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GPS for touring: Edge 530 vs Explore 2 ?

Old 10-09-22, 10:56 AM
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GPS for touring: Edge 530 vs Explore 2 ?

I recently "inherited" an Edge 530 from my kid, but haven't had a chance to test it for more than 3 days under touring conditions. Seems adequate, but navigation is a bit of a challenge (probably my limitations, rather than its).

My wife wants to get a Garmin, and at first I thought why not wait until the 540 comes out, and then we can get the 530 for $3 off? But then I started looking at the Edge Explore v. 2, which appears (from my reading) to have corrected most if not all of the complaints about v. 1. It is currently the same price as the Edge 530, so rather than have two copies of that, would the Edge Explore v. 2 offer any significant advantages, either for touring, or for day-to-day use, especially for someone who finds a TV remote control vexing?
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Old 10-09-22, 07:38 PM
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There are feature differences between the two, but the biggest difference is button control on the 530 vs touch screen on the Explore 2. Some people prefer one, some the other.
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Old 10-10-22, 08:09 AM
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I can't comment on the differences between the two models as I've used neither but I can address using the Edge 1040 "under touring conditions" having just returned from a tour of Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France that included 34 days of using the course creator function of the 1040. Out of those 34 days there was not one day where the 1040 got us to where we were going, so if your touring conditions includes relying on Garmin's course creation function I would strongly urge reconsideration. Some of the recurring issues included 1) an inability to determine location when in a building so we couldn't even plan the day's route without going outside (we ended up staying in hotels each night). Might not seem like a big deal, but why is it an issue at all-our phones/iPads never had a problem. 2) an inability to recognize street names, street numbers and occasionally even a city's name (try to enter Duren (sometimes spelled Durren), Germany. Why can't it suggest names based your entry? 3) Sometimes the created route was ridiculous, e.g. on a ride from Dordrecht, Ne to Den Haag, Ne., a distance of 28.5 miles per ridewithgps.com, the Garmin's proposed route was 60 miles. On those days when we did use the proposed route we had these issues: 4) trying to determine the initial direction can be difficult as the unit typically would say "head towards First Street" without indicating the direction to look for First Street. 5) When you need to stop to look closely at the map the map begins to rotate...and rotate...and rotate...and when it settles down two huge vertical lines (the pause icon) obliterates most of the map...and then the screen goes dark so you can't read it anyway. WTF!!! Does Garmin even test their products before they sell them for usurious amounts? Ok, that was a big one. 6) a couple of times the Distance to Next data went weird, the worst being as we were coming into Ghent, about 4 miles from our hotel, we stopped at a grocery store. While I was waiting outside with the bikes I noticed the Distance to Next now indicated 9363 miles. 7) Speaking of weird data screens, the Garmin kept changing them insisting I wanted/needed to see something called VAM. By the end of the trip I just let it track whatever it wanted and it settled on showing distance (twice!), VAM, Maximum Speed and Heading. (One) Distance and the Heading were the only two of the five data points I actually set it up to track.

Most days I ended up using the Garmin as a (very expensive) speedometer and it did record each day's ride. Maybe it works with preloaded routes but I'd be leery of that given its tendency to "forget" where it needs to go. It surely is useless in for course creation so if that is what you need I recommend just using ridewithgps (although their mobile app is really disappointing, especially given how good the desktop app is) or google maps or Komoot. Warning-we had issues at some point with all but they were all way ahead of the Garmin unit. I feel robbed.
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Old 10-10-22, 08:15 AM
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Thanks for this. That is extremely helpful (since the chance that the Explore 2, a subset of the 1040, can do this better is pretty much zero). I think we will instead go for 130+ (on sale) and current phone.
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Old 10-10-22, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by 2ering
1) an inability to determine location when in a building so we couldn't even plan the day's route without going outside (we ended up staying in hotels each night). Might not seem like a big deal, but why is it an issue at all-our phones/iPads never had a problem
The Edges are GPS devices: they can only use GPS to determine location. GPS doesn't work inside (except near a window). Smartphones and tablets "cheat": they can determine approximate location using WIFI and cell towers (in addition to GPS).

