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Old 12-02-07, 08:57 AM   #1
Xanti Andia
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Which Garmin GPS?

There are numerous threads on Cycling GPS, and lots of catalogues out there, but maybe one of you that knows these devices can give me a quick and current answer.

What model Garmin should I get these days with mapping and barometric altitude, for cycling and backpacking application?.

I see the Garmin Edge 305 reported as the most popular device but it might have more features than what I would use, and I don't want to spend more than necessary.

I am not really interested in heart rate monitors, and I don't want to replace my speedometer, as the GPS would not be used on training or local rides that I already know, only on trips, where I want to know where I am, plot a route, and want to be able to see the vertical profile and routes of rides or hikes. So having two sensors for speed seems unnecesary, and useless for walking. Does this make sense? Do others use a GPS in this fashion?

I understand the device needs to be a Garmin because Garmin compatible maps are available for Argentina.
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Old 12-02-07, 10:22 AM   #2
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The bicycle Garmin GPS's with speed and cadence are designed to be your primary bicycle computer and have the capability to upload to the Garmin training center software. A nice feature of the Garmin training center software is the upload/download capability so that trip history is automatically loaded and combined with graphs showing elevation, cadence, speed, and distance. The Garmin 305 has a rechargeable battery via USB. The new version of the 305 is the 605/705 available early in 2008.

https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?cID=160&pID=10884

If as you say none of speed and cadence stats interests you, Garmin makes plenty of small handheld GPS. We have been using the eTrex Vista on our Tandem and the display is customizable as is the ability to load Maps. A consideration is the trade off between battery life and functionality because its a real pain replacing batteries every other time you go for a long ride. My early version Vista only had 12+ hour battery life. The latest eTrex's have SD card slots and battery life up to 30+ hours.

http://www.garmin.com/garmin/cms/site/us/etrexseries
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Old 12-02-07, 11:33 AM   #3
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How about looking at the Forerunner series instead of the Edge series? They are designed for runners and are worn like a wristwatch.
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Old 12-02-07, 01:27 PM   #4
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I am not really interested in heart rate monitors, and I don't want to replace my speedometer, as the GPS would not be used on training or local rides that I already know, only on trips, where I want to know where I am, plot a route, and want to be able to see the vertical profile and routes of rides or hikes. So having two sensors for speed seems unnecesary, and useless for walking. Does this make sense? Do others use a GPS in this fashion?
If you want to import or plan routes outside the GPS unit, I not sure I would recommend the 305. I think other full featured GPS units would work better and be easier to use. As delivered with it's Training Center software, it's pretty good at tracking where you've been, but as for planning a route or importing a route from some other GPS (such as you find out on Bikely.com or other such sites), it's somewhat limited. I don't own the full set of Garmin maps, so I'm not sure if those come with additional software that makes it any easier to plan routes or not.

Don't get me wrong, I like my 305, but I think it's primary design is as a training aid that happens to use GPS technology as opposed to a true GPS and all the bells and whistles that are available there.

There is one web site out there ...motionbased.com that you can grab routes directly from and import into your device. It's designed specifically for the Garmin Edge and Forerunner units. I've heard from others that there is a workaround for importing gps tracks from other sites, but I've not gotten one to work correctly yet...and I made multiple attempts when I first got my unit.
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Old 12-02-07, 05:10 PM   #5
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Seems like the Germin Vista would be the right device, but I had not counted on such short battery life. It would be impractical on a longer tour, and I see they don't recharge, so you need to go for rechargeable bateries and a batery charger...

I don't know, maybe too much trouble for such a toy, I think I might stick to paper maps.
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Old 12-02-07, 05:24 PM   #6
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So having two sensors for speed seems unnecesary, and useless for walking. Does this make sense? Do others use a GPS in this fashion?

I understand the device needs to be a Garmin because Garmin compatible maps are available for Argentina.
I actually use a handheld 60CSX and just put it in the backpack and go. I can always pull it out and see where I'm going, upload to Motion-based and use it for hiking and in the car and when I travel - very flexible.

Below are a few sample links of my recorded tracks:


http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/4494172
http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/activity/4482424
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Old 12-03-07, 04:03 PM   #7
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I actually use a handheld 60CSX and just put it in the backpack and go. I can always pull it out and see where I'm going, upload to Motion-based and use it for hiking and in the car and when I travel - very flexible.
And what do you do about bateries?

Looks like another option is the eTrex SummitŪ HC which seems to have most of the functions fot the 60CSX, except it does not accept MicroSD cards (what are they used for) and does not have automatic routing, which I would not likely use.

Still I am wondering if my old paper based which use no batteries might not be the ticket.
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Old 12-03-07, 07:11 PM   #8
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I love my GPSMap 60Cx (There are recent threads on this topic but my searches on BF show a huge gap of no data. What's up with that?)

The CSx includes baro altimeter and stationary compass but I don't think they're worth the battery drain. Baro altimeters need constant recalibration. The GPS already has OK altitude values and some topo maps include elevation data as well. I could go on and on about its features but won't. Here's a picture of it on my bars.
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Old 12-03-07, 07:19 PM   #9
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Regarding batteries: I had rechargeables once and hated them. They don't last as long, you have to carry a charger, and find times to plug them in. It's not so hard to carry a couple extra AA's, they can be swapped anytime, and you can find them in any gas station or convience store. Much more convienent than any rechargeable situation. Mine list 15 hours or more (somewhat less if WAAS is turned on).
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Old 12-04-07, 06:41 AM   #10
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The GPS already has OK altitude values and some topo maps include elevation.
What is OK altitude values? What is the error?
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Old 12-04-07, 08:12 AM   #11
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I would also look at the Garmin Vista HCX or the Legend HCX,
The vista has compass and baro altimiter, the legend has neither. Other than that they do the same thing. There are handle bar mounts for both.

http://www.rei.com/search?vcat=REI_S...in+hcx&x=0&y=0
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Old 12-04-07, 08:48 AM   #12
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If you are in no hurry and money is no problem.... wait for the edge 605 (without sensors: cadence/hrm) it will set you back $400 but it will be a unit designed for bike use (weather/battery life).
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Old 12-04-07, 12:32 PM   #13
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I wouldn't bother focusing on a bike specific model, rather get a nice handheld that offers a mounting solution.

