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Old 05-22-11, 11:08 PM   #1
LNB
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Touring with GPS for navigation

Hi,

I'm considering purchasing a GPS unit, rather than a cycle computer, for my LHT which is in the process of being built. The model I'm considering is the Garmin Edge 800.

I am interested in the comments of anyone who has used this product (in particular) or who have experience using GPS (in general) when touring.

I have not use a GPS before and wonder how useful they are, how dependable, up to date and available maps are, how readily custom maps can be created and uploaded, and how trustworthy they are for route-finding (or following).

My touring in the short term will be limited to here in Australia, but I hope to be touring in North America and Europe some time in the future.
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Old 05-23-11, 12:43 AM   #2
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hello, i used my edge 705 last year on a tour in france and had several devices before. where to start? handling the device is pretty straightforward after a short time of getting used to it. imho the 800's advantage over the 705 is the touch screen (very hip nowadays) and the slightly larger screen, which might be a plus. other than that i think the 800 is just a bigger 705.
for the maps, there are a lot available in the meantime, both topographic and streetmaps. even free maps with a high degree of accuracy are around (www.openmtbmaps.org). not sure if australia is covered sufficiently but it's worth having a look at them. i use them occasionally and think they're comparable to the store product, but about 200 euros cheaper as they are dl'able for free.
the huge drawback of the GPS is (if you leave it on all the time to navigate, track your route, etc.) is the power consumption. you've got maybe 12 hours of riding, then you NEED to recharge/change the batteries. there are models available for standard batteries though, not necessarily garmin devices. however, i found a solution to recharging the battery on mine.. a device you can connect to a hub dynamo and use this as a power source to run the gps as on a power line. it serves as some sort of electric transformer and is called e-werk. it's available from a german manufacturer, Busch & Müller. i am sure there are others too.
in everyday use, i prefer to have at least a general map of the area (on paper) with me, as some of the route suggestions from the device lead me to, let's say, unrideable paths.. at least with a loaded touring bike. in addition a map does not use up your batteries hope this helps a little!

enjoy the ride mate!
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Old 05-23-11, 01:08 AM   #3
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I've been using my Garmin eMap when touring (and also when not) for the last 12 years (and it's been discontinued for many years now). It has come in very handy, not only for the road maps, but also for the 'points-of-interest' data that includes things like restaurants, grocery stores, motels, bike shops, libraries, ATMs, etc. It not only shows you where these are on the map and how to get there, but also lists the address and phone number so you can call ahead for reservations or to verify hours. I've only used the maps within North America so I'm not sure about the Australian ones, but I'd think they'd be pretty good as well. I agree with the comment above that a general area map is still good to have - especially when doing the overall route planning since it's hard to do that on the small screen of the GPS.

Mine runs for about 14 - 16 hours on a pair of AA cells. I use rechargeable NiMH ones and carry enough so I can go for a few days between finding a place to recharge. Many campgrounds in the US have electrical outlets available somewhere and otherwise I ask at restaurants if they could plug in my charger while I'm eating there. Although the 800 won't run on AA cells directly, you can get battery holders with a USB power output that run on a set of 4 rechargeable AA cells and can be used to recharge the internal battery in the Garmin 800.
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Old 05-23-11, 01:39 AM   #4
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I have a garmin 60CSx and it has more than a 12hr battery life and uses AA batteries.

Not sure how long the 800 goes on a charge.
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Old 05-23-11, 02:00 AM   #5
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Hi,

I'm considering purchasing a GPS unit, rather than a cycle computer, for my LHT which is in the process of being built. The model I'm considering is the Garmin Edge 800.

I am interested in the comments of anyone who has used this product (in particular) or who have experience using GPS (in general) when touring.

I have not use a GPS before and wonder how useful they are, how dependable, up to date and available maps are, how readily custom maps can be created and uploaded, and how trustworthy they are for route-finding (or following).

My touring in the short term will be limited to here in Australia, but I hope to be touring in North America and Europe some time in the future.

Can't tell you about Australian maps, here in the UK you can get free OpenStreetMap maps which are usually very good. Where they fall down is when you tell them to find you a route following roads, because sometimes what it considers a "road" isn't something you'd want to cycle down.

What I've taken to doing when planning a longer route is to set up the route using the computer software and then uploading a track log to the GPS. So what I get on my map is a red dotted line that shows me where I'm supposed to be going, and a blue dotted line that shows me where I have been. So if I lose the track I'd chosen (by taking a wrong turn perhaps) I can see where I've been and either backtrack or plan a different route to get back on course.

