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Old 11-08-22, 11:41 AM
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Darylb23
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Returning to cycling after many years and the GPS head units are a lot to take in. As many, I am struggling with the choice. Mostly looking at the $300 units like the Wahoo Bolt, Gamin Edge 530 and Explore 2. I've tried to watch and read as much as I can but the problem is, I don't know exactly how I will use it since I haven't used one. I am in South Florida and will mostly ride "gravel", which generally means shellrock roads or levies. I see a lot of chatter about entering routes, loading routes, following routes, etc. but what if I'm just out riding? Go down some dirt roads and see where they go. Does the "back to start" type of function that these units help me get back where I came from? For example, a lot of our state parks have a bunch of roads or trails and there may be a lot of turns. If I just explore, can i hit the back to start function and it will map me back?

I have a Garmin watch so I'm leaning toward a Garmin unit but it's not a done deal. If the Wahoo does more of what I want, I have no problem going that way. I am completely stumped between the 530 and Explore though. So any experience with any of these is welcome. I'm open to spending the extra for the 830 if the touch screen makes enough difference.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 11-08-22, 12:13 PM
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When you record a route that you are out riding, theres an option in a Garmin to "Return to Start". One of the options is "Follow Existing Route". You start that and it'll give advance warning of a turn 1/10 mile), then a screen pop ups with a turn arrow and name of road (if it knows it, or if the road is named). Alternately, when you are tracking a ride, the route you have ridden will be traced on the map screen in purple or something, so you can always just follow that back. Its useful to have a touch screen unit if just following the map trace as easier to pan, zoom and such.
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Old 11-08-22, 12:26 PM
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Probably your watch will do everything a head unit will. You're mostly paying for a bigger screen, which is obviously easier to use on the bike.

Garmin has a "go back exactly the way I came" feature, and ones with maps also have a "find the best route back to where I started." If you like exploring, maps are very useful and that second version is nice to have sometimes.
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Old 11-08-22, 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Darylb23 View Post
I have a Garmin watch so I'm leaning toward a Garmin unit but it's not a done deal.
What watch? It's possible the watch will do routing, which means you can see how well it would work for you.

People have mentioned the "return along same route" option. That should generally work fine. Sometimes, with calculating routes to a location, the Garmins can produce extra-long routes (this seems more of a problem in the UK). You want to have some idea of what would be reasonable. You could calculate a route using a smartphone as a sanity check.

The default maps on the Garmins use Openstreetmap data. It's possible that less-traveled "roads" are missing. You can look at https://www.openstreetmap.org/ to see.

The Garmins also include "trailforks" (https://www.trailforks.com/) data, which have mountain bike trails (which might include some of the gravel roads you are using.)

Last edited by njkayaker; 11-08-22 at 06:48 PM.
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Old 11-08-22, 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
What watch? It's possible the watch will do routing, which means you can see how well it would work for you.

People have mentioned the "return along same route" option. That should generally work fine. Sometimes, with calculating routes to a location, the Garmins can produce extra-long routes (this seems more of a problem in the UK). You want to have some idea of what would be reasonable. You could calculate a route using a smartphone as a sanity check.

The default maps on the Garmins use Openstreetmap data. It's possible that less-traveled "roads" are missing. You can look at https://www.openstreetmap.org/ to see.

The Garmins also include "trailforks" (https://www.trailforks.com/) data, which have mountain bike trails (which might include some of the gravel roads you are using.)
Ive used the "Return to Start, use same route" option, it does exactly what it says, it follows the current route the device has been recording. I've only used it on a road ride, but it should do the same thing off road.
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Old 11-08-22, 07:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
Ive used the "Return to Start, use same route" option, it does exactly what it says, it follows the current route the device has been recording. I've only used it on a road ride, but it should do the same thing off road.
The routing requires that you are following roads/paths that are on the map installed on the device. Even when using the same route. If you are on paved roads, those will generally be on the map. There is a somewhat higher chance that a gravel path might not be on the map. So, it’s useful to be aware of this issue (even if it’s not common).

Of course, one might not want to return on the same path (which is why talking about how other options work is useful).