I have one of the eTrex Legend model. It's an older unit with the serial connection (fortunately I had an old laptop with a serial port). Works great, the universal handlebar doohickey was another $15 or so.



As for the topo maps..........bit *cough* torrent
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Old 12-04-07, 12:48 PM   #14
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I wouldn't bother focusing on a bike specific model, rather get a nice handheld that offers a mounting solution.

I have one of the eTrex Legend model. It's an older unit with the serial connection (fortunately I had an old laptop with a serial port). Works great, the universal handlebar doohickey was another $15 or so.
What kind of battery life do you get?
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Old 12-04-07, 01:26 PM   #15
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What kind of battery life do you get?
I never really measured it but I know I've gone for 8-10 hours rides without any problem.

Probably the biggest drain is

-you're using the map function and having it constantly redraw
-what you have the backlight time set for
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Old 12-05-07, 12:52 AM   #16
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FYI - The eTrex models have been updated over time so an early etrex Vista gets 8-10 hours whereas the later models have much longer battery life.
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Old 12-14-07, 03:31 PM   #17
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I don't usually browse this forum, but I thought I would comment here.

The Garmin Vista HCx claims to get 24 hours on 2 AA batteries, and so far, I think that isn't an over-estimate.

I accidentally left mine on overnight in my pocket the other day after having used it for a few hours, and it is still working.

Also, there was a thread in the Electronics & gadgets subforum that talked about building a USB charger (for another application) to run off of a dynamo... and the Vista HCx uses the USB port for external power, so batteries become something just to keep it going during stops and/or hikes.

It has routing choices for several options including cars and cycling, so I use it in my car and on my bike (only once so far), and will use it hiking too.

I am happy with it.

I also purchased the Cities CD and topographic map for North America, and 2 micro-SD cards so I can have either one available, although I haven't loaded up the topographic map yet.
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Old 12-15-07, 05:46 AM   #18
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We have a Garmin Etrex Vista Cx. We purchased the City Navigator maps, and I already had Topo. Unit has other uses for me than on the bike.

The SD cards are used to load more of the map, or if you purchase extra cards, you can load lots of maps. It can also be used to back up your route data if you go on a long tour. We download the data to "Sportstracks" to keep up with our mileage (free-ware IIRC)

Battery life? Our set up is: WAAS off, normally no routing, and the screen is usually on a summary page. Stoker controls the GPS and likes to know speed and distance, just changes to the maps every now and again. I do not know exactly how long the batteries last. We do a 30 minute loop 3-5 mornings a week and add whatever (0-2.5 hours) on the weekends. I change the batteries so rarely that it is really not an issue, at least a month or more between changes. I was pleased with it on on our MS150 this year, 2 days, 6+ hours each day. Batteries had minimal use on them when we started, did not get replaced on the ride, and lasted another week or two after the ride. The Garmin website shows 32 hours for this unit. Etrex Vista Cx

If I were buying again, I would consider getting the HCx version. I would deal with the shorter battery life to get the high sensitivity receiver. No problems on the bike, however when I am in the woods the reception could be better.

When you budget for the GPS don't forget that detailed maps are extra.

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Old 12-21-07, 03:17 PM   #19
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I have yet to really put mine through its paces even though I have had it for two years but I did then and still believe now that a 'real' GPS with loadable street maps is the ticket for a bicycle rider. I bought a Quest and at the time it was not nearly top of the line but it is very small and a very powerful GPS. Garmin has newer, better stuff than the Quest out now and if I were buying today I would be looking at the 'Nuvi'(?) or anything made to be used on a motorcycle. The Quest has an internal lithium battery but is mainly designed to run off 12V DC. It will perform quite well on 3V internal power but will not give audible turn by turn instructions unless tapped into a 12V source. My stoker is blind and I was hoping to put the Quest on her handlebars and let her handle navigation or put the Quest on my bars and run an earphone back to her station. I've used the Quest walking around town and on one bike trip mounted on my handlebars. The display wasn't the easiest to see in daylight and the voice prompts would really have been welcome but I haven't yet figured a way of getting 12V DC onto the bike. Our light system is 6V but it is due for an upgrade... ...
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Old 12-22-07, 12:32 AM   #20
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I dropped into REI in San Francisco, took a look at the Garmins. Fellow at the shop believed I should get a 60csx mainly because the 60csx has superior reception, which he says becomes important under heavy forest cover or heavy cloudcover. On a bicycle it porbably would not matter, but my other application is for mountain trips, where if I needed the Garmin while lost in a storm, I would want all the reception I could get.

Only problem was that a 60csx is $ 450, I did not feel rich that day, I have been in all sorts of odd places with only maps, and often not even good maps, and here I am 50 years old and never seriously lost, I thought my $450 were better spent elsewhere.

Also I suspect that once the novelty runs out I will not remember to have batteries handy before each ride. Hard enough to gather the tools, clothing, water, spares, lights with bateries etc, and something is always left behind, most often the camera is either left behind, does not have a memory chip installed or does not have a charge.

On another trip to the US maybe I will sucumb to the temptation.

Thanks for all your input.
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