If you get yourself a decent GPS unit the signal is dependable. If you're planning a tour anywhere near military areas be aware that sometimes the government may jam the GPS signal in a particular area for military training purposes. In the UK they seem to give plenty of notice of when they are doing it and the affected area, because obviously it affects anyone else who might be using a GPS.
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Old 05-23-11, 04:40 AM   #6
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For reliable tracking of tour stats, you'd be better off with a standard cycling computer. A gps is just too power hungry, tho I guess if you have regular access to charging outlets, it could be done.

The only time I leave my gps on for a significant amount of time is when using it to navigate through a city.

Maps that you can buy or download for a gps are prone to small errors, which for a fellow on a bicycle, can be big errors. Verify the gps routing as much as you can.

As mentioned, route planing is best done with one of the online mapping services that will let you download track files to the unit. No turn by turn. Just follow the track.
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Old 05-23-11, 09:59 AM   #7
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For reliable tracking of tour stats, you'd be better off with a standard cycling computer. A gps is just too power hungry, tho I guess if you have regular access to charging outlets, it could be done.
Doubt it. Unless all you care about is the total distance traveled? Personally, I love that my Garmin Edge 705 tells me how far I've traveled each day, the amount of climbing, average HR, the exact route I took, etc. And it will save months and months worth of data so I don't have to worry about copying numbers into a notebook at the end of a long day on the road.

I used my Edge 705 when I rode from SF to LA. I tended to charge mine each night, but it could easily have gone two days between charges. If you only ride 4-5 hrs/day you might even be able to get three days out of it, though I wouldn't count on that.

Quote:
Maps that you can buy or download for a gps are prone to small errors, which for a fellow on a bicycle, can be big errors. Verify the gps routing as much as you can.
While I don't trust the routing function of any GPS, including the one in my car, I haven't found any instances where errors in the map data are large enough to cause a problem...

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As mentioned, route planing is best done with one of the online mapping services that will let you download track files to the unit. No turn by turn. Just follow the track.
With my Edge 705, I can create a route using an online service, download it to the device, and then it gives me turn-by-turn guidance to keep me on that route. This is what I'd recommend: the built-in routing function will always get to your destination, but the route is suggests isn't always optimal. It tries to avoid things like Interstate highways, but the roads it picks are generally the most direct route. If there's a road with, say, significantly less traffic or better scenery that's a bit longer it won't get picked.
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Old 05-23-11, 10:25 AM   #8
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In Marine navigation , you should know the old ways , nav chart/map and compass, first.

but at sea you cannot ask someone directions, when all you have ocean to the horizon in all directions.

don't be too gadget dependent.

GPS + map and hand held compass.. so you can walk away, get distance,
from the bike and all that steel.

I was perfectly happy with picking up a new map
when i ran to the edge of the last,
have a nice collection, now, my souvenirs .

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Old 05-23-11, 10:27 AM   #9
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For reliable tracking of tour stats, you'd be better off with a standard cycling computer. A gps is just too power hungry, tho I guess if you have regular access to charging outlets, it could be done
You would still need a cycling computer to monitor HR and cadence but the 60CSx has about an 18 hour battery life on it.
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Old 05-23-11, 10:40 AM   #10
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You would still need a cycling computer to monitor HR and cadence but the 60CSx has about an 18 hour battery life on it.
The replacement 62st supports cadence and heart rate monitors as well.
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Old 05-23-11, 10:42 AM   #11
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If you're tent camping, I'd stick with a standard cyclometer.

If you're credit-card touring, you can go either way. It all depends on how you like to ride.

However, if you care deeply about your route / mileage / time, I would not view any GPS as a total replacement for maps and cue sheets. Even if I used the GPS as a primary navigation tool, I'd definitely bring paper maps as a backup.

Despite owning a GPS myself I don't really see Obsessive Data Collection as a critical aspect of touring. It's handy and fun, but I could without question enjoy a tour without any measuring tools whatsoever -- especially since I know that, as a rule of thumb, I cover 10 miles per hour (including stops).
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Old 05-23-11, 10:42 AM   #12
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I personally do not find the Edge models suitable for my touring needs. Battery life is the primary reason.

I might be more likely to take a handheld model that can use AA or AAA batteries, but even that has proved to not be worth carrying, for me at least. On the TA I carried a handheld model for a while, but mailed it home early in the trip. I was surprised that I felt that way since I am a big GPS user for other activities.

