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Thread: Biking & GPS

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    Biking & GPS

    Anyone use a GPS for their bike computer? I use a Garmin Vista, which works great. It is a heavy.

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    Zin
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    On your what?!? Zin's Avatar
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    From time to time, I'll take my Garmin GP-12 along, but not always. If I'm in the back country, I always have it with me. Extra batteries too.

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    My only experience with bikes and GPS was when I carried one in the outside mesh pocket of my hydration pack while biking in Moab. My plan was to use the recorded track to be able to back-track if I got lost. Mine does not have imbedded maps. Getting lost is not a small issue in a desert. I did carry some crude maps of the area from a book and a compass as back up. Though my GPS is rated to the highest shock standard, at least for civilian GPS, it suffered a "concussion" when I fell. I actually hit the ground rather softly too. It lost the track data and my stored waypoints. It worked fine, but I needed a map of the area with coordinates to use the GPS with out the stored data. After that I carried inside the pack cushioned in a shirt. I don't know if that was good enough or not as I didn't fall again. If you use a GPS with imbedded map software, then losing the track would not be a serious problem, assuming the unit was still working after a fall.

    When I go back to Moab this April, I'm carrying the GPS (well padded), but with better (paper) maps. I'll also have a compass, because these things do break. When I bike in N Georgia, Florida, Tenn. and NC, I've never felt the need for carrying it. I'll carry a trail map which generally just shows north and a compass to at least keep me from going around in circles. If you're in mountenous areas, an altimeter (light and small) is very usefull with a topo map. The GPS altitude resolution is generally poor. However, I believe for the WAAS mode (the newer units have it), altitude is very good.

    Generating tracks is an iffy proposition in wooded areas. You get a lot of signal drop-out because of the weak signal under trees. However, you can always find a place to get a good waypoint so you'll know where you are from a map, either imbedded or paper.

    Al

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    BikeForums Founder Joe Gardner's Avatar
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    The only time I have taken my GPS unit (garmin etrex summit) out with me is when I went geocaching with a few ride buddy's. I haven't ever felt the need to take a map / compass / GPS unit on my rides. Now if i were touring, or in un-familiar area, it may end up in my camelbak.

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    Center of the Universe ngateguy's Avatar
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    I have an etrek that I can mont to my bike. I don't use it that much on rides mainly because it eats batteries, One thing I like about it is the elevation stats it gives. The other is mine will show me the nearest restaruant or more importantly the nearest pub to my location
    Matthew 6

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    BikeForums Founder Joe Gardner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ngateguy
    I don't use it that much on rides mainly because it eats batteries...
    Pick up yourself a few 2250mAh High Capacity NiMH Rechargeable Batteries and a nice charger. I get about 4hrs of use from my digital camera with the 2250's, regular AA's get me 90 min...

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    After thinking about the question a bit more, the GPS would be a great way to calibrate a bike computer. Can't think of a better way to determine the true wheel circumference.

    Al

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    I use the Garmin handlebar mount for my eTrex Legend, and use the GPS to map local trails, or wherever we go. I have a nice GPS record of an MTB ride around Skagway, Alaska, for example.

    I think the mount works great.

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    I sometimes use a Garmin eMap. I have mounts for it on both of my road bikes, so I can fit it when in the mood.

    The biggest problem with the eMap is that it radiates RFI like a jammer pod. It totally mucks up my Polar S710i.

    But I do it mainly for very LONG rides - I use it mainly to motivate me/keep me busy during very long, boring stretches of road.

    I have also found it useful when I am leading a ride, and where I do not know the route all that well. I usually plan a ride route in the car, recording the whole thing with the GPS tracking feature. I then take it all back home to the Mapsource software, and plot out the actual route on that. On the day, I simply download the route onto the GPS and off we go. Good stuff.

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    UI take mine with Me Mt biking and have it on in the back pocket of my Camelback. that way I can get a map of what I just rode.

    here is my Ride from Yesterday .