If the route isn’t along the same route, one can get oddly overly-long routes. Again, it’s useful to be aware of this issue (even if it’s not common).

The on-device routing can be funky (it’s one reason people use planned routes).

I’m not suggesting these are big problems.

Last edited by njkayaker; 11-08-22 at 07:27 PM.
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Old 11-08-22, 07:26 PM
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I have a Garmin 1030. The 530, 830, etc, should work similarly:

I almost always load a route before starting out.
I can see upcoming hill profiles, feet of climbing remaining for the ride, and distance to the end of the ride. (hills and elevation aren't too critical to you, though.)
And the popup turn map with a distance countdown as I approach a turn on the route is very nice.
I make very complicated routes now, turns don't matter!

Just riding without a route:
There's a purple line showing where I've ridden so far. If I return to that road or nearby, I can see the line on the map.
Return to start -- shortest route: it usually works quite well. It'll avoid divided highways and similar roads. (it might use the "heat map" data, preferring popular cycling roads? I'm not sure.) It won't keep rerouting if I ride off the proposed route, but I can do a new "shortest route" navigation to make it recalc.
Return to start -- follow same route: it will route back the same way you came, even if you were on a loop route and the return will take you the long way back.

I did a couple experiments with "route to a selected town name". It seemed to work okay, but it's a bit tedious to select on the tiny screen.

