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Old 08-06-17, 06:00 PM   #1
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Garmin Edge 500 International Touring

Hi all,

Wanted to touch on the Garmin Edge 500 a bit. I've been using it a lot for my tours paired with my Gaia maps for my iphone. Pretty much my setup now is this. I rode Vermont with it and used it for the Kokopelli trail where it performed well. While it has limitations, it tells you if you are off course. As long as you follow your line you will be good.

Now I'll be visiting Colombia at the end of the month for a bikepacking trip with my mate. I plan on using this same setup. I'm wondering, please let me know if I'm wrong but... there shouldn't be any issues with connecting with satellites and viewing my maps while out in Colombia right? Anyone use this device for touring South America or other international countries?
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Old 08-06-17, 07:35 PM   #2
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Hi all,

Wanted to touch on the Garmin Edge 500 a bit. I've been using it a lot for my tours paired with my Gaia maps for my iphone. Pretty much my setup now is this. I rode Vermont with it and used it for the Kokopelli trail where it performed well. While it has limitations, it tells you if you are off course. As long as you follow your line you will be good.

Now I'll be visiting Colombia at the end of the month for a bikepacking trip with my mate. I plan on using this same setup. I'm wondering, please let me know if I'm wrong but... there shouldn't be any issues with connecting with satellites and viewing my maps while out in Colombia right? Anyone use this device for touring South America or other international countries?

Do you have South American maps loaded on the GPS?
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Old 08-06-17, 07:48 PM   #3
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Do you have South American maps loaded on the GPS?
Garmin 500's don't accept maps to my understanding. It will draw a line which is your route to follow when at said location with no underlying maps. I just wonder if it will spot me once I'm in that region.
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Old 08-06-17, 07:57 PM   #4
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Garmin 500's don't accept maps to my understanding. It will draw a line which is your route to follow when at said location with no underlying maps. I just wonder if it will spot me once I'm in that region.

Ah OK. I should have checked on that first. I assumed all Edge's had mapping guess not.

In that case it will work anywhere in the world assuming you are not underground or in thick jungle or something.

But if all you want to do is to record your tracks, you should be able to get an app for your cell phone that does that.

Not familiar with Gaia. Can maps be preloaded into the phone? I.E. you don't need an internet connection for maps to work? What about routing offline?
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Old 08-06-17, 08:02 PM   #5
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Ah OK. I should have checked on that first. I assumed all Edge's had mapping guess not.

In that case it will work anywhere in the world assuming you are not underground or in thick jungle or something.

But if all you want to do is to record your tracks, you should be able to get an app for your cell phone that does that.

Not familiar with Gaia. Can maps be preloaded into the phone? I.E. you don't need an internet connection for maps to work? What about routing offline?
Yes, so with Gaia's you can preselect your maps on the desktop software by drawing or expanding the digital layer over the region you plan to bike. It's pretty sick because if you buy the app via your phone device it will sync up perfectly. You can also use it off line with no issues.

Pondering if I should just take the plunge and buy an eTrex 20X before I take off. Sigh... Please all chime in if you have experience navigating with the edge 500 internationally.
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Old 08-07-17, 12:47 AM   #6
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Why does Garmin Edge 500 require using separate phone/app? IMO Garmins are over-priced w/little attention to tourist needs: routing & maps are bad. One could buy a cheap spare phone for tour routing, some are now water-resistant.
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Old 08-07-17, 01:23 AM   #7
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I've been researching similar for my upcoming tour.

I've never used GPS for navigation up until now, but I'll be in parts of the world where the distances from town to town will be much greater than I'm used to.

I won't be lugging a computer around with me and it's in no way feasible (for me or the way I like to tour) to plan a long tour and put that data into a GPS.

What I was looking for was a GPS device that I could use offline without plugging into a computer.

I did try the Garmin Touring and was appalled at how unreliable it was. Yes, you can plot a route (of sorts) on the fly with no need for internet access, but that advantage was eroded by what I have read about its failings and their customer service, or non-service to be more accurate.

I've been testing the Wahoo Elemnt. It almost does exactly what I want it to do. Currently, I can plot a route using OSMand (or indeed any app that will allow me to make & save a GPS track) offline on my phone. Then I transfer that file to the unit via bluetooth. Currently, I need a data connection to process the gps file in the app, but I am reliably informed that this will not be the case in the future - it is on their to-do list. Once this kicks in, then there is a fully functional, fully offline navigation option.

