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Thread: Best Biking GPS

  1. #1
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    Best Biking GPS

    Finally lost my Garmin Forerunner 201 and need to buy a new one. Been mapping out some wild trails lately and would really like a unit that mounts on handlebars and:

    -Easily captures and displays waypoints.
    -Shows altitude MSL.
    -Records and displays track and allows you to download it to your computer.
    -Works with a Mac Book.
    -Recharges via USB or AC charger.
    -A minor WANT would be a heart rate monitor but not a MUST.


    I don't need any map functions unless is comes included as where we are riding there are no good maps available. All advice appreciated.

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    garmin edge 500

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    Edge 500 doesn't cut it as my usage is almost exclusively mapping and navigating. I need to at least see the course I am setting and existing waypoints.(Edge 500 has NO map graphics at all.) But.. I don't need to be able load in maps.

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    Nate....Thanks for directing this to the right area. Am new to MTBR and didn't find it initially when searching.

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    Oregon 550

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    I vote Edge 500 also

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    Quote Originally Posted by JBugno View Post
    I vote Edge 500 also
    can you read? guy wants better mapping capability than the Edge 500 offers.

    An Edge 305 might be sufficient for the OP's desires.

    Also, since the OP is familiar with watch-style versions (which can be mounted on the handlebars), the new fenix might be worth a look. has a basic map screen, can set and view waypoints, has altimeter, barometer, and compass, and has killer battery life. Also has some fitness functionality. Not quite as much as many Forerunner and Edge models, but might be enough for what the OP mentions. It's a bit high in the price point at $400. but it's a pretty cool new model.

  9. #9
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    Best is subjective

    Quote Originally Posted by Mantramsagro;9598088
    [LIST
    [*]-Easily captures and displays waypoints.[*]-Shows altitude MSL.[*]-Records and displays track and allows you to download it to your computer.[*]-Works with a Mac Book.[*]-Recharges via USB or AC charger.[*]-A minor WANT would be a heart rate monitor but not a MUST.[*]I don't need any map functions unless is comes included as where we are riding there are no good maps available. All advice appreciated[/LIST].
    Garmin Edge 800 does all that and maps are free.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wherewolf View Post
    Garmin Edge 800 does all that and maps are free.
    Another vote for the Garmin 800. I have one and the mapping is decent.

    The OSM maps are a must for trails. Don't bother with the Garmin map software. Not much in the way of trails there. Although, you could use the Garmin mapping for car navigation and POI. I think it costs too much for that. $40 for it, I would have bought it. $80? Nope.

    I like HR and cadence, but the prem Garmin HR strap has its problems. Also, the Garmin GCS10 sensor wants to fit right next to the brake hose. This was a problem on my rig.
    Lead by my Lefty............... right down the trail, no brakes.

  11. #11
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    Take a look at some Strava rides and see what riders are using to log their rides.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mtn-Rider View Post
    Take a look at some Strava rides and see what riders are using to log their rides.
    Garmin Connect would be another place to look. Strava cannot directly interface with my Oregon, so I have to do manual uploads. I can only interface with that site directly with my Forerunner. Garmin Connect, on the other hand, interfaces directly with both.

    Just an FYI on the presence of trails on OSM maps:
    that is enormously variable locally. I personally do not ride any trails that appear there, and I usually ride pretty popular stuff. The user community at OSM is not very large in my area, and especially small with regards to the number of people putting up trails.

    I have found in many cases that having road maps is usually "good enough" for reference purposes. They won't tell you how many hills you have to climb before you hit the trailhead, or give you any indication of elevation change, but you'll at least see how close you might be to civilization and that, IMO, is a bare minimum necessity for map use. I used OSM street maps on my Oregon when I went to Costa Rica in the spring and they did well enough. I wish I had been running the GPS when I did the zip line tour, though. Would have been neat to see the route on a map later. It is the longest zip line route in the world.

    I have also found that in some cases, topos are good enough for road nav, and some cases are the best option. I was looking for road data to put on my Nuvi for the Big Island of Hawaii on a vacation a few years ago. Digital map data for that place is pretty crappy. Major roads and that's about it. You get no help with a lot of back roads. I wound up using the topo dataset available at gpsfiledepot.com on my Nuvi for there. I couldn't punch in an address to find it, but it at least gave me street names on the screen for reference. It was like using old school paper maps. I had one of those, too, but every little bit helped.

  13. #13
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    Garmin Edge 800 lists only 200 waypoints and doesn't list track capability,
    GPX tracklogs are the most common means of sharing non-roadie bike trails.

    Would go for a Garmin with internal + external map memory & tracklogs any day over Edge series. The original poster wasn't after the fitness/race centered features of the Edge series.

    I believe tracklogs, waypoints and mapping capability are better on general purpose GPS.
    I use them to map literally hundreds of trails for my website & the open street map.
    2,000+ miles free Colorado FrontRange GPS enabled bike trails w/map overlays.
    View network via GoogleEarth @ GeoBiking.org

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    I am thinking about this too. I require that it function in China, and I want to be able to charge it via a dynohub. Right now I use my iPhone over there, both with Yahoo maps and MotionX (just walking and general getting around). I never cared for mounting the iPhone on the bars.

    I was not aware of the limitations on the Edge 800. Good to know as I almost pulled the trigger on one of these.

