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Newb to GPS's. I just don't know what to get.

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Newb to GPS's. I just don't know what to get.

Old 09-03-18, 09:54 AM
  #1  
Lazyass
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Newb to GPS's. I just don't know what to get.

Never had any of these new fangled GPS thingies before. I've always used regular $30 cyclo computers. But now I have a super duper carbon disc bike so may as well go all the way. I need help deciding what to get.

I don't want to spend a ton of money. I don't really need GPS though it might come in handy someday. I doubt I'll ever buy a power meter. I don't need to read texts while I'm riding. When I'm riding I want to get away from civilization. I just want one of these GPS's because they have big screens with a lot of data I can see at once without pushing buttons. I do want elevation.

I've narrowed it down to the Bryton 530 and the Lezyne Mega XL. The Bryton is @ $150 on Amazon and the Lezyne is about fifty bucks more. I do like how you can turn it sideways and it seems to have even longer battery life.

Which one would you choose or do you have a better suggestion? I don't think I'm interested in any Garmins.
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Old 09-03-18, 10:30 AM
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And another newb question. Do they use wheel sensors? I ask because I see the "loaded" Lezyne bundle for $299 comes with a speed and cadence sensor.
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Old 09-03-18, 06:53 PM
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Wheel sensors are really only needed if you ride in areas with a lot of tree cover or tall buildings, where the GPS signal (which is weak to begin with) can get lost. As well if you do a lot of group riding, the speed update from the speed sensor doesn’t lag the way a GPS would, So, easier to judge current speed.

Generally and for road rides, the GPS is accurate enough,
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Old 09-04-18, 03:58 AM
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I live way out in the country, lots of trees and sometimes my cell signal isn't too strong. I just don't trust a satellite signal here. Someone on ebay is telling the Bryton 530T's for $189 and the T comes with a speed/cadence sensor, HR and front end bar mount. Think I'll go for that one.
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Old 09-04-18, 06:23 AM
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I have a Lezyne - it was my first GPS unit and a gift from Wife. The speed sensor will improve the accuracy of the speed. And difficult to do cadence without one.
Lezyne has live tracking via their website for persons of your choosing - via e-mail link - so they can track your rides live. Good when I take off to NC for a cycling trip. I am not aware if the other have a similar offering
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Old 09-04-18, 07:36 AM
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Wheel sensors know instantly when you are stopped, and are a bit more accurate when moving. They aren't required, but I like mine.

Originally Posted by Lazyass View Post
I live way out in the country, lots of trees and sometimes my cell signal isn't too strong. I just don't trust a satellite signal here. Someone on ebay is telling the Bryton 530T's for $189 and the T comes with a speed/cadence sensor, HR and front end bar mount. Think I'll go for that one.
The GPS is from satellites all over the sky. But heavy tree cover can block it or slow down the responsiveness. Tall buildings bounce the signal, so my position is off a little when I'm downtown. It still works, even though it looks like I'm riding through the center of buildings at times.

That Bryton looks like a good deal. It's got all the statistics you'd want.

The Bryton has a minimal "breadcrumb" route following capability. It will at least guide you along a route, and warn if you get off track. More expensive GPS computers have full maps, with street names showing.

How to load a track, and what it looks like:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uyEtPKKP34#t=72s

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Old 09-04-18, 07:38 AM
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I have the Wahoo Element Bolt, I think if you're looking at those others it may be worth a look.
And I believe the wheel sensor will also be necessary if you want to ride and track on a trainer (put the sensor on the rear wheel).
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Old 09-04-18, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by pvillemasher View Post
I have the Wahoo Element Bolt, I think if you're looking at those others it may be worth a look.
And I believe the wheel sensor will also be necessary if you want to ride and track on a trainer (put the sensor on the rear wheel).
I have it too and highly recommend it. Based on the OP's post it would be overkill, except that the other units cost nearly as much. I bought mine without the intention of having a power meter, but guess what, I have one now. It comes with two mounts, so I use it on both of my regular rides since it is easily swapped. On my commuter bike I use it without a speed sensor and it is good enough for that kind of riding. I'm more concerned with distance anyway, and GPS is accurate with overall distance if not instant read of speed. The speed sensor is permanently on my road bike and the cadence sensor is on my commuter since my power meter also provides cadence on the roadie. It is also programmable so I have different screens for the road vs. commuter.

All that said, it is a lot more information than you'll ever need unless you are training for the TdF.
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Old 09-04-18, 09:53 AM
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Being way out in the country might put you far from a cellular access point but you're no farther from satellites than anyone else. In fact, I find GPS works better in rural areas than urban areas.