Last edited by rm -rf; 11-08-22 at 07:29 PM.
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Old 11-08-22, 07:35 PM
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The 1030/830 Touch screen is nice:
Setting up the display screen data fields is way faster and easier.
Zooming and panning the map is still kind of slow and annoying, but it does work.
I won't go back to just buttons.
~~~
osmand:
Open Street map app for Android. I have the pay version. I think the free version limits how many state maps you can load.

This stores state maps in the phone. So I only need a view of the sky for GPS and no cell service is needed.
I can launch the app in 3-5 seconds, and see my local area. Zooming in increases the detail dramatically. It's way easier for deciding ride options out on the road, instead if trying to use the tiny Garmin map.
It's great for hiking too, switching the map style to Walk instead of Drive, Bike, or General. Lots of hiking trails shown (but not everywhere.)
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Old 11-09-22, 04:51 AM
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Roam has a “Retrace to Start” option, but i have not used it to determine how beneficial & accurate it is.
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Old 11-09-22, 06:50 AM
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Originally Posted by rm -rf View Post
osmand: Open Street map app for Android. I have the pay version. I think the free version limits how many state maps you can load.

This stores state maps in the phone. So I only need a view of the sky for GPS and no cell service is needed.
I can launch the app in 3-5 seconds, and see my local area. Zooming in increases the detail dramatically. It's way easier for deciding ride options out on the road, instead if trying to use the tiny Garmin map.
It's great for hiking too, switching the map style to Walk instead of Drive, Bike, or General. Lots of hiking trails shown (but not everywhere.)
Just an FYI for the OP and anyone else I guess. In years past the Maps.Me app was a easy to use (easier than Osmand..and free for all 50 states and beyond) downloaded map (no cell connection needed) utility. In the last year Maps.Me has wandered down some rabbit hole and become fairly useless. BUT..former employees(I think) of Maps.Me have published the app "Organic Maps" that looks and operates exactly like the old Maps.Me. I've found Organic Maps(based on OpenStreet Maps) to have lots of obscure hiking trails that I wouldn't expect to be available. Just like Maps.Me, you'll need to download the Organic Maps(OM) map files that you want to use. I load tracks/routes into OM by extracting *.kml files from Ride With GPS and emailing them to myself. Open the emailed KML file in your cell and it'll load into OM. Your routes are then available in OM under the star on the bottom of the screen. You can toggle them on and off as needed. In the settings area of OM you can choose where you want the OM files stored. OM can also set up navigation between two points, much like most of us use google maps on our cell phones.
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Old 11-09-22, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
Ive used the "Return to Start, use same route" option, it does exactly what it says, it follows the current route the device has been recording. I've only used it on a road ride, but it should do the same thing off road.
Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
The routing requires that you are following roads/paths that are on the map installed on the device. Even when using the same route
​​​​​​Return to start the way you came in not generating a new route works as you expect even hiking cross country eg off trail when literally every pixel on the map is equally valid as a path. Skiing too. It clearly does not require a road or path. It simply follows the route you took. This has helped me avoid getting cliffed out descending the wrong gully on peakbaging trips.
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Old 11-09-22, 11:13 AM
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Originally Posted by fishboat View Post
Just an FYI for the OP and anyone else I guess. In years past the Maps.Me app was a easy to use (easier than Osmand..and free for all 50 states and beyond) downloaded map (no cell connection needed) utility. In the last year Maps.Me has wandered down some rabbit hole and become fairly useless.
Gaia and CalTopo are excellent.
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Old 11-09-22, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
​​​​​​Return to start the way you came in not generating a new route works as you expect even hiking cross country eg off trail when literally every pixel on the map is equally valid as a path. Skiing too. It clearly does not require a road or path. It simply follows the route you took. This has helped me avoid getting cliffed out descending the wrong gully on peakbaging trips.
Are you getting turn guidance (big white arrows)?

The Edges calculate a route (the secondary route that is used for turn guidance) that deviates from the loaded track when the loaded track goes "off road" (the secondary route follows roads/paths).

The route back is just a track. It should work like any other track (course). Maybe, the newer Edges deal with going off-road differently.

The watches might be different.
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Old 11-09-22, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
Are you getting turn guidance (big white arrows)?
​​​​​​Yes, and also off course alerts when I deviate on the way back.
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Old 11-09-22, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
The routing requires that you are following roads/paths that are on the map installed on the device. Even when using the same route. If you are on paved roads, those will generally be on the map. There is a somewhat higher chance that a gravel path might not be on the map. So, itís useful to be aware of this issue (even if itís not common).

Of course, one might not want to return on the same path (which is why talking about how other options work is useful).

If the route isnít along the same route, one can get oddly overly-long routes. Again, itís useful to be aware of this issue (even if itís not common).

The on-device routing can be funky (itís one reason people use planned routes).

Iím not suggesting these are big problems.
This sounds like a bug. There's no reason the device needs road information to follow the track it has in memory. Maybe this was required at some point due to limitations in the way it used to be implemented, and has since been fixed. In any case, this is not accurate today as we have seen. Garmin is continually improving their products and details about how they work have a shelf life.
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Old 11-09-22, 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
​​​​​​Yes, and also off course alerts when I deviate on the way back.
Off course warnings are just basic track following (it works without "turn guidance" enabled).

Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
This sounds like a bug. There's no reason the device needs road information to follow the track it has in memory. Maybe this was required at some point due to limitations in the way it used to be implemented, and has since been fixed. In any case, this is not accurate today as we have seen. Garmin is continually improving their products and details about how they work have a shelf life.