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Old 10-10-22, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark
Thanks for this. That is extremely helpful (since the chance that the Explore 2, a subset of the 1040, can do this better is pretty much zero). I think we will instead go for 130+ (on sale) and current phone.
2ering's experience isn't exactly typical.

I've used the 800 and the 1030/1030+ for many years without the issues he describes (but I plan routes elsewhere).

Phones can work but they often are harder to see in sunlight and the battery life tends to be on the short side. You also want to be wary about using any navigation that requires network access.

Originally Posted by Polaris OBark
I recently "inherited" an Edge 530 from my kid, but haven't had a chance to test it for more than 3 days under touring conditions. Seems adequate, but navigation is a bit of a challenge (probably my limitations, rather than its).
If you aren't in a rush, I'd suggest learning how to use the 530.

It takes a bit of practice/experience to integrate the navigation into your cycling. You really want to start using it when you don't need to use it. It takes some effort to get used to using them (if you expect it to be "easy", you'll likely be disappointed).

With respect to navigation, the 530 doesn't work much differently than the other units. Though, the emphasis of the 530 is not navigation. The 530, for instance, doesn't let you search for places. A touch screen (useful for panning/zooming the map) and a bigger screen is better for navigation.

Most people plan routes/courses on websites (like RideWithGPS) rather on the device. It's kind of a pain to plan routes on a small device and, at times, the calculate routes can have issues. If you have to use the device to create a route, one trick is to split the route into smaller hops.

The 130 will also let you follow courses but having a map make it much easier to figure-out what is going on. The 530 is a much better unit (because it has more navigation features and maps).

If navigation is the primary thing, then having the map displayed (and looking at the map "regularly") is important. (2ering's "without indicating the direction" indicates he's not using the map.)

If you use the map screen, you often know about upcoming turns before the notification, it's easy to see what direction to turn, and, if you miss a turn, it's easy enough to see that.

Last edited by njkayaker; 10-10-22 at 04:08 PM.
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Old 10-11-22, 03:16 AM
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Originally Posted by 2ering
I can't comment on the differences between the two models as I've used neither but I can address using the Edge 1040 "under touring conditions" having just returned from a tour of Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France that included 34 days of using the course creator function of the 1040. Out of those 34 days there was not one day where the 1040 got us to where we were going, so if your touring conditions includes relying on Garmin's course creation function I would strongly urge reconsideration. Some of the recurring issues included 1) an inability to determine location when in a building so we couldn't even plan the day's route without going outside (we ended up staying in hotels each night). Might not seem like a big deal, but why is it an issue at all-our phones/iPads never had a problem. 2) an inability to recognize street names, street numbers and occasionally even a city's name (try to enter Duren (sometimes spelled Durren), Germany. Why can't it suggest names based your entry? 3) Sometimes the created route was ridiculous, e.g. on a ride from Dordrecht, Ne to Den Haag, Ne., a distance of 28.5 miles per ridewithgps.com, the Garmin's proposed route was 60 miles. On those days when we did use the proposed route we had these issues: 4) trying to determine the initial direction can be difficult as the unit typically would say "head towards First Street" without indicating the direction to look for First Street. 5) When you need to stop to look closely at the map the map begins to rotate...and rotate...and rotate...and when it settles down two huge vertical lines (the pause icon) obliterates most of the map...and then the screen goes dark so you can't read it anyway. WTF!!! Does Garmin even test their products before they sell them for usurious amounts? Ok, that was a big one. 6) a couple of times the Distance to Next data went weird, the worst being as we were coming into Ghent, about 4 miles from our hotel, we stopped at a grocery store. While I was waiting outside with the bikes I noticed the Distance to Next now indicated 9363 miles. 7) Speaking of weird data screens, the Garmin kept changing them insisting I wanted/needed to see something called VAM. By the end of the trip I just let it track whatever it wanted and it settled on showing distance (twice!), VAM, Maximum Speed and Heading. (One) Distance and the Heading were the only two of the five data points I actually set it up to track.

