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· I Type, Therefore I Am
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After missing a turn on a Century last weekend (a route sign was missing), it occurred to me that having a GPS device while riding in the middle of nowhere might be a good idea. I went to my fist stop whenever I am looking for anything bike related (Performance) to look at what was out there. Do I really need to spend $400.00 to get a unit that will work? I have a Garmin Forerunner 201 which has problems losing the satellites even when the skies are clear. I have used it on the bike but if it is mounted below my body (top tube, handlebars) it loses the satellites. I mounted it on my aero bars so it would be out from underneath me, but I removed the aero bars recently so I don't have that option anymore. Do the bike-specific units track well?
 
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I have GPS service through my cell phone company, if I need it I can break it out and navigate for a bit, rarely is that necessary so it is usually in my pocket out of the way.
 

· I Type, Therefore I Am
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
FatTireFred said:
what are you expecting it to do? map? track? both? HR/fitness stuff? guide you like a car GPS?
I think most map and track as basic functions. HR stuff I don't care about. Guiding me like a car would be a bonus, but I would just like to see where I am and where I've been. Being able to download routes from a site like 'map my ride' would be cool, so I guess that would fall under 'guide me like a car'. Is Garmin the only real choice out there?
 

· duh...
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Mr Wood said:
I think most map and track as basic functions. HR stuff I don't care about. Guiding me like a car would be a bonus, but I would just like to see where I am and where I've been. Being able to download routes from a site like 'map my ride' would be cool, so I guess that would fall under 'guide me like a car'. Is Garmin the only real choice out there?


garmin ain't the only choice, but is the 800lb gorilla in the US... it all depends on your use. something like a Vista HCx or 60CSx would be nice for mapping/tracking and are commonly ued by mtn bikers, but you gotta buy better maps- topo is nice to have and citynavigator if you want street nav functions. unless you go higher end, the edges are just glorified cyclocomputers. snoop around on the gps board at mtbr, these questions get asked all the time
 

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Iphone ;) 199.99 just a purchase if already with Cingular; can now add 4.00 insurance for replacement if you break it.

I considered a Garmin 705 last week n went to Iphone instead. I carry it in bike bag for now, but looking for how to mount and it's very accurate, you can load a route to it from Google or anything else as well.

EDIT: They make a very hard plastic case that would protect it during fall as well.
 

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Many PDA smartphones these days have a GPS in it. If you have an unlimited data plan you can use googlemaps for free. Garmin also makes a windows mobile software application which works the same as their car GPS' and doesn't use any data connection (maps all stored in memory card). Coverage should be fine if sticking to roads (offroading MTB'ing wouldn't work well -- you would need topo maps). Only con is that if you are riding for really long periods of time it will kill your battery quickly as phones really don't have that kind of battery juice. Also you pretty much have to pull over and use it since I haven't seen any mounts for it and you wouldn't want to risk dropping your phone or having yourself be distracted leading to a dangerous situation.

I also have a typical car-type Garmin Nuvi 200 which is really small and compact and wouldn't be an issue to take with. You could just buy one of those for under $200. Still, no bike mount, but the battery lasts about 4-5 hours per charge, that's with the LCD on and active the whole time tracking. If there was a way to strap this thing on securely to my handlebar I would do it for those longer, unfamiliar rides. The biggest advantage to the Nuvis are how they get amazing signal strength. I can get a lock-on deep inside my house which I can't do with my other devices.

And finally, I have a Garmin Forerunner 305, which is wristwatch style HR monitor GPS but it has no maps and only meant for stat tracking. I mostly use it while running but it's really cool since it gives you the slope %'s which tend to be fairly accurate.

In any event, it does seem like Garmin has most of the market!
 

· Colorado Springs, CO
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Mr Wood said:
After missing a turn on a Century last weekend (a route sign was missing), it occurred to me that having a GPS device while riding in the middle of nowhere might be a good idea. I went to my fist stop whenever I am looking for anything bike related (Performance) to look at what was out there. Do I really need to spend $400.00 to get a unit that will work? I have a Garmin Forerunner 201 which has problems losing the satellites even when the skies are clear. I have used it on the bike but if it is mounted below my body (top tube, handlebars) it loses the satellites. I mounted it on my aero bars so it would be out from underneath me, but I removed the aero bars recently so I don't have that option anymore. Do the bike-specific units track well?
From what you are saying, you want navigation functions, something you can download a route into and then navigate to it. In this case your choices are a bit limited from the Garmin side:

The Garmin Edge 305 will tell you where you have been. It tracks your route and you can download the data points (along with your performance data, HR/cadence./speed) into the training center and see how you are doing.

