I've read the which GPS threads but am still confused!

Rebel Ian

Well-Known Member
Location
Berkshire
I've done a search on all the "GPS" related threads but am still confused because I've never actually seen any of them to understand functionality and how easy they are etc.

The Garmin 705 gets a lot of mentions but what I'm after is something that I can download a route onto (I'm assuming from a website) that will tell me where and when to turn (like my Garmin Nuvi does in the car). I'm not necessarily interested in altitude or cadence (but if it had it then it might be useful). I really just want to be able to get a route from somewhere and stick it into the GPS so I can worry about cycling rather than map reading.

I've done loads of rides where it's been stop/start and taken ages because we've buggered about debating which way to bloody go! So, on that basis....any clues?

Thanks for any help.
Ian.
 

StuAff

Silencing his legs regularly
Location
Portsmouth
As a 705 owner:
Yup, you can download routes to it (either created by others or come up with your own)- you can do routes (turn by turn directions) or courses (where you're in effect reriding a previous route- it lets only beeps to let you know when you're off course). You can use both in conjunction with the on screen map. Paper map might still be handy though. I've gone adrift because I've followed the Garmin's course rather than thinking 'I need to go that way'.
 

ColinJ

Puzzle game developer
Okay, I'll make it simple for you - buy a Garmin Etrex H. It's the upgraded version of the GPS I use and it is perfect for what you want to do and is the cheapest model in the Garmin range - about £65 £54 if you shop around. 

The device can either display a direction arrow or a breadcrumb trail to follow - use the trail. Set the scale to about 80 m and just follow the line. It's as simple as you can get.

It takes 2 AA batteries and a decent pair of NiMH cells will last over 24 hours on 1 charge if you don't use the backlight.

Shop on eBay for an Etrex to USB lead or you have to use an RS232 lead and many computers don't have serial ports now.

Handlebar mounts are about £12.
 
OP
Rebel Ian

Rebel Ian

Well-Known Member
Location
Berkshire
Cheers guys. I wasn't intending to replace the computer I've got which gives me speed, average speed, distance etc. I just want something to tell me where to bloody go!! With the Etrex H can you map a route on a website then download it?
 

andrew_s

Guru
Location
Gloucester
Just about any GPS can navigate you along a route you have defined on a PC or website and downloaded to it, but the way you get guided will vary depending on your GPS and how you set things up.
Advice on the various possible ways to create and follow a route

I generally use my GPS as a simple map display, or using method 5 "assisted auto routing". That's because I got the GPS to avoid frequent map stops, and like more flexibility than a pre-prepared "follow this route and no other all day" method would give you. Using method 5 you can set up a route with no access to a PC using just large scale paper maps, or adjust your route mid-ride.

Colin's Etrex H is the normal non-mapping GPS
I'd recommend a mapping GPS - an Etrex Legend HCx (£125, Handtec), or possibly the Vista (£8 more for a built in compass & altimeter).

The Etrex series use AA batteries (disposable lithium or rechargeable are best)
The Edge series (705 etc) use built-in rechargeable batteries that don't last long enough for 2 days riding. There are quite a number of threads here and on other forums about plug in battery packs to make them last longer. You also pay for things like cadence or heart rate that I at least aren't interested in.
 

ASC1951

Guru
Location
Yorkshire
I just want something to tell me where to bloody go!!
I have just the opposite need. I just need something to tell me where I have been - specifically, distance and ascent. It needs to cover the whole of Europe on an imported or installed basemap, but I prefer a paper map for both route planning and guidance on the road. [I would also want the usual computer functions like speed, average, time etc, rather than have a second device.]


Am I looking at an Edge 705, then, even though I don't need cadence or heart rate?
 
Just about any GPS can navigate you along a route you have defined on a PC or website and downloaded to it, but the way you get guided will vary depending on your GPS and how you set things up.
Advice on the various possible ways to create and follow a route

I generally use my GPS as a simple map display, or using method 5 "assisted auto routing". That's because I got the GPS to avoid frequent map stops, and like more flexibility than a pre-prepared "follow this route and no other all day" method would give you. Using method 5 you can set up a route with no access to a PC using just large scale paper maps, or adjust your route mid-ride.

