On bike turn by turn navigation help
After riding in the north hills for 40 years and knowing every road possible I’m moving to Washington County this summer. I know some of the roads but have noticed numerous rides posted on Ride with GPS that will go past my new home. I’ve never had the need for on the bike navigation until now and I’d like to get some advice on what equipment I should buy that would have the capability of uploading the ride with gps posting and help me learn my new environment.
my understanding that the more expensive Garmins do this. But you may be talking about $450 for a bike computer. I think the Edge 1000 does this.
The cheaper way is to get a bike mount for your phone and use it and Google Maps (or Apple) for navigation. Cons of that method is that I’m not sure there’s a way to 100% secure your phone so that it doesn’t slide out (or, if you crash, prevent cracking the screen), and worry about riding in wet conditions and killing the phone. The other issue is powering the phone, since riding with the screen on will suck the life out of the battery very quickly.
here’s an older article with some pros and cons.
I’ve used a Garmin 800 for the past six years and have been mostly delighted with it. I initially didn’t use TBT that much except for unfamiliar or out-of-town rides, but after I moved to Pittsburgh a year ago, it — combined with something like MapMyRide that allows you to plot your own rides ahead of time — was an absolute necessity for learning the local roads.
The GPS unit might be pricey, but for me it’s been a worthwhile investment over the life of the unit, and far better than a phone. Disclaimer: I’m a tech/data junkie, a dedicated rider, and not particularly price-sensitive, so YMMV.
The Garmin 810 is a slightly newer version of the 800 which you can probably still find. The 820 is a brand new redesigned version that’s a little buggy but has some really interesting new features. The 1000 is also a rather old unit, but has a much larger screen. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 1000 replacement soon, but Garmin could just as easily abandon the 1000 series. I could be wrong, but I don’t think the 500 series has TBT routing.
I’ve also heard some good things about the Wahoo head unit: Elemnt IIRC.
A good site for very in-depth sports tech reviews and comparisons and buyers’ guides and news is DC Rainmaker.
I have the 520. It doesn’t really have turn by turn routing. I think there may be a way to import turn by turn and have it spit it out to you, but nothing live and changeable with real time changes.
You also need to load in a more detailed map than the base map that comes with it. There are free maps online and instructions on the web how to do this.
The 520 does a nice job recording data that you can look at via the Garmin app or Strava. However, again, this isn’t a real time thing.
A car GPS it isn’t. A really nice bike computer with GPS recording capabilities it is.
I probably could have accomplished the same thing the 520 cheaper by buying a basic bike computer for on the go readings and loaded up Strava on my cell and kept it in my bike bag or pocket during a ride with the screen off. But I’m enamored by shiny objects.
Won’t do the job that our poster wants.
For rides around town I use my phone turned to Google Maps, with voice navigation on and the screen turned off. I turn the sound up all the way and put the phone in my breast pocket. Works pretty well.
Randonneuring, I use the Garmin Edge 800. I tried various options and this is the only one that works for me. Cellphone coverage is spotty and the battery is too weak. With the Garmin, I have to use an auxiliary battery. This doesn’t work too well, actually (USB cords are not designed to stay plugged in on a bike). If I had to do it again I’d buy a device with replaceable batteries.
Solid advice in this thread.
The Garmin 500, 510 and 520 will give breadcrumb trails but not turn by turn directions and maps. I’ve done it before but it’s fairly hard to use.
The Garmin 800, 810 and 820 will give full maps and turn by turn directions. The 800 is great. They also sell for not much these days. Highly recommend. (As pointed out, you won’t always have cell coverage). You can get free maps for all of them too, and the maps are very nice. The 820 looks amazing but $$. The 810 was not much improvement at best.
The Garmin 1000 strikes me as overkill. Sort of a smartphone without the phone. The Garmin 200 will do maps as well, which might be worth looking into.
You could do Strava Premium on your phone with an earphone for audio directions, saving battery life. I’ve navigated by bike doing that with Google Maps.
DC Rainmaker is a great resource for shopping for GPS gadgets.