The Garmin Edge 705, GPSMAP 60CSX and Vista CX have the ability to have map sets downloaded into them, along with route detail, to navigate along a route. Once the route is started, these devices will give you turn by turn directions -- and ample warning before a turn is coming up. But, you'll need the map software for your computer, about $100, the Garmin City Navigator 2009 NT. Note that this software can only be paired with one device - extra unlock codes are about $100.

These devices only come with a base map - major roads and streets like interstates and state highways. The map software gives you the ability to navigate to the street level. You make up a route on your PC using the software, then download the map and route into your device. Once on the device, you call it up and start the navigation.

The bike specific unit is the Edge 705. The other two (GPSMAP60 and VISTA) have handlebar mounts that you can get. The GPSMA60 and VISTA have the ability to obtain more data points of route information (i.e. tracks) along the way. Also, these three units have the ability to put in a micro SD memory card, giving you the ability to download more map data. Note that you can also get the entire USA map set on a micro SD card, but then you can't use it on your PC. I think the best flexibility is to purchase the PC software and download the maps.

These things aren't cheap. If you are using this mostly on your road bike, I would get the Edge 705. if you are mostly a singletrack cyclists, the GPSMAP60 or VISTA would be good with the TOPO map software (topographic map detail instead of street detail). The Edge 605 is much like the Edge 705, but no heart rate or cadence data. The cadence sensor also acts as a backup and sanity check for measuring speed. I'd get the 705 because there is no capability to add these functions later.

I had had a edge 305 for years and it has worked flawlessly, I get about 12 hours out of a single charge and had no issue with satellite reception (although the satellite acquisition process can be a little pokey at times). I have had the 705 for about three months and it is really speedy compared to the 305.

As far as your reception issues go, if you don't give the units access to the sky, then yes, it will cause some reception issues. The 705 seems to have a better satellite antenna than the 205/305 - it will even acquire the satellites in the first level of my two story home (with a whole 0house overhead!). So your body in the way may not be a problem. Have you tried mounting it on the handlebar stem?

Look closely at the GARMIN web site and compare the units and your uses. Hopefully this shed a bit of light and gave you some more information to help your decision.
 

· duh...
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I think the unlock code thing is only for cd maps, right? microsd cards can go to multiple units, but obviously you can only use in one at a time. and citynav in microsd can be had for <$70 if you look hard. the x units (HCx, CSx) have much better reception than their predecessors, indoors/under trees no problem, but likely will not work in long tunnels/bunkers
 

· Colorado Springs, CO
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631 Posts
FatTireFred said:
I think the unlock code thing is only for cd maps, right? microsd cards can go to multiple units, but obviously you can only use in one at a time. and citynav in microsd can be had for <$70 if you look hard. the x units (HCx, CSx) have much better reception than their predecessors, indoors/under trees no problem, but likely will not work in long tunnels/bunkers

Yes, the unlock code is for the PC loaded software, I don't think there is a pairing of the SD card to any particular unit (but I may be wrong, you'd have to ask Garmin that question).

You are correct. Significant thicknesses of rock and concrete don't allow for good satellite reception (or radio, or cell phone). Indoors can be a little tricky, but I haven't been in a building yet that I needed a GPS to navigate around in (sorry, I wasn't trying to be smart-ass here, but I couldn't resist a humorous opportunity no matter how lame.)

The preloaded SD map cards will show you all the street detail on your handheld device, but you can't load the maps up on your PC and develop routes from the SD card. You can do the route development on the handheld unit, but it is tedious and can be done much quicker on the PC and downloaded.
 

· Albert Owen
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Garmin 705 is brilliant - mine has worked flawlessly. Battery life is around 16 hours. It even works well as a decent in-car unit.
The only (slight) issue I have had is with the software - it works well enough, but it is a bit clunky.
 

· Frog Whisperer
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41,516 Posts
I ride with a Garmin Legend.....I love it and have logged thousands of miles with it (over 6,000 in the last 3 years)....I does everything although I would replace it with one that auto-routes when it goes...

It works BEAUTIFULLY with SportTracks...I can't say enough good about that program.

edit...btw...under 200 and you can find an older mapsource package on e-bay...(metroguide works well)
 

· I Type, Therefore I Am
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for the advice everyone. I decided on the Garmin eTrex Vista HCx. I can use it on the bike and in the car. Found a really good price on Amazon, so I ordered it. Can't wait to get it! Looks like I'll get it just in time for the Bike Psychos Century on August 24. Hopefully I'll have figured out how to use it by then!
 

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Mr Wood said:
I decided on the Garmin eTrex Vista HCx.
Does the Vista HCx have any more features than the eTrex Legend HCx besides the electronic compass & barometric altimeter?

FWIW, I used the eTrex Legend while hiking in TX, the ADK in NY, VA & New England's highest 67 peaks. It always served me well.
 

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Mr Wood said:
I decided on the Garmin eTrex Vista HCx.
Does the Vista HCx have any more features than the eTrex Legend HCx besides the electronic compass & barometric altimeter?