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    Best Bike GPS - My Two Cents

    This forum has had a lot of information I've found helpful. And I agree the Garmin Edge series doesn't address the waypoint and mapping questions. But I've found for those of us looking for a simple GPS with lots of useful functionality the Garmin Edge 705 works great. The device fun to play with, and is remarkably light given the number of features - in fact, it is as light as my small previous computer. But the real test for me is what average riders say on Amazon: REVIEW LINK

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    I'm currently enjoying my Garmin Dakota 20, but it I don't believe it meets your rechargeability requirements.

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    The best GPS for mtbing is the Gpsmap 62s. It's reliable and u don't want a screen smaller than the 62 - i really don';t know how anyone can navigate with those other tiny GPS screens on the Edge. THe 62 is for users who want a GPS strictly for navigating.

    The 62s screen is also very readable in the outdoor. This is critical as u will not be able to move the unit around to optimise the viewing. Unlike hickers or geocachers they have it in their hands and can tilt the gps to get a clearer view of the screen - that's why they can use the oregon, dakota etc which have the darker screens. I use mine with the back-light off and it's still very clear attached to my handlebar and can run the 62s for incredibly long on 2xAAs. I typically will use 1 set of AAs for about 3 rides of mine - i currently ride not more than 3 hours each.

    Garmin GPSes are great in that they are able to make use of many 3rd party maps - for example - OSM maps. The OSM maps are simple incredible and even more accurate than the official Garmin Topo. For melbourne all the trails are 99% accurate in the OSM.

    There is the new Oregon 600 and Montana but these are touch screens and i'm not sure if they are entirely reliable - i often read about users having serious issues with their touchscreens. There is no such problem with the 62. And i wouldn't want to be touching a touch screen with muddy or greasy hands....imagine the smudges.

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    I'm In

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    Quote Originally Posted by Machoman121 View Post
    The best GPS for mtbing is the Gpsmap 62s.
    A strong statement, but you did back it up with plausible attributes. Do you carry or mount, and if mount, what do you use? It is larger and heavier than the edge 5XX and 8xx units, so a bar mount might get a bit shaky.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Simplemind View Post
    A strong statement, but you did back it up with plausible attributes. Do you carry or mount, and if mount, what do you use? It is larger and heavier than the edge 5XX and 8xx units, so a bar mount might get a bit shaky.
    OK i might have been a bit too patriotic about about the 62 - i've since then read & thought a bit further than that and found out the Edge 800/801 screens are the same size as the 62 so the Edge 800/801 should be just as good if you don't ride epic trails and if you believe there's little danger of being lost in a serious way. The Edge units are quite a bit lighter and have more functionalities for the serious fitness buff. The only issue for me with the edge units are the built in batteries - they are not user interchangeable - from the durability and safety/security issue user interchangeable batteries are a much better option. And i dont know how good the screen clarity is like in daylight with the backlight off.

    THe 62 is heavier than the edge by quite a bit and will need to be mounted on the stem othewise the violent vibrations during mtbing will move it if it's on the handlebar. I'm using the Ram mount - it's set quite bit higher but it's a reasonable secure mount - i don't like using the Garmin original mount - while it looks very streamlined - it will add strain to the back plate of the GPS and potentially loosen the door of the unit.

    And i do worry about about the vibration that gets transmitted through the handlebar to the unit- especially when i'm going over rock gardens. So i slow down a bit. There's been a few mentions of Montana/oregons/etrex where there were problems caused by vibrations -loose circuit boards and even the antennae breaking off inside the units.

  21. #21
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    Best Biking GPS

    Quote Originally Posted by Machoman121 View Post
    OK i might have been a bit too patriotic about about the 62 - i've since then read & thought a bit further than that and found out the Edge 800/801 screens are the same size as the 62 so the Edge 800/801 should be just as good if you don't ride epic trails and if you believe there's little danger of being lost in a serious way. The Edge units are quite a bit lighter and have more functionalities for the serious fitness buff. The only issue for me with the edge units are the built in batteries - they are not user interchangeable - from the durability and safety/security issue user interchangeable batteries are a much better option. And i dont know how good the screen clarity is like in daylight with the backlight off.

    ...
    I do not own a dedicated GPS device (yet). The 62 sounds intriguing though bulky compared to a Garmin 500/510 or 800/810. Replaceable batteries are a big plus however some of the solar USB chargers are compact enough to be viable options IMO. I'm leaning toward the 810 myself.

    As for getting lost, you can download the entire US open street maps database onto a Garmin 800/810 in ~4 GB of SD storage or just the trail(s) you are riding on the 500/510) to keep you on course. Downloadable maps is the main feature that has me leaning toward the 800/810 series. I can see the screen output on the 500 and 800 series no problem. Some of my friends who are a few years older (aka over 50) do not have long enough arms so they ask me to tell 'em what the screen says on a regular basis.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by edubfromktown View Post
    As for getting lost, you can download the entire US open street maps database onto a Garmin 800/810 in ~4 GB of SD storage or just the trail(s) you are riding on the 500/510) to keep you on course. Downloadable maps is the main feature that has me leaning toward the 800/810 series.
    Open street maps has trails? I doubt it. The 800 battery would be fine for anything but rides over 14 - 15 hours. For any more than that you can buy small portable USB battery packs really cheaply.

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    The Aussie OSM maps are super DUPER damn accurate. I've stopped using the Garmin Topo and City Navigator for my riding as the OSM maps are like 98% accurate. With the Garmin Topo maps are like a tectonic shift has just occurred and shifted the map by 50 meters.

    The AU OSM has every trail i rode and others displayed ! - at least for the Melbourne