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GPS/Computer combos better suited to touring use?

Old 10-22-16, 09:12 AM
  #1  
KC8QVO
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GPS/Computer combos better suited to touring use?

I am researching bike GPS/computers to replace my analog Sigma 16.12. I do a fair amount of long distance day rides/tours (I've been slacking this riding season after starting off with a lot of PT to get a bum knee back in shape and some bike issues, but the past 2 years I was doing day trips up around 50-80 miles, some longer). In looking at a lot of the mapping style bike computers a big "selling point" is the amount of "data" that can be recorded from them. I am not sure the data really pertains to my use of the unit. Things I care about are: Average Cadence, Instant Speed, Odometer (trip, tour, total on the bike), Average Speed, sometimes Max Speed. Elevation would be neat to monitor, but I map it with an app called GaiaGPS and don't think it is real accurate, nor do I see much of a benefit for me. I don't track laps/heats/segments distance/elevation vs. ride time or anything. I just go for riding to destinations and miles.

I have been looking at the Garmin 520 a bit. From a touring/navigation perspective the turn-by-turn directions look a bit iffy - most reports say it doesn't do them at all, yet I found a review that described them working sometimes and sometimes not. For directions/navigation I can always use my smartphone or tablet, so that's not a deal breaker but would be nice to have working. The basemap is also frequently described as being very slim. There are some free open source maps people are reporting better results with. So there is that way around it. On the plus side the 520 uses a button interface. I ride in cold weather in the fall/winter/spring at times and wear mitts at times, not just gloves (keeps my fingers all together and I can use a heat packet in there) so a button interface is very attractive.

My goal is to find a device that does the basic trip data with the GPS mapping features. What are you using? What would you recommend? What would you not recommend?
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Old 10-22-16, 11:13 AM
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I've always used a Paper Map . Occasionally refer to My Compass .. I just used the wheel rotation counting computer for Miles gone
and trip reset to see how far is left to go , when I Zero it out at a signpost stating how many from that point.

I now have a collection of maps I've bought on my trips, thru several countries, over the years.

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You Younger folks who bury your face in the Phone screen have different habits.




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Old 10-22-16, 11:53 AM
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I have a thread in the other forum already. I posted my question over here because I figured I was more likely to get input from like-minded riders. It seems most of the "gadget" people are performance-based riders. That isn't what I am, I want a good riding tool that fits my use and would rather have input from people that aren't quite as performance-oriented. Any riding is going to entail a certain level of fitness, but boosting my workouts and beating my lap times has no bearing on my style of riding. We'll see where things go.
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Old 10-22-16, 12:26 PM
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I have the GPSmap 76c. I like it for it's large screen and AA batteries.

I use a tablet PC with software that does not require an internet connection to see maps that I use for in route planning and last minute route changes.
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Old 10-22-16, 01:59 PM
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TomTom app for iPhone. Offline bicycle routing and POIs.
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Old 10-22-16, 03:45 PM
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I use the Garmin Touring Edge. It has a start/stop button, and the touch screen responds to my fully fingered gloves when I swipe across it to change screens (4): map, elevation, compass and timer/speed/misc data such as temp, grade%, etc. Data fields can be customized. I believe one may download gpx way points to it, generating a blue line route to follow, but I have not attempted to do this. It stores my ride data complete with date, start time and map. This may do most of what you want, $250- $300. Rechargeable battery lasts up to 10 hours. A paper map is good for reference.
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Old 10-23-16, 07:06 AM
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This past year I've forsaken all for Google. Google will lead the true believers into the future. Seriously, I have just quit plotting a course and started riding in the direction of my destination, occasionally checking the GPS marker on my phone to see how I'm progressing. Wandering aimlessly on country roads from day to day is fun!

Marc
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Old 10-23-16, 08:29 AM
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I have purchased a Garmin Edge Touring, a little more than a year ago. Didn't like it for several reasons. Some, listed in random order, are (1) poor battery life. Even during a single day outing you should carry a battery pack. (2) buggy. The unit would crash during a ride. Or wouldn't ba able to calculate a route. (3) lousy display. Difficult to read in bright light, difficult to navigate, small. (4) cumbersome. Planning a route on-the-fly is an exercise in patience. The process involved a computer, Strava and connecting the Edge with a USB cable, (5) affordable units such as the Edge do not support ANT+.

So I now use a dual system: a Bontrager Node 1.1 ANT+ computer head, that is very much like the Sigma .12 family. Small, battery life measured in months, and reliably provides feedback on key metrics (speed, distance, cadence, HR). My principal motive was to have a measure of total distance. I nearly always ride with this unit turned on. Inexpensive and works very well.

