best GPS for cycling

Discussion in 'rec.bicycles.rides archive' started by Bill Wright, Jan 26, 2004.

  1. Bill Wright

    Bill Wright Guest

    I would like to buy a GPS and need some feedback on your likes and dislikes of the different units.
    What should I look for? It will be used for Canada and USA.
     
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  2. Steve

    Steve Guest

    "Bill Wright" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    > I would like to buy a GPS and need some feedback on your likes and dislikes of the different
    > units. What should I look for? It will be used for Canada and USA.

    There was a thread on this subject over in sci.geo.satellite-nav, though the post was asking about
    off-road use.

    I use a Garmin E-Trex Vista and have been very happy with it. The Garmin bicycle mount works very
    well and I don't lose track, even though my body (theoretically) can block some view of the
    available satellites.

    Can't say about different units as they're too damned expensive to own more then one !.

    Not sure what the application is, but I found that any GPS is going to be no more and no less
    accurate then a $20 bike computer, mostly in the way a GPS tracks a route, essentially rounding off
    the corners of a winding road as it creates a track, thus I've noticed distances to be slightly
    short - 1/5 mile in 20 as avg.. I also found myself watching the moving map display a bit much and
    not paying as much attention to the road.

    OTOH, it does a terrific job of keeping you from getting lost !. And you can upload tracklogs to
    various programs that create bike cue sheets (see below)

    I've started using Lithium batteries, which are expensive, but allow greater usage time without
    worrying about having to swap batteries. Note that I could get 4 or so hrs. of steady usage on a set
    of standard AA's.

    A couple of websites:

    http://joe.mehaffey.com/

    http://mywebpages.comcast.net/ibikealot/navigatingbygps.htm

    SB
     
  3. Bill Wright wrote:
    > I would like to buy a GPS and need some feedback on your likes and dislikes of the different
    > units. What should I look for? It will be used for Canada and USA.

    Garmin Etrex Vista, Europe (Switzerland, France, Germany)

    +s: barometric altitude (once calibrated) routes quite up-to-date and detailed tracking works great
    (detailed, precise, configurable) configurable display works also in narrow valleys and mountain
    tracks handy handlebar clip can be used also for walking and for driving differential mode
    (optional) powersave mode (can be disabled for faster re-lock)

    -s: "slow" serial link to PC limited battery autonomy Garmin SW not very good for cycling (tracking
    analysis & routing information) (other packages exist but I did not try them) takes time to get the
    first lock when moved to a new location not the best for cars (small screen, limited routing options
    & features)

    Personally, I rate it 4.5 stars out of five.

    Ciao,
    --
    Roberto Divia` Love at first sight is one of the greatest
    ============= labour-saving devices the world has ever seen.
    Mailbox: C02110 CERN-European Organization for Nuclear Research E-mail: [email protected] CH-
    1211 GENEVE 23, Switzerland
     
  4. Peter

    Peter Guest

    Steve wrote:

    > I use a Garmin E-Trex Vista and have been very happy with it. The Garmin bicycle mount works very
    > well and I don't lose track, even though my body (theoretically) can block some view of the
    > available satellites.

    It's more than theoretical, your body definitely does block reception of the satellites that are
    behind it as seen from the GPS receiver - if you cover the antenna with your hand the unit will
    quickly lose all reception.

    Fortunately there are enough other satellites in the sky that the unit can still determine your
    position when it's positioned in the usual spot on your handlebars.
    >
    > I've started using Lithium batteries, which are expensive, but allow greater usage time without
    > worrying about having to swap batteries. Note that I could get 4 or so hrs. of steady usage on a
    > set of standard AA's.

    This seems like very short battery life and expensive operation. Are you setting the Vista to have
    the backlight and electronic compass off at least most of the time? The compass is not needed
    normally for cycling since you're moving fast enough for the GPS to figure out your direction of
    motion, but it does use significant battery power. I use a Garmin eMap which is rated for similar
    battery life as the Vista and get about 12 hours continuous use per set of either alkaline or
    rechargeable NiMH cells. I almost exclusively use the latter to cut costs (they're about $2.50 per
    cell but last for hundreds of charge cycles so the cost per cycle is very low).
     
  5. Bill Wright wrote:

    >I would like to buy a GPS and need some feedback on your likes and dislikes of the different units.
    >What should I look for? It will be used for Canada and USA.
    >
    >
    I've used a Magellan Sport Trak Pro - and would recommend the equivalent Garmin (can't remember
    exactly why now, but the Garmin's have some slightly better features). Creating track and profile
    maps is not a simple matter and requires research and hours at the computer figuring it out (a pain
    in the @ss, if you ask me.).

    I quickly became bored with mine and it now sits in a drawer. I am very happy and satisfied using my
    cycle computer and maps. In my opinion, it is a rather expensive toy. ($250 and it can tell me -
    "you are here." That's an exaggeration, but that's how I feel about it.)

