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GPS computer for multiple bikes

Old 06-13-20, 11:45 AM
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mbe
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GPS computer for multiple bikes

I am looking for a computer with GPS that can be used on 2 bikes. What unit would be the easiest to have this setup?

Right now I am looking at a Garmin 520 Edge Plus but I can't find any mention as to whether it supports using it on 2 bikes? I am primarily leaning towards the GPS functionality as I would be doing cycle touring with it on one bike. My other bike is a road bike so I would use it to keep track of my rides, distance, cadence etc. Any thoughts on how well it functions in this regard?

Any other comparable units I should look at in this category?
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Old 06-13-20, 07:01 PM
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GPS units are bike agnostic. In plain English that means you just get additional handle bar mounts for different bikes and use the device on whatever bike. I have mounts on 6 different bikes.

The device figures out speed and distance from the GPS plot you start at the beginning of a ride. It knows the time and moving time so knows avg., etc...,. A Garmin uses a smartphone app called Garmin Connect Mobile to pair via BlueTooth to the device. At the completion of a ride, you press Save and the ride data goes to the cloud, in this case Garmin Connect, which is an online activity tracker. Or you can have that ride data saved to Strava or RideWithGPS.

It’s not like the days of a cycling computer that used a magnetic wheel sensor to determine speed and that was somewhat specific to a particular bike due to wheel circumstance settings. A GPS could be mounted on the family dog and it’ll plot a ride.

For touring you might want some navigation functions such as turn-by-turn directions. For that you can plot a route on Connect, Strava or RWGPS and have a route sent to the device. You might also want to be able to view the map to select roads or alternatives and for that, the larger the screen the better. A decent model designed for touring is the Edge Explore, sells for around $250. Doesn’t have a lot of the functions related to performance functions - power meter, timed intervals stuff, etc... it’s a more basic unit with a touch screen (useful for panning and zooming a map) as well as a
larger screen than the 520 Plus, which is a button control unit.
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Old 06-13-20, 07:59 PM
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Like mentioned, the bike computer doesn't care. That's why you don't see that as an option. It could be in your pocket and you can jog with it or drive down the road with it in your car (MTB people seem to forget to shut it off on their drive home) and it will record the drive too.

The only thing it cares about is any external sensors you may have paired and even that is not big deal and it will ignore any sensors it can't find. An example.. Bike 1 could have a cadence and speed sensor. You slap your computer on bike 2 and go for a ride. You will not get cadence info obviously and your speed info will be based on the GPS signal instead. Next day go back to riding bike 1 and it will just work and you'll be back to getting speed and cadence info from the sensors. You could swap the speed sensor and cadence sensor over to bike 2 and adjust the speed sensor settings in the app for the different wheel circumference on bike 2 and now everything will work on bike 2. I'm sure you could also buy additional sensors and pair both but I've never did that.

I reread what i wrote and it looks more confusing than it had to be, bottom line, you can use it on any amount of bikes with little to no effort.

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Old 06-13-20, 08:52 PM
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I would have speed and cadence sensors on both bikes. I realize GPS doesn't care where it is positioned, but I would still like to track the actual kms ridden on each. This is helpful information to know when you may want to service the bike among other things. I take it that most of these units you can probably have two profiles setup and just select the profile you want when you are going to ride.

Comparing Garmin to Wahoo, the Garmin looks harder to setup and program, relying on the buttons instead of the phone app like Wahoo. Seems like the Wahoo Bolt does GPS as well (albeit not in colour like the Garmin 520) and has turn by turn navigation. I am just wondering if this is redundant and using a phone with GPS would be nearly as effective. I have only ever had basic cycling computers, so I am still learning what features might be useful to have.
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Old 06-13-20, 09:17 PM
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Most modern bike computers are made to be paired with an app or website where they tally your ride data and you can setup multiple bikes there. You can even jog with a bike computer and designate the activity as a "run". This is why you will not easily find this feature on the computer itself.
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Old 06-14-20, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by mbe View Post
I would have speed and cadence sensors on both bikes. I realize GPS doesn't care where it is positioned, but I would still like to track the actual kms ridden on each. This is helpful information to know when you may want to service the bike among other things. I take it that most of these units you can probably have two profiles setup and just select the profile you want when you are going to ride.

