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Old 08-30-10, 08:56 AM   #1
cloud113
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Suitable GPS for Touring?

Hi Everyone,

So after looking through some of REI's Labor Day deals (no I'm not an REI employee!) I have come across the Garmin Oregon 450 at a very good price compared to some other websites I've looked at (http://www.rei.com/product/798879?pr...:referralID=NA).

Anyway I have been in the market for a computer for my bicycle for about 3 weeks researching others and I have realized that GPS is a necessary feature for me because I like to bike with no pre-planned route and get lost, so finding my way back can be tough. I plan on doing some light credit card touring in the future and figured that a GPS would help me out find places nearby to eat as well. I have looked at the Garmin Dakota 20 & Garmin Edge 705 (I have read that having a GPS that takes MicroSD cards is basically a requirement).

I did not previously look at the Garmin Oregon because I had heard it was too big, but after looking at pictures of what it looks like on bicycles it does not seem too much bigger than the Dakota that I was looking at and the larger display could be helpful to read things off of it easier.

I was just wondering if anyone has had any experience with the Garmin Oregon 450 or any other GPS's that could shed some light on my plans to tour in the future / use it for trails near my own area considering I do not like to have pre-planned routes.
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Old 08-30-10, 09:18 AM   #2
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For cycling/hiking/geocaching, I have a Garmin GPSmap 60 csx that I love. Very fast and accurate, flexible routing, I develop routes on my PC and download them to the unit. Has altitude, compass, and you could download topo maps if you want. Mine's a couple years old, but still going strong thru wind and rain.
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Old 08-30-10, 09:53 AM   #3
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I have a Garmin Edge 705 and love it. Wouldn't mind a bigger screen, though. The Edge 705 doesn't have POI (Points Of Interest), so it isn't going to help you find food, a gas station, or an ATM unless you already know where they are. As with most GPS units, the base map leaves a lot to be desired so you need to plan for the purchase of additional maps and an SD card to hold them.
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Old 08-30-10, 10:18 AM   #4
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If you're going on long trips and plan to have the GPS on all the time, you will want one that takes AA batteries. The Garmin GPSmap 60csx does fine, though you will also want the MicroSD card, the maps, etc., plus one pair of AA batteries per day (because most any GPS will go through batteries at that rate).

If you're going to use the GPS infrequently (turn it on, get a bearing on where you're at, and then turn it off), and you plan to have somewhat regular access to AC power, then that opens up your choices. The latest Garmin Nuvi firmware has a bicycle navigation function, and the roads are all built in (no SD card or separate maps needed). Plus the Nuvi can give you directions to amenities on route (like convenience stores, restaurants, and so on).

I've used both a Garmin GPSmap 60csx and a Garmin Nuvi 350 on tour, and they both work pretty well for my purposes.
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Old 08-30-10, 10:22 AM   #5
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While City Navigator is a great purchase for POI information especially if you are going to use the GPS in both car and on bike, you can get tons of free maps online via a simple Yahoo/Google search. The maps for North America are at least as detailed as those Garmin makes available for purchase. The other cost of purchased-from-Garmin maps is that they are now "locking" maps to specific GPS units - yep, you have to repurchase the maps if/when you upgrade to another unit or replace a damaged one.

I also recommend the use of eneloop rechargeable batteries. They seem to last longer than any other batteries out there.

Thanks for the link to the REI/Garmin Oregon 450 - might go buy that myself later today.
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Old 08-30-10, 10:40 AM   #6
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What's a good tour without a little lost?

Last month found me riding circles around San Francisco during afternoon rush hour until I came to some intersections I recognized, and still wound up halfway to the Castro on Market before I got turned back towards the Waterfront.

I'm torn on the use of a GPS while touring. wouldn't think its worth it that often, actually.

With a quality map and a good sense of place (and maybe a compass) a rider will never be that far off track. And I've tried, believe me!


A little turned around gives a rider multiple perspectives anyway.