It does use maps - very simple, not much detail, but they are free and cover the whole world.
Navigation is following a breadcrumb trail. There are options for turn-turn directions if the route is plotted with specific services, RideWith GPS & Komoot, I think.
@DropBarFan, I did consider going down the phone route, but any phone I've ever had (IOS & android) eats battery at a crazy rate using GPS. (I found the battery life of the Garmin touring to be very poor, well short of the advertised 15 hours, but the Wahoo is much better. Also, the Garmin reacted weirdly when I plugged it into my hub dynamo. No issues with the Wahoo.)
Another issue is the mounting of the phone safely to the bike. A dedicated GPS device has a stronger connection, I feel, and in worst case scenario, will handle a fall better than a phone.

As to the original question, there should be no issue with picking up satellites so long as there are no barriers between you & the sky. And I'm sure that's a question that Garmin can answer..... if you can make contact!

Or ask in the Electronics, Lighting & Gadgets forum - lots of helpful people there.

Have a great trip!

Frank
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Old 08-07-17, 06:39 AM   #8
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For our ride on the North Sea, Edinburgh to Copenhagen, me entered our expected daily route on ridewithgps and loaded them on the Garmin 500. But we also use the Etrex 20 and get maps from https://www.velomap.org/. With the Etrex we have access to the entire area with a map. The Garmin 500 helps us with turn by turn and the off route feature. The combination of these two devices has worked well for us in Europe and the US. When we rode the Mexican Baja, it was before we had the Garmin 500 but the Etrex worked well.
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Old 08-07-17, 07:09 AM   #9
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Yes. GPS is global, you can receive the signal anywhere in the world.
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Old 08-07-17, 02:41 PM   #10
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No issues receiving GPS signals from my Garmin 500 GPS when I came through Colombia in April/May this year.

I use the Garmin to record my tracks and upload to Strava, but don't actually use it otherwise to navigate. I did have a cell phone with me where the MAPS.ME application was quite useful in Colombia. I wouldn't keep it on continuously, but instead turn it on with a "where am I" type query and sometimes a "are there hotels nearby" query.
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Old 08-08-17, 04:08 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by biketocamp View Post
Yes, so with Gaia's you can preselect your maps on the desktop software by drawing or expanding the digital layer over the region you plan to bike. It's pretty sick because if you buy the app via your device it will sync up perfectly. You can also use it off line with no issues.

Pondering if I should just take the plunge and buy an eTrex 20X before I take off. Sigh... Please all chime in if you have experience navigating with the edge 500 internationally.
Your set-up will work the same way in South America as it does at home.

You do, of course, need to load appropriate maps to Gaia.
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Old 08-09-17, 10:41 PM   #12
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I've been testing the Wahoo Elemnt. It almost does exactly what I want it to do. Currently, I can plot a route using OSMand (or indeed any app that will allow me to make & save a GPS track) offline on my phone. Then I transfer that file to the unit via bluetooth. Currently, I need a data connection to process the gps file in the app, but I am reliably informed that this will not be the case in the future - it is on their to-do list. Once this kicks in, then there is a fully functional, fully offline navigation option.

It does use maps - very simple, not much detail, but they are free and cover the whole world.
Navigation is following a breadcrumb trail. There are options for turn-turn directions if the route is plotted with specific services, RideWith GPS & Komoot, I think.
Which model Wahoo Elemnt? Fitness version is only ~$100 but Bolt is ~$250. Not being able to download detailed maps seems like a big drawback. OTOH reviews say Elemnt does pretty well with pre-programmed turn-by-turn routing. My old Garmin eTrex was bad with that & folks say Garmin Touring isn't much better.


