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School me on Garmin eTrex for touring

Old 07-18-19, 06:53 AM
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School me on Garmin eTrex for touring

I've owned a Garmin Edge 520 for about 6 months and I'm starting to dislike it. I hate the little side mounted buttons. I dislike the beeps that are trying to tell me something. I don't like the size and I find it's useless for planning a route. You have to do it on your computer and then download to the device. I also don't really care how fast I'm going. I realize I am mostly concerned with navigation.

So I'm now thinking an eTrex is better for me. I'm looking at the eTrex Touch 25 GPS which has the features I want but it doesn't include a road map. I find this a bit strange since it is marketed for bike touring. So am I correct in assuming that I have to also buy the Garmin City Navigator maps on SD card? I've heard the touchscreen doesn't work at extreme temps. True?

Maybe the plain Jane e20 is better and I just have to get used to the side buttons.

Has anyone used both a bike computer and a general purpose GPS advice extensively? Pros and cons?
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Old 07-18-19, 08:59 AM
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I can't comment on the model Garmins you are talking about, I use a Garmin 64. I want a GPS that runs on AA batteries and is good for general recreation like canoeing and kayaking, in addition to cycling.

But I assume you can load maps from the internet onto some of the Garmins you are discussing. Not sure what areas you are interested in (N Amer, Europe, etc.). Some of the sites I use to obtain maps are:

https://extract.bbbike.org/
At the above link I use the Openfiets Lite UTF 8

USA OSM Topo Routable | GMapTool

https://www.openmapchest.org/

I think these are non-routable, but I use them for canoe and kayak trips.
https://www.gpsfiledepot.com/maps/byuser/135/

I use Mapsource (a no longer supported Garmin program) on my computer, some of the above links I load the maps into my computer, then into Mapsource to transfer to my Garmin. But other above links give me the file that I need to directly transfer to the Garmin.

The go-to site that I mostly have used became dysfunctional a few months ago, so I did not list it here. But since I used to mostly use that site, I do not recall a lot about how I used the other above sites. Some of these links I have not used for a few years, but I assume they still work ok. I am not a great wiz on this stuff, I am sure there are others on this forum that can explain this better than me.

ADDENDUM ADDED LATER:

When it comes to planning routes, not only do I use my Garmin 64, but on my Andoid phone I also use the apps Maps.me and Komoots. Map.me can be used off line for routing, Komoots has to be on line.

I recently finished a five week tour and most days I deviated from the routing that I got from the Garmin and the other two apps because sometimes the devices were trying to take me off of bike trails or they were trying to avoid a perfectly good road.

My Garmin 64, for routing I usually use the Cycle Tour option and the Minimize Ascent option. But sometimes I check to see how the car driving option compares to the bike option.

Last edited by Tourist in MSN; 07-18-19 at 09:05 AM.
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Old 07-18-19, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by hhk25
I've owned a Garmin Edge 520 for about 6 months and I'm starting to dislike it. I hate the little side mounted buttons. I dislike the beeps that are trying to tell me something. I don't like the size and I find it's useless for planning a route. You have to do it on your computer and then download to the device. I also don't really care how fast I'm going. I realize I am mostly concerned with navigation.

So I'm now thinking an eTrex is better for me. I'm looking at the eTrex Touch 25 GPS which has the features I want but it doesn't include a road map. I find this a bit strange since it is marketed for bike touring. So am I correct in assuming that I have to also buy the Garmin City Navigator maps on SD card? I've heard the touchscreen doesn't work at extreme temps. True?

Maybe the plain Jane e20 is better and I just have to get used to the side buttons.

Has anyone used both a bike computer and a general purpose GPS advice extensively? Pros and cons?
The E-Trex units are mostly designed for outdoor use such as hiking, canoeing, etc.... they are not really bike oriented. You can get add-on maps as Tourist has noted. Garmin wants you to go and buy their expensive maps, but finally figured out people were not doing that they were using the OpenStreetMaps that are free. With some early Garmins such as the 810 I had and the 520, the maps that came with the unit sucked, so you HAD to got to OSM. The newer bike oriented Edge units all have a decent base map set installed, 530, 830, 1030, Explore, etc....