When I want real-time navigation/routing, I generally run Locus Pro, and sometimes Google Maps on a Samsung S5. Much much much better all-around experience. Creating/updating a route on-the-fly is easy, even when you are offline (with the addition of bRouter). The only drawback is that when it rains, drops are often confused with a touch -- the display is unusable at best, and will trigger all kinds of strange behaviors at worst. Locus has a feature that disables the touch screen (requiring a key-press to resume standard behavior).

My setup includes an in-steerer USB charger (forumSlader) such that power is not an issue, and a dedicated handlebar mount, where the clip grabs a protective shell. As fate had it, I was given another S5 by someone upgrading to a newer smartphone, such that I have one dedicated unit (with extensive maps and touring oriented screen configuration.

I would argue that this system beats Garmin's offering hands down, with two caveats -- Garmin units are preferable if you want to upload ride data. They are also better designed to withstand the rigor of weather (and cycling in general)
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Old 10-23-16, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by irwin7638 View Post
This past year I've forsaken all for Google. Google will lead the true believers into the future. Seriously, I have just quit plotting a course and started riding in the direction of my destination, occasionally checking the GPS marker on my phone to see how I'm progressing. Wandering aimlessly on country roads from day to day is fun!

Marc
Google Maps (regular website) has an awesome "bicycle view" button that highlights rail trails, bike lanes, and bike-friendly routes. Looks like the data base is still building, but it's already been very helpful for me finding good riding in unknown areas.
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Old 10-25-16, 07:22 AM
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Try "Urban Biker"

I use the Urban Biker app on my LG 7" tablet.

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Old 10-25-16, 08:12 AM
  #11  
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I've got cheap (<$20) wired computers on all my bikes. They give me speed and distance, which is all I care about always seeing as I am riding, along with various other functions depending on the particular computer. For mapping/data collection, I use an app on my cell phone. I'm carrying it anyways, I don't see a point in a separate unit.
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Old 10-25-16, 09:21 AM
  #12  
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Almost everyone I know uses a smart phone for long distance cycling. You don't need to keep the phone out all day. I usually have my phone turned off and only use it occasionally to review the route. If you do this and use the phone sparingly in the evenings, you can make your phone battery last several days. If you carry a charging battery pack, you can extend this time even more.
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Old 10-25-16, 11:53 AM
  #13  
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Originally Posted by reppans View Post
Google Maps (regular website) has an awesome "bicycle view" button that highlights rail trails, bike lanes, and bike-friendly routes. Looks like the data base is still building, but it's already been very helpful for me finding good riding in unknown areas.
Here in Ontario, Canada I found that I have to be careful when planning tours and using Google maps to do so. That's because Google maps will often divert you several kilometers/miles to put you onto a trail that you then takes you several kilometers/miles out of your intended straight line route.

I use other sources with Google maps.

Btw, one thing that would be very useful in planning a route would be something that let you know the different gradients of nearby roads. I've ridden my bicycle around here and sometimes on road will have very steep drops and climbs whilst the next road over will have gradual drops and climbs which over a day long ride saves a lot of effort and energy especially if the bike is loaded.

I also like topographical maps, small dividers 9for calculating distance on the map), an orienteering compass and a bicycle computer that gives distance. With those items I can stay found and explore a lot of unpaved back roads.

Cheers
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Old 10-25-16, 12:20 PM
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I have a Garmin Touring Edge. Maybe a tad expensive for what I get out of it, but worth it to me. Along with all the basics like time, distance, speed, I like to see what the temperature, grade, and elevation are. I've not yet full taken advantage of the mapping/trip options. I use my iPhone 6 for that. However, it's a good back-up in case the something goes wrong on the iPhone side. Battery life has been great in my use. On my century days(while touring, not very fast) it usually has at least 20% left at the end of the day. I had a Garmin 520, but didn't think it was a good fit. I'm not a racer or interested too much in the performance data.
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Old 10-25-16, 09:41 PM
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I am looking at the Garmin eTrex 35t now. It is a touch screen, but it has a lot going for it. There is a bike mount for it, uses AA batteries, is waterproof (IPX7), runs the remote speed/cadence sensors, has a micro SD card slot, and can run other software/mapping (topo, lake, street). I am going to research this one a bit further. The open source maps may work with it like people have been doing with the bike units. From what I gather the gpx file format is fairly universal. I have been converting between kml (google earth) and gpx for a few years already. It looks like I would be able to do the same with the handheld eTrex.
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Old 10-26-16, 12:29 AM
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New to touring but my phone (RedMi Note 3) has been working well as the GPS, map/route and logger so far.
Tested out for x2 brevets (235km each) and a 2 day short tour.
The battery on some of the new phones are rather large (4600-5000mAh).
On 13hrs cycling, my phone was down about 55%.