Quote:
@DropBarFan, I did consider going down the phone route, but any phone I've ever had (IOS & android) eats battery at a crazy rate using GPS. (I found the battery life of the Garmin touring to be very poor, well short of the advertised 15 hours, but the Wahoo is much better. Also, the Garmin reacted weirdly when I plugged it into my hub dynamo. No issues with the Wahoo.)
Another issue is the mounting of the phone safely to the bike. A dedicated GPS device has a stronger connection, I feel, and in worst case scenario, will handle a fall better than a phone.
Frank
Dyno recharging is a nice advantage; AA batteries would be much more flexible for tourists but I guess that's gone. OTOH some newer phones have improved battery life & one can toggle GPS so it's only used for the complicated route sections. One can use 2 phones, main one + cheap used one for handlebar mount. Off chance it breaks there's still a backup & one can replace it relatively cheaply.
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Old 08-09-17, 11:29 PM   #13
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Which model Wahoo Elemnt? Fitness version is only ~$100 but Bolt is ~$250. Not being able to download detailed maps seems like a big drawback. OTOH reviews say Elemnt does pretty well with pre-programmed turn-by-turn routing. My old Garmin eTrex was bad with that & folks say Garmin Touring isn't much better.


Dyno recharging is a nice advantage; AA batteries would be much more flexible for tourists but I guess that's gone. OTOH some newer phones have improved battery life & one can toggle GPS so it's only used for the complicated route sections. One can use 2 phones, main one + cheap used one for handlebar mount. Off chance it breaks there's still a backup & one can replace it relatively cheaply.
Mine is the..... Wahoo Elemnt.
I'm in Europe and the Bolt is the newer streamlined version of the Elemnt - same software though. A tad more expensive than the Bolt, but the screen is bigger. I travel fully loaded - the most aerodynamic bike computer won't have too much impact . The Elemnt was available from Amazon, not the Bolt. Amazon have a great returns policy so I tried it out.

As for the detailed maps..... If I need them, I'll use my phone, but for Navigation, I don't need anything more than a breadcrumb trail. Even in a city it's enough.... for me.

I tried the Garmin touring. Disaster. Detailed maps, yes. But very difficult to read at a glance. Incredibly slow at turn by turn. A real disaster in a city. And crashed. Often.

The only advantage of the Touring over the Elemnt is the fact that when you go off course, Garmin lets you zoom out and see exactly where you are. You can't do that on the Elemnt (at the moment).

I hear you on the batteries. But there is nothing new that uses AA batteries. That's another thing with the Garmin - it acts strangely running off a dynamo. A big factor when the battery life is much less in pratice than advertised.

Here's a detailed user review of the Elemnt
https://mashing53.cyclyc.com/wahoo-navi ... or-failed/

As regards the phone as a gps navigator, for me, I wanted something in case of emergency navigation. I have been using a tablet with OSMand, but it was just too awkward. When I needed to use it, it was invariably wet, nightime, rough ground, a city or all of the above. I don't want a phone sticking out of my handlebars in those circumstances. I'd prefer something designed for the job. The Elemnt is very unobtrusive. Mainly I'll be using it just for tracking.

Frank
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Old 08-10-17, 09:18 AM   #14
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Hi all,

Wanted to touch on the Garmin Edge 500 a bit. I've been using it a lot for my tours paired with my Gaia maps for my iphone. Pretty much my setup now is this. I rode Vermont with it and used it for the Kokopelli trail where it performed well. While it has limitations, it tells you if you are off course. As long as you follow your line you will be good.

Now I'll be visiting Colombia at the end of the month for a bikepacking trip with my mate. I plan on using this same setup. I'm wondering, please let me know if I'm wrong but... there shouldn't be any issues with connecting with satellites and viewing my maps while out in Colombia right? Anyone use this device for touring South America or other international countries?

It'll get satellites fine, base maps might be a different story- not sure what that model actually supports off the top of my head. I'm sure you could plot out and load .gpx (or whatever format those use) files and have them set up ahead of time. I've had the 520 for a while and that's basically what I do, though I could make and load better base maps for wherever I'm going.



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Pondering if I should just take the plunge and buy an eTrex 20X before I take off. Sigh... Please all chime in if you have experience navigating with the edge 500 internationally.
If you're going to get an eTrex, I'd get one of GPSMap 64s or similar, they're not much more and they are nicer. They're not particularly amazing but they're fairly cheap and good enough for me to load up and hand out to some of the field crews I work with when they don't need mapping grade stuff or RTK units etc.

Last edited by manapua_man; 08-10-17 at 09:24 AM.
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Old 08-10-17, 12:11 PM   #15
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As for the detailed maps..... If I need them, I'll use my phone, but for Navigation, I don't need anything more than a breadcrumb trail. Even in a city it's enough.... for me.

