Is Garmin the only answer?

Discussion in 'Touring and Adventure Cycling' started by NorthernSky, 6 Dec 2018.

  1. NorthernSky

    NorthernSky Über Member

    looking to buy my first Touring GPS bike computer
    wondering what the options are. i only know of Garmin to be honest

    want something that i can create routes on google maps and upload.
    how do these work anyway, are they similar the the car GPS with an SD card
    do you have to buy different Maps, like TomTom ?

    also are the batteries serviceable . would consider a second hand device but battery life might be a worry if it's had a lot of use

  2. Kempstonian

    Kempstonian Über Member


  3. mjr

    mjr Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next

    I think there's also Wahoo, Mio and maybe Cateye and Polaris, but I use a phone so I don't know.

    Avoid Google maps, though. It's both creepy tracking you and not very good at cycling routing. Cyclestreets, and RideWithGPS all seem better.
  4. derrick

    derrick The Glue that binds us together.

  5. HobbesOnTour

    HobbesOnTour Senior Member

    The Netherlands
    If garmin is the answer, I'd like to know the question! ^_^

    I tried a Garmin Touring unit for a first GPS and sent it back after a couple of weeks. It wasn't for me. (Me being the important word).

    To answer your questions....
    Use routes created on Google Maps? I think any gps device can do that, but you may need to change the format of the route. I'd also think about only using Google maps to plan bike routes. Works for some, not for others.
    Some work like car GPS with an underlying map, others, like the older Garmin Etrex types operate without a map - just a trail of dots. Some allow for turn by turn, others don't and some allow for turn by turn if the route is created on a particular site or app.
    You can buy maps from Garmin for their devices, but the devices come preloaded, I believe. You can also download other maps for free.
    On older Garmins you can use replaceable batteries AA/AAA types etc.

    There's no shortage of discussions on this topic on this forum and elsewhere and they can inspire very fractious debate over different brands.

    I'd suggest your first step is to consider how you will use the device.
    Will you only be planning routes at home and strictly following them on the bike, or will you want to create new routes on the fly?
    If you go off route, for example because of a diversion can you navigate yourself back on course or do you need the unit to do it?
    Will you be in the saddle a long time? In other words is power an issue? Spare batteries, battery pack or dynohub required?
    Going off road? Cycle in bad weather? If you're looking at something for fairweather day rides, a phone may do the job for you.
    Do you want to record other information such as cadence, heart-rates etc?
    Oh, how much do you want to spend?^_^
    NorthernSky likes this.
  6. Heltor Chasca

    Heltor Chasca Out-Riding the Black Dog

    mustang1 and tom73 like this.
  7. OP

    NorthernSky Über Member

    will get a look at that wahoo

    it's just for the UK roads at home for now. wanted to have a general route added to follow but would be nice to leave the route at points if i fancied it
    Heltor Chasca likes this.
  8. Sbudge

    Sbudge Cyclist

    Have a look at the Hammerhead too. Interesting, if costly, option.
  9. derrick

    derrick The Glue that binds us together.

    How good are they, have never seen one, How do you get on with it?
  10. Sbudge

    Sbudge Cyclist

    I still use a Garmin 1030 but a good friend (not on CC) has been using one for months and loves it. He said that the early firmware was pretty buggy but they've been updating it non-stop for months and he wouldn't go back to a Garmin now.
    NorthernSky likes this.
  11. Drago

    Drago Guru

    Pound for pound it's much better than owt Garmin sell, but in absolute terms my Garmin Touring makes it look a bit puny. You know, like the speccy kid who gets picked on by everyone, even by the other nerds.
  12. abcd efg

    abcd efg Active Member

    I would agree. It's taken me a two years to come to terms with my Garmin Edge Touring but I have used on three tours in France and it has been tremendous. I do all my route plotting on Ride With GPS and would recommend it as the ideal complement to the Garmin.

    For me, my problems stemmed from the fact that I know absolutely nothing about satellites, IT and anything else related to GPS. And, for me, Garmin's printed instructions might have as well been printed in Chinese. They were so incomprehensible for the most part. But with time, trial and error, lots of help and from people on this website and the CTC Forum, I began to understand the Garmin and its idiosyncrasies.

    On the other side of all thatfirst class support, the Garmin Help Line was, at best, only occasionally helpful. Often I would put the phone down having been told what to do and I would then realise I had no idea what I had been told. Conversely, the RWGPS Held Desk is always fabulous. They give advice in simple, non tech-speak and they never mind being asked the same question twice.

    But as I learned to deal with the Garmin, I found that when I get it right, it makes a huge difference to my touring. I still had maps of course, but the Gamin has become my defacto navigation system. It's so good, that having seen the reviews of the recently introduced Garmin Edge Touring with its additional features, I am contemplating buying one.

    So my advice would be get the Garmin Edge Touring, sign up for RWGPS (I use their premium service) and then get out and about with it. You'll make mistakes and get frustrated. But think them through and with patience, it will begin to make sense. Lord knows, if I can do it, anyone else can. And the rewards are great.

  13. PaulSB

    PaulSB Legendary Member

    I had a Garmin 810 for 2-3 years and never had it functioning reliably as I wanted it to. My interest was nothing more than to navigate, record rides and to have it set up for three different bike profiles.

    My issues were unexpected shut down, poor battery life and failure to re route correctly. I'm happy to accept I may have been poor at setting up but think this was in part due to the poor software. Garmin software has never been truly fit for purpose. There is no logic to the menus, functions are not where one might except them to be and so many new functions have been bolted on over the years I believe user set up mistakes "confuse" the device and prevent it from functioning.

    I now use a Wahoo Element which I find simple and logical to use. It has not let me down yet, always functions as expected, battery life is great, accessing pages while riding is easy, being black and white screen contrast is very good, the chevrons which indicate the route are very clear. The flashing indicator lights are a simple and effective. One minor point is as it is not touch screen one can wipe the screen clean while riding which with a Garmin often results in changing the screen.

    The downsides would be the maps are less detailed than with Garmin, there is no re route function and no SD slot and you need a smart phone. If one goes off route a red light flashes almost immediately and continues for approximately 400 metres. I would argue there is no reason to miss a turn so a re route function is irrelevant.

    If you need/want them Wahoo offers a huge range of other functions if you buy the relevant sensors.

    For me good tech is user friendly, works straight out of the box and is reliable. Wahoo ticks these boxes, Garmin does not for me. I 100% recommend Wahoo, I cannot recommend Garmin.

    Finally for planning use Ride With GPS, it's free and designed for this purpose. Using it with Wahoo is seamless.
  14. fossala

    fossala Veteran

    If you want a gps for touring the Garmin etrex series is what you need to look at. AA batteries with long battery life, routing options, off road options, POI. I have a Wahoo elemnt bolt for most riding but still keep hold of my etrex for touring.
  15. Sbudge

    Sbudge Cyclist

    RWGPS definitely get's my vote too. I find it by far the most effective tool for researching and creating routes. My regular workflow is create it in RWGPS (Premium) then upload to the Garmin.
    Milzy likes this.
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