (Garmin SC sensor) HR too all talking to the iPhone.
    Georgia state law stating that bicyclists “May Use Full Lane” when lane widths are not wide enough for motorists to safely pass cyclists and stay completely within the travel lane. (now all I have to do is convince GA drivers to read the law).

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  9. #9
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    I'm probably going to try Cyclemeter with my iPhone first. It's just $4.99, gets great reviews, and if that doesn't work, I can always spring for a dedicated unit.

    Here's one review: http://www.macworld.com/appguide/art...article=146928

    Quote Originally Posted by bikegeek57 View Post
    DG before you buy anything check the iPhone apps. I have been running Digifit's software since they first came out a few years back. Have enjoyed it. I have tried a slew of others. they are all fun.
    Battery life is fine. I ride daily an hour each way to work/home. 10% battery use during that time with all the bells and whistles going. Battery life is not a problem. I did a metric with it (before my accident last year) and had hours and hours battery life left when done. I really don't know what the problem folks have with iphone and battery life but I've not had this issue.
    there are scads of apps available. check a few out.
    I used the RAM Mount until Digifit came out with a new box mount that I really like. There are others out there. YMMV.
    Best thing is if I need the phone it's right there. Has literally saved my life twice now. EMT's grabbed it and used it to call my wife. Also handy for SAG ride calls... :-)
    oh and GPS, Speed/Cadence/Distance (Garmin SC sensor) HR too all talking to the iPhone.
    Visit my blog! The Leadership Almanac
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  10. #10
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    Try MapMyRide for your iPhone, it's free. Since I use it to just let me know how long and how far I've ridden AFTER my ride it works for me. Of course YMMV.
    How I do it is to just start the route tracking at the begining of the ride, and then let the display go off. You can bring it back if you want, to have a look at the map or stats. At the end of the ride, I save the route, it gets uploaded to my Mapmyride account. Then when you get to your computer, you can get all the stats you need, time, time splits by mile, a map of the route, elevation profile, avg speed. With the display off it's very easy on the battery.
    You can even set it so that someelse can view your rides, even as you ride.
    And it's free, just some small ads.
    I use a biologic(the one that you see in BF adds), it is very sturdy, seem to be very water resitant, and you can used the touchscreen with it in the case.
    And it's free, the app not the case..

  11. #11
    A might bewildered... Dudelsack's Avatar
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    I've used MapMyRide, Cyclometer, and now Strava. They all eat my battery alive. If you use an ANT+ dongle, it's even worse. The elevation climbed is also not accurate. My vote is for the Garmin.

  12. #12
    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    Garmin Edge 500 ... problem solved.

    There is a time to resign oneself
    to old age and infirmity. You first.
    My Cycling Blogspot

  13. #13
    Semper Fi, A way of life. qcpmsame's Avatar
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    I've decided on the iPhone and apps with a dedicated mount for my uses. it only took 5 months to finally decide.

    Bill
    "I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me" Philippians 4:13

  14. #14
    Senior Member volosong's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dudelsack View Post
    ...My vote is for the Garmin.
    +1

    I wonder about the durability of an iPhone on a bicycle. I carry my phone ... but for emergencies only. Just too much jarring around. The Garmin 500 is a real nifty device. It is also my first wireless ... and I will never go back. As Mr. Beanz says, there are three configurable screens available, but what he did not mention is that you can configure how many fields to display on each screen. My 500 is configured to only show the most important, basic information on the first screen. That way I have BIG numbers. Stuff like speed, cadence, heart rate, gradient, and (something else that I can't remember right now). On the second and third screens, I have little tiny windows that show just about everything that one could ever wonder about, including what time dinner will be ready, (just kidding on that one).

    You can configure the 500 to work on three different bicycles also. But, you only get one remote transmitter per "kit". I have my Trek DuoTrap as one transmitter, the GSC-10 on another bike as the second transmitter, and for the third bike, I just have to go with NAVSTAR/GPS. With that, the only thing I'm missing is cadence.