Depending on the trip I may take a GPS in the future, but then again maybe not. If I were to tour off road I might be more likely to use one, but in that case it definitely will not be an edge model unless they do something to make charging less of an issue.
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Old 05-23-11, 11:16 AM   #13
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as a rule of thumb, I cover 10 miles per hour (including stops).
thankyou Bacci--this is about what I have always covered as well, rule of thumb, but its nice to see that Im not the only one. I have often been surprised that over the years, in my case, about 17kph has been a pretty consistent number. Less in really mountainy areas, a bit more on easy flat stuff, headwinds, tailwinds affect stuff but I still use that as my "estimater" for time/distance.
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Old 05-23-11, 11:25 AM   #14
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I hacked TomTom onto my Xperia smartphone and have a solio solar charger. Pretty perfect for remote navigation. I've used several actual GPS units before and they were always a nightmare to set up and work with, and plus they always expect you to pay hundreds of extra dollars for maps.

With the phone with tomtom on it, I've got a system that uses no dataplan and has all the roads in north america and has some really useful features.. Notably, the ability to plot the most direct route from wherever you are to wherever you want to go, it has a database of restaurants, hotels, campsites, you name it.

The one thing it lacks though is satellite view, so you can't get an accurate birds eye view of your location. This would be super useful for scouting out stealth camping locations, however, you can pay to use data from your cell provider and just use google maps for that purpose.
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Old 05-23-11, 11:36 AM   #15
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A GPS unit has its place and while I have at one time used one instead of a bike computer, that is not its best function.

The topographical maps are useful in mountainous areas, since it is useful to know how much climbing is left until the summit. Navigation features and directions are also useful, especially in unfamiliar areas.

On familiar roads, I've logged specific stops such as places where I can get water, rest areas, country stores, camping areas and cattleguards on country roads.
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Old 05-23-11, 11:57 AM   #16
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Being a tent camper person, I've used a combination of an ordinary cyclo computer (Cateye Astrale) and a Polar 725x. I always have two devices with an odometer. I set the Polar to the fewest samplings, which gives it a 100 hour memory, probably enough for a 1200 mile tour. They don't make that Polar anymore, having come out with a better model. Next tour, though, we're also taking an iPhone, particularly for the mapping and internet access. We'll leave it off almost all the time, just turning it on when there's some question. We'll stay in a motel at least once/week, so that should be enough to keep it charged. For mapping, we take paper maps and also print probable cue sheets ahead of time with bikely.com.
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Old 05-23-11, 02:10 PM   #17
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Hub dynamo + a power converter .. will let you gadget up your rig,
and charge on the road.
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Old 05-23-11, 09:29 PM   #18
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Thanks to those who have replied for their comments. The issue of battery life is one I'd overlooked and I think its ruled out any possibility of replacing a computer with a GPS. Which is a pity because it would have off-set the cost of the GPS to a significant degree.

I still think I like the idea of carrying one on a tour or when exploring in unfamiliar areas. Especially when touring, its not always possible to carry maps of sufficiently small scale to usefully cover all the travelling area. I use cue sheets but the unexpected can arise at any time to require a diversion (as during my recent Easter tour when encountering a seven-foot fence across the little country road I chose as the only viable alternative to the freeway) and in those situation I can see a GPS being very handy. Presumably GPS's can boot up and find themselves without taking an inordinate length of time in situations like that?

The other reason why I wanted to replace the computer with a GPS was cockpit space. How do you fit a computer, GPS, front-light fitting, bell (required here in Victoria) and handlebar bag and still have room for your hands? The bell is the only thing I wouldn't need on a tour (except its a $140 fine if caught not carrying one) and I would need everything if I was just out exploring. How do you others arrange your cockpit gear?
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Old 05-23-11, 11:18 PM   #19
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The other reason why I wanted to replace the computer with a GPS was cockpit space. How do you fit a computer, GPS, front-light fitting, bell (required here in Victoria) and handlebar bag and still have room for your hands? The bell is the only thing I wouldn't need on a tour (except its a $140 fine if caught not carrying one) and I would need everything if I was just out exploring. How do you others arrange your cockpit gear?
RAM, a U.S.-based company, makes some impressive mounts for GPS units. My GPS now rides on a short stem a few centimetres above the handlebar. The stem is adjustable, so I can easily have room for the rest of the gear I carry in the cockpit.
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Old 05-24-11, 02:37 AM   #20
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Thanks to those who have replied for their comments. The issue of battery life is one I'd overlooked and I think its ruled out any possibility of replacing a computer with a GPS. Which is a pity because it would have off-set the cost of the GPS to a significant degree.
Unless you're going on a truly monstrous trip you can probably carry enough AA batteries with you to tide you through the trip. If you're likely to have access to mains power anywhere along the line you can take rechargables and charge them during your overnight stops when you can get power.

Failing that if you're touring in sunny weather you can probably rig up a solar panel to one of your bags and use the sun's energy to charge batteries on the move.