Colin's Etrex H is the normal non-mapping GPS
I'd recommend a mapping GPS - an Etrex Legend HCx (£125, Handtec), or possibly the Vista (£8 more for a built in compass & altimeter).

The Etrex series use AA batteries (disposable lithium or rechargeable are best)
The Edge series (705 etc) use built-in rechargeable batteries that don't last long enough for 2 days riding. There are quite a number of threads here and on other forums about plug in battery packs to make them last longer. You also pay for things like cadence or heart rate that I at least aren't interested in.

Try reading this which answers many of the questions.
 

ColinJ

Puzzle game developer
Cheers guys. I wasn't intending to replace the computer I've got which gives me speed, average speed, distance etc. I just want something to tell me where to bloody go!! With the Etrex H can you map a route on a website then download it?
Yes! I use Memory Map software on my PC but you could just as easily use a website like  Bikely and download your routes in GPX format, then use software such as  EasyGPS to upload to your GPS.

This GPS has no mapping built in so you do your map reading at home, and follow the trail on the screen when out on the road. If you decide to do a detour off your pre-planned route, you can follow the GPS tracklog back to where your diversion started and continue on your way. You can also just go wherever you want and follow the tracklog home (one-way streets and 30% descents occasionally make that kind of thing tricky though!).

You say you don't want to get rid of your computer but for anybody else wanting to save money, a GPS is about the best bike computer you can get. They log trip distance, accumulated distance, speed, maximum speed, average speed, elevation and all sorts of other stuff too.

ASC1951 - the cheapo Etrex H will display instaneous elevation but one thing it doesn't do is accumulated ascent/descent. I calculate that by uploading my tracklog to PC-based software. The software tends to exaggerate the ascent figure by about 15-20% because it adds up every little rise in the road rather than just significant climbs. Sometimes I just calculate the figure myself from the profile of the ride. 

CC members Svendo and goodspeed use higher end Garmin GPS units so why not PM them and invite them to contribute to this thread?

Whatever GPS you use, you might have to download the tracklog to a PC and clear the GPS memory. The cheap Etrex units only have enough tracklog memory for a day or so. If you wanted to record a whole holiday's worth of riding you'd have to download & clear the memory each night. More expensive units may well have enough memory that this wouldn't be an issue.

One thing I really like is that the tracklog recorded by the GPS is great for timing yourself up climbs. Say your favourite route has 5 climbs that you try to beat your personal bests on. You can just hammer your way up the climbs and examine the tracklog later and see exactly what times you did. You can see what speed you were doing and what the time was at every section of the route.

I love paper maps too, but once you get used to navigating by GPS, you'll find stopping and getting paper maps out a nuisance (especially when it is wet and/or windy). I carry them for backup and reference on unfamiliar routes.
 

bicyclos

Part time Anorak
Location
West Yorkshire
I can second everything colinj has written. I have just purchased an Etrex H this week for £61 plus I got the cable from ebay for £13.50. I also purchased a pack of screen guards for £2.15 which is a must for lcd screens. I am just waiting for the bike mount to be delivered. I went for a walk to the park this afternoon with my daughter to show her how the unit works and introduce her to the geek world of things....I did get a small wow thats good......can we go home now!

I use memorymap to show my route on the pc and save for future reference. End of the day its a gadget or tool for a purpose and they work great plus its quite a good basic bike computer as well.
 

PpPete

Guru
Location
Chandler's Ford
I'd recommend a mapping GPS - an Etrex Legend HCx (£125, Handtec), or possibly the Vista (£8 more for a built in compass & altimeter).
+1
Having used a mapping GPS I wouldn't go back to non-mapping. I use OSM as I don't want to pay for Garmin's mapping.
Build my tracks on bikehike and save to hard drive as GPX, send to Legend/Etrex with Mapsource (or direct via Garmin Communicator)
On ride have a speedo field and trip distance overlaid on map(only just figured out how to do this:rolleyes:)
Review post ride tracklog & stats in Mapsource.
 
