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Non-cycling computer for navigation

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Old 02-27-18, 11:50 AM
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vinuneuro
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Non-cycling computer for navigation

I rediscovered cycling pleasure after getting rid of my bike computer and just listening to my body. However this year I'd like explore new places. Are there any good non-cycling computers for navigation that aren't too big and can be easily mounted on the bike?

I know there are some cycling computers with good nav like the higher end Garmin's, but they are pretty expensive and a bit of waste in this case since I don't plan to use any functionality other than the nav.
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Old 02-27-18, 11:54 AM
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got a smartphone?
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Old 02-27-18, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by blacknbluebikes View Post
got a smartphone?
Too clunky to use on a bike and battery life would be terrible considering the forum we're in.
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Old 02-27-18, 01:33 PM
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Are you looking to map a route at home and then ride it using directions from the computer mounted on your bike? Or you want to ride out somewhere and then explore roads based on what you're seeing on the the screen you brought with?

It sounds like you either want a cheap GPS like the $60 Garmin Edge 200 or you need a physical paper map?
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Old 02-27-18, 01:52 PM
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Garmin etrex.
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Old 02-27-18, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by vinuneuro View Post
Are there any good non-cycling computers for navigation that aren't too big and can be easily mounted on the bike?
What is a "non-cycling computer"?

Originally Posted by vinuneuro View Post
I know there are some cycling computers with good nav like the higher end Garmin's, but they are pretty expensive and a bit of waste in this case since I don't plan to use any functionality other than the nav.
What is your budget?

Originally Posted by vinuneuro View Post
Too clunky to use on a bike and battery life would be terrible considering the forum we're in.
How long are you planning on riding? Do you own a smartphone? The battery-life problem can be solved using a cheap external battery. Wet conditions would still be a problem. You can get waterproof cases but those won't be waterproof when charging.

Your alternative is a handheld (hiking) GPS.

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Old 02-27-18, 04:59 PM
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The garmin etrex are often used for this kind of stuff, they run on AAA batteries so they last a while. You can probably find a used garmin edge 200, it lasts 10-12 hours easily and can be charged while in use... I used one to record a 22 hour 400k ride. If you leave it on the breadcrumb screen it'll just show your course so you can ignore the speed data, but still upload it to strava or whatever if you wanna see where you went. The 200 does navigation way better than the edge 500 for some reason. It also supports tcx files for the turn-by-turn, I don't know if the etrex units do since I've never used one. The newer edge units, like the 20 and 25 are really small but I don't know if they will follow a gpx/tcx course or not, I've given up on Garmin products due to the edge 500 never being fixed when it comes to following courses. I use a wahoo bolt now and love it.
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Old 02-27-18, 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by vinuneuro View Post
Too clunky to use on a bike and battery life would be terrible considering the forum we're in.
Really? I use a smartphone on my bicycle.


I also use a basic cycling computer. It was a really basic one for probably something in the neighbourhood of $25, but we've upgraded to a better quality one. Nevertheless, you can get basic, inexpensive cycling computers if you're just after distance, a clock, and max speed or something.
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Old 02-28-18, 01:43 AM
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Originally Posted by vinuneuro View Post
Too clunky to use on a bike and battery life would be terrible considering the forum we're in.
Not really: A single USB battery will keep both my GPS and my two smartphones fully charged even on 600 km brevets. I have a smartphone holder on the handle bar of both my bikes.

I like my Navi2coach GPS because its basic black and white screen is always on (without the power usage that would go with that on a hi-res colour phone screen). That's great for following a breadcrumb trail. There's also less to worry about in the rain. Where the smartphone shines is when it comes to re-routing, or when you need a detailed map. The combination of the two is perfect for me.
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Old 02-28-18, 02:04 AM
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Originally Posted by joewein View Post
Where the smartphone shines is when it comes to re-routing, or when you need a detailed map. The combination of the two is perfect for me.
Also entertainment with music, or podcats, and contact with loved ones (or work if necessary), plus weather forecasts, traffic info, camera... the list goes on.

But yeah, too big and clunky if you prefer form over function.
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Old 02-28-18, 06:04 AM
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Another vote here for the eTrek. For many years we have been going up to a sleepy little town in Wisconsin in May for a short vacation before the tourists descend. My bike always goes with. Before the eTrek, I would be a little more cautious about where I rode as I didn't want to get lost.