If you want to save money, you may want to consider what I and many others do which is to use a smartphone. It's not perfect, but nothing is. I just didn't want to spend the money on a GPS bike computer and have yet another thing to charge and take care of and keep track of. You need two things to make it work well. One is an external battery to keep the phone well fed. A good one is only $20. Two is a good mount. Don't mess around here, because your phone is valuable. I made the mistake of trying cheap mounts and almost lost my phone. Quad Lock is high quality and reliable. I use the ridewithgps app, and there are others. Strava is probably the most popular.
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Old 09-04-18, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Lazyass View Post
I live way out in the country, lots of trees and sometimes my cell signal isn't too strong. I just don't trust a satellite signal here.
The cell-signal is one thing (it uses towers). GPS is something else (it uses satellites).

Cellphones don't need cell-service to work as GPS units.

The GPS receivers in cellphones are pretty good. The bicycle GPS receivers might be a little bit better. But cellphones work well as GPS units.

GPS can have issues with lots of tree cover and canyons (even artificial ones in cities).
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Old 09-04-18, 11:26 AM
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This guy was using GPS based phone navigation to cross town on way to a delivery..


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Old 09-04-18, 11:33 AM
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I started with a cellphone as my tool, but soon went to my Bolt. There are 3 problems with cellphones, battery life, visibility in the sun, and the need to keep it from going to sleep, which is also dependent on the first 2. And a fourth thing for Apple phones is that they don't support ANT+, the standard for fitness devices communicating, without a dongle, and the dongle is only available for older phones without yet another adapter. Bluetooth doesn't work as well. I tried using a phone for about 6 months and was frequently disappointed with the performance. I've used my Bolt for as long and just don't give it any thought, it just works. And it is always on a bike so no mounting/dismounting, although this is minor.
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Old 09-04-18, 12:43 PM
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@zacster is right, though those are not obstacles for me. If I want the screen and controls to stay on, I go to the phone's settings and turn the auto-off feature to "never." Then when I arrive, I have to remember to turn it back down. Another problem is that using the on-screen controls is difficult, at best.

Still, this is the setup I prefer. It's not for everyone, but nothing is.
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Old 09-05-18, 08:17 AM
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Thanks for the replies. I ended up buying the Bryton. $188 with a HRM and speed/cadence sensor was hard to pass up. It comes with that bar mount but looking down and seeing that thing over my front wheel might be too weird for me. If I got a stem mount do you think it would be too difficult to look down at? Something like this:

This one extends a little farther forward than other similar ones I've seen.

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Old 09-05-18, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
@zacster is right, though those are not obstacles for me. If I want the screen and controls to stay on, I go to the phone's settings and turn the auto-off feature to "never." Then when I arrive, I have to remember to turn it back down. Another problem is that using the on-screen controls is difficult, at best.

Still, this is the setup I prefer. It's not for everyone, but nothing is.
You will thank me for this
RWGPS has a setting that keeps the screen on while the app is running. As soon as you close the app once the ride is over, the screen also switches off. It's available when you start a ride, in the three dots on the top right hand corner (Keep Screen On) but once you set it, it remains set for all your rides.

Having said all that, I am leaning towards getting a dedicated gps unit for my bike. The charging point of my phone has started to act up now and accepts only certain cables.
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Old 09-05-18, 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Lazyass View Post
Thanks for the replies. I ended up buying the Bryton. $188 with a HRM and speed/cadence sensor was hard to pass up. It comes with that bar mount but looking down and seeing that thing over my front wheel might be too weird for me. If I got a stem mount do you think it would be too difficult to look down at? Something like this:

This one extends a little farther forward than other similar ones I've seen.

Garnin units comes with an “out front” mount as well as a mount that uses heavy duty rubber bands to install on the stem or directly over the H-Bar.

The models in your post position the GPS at about where the rubber band Garmin units sit, over the stem.

I prefer the out front as I’m not looking down as far to see data. It might place the unit in a spot more prone to damage, but seems OK on my mt. bike.
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Old 09-06-18, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Lazyass View Post
Never had any of these new fangled GPS thingies before. I've always used regular $30 cyclo computers. But now I have a super duper carbon disc bike so may as well go all the way. I need help deciding what to get.

I don't want to spend a ton of money. I don't really need GPS though it might come in handy someday. I doubt I'll ever buy a power meter. I don't need to read texts while I'm riding. When I'm riding I want to get away from civilization. I just want one of these GPS's because they have big screens with a lot of data I can see at once without pushing buttons. I do want elevation.

I've narrowed it down to the Bryton 530 and the Lezyne Mega XL. The Bryton is @ $150 on Amazon and the Lezyne is about fifty bucks more. I do like how you can turn it sideways and it seems to have even longer battery life.

Which one would you choose or do you have a better suggestion? I don't think I'm interested in any Garmins.
I happened to get a Garmin Edge 25 from my bicycle co-op for cheap in the spring and have been using it for about 6 months now. Frankly, I'm about to throw the damned thing against a wall because of its stupid quirks.

