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GPS recommendations?

This topic contains 14 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  reddan 1 yr, 9 mos.

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parvipica

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Feb 23 2013 at 11:48am #

i’ve been internet window-shopping for a bike gps. trying to find something similar to a car gps (shows you routes, can look up businesses, etc.) that’s weather-proof and suited for bike touring. starting to think i’m better off getting something intended for a motorcyclist. any suggestions?


Drewbacca

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Feb 23 2013 at 6:11pm #

Reading through the forums at Adventure Cycling, the bicycle GPS seem like a no-go for actual navigation in the field, they are only good for local rides. The Garmin 800/810 seems to bridge that gap a bit, but still isn’t recommend for touring.

I’m leaning towards the Garmin Oregon myself as it seems ideal for a handlebar mounted unit (big and bright screen? not sure about battery life).

Garmin 62 series seems to get decent reviews, but it’s smaller and looks to be more oriented for actually holding in your hand.

I also see the Garmin eTrex recommended… that seems to be the cheaper option. You can get the b&w model for just about $100 but I imagine that would be difficult to read while riding. Then again, it’s probably ideal for battery life.

I’m still working through the A.C. forums and amazon reviews… Looking forward to any other input here.

I imagine a hiking unit is both cheaper and more useful than a motorcycle unit?


salty

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Feb 23 2013 at 6:23pm #

I have a Garmin 800. After 2 years I’ve only used the maps/navigation features a handful of times, so for me I think I would have been better off with a 500. But, for what you want to do (assuming that means touring in unfamiliar places) it might be perfect. The navigation and POI capabilities are more or less identical to the car/motorcycle units, but it’s a lot smaller and has much better battery life. Although, the smaller thing is also a negative since you obviously have a much smaller map to look at.

On the downside, the routing is not bicycle-specific and there are no trail maps included. You can buy Rails-to-Trails maps pretty cheap but they don’t really work properly – often it can’t properly connect roads with trails on a route. You can put OpenStreetMap maps on the device. It’s not too painful although it’s less straightforward than it could be – although looking at that page it’s easier now than when I did it a couple years ago. The OSM maps have trails included. If I had it to do over again I’d probably get the 800 without maps and just use the OSM maps.

But really, the bike routes from Google Maps are way better and include trails. In fact, I’d be tempted to say forget the bike GPS just use a phone – except it does suck that you have to have cell coverage in order to compute a route, and battery life is also an issue.


Drewbacca

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Feb 23 2013 at 6:34pm #

I think a cell phone is sufficient for local navigation via googlemaps; the nice thing about the new 510/810 is bluetooth connectivity with the phone too. I wouldn’t recommend it if you ever ride through Montana though. I lost my signal most of the time, my cousin (verizon) had slightly better luck than I did (at&t)… he actually had a single bar 20% of the time (and that’s not even talking about data).


Drewbacca

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Feb 23 2013 at 8:41pm #

@salty, looking at the 810, it appears you need to buy the bundle for $200 or pay for some of the important cycling stuff individually. The standard doesn’t come with the heart rate monitor, the speed/cadence sensor, or the navigation package… What navigation does yours have? Is “City Navigator” something separate or is that the back bone of the 800?

The 810 with the navigation package is almost $700.

If I get the Garmin Oregon 450, I can add the same things for a total cost of $330 + $80 (navigation map) +$120 (speed/cadence/heart-rate)… so $550 for a comparable package (a savings of $150).

Am I understanding this right? Is a rechargeable battery worth the extra $150? I actually think that AA battery power would be preferred for a touring set up. Just curious what your take is (or anyone else)…


Drewbacca

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Feb 23 2013 at 9:56pm #

Never mind… the navigation map appears to be the voice-directions. It looks like all of the models have the basic roads built in (and will beep when approaching a turn)?

The more I read, the more I’m leaning towards the Garmin Dakota 20 which seems to have all the features I need and can be expanded w/ the bicycle stuff for a $215 base price on Amazon (+$60 for the speed/cadence and + another $60 if I want the heart rate). It looks like I can get everything I need for $275! :) Although, the Oregon might be worth the extra monies for the included topographic map.

Looks like a lot of good discussion at the MTBR forums, I found this one (and its links) helpful:

http://forums.mtbr.com/gps-hrm-bike-computer/garmin-dakota-20-garmin-oregon-200-a-590243.html


salty

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Feb 23 2013 at 11:28pm #

The 800 does not have any speech capabilities. It beeps when approaching the turn, and very softly at that due to the dumb design decision to put the speaker right where it gets blocked by the mount. You can mod the mount to make it more audible.

I really haven’t looked at making the hiking models work on a bike but that may be the better approach. For the 800 “navigation” just means the CN maps – the unit has navigation capability built-in whether you buy the maps or not. Navigation does require a specific data format (I.e. not just raster maps) but the OSM maps are in the right format. I suspect the same is probably true for the dakota and other models (although I don’t know for sure, garmin has historically been irritatingly proprietary), but I’d try OSM before I paid garmin for any maps.

The speed/cadence sensor is nice but I have never used the HR strap.


salty

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Feb 23 2013 at 11:31pm #

BTW, I’m not sure what you mean by “basic roads” but the garmin “basemap” is all but useless, it has very few roads – mostly highways.


stefb

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Feb 24 2013 at 7:58am #

I have the Oregon 450t. It is slightly bulky, but it gets the job done. I have used this in the woods and on tours like CtC. I use rechargeable batteries and using the power save mode, I can make the batteries last more than 12 hours. I think it is easy to use. It has a lot of options and will show you where businesses are in the area. There is a cheap mount you can use with zipties. I suggest that this GPS gets mounted on the stem of a bike. It tends to flip around on the handlebars.