Comparing Garmin to Wahoo, the Garmin looks harder to setup and program, relying on the buttons instead of the phone app like Wahoo. Seems like the Wahoo Bolt does GPS as well (albeit not in colour like the Garmin 520) and has turn by turn navigation. I am just wondering if this is redundant and using a phone with GPS would be nearly as effective. I have only ever had basic cycling computers, so I am still learning what features might be useful to have.
Garmins can have what is known as Activity Profiles. You can set a bunch of these as different bikes, mine are Flyxii (carbon road), C-Dale, Mountain. You can configure different data screens for each profile, BUT the profile data and any ride results for particular profiles stays on the unit and doesn’t get uploaded to any activity tracking website. As far as I remember, Wahoos don’t do any tracking of particular bikes. It’s one activity, one screens setup, etc,,,

I have Garmin connect send my competed ride data to RWGPS, which I use for my activity tracker and I edit the ride info to have gear indicated, thus can track mileage per bike and can add comments on stuff like “Chain replaced”, etc.... in general it’s easier to do this online than on the unit.

I’ve used 3 different Garmins as well as a Wahoo Bolt. The setup on the Wahoo app was maybe a bit easier but really it’s just different and I never had issues setting up a Garmin. I think maybe features are a bit scattered, but as there are typically more features than found on a Bolt that’s expected.

If you want navigation, I would hate to be dragging out my phone in the middle of a ride. It’s easier to use a dedicated unit with Turn-by-turn and a map and I’d recommend a larger Garmin than the 530 as well as don’t get a Bolt, which have very basic maps. A touchscreen makes it easier to move around a map, zoom in/out, pan, etc..... The Wahoo Roam has improved maps with a color screen and I’ve read can pan and zoom.
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Old 06-14-20, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
A decent model designed for touring is the Edge Explore, sells for around $250. Doesnít have a lot of the functions related to performance functions - power meter, timed intervals stuff, etc... itís a more basic unit with a touch screen (useful for panning and zooming a map) as well as a
larger screen than the 520 Plus, which is a button control unit.
I own Edge Explore and it is not a "more basic unit" compared to 520 Plus - it is basically Edge 1030 hardware (with a slightly smaller screen) that is artificially limited by its software in some areas, most notably power meter support.

Originally Posted by mbe View Post
I take it that most of these units you can probably have two profiles setup and just select the profile you want when you are going to ride.
Not with Garmin - even if some of the devices (not Edge Explore) support multiple profiles they'll all still be assigning mileage to the same default bike AFAIK. But after the ride is completed you can assign it to the different bike in Garmin Connect. You can also do this on Strava.

Originally Posted by mbe View Post
Comparing Garmin to Wahoo, the Garmin looks harder to setup and program, relying on the buttons instead of the phone app like Wahoo. Seems like the Wahoo Bolt does GPS as well (albeit not in colour like the Garmin 520) and has turn by turn navigation. I am just wondering if this is redundant and using a phone with GPS would be nearly as effective. I have only ever had basic cycling computers, so I am still learning what features might be useful to have.
It is trivial to setup Garmin (but I'm a software developer, so YMMV) and less reliance on the phone is an advantage. Phone has great navigation capabilities, IMHO better than any bike computer but at the same time IMHO it is a poor choice in practice and something like Edge Explore is better. Phones have higher quality bigger screens, more powerful hardware, more advanced software (and lots of additional software) - and all these things also mean that phones discharge much, much faster compared to dedicated bike computer in navigation mode. They are less reliable - sometimes navigation/ride recording can just stop for some reason (app just sleeps, crashes etc.), GPS sensors or navigation software seem to be less precise (I definitely had more navigation errors with phones using Strava or RWGPS compared to Edge Explore), if you'll not turn on the airplane mode then in areas with poor reception phone during navigation will consume battery as crazy. And if you'll turn on airplane mode then you don't have a phone anymore. Again, if your phone will discharge you can still navigate with Garmin (and with Garmin with full navigational capabilities, like Edge, plot new route, recalculate the existing one, search for POI etc.), in the unlikely case something happens to Garmin, you can use your phone as a backup for navigation or call for help. If it was one device that did both functions now you are stuck without navigation and without way to communicate. Phone screen even though has a higher quality overall, usually has worse visibility in the direct sunlight. It is typically more difficult to use phone app touch UIs during the ride. Also, phone is WAY more delicate. You'll need a really bulky well protected case for it - while Garmin devices easily survive many drops and crashes even without any case. And if you think that it'll not fall - believe me, it will. In a sense phone feels like a multi-tool compared to a dedicated tool for a job - it can be used but... Some people use two phones - one cheap and less powerful strictly as a bike computer, another one as actual phone.