Most days I ended up using the Garmin as a (very expensive) speedometer and it did record each day's ride. Maybe it works with preloaded routes but I'd be leery of that given its tendency to "forget" where it needs to go. It surely is useless in for course creation so if that is what you need I recommend just using ridewithgps (although their mobile app is really disappointing, especially given how good the desktop app is) or google maps or Komoot. Warning-we had issues at some point with all but they were all way ahead of the Garmin unit. I feel robbed.
I have sympathy for your frustration but in all fairness I think you were using the device in a way that it is not designed for. A bit like using a single speed to do the Tour de France - it's possible, just not comfortable.

Pretty much all GPS devices are best utilised by being paired with a route planner. Their on-board navigation abilities are limited, at best.

In countries less bike friendly and equipped as where you were it would have become clearer.

I'd suggest immersing yourself in the world of route planners because any other device will have similar limitations.
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Old 10-11-22, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by HobbesOnTour
I have sympathy for your frustration but in all fairness I think you were using the device in a way that it is not designed for. A bit like using a single speed to do the Tour de France - it's possible, just not comfortable.

Pretty much all GPS devices are best utilised by being paired with a route planner. Their on-board navigation abilities are limited, at best.

In countries less bike friendly and equipped as where you were it would have become clearer.

I'd suggest immersing yourself in the world of route planners because any other device will have similar limitations.
Several folks are suggesting that routes are better calculated pre-ride with apps like RidewithGPS, etc. My question is, if the on board route calculation function on the high end Garmin bike computers isn't very usable, is there much advantage in the latest and greatest unit, the Edge 1040, compared to previous generations? From reading reviews of the 1030, 1030+ and 1040 it seems the main advantages touted with each succeeding generation are increases in battery life and speed of route calculation. Sure there are lots of small feature upgrades, but those seem like the biggest changes. The comments in this thread, however, suggest that the improvements in route calculation speed don't matter much as offline routing is still the way to go whichever unit you have. I'm particularly interested in the opinions of riders who've followed this upgrade path. Are the processing speed advantages of the 1040 over the 1030+ over the 1030 really that inconsequential in practice?

Last edited by wayold; 10-11-22 at 09:39 AM.
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Old 10-11-22, 10:16 AM
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Yeah, that is the kind of thing I had in mind when I said
navigation is a bit of a challenge
with the 530. I wind up doing it (well, the few times I have bothered) using RidewithGPS, downloading and installing the .fit files manually, but when on tour, I wouldn't have the luxury of a desktop or laptop computer, so if it were simple and straightforward on the Edge Expore 2, it would be a selling point.

Otherwise, an Edge 130+ and the existing ancient iPhone would probably be as good, or arguably better.

BTW, I can get GPS signal in my garage. Maybe it is time to replace the roof.

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Old 10-11-22, 10:22 AM
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I don't want to hi-jack this thread which is to assist the OP in his gps selection but I do want to clarify a few issues brought up by njkayaker and HobbesOnTour. First, I stand by all my statements re the Garmin's failings. Whether they apply to the devices OP is investigating is unknown but something I thought he should be aware of. Njkayaker's explanation of why gps units do not work indoors (but why does my car's work in the garage?) is interesting and appreciated but his assumption that I was not using the map screen is incorrect. Do note that particular complaint was limited in scope to when "trying to determine the initial direction" e.g., usually while in the hotel's or restaurant's parking lot. I disagree with H.O.T.'s opinion I was using the device in a way it was not designed for and Garmin would seem to disagree as well based on their advertising for the device. As mentioned in my post Google Maps, ridewithgps and Komoot on our phones all performed more reliably than the Garmin--their maps were larger and easier to see/read and they didn't rotate and go dark when we stopped. They gave turn-by-turn directions and alerts when we went off course. They did suck a lot of battery juice but we carried an Anker in our handlebar bags and kept them charged As for his suggestion that I immerse myself in the world of route planners I have been a premium member of ridewithgps for the better part of a decade but unforeseen events on this trip required we create routes daily. Lastly, the 1040 is not my first gps-I've owned the 60Csx, Edge 1000 and Edge 1030 and only bought the 1040 b/c the 1030 started occasionally dropping (not saving) rides and the screen was becoming dark around the edges and I didn't want it to crap out while on tour.
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Old 10-11-22, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by 2ering
Njkayaker's explanation of why gps units do not work indoors (but why does my car's work in the garage?) is interesting.
"Working" is not always an "all or nothing" thing. Your car might have a better antenna. The GPS might be remembering the location before you entered the garage. Your garage might have thin walls. You might be near a window.

