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Old 08-29-05, 01:29 PM   #1
cyclemanic
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gps units

hey anyone out there used gps for touring? was it worth it? what do i need to look out for?
have been looking at the 1 below, is this ok for what i want, or r there other better 1's out there for less money? doing canada coast to coast next year but would also like to use it in the uk.


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thanks for ur help
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Old 08-29-05, 01:31 PM   #2
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ok so that didn't work, the 1 i'm looking at is a Garmin eTrex Legend C GPS, but its priced at $299 which is alot to pay for something i might not find that usefull. any alternatives out there
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Old 08-29-05, 02:03 PM   #3
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I've used GPS extensively while riding and touring. You want a GPS that will be able to take uploaded highly-detailed maps from your computer, and enough memory to be able to store enough detailed maps to cover the area where you'll be riding. I have used the Etrex Vista for several years, but for longer tours it does have enough memory. The Garmin GPS 60CS that I have now has much more memory and the color screen is much easier to see than the black and white. Also the controls on the 60CS are much easier to use while riding. The buttons on the etrex series are small and are on the side. This is important because the reason I switched to GPS from paper maps is that sometimes it's a pain to have to stop and get your bearings and read a paper map. With the 60CS I can easily change functions and navigate with the big color screen without stopping. The legend is indeed a durable, well-built unit that will serve you well, but if you can afford it look at the Vista Color or the 60CS. Magellan also makes fantastic units, especially their color meridian and sporttrack series. Don't forget that CD's containing detailed maps are typically an extra cost, so figure this into your budget as well.
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Old 08-29-05, 02:06 PM   #4
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i would advise against any etrex units - they are all gimmick and little substance... just trying to display your coordinates is difficult (impossible on the one i tried), including updating moving coordinates...

i think the best use for gps on a bike tour would be to find your coordinates (lat/long or whetever), distances (say to the next peak, the next town, etc.), etc - not to try to follow a map on a screen - a paper map will always be better, and a hell of a lot easier to use! and the *real* landscape can tell you more. also, anywhere for which a gps map is available should have better paper maps available (and in remote countries the gps maps are likely digitized from paper copies).

but i am *very* pleased with my garmin 12xl that i bought back in 1997! they *still* sell the same model, and it's still about $200 (maybe less on ebay or somewhere). i really can't think of any other electronic item that has lasted so long! makes sense, actually, since th technology in GPS is 20 years old. planning to bring it on this winter's long south american tour!

the thing's tough as nails - mine once fell of fthe top of a truck in south america going 100kph, right onto asphalt, rolled for a while, and still works as good as new with nary a scratch! they really don't make them like that anymore! (at least the new models). no pretty color maps, no games (!), but the functionality is great for real geographic navigation and positioning, and i've used mine extensively for travel worldwide and work (navigating in the alaskan backcountry).

or, you could go with a $4000 trimble like the ones i use at work, but they're kinda big...

Last edited by hujev; 08-29-05 at 02:14 PM.
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Old 08-29-05, 02:19 PM   #5
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Isn't there just one East-West road in Canada?

I have a Garmin Quest (closer to $500!!) that I really justified for use in the car but it is awesome on the bike. It contains very detailed road maps with all kinds of info on local services and points of interest. Makes routing and rerouting very simple - can't get lost with this thing.

When business traveling to an area I don't know I can plot out some routes before hand and then bike them when I get there and have the quest make sure I don't miss any of my planned route. So it's great but for touring you'd have to figure out a way to get the sealed-in battery recharged or some other way to power it so not ideal in that sense at all.
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Old 08-29-05, 03:54 PM   #6
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I used the etrex legend in Norway. The Garmin Map Source Metro Guide Europe maps on CD were about $180 CDN If I recall correctly.

You still need paper maps for back up and planning, that tiny little screen and lack of resolution can never equal a real paper map.

For finding your way through an unfamiliar urban landscape, the GPS is unsurpassed. You always know where you are in real time, you never have to stop and try and find a street sign or ask a pedestrian.

I was having trouble finding a Youth Hostel and I stopped and typed the address into the GPS. It immediately recognized it and showed me where it was on the map relative to my position and I rode straight there.

The etrex legend has only 8 megs of memory for maps, not nearly enough. I am waiting for a handheld GPS that has 100+ megs of available memory and a slightly larger screen. Colour would be good too.

Some of the GPS receivers intended for car navigation look good, but might be too bulky for the bike.
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Old 08-29-05, 04:41 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phinney
Isn't there just one East-West road in Canada?