I've used an Edge 810, a Wahoo Bolt and an Edge 1000 (the best so far). I returned the Bolt as the base maps suck on an otherwise great unit and you cannot install other maps (suc as Trailforks) onto Wahoo units. The 1000 lets me do that and as well has a large'ish screen that lets me see the map. If I were buying today I'd get an Edge Explore. It's got a larger map than a 520/530, has a REAL map and uses a touch screen. TS's are a user love/hate thing. Some people hate them and want buttons. I like TS's better as it also lets me zoom and swipe on the map. I've ridden with my 1000 down to about 12 degrees with no issues with the screen responding to heavy winter gloves, never want to explore the lower temperature limits of the device as I don't need to be that cold. Not sure though what you have in mind for extremely low temps where the unit might not function.

It should be noted that the dedicated cycling GPS units tend to avg. 10-12 hrs of run time. Some (like the Garmin 1030) are "rated" to 20 hrs., others can see that as well. Then there are a lot of reports from Garmin users, the 830 seems to be the most notorious, of poor run time in the nature of 5-6 hrs., usually a result of using the map a lot (battery intensive), navigating, having multiple sensors connected (speed, cadence, power), etc.... The E-Trex models are very popular with folks doing off-road bikepacking as the use of AA batteries makes it easy to keep running. Others who use the dedicated cycling GPS units often bring USB cables to connect up to battery sticks or larger batteries. I've run my 1000 on a battery stick successfully.

Route planning sucks on the device usually as the screens are so small it's near impossible to view where you want to go and create a route. Smartphones are a bit better if only as the screens are bigger, but to make it work you want cell data and/or WiFi and access to a site (RWGPS, TrailForks) where you can create a route and download it to the device. I've used my iPad for this, works well as the screen is larger yet and I use the web based site not the app on the device. The Garmin Connect Mobile App can create a route on my iPhone but it's an absurdly clunky interface that I've yet to figure out how to use.

Last edited by Steve B.; 07-18-19 at 09:37 AM.
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Old 07-18-19, 10:02 AM
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Good stuff so far. One problem with the 520 is if I deviate from the planned route, it constantly tells me to U turn and doesn't reroute unless I return to the exact route.

How is the 1000 or the eTrex for rerouting?

I mostly tour in North America but I plan to do an extensive tour in Europe soon. I might also SE Asia.
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Old 07-18-19, 11:17 AM
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Steve B mentioned gloves. Keep in mind if you want a touch screen and if you also tour in cold weather, you might need to make sure that your full finger gloves are touch screen compatible. Some are, some are not. I have never used a touch screen GPS, so I have no clue how they behave in rain, etc.

My Garmin 64, if I deviate from the route it picked, it re-calculates a route. Sometimes it thinks the best re-calculated route is a U turn, but sometimes not.

Garmin makes a proprietary battery pack that consists of two AA NiMH batteries. Some of their GPS units (such as my Garmin 64) can operate while simultaneously charging that battery pack with a mini USB cable (mini, not micro USB cable). The units that can be charged that way can also be fooled into thinking that the proprietary pack is in the GPS and allow you to instead charge up two AA NiMH batteries, that is what I do.

My Sinewave Revolution will not directly charge my Garmin batteries, but if I run a pass through cache battery in the circuit, then I can charge my Garmin batteries. In this case the dynohub powers the Sinewave, that feeds the power into the pass through cache battery and that charges the NiMH AA batteries in the Garmin. Sounds complicated, but it is simple and I can tour fully self sufficient on electricity from my dynohub that way. I use a Voltaic V44 powerbank as a pass through cache battery.

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Old 07-18-19, 11:56 AM
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If you want navigation, creating a route on a computer and downloading to the device is by far the best. I don't know of a device that would enable you to create a reasonable cycling route right on the device. That's not what they're for. Any of the Garmin Edge models 705, 800, 810, on up. would be fine. In general, each iteration has improved the breed. They give turn-by-turn directions from a route that's been loaded onto them. Battery life is not an issue, because they'll all charge under way off a USB stick. They aren't great at getting you back on route if you go off, mostly displaying an off-route message. However one can get back to the route pretty easily by using the installed map which shows your location, local roads, and your route. Touch screen map is nice.

RidewithGPS.com is the best routing software I've found. I'm I'm home, I'll often print cue sheets from RWGPS, sometimes nice to have. I used to also have a separate wired bike computer, but Garmins have become so reliable that I've given that up.
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Old 07-18-19, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
Steve B mentioned gloves. Keep in mind if you want a touch screen and if you also tour in cold weather, you might need to make sure that your full finger gloves are touch screen compatible. Some are, some are not. I have never used a touch screen GPS, so I have no clue how they behave in rain, etc.