    The only other thing I could wish for is turn-by-turn directions. That's available in more expensive Garmin units, but don't think the cost is worth it. Haven't gotten lost yet ... well, did miss a turn on a double-metric century last summer. Just picked up the route several miles later.
    Deut 6:5

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    "Ha ha! You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders - The most famous of which is 'never get involved in a land war in Asia'".
    - Vizzini during his "battle of wits" with the Man in Black

  15. #15
    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by qcpmsame View Post
    I've decided on the iPhone and apps with a dedicated mount for my uses. it only took 5 months to finally decide.

    Bill
    Oh, Bill, Bill, Bill........

    There is a time to resign oneself
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  16. #16
    Semper Fi, A way of life. qcpmsame's Avatar
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    Here sir!
    "I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me" Philippians 4:13

  17. #17
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    WARNING - LONG

    I'm a gadget nut, sort of. At least I am not shy around computers. Android phones, Tablets (I own a Samsung 7"), but the thread puzzled me for a simple reason.

    I didn't get the message from the assorted posts that a GPS bike computer, at least the less expensive models, tracks the ride and allow uploading to a service/training program. Now I know that some do, but do they all ?.

    If not, what's the point ?. How much better is a wireless Garmin over a much less expensive Cateye ?. The accuracy of a GPS is no better (and may be worse, see below), many dedicated cycle computers offer the ability to customize what you display and they need a cheap battery once a year. So what's the point ?. The cheapest Garmin I see on Nashbar, the 200, is $150. It does not have a map function, so all it does differently that a Cateye Mico at 1/3 the cost, is upload a route taken.

    My phone does that with a free app - My Tracks. And I have the phone with me anyway, so what am I missing ?.

    As to accuracy, I've noticed that MyTracks is within 1/10th mile accurate compared to my Micro over 25 miles. What it displays on Google Maps is something else. It's easy to see discrepancies with the on-line map software when you ride an out and back mt bike ride on single track, where the track does not over-lay. The ride distance is the same, just displays it with errors.

    This was the article in the NY Times, 12/19/2011

    "GPS Watch Can Be an Unreliable Running Partner"

    "I used to run with a GPS watch, and at the time it seemed like a technological marvel. Made by Polar, Garmin, Nike and Timex, global positioning system watches track the distance you have run and your pace, including your average pace and your instantaneous pace. They beep at intervals, like every mile, if you want to train by doing some segments of your course at a faster pace. And when you are finished running, you can download all your data onto your computer.

    But after a while, I noticed something disconcerting. My watch might record my run as, say, six miles, but according to Google Maps, the actual distance was more like 6.5 miles.

    That kind of discrepancy, of course, plays havoc with your training. The pace calculated by the watch is much too slow, and the run becomes an exercise in frustration.

    So I got another watch, from a different maker. It was just as bad, maybe worse. I returned it and got a third one, but that one seemed to be absolutely accurate only once, when I was running along the lakefront in Chicago, under a clear sky with no tall buildings and few trees nearby.

    On Sunday, I tried a little experiment with friends who also have GPS watches. I started from my house, and Jen Davis and Martin Strauss started from her house; we met up along the way.

    My route was 15.96 miles, according to Google Maps. My watch said it was 15.54. Jen’s watch, an older model, did much better. Her route was 19.1 miles. Her watch said 19.02.

    Race organizers know this problem all too well. Douglas Thurston, operations director for the Competitor Group, which organizes Rock ’n’ Roll Marathons, a series of races across the country, braces himself for complaints with every race.

    Runners who wore GPS watches start e-mailing him or posting comments on Facebook or Twitter afterward. The course was measured incorrectly, they will say. According to their GPS devices, it was too short.

    Mr. Thurston has gotten so used to the complaints that he actually has a generic e-mail reply. No, it says, the course was not wrong. Your GPS device was.

    “If someone wants to go to mat on it, I ask them to go to a 400-meter track and run on the inside lane for 12.5 laps. That’s 5,000 meters,” he said in an interview. Then, he tells the runner, check the distance on your GPS device. He guarantees it will not be 5,000 meters.

    Martin illustrated this for me recently by running five times around a track at the University of Michigan, where he is a professor of mathematics and electrical engineering and computer science. When he downloaded the GPS data onto his computer, every loop around the track was a little different, and none were oval.