Mikhail

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Feb 24 2013 at 11:31am #

I would say that Garmin 800 is still cyclo computer with GPS. So any GPS functions are oriented toward sport bicycling activity (road bicycling activity). GPS with standard antena is not good in a forest (https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?cID=&pID=63802 has better antena and you can see it).

Car GPS could survive 2-4 houres on battery and requires 12V (usually) to recharge.

Motorcycle GPS’s also require external power if you are going to use for longer time.

For smart phones and small electronics there are some solutions. A couple of friends of my uses them in multi-week tours on bicycles:

http://www.amazon.com/PowerFilm-R15-300-Rollable-Solar-Charger/dp/B0007WOK84/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1361681699&sr=8-4&keywords=flexible+solar+charger

http://www.aliexpress.com/item/DIY-1W-flexible-solar-cells-of-amorphous-silicon-can-foldable-very-slim-solar-panel-2V-500MA/677630235.html

https://www.google.com/shopping/product/11901893056230816972?q=phone%20chargers%20solar%20flexible&hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=Zd6&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&biw=1215&bih=836&sa=X&ei=EWYpUa36KKSU0QHii4DgCg&ved=0CFkQ8wIwAA

http://www.earthtechproducts.com/p2007.html

http://www.earthtechproducts.com/p2001.html

http://www.ebay.com/itm/6w-flexible-solar-panel-multiple-mobile-phone-charger-/320913703535#vi-content

Now, Amorphous Silicon is slightly less efficient than monocrystaline or poly crystaline but according to one of the friends mentioned above (he is a physicist with secialization in this area) you won’t get latest and most efficient monocrystaline since it’s very expensive at the moment and regular one is on par with amorphous one. He told me that flexile panel are most convinient ones during journeys. easy to put insde of bag without breaking it, during movement he just put two pannels on each side panniers and sometimes another one on his back. It was enough to keep phone, GPS, mp3 players and PAD working all the time.


reddan

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Feb 24 2013 at 12:53pm #

Not the cheap option by any stretch, but a dynamo wheel paired with the Luxos U headlight gives you a means to charge any USB device while rolling.

Stupid-expensive, but I’ve been drooling over that gadget for a while. Daytime running lights, side-aimed beams that get brighter the slower you go, and a remote switch/USB charging port, plus a cache battery so your charging devices don’t burp while stopped.


Drewbacca

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Feb 24 2013 at 3:10pm #

The following was really helpful seeing multiple viewpoints on a dedicated bicycle model (800/810) vs a hiking model like the Oregon.

http://forums.mtbr.com/gps-hrm-bike-computer/garmin-oregon-450-vs-edge-800-a-650537.html

Personally, I just can’t justify the extra cost of the 810 for my needs as I’m not looking for a race-trainer. I just want maps and directions instead of queue sheets, logged hours/mileage, a means of reviewing the ride, speed while riding… that Dakota seems to cover all that. It looks like new models of the Dakota/Oregon/Montana are just coming out now so some good prices may be around. I get the impression that the OP and I are both looking for roughly the same thing.

@salty, yeah, I was referring to the basemap and your opinion of it seems common. I’ll have to keep reading up on the map options available. I’ll definitely give the free maps a chance first when I buy a unit. My only experience is with whatever came installed on the nuvi in my car.

Dakota vs Oregon: I’m going to have to check them out in the store. The Oregon has a higher resolution but the Dakota is reportedly brighter. The Oregon is a little bigger too. I think the only reason that I’d end up going with the Oregon over the Dakota is for the 2x number of waypoints (4x as many on the newest models). I’ll have to figure out how many preset waypoints exist on the average ACA route.

I’m a huge fan of user-friendly batteries. I’m looking at this as something I would take on an ACA route or a hike on the Appalachian trail… unless someone makes hiking pants that generate electricity from friction, I need AAs.

*mouth watering* I so need to build up a wheel with a SON hub. I might pick up a hub from Ben’s Cycle next time they have a 20% sale.


reddan

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Feb 24 2013 at 4:32pm #

Drewbacca wrote:*mouth watering* I so need to build up a wheel with a SON hub. I might pick up a hub from Ben’s Cycle next time they have a 20% sale.

Don’t sneer at Shimano dynamos, either. Half the price, and at least 95% the performance, so far as I can tell in my limited experience.

Of course, if you want true bling, buy this SON hub and have a framebuilder do you a custom fork using their dropout…no external wires required…


Drewbacca

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Feb 24 2013 at 7:11pm #

I was under the impression that the Shimano hubs had a different connector than the SON? Is everything interchangeable? For the price, I’d just go with a Shimano dynohub paired with Velocity Dyads prebuilt from handspun ($176 at Treefort).


reddan

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Feb 24 2013 at 8:24pm #

Drewbacca wrote:I was under the impression that the Shimano hubs had a different connector than the SON? Is everything interchangeable? For the price, I’d just go with a Shimano dynohub paired with Velocity Dyads prebuilt from handspun ($176 at Treefort).

Yep, Shimano dynamo hubs use a (reusable) block connector… SON hubs use a couple of spade connectors. In either case, you’ll have to wire the headlight in, so that makes no difference. The electrical characteristics are the same, so you can use either hub with whatever lights you wish.

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