.
As I understand it, older Garmins used capacitive touch screen that does not need a special glove to function. The later models also use this, though I've read on the Garmin site they recommend a glove that has the special finger material for better functionality. I cannot operate my iPhone with any gloves on, where I can use my Edge 1000.
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Old 07-18-19, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by hhk25
Good stuff so far. One problem with the 520 is if I deviate from the planned route, it constantly tells me to U turn and doesn't reroute unless I return to the exact route.

How is the 1000 or the eTrex for rerouting?
GPS cycling devices up to recently have all seem remarkably stupid at doing a re-route of a planned course. Even a spanking new Garmin auto GPS I recently purchased isn't that great. The few times I've been aware that I am off the Course on my 1000 (a Course is what Garmin calls a pre-planned route) I've simply zoomed out on the map to locate where the course is and then followed my own route to the course. Or and if I knew where I was, I just stopped the course navigation which isn't a solution, though if you get back on the route you can re-start a Course.

Recent models like the Explore, 1030, 830 and 530 can access the Garmin website via a smartphone Mobile Connect app to access what they call "Trendline Popularity Routing". This uses a function similar to Strava's Heat Map to determine if there are routes near your location that other cyclists have ridden and assumes that such activity means that the route is likely to be acceptable for cycling, will thus route you onto that course. The units can generate an entire route from Point A to point B based on this info., though I've never read of how good it would be when attempting to re-route a planned course. DCRainmaker partly reviews this function. https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2017/08/...th-review.html

Note that E-Trex units are not cycling specific and I'd doubt they have any actual routing function as found on the cycling models. The 1000 is discontinued but a decent replacement is the Edge Explore, which at $250 is a good price.

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Old 07-18-19, 01:16 PM
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Originally Posted by hhk25
So I'm now thinking an eTrex is better for me. I'm looking at the eTrex Touch 25 GPS which has the features I want but it doesn't include a road map. I find this a bit strange since it is marketed for bike touring.
Is it marketed for bike touring? The Edge Explore units are.

Originally Posted by hhk25
So am I correct in assuming that I have to also buy the Garmin City Navigator maps on SD card?
I'd suggest using one of the free sources for OSM maps after purchasing a blank SD card. You won't get updates for City Navigator on an SD card unless you buy a newer version.


Free worldwide Garmin maps from OpenStreetMap
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Old 07-18-19, 05:06 PM
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I have the Etrex 20. I would say it’s OK at best. You can create a page with data fields relevant to cycling. You have to create a course on the computer. For me it doesn’t seem to handle deviations very well, and the map is borderline useless when not following a course. Otherwise it is terrific.
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Old 07-20-19, 05:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
If you want navigation, creating a route on a computer and downloading to the device is by far the best. I don't know of a device that would enable you to create a reasonable cycling route right on the device. That's not what they're for. Any of the Garmin Edge models 705, 800, 810, on up. would be fine. In general, each iteration has improved the breed. They give turn-by-turn directions from a route that's been loaded onto them. Battery life is not an issue, because they'll all charge under way off a USB stick. They aren't great at getting you back on route if you go off, mostly displaying an off-route message. However one can get back to the route pretty easily by using the installed map which shows your location, local roads, and your route. Touch screen map is nice.

RidewithGPS.com is the best routing software I've found. I'm I'm home, I'll often print cue sheets from RWGPS, sometimes nice to have. I used to also have a separate wired bike computer, but Garmins have become so reliable that I've given that up.
Not expecting device route planning but a reasonably intelligent point to point route calculator.
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Old 07-20-19, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by hhk25
Not expecting device route planning but a reasonably intelligent point to point route calculator.
A Garmin Edge can do that latter for sure. Here's how to do it in an Edge 1000: https://www8.garmin.com/manuals/webh...642605963.html
There's similar functionality in my old 800. Downside is that you may not enjoy riding the route.
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Old 07-26-19, 05:54 AM
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I just abandoned my Garmin eTrex 20 for an Edge Explore and I'm not going back. I was concerned about rechargeable verses AA batteries, but this is 2019, so unless you are in the wilderness, there is always someplace to charge. I had the same concerns about recharging with my lights, but I wanted brighter lights so rechargeable were the only way to go, now its just part of the ritual. I have a couple of chargers in the garage next to the bike so everything is right there. As others have mentioned RWGPS or other "big screen" methods are the way to do route planning, I've messed with RWGPS on my phone in a pinch, but a 27" screen is what I always use. I'm sure others might disagree, but this works for me.
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