    In fact, not one of his paths was even curved — they were short segments of lines connected to resemble an oval. Yet he had run in the same lane.

    It seems clear enough that a GPS watch is not very accurate, yet online runners’ forums, like one at the Web site of Runners World, are filled with comments from confused athletes who rely on the devices. One poster, for example, ran a half marathon and wore a GPS watch that said the distance was 12.8 miles instead of 13.1.

    “Many people are posting on the race’s Web site that theirs came up just as short,” the runner wrote. “I got a pretty stellar PR” — personal record — “and would hate to have a question mark hanging over it.”

    Another wrote, “I did an out-and-back run on a rail trail: 5.25 miles out and 5.02 miles back. According to the GPS, I was running 40 m.p.h. for over two minutes.”

    What’s wrong with those GPS devices? The problem, say their makers, is that people expect too much. The watches are very much a work in progress. “We all use pretty much the same technology,” said Corey Cornaccio, director of marketing at Polar. The technology is improving, but some inaccuracy remains. “People don’t understand that,” he said.

    Trees or clouds or tall buildings can block the satellite signals needed for the devices to track distances. Routes with lots of turns throw them off, too; if you lose the signal as you go around a curve, your device will draw a straight line from where it last saw you to where it found you again. The distance around the curve will not be tracked.

    Also, says Martin, there is an accuracy problem caused by something called multipath. “If a satellite signal arrives directly and also bounces off a mountain or nearby building to the receiver, the receiver may be confused as to which signal to use,” he said.

    Then again, we had perfect conditions on Sunday — a sunny day, a route with few turns on country roads lined mostly with fields. And my GPS watch still was wrong.

    And even though the technologies — and sources of error — are pretty much the same across different devices, they can give sometimes wildly different results, as one runner, 21-year-old Allen Helton, of Richardson, Tex., discovered. Mr. Helton, a college student who works at a running store, recently decided to test GPS watches sold by different makers, older and newer models, on a variety of courses.

    All got distances wrong, and none agreed with the others on any of Mr. Helton’s tests. But their worst performance was, as Mr. Helton expected, on a trail run, with trees and twists and turns.

    The actual distance was 6.6 miles, and his actual pace was 7 minutes, 37 seconds a mile. The watch that did best said he ran 6.45 miles at a 7:47 pace. The one that did worst said he ran just 5.5 miles at a 9:08 pace.

    But Mr. Helton is not throwing his watches away. He has three GPS watches and uses one nearly every time he runs. Then again, unlike most areas where I run, his routes do not have large trees, winding roads and poor satellite reception. On his routes, Mr. Helton said, his GPS device is accurate to within 10 feet of where he actually is.

    “To me, that is a very, very accurate watch,” he said.

  18. #18
    Saved by Grace lphilpot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by qcpmsame View Post
    I've decided on the iPhone and apps with a dedicated mount for my uses. it only took 5 months to finally decide.
    Bill
    ...you mean like a double sided Velcro strap wrapped around the headtube and through the clip on the backside of my (Droid) phone case? So far, that's the best I've come up with. I run SportsTracker Pro, BTW.
    Len Philpot - 2012 Specialized Tricross Sport
    I start out slow and then taper off from there...

  19. #19
    Council of the Elders billydonn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
    WARNING - LONG

    I'm a gadget nut, sort of. At least I am not shy around computers. Android phones, Tablets (I own a Samsung 7"), but the thread puzzled me for a simple reason.

    I didn't get the message from the assorted posts that a GPS bike computer, at least the less expensive models, tracks the ride and allow uploading to a service/training program. Now I know that some do, but do they all ?.

    If not, what's the point ?. How much better is a wireless Garmin over a much less expensive Cateye ?. The accuracy of a GPS is no better (and may be worse, see below), many dedicated cycle computers offer the ability to customize what you display and they need a cheap battery once a year. So what's the point ?. The cheapest Garmin I see on Nashbar, the 200, is $150. It does not have a map function, so all it does differently that a Cateye Mico at 1/3 the cost, is upload a route taken.

    My phone does that with a free app - My Tracks. And I have the phone with me anyway, so what am I missing ?.