I have a Garmin Quest (closer to $500!!) that I really justified for use in the car but it is awesome on the bike. It contains very detailed road maps with all kinds of info on local services and points of interest. Makes routing and rerouting very simple - can't get lost with this thing.

When business traveling to an area I don't know I can plot out some routes before hand and then bike them when I get there and have the quest make sure I don't miss any of my planned route. So it's great but for touring you'd have to figure out a way to get the sealed-in battery recharged or some other way to power it so not ideal in that sense at all.
How do you carry or mount it when biking?
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Old 08-29-05, 05:35 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by skookum
The etrex legend has only 8 megs of memory for maps, not nearly enough. I am waiting for a handheld GPS that has 100+ megs of available memory and a slightly larger screen. Colour would be good too.
Why not try the Magellan GPS with extendable memory via SD cards (up to 1GB!)...? The Meridians or the new Explorists have all what you need: large memory (extendable), color screen, autorouting, ...
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Old 08-29-05, 05:37 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by zowie
How do you carry or mount it when biking?
THe best solution for me is using RAM mounts: they're very strong/reliable and easy to place on the handlebar
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Old 08-29-05, 06:20 PM   #10
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It's small, easily drops in a shirt pocket. Garmin has a handlebar mount for it and that's what I use.
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Old 08-29-05, 06:38 PM   #11
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Good. I think I'm going to get one. Considering it comes with the street level maps, its a better value than some of Garmin's own cheaper models.
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Old 08-29-05, 07:02 PM   #12
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I have an eXplorist 300 that i'm willing to part with for 100. It's a nice GPS, and you can even get a bike mount for it from their site. I bought it for geocaching and just don't use it. It sits on the desk.

I've never used it for touring, but if I still have it, i'll take it with me for a week long trip in October.
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Old 08-29-05, 08:45 PM   #13
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Why not try the Magellan GPS with extendable memory via SD cards (up to 1GB!)...? The Meridians or the new Explorists have all what you need: large memory (extendable), color screen, autorouting, ...
Thanks, I'll take a look at the Magellans.
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Old 08-29-05, 11:19 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclemanic
ok so that didn't work, the 1 i'm looking at is a Garmin eTrex Legend C GPS, but its priced at $299 which is alot to pay for something i might not find that usefull. any alternatives out there
I use the Garmin Legend but not the color unit. It worked well on my tour w/o a problem. You can get it for about 170 bucks. I've dropped this off a bike going 20mph and it still worked fine. They are great to have but are not a total replacement for maps. What I like about the Etrex Legend is all the statistics from the nearest town (as the crow flies) to watching my elevation to averaging mph and such. I also use my GPS for other things like hiking and geocaching. The maps on the Legend cover the major roads but to upload other roads and maps, you'll have to buy a $100 software package that only comes from Garmin.

PS - all the color units will add major bucks to the cost of your GPS no matter if you buy a Garmin or a Magellan.
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Old 08-29-05, 11:41 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timhines
I have an eXplorist 300 that i'm willing to part with for 100. It's a nice GPS, and you can even get a bike mount for it from their site. I bought it for geocaching and just don't use it. It sits on the desk.

I've never used it for touring, but if I still have it, i'll take it with me for a week long trip in October.
Explorist 300 - if you don't need to upload or download maps or data, it's a good unit, especially for 100 dollars that person is offering it as. Comes with a real compass and real altimeter. I found the basemap not to be as good as the basemap for the Legend unit in my area in South Carolina.

Garmin GPS 60CS - a great unit but runs around $420-550 in price.

Last edited by gpsblake; 08-29-05 at 11:59 PM.
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Old 08-30-05, 08:44 AM   #16
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I've used both the etrex Legend and the Vista on bike tours. I don't think GPS is necessary at all for touring, but enjoyed having them. Both held up well and were completely waterproof and small enough to fit on the handlebars.
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Old 08-30-05, 06:09 PM   #17
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A great light, cheaper and great on batts GPS is the garmin gecko 201, no maps, but its great for use with a paper map. The 301 is even better w/ mag. compass and altimeter.
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Old 08-30-05, 08:36 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hujev
i would advise against any etrex units - they are all gimmick and little substance... just trying to display your coordinates is difficult (impossible on the one i tried), including updating moving coordinates...

i think the best use for gps on a bike tour would be to find your coordinates (lat/long or whetever), distances (say to the next peak, the next town, etc.), etc - not to try to follow a map on a screen - a paper map will always be better, and a hell of a lot easier to use! and the *real* landscape can tell you more. also, anywhere for which a gps map is available should have better paper maps available (and in remote countries the gps maps are likely digitized from paper copies).