Originally Posted by bluehills3149 View Post
Most modern bike computers are made to be paired with an app or website where they tally your ride data and you can setup multiple bikes there. You can even jog with a bike computer and designate the activity as a "run". This is why you will not easily find this feature on the computer itself.
I don't think this is the reason. The most likely reason is that bike computer (and in general, fitness equipment) companies have very bad software development departments. They (Garmin in particularly) can produce great hardware but software side of the things is always buggy and user experience is not the best. Unfortunately same can be said about many originally mostly hardware companies (e.g. this is what I immediately feel in any Subaru car - horrendously outdated everything except for actual driving).
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Old 06-14-20, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Oso Polar View Post
I own Edge Explore and it is not a "more basic unit" compared to 520 Plus - it is basically Edge 1030 hardware (with a slightly smaller screen) that is artificially limited by its software in some areas, most notably power meter support.

It
Significantly more basic.

I think the Explore is the most cost effective unit in the Garmin cycling device lineup, but itís legacy comes from the Touring model, which was a very buggy unit (seemingly all fixed in the Explore), and as such itís not a unit to get if you desire a lot of performance metrics. Besides no power meter support, thereís no barometric altimeter, no activity profiles, more limited Connect iQ app availability, no temperature, no battery save mode, no Di2 support, no interval training, etc...... Thereís a list at the link below and you can clearly see that the Explore does not have a lot of features of the more expensive units. Nothing wrong in that as what it does it does really well at a great price, and I recommend it all the time. Had it been available when I was replacing a 1000 would have gotten it.

https://www.gpscentral.ca/products/g...isonchart.html
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Old 06-14-20, 11:53 AM
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On older Garmin Edges, it was called bike profiles. Some time about the edge 510 or 520 they gave it more abilities and changed the name to activity profiles. I'm pretty certain you can attribute the sensors of different bikes to different profiles you create.

I do it on my edge 500 with just bike profiles. So just look at the online manual for the various garmin's and see if that device has activity profiles.
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Old 06-14-20, 05:52 PM
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I have an Edge 520 + and for now it's only purposed for one bike. I purchased mine simply for the fact that it was on sale at MEC for $199 Cdn in addition to having full routable maps with turn by turn capabilities. That being said, I'm still getting acquainted with the device but find it convenient to create my own routes using ridewithgps.com, uploading them to the unit as well as logging my rides. As mentioned, there are no bike profiles to speak of but instead there is the provision of a sensor pool and at least a dozen sensor selections to choose from the drop-down menu. You can give each sensor a title appropriately identifying a specific bike. As long as you have a different sensor attached to your road bike the 520 + will simply add it to its pool and actively connect to which ever bike is being ridden. One could also set up one or more activity profiles, identify them by name, color and default ride whether it's road, mountain, gravel, mixed, commuting……and change the field displays accordingly.

https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2018/04/...h-mapping.html
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Old 06-14-20, 08:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
Significantly more basic.
Compared to 1030? Of course! But not to 520/520 Plus - these guys are significantly less powerful slower devices which simply can't run full set of navigation features and related hardware (like higher resolution touch screen). But releasing a device that has similar hardware to 1030 and the same software features and costs half the price is effectively the same as killing sales of 1030, so, of course, Garmin couldn't have done this. So, we got 5XX devices - good for training but quite limited for navigation and Explore - good for navigation but quite limited for training. Choose one or another. You want both? Sure - Garmin has 10XX line for you, just prepare your wallet. ;-)

Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
I think the Explore is the most cost effective unit in the Garmin cycling device lineup
As long as you don't need any advanced training features.