I don't get GPS signal on any of the Edge units inside where I live unless I'm near a window.

Originally Posted by 2ering
...his assumption that I was not using the map screen is incorrect. Do note that particular complaint was limited in scope to when "trying to determine the initial direction" e.g., usually while in the hotel's or restaurant's parking lot.
Your "wall of text" was hard to read.

GPS can only determine heading if you are moving. The 1030+ and the 1040 have an electronic compass that is supposed to determine the orientation of the device. I think there might be some issues with the compass on the 1040 (hopefully, fixable by a firmware update). Since I started out with a GPS that didn't have a compass, if there was any confusion about orientation, I'd just move some (a small circle will do it).

Originally Posted by 2ering
As mentioned in my post Google Maps, ridewithgps and Komoot on our phones all performed more reliably than the Garmin--their maps were larger and easier to see/read and they didn't rotate and go dark when we stopped. They gave turn-by-turn directions and alerts when we went off course. They did suck a lot of battery juice but we carried an Anker in our handlebar bags and kept them charged.
There isn't any real reason a phone couldn't work well. Everything is a compromise.

Originally Posted by 2ering
Lastly, the 1040 is not my first gps-I've owned the 60Csx, Edge 1000 and Edge 1030 and only bought the 1040 b/c the 1030 started occasionally dropping (not saving) rides and the screen was becoming dark around the edges and I didn't want it to crap out while on tour.
The 1040 isn't going to work radically different than all these. So, it's odd that you are having problems with the 1040 but didn't have the same problems with all the others. (You could have gotten the 1030 with the "dark edges" replaced.)

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Old 10-11-22, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by wayold
Several folks are suggesting that routes are better calculated pre-ride with apps like RidewithGPS, etc. My question is, if the on board route calculation function on the high end Garmin bike computers isn't very usable, is there much advantage in the latest and greatest unit, the Edge 1040, compared to previous generations? From reading reviews of the 1030, 1030+ and 1040 it seems the main advantages touted with each succeeding generation are increases in battery life and speed of route calculation. Sure there are lots of small feature upgrades, but those seem like the biggest changes. The comments in this thread, however, suggest that the improvements in route calculation speed don't matter much as offline routing is still the way to go whichever unit you have. I'm particularly interested in the opinions of riders who've followed this upgrade path. Are the processing speed advantages of the 1040 over the 1030+ over the 1030 really that inconsequential in practice?
I moved from a 1030 to a 1030+. The improvements (better battery life, faster processing speed) are useful. Even with the 1040, the "old" 1030 still works fine. As a rough idea, I would say the improvements between each generation is worth $100-150

I've used the on-device routing (infrequently) and haven't run across issues. I have seen issues with routes in the UK but that's more of a map issue. It might make sense to also calculate a route on your phone to see if the distances kind of match.

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Old 10-11-22, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by wayold
........ From reading reviews of the 1030, 1030+ and 1040 it seems the main advantages touted with each succeeding generation are increases in battery life and speed of route calculation.
The speed of route calculation (or recalculation) has little bearing on the quality of that route.
Then there is the ever variable perception of that route by a cyclist. In a car we normally don't care too much but on a bike we all have our preferences. I.might love the route but you might hate it.

The fact of the matter is that a dedicated planner is currently superior to anything that a GPS device can generate.

I love my GPS for recording my rides, for letting me know what's ahead but I'd never depend on it to navigate on its own. My phone is far superior.

I have no experience with any of the units you mention.
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Old 10-11-22, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by 2ering
. I disagree with H.O.T.'s opinion I was using the device in a way it was not designed for and Garmin would seem to disagree as well based on their advertising for the device. .....


I have been a premium member of ridewithgps for the better part of a decade but unforeseen events on this trip required we create routes daily. .
You're perfectly free to disagree with me and I find myself in the unusual position of defending Garmin!.
As a matter of interest when you plot a route on your device does it give an elevation profile and elevation data?


Secondly, if you've been using RWGPS for 10 years why didn't you use it on your trip? One day without it I can understand but 34 days?

