GPS / SatNav - worth it for route calculation, not fitness?

Anyone moved over to SatNav just for mapping, not fitness?
Have you found it worth it over paper maps/following signposts, which has a certain fun of its own :-)

I do 20-40 mile rides.

In a perfect world I would like:
- telling the satnav to go to X street in Y town while I am out cycling and it calculates the route with no phone or pc connection.
- easy loading and following of route downloads given out by a social cycling groups or off internet cycling route planners
- record of how far I have gone if just do random roaming, not route following.
- long battery life

Any tips about what I should take into consideration (features, brands, models etc) if I decided to give it a try?

Thanks for any opinions, advice. I know nothing at all about these things, my only experience is car satnav. I don't have a smart phone.
 

fossyant

Ride It Like You Stole It!
Location
South Manchester
Garmin Edge Explore or a silmilar Wahoo would be good.

I'll map a set route into it, especially when I'm down the caravan, to do say a 30 mile road loop to avoid main roads (especially the A55). I use Garmin Connect to do the mappings as it has 'heatmaps' for most roads so you can see commonly used roads or tracks.

I got the Explore for Christmas, specifically for mapping.
 

Dan77

Senior Member
Location
Worcester
This concept/"feature" which crops up a fair bit always puzzles me. Why should anyone care where anyone, let alone "everyone" is going?
I think the idea is that most people who use a Garmin are generally going to be riding on suitable, decent, low traffic roads. Local knowledge means you tend to ride on those type of roads a lot more than others and so the best riding roads should be clear from a heat map.
 

nickyboy

Norven Mankey
Thanks for reply. Can I ask for clarification? Does that mean you do all route planning at home on a pc, that the GPS itself cannot calculate internally, as a car gps can?

The heat mapping sounds interesting.
These devices can calculate a route for you on the fly...just like a car sat nav does. So you could tell it to plot a route to X while you're out and it would do it and get you there.

However, most people seem to preplan routes before riding and just use the device to navigate the preplanned route. But they can definitely do both
 

chriswoody

Legendary Member
Location
Northern Germany
I use an old Garmin for navigation alone, it does give me average speed and distance travelled as well but thats all that interests me. My old Garmin is useless for route planning, it does purport to do it, but it generally freezes if you try it. I plot my routes on ride with gps and transfer them with a cable from my computer.

Riding in forests like I do, it would be too tiresome to constantly check a map so navigating by GPS is perfect for me and works fine. I never transfer my rides once completed to any third party programs like Strava, it just holds no interest for me.

I do ride with it on cycle computer mode, so it only shows me a couple of metrics like current speed in black and white. Then when a turn comes up, it beeps at me and shows me a colour map excerpt of the turn. Used like this I get about 12 hours from the battery.
 

fossyant

Ride It Like You Stole It!
Location
South Manchester
I think the idea is that most people who use a Garmin are generally going to be riding on suitable, decent, low traffic roads. Local knowledge means you tend to ride on those type of roads a lot more than others and so the best riding roads should be clear from a heat map.
The heat map actually will show where others have been, eg off road gives you a good idea which paths are rideable from a MTB point of view. I use them as an idea, don't follow them exactly, but useful for not taking the road bike down some rough farm track.
 

cyberknight

As long as I breathe, I attack.
Thanks for reply. Can I ask for clarification? Does that mean you do all route planning at home on a pc, that the GPS itself cannot calculate internally, as a car gps can?

The heat mapping sounds interesting.
explore does routing on the fly if you enter an address and you can look for points of interest as well as designing your own routes on an appropriate app/webpage
I use strava premium as i am used to it , others are garmin connect , ride with gps etc .I plan my own routes for club/long rides based on my knowledge of the roads , personal and global heat maps .
I dont know about any other models that are current , i can only compare to my 800 which used to try to route you back to where you went wrong if you go off course unless you get back on course yourself and it catches up.the explore will get you back on route more like a car gps so it will tell you to u turn/ take closest turn to go back until you go far enough then it will calculate how to get back on course further up the road
 

vickster

Legendary Member
Thanks for reply. Can I ask for clarification? Does that mean you do all route planning at home on a pc, that the GPS itself cannot calculate internally, as a car gps can?

The heat mapping sounds interesting.
With Wahoo, you can only do via the app and ime it was pretty rubbish (unless yhe Elemnt touring has better functionality). The higher level Garmins can do on the unit with a postcode, address. The routes arent optimal if you’re fussy but usually fine if you are lost or going somewhere you really don’t know
 
In a perfect world I would like:
- telling the satnav to go to X street in Y town while I am out cycling and it calculates the route with no phone or pc connection.
- easy loading and following of route downloads given out by a social cycling groups or off internet cycling route planners
- record of how far I have gone if just do random roaming, not route following.
- long battery life
@Dogtrousers is bang on about what they say about the quality of routes created on the fly.
Bike GPS units are at their best when using a dedicated bike route planner (and that's a whole other war!^_^)

@vickster rightly criticises the Wahoo app for poor on the fly routing. However, combined with Osmand on the phone, it will work a treat.
This means that Elemnt & Bolt users now have access to on the fly routing as well as beefing up the Roam.

You're very specific in your needs and that is good.

If you could lay your hands on an old smartphone, Osmand is a navigation app, free to use, can download maps via wifi and it will do most of what you want it to do.
It is also a great way of learning about gps bike navigation before buying a pricey unit.
Battery life can be enhanced with a small powerbank.

If that is not your thing, then I'd suggest creating a detailed spec list and comparing it to your ideal unit before you buy. They are not all the same!

For what it's worth, I use a gps device only for navigation. Osmand has been my backup navigator for years.
I now love connecting to Strava and keeping a record of each ride with lots of photos!

Good luck!
 

cougie uk

Über Member
If you're doing 20 to 40 mile rides then plan them on the Garmin route planner and check the roads using Google Street view. Then send it to your Garmin. As has been said the route planning on the GPS itself might choose busy roads that you might not want.
 

steveindenmark

Legendary Member
I use a Wahoo Bolt and I think it has so many advantages over Garmin. I have had a lot of Garmins.

I use it with with several apps. Ridewith gps, strava, maplocs, Kamoot and it works flawlessly with all of them. Sit at the side of the road with your phone and plan your route and send it to the Wahoo and off you go.
 
Another thanks to you all for such helpful replies.

Been a bit unsure if (or how much) to spend. I have been surprised by some of the prices compared to other forms of SatNav, but I imagine its rather a small market compared to that of cars etc. I guess from the content of replies that people are finding bike GPS a good and worthwhile investment. I will start looking at all the various models. Surprised there are so many different ones by companies such as Garmin.
 
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