The comparison chart you reference is not always correct, e.g. Explore definitely has a battery saving mode. Judging by the device performance it really looks like chopped down 1030 platform artificially limited by software to not compete with higher price Garmins. I'll not be surprised if some of the things that are supposedly missing, like barometric altimeter, are in fact present and just disabled in software. I know for a fact that temperature sensor is present and was working perfectly in the first few iterations of the firmware. And then it suddenly disappeared. Tons of users thought it was a bug and complained - and Garmin answered that "temperature sensor feature is not supposed to be present on this device according to its specifications".
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Old 06-14-20, 08:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Oso Polar View Post
. So, we got 5XX devices - good for training but quite limited for navigation and Explore - good for navigation but quite limited for training. Choose one or another. You want both? Sure - Garmin has 10XX line for you, just prepare your wallet. ;-)

As long as you don't need any advanced training features.

".
This in a nutshell.

Last edited by Steve B.; 06-14-20 at 08:54 PM.
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Old 06-14-20, 08:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
On older Garmin Edges, it was called bike profiles. Some time about the edge 510 or 520 they gave it more abilities and changed the name to activity profiles. I'm pretty certain you can attribute the sensors of different bikes to different profiles you create.

I do it on my edge 500 with just bike profiles. So just look at the online manual for the various garmin's and see if that device has activity profiles.
I had called Garmin tech support early on with issues on my 810 and asked if Bike Profile information - I.E. the data as to which bike was used on the ride, was uploaded to Connect. The answer was “No, but that’s a good idea, you should submit that”. My thought was the friggin support technician should submit that !
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Old 06-15-20, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
I had called Garmin tech support early on with issues on my 810 and asked if Bike Profile information - I.E. the data as to which bike was used on the ride, was uploaded to Connect. The answer was “No, but that’s a good idea, you should submit that”. My thought was the friggin support technician should submit that !

Is this just extra info? I didn't think the OP was concerned about the bike info being uploaded to Garmin Connect. I thought they were just asking if there was a way to use the same device on multiple bikes, each with it's own set of sensors.

RideWithGPS lets you set up multiple bikes and gear. You set a default for your upload and if it is different, you can change it anytime after uploading. I'm sure others do something similar. However that won't do anything about using the same device with differrny bikes having different sensors. The device has to handle that.

It fully makes sense to me why Garmin expects a customer to make suggestions for new features and not the customer support rep. They have a site just for that https://www.garmin.com/en-US/forms/ideas/
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Old 06-15-20, 04:12 PM
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"Is this just extra info? I didn't think the OP was concerned about the bike info being uploaded to Garmin Connect. I thought they were just asking if there was a way to use the same device on multiple bikes, each with it's own set of sensors."

Yes, that was the original question and I've gone off on a tangent with the comment that it would be nice to also be able to automatically upload the data as to which bike was used on a completed ride.

"RideWithGPS lets you set up multiple bikes and gear"

Yup, that's what I do now. RWGPS does a good job of tracking bike usage.

"It fully makes sense to me why Garmin expects a customer to make suggestions for new features and not the customer support rep. They have a site just for that https://www.garmin.com/en-US/forms/ideas/"

It's just my opinion but it seems dumb that while you are on the phone with Garmin that they have no ability to take a suggestion for product improvement while you are chatting with support. That suggestion may very well be related to whatever issue you might be having, with the device not functioning as expected. And letís face it, the manual just sucks, so the intent of some features isnít always clear to a newbie. But you are correct that I just needed to get off my butt and write up the suggestion, so just did that.

.
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Old 06-15-20, 07:47 PM
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Originally Posted by mbe View Post
I would have speed and cadence sensors on both bikes. I realize GPS doesn't care where it is positioned, but I would still like to track the actual kms ridden on each. This is helpful information to know when you may want to service the bike among other things. I take it that most of these units you can probably have two profiles setup and just select the profile you want when you are going to ride.

Comparing Garmin to Wahoo, the Garmin looks harder to setup and program, relying on the buttons instead of the phone app like Wahoo. Seems like the Wahoo Bolt does GPS as well (albeit not in colour like the Garmin 520) and has turn by turn navigation. I am just wondering if this is redundant and using a phone with GPS would be nearly as effective. I have only ever had basic cycling computers, so I am still learning what features might be useful to have.
Others may have mentioned. I mainly use Strava and after every ride gets uploaded by your device, you can select the "bike" you used for that ride. I also use veloviewer, ridewithgps and mapmyride for different things. Veloviewer just gets its info from Strava and sees the bikes I selected in Strava and ridewithGPS and mapmyride allows you to assign "gear" to each ride as well. Seems like a pretty standard thing with all of them.
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