FWIW, I used the eTrex Legend while hiking, and found it to be reliable.
 

· Colorado Springs, CO
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A Few Tips

Mr Wood said:
Thanks for the advice everyone. I decided on the Garmin eTrex Vista HCx. I can use it on the bike and in the car. Found a really good price on Amazon, so I ordered it. Can't wait to get it! Looks like I'll get it just in time for the Bike Psychos Century on August 24. Hopefully I'll have figured out how to use it by then!
Cool!

A couple of gotchas with this unit:

1) The back door isn’t the same as the other Vistas. There is a little notch to accommodate the data card. If you get a bike mount, you’ll have to remove the rail thing and put it on the back of the door that is there now – it’s a 30 second job with a screwdriver.
2) The batteries sometimes will jar loose and power down the unit. The fix is two fold:
a. Carefully pry up the battery contacts, bending then up a bit so you get a good connection.
b. Put a few layers of duct tape on the inside part of the battery door to keep the batteries in place
c. I have a GPSMAP 60 and this is the fix that Garmin recommended, apparently there is a bit of slop that allows the batteries to jiggle around in the compartment. And yes, it did fix the problem.
3) Get a 2GB microSD card and install into your unit. Note that above 2GB, (e.g., 4GB cards) there are no industry standards and cards of the higher capacity may or may not work. 2GB is plenty, I live in Colorado and I can store the detailed maps of all of Colorado, and most of the surrounding states. The latest version of the City Navigator 2009 NT, has some sort of compression technology that allows even more to be stored in the same memory location.
a. Cheap SD cards can be found here: www.pricewatch.com. Around $5 to $10 with free shipping!
4) Try the route stuff in a simple test. Make a route up on your computer (after you have loaded up the map S/W), then download to your Vista, and initiate the route. Best place to do this is in your car, on a 5 or 10 mile loop from your house. If on your bike, you’ll be gawking at it too much and might crash.
5) What shows up as “next” while navigating a route may not necessarily be the waypoints you set into the device. The device calculates all kinds of intermediate waypoints along the way when doing route stuff, and you might end up with literally tens of mini-waypoints between the waypoints you loaded into the device. Yes, you’ll see your waypoints, but also ones like “ROAD” will show up in the next data field if you display NEXT WAYPOINT
6) When you download maps into your device, it wipes out the previous map set in the device. Make certain you have all the maps you need when downloading maps into the device. For example, I put in the map set that contains Colorado Springs, and went for a few rides. Then, I put in the map set that contains Denver. When I turned the device on, all I had was the Denver map set in the device. Important safety tip!
7) To down load the maps, run the zoom level to 50 or 70 miles, select the polygon looking thing on the menu bar, and start clicking on the map. The maps selected will turn pink as they are selected and a size estimate will be in the lower left of the screen. After you selected what you want, then hit the download to the device button. Note that to download the maps, you need to get an unlock code from Garmin (or comes with the map DVD). Also, you can save the maps and route you define into a file on the PC so you can use it over again.
8) Also, go through the initial set up step by step – leaving the device on in the open for a while so it can update, calibrating the compass, checking the altimeter. The first time you turn it on it may take a long time (minutes) to acquire the satellites and figure out their location. The next time you turn it on, it won’t take as long. Or, if you take it with you on a plane (like more than a couple hundred miles), when you land at your destination the satellites will take a while to acquire too.
9) The best option for the map on the device, at least for me, it TRACK UP. This way the map is oriented towards the top of the unit, as you are seeing the topography and most likely holding it.
10) You need to be moving a bit so the navigation features can work. If you are sitting still, sometimes the little arrow that indicates where you are gets a little confused as to the orientation -- stand still while navigating somewhere and the map display might start to rotate – take a step of two forward and it’ll lock right into the proper orientation. I think it needs the differential of where it was and where it is going to keep things properly aligned.
11) The enter address and navigate to it feature works great. We went on vacation in California, driving up the coast from LA to SF and entered in the addresses of hotels and restaurants and got turn by turn directions to the destinations. Also, setting it up to see how far it was to the next place.
12) As far as on you bike, it’s gonna be great too! For your century ride, do the following:
a. Set up the route on the map software on your PC.
b. Set up waypoints at rest stops and other major features (like right or left turns!)
i. Remember you are going to get the mini-waypoints displayed if you choose the “next” field. But on the map display, you’ll see the ones you defined.
ii. And yes, the device will tell you of upcoming turns along the route
c. Define the route
d. Download maps and route into your Vista
e. When you start the ride, pull up you route, hit navigate, and away you go!
f. While riding, you can also push the button to mark waypoints of interest (for me, this has been the summits of passes, the end of long climbs) You can then download these back into your PC and use them again.
 
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