Last year was the first year with the eTrek and it was a game changer. I would ride out in some random direction for a fixed amount of time (needed to be back when my husband got up for breakfast) and then turnaround and follow the breadcrumbs back. I discovered all sorts of new places that I'd never seen in the many years that we've been going up there!
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Old 02-28-18, 12:47 PM
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I am new to the Etrex 20x bandwagon but am solidly on it. To be clear, it does not tell me to turn left on Main Street in 80 feet (at least not the way I use it) , it displays a pink line superimposed on a map that shows me at the center, oriented forward in the direction I am riding, and I look down occasionally and see the line turning left up ahead and then look down once or twice to make sure this street up ahead is it, then I turn and look down to see what the pink line does next, e.g. immediately another turn or straight for long while. I recently rode two centuries through dense urban areas with lots of turns and I didn't need a cue sheet, just followed the yellow brick road to the end, no prob.

If your touring involves lots of spontaneity and excursions beyond prior planned route, then you may want real time navigation that tells you where to go.

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Old 02-28-18, 08:37 PM
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I haven't used the eTrex but it's been recommended a lot over here, so you can't ignore that suggestion.


On the other hand, for random, unplanned touring, I think smartphone is still the best as no cycling computer or GPS comes close. I'll elaborate: say I'm touring in some area and it's nearing lunch time. Where's a good place to eat within 5km? Or we're in need of some repairs/supplies, is there any bike or hardware store in the area? A smartphone with, at the bare minimum, Google Maps, can easily help me answer those questions and also navigate me to them whereas even high end cycling computers like the latest Garmin Edge 1030 come off as slow, laggy and clunky when you try to scroll around and search for stuff on the map (based on the Youtube video reviews that I have seen).


Furthermore, with portable USB chargers and the increasing number of available smartphones with IP67 (or better), they are becoming a very viable choice for long distance navigation and touring over map and navigation-enabled GPS cycling computers.


The one exeption that I can think of is the Wahoo (and Wahoo bolt) which interfaces directly with the smartphone, so you can avoid wrestling with user interface issues and just operate directly on the smartphone, but I hear that its choice of maps are limited. Don't have any experience with it so I can't comment further though.
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Old 03-01-18, 08:48 AM
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Originally Posted by vinuneuro View Post
I rediscovered cycling pleasure after getting rid of my bike computer and just listening to my body. However this year I'd like explore new places. Are there any good non-cycling computers for navigation that aren't too big and can be easily mounted on the bike?
Are you exploring from home or are you traveling somewhere and then exploring?

If you are exploring from home, being from "NW Chicagoland" (which is a rather large undefined area), if you are looking to extend your exploring further to the NW, why would you need anything more than a watch and the big yellow thing in the sky for navigation. Even the hilly stuff in southern Wisconsin and in Illinois near the border tend to have roads every mile, going in the true N-S/E-W compass directions. Just ride until it is time to turn around and head home.
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Old 03-01-18, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by skiffrun View Post
...why would you need anything more than a watch and the big yellow thing in the sky for navigation...
Depends a little bit on where you are, but there are lots of roads in Chicagoland that are terrible for cycling. Whenever exploring new areas I prefer to plan my routes in advance so I don't accidentally end up on one of those.

+1 for the etrex20
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Old 03-01-18, 09:54 AM
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I mostly ride from home and as kingston wrote, even from the northern suburbs, the issue is avoiding roads that have car traffic. Nothing zaps riding pleasure like having to share the road with cars and trucks.

However, this year I'd like to drive out to northwestern IL and WI and explore desolate gravel roads up there. Whatever I can ride in 7-10 hours. It would be nice to just ride wherever I want without having to keep track of where I rode from and then use the gps device to find my way back. Or plan some routes ahead of time.

I don't want to have something as large as a phone sitting on my stem or bars while riding. The battery life is also an issue, and even though my phone is waterproof, none of them are while charging. I certainly do not want to deal with calls, texts or emails while riding.

Thanks for the tip about garmin e-trex. It is exactly the kind of device I was wondering if existed. How does it compare to the Edge products for navigation?
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Old 03-01-18, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Esthetic View Post
This is a better deal than than Garmin, full color GPS , great UI, and with Ant+ support for heart/cadence/speed sensors.