No, it's not a bug. All of the Edges work basically the same way. (It's possible the 1040 is different but not likely.) Sure, Garmin improves stuff but there is a lot of behavior that is basic/legacy that hasn't been changed.

Try using "turn guidance' with the detailed map disabled ("turn guidance" requires a routable map).

Keep in mind that (on the Edges), there are two navigation modes: (1) basic track following (doesn't require a map) and (2) "turn guidance" (which requires a routable map). You can use one or the other or both modes.

Note that “course points” are part of track following (and don’t require maps).

One the Edges, "turn guidance" (the big white arrows) is based on a second route calculated by the unit by picking the roads/paths on the installed map that the track appears to follow.

The track (from the file) shows up as a magenta line with black borders (it looks purple). The second route is a magenta line that is wider than the track line (the track line is drawn on top of it). Usually, these two lines follow each other fairly closely (especially if you use OSM to plan the route).

Here's an example route (from a 1030) that goes "off road". You can see the two routes. If you look closely where there's "one" line, you can see a light magenta border outside the file-track line.

The "turn guidance" (big white arrows) turn instructions are based on the light magenta line.



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Old 11-10-22, 03:52 PM
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I'm surprised that everyone is going for expensive bike computers these days. Am I the only one who simply uses Google Maps on their phone for navigation? I just look at the map with my eyes and then ride. If I forget where I need to go, I take the phone out and look at it again. Why do I need to have a map continuously in front of me? I use a Garmin GPS watch to track my path and ride statistics for later review. On the bike I use a cheap old computer just to tell speed and distance.
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Old 11-10-22, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Yan View Post
I'm surprised that everyone is going for expensive bike computers these days. Am I the only one who simply uses Google Maps on their phone for navigation? I just look at the map with my eyes and then ride. If I forget where I need to go, I take the phone out and look at it again. Why do I need to have a map continuously in front of me? I use a Garmin GPS watch to track my path and ride statistics for later review. On the bike I use a cheap old computer just to tell speed and distance.
Phones can work, unless you need a waterproof case, thats an expense as is a decent mount. Battery life can be a problem, as well as screen brightness. I prefer to not use a phone but instead have one with me for emergencies. I also dont want my $600 iPhone on my bar when mt. biking. The apps are funky sometimes as well. Is why a lot of folks just prefer a device that is designed from the start to provide them with what they need out of a computer,
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Old 11-10-22, 06:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Yan View Post
I'm surprised that everyone is going for expensive bike computers these days. Am I the only one who simply uses Google Maps on their phone for navigation? I just look at the map with my eyes and then ride. If I forget where I need to go, I take the phone out and look at it again. Why do I need to have a map continuously in front of me? I use a Garmin GPS watch to track my path and ride statistics for later review. On the bike I use a cheap old computer just to tell speed and distance.
​​​​​​Remember we're on a forum for people who really love cycling, so what you see in here skews toward people who prioritize this hobby very highly. The Garmin bike computers don't even work as well as the watches, but they have bigger screens that are more convenient to see while you're riding. Out in the world, expensive bike computers are less common than in here.
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Old 11-11-22, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Yan View Post
... simply uses Google Maps on their phone for navigation? I just look at the map with my eyes and then ride. If I forget where I need to go, I take the phone out and look at it again. ...
While I use something other than a cycling computer, I do use a mapping gps unit and follow a track when riding. Some folks, myself included, like to ride 15-20 miles before stopping for a moment. When riding a complicated route, using a phone and some mapping app forces you to stop every few minutes to figure out where the next series of turns are..gets old quickly..btdt. Even on country routes where turns are less frequent, stopping at each corner to or every other corner to check the route..na..gets old.
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Old 11-11-22, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Yan View Post
I'm surprised that everyone is going for expensive bike computers these days. Am I the only one who simply uses Google Maps on their phone for navigation?
It certainly isn't "everyone". A fair-number of people in my large bike club use phones.

And, some of the computers aren't that expensive (especially, compared to some of the GPS watches).

Originally Posted by Yan View Post
Why do I need to have a map continuously in front of me?
What you need or don't need doesn't have much to do with what works for other people.

Originally Posted by Yan View Post
I use a Garmin GPS watch to track my path and ride statistics for later review. On the bike.
Since your phone can do this, you really don't need the watch.
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Old 11-11-22, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker View Post
.
Since your phone can do this, you really don't need the watch.
No. The phone doesn't have a heart rate monitor or barometric altimeter.
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Old 11-11-22, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Yan View Post
No. The phone doesn't have a heart rate monitor or barometric altimeter.
Lots of phones have barometers. A HR monitor is $60?
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Old 11-11-22, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by fishboat View Post
While I use something other than a cycling computer, I do use a mapping gps unit and follow a track when riding. Some folks, myself included, like to ride 15-20 miles before stopping for a moment. When riding a complicated route, using a phone and some mapping app forces you to stop every few minutes to figure out where the next series of turns are..gets old quickly..btdt. Even on country routes where turns are less frequent, stopping at each corner to or every other corner to check the route..na..gets old.
I think most cyclists probably spend 99.9 % of their time riding on roads they know.

For what it's worth, a lot of research shows relying on GPS actually harms the brain's ability to navigate.
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Old 11-11-22, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
I think most cyclists probably spend 99.9 % of their time riding on roads they know.
There are a lot of cyclists that don't need navigation.

Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
For what it's worth, a lot of research shows relying on GPS actually harms the brain's ability to navigate.
I wonder if this is more about people that "just follow orders" given by the GPS.

https://www.vox.com/2015/9/2/9242049...aps-navigation
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