Yet Another Cycling Forum

General Category => The Knowledge => GPS => Topic started by: Riggers on March 21, 2012, 11:40:07 am

Title: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: Riggers on March 21, 2012, 11:40:07 am
Given that there now appears to be a huge choice of GPS units for cycling, do peeps on here (in general) consider that there is really only one choice: Garmin.

I ask this because, not actually owning one (and find drooling over maps a secret pleasure) but often look at these things in Reviews, and thinking "Your life would be much more complete with one." But would it? They're jolly expensive, and with some you then have to pay an arm and a leg to download maps.

Just been looking at Memorymaps, which appears to do the job, and a lot more cheaply than  a Garmin 705 for example.

Is it because Garmin can find a satellite link far more quickly? I dunno.

I remain yours, a complete and utter GPS virgin.
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: Biggsy on March 21, 2012, 11:47:41 am
Memorymaps is a phone app, right?  You need to think about battery run time, and ease of mounting the phone on the bike, and waterproofing the phone.

Having a proper small and neat bike-specific bracket, as well as the device itself being relatively small and light, attracted me to the Garmin Edge 605.

Free OSM maps work with Garmin, though I like to have Garmin's City Navgator maps as well.
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: Feline on March 21, 2012, 12:03:34 pm
Personally I wouldn't let the map cost put you off a Garmin, I've ridden (and not got lost) all over the UK and France on mine with only the free downloaded Open Street Map on it  :thumbsup:
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: Biggsy on March 21, 2012, 12:11:30 pm
There are one or two YACF fans of TomTom.  Search the GPS board for "tomtom" via http://yacf.co.uk/forum/index.php?action=search
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: Aushiker on March 21, 2012, 12:32:12 pm
Bryton Rider GPS (http://corp.brytonsport.com/) units seem to be gaining popularity in my neighboured. I haven't used one so cannot add much in the way of comment but maybe another option to consider?

(http://corp.brytonsport.com/images/Rider50.jpg)

Andrew
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: fuaran on March 21, 2012, 01:10:13 pm
Memory Map do make their own brand GPS devices - the Adventurer 2800 and Adventurer 3500. http://www.memory-map.co.uk/adventurergps/
Though I don't know if they are any good. They seem to be something like a Pocket PC in a rugged case. So fairly short battery life, and maybe not actually very rugged/waterproof - the 2800 is just described as "weatherproof"
They are quite reasonably priced if you want OS maps for the whole of GB. But not sure useful they are for (on-road) cycling, I don't think they can do autorouting.
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: Euan Uzami on March 21, 2012, 02:40:45 pm
Memory Map do make their own brand GPS devices - the Adventurer 2800 and Adventurer 3500. http://www.memory-map.co.uk/adventurergps/
Though I don't know if they are any good. They seem to be something like a Pocket PC in a rugged case. So fairly short battery life, and maybe not actually very rugged/waterproof - the 2800 is just described as "weatherproof"
They are quite reasonably priced if you want OS maps for the whole of GB. But not sure useful they are for (on-road) cycling, I don't think they can do autorouting.

No, they can't do autorouting and I wouldn't say they are suitable for on-road cycling at all. The battery life isn't anywhere near long enough, and the default mode is for the screen to be almost off. It's actually also quite bulky as well.
They are basically just a windows pda in a weatherproof housing. Very agricultural, not refined at all. But I think that's quite nice in a way.
I've got a 3500, although I don't use it that much.
I bought it for non-trail centre mtbing, but I don't seem to find myself doing that much of that. It is probably really good for that though.
Its main USP is that it does display full colour, full featured OS maps on its screen. Its rendering and colour is really good.

I can see it being really good for walking as well, in fact that's what I think its main intended use might be.
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: Tail End Charlie on March 21, 2012, 02:46:13 pm
Personally I wouldn't let the map cost put you off a Garmin, I've ridden (and not got lost) all over the UK and France on mine with only the free downloaded Open Street Map on it  :thumbsup:

I'd second that. Plus battery life is a huge factor. I have an Extrex Legend which works great.
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: phil d on March 21, 2012, 03:59:51 pm
The eTrex range is basic, but does the job.  Because it is being replaced by newer models there are some bargains around, eg the Vista HCx for around £90* at Amazon if they've got any left.  Francis has commented on the relative merits of the old and new styles.  Lots of threads here.