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Rebel Ian

Rebel Ian

Well-Known Member
Location
Berkshire
+1
Having used a mapping GPS I wouldn't go back to non-mapping. I use OSM as I don't want to pay for Garmin's mapping.
Build my tracks on bikehike and save to hard drive as GPX, send to Legend/Etrex with Mapsource (or direct via Garmin Communicator)
On ride have a speedo field and trip distance overlaid on map(only just figured out how to do this:rolleyes:)
Review post ride tracklog & stats in Mapsource.

Lots of the reviews of the various GPS units talk about uploading information to review afterwards as a training log. I'm not necessarily bothered whether I can find out my cadence or heart rate retrospectively, I just want the best one that tells me where and when to turn having uploaded a route from 'mapmyride' or something similar. I think I need to see a few in action to understand what will fit best.
 

ColinJ

Puzzle game developer
I just want the best one that tells me where and when to turn having uploaded a route from 'mapmyride' or something similar. I think I need to see a few in action to understand what will fit best.
Aaargh! ;)

If you wanted loads of extra features, I could understand why this would be a difficult decision, but since you don't, it isn't!

I've navigated over 10,000 km using my Etrex and have only missed turns about 4 times and that was because I was too busy talking to people to pay attention to what the GPS was telling me! The one missing feature that would be nice is for the device to beep when a turn is coming up. The 'H' doesn't so you have to remember to look at the screen from time to time. Models further up the range have that feature so you need to decide whether that is important to you.

The only thing you have to make sure you do is to plot your routes carefully so there is no ambiguity when looking at the breadcrumb trail.  This article previously linked to by Cunobelin is the one the I read before buying my GPS and I'd recommend that you read it. The one thing I'd disagree with is about using the navigation arrow mode. I tried that and found that it can cause confusion when actually riding, for example when choosing what lane to be in. The breadcrumb trail mode lets you look ahead and see what is coming up so lane choice is easy and you never find yourself thinking that you will be turning right and then suddenly find the arrow change direction and discover you are turning left, which happened to me a couple of times.

PS The reason I didn't go for the Garmin Geko which is a nicer looking, smaller device is because the battery life isn't as good (it uses AAA batteries instead of AAs).
 
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Rebel Ian

Rebel Ian

Well-Known Member
Location
Berkshire
Thanks, Colin. I wasn't ignoring your original post - just reading through the various and sometimes conflicting replies! I don't necessarily want a map - just something that says......left turn in 400m etc. If the Etrex unit doesn't give a warning for an impending turn do you know of which models do. I think that would be quite a useful feature.
 

ColinJ

Puzzle game developer
Thanks, Colin. I wasn't ignoring your original post - just reading through the various and sometimes conflicting replies! I don't necessarily want a map - just something that says......left turn in 400m etc. If the Etrex unit doesn't give a warning for an impending turn do you know of which models do. I think that would be quite a useful feature.
Well, the cheapo Etrex does give a warning, unfortunately it is a visual one. If you are looking at the screen when a turn is coming up, the device flashes a warning that a turn is coming up, but if you are looking at the navigation screen you will already know that! I think it is intended for when you are on a different screen page as a reminder to return to the navigation page.

If you have the breadcrumb page scale set to 80 m, you can see about 400 m worth of route on the screen ahead of you so you can see what turns, if any, are coming up. When there are lots of turns, you will naturally be keeping a close eye on the GPS to see what to do next.

The problem arises if you are riding down a straight road with nothing much happening and then your mind tends to wander. I have got into the habit of looking at the screen every time I see a side road, just in case I need to turn down it. Junctions and roundabouts are obvious decision points so you always have to check the GPS to see what to do next.

As I mentioned before - the only time I missed turns was when I was talking to people or hadn't plotted my routes carefully enough. The great thing with the breadcrumb trail is that you very quickly realise that you have made a mistake when you see the indicator of your position (a graphic of a little man) getting further away from the trail rather than staying close to it.

To get the audible alert, you'll probably have to go a few models up the Etrex range so you could be spending twice as much and getting all those other features that you don't really want (maps etc.). I don't know which models have the beeper and which don't.
 
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