Magellan/ Mio Cyclo 315 $69.99

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Magellan-Cy...IAAOSw5cNYi5E7
I recently picked up one of these for my wife. It's a little tricky because the US company that sells it (Magellan) apparently no longer supports it, but the European company (Mio - they call it the Mio Cyclo 315) does, so you have to download the european company's app to get all the latest updates (it still comes with US, not european maps even if you use the euro software). Apparently, it only recognizes USB 2.0 (not 3.0) ports, so it's a bit odd. On the other hand, it has full color maps, is able to give turn by turn directions, and has this cool looking surprise me feature where you put in a distance you want to go (or time) and it'll give you 3 different options of routes to try. Sounds like a cool idea for a casual cyclist like my wife. I just received it last night and did the updates, so I don't know how well it works yet, but I thought I'd take a flier for $70 and see what happens.
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Old 03-01-18, 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by himespau View Post
I recently picked up one of these for my wife. It's a little tricky because the US company that sells it (Magellan) apparently no longer supports it, but the European company (Mio - they call it the Mio Cyclo 315) does, so you have to download the european company's app to get all the latest updates (it still comes with US, not european maps even if you use the euro software). Apparently, it only recognizes USB 2.0 (not 3.0) ports, so it's a bit odd. On the other hand, it has full color maps, is able to give turn by turn directions, and has this cool looking surprise me feature where you put in a distance you want to go (or time) and it'll give you 3 different options of routes to try. Sounds like a cool idea for a casual cyclist like my wife. I just received it last night and did the updates, so I don't know how well it works yet, but I thought I'd take a flier for $70 and see what happens.
I looked at this but the reviews for the equivalent Magellan Cyclo products on Amazon were spotty. Since the Magellan devices are some years old maybe the software will be more up to date on these. Also wasn't sure if they had US maps since they're not sold here.

Please post back any impressions you can, it's definitely an interesting series of devices.
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Old 03-01-18, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by vinuneuro View Post
I don't want to have something as large as a phone sitting on my stem or bars while riding. The battery life is also an issue, and even though my phone is waterproof, none of them are while charging. I certainly do not want to deal with calls, texts or emails while riding.
I have two slim backup batteries for mine. Also, mine is not always on my handlebar, it's often tucked away in my handlebar bag and I've got a small computer on my handlebar instead.
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Old 03-06-18, 07:43 PM
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Originally Posted by kingston View Post
Depends a little bit on where you are, but there are lots of roads in Chicagoland that are terrible for cycling. Whenever exploring new areas I prefer to plan my routes in advance so I don't accidentally end up on one of those
Originally Posted by vinuneuro View Post
I mostly ride from home and as kingston wrote, even from the northern suburbs, the issue is avoiding roads that have car traffic. Nothing zaps riding pleasure like having to share the road with cars and trucks.

However, this year I'd like to drive out to northwestern IL and WI and explore
Just so y'all know, I grew up in NW Illinois, about 20 miles from the Mississippi River IF you knew the backroads to take, and lived in C-land for 7 years after university, two or three years in Mt. Prospect and the last three years in the Mayfair community inside Chicago city limits.

I was mostly a runner then, but did some cycling about. More cycling about when I lived in Mayfair, but probably more on the occasional weekends when I went to visit my parents. Oh, and I never would have thought about riding anything close to 100 miles back then. But, cycling-wise, I stayed off the major roads even back then - ouch, over 30 years ago.

Oh, I can still talk "Chicago speak" if I want. E.g., I could replace "y'all" in the above with "youze guyz."

Off the top of my head, meaning without looking at a map, if youze guyz were to drive out to Woodstock or Harvard or Sharon, WI (or places not quite that far from the busy-land roads), youze guyz wouldn't need a navigation system. A smart phone (in your pocket) with an app showing roads, taking the phone out when it is time to "turn around" so that that you might find roads to take, or better would be to parallel to get back to start location would suffice for exploring both outbound and inbound.
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Old 03-06-18, 07:59 PM
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I have a Samsung S4 Mini smartphone. I've got an extended battery for it (double-thick). Mounts on the bars well, using a couple of different mounts depending on the bike.

I did kind of mess up and get a CMDA phone when I should have gotten GSM, so not the best as a "backup phone", but it should work in a pinch.

Strava will work with the phone on "Airplane Mode", and the battery can last quite some time if I leave the screen off most of the time, except when I need to check something.

The biggest issue is that Strava doesn't download maps to go with the routes by default. One can scroll around some and get a pretty good map downloaded, but then if one bumps the wrong button, it will forget it

I may go for a cycling specific computer some time. The Gamin Edge comes in several sizes from the large 1030 series to the small 520 series.
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Old 04-01-18, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by himespau View Post
I recently picked up one of these for my wife. It's a little tricky because the US company that sells it (Magellan) apparently no longer supports it, but the European company (Mio - they call it the Mio Cyclo 315) does, so you have to download the european company's app to get all the latest updates (it still comes with US, not european maps even if you use the euro software). Apparently, it only recognizes USB 2.0 (not 3.0) ports, so it's a bit odd. On the other hand, it has full color maps, is able to give turn by turn directions, and has this cool looking surprise me feature where you put in a distance you want to go (or time) and it'll give you 3 different options of routes to try. Sounds like a cool idea for a casual cyclist like my wife. I just received it last night and did the updates, so I don't know how well it works yet, but I thought I'd take a flier for $70 and see what happens.
Originally Posted by vinuneuro View Post
I looked at this but the reviews for the equivalent Magellan Cyclo products on Amazon were spotty. Since the Magellan devices are some years old maybe the software will be more up to date on these. Also wasn't sure if they had US maps since they're not sold here.