    As to accuracy, I've noticed that MyTracks is within 1/10th mile accurate compared to my Micro over 25 miles. What it displays on Google Maps is something else. It's easy to see discrepancies with the on-line map software when you ride an out and back mt bike ride on single track, where the track does not over-lay. The ride distance is the same, just displays it with errors.

    This was the article in the NY Times, 12/19/2011

    "GPS Watch Can Be an Unreliable Running Partner"

    "I used to run with a GPS watch, and at the time it seemed like a technological marvel. Made by Polar, Garmin, Nike and Timex, global positioning system watches track the distance you have run and your pace, including your average pace and your instantaneous pace. They beep at intervals, like every mile, if you want to train by doing some segments of your course at a faster pace. And when you are finished running, you can download all your data onto your computer.

    But after a while, I noticed something disconcerting. My watch might record my run as, say, six miles, but according to Google Maps, the actual distance was more like 6.5 miles.

    That kind of discrepancy, of course, plays havoc with your training. The pace calculated by the watch is much too slow, and the run becomes an exercise in frustration.

    So I got another watch, from a different maker. It was just as bad, maybe worse. I returned it and got a third one, but that one seemed to be absolutely accurate only once, when I was running along the lakefront in Chicago, under a clear sky with no tall buildings and few trees nearby.

    On Sunday, I tried a little experiment with friends who also have GPS watches. I started from my house, and Jen Davis and Martin Strauss started from her house; we met up along the way.

    My route was 15.96 miles, according to Google Maps. My watch said it was 15.54. Jen’s watch, an older model, did much better. Her route was 19.1 miles. Her watch said 19.02.

    Race organizers know this problem all too well. Douglas Thurston, operations director for the Competitor Group, which organizes Rock ’n’ Roll Marathons, a series of races across the country, braces himself for complaints with every race.

    Runners who wore GPS watches start e-mailing him or posting comments on Facebook or Twitter afterward. The course was measured incorrectly, they will say. According to their GPS devices, it was too short.

    Mr. Thurston has gotten so used to the complaints that he actually has a generic e-mail reply. No, it says, the course was not wrong. Your GPS device was.

    “If someone wants to go to mat on it, I ask them to go to a 400-meter track and run on the inside lane for 12.5 laps. That’s 5,000 meters,” he said in an interview. Then, he tells the runner, check the distance on your GPS device. He guarantees it will not be 5,000 meters.

    Martin illustrated this for me recently by running five times around a track at the University of Michigan, where he is a professor of mathematics and electrical engineering and computer science. When he downloaded the GPS data onto his computer, every loop around the track was a little different, and none were oval.

    In fact, not one of his paths was even curved — they were short segments of lines connected to resemble an oval. Yet he had run in the same lane.

    It seems clear enough that a GPS watch is not very accurate, yet online runners’ forums, like one at the Web site of Runners World, are filled with comments from confused athletes who rely on the devices. One poster, for example, ran a half marathon and wore a GPS watch that said the distance was 12.8 miles instead of 13.1.

    “Many people are posting on the race’s Web site that theirs came up just as short,” the runner wrote. “I got a pretty stellar PR” — personal record — “and would hate to have a question mark hanging over it.”

    Another wrote, “I did an out-and-back run on a rail trail: 5.25 miles out and 5.02 miles back. According to the GPS, I was running 40 m.p.h. for over two minutes.”

    What’s wrong with those GPS devices? The problem, say their makers, is that people expect too much. The watches are very much a work in progress. “We all use pretty much the same technology,” said Corey Cornaccio, director of marketing at Polar. The technology is improving, but some inaccuracy remains. “People don’t understand that,” he said.

    Trees or clouds or tall buildings can block the satellite signals needed for the devices to track distances. Routes with lots of turns throw them off, too; if you lose the signal as you go around a curve, your device will draw a straight line from where it last saw you to where it found you again. The distance around the curve will not be tracked.

    Also, says Martin, there is an accuracy problem caused by something called multipath. “If a satellite signal arrives directly and also bounces off a mountain or nearby building to the receiver, the receiver may be confused as to which signal to use,” he said.

    Then again, we had perfect conditions on Sunday — a sunny day, a route with few turns on country roads lined mostly with fields. And my GPS watch still was wrong.