I understand your frustration but I still think you were asking the unit to do too much.

Really interested in the elevation question. Thanks!
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Old 10-11-22, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by HobbesOnTour
The speed of route calculation (or recalculation) has little bearing on the quality of that route.
Then there is the ever variable perception of that route by a cyclist. In a car we normally don't care too much but on a bike we all have our preferences. I.might love the route but you might hate it.
This is true but not really what the complaint was (the device calculated a route that was 2 times the distance that alternatives produced).

Originally Posted by HobbesOnTour
The fact of the matter is that a dedicated planner is currently superior to anything that a GPS device can generate.
There isn't really any reason the GPS device can't calculate a route between A and B that is close to what a "dedicated planner" produces.

What the "dedicated planners" provide is being able to choose exactly where the route goes (and make it easier to create routes).

Being able to have the device calculate decent routes is an important feature even if it's preferable to use another route planner.

Originally Posted by HobbesOnTour
As a matter of interest when you plot a route on your device does it give an elevation profile and elevation data?
Yes. You can also have the device generate/pick routes by elevation. The newer devices all have an elevation map.

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Old 10-11-22, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker
I moved from a 1030 to a 1030+. The improvements (better battery life, faster processing speed) are useful. Even with the 1040, the "old" 1030 still works fine. As a rough idea, I would say the improvements between each generation is worth $100-150
Interestingly that correlates pretty well with current best price on the 1030 which is $200 less than that of the 1030+, which in turn is $150 less than the 1040.

All of this is aspirational for me at the moment. As pointed out in another thread I just recently bought an Edge Explore and am (belatedly) discovering the joys of bike radar. My opinions of bike computers are conditioned by the past 4-5 years I've spent in the Lezyne world (currently have a Macro, Super and Mega XL that may soon become idle if I get sucked fully into the Garmin zone). If my wife likes the Explore too, I'll end up giving it to her while I snag a higher end head unit - hence my interest in the distinctions between the 1030/1030+/1040.
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Old 10-11-22, 02:21 PM
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I see njkayaker has already responded to your question re elevation profile/data and my response is the same, yes the unit does show the profile and data. The answer to your second question is too lengthy and boring to go into and really, why does it matter if you need to use the course creator one day or 34? Further, the issues with creating courses were only part of the problems that make, the 1040 at least, completely unsuitable for touring. The unit's suddenly changing the data screens and suddenly forgetting where it was or where it needed to go as when it indicated the next turn was 9363 miles away are as much a problem as the course creator...in my opinion.
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Old 10-11-22, 03:45 PM
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In general, you need an unobstructed view of the sky to use a satellite connection reliably. Garmins have the option to use 2 or 3, which makes things work a bit better, but GPS location generally doesn't work inside buildings.

The ideal unit for my wife would have a single button press (or reliable ride auto-start) to start and record a ride, and act as a radar head unit. Beyond that, all the other features would just be nice extras to have. If navigation was significantly better that what my Edge 530 has, it would be worth getting the Edge Explore 2, rather than a second copy of the Edge 530, or something functionally equivalent.
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Old 10-11-22, 03:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark
IThe ideal unit for my wife would have a single button press (or reliable ride auto-start) to start and record a ride, and act as a radar head unit. Beyond that, all the other features would just be nice extras to have. If navigation was significantly better that what my Edge 530 has, it would be worth getting the Edge Explore 2, rather than a second copy of the Edge 530, or something functionally equivalent.
If that's all you want the older Edge Explore will work (at least that's what I did). Real cheap refurbs are available right now. Don't expect many bells and whistles, but if you just want to record your ride, show basic info (including radar display) and display a decent map then the Explore does all that. I imagine it's not great at routing/navigation (I haven't really tried), but as a cheap head unit for your wife it may check all the boxes.

PS. It may seem contradictory that I'm talking up the Edge Explore in the same thread in which I'm showing interest in the much more expensive 1030, etc, but the Explore was just a cheap way for me to dip my toe into the Garmin world and try out the (also cheap right now) RVR-315 radar. Like you I have a wife who loves cycling, but doesn't really love tech for tech's sake. So giving the Explore to her while I eventually get a more fully featured (and complicated and harder to use) computer may satisfy everyone in the family.