Quote:
I still think I like the idea of carrying one on a tour or when exploring in unfamiliar areas. Especially when touring, its not always possible to carry maps of sufficiently small scale to usefully cover all the travelling area. I use cue sheets but the unexpected can arise at any time to require a diversion (as during my recent Easter tour when encountering a seven-foot fence across the little country road I chose as the only viable alternative to the freeway) and in those situation I can see a GPS being very handy. Presumably GPS's can boot up and find themselves without taking an inordinate length of time in situations like that?
A GPS can typically find itself within a minute or two. If you've travelled more than 600 miles or left it more than a few days since you last turned it on it can take longer but even then you're normally talking about a few minutes at most. Obviously the routing is only as good as the maps you've got in it, although even if all you get is a grid reference it becomes much easier to find yourself on a paper map. Personally I like to have a scrolling map on my handlebars so I don't need to keep fussing with paper maps.

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The other reason why I wanted to replace the computer with a GPS was cockpit space. How do you fit a computer, GPS, front-light fitting, bell (required here in Victoria) and handlebar bag and still have room for your hands? The bell is the only thing I wouldn't need on a tour (except its a $140 fine if caught not carrying one) and I would need everything if I was just out exploring. How do you others arrange your cockpit gear?
My bike is a mountain bike so it's less of an issue. A friend of mine rides a drop-handlebar bike and he mounted his GPS to the stem. Depending on your handlebar bag you may be able to get a mount that fits to the top of the bag holder.
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Old 05-24-11, 07:23 AM   #21
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Thanks to those who have replied for their comments. The issue of battery life is one I'd overlooked and I think its ruled out any possibility of replacing a computer with a GPS. Which is a pity because it would have off-set the cost of the GPS to a significant degree.

I still think I like the idea of carrying one on a tour or when exploring in unfamiliar areas. Especially when touring, its not always possible to carry maps of sufficiently small scale to usefully cover all the travelling area. I use cue sheets but the unexpected can arise at any time to require a diversion (as during my recent Easter tour when encountering a seven-foot fence across the little country road I chose as the only viable alternative to the freeway) and in those situation I can see a GPS being very handy. Presumably GPS's can boot up and find themselves without taking an inordinate length of time in situations like that?

The other reason why I wanted to replace the computer with a GPS was cockpit space. How do you fit a computer, GPS, front-light fitting, bell (required here in Victoria) and handlebar bag and still have room for your hands? The bell is the only thing I wouldn't need on a tour (except its a $140 fine if caught not carrying one) and I would need everything if I was just out exploring. How do you others arrange your cockpit gear?
I would not consider taking a trip without a paper map and compass as a backup. As noted above NiMH rechargeables are very good, I would not consider buying a GPS that did not use AA or AAA batteries.

GPS is only as good as the internal map that it uses. Some of the newer smartphones can give you a map for those times when you need a bit of help so if you planned to only occasionally use it in town to figure out where you are, a phone may work as a substitute. The phone will probably have the latest most up to date maps too.

GPS units are getting cheaper and more powerful every year. If you do not need one yet, waiting a year or two may get you better hardware. I use a vintage Garmin Legend (discontinued black and white screen model) loaded with US Topo 100k maps (base map is decades old) for where I am going, along with a wired cycle computer (company that made it is no longer in business) and a seperate heart rate monitor (also from a company no longer in business) that is not shown in photo, it is on my right wrist. My phone is so old it does not even have a camera in it.



Fitting everything on the handlebar can be a bit tricky. If I do not use a handlebar bag, I can put a light on the bar just left of the stem, but I had to carefully measure everything before I installed the interrupter brake levers and handlebar tape to make sure it all fit. But on tour the light is on the rack instead of handlebar.

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Old 05-24-11, 08:29 AM   #22
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Hub dynamo + a power converter .. will let you gadget up your rig,
and charge on the road.
True. It is a matter of philosophy whether that is desirable or not though. If that suits you that is great.

Just me, but I am always looking for ways to do without stuff. The extra weight, drag, and cost of a dynamo and power converter so I can power another device, is not what I am looking for.
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Old 05-24-11, 09:19 AM   #23
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neat information and opinions, however a second thought on using a GPS to find your way
http://www.sacbee.com/2011/01/30/336...in-desert.html
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Old 05-24-11, 11:42 AM   #24
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The problem with a smart phone comes when touring in areas outside of cellular coverage. For me, that happens on every trip I take.
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Old 05-24-11, 05:58 PM   #25
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The Edge has far too small a screen to be useful in my opinion. Add the fact that it needs to be charged instead of taking batteries and I say no thinks. Look for something in the GpsMap 60 series. They have a decent size screen and take AAA battereis.
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