    And even though the technologies — and sources of error — are pretty much the same across different devices, they can give sometimes wildly different results, as one runner, 21-year-old Allen Helton, of Richardson, Tex., discovered. Mr. Helton, a college student who works at a running store, recently decided to test GPS watches sold by different makers, older and newer models, on a variety of courses.

    All got distances wrong, and none agreed with the others on any of Mr. Helton’s tests. But their worst performance was, as Mr. Helton expected, on a trail run, with trees and twists and turns.

    The actual distance was 6.6 miles, and his actual pace was 7 minutes, 37 seconds a mile. The watch that did best said he ran 6.45 miles at a 7:47 pace. The one that did worst said he ran just 5.5 miles at a 9:08 pace.

    But Mr. Helton is not throwing his watches away. He has three GPS watches and uses one nearly every time he runs. Then again, unlike most areas where I run, his routes do not have large trees, winding roads and poor satellite reception. On his routes, Mr. Helton said, his GPS device is accurate to within 10 feet of where he actually is.

    “To me, that is a very, very accurate watch,” he said.
    Suggest a visit to DC Rainmaker for all that is known about every electronic training device.

    There is a time to resign oneself
    to old age and infirmity. You first.
    My Cycling Blogspot

  20. #20
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
    ...snip...

    I didn't get the message from the assorted posts that a GPS bike computer, at least the less expensive models, tracks the ride and allow uploading to a service/training program. Now I know that some do, but do they all ?.

    ...incredibly long snip...
    Yes, I believe they all do. All of the Garmin devices do.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
    Yes, I believe they all do. All of the Garmin devices do.
    So learn me any advantage, after a ride, you remove to download via a cable to a PC/Mac, as well as charge, then need to remember to take off charger for next ride? ? Or don't charge and hope the battery lasts, like my E-trex. Well, you need to remove to suck off the data, so have to get in the habit of putting back on bike.

    As opposed to a bike app that syncs via the cell/internet. With a dedicated cycle computer that stays on the bike and needs a battery maybe once per year?

    Am I missing something?

  22. #22
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lightingguy View Post
    So learn me any advantage, after a ride, you remove to download via a cable to a PC/Mac, as well as charge, then need to remember to take off charger for next ride? ? Or don't charge and hope the battery lasts, like my E-trex. Well, you need to remove to suck off the data, so have to get in the habit of putting back on bike.

    As opposed to a bike app that syncs via the cell/internet. With a dedicated cycle computer that stays on the bike and needs a battery maybe once per year?

    Am I missing something?
    The cradle and USB cable that I use to upload data from my Garmin also charges the battery. It only takes a few minutes. I am in the habit of grabbing the Garmin from my desk as part of my routine before every ride. Not a big deal for me. Might be for you.
    I don't miss my bike computer at all and I don't have a smart phone with its $30/mo. data plan. YMMV
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Gee View Post
    I'm probably going to try Cyclemeter with my iPhone first. It's just $4.99, gets great reviews...
    I got the Cyclemeter app for my iPhone, and after the latest update, it tracks closely with my wired bike computer and another GPS I've had for a few years.

    I start the Cyclemeter and then put the phone in a jersey pocket.

    For the basic ride data, it is hard to beat a wired computer. They just seem to work and keep working.

  24. #24
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    The answer to the original question depends upon how you are going to use the device. If you want to just track distance and see how fast you are going, a simple computer (wireless or wired is the way to do). The battery in it easily lasts a year and you don't have to worry about anything. For a few more dollars you can get other features like HR monitor and the ability to download info to a computer. A step up from that are devices like the Garmin 500 and you can see above how people use them. One thing that complicates their use is the devices have to be recharged and forgetting causes you to not have data on the next ride or it goes dead part way through the ride. At the top in are Garmin devices with maps.

    You also can use smartphones with appropriate apps. The most obvious disadvantage is you either can have constant view of the data while you ride or you somehow mount them on your bars/stem. If you don't mind the appearance of the large phone sitting there, you run the risk of damaging the phone if you or it falls.

    So there's no easy solutaion that covers all the needs/uses.
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

  25. #25
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    More than one way to skin a cat.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

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