    It's of little to no real use until you buy maps for it (it appears Magellan has wised up and
    brought the price down - check Amazon). Be sure it has lots of memory for loading those maps. My
    Magellan's memory capacity was only enough to hold the state of Colorado at one time.

    The Magellan handlebar mount is another $30.

    Problems listed already I agree with:

    - Body blocking satellite reception and decreasing accuracy - significantly in some cases. I neded
    up putting mine in a side pouch of a rear pannier to decrease body blockage. Microwave - cell
    phone towers will cause intermittent loss of signal, too.

    - Battery usage. Even if you get 8 hours out of them (more common), it's still something you have to
    keep up with (keep batteries charged or keep a ready supply alkalines - AA's).

    The best way to use it , from reviews and accounts I have read, is only when you need it - *not*
    mounted on your handlebars and constantly on. You can find hotels and points of interest with it.
    And if you really are lost, it can tell you where you are and how to get to where you want to go -
    if it's in the map database.

    All that said, since I have one, I'll probably (*probably*) try to find maps for wherever I end up
    going on a tour this summer (unless they are over $100 - then, ... forget it! I like paper maps
    anyway - and I use a compass if I get confused.)

    --
    *****************************
    Chuck Anderson • Boulder, CO http://www.CycleTourist.com Integrity is obvious. The lack of it
    is common.
    *****************************
     
  6. "Bill Wright" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > I would like to buy a GPS and need some feedback on your likes and dislikes of the different
    > units. What should I look for? It will be used for Canada and USA.

    Garmin just introduced (within the last week) the GPS 60C, which has a color display, allows for
    longer tracks than other units, has 56 kB memory for importing maps, and has a 30-hr battery life.
    The GPS 60CS with altimeter and compass will be released "in the first quarter of 2004". Both are
    expensive but seem better suited for bicycling than anything else on the market, and so may be
    worth a look.

    Mike Tordoff Philadelphia
     
  7. Ed Swierk

    Ed Swierk Guest

    I've been using a Magellan SporTrak Topo, which I picked up on Amazon.com for $260, plus $20 for a
    bicycle mounting bracket.

    The Topo is basically the same as the Pro, except it also has topographic information for most of
    the US built into its permanent "base map." It turns out to be much less useful than it sounds,
    because the base map has only major roads and freeways; you end up having to load map data from a PC
    anyway to get local roads.

    The big advantage of the Topo is that it includes a copy of MapSend Topo, which lets you upload maps
    from a PC to the GPS and exchange routes, waypoints and tracks. I found the track and profile
    mapping functions to be very easy to use: when you come back from a ride, you start MapSend, plug in
    the GPS, download your track, and click Profile. Voila, it superimposes the route you took on the
    topographic/street map, and shows an elevation profile.

    Compared with the Garmin GPS receivers I've used, the Magellan SporTraks seem to have better and
    faster satellite reception. I consider this to be the most important feature--after all, why carry a
    GPS if it can't figure out where you are? All the other features are icing on the cake. The SporTrak
    Topo stayed locked onto satellites while I biked in a valley under a thick tree canopy, as well as
    while I sat on my sofa in the living room. Vertical accuracy is not nearly as good as horizontal
    accuracy, though. The computed elevation can vary by as much as 400 feet from the true elevation,
    depending on the number and position of the satellites being tracked.

    One disadvantage of the SporTrak as compared with other GPS receivers is that the bicycle
    mounting bracket does not have a quick-release mechanism. You have to remove the whole thing if
    you don't want the tray sitting on your handlebars. It seems to do a good job holding the
    receiver in place, though.

    All in all, carrying a GPS is very handy if you like to know how high is the hill you just climbed,
    or where you've gone when you come home from a ride. It can also be useful for navigating unfamiliar
    roads, but I wouldn't embark on a tour without old-fashioned maps.

    --Ed

    --
    Ed Swierk [email protected]
     
  8. On Mon, 26 Jan 2004 13:21:30 GMT, "Steve" <[email protected]>
    wrote:

    >
    >"Bill Wright" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    >> I would like to buy a GPS and need some feedback on your likes and dislikes of the different
    >> units. What should I look for? It will be used for Canada and USA.
    >
    >There was a thread on this subject over in sci.geo.satellite-nav, though the post was asking about
    >off-road use.
    >
    >I use a Garmin E-Trex Vista and have been very happy with it. The Garmin bicycle mount works very
    >well and I don't lose track, even though my body (theoretically) can block some view of the
    >available satellites.

    Same here.

    I've also owned the Garmin eMap, III+, II, eTrex, and used a II+.

    My eMap is now relegated to the cars, and all the others have been sold. The eTrex Vista is great
    for cycling, on and off-road. When off-roading, the built-in compass makes directional choices much
    easier, as you don't need to be moving for the unit to display the proper direction, a boon at trail
    intersections.

    On the road, I usually shut the compass off to conserve battery power.

    Barry
     
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