...
Don't think I could disagree more. A friend uses the garmin etrex [something] color, and I use the magellan sportrak pro. His is a little better than mine (color and usb) but both are great for following your position on a map AND following a predefined route. Both will hold enough detailed map data (including points of interest like stores, gas stations, etc if you want) for any distance you can bike in a day. But I would recommend units with memory cards so you can carry detail for larger areas. I like the Magellan Explorist 500 as the new minimum (SD cards, USB uploads, color). But even on the old ones you can predefine routes and upload them to your GPS. Mine has a feature that highlights your prearranged route and includes a "vector" line pointing at your next decision point (turn, etc) in case you get off course (accidentally or purposely). The realtime map view is great for riding streets where you're not sure which "go through." On my last long trip we occasionally had to stop for the "paper" crowd to change maps. And rain was a real problem for them. Not for our waterproof GPS units.

You can get older magellan sportrak pro units for ~$100 on ebay. The mapping software costs another ~$100. I haven't upgraded (to the magellan explorist 500) yet because my sportrak pro works perfectly and gives me everything I essentially need, and has never failed me yet. I have nothing against paper maps and use them in the evenings on long trips (and have an undergraduate degree in geography including extensive cartography and "tope-sheet" experience), but GPS kicks total ass over paper while you're riding or hiking.
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Old 09-01-05, 08:26 AM   #19
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I ordered a Garmin Quest for $339 shipped. I was going to get something more sports oriented, but considering it not only has mapping but comes WITH the street-level maps included, it seemed to good to pass up. Too expensive for a bike toy, but since I can use it in my cars too for far less than a factory installed system. . . They're on closeout because the Quest II is out, but the only thing the II has for $200 more enough memory to hold the whole U.S. map at one time, which may be important for some people but is meaningless for me.
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Old 09-01-05, 08:51 AM   #20
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The explorist 100 is a PLOTTER>

I use my 300 all of the time. What I don't like about it is I have to mark a point and type in what the point is.
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Old 09-01-05, 09:46 AM   #21
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I use the Garmin Legend (non-color). Its maps are great to have along, and the display is easy to read. It provides all the necessary trip data (speed, odometer, max speed, avg. speed, etc.), as well. You can get these new on eBay for around $100.
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Old 09-01-05, 04:21 PM   #22
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in november garmin's coming out with the Edge 305, which is designed specifically for bikes. not impressed with the 12 hours of battery life, nor the lack of the cool transflective color screen. i'm leaning towards a garmin gpsmap 60c or magellan 500/600, but only if i find a steal on ebay
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Old 09-01-05, 06:10 PM   #23
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From what I read, neither the Edge 305 or 205 has any street maps or street mapping ability at all which really hinders it's use for touring.
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Old 09-01-05, 10:15 PM   #24
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Here is one more vote for the etrex legend non-color. Battery life it great and it comes with a world map with major cities and roads. It seems to be the pefect marriage between features and reasonable cost.
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Old 09-02-05, 05:37 AM   #25
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I'm an Etrek Legend (non-color) user and have stopped using paper maps altogether when I'm out on the road. I really like the new units coming out but I'm sticking with the current model because there really is NO need to go out and buy the more expensive color GPS. Serious. You can get by quite easily with the older technology.

I would buy the map software to get coordinates and if you have a Palm PC, you can load the sofware there and you don't have any need to carry paper maps.

You can still get lost but not because you don't know where you are in direction of where you should be headed. You always know where you are but often the highways make it impossible to get a good route and this can be frustrating.

You should always plan ahead with the sofware before you walk out the door with a GPS. Try to store as many waypoints marking all the important turns and bridges that way you don't have to depend on any maps. The only time I needed a map was when I didn't have enough Way-Points stored on my GPS.

I find that when I make my own routes and not allow the software to determine it automatically, I'm MUCH better off.

Bottom line. You don't have to buy the most expensive unit out there. In fact, you can buy a used model off Ebay with a used copy of Streets and Trips and you're set! Streets and Trips won't allow you to download the coordinates into your older GPS but I used it for months just entering Way Points manually and was perfectly happy. The whole setup could cost less than 100 dollars and if you need more coordinates while on the road, step into a library, log onto the net and get your way points there.

Once you're hooked, there's no turning back.
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