First there is the speed. The speed pick up is a bit erratic and doesn't work if I'm traveling less than about 3 mph. On mountain bikes, I'm often climbing that slowly or even less. The computer will auto-pause constantly. I don't have a wheel sensor because they are stupidly expensive. $40 per wheel times 6 bikes works out to a lot of investment. Yes, I could move them from wheel to wheel but that's a hassle that I just don't want or need.

Then there is the run time. It's 8 hours...on the dot! Well, not quite on the "dot". At 7:59:45 of run time, it shuts off. Period. And it's not really a "run-time". It is a powered up time. If I ride to work and leave it on, it will be shut down for the ride home (8 hours plus one hour lunch is an hour past it's "bedtime"). If I happen to be on a ride that goes longer than 8 hours...tours, for example...it shuts down and I have no idea of speed nor how far I've gone nor, more importantly, how much further I have to go. And, because it is a "powered up time", breaks, stops, sightseeing, etc. are included in the time I have available. It's frustrating.

Additionally, you have to charge it every night. If you are out in the back country where there aren't any plugs, you are going to be SOL if you need it for navigation. I haven't tried loading up a course yet...I probably won't because I don't usually need courses...but I imagine that I would be quickly lost if it decided that it was past its bedtime.

It also has a quirk of when trying to find a signal. If I leave it on in the building, it sits there and tries to access the satellite constantly but it does it by "climbing". The one time I left it on at work, I found that I had climbed 1500 feet without moving an inch. That drains the battery.

I have recently found that I could charge it while recording but that means that it isn't on the handlebar showing me speed or distance because it can't be in the handlebar mount and be charged at the same time. It also resets when you charge it so even though I can charge it from an external battery, I lose any data I recorded before I started the charge. Again, that makes it so that I don't know how far I've gone nor how far I have to go...at least not easily.

I have done a work around for using it on commutes where I record the ride when I get to work, shut down the computer and then start it again for the ride home. But that means that I record two rides per day which I'd rather not do. And, frankly, having multiple traces of the same route every day is rather boring.

Bottom line: I'm glad I didn't pay full retail on this stupid thing...I wouldn't even consider full retail. It's an interesting toy but I'm not going to use it again for back country tours or even road tours in civilized places. I'm going back to my Sigma wired computer that records my data...granted, sans the mapping and altitude...and keeps working for years on the single little battery inside the computer. If I want to trace my route, my smart phone works just as well and has more features.
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Old 09-06-18, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
This guy was using GPS based phone navigation to cross town on way to a delivery.
This is silly. People did all sorts of stupid things with paper maps too, Why do you keep saying silly stuff about things you don't understand?
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Old 09-06-18, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
I happened to get a Garmin Edge 25 from my bicycle co-op for cheap in the spring and have been using it for about 6 months now. Frankly, I'm about to throw the damned thing against a wall because of its stupid quirks.....
You don't seem to have much idea how these devices work.

They aren't a replacement for a basic cycle computer because the battery life is too short.

Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
And it's not really a "run-time". It is a powered up time.
...
It also has a quirk of when trying to find a signal. If I leave it on in the building, it sits there and tries to access the satellite constantly but it does it by "climbing". The one time I left it on at work, I found that I had climbed 1500 feet without moving an inch. That drains the battery.
You turn it on and it "drains the battery". That's how these units work. Just like your phone.

Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
It also resets when you charge it so even though I can charge it from an external battery, I lose any data I recorded before I started the charge
Most of the Garmin don't work this way (you can plug in an external battery without it resetting).

Last edited by njkayaker; 09-06-18 at 10:42 AM.
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Old 09-06-18, 10:35 AM
  #20  
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I had a Garmin Edge 200. It was also quirky. The only thing I liked about it was that I didn't have to charge it every day. Maybe the higher models are reliabler.
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Old 09-06-18, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by noglider View Post
I had a Garmin Edge 200. It was also quirky. The only thing I liked about it was that I didn't have to charge it every day. Maybe the higher models are reliabler.
The simpler units (like the 200/25) might not be the best examples how these sorts of devices can be useful. cyccommute's comments aren't that useful because he had an unrealistic expectation of how these devices work.
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Old 09-06-18, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
You don't seem to have much idea how these devices work.
I know exactly how these devices work. I'm a reasonably smart guy and even know how they get their information. I'm also aware of their limitations, especially considering that I have one.

Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
They aren't a replacement for a basic cycle computer because the battery life is too short.
That's not how they are marketed. Nothing in Garmin's marketing says "you should use another computer because this one has limited battery life". Granted these are aimed at people who probably don't go wandering around for days on end without ready access to power. Nor are they aimed at people who might actually be riding longer than 8 hours.

Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
You turn it on and it "drains the battery". That's how these units work. Just like your phone.
If I put my phone in airplane mode, it isn't sitting there draining the battery because it isn't trying to find a signal constantly. A GPS (or any bicycle computer for that matter) that has an auto-pause function should not be drawing power while in auto-pause. It's "paused" which means that it should be doing anything. Apparently, for the Garmin unit, that's not what "paused" means since it is constantly trying to find the satellites when out of sight of them. That's should be a fairly simple software program to make the unit go to sleep for prolonged periods of no movement. Much less sophisticated bicycle computers have managed to do that while drawing very little power for a very long time.

Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
Most of the Garmin don't work this way (you can plug in an external battery without it resetting).
As far as I can tell only one of the Garmin units for bicycles has that ability...the 1030. But the 1030 is even more stupidly expensive than the Edge.
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Old 09-06-18, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
The simpler units (like the 200/25) might not be the best examples how these sorts of devices can be useful.
Granted the more expensive units will probably do some things better. However, do you really get that much more for $600 vs $170? Some of the same issues I've experienced are still there...such are needing constant charging...but in a more expensive package.

Honestly, I'm not sure that I get that much more for $170 (not what I paid) over $30 to $60 for a bicycle computer.

Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
cyccommute's comments aren't that useful because he had an unrealistic expectation of how these devices work.
Tell me what my expectations should have been. Lazyass is coming at this from pretty much the same angle as I did and, I suspect, he'll have similar expectations. Frankly, I didn't find the unit all that useful before I took it out into the woods.

The unit should be able to record ride data...which it does...but it should have better power management. $170 may not be much in the GPS world but that's a lot of cash to lay out for what I consider to be a poorly designed product. My phone will do exactly the same thing for longer and I can do more than make phone calls on it. I don't see the reason for spending the extra case for the bike GPS unit unless it does more than the phone or at least as much as the phone.
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Old 09-06-18, 12:57 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
...but it should have better power management.
What would make that happen?

GPS takes power. It's fairly well-known that phones consume more power with running GPS all the time.

Basic cycle computers don't do anything like the same amount of work.

Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
My phone will do exactly the same thing for longer and I can do more than make phone calls on it. I don't see the reason for spending the extra case for the bike GPS unit unless it does more than the phone or at least as much as the phone.
The phone has a much larger battery.
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
If I put my phone in airplane mode, it isn't sitting there draining the battery because it isn't trying to find a signal constantly.
That's not true. It's still "draining the battery" but at a slower rate.

Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
A GPS (or any bicycle computer for that matter) that has an auto-pause function should not be drawing power while in auto-pause. It's "paused" which means that it should be doing anything.
No. The "auto pause" just means it isn't running the timer for computing the (moving average). That's all that "auto pause" does. It's still receiving and processing GPS data.

Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
That's should be a fairly simple software program to make the unit go to sleep for prolonged periods of no movement.
With the GPS off, how can a GPS unit tell it's moving?

Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
My phone will do exactly the same thing for longer and I can do more than make phone calls on it. I don't see the reason for spending the extra case for the bike GPS unit unless it does more than the phone or at least as much as the phone.
Phones can work.

The things that the Garmin units provide over phones is much smaller size, easier mounting, better battery life (keeping in mind the size), and screens that are easier to read in bright sunlight and can be left on all the time. Some people will find these things worth the price and some won't.

Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
As far as I can tell only one of the Garmin units for bicycles has that ability...the 1030. But the 1030 is even more stupidly expensive than the Edge.
The ancient 800 has that ability and all the units that follow it.

Last edited by njkayaker; 09-06-18 at 01:14 PM.
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Old 09-06-18, 01:06 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
If I put my phone in airplane mode, it isn't sitting there draining the battery because it isn't trying to find a signal constantly. A GPS (or any bicycle computer for that matter) that has an auto-pause function should not be drawing power while in auto-pause. It's "paused" which means that it should be doing anything. Apparently, for the Garmin unit, that's not what "paused" means since it is constantly trying to find the satellites when out of sight of them. That's should be a fairly simple software program to make the unit go to sleep for prolonged periods of no movement. Much less sophisticated bicycle computers have managed to do that while drawing very little power for a very long time.
Right, except... Those less sophisticated bicycle computers have a reed switch that triggers when the bike starts moving. Put a voltage across the reed switch, when current comes through, turn the computer on; no power comes out of the battery. A GPS only knows it's moving when its position changes, and without accelerometers like many cell phones have, the GPS only knows it's moving when (1) its receiving GPS satellite signals, and (2) processing those satellite signals, it sees it's not where it used to be. Hard to do that without draining the battery -- since your cell phone on airplane mode isn't receiving satellite signals.

As far as I can tell only one of the Garmin units for bicycles has that ability...the 1030. But the 1030 is even more stupidly expensive than the Edge.
IIRC, all the 800 series could be charged while running, and the 520 could if you had the right cable.
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