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Old 08-30-10, 10:52 AM   #7
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I really like my eTrex Vista HCx. On my last tour in 2008 I used Energizer Lithium batteries, and got somewhere between 1 and 2 weeks with the unit on all day while riding (to record trackpoints). I find the disposable Energizer lithiums seem to give much better life than the alkalines. They are more pricey, but also very lightweight. You can easily carry a few spares in one of your bags without even noticing them, and have enough to last for a couple of months.

The eTrex Vista HCx has a bit of a known problem with the glue that attaches the rubber surround coming loose. Fortunately I got my unit from REI and they exchanged for a new unit more than a year after purchase. I think it's caused by leaving the GPS in a hot car in direct sunlight too much, since I had no problems while on tour, but came unstuck after leaving it in the car a few times in the sun.

The 60 CSx is also a very well regarded unit. You want one that takes 2 AA batteries, and has a micro-SD card expansion slot so that you can load up a 2 or 4 GB card with the whole of City Navigator for North America. The big downside of Garmin is the way they do their maps licensing - if you pay $100 or whatever for City Navigator, it is tied to the specific GPS unit that you load it onto. So if you buy a different GPS down the line, you have to buy City Navigator all over again (even though you still have a perfectly good DVD). A bit draconian and annoying, but it's their product, until someone really challenges them in this market they can pretty much do whatever they want. The eTrex does have its quirks (e.g. sometimes some strange routing decisions), but despite these I really love the thing. It's so useful. My main wish is that they could upgrade the POI (Points of Interest) database in City Navigator to have a more comprehensive list of motels and grocery stores, and get rid of the useless knitting supply and timber stores. What traveler needs timber stores anyway? Their choice of entries seems almost random sometimes, including some useless farmer's feed store and leaving out a motel that's been there for 40 years. Does a farmer need the GPS to find his local feed store? No, but your average person using GPS does want to look for lodging, gas, groceries and entertainment (movies etc) when they are on the road.

I would always tour with my GPS now on tour... I know some people sneer at them and think they are a luxury toy, and that's kind of true - but it's a very USEFUL luxury toy which makes my life better... kind of like indexed gearing - do I need it, no, friction works fine, but indexed makes shifting just that bit more convenient. I really appreciate being able to find my way across strange towns without having to buy local maps or getting lost in the "wrong" neighborhood at dusk. The POI database is incomplete, but still useful for finding out what types of services upcoming towns might have. And the trackpoints feature lets you see exactly where you went later on a Google map.

Neil
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Old 08-30-10, 11:02 AM   #8
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I have a Garmin Edge 705 and love it. Wouldn't mind a bigger screen, though. The Edge 705 doesn't have POI (Points Of Interest), so it isn't going to help you find food, a gas station, or an ATM unless you already know where they are. As with most GPS units, the base map leaves a lot to be desired so you need to plan for the purchase of additional maps and an SD card to hold them.
If you get the street maps microSD card it will give you all that information, in fact will function remarkable just like a car GPS, even giving you turn by turn directions and address/POI search
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Old 08-30-10, 11:40 AM   #9
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Like Neil, I have the Vista HCX. As he notes, it has the best battery life, really remarkable that it can run for days and days. I have the problem with the rubber coming off too. The vista has the joy stick and several small side buttons. I find using the buttons and joystick awkward while I am riding. But I don't switch screens or setups that often. But that would be its main disadvantage for riding. THe vista display is too small for auto routing if I am the driver and really don't know where I am going, but I think for auto use like that, all the handhelds would have that problem; except the Oregon, may be big enough to really see the map when driving.

I think the Oregon you link could be a great deal. The knock on the Oregon was that the display is harder to see in bright light, so you may want to check one out in person outside wearing sunglasses, and see if that works for you. My memory is that the garmin bike mount for the oregon was a cheap velco band or something like that. There are probably other ram mounts. I would guess the touchscreen would work better on the bike; not so good for wearing gloves skiing in the winter.