Please post back any impressions you can, it's definitely an interesting series of devices.
@vinuneuro I finally got around to tying out the Magellan 315 / Mio 315 that I'd put on my wife's bike (my Garmin's battery was dead right before I wanted to go for a ride, so I borrowed hers). It has some good and bad features on it. It did fit into my barfly mount for my Garmin, so that was nice.

Since my wife would mainly use it, I asked for the suggested routes to be 5 miles (she's not a huge cyclist). It came back with a 6.5 and an 8 mile route. They were both fairly good rides with the problem that they both took me out on a road that I wouldn't intentionally ride on if I had the choice (it's a 4 lane - 2 each way - road with no shoulder, a posted 45 mph limit, but the median speed is somewhere around 60, and you get onto the road at the bottom of a V where there are 8-10% grades on either side, so it's a challenge to start out with cars coming flying up behind you and no shoulder to pull onto). The hills aren't long and if traffic were decent and there were a shoulder, it would make sense as part of a route, so I don't really fault the Mio 315 for choosing it as part of those routes. Navigation was clean and easy.

It was also cool in that I'd set it up to sync with my strava account when I was first getting it set up. It apparently kept track of all the Strava segments I'd previously gone on and my best time, because, in the middle of the ride, it just popped up with a message saying congratulations, you set a new PR on segment ________________________. I hadn't realized I was on a segment, so that was fun. I don't have a smart phone, so I know it wasn't somehow connecting to Strava live through a phone and this must have just been in the memory. When I got back and plugged it in, sure enough, I'd gotten a PR on that segment.

As far as navigating tracks that are already on it, I quickly made a few tracks (I should see if I can port over my routes from my garmin). Using those tracks worked OK, but it got confused as I went through a traffic circle that I use both on the in and out portions of the route (the 3/4 mile from my house to the circle and back again are the same, but I leave the circle at the second exit on the outbound journey and reenter it at the 3rd spot - If I'm entering at 6 o'clock, I leave at 12 o'clock and reenter at 9 o'clock). It got confused and told me to leave at the 9 o'clock exit that I should be re-entering instead of the 12 o'clock exit that I should have done. I followed its instructions to see what it would do. Once I left the traffic circle, it wanted me to pull a u-turn to fix the mistake (and regularly beeped and told me to make a u-turn), but it also had enough dots on the map of the route that I could easily do the loop in reverse and it was very clear. After doing the route the wrong way, I went back and did it the right way and it was just fine - I just left the circle at the exit that I knew was the right one this time. Thinking back, I'm not really sure if it got confused or if it just was a little slow in telling me to exit (it didn't tell me to leave the circle until I was past the exit I was supposed to use but I was going fast and it could have still been saying enter the circle when I was halfway around, I wasn't staring at it every second but both times it didn't tell me to exit at the correct exit. Other turns, traffic circles and the like that I only used once per route were no problem for navigation, so this could have been a weirdly specific bug. If it hadn't been so long since I created the route, I probably would have remembered which way I was supposed to go and not noticed.

I think I'd like to try to figure out how to download all my other routes from my garmin and see if I can put them on this just for fun.

I don't believe this model can sense a powermeter (not sure if it can do cadence either - in my case I get cadence/wheelspeed from my powertap hub, so it's a moot point), but it sensed my heart rate monitor and asked if I wanted to pair without me asking it to search for it, so at least that KOM I got on the segment I didn't realize I was on has some documentation.

Overall, it's a cute little device for the $70 or so that I paid for it if you don't want power.

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Old 04-01-18, 03:13 PM
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I use a Garmin 64 GPS most of the time on my bike, sometimes instead use a Garmin 62S which is an older version of it.

These are not cycling GPS units, they are general recreational GPS units. I use these for backpacking, etc. They run on AA batteries which is important to me, I use rechargeable AA batteries.

There have been a few times when I misplaced my truck GPS unit, I have used my Garmin 64 to navigate on roads for hundreds of miles.

For driving on roads, I usually use this website for street maps.
https://www.openmapchest.org/

You need a bit of computer smarts to download and install maps. I just updated my USA map in my Garmins a few days ago. You need a seperate memory card that does not come with the Garmins.

Keep in mind that SW Wisconsin, being the driftless area has a lot of hills. So, you can easily find yourself having to work pretty hard to go a short distance.

Don't just assume that the Garmin 64 which is what I picked is the magic answer, Garmin makes many different recreational grade GPS units. Perhaps you need to go to a retail store and talk to some of the staff there.
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