I have the Wahoo Elemnt bike computer. It’s awesome and has integration with Ride With GPS. It picks the turn prompts from RWGPS and works great for this task. It’s also a bit easier to setup due to smartphone app integration to configure it. I found this to be much more friendly than my old garmin 800 for navigation and ease of use. They are also frequently adding new features to the unit via automatic updates.
Wahoo even began implementing dynamic directions using the Elemnt app + Elemnt bike computer, though that feature is still a bit of a work in progress, the routing isn’t always as ideal at this point.
Alternatively, you could get a phone holder for your bike and use that with turn by turn using the Ride With GPS app, but that can be a battery suck.
I’ll definitely agree that DC Rainmaker is one of the best resources for researching this. Though the info on the Elemnt may be a bit old due to the unit being updated on a regular basis.
re: losing cellphone coverage — Google maps has a feature where you can download maps for offline use. the maps works as if you were hooked up to an internet connection. only problem is searching on the map doesn’t work (or work very well) because it needs to ping the internet to look up some info.
Each map takes up a lot of space, but you can fine tune the area you want to store.
A friend of mine and I each purchased the 1000 here. I think they have sales every so often. I paid about $330. Prior to that I had the Edge Touring . It was reliable. I wanted a few more features of the 1000 so I gave away the Edge Touring. I’ve taken both on tours. I took the Touring on Crush the Commonwealth, GAP, Cabot Trail and a trip to Michigan. In Michigan one of the route files corrupted. That only happened once. I used the 1000 on a recent trip on a Pacific Northwest tour. Garmin devices have North American Maps. Some other brands do not offer maps outside of a certain area (ex: USA). If you purchase a Garmin, be cognizant of the settings. Turn off auto re-routing, this will frustrate you. Here is a good link for adding maps to Garmin devices (Link)
It’s pretty easy to get free maps for any area through OpenStreet. You go to their site, identify the areas you want to download (you might have to be selective so the map will fit) and download a file that you load on to your device, replacing the existing maps. I was able to download maps for France when I did PBP, and when I got back I replaced those with new maps for our area. This works very well. The maps are detailed and seem to be up to date.
FWIW. The wahoo elemnt uses open street map data for maps. You can freely load different regions data. It comes with north america preloaded, but it has a map manager you can use to add different regions as you see fit within the storage space available. No charge for maps or updates..
And keep in mind openstreet works for car GPS too. That’s how I got my GPS to work while in Panama as Garmin doesn’t offer a map and the base map is crap.
I favor the old technology. A cue sheet with a fairly accurate cyclocomputer. One must actually pay attention to distance and directions. A missed turn every now and then leads to new experiences, a road less traveled, a dead end at an abandoned farmhouse, a friendly dog ambling out to greet you, maybe the offer of a cup of coffee or a beer from a stranger who seldom sees a guy on a bike. Maybe a stop now and then to check to see if you are lost is not a bad thing. When traveling with a group, you might actually have to stop and regroup.
Where is the sense of adventure in a turn-by-turn GPS?
That sounds great, but it just doesn’t work if you’re trying to ride a randonnée.
Cycling is inherently adventurous, whether you use a GPS or paper.
Using a GPS doesn’t limit you to busy roads, nor does it drive away dogs or strangers. GPS doesn’t hide farmhouses, either.
And TBT routing is very useful in situations like the OP’s, where he wants to discover and follow good cycling routes in an unfamiliar area without having to stop and consult a fistful of dead trees at every intersection.
Thankfully, cycling is also a broad enough avocation to accommodate both the technophile as well as the technophobe.
I thought this article was appropriate for this thread:
Man Cycles 500km In Wrong Direction To Get Home
Wanted to close the loop on this one. Bought a Wahoo Elemnt. Thrilled with it for one main reason the turn by turn is displayed on the screen but also there are LED lights that are on the top of the unit that point in the direction of the turn when you get within 100 yards or so. Nice for riding at night not having to backlight and for old week eyes like mine. Best piece of bike technology I’ve ever bought. Thanks to all for helping in my search.
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