You may not need to buy the Garmin Navigator or any Garmin maps anymore (so the Oregon 300 if that didn't come with maps and could be otained cheaper), since in the past couple of years there has been a mass project to develop free maps for Garmin GPS, including topo maps of the the US and Canada, and now routable maps too (open street maps is that project). The routing on the vista with the open street map can be funky, and so I can't tell if that is the vista or the free map, so something that would also happen on a better unit and a commercial map.
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Old 08-30-10, 12:31 PM   #10
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Do have a paper map also, though you are not going to be navigating out of sight of the shore ..
a good mariner has several navigation aides and knows how to do all of them .

My regret after tours is I did not have a History study of where I was passing thru.

So I missed side trips I could have taken.
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Old 08-30-10, 12:43 PM   #11
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If you get the street maps microSD card it will give you all that information, in fact will function remarkable just like a car GPS, even giving you turn by turn directions and address/POI search
I've got the MicroSD card, actually. You're correct: the card does have POI info! I'd forgotten about it because I never use it; the interface to the POI database is a bit clunky. If the POI you want is nearby you can select it from a list, which works pretty well. If you need to search for something specific, I've found it to be a bit hit-or-miss...mostly "miss". The small screen on the 705 makes the whole POI interface a bit clunky. It'll probably save you in a pinch, but I don't like to rely on it...
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Old 08-30-10, 01:23 PM   #12
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I was looking at the Oregon 450 also, talked with the sales person at the Garmin store in Chicago. I was looking for one based on my cycling needs and since I own many bikes I wanted a gps so I could use it on any of my bikes instead of getting a bike computer for each bike. For touring I wanted something that could use disposable batteries. You can purchase rechargable batterys for this unit. The Oregon can also do heart rate and cadenance. It also has a touch screen. I would get an Oregon unit, I am not sure if I want the topo data but it may help in the planning stages, the topo information only has 50 ft contours, I am not sure if there are better contour data available.

If I were going to buy a gps for cycling today it would be the Oregon 450.
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Old 08-30-10, 09:30 PM   #13
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Thank you guys for all the helpful responses. For the most part it sounds like I am headed in the right direction with this Oregon 450 and my best bet would be to check it out in person to see how I like the visibility of it. Damn limited time sales and busy schedules, but after a lot of the research for my needs it sounds like the Oregon 450 would fit the bill.

One last question I have I guess is would my best bet be to go with the RAM mounts or would Garmin mounts be sufficient (this is for touring, I do not plan on doing any heavy mountain biking). I dislike paying for separate shipping fees, but if the RAM mounts are really that much more reliable than I would be willing to sacrifice for something that will last me a long time.
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Old 08-31-10, 03:56 AM   #14
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One more for Garmin Edge 705. Love it.

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Old 08-31-10, 11:34 AM   #15
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I'm also shopping. And I'm more in a fog than any of you guys-gals. Is there a GPS that is super-durable - such as waterproof? And can any of them be used outside the USA, like in Panama or Costa Rica? Finally, I'm into not only touring on my GT Xizang mountain bike, but sometimes still use her off-road on trails. Do any of the better GPS units and maps include off-road trails? Not that I'm asking for much. Just something that will last me 10 or 20 years through all kinds of weather, everywhere I can go!

Thanks!
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Old 08-31-10, 01:16 PM   #16
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If you get the street maps microSD card it will give you all that information, in fact will function remarkable just like a car GPS, even giving you turn by turn directions and address/POI search
Are you sayin with the microSD card the 705 will give voice prompts like a car gps?
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Old 08-31-10, 04:27 PM   #17
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I use the Garmin Edge 705 here in China. It is waterproof, well, not for diving, where it wouldnt work anyway, but on a bike in the rain it is fine.

No, it doesnt give voice prompts.

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Old 08-31-10, 05:35 PM   #18
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I have had a Garmin Dakota 20 on my Long Haul Trucker for a year now and I love it. However, if I was buying a new GPS today, I would get the Oregon 450 so I could get the larger screen.