Logging app -Strava
Maps/route - Orux (which can work with downloaded maps w/o data)
Screen was on auto off after 5mins and I checked when I needed from the phone mount)


Adding on a 5000mAh or 10000mAh backup should suffice.

My few cents
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Old 10-26-16, 01:19 PM
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I looked at the Garmin Edge Touring and almost bought it. For touring without a pre-planned route, I would have. It looks like I can get it a destination and it will get me there if I"m not picky about my route.

However, I carefully planned a route on Ride With GPS and ended up using a Prepaid Moto X. At this point, my week long mini-tour fell through but with the right settings on RideWithGPS (airplane mode with GPS only, screen on only for turns) I estimate I'll get approximately 14 hours out of a charge. So it's perfect for my day trips, and will work for a mini-trip. I can charge it with my dyno-hub if it's not raining (I have to open the waterproof case). I have an old phone with worse battery life to serve as a backup if this one fails. All else failing, I use my real phone.
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Old 10-26-16, 01:33 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
I've always used a Paper Map . Occasionally refer to My Compass .. I just used the wheel rotation counting computer for Miles gone
and trip reset to see how far is left to go , when I Zero it out at a signpost stating how many from that point.

I now have a collection of maps I've bought on my trips, thru several countries, over the years.

here is your electronic widget devotees: Electronics, Lighting, & Gadgets - Bike Forums

You Younger folks who bury your face in the Phone screen have different habits.




'/.
You're saying the question is invalid. Sure, that will work.

You can do what you like to do and let others do what they like to do.
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Old 10-26-16, 05:36 PM
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I use a Garmin Edge 800, still available on Ebay. It does turn-by-turn directions from a TCX file which RidewithGPS will produce for your route. The map feature is a good thing to have. I never let it pick the route, rather I plan my route beforehand and load it into the device. We did a 400 mile solo tandem tour in the Czech Republic with over 600 turns and had no paper maps at all. Worked great. The current comparable unit is the Edge 1000 or the Explore 1000, slightly larger and more expensive units, though larger would be good. Unlike a phone, these units are all waterproof and work with gloves on.

After using my Garmin, trying to tour unknown territory with paper maps would drive me nuts, particularly since I try to never ride on main roads. With the Garmin, I just turn the pedals and go where it tells me to go.
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Old 10-26-16, 07:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Unlike a phone, these units are all waterproof and work with gloves on.
Thanks for the feedback. Exactly the perspective I was looking for from like-minded riders

You mention the screens working with gloves - are you taking any gloves or the special ones with the pads on the finger tips that are designed to work with smartphones? I don't see any detailed specs on Garmin's site about what specific kind of touch screens the devices have, but I recall seeing something saying one of the models I looked at having a "capacitive" style.
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Old 10-26-16, 08:52 PM
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I have an old Garmin eTrex Legend Hcx: good battery life w/helpful AA batteries & water-proof. But it never worked for pre-programmed routes & AFAIK current Garmin Touring hasn't overcome that problem. So without reliable turn-by-turn directions one might as well use a combo of phone/tablet & paper/cue sheets, eh?
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Old 10-26-16, 09:59 PM
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Originally Posted by KC8QVO View Post
Thanks for the feedback. Exactly the perspective I was looking for from like-minded riders

You mention the screens working with gloves - are you taking any gloves or the special ones with the pads on the finger tips that are designed to work with smartphones? I don't see any detailed specs on Garmin's site about what specific kind of touch screens the devices have, but I recall seeing something saying one of the models I looked at having a "capacitive" style.
My 800's screen is not capacitive. Just touch with anything. So big-fingered gloves will be clumsy, maybe touch with the corner of a finger. You have to push some, not just touch. However the Garmin 1000 went to a capacitive screen, which I understand doesn't work in the rain, bummer.

Only real downside of the Garmin units other than expense is that Garmin documentation is sparse and incomplete. RidewithGPS has good help for each Garmin unit. I put all my OSM maps, routes, and data on MicroSD cards. I carry a charging battery and of course a charger. I get about 10 hours on the 800's battery.

DC Rainmaker has good reviews:
https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2014/04/...edge-1000.html
https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2010/08/...irst-look.html
and for other devices also.
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