Last edited by wayold; 10-11-22 at 04:07 PM.
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Old 10-11-22, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark
I think we will instead go for 130+ (on sale) and current phone.
I guess I left that kind of nebulous, but we went for the Edge 130+. $20 off from BikeTiresDirect. I regret not getting it a few months ago when it was briefly discounted to $150. If she wants an upgrade later, I might revisit this.

I do appreciate the input and feel free to continue discussing the merits (or lack thereof) of the Edge Explore 2.

(My wife is a PhD scientist who works with multi-million $$$ equipment, but she can't seem to work a simple TV remote. So even the 130+ is going to be a bit of a challenge.)
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Old 10-11-22, 04:22 PM
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Probably my main irritation with Garmin maps in navigation is the inability to zoom out to get a more global view of a planned route.

I'd be delighted to hear if this is just luser error.

I was kind of hoping the Explore 2 could do that with the touch screen.
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Old 10-11-22, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark
Probably my main irritation with Garmin maps in navigation is the inability to zoom out to get a more global view of a planned route. I'd be delighted to hear if this is just luser error.
I don't own a 530, but I'm pretty sure that you can zoom in and out on the map.

From the manual:

Browsing the Map

  1. Select Menu > Navigation > Browse Map.
  2. Select an option:
    • To toggle between zooming and panning, select .
    • To pan or zoom the map, select and .
    • Hold to view details about the location.
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Old 10-11-22, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Polaris OBark
Probably my main irritation with Garmin maps in navigation is the inability to zoom out to get a more global view of a planned route.

I'd be delighted to hear if this is just luser error.

I was kind of hoping the Explore 2 could do that with the touch screen.
Zooming/panning is easy to do with any of the units with a touch screen.

You can also do it on the 530.

https://www8.garmin.com/manuals/webh...9E06BD4F5.html

Originally Posted by Polaris OBark
So even the 130+ is going to be a bit of a challenge.)
The 130 isn't really any easier to use than the other units.
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Old 10-11-22, 05:12 PM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker
Zooming/panning is easy to do with any of the units with a touch screen.

You can also do it on the 530.

https://www8.garmin.com/manuals/webh...9E06BD4F5.html
Thanks. I just checked it out in the garage (since the beeps make my golden retriever freak out). It works reasonably well, even without a touch screen. I should have RTFM. Sorry.

The 130 isn't really any easier to use than the other units.
I know, I had one. There are two fewer buttons, so in terms of pushing the wrong one, the probability is lowered.

Going to the 530 from the 130 half a year ago, I still press the wrong buttons quite frequently. Maybe I should give her my 530.
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Old 08-11-23, 07:16 PM
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I've ridden with an Edge 530 for several years and hate the buttons, zooming in and out on a trail junction to see which trail I want, and Don't use about 90% of the features. Contacted Garmin about the new Edge Explore 2, does it have Trailforks? Absolutely. Great. My local area opened a new trail about 2 years ago. It is not on my 530 Trailforks data base. I connected the 530 to my computer and via Garmin Express updated all Trailforks maps, took about an hour. The new trail is now on the map on my 530. Just bought an Edge Explore 2. Managed to connect to Garmin Connect and Connect IQ, then updated apps which gave me Trailforks and Connect IQ, and a Trailforks icon now appears on the Explore 2. Clicking on Trailforks it wants my user name and password. I do just happen to subscribe to Trailforks so not a problem. But on the 530 Trailforks is built in, no subscription is necessary. Once my account is accepted there are still fewer Trailforks maps on my device than exist. I click on local routes and only 10 or 12 show up, there are well over 100 trails. And now to get them on Explore 2 each has to be downloaded. I am returning Explore 2, just putting up with all the buttons on the 530 as Trailforks plus a good road map is what I want. When biking a very complex system such as Phil's World in Colorado there are sometimes 4 or more trails at a junction. I Don't preplan my riding, generally I want blue or green. I'll pick my next trail at the junction not at home. This cannot be done with the Explore 2. It is difficult zooming in and out with buttons on the 530, but at least all trails can be seen.
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