For mounting, I just use the Garmin bike mount and it works fine. I didn't have enough spare room on my handlebars, so I mounted the bike mount to the top of my stem with one of the accessory mounts from PurelyCustom.com: http://www.purelycustom.com/c-162-bi...ry-mounts.aspx

Finally, I recommend that you use a backup/safety tether in addition to the mount. One day I was sloppy when putting the battery cover back on the GPS. A mile down the road my GPS went bouncing into the ditch with the battery cover still firmly attached to my bike. Now I always tether it.

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Old 08-31-10, 07:15 PM   #19
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Are you sayin with the microSD card the 705 will give voice prompts like a car gps?
It doesn't give voice prompts; just beeps and then shows turn indicator on the screen.
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Old 09-01-10, 07:57 AM   #20
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I have a Garmin Vista HcX. I tried it out on my ride on the Lewis and Clark trail this summer. I found it to be moderately useful. I tried to use ACA's waypoints and found them very confusing. There were thousands of them, many of which didn't apply to me. I was madly trying to figure things out and load routes in the days before I left home.

On the road the routes didn't help that much. I think the maps were more useful. One way the gps actually confused me was when there were bike paths. Garmin's mapping software didn't have them, so it would try and route me onto roads next to the bike paths. Instead of being helpful, the gps made me more confused. I would have been better off just using the ACA map. However, the ACA maps can be confusing as well. They cram a lot of info into a small space and it can be difficult to interpret. Also, once I found the ACA route description plain wrong. In Umatilla, Oregon the description of how to go under the freeway, turn left, and get onto a bike lane was wrong and sent me on a wild goose chase onto dirt powerline roads that deadended.

I did find the gps helpful in finding things in towns - restaurants, libraries, car rental places, motels, etc. I'll probably bring it on future tours.
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Old 09-01-10, 10:33 AM   #21
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I have a Garmin Vista HcX. I tried it out on my ride on the Lewis and Clark trail this summer. I found it to be moderately useful. I tried to use ACA's waypoints and found them very confusing. There were thousands of them, many of which didn't apply to me. I was madly trying to figure things out and load routes in the days before I left home.
Agree: the ACA's waypoints are terrible! Before I rode down the Pacific coast, I created my own routes (using BikeRouteToaster, IIRC) and loaded them into my Edge 705. I manually laid out routes along bike paths when necessary (using satellite view if the path wasn't marked on the map). Worked out great! I also took the ACA's paper maps and the Kindle version of "Bicycling the Pacific Coast" with me, but really only looked at them during the evening when trying to figure out what the next day's riding would hold.
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Old 09-06-10, 10:08 AM   #22
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I also have eTrex Vista HCx, but I wouldn't travel without a map or a compass. The GPS is rarely used, but it's great for finding ATM's, campsites, etc and getting into and out of cities. The batteries seem to last forever, but that may be because it's in my handlebar bag most of the time.

Aidan www.acousticmotorbike.com
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Old 09-06-10, 10:50 AM   #23
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I have the Oregon 450 and use it in my car, on my bike, and while hiking. The bike mount that Garmin sells works very well, though I needed to use my brake cable puller to get the zip ties tight enough. YMMV

One item to note with the 450, is that the software only supports microSD cards up to 4Gb. I installed a 16Gb microSD and it worked up until the stored data exceeded 4Gb. This is unfortunately not mentioned in the documentation for the unit.

I have both 24k series topo maps and the City Navigator maps (just for D/FW) installed on the card. Works great and uses 2 AA batteries. They last me about 8-10 hours, though I am using NiMH that I've had for awhile.
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Old 09-06-10, 06:53 PM   #24
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if you really only want to use it every now and then to get your bearings, then a blackberry or other smart phone running google maps will do the trick.
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Old 09-06-10, 10:13 PM   #25
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I have an Oregon 300 which is nearly identical to the 450 (the only diff is I think the 450 allows 1000 more POI's) Its a great touring GPS, does everything you need. I use a motorcycle RAM mount for it for touring, very sturdy and interchangeable with other mounts such as camera mounts. It takes AA batteries which for me is a must for a tour. The Edge series are more for training tools, not really needed for a tour. You can add Hr monitors and cadence sensors to the Oregon as well.
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