I tried the Garmin touring. Disaster. Detailed maps, yes. But very difficult to read at a glance. Incredibly slow at turn by turn. A real disaster in a city. And crashed. Often.

The only advantage of the Touring over the Elemnt is the fact that when you go off course, Garmin lets you zoom out and see exactly where you are. You can't do that on the Elemnt (at the moment).
The Touring appears to be kind of flaky. The other units likely work better (the ancient 800 certainly does). The Touring lacks a few navigation features too (I don't recommend it).

One learns how to read the maps. I have found the maps (and being able to zoom/pan them) very useful while riding. I also have a smartphone with loaded maps (it's much easier seeing the maps on the phone and much faster).

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I hear you on the batteries. But there is nothing new that uses AA batteries. That's another thing with the Garmin - it acts strangely running off a dynamo. A big factor when the battery life is much less in practice than advertised.
Dynamos turn on and off and provide widely varying amounts of power. Many complicated electronics might not like that. The Garmins work fine on a "cache" battery (which is probably less harsh on the electronics.
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Old 08-10-17, 12:15 PM   #16
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It'll get satellites fine, base maps might be a different story- not sure what that model actually supports off the top of my head. I'm sure you could plot out and load .gpx (or whatever format those use) files and have them set up ahead of time. I've had the 520 for a while and that's basically what I do, though I could make and load better base maps for wherever I'm going.
The 500/510 work the same as the 520 but don't have any maps (you can load routes with "course points" on all of them and use them for basic "track following").

The 520 comes with a world basemap but it lacks detail.

The 520 can display maps but doesn't do anything beyond that with them.

You can install detailed maps on the 520 but the memory available means the maps don't cover a lot of area.

If you are really interested in navigation (with maps), the 5xx series is not really what to use.
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Old 08-10-17, 12:21 PM   #17
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The 520 can display maps but doesn't do anything beyond that with them.

You can install detailed maps on the 520 but the memory available means the maps don't cover a lot of area.

I was aware of those limitations when I got the 520, but I only got it for the sake of logging stats for my regular rides.

I find pretty much all auto-navigate functions on just about everything to be near worthless for bicycles anyway. As far as the base maps bit- It's easy enough for me to just get whatever GIS data I want and load it for whatever area I'm going to...and I almost never bother with that.
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Old 08-10-17, 12:32 PM   #18
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I was aware of those limitations when I got the 520, but I only got it for the sake of logging stats for my regular rides.
Nothing wrong with the 520. It's just not that well suited for navigation. (That it's not well-suited for navigation doesn't mean people can't use it for navigation).

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I find pretty much all auto-navigate functions on just about everything to be near worthless for bicycles anyway.
I'm not sure what you mean by "auto-navigate functions".

I usually load routes to it. I use the "course points" and the "turn guidance" regularly. I zoom/pan the map regularly.

I use the on-device routing (where you let the device calculate a route for you) infrequently (it can be useful to have).
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Old 08-10-17, 12:52 PM   #19
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Nothing wrong with the 520. It's just not that well suited for navigation. (That it's not well-suited for navigation doesn't mean people can't use it for navigation).


I'm not sure what you mean by "auto-navigate functions".

I usually load routes to it. I use the "course points" and the "turn guidance" regularly. I zoom/pan the map regularly.

I use the on-device routing (where you let the device calculate a route for you) infrequently (it can be useful to have).

I meant the turn by turn, select destination and the machine chooses the route and all that. IME it's pretty much always garbage as far as cycling is concerned.
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Old 08-10-17, 03:24 PM   #20
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I meant the turn by turn, select destination and the machine chooses the route and all that. IME it's pretty much always garbage as far as cycling is concerned.
Yes, letting the device determine the route.

I wouldn't quite say it's "garbage". It still could be usable even when it's not perfect. There might be regional differences and differences related to different maps in how well it works. For example, the routing using OSM maps for the UK doesn't deal with A road roundabouts very well (that's basically a map compilation issue).

It might not make sense letting the device calculate long routes (it might work better breaking the trip into smaller segments).

People are going to generally be happier planning a route elsewhere.

I found it useful to have the option to have the device generate a route.

There should be an option to be able to transfer routes to the devices from a smartphone without needing the internet. (Using a wire isn't always an option.)
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