*Don't forget you'll need maps too, but as others have said OSM is adequate for most purposes.
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: mrcharly-YHT on March 21, 2012, 04:05:04 pm
I bought a second-hand garmin HCX legend.

£100, runs off two AA batteries - I get nearly 24hours use even with the backlight turned up a tad.

Good points?
I wanted a cycle computer with a backlight - the garmin gives me that for about the same cost as a dedicated backlite cycle computer.
I can record tracks, load them - so no probs navigating even when I'm somewhere unfamiliar. This meant I could ride as the 'sweeper' for Deano's Tan Hill ride and not worry about losing my way.
It's fairly robust - you could drop it while riding and it would bounce. Rain isn't a problem either.

Bad points?
It is slow to zoom and pan around the map. I wouldn't want to use it for planning routes.
The screen is small - its fine for most uses, particularly when following a track. But I find it irritating at times.
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: Charlotte on March 21, 2012, 04:10:12 pm
+1 on the eTrex (newer and older models).  Bear in mind that apart from lovely free OSM data, it's surprisingly easy to locate an offsite backup copy of the Garmin City Navgator map sets...
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: Riggers on March 21, 2012, 04:54:31 pm
This is fascinating stuff chaps! Thank you.
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: Ham on March 21, 2012, 06:49:45 pm
Dunno if it helps but I chose a Garmin (Oregon 450T) for its verstility: walking, cycling, driving and haven't been disappointed.
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: Canardly on March 21, 2012, 07:14:03 pm
Really please with my etrex vista hcx £95 new with OSMapping now installed.
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: frankly frankie on March 22, 2012, 08:54:07 am
Is it because Garmin can find a satellite link far more quickly? I dunno.

On that specific point, I doubt if any of the leisure makes differ significantly, in terms of 'sensitivity' or 'accuracy'.
I'm not saying differences don't exist - for example future new models will have access to many more satellites than the existing models - but it doesn't really make any difference, 'good enough' is 'good enough'.

The advantage of Garmin is the huge user base and knowledge base.
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: Riggers on March 22, 2012, 12:42:18 pm
This is jolly good stuff, and one can easily be persuaded by so many options. I wonder what the least one needs to spend, to get one that has (or I suppose purchase separately) OS maps, so you have a little pointer that travels along, mirroring your journey on the road*.

Is that possible? Or am I holding the wrong end of the stick (again!)?

I can see the allure of a top-end Garmin, as they have large viewfinders but, crikey, they are expensive aren't they, and on top of that it costs (what I consider) a considerable amount of decent beer tokens to buy OS maps.


*Or off-road, for that matter.
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: mrcharly-YHT on March 22, 2012, 12:59:54 pm
Under £100


The OSM maps can be downloaded with contours overlaid.

Track recording and automatically showing the current position are very basic features.

Something not mentioned so far; do get something with a colour screen. 

A colour screen means you can show the planned route in a different colour, makes it much easier to follow.
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: Biggsy on March 22, 2012, 01:06:16 pm
I think Riggers was asking about Ordnance Survey maps, not Open Street Maps.
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: Riggers on March 22, 2012, 01:14:27 pm
Ahem, yes  :-[ I was. Well done Biggers.
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: phil d on March 22, 2012, 04:53:19 pm
Not all devices can handle OS maps - that would restrict your choice considerably.  And in my experience OS maps are far from cheap.  For cycling the consensus seems to be that OS maps give too much detail, but there is a difference between following a route (as in audax, for instance) and touring.  With the latter the detail shown on OS maps can be useful.  In many areas OSM is almost as good.
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: Ham on March 22, 2012, 09:23:35 pm
I would be very cautious about the benefit of OS on a GPS. OK, I've never had them (I have the base euro "topo" maps with contours). I don't think GPS do away with maps, and I still buy them. I started off thinking I wanted OS mapping but I've not missed it at all. Of course YMMV.
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: Feline on March 22, 2012, 10:00:12 pm
The thing is that if you use bikehike.co.uk to plan routes beforehand you have all the advantages of using an OS map at the planning stage, with no real need to have the thing on the device. I suppose if you were touring and wanted to do impromptu routes not planned by computer in advance there would be plus points though.
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: Bledlow on March 22, 2012, 10:07:48 pm
Off-road.
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: henshaw11 on March 23, 2012, 12:48:55 am
I would be very cautious about the benefit of OS on a GPS. OK, I've never had them (I have the base euro "topo" maps with contours). I don't think GPS do away with maps, and I still buy them. I started off thinking I wanted OS mapping but I've not missed it at all. Of course YMMV.