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    magellan sportrack topo

    Thats what ive gotten instead of a bike computer for my bike. I have full topographical information, all streams, creeks, rivers, itty bitty roads, and even most trails show up on it's mapping. Its nice knowing if i'm gonna have a 1000ft to climb. Am going to be getting the bike mount for it, havent had it long, but its supposed to withstand most anything you throw at it.

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    One less car Jay H's Avatar
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    Yes, the bike mount from Garmin for the Etrex is pretty beefy, you basically replace the battery cover with one that has the connector to it and the handlebar mount, if I remember correctly, uses a small bolt that screws close. So it's not a QR but it holds well.

    I use a GPS when bike touring which it is fairly useful for. It's also easy to put on and off for when say you're away from your bike.

    Jay

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    Junior Member mtbikechic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Gardner
    The only time I have taken my GPS unit (garmin etrex summit) out with me is when I went geocaching with a few ride buddy's. I haven't ever felt the need to take a map / compass / GPS unit on my rides. Now if i were touring, or in un-familiar area, it may end up in my camelbak.
    nice to hear of a fellow geocacher!

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    Senior Member Chuckie J.'s Avatar
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    Gps

    I debated whether to get a bike computer or a GPS and ended up with the more expensive GPS for several reasons:

    1. More accurate information when you need accurate information

    2. You can use it for any bike (you don't have just one bike do you.....!) or hiking or anything really.

    3. A bike computer won't help you as much if you're lost

    4. I'm hopelessly addicted to maps and it's a great companion to a map

    Sure, it uses batteries faster than a computer but I don't always bring it. In fact, I usually bring it when I do a route the first time only and then now I know my general milage (plus gobs of other information) for the next trip. The wires on bike computers make me really.... nervous. It just doesn't seem rugged enough.

    It's a fun little tool. Marking a waypoint (essentially marking the coordinates of where you are) is kind of like taking a picture-- I was here! Then you can find it on your map later and marvel how far you've gone.

    Chuckie

    P.S. I do use the rechargable 2500mA NiHM batteries and get surprisingly long uses out of them.

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    www.mtbkanata.com mtbkanata's Avatar
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    I use a Garmin Etrex Summit with a handlebar mount.. it works perfect! I used to just throw it in my pack, but this way, the GPS is open to the sky, and I can see the track as I am going. Works well when I am looping in unknown trails.
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    Senior Member JustsayMo's Avatar
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    Splat, What model and software are you using to create
    the map you made?

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    I used my Magellan Sportrak on a recient tour in Thailand. It worked great. There were a few spots where it wasn't receiving a signal, and those were out in the central plains, but it helped me find a hotel in nakhon Sawan after riding 125K in some humid weather, so it paid for itself there.

  18. #18
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    I use the Timex Speed, Distance and Heart Rate monitor system to track my speed, distance, and heart rate. I don't really use maps- I kind of prefer having the paper maps for that stuff. For the odometer and pace and distance, it's totally the bomb, though.

    Koffee

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    If I am riding in an area I am unfamiliar with i always take my Garmin GPS with me. Mine sits in a cusioned pouch right to the handlebar on my bike. I had originally bought the pouch to carry a cell phone that i used to have but when I got a new phone it was substantially smaller. I soon discovered that the pouch and my Garmin were a perfect match.
    Forget all that stuff you learned in flight school about lift, drag, thrust, and gravity. An airplane flys because of MONEY!!

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    I use the Garmin Forerunner 201. It has tons of features useful for training, easily goes a week before needing a battery recharge and is cheaper than having a computer for every bike. Handlebar mounts cost 15-20 each. And if you have a Cannondale with a lefty fork what else are you going to use?

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    Super Biker Mtn Mike's Avatar
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    I use me Garmin Geko 301 on rides mainly to map out my route AFTER the ride is over, and then email it to friends. The unit is pretty small, ~.75x1.5x3 inches, and the handle bar mount works great. Sometimes I navigate by waypoints on mountain bike rides, but this is rare. I've found that the GPS odometer function is not as acurate as the standard bike odo type because the GPS tends to "cut corners" on the switchbacks (GPS acuracy is ~10-20 feet, which is less than some of the tight switchbacks on a mountain bike ride).

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