I'm off walking in N Wales (nr Bedgelert) on sat - had a look on the OSM site earlier (and on my Etrex just now) and whilst the contours are all there, there's a fair bit missing I think - but no great surprise. Still, my mate's got an Oregon with - I think OS - so it'll be interesting to see how that compares..tho' a larger touch screen probably helps in that instance...
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: Biggsy on March 23, 2012, 01:02:57 am
Do the all GPSs with touch screens work when you're wearing gloves?
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: henshaw11 on March 23, 2012, 01:08:08 am
Yeah, they're supposed to - some of the reviews I've seen reckon they work ok with cycling gloves. I think there's a few 800s and Dakotas amongst some of the posters here..
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: Somnolent on March 23, 2012, 09:54:40 am
Like Ham and others I'm sceptical about OS mapping on small screen GPS units, and GPS certainly does not take away the need for OS mapping.
For cycling, careful planning, and an understanding of the limits of OSM mapping wins hands down.

I'm off walking in N Wales (nr Bedgelert) on sat - had a look on the OSM site earlier (and on my Etrex just now) and whilst the contours are all there, there's a fair bit missing I think - but no great surprise. Still, my mate's got an Oregon with - I think OS - so it'll be interesting to see how that compares..tho' a larger touch screen probably helps in that instance...

My experience of mountain walking with a GPS with OSM mapping is that it is great for checking exactly where you are, or for following a route that you have pre-planned and loaded into the unit.  For the rest of it, Landranger or Explorer paper maps are way better.

If there were iPad sized screens that were fully weatherproof and could zoom between 1:50k and 1:25k OS mapping and had 24 hour battery life - and didnt cost a fortune, I could be swayed...
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: Biggsy on March 23, 2012, 11:14:01 am
Rigsby, how about eventually having Ordnance Survey maps on your smart phone for occasional use, but a GPS with more humble maps for general use?

Then, the next thing to think about is battery run time.  15 hours is claimed for Garmin Edge 605/705.  Let's call that 10 hours in reality, and the battery is proprietary and built-in.  That ok for you?  If yes - then get one for the small size and neat bracket and relatively low cost.  If No - then consider the popular Garmin Etrex series with AA batteries, or products from other makes.

Maps: it's worth the expense (or guilty feelings if you pirate) of Garmin City Navigator maps (useful for rural areas as well as urban, despite the name).  It's good to have free Open Street Maps and contours in addition, but risky to rely on them alone.  The City Navigator versions on DVD are more versatile than the ones supplied on micro SD card.
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: frankly frankie on March 23, 2012, 12:15:29 pm
Don't get me wrong, I love Ordnance Survey maps as much as the next person, and have a bookshelf of the things to prove it - but I think remarks such as
... consensus seems to be that OS maps give too much detail ...
and
... a GPS with more humble maps for general use?
somewhat misrepresent the situation.

Its simply a matter of horses for courses, and the Garmin maps and sometimes the OSM maps are demonstrably superior to the OS maps (even at 1:25,000) in some respects, including some which are key to use with a GPS.  It's just that beauty and the rich experience of a paper map on a wind-free day isn't one of those strengths. 
The Garmin maps are optimised for small screen and an important part of that is decluttering - it's wrong to confuse this with lack of detail though.  In the more anarchic case of OSM maps, they have reached the stage where I have seen them being accused of detail overload in some areas.
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: Aushiker on March 24, 2012, 11:49:41 am
Do the all GPSs with touch screens work when you're wearing gloves?

I have a Garmin Edge 800 and haven't had an issue using it with gloves.  DCRainmaker covered this in his review of the Edge 800 (http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2010/08/garmin-edge-800-in-depth-first-look.html).

Andrew
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: hbunnet on March 24, 2012, 04:13:25 pm
Do the all GPSs with touch screens work when you're wearing gloves?

OK with Oregon.

Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: Audaxwebby on March 28, 2012, 11:36:13 am
Garmin edge 705 is the way to go  never let me down. Easy to use and you can pass routes to eachother via bluetooth  Unlike the garmin 800. I can supply all the maps for £20 if your intrested maps retail at £80plus.
Title: Re: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: Manotea on March 28, 2012, 01:02:14 pm
Garmin edge 705 is the way to go  never let me down. Easy to use and you can pass routes to eachother via bluetooth  Unlike the garmin 800. I can supply all the maps for £20 if your intrested maps retail at £80plus.

Anecdata is a wonderful thing. I loved my 705 so much I sold it and bought a used Vista cx for a fraction of the price. As it happens I first used a cx years back - sold it to ChrisS when I got an hcx- and I'm still using mapsource and metrograde v8 which works just fine.

Nowadays when I'm in the pub surrounded by complaining edge users I just smile. Smug? Moi?
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: LEE on March 28, 2012, 01:14:11 pm
Garmin ETREX Legend HCx

It's my 2nd Garmin (I also have the tiny Geko).

Plus Points -
Battery Life and Battery type.  All day battery life and AA batteries mean I won't be left with a dead unit.
Sensitivity. It's much better under tree-cover than the Geko.
SAT Nav functions.  I didn't expect them, and they are crude, but you can search for things, like nearest railway station, and it will plot a route for you (I use Open Source Maps for this function).  Handy if you want to bail out of an Audax.

Negative Points - The display isn't anything like a Smartphone.  However, I always plot my routes on FUGAWI (PC digital maps) then just follow the arrow on the GPS.

The screen is fine when walking  and referring to maps but not when cycling (in my opinion).

It does what I want but having FUGAWI turns it into a much more user-friendly device for cycling.

Requirements when I was buying - Good reception under tree cover, good battery life, AA batteries and basic map display.

It meets those requirements perfectly.  A superb display but with a built in battery is a complete fail for me.
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: Speshact on May 04, 2012, 10:01:41 pm
Okay, time for to beg for some help.

I'm thinking of getting a a GPS to help me stay on track when leading rides - typically in London twiddling around back streets, sometimes back doubling to look at different sights (eg my forthcoming bike week "A - Z ride of North Lambeth").
In a perfect world I'd also be able to quickly determine a detour, e.g.  because I hadn't realised the London Marathon is on.

Which one of these should I go for (or perhaps I should ask what the meaningful difference is between them) given they're all around the same price

eTrex Legend HCx   c£120
eTrex Vista HCx      c£124
eTrex 10  £90
Garmin eTrex H Handheld GPS Navigator £90


 
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: Biggsy on May 05, 2012, 09:36:44 am
If you like relatively small and light things, add Garmin Edge 605 to the list.  (The bracket is small as well).
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: frankly frankie on May 05, 2012, 09:54:06 am
Specifically in London, you are in an 'urban canyon' situation, ie the sky view is very poor, and portable GPS with their tiny internal aerials are somewhat challenged by this.
The new Etrex 20 and 30 (and I'm not sure about the 10 which is a very basic non-mapping model, you'd have to check) are currently the only models on the market which can utilise the Russian satellites, as well as the US ones, simultaneously.  In theory this should partially offset the problem with limited sky view, having twice as many sats to go at.  I have a basement window which only sees a tiny patch of sky to the north, and my 30 does well for finding sats from that windowsill. [edit: - I do have other windows too!!
But I'm not at all convinced it works this way in practice - in normal use it rather looks to me as though my Etrex 30 is seeing the Russian sats OK but  is preferring the US ones  >:(
Anyway, all future new models by any manufacturer, will probably share this new capability.
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: Biggsy on May 05, 2012, 09:58:54 am
My 605 has no problem getting signals when cycling on the streets of London.
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: Somnolent on May 05, 2012, 10:39:19 am
Okay, time for to beg for some help.

I'm thinking of getting a a GPS to help me stay on track when leading rides - typically in London twiddling around back streets, sometimes back doubling to look at different sights (eg my forthcoming bike week "A - Z ride of North Lambeth").
In a perfect world I'd also be able to quickly determine a detour, e.g.  because I hadn't realised the London Marathon is on.

Which one of these should I go for (or perhaps I should ask what the meaningful difference is between them) given they're all around the same price

eTrex Legend HCx   c£120
eTrex Vista HCx      c£124
eTrex 10  £90
Garmin eTrex H Handheld GPS Navigator £90

If your budget really tops out at around the £120 mark then IMO the Legend or Vista...
If you can stretch to £140ish then eTrex20
The Legend and Vista are older technology, somewhat quirky, but have a huge user base - and plenty of help available on here and elsewhere.
I have a Legend, and recently bought a Vista when Amazon were knocking them out at £90 just to have a back-up - with an interface that I was familiar with.
If I was coming in fresh and facing a learning curve, then the choice could well go in other directions.
 
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: Speshact on May 05, 2012, 12:38:05 pm
It does indeed look as though the eTrex 20 is the one for me to consider getting.

In summary:
Garmin eTrex H Handheld GPS Navigator £90 - Easy-to-follow pointer to show you which direction to go (no street or terrain maps). So not fit for the purpose

eTrex Legend HCx   c£120
eTrex Vista HCx      c£124
Both units have a 160 x 288 four level gray display, high sensitivity GPS receiver, 18 hours of battery life, USB interface, 24MB of built in memory, no expansion slot and no preloaded maps other than a basemap.  The Vista H adds an electronic compass and barometric altimeter over the Legend H
So the two units are almost identical and will do the job, been around a long time so big user base but Garmin eTrex 10-30 range are less complicated to learn/use for a newcomer as has fully revised software.

eTrex 10  £90
10: basemap only; b&w; doesn't do routing (turn by turn).

Edge 605 rechargeable Lithium battery rather than AAs &15hr battery life. Easy mount. I'm inclined to AAs

eTrex 20 from £140 (plus bike mount c£12; SD card; add'l maps worth buying if can't get reasonable ones to download free)
http://www.bikepacking.net/reviews/garmin-etrex-102030/


A useful comparison chart is at http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Garmin/eTrex_series
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: Biggsy on May 05, 2012, 01:19:11 pm
Edge 605 rechargeable Lithium battery rather than AAs &15hr battery life.

That's no problem for the London use you described.  But will you also be using it for very long rides or touring?

The upside of lithium-ion is much better power to bulk and weight ratios.  Unfortunately the 605/705's battery isn't easily removable to fit a spare.  This usually puts me off a device, but I made an exception in this case for the sake of compactness.  Don't want a spaceship dashboard on a bike.

But if I was going for something bigger, I'd hope for better maps as well.  Roads being represented as thin lines aren't good for getting an idea of scale in dense urban areas.  These fool you into thinking there's more distance between side turnings than there is.  Would a second-hand high-end model be affordable?
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: mrcharly-YHT on May 05, 2012, 01:51:43 pm
eTrex Legend HCx   c£120
eTrex Vista HCx      c£124
Both units have a 160 x 288 four level gray display,

nope, they are colour and cheaper than that
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: Kim on May 05, 2012, 01:57:44 pm
eTrex Legend HCx   c£120
eTrex Vista HCx      c£124
Both units have a 160 x 288 four level gray display, high sensitivity GPS receiver, 18 hours of battery life, USB interface, 24MB of built in memory, no expansion slot and no preloaded maps other than a basemap.

No, they have a murky colour display (denoted by the 'C') and a MicroSD slot for maps and track logging (denoted by the 'x').  I think you're quoting the specs of the 'H' models.
Title: Re: Which GPS for cycling?
Post by: vindec on May 05, 2012, 02:23:31 pm
I've used GPS when cycling for a good few years (Magellan 315, PDA with bluetooth GPS receiver, Garmin Foretrex 101) and have finally decided to buy one with maps inside! Many thanks to all the contributors to the forum (but especially to frankly frankie) for all observations and criticisms. I've gone for the etrex 20 mainly so I can use rechargeable AAs. The price has come down quite well too. I've used Memorymap for ages too and, although I can't dump it on the Garmin, it will still be my main map for planning and 'reviewing' rides. I may keep the 101 as a backup because its been incredibly reliable, running for ages on lithium AAAs. With spare routesheet, laminated maps and mobile (again with GPS) in the saddlebag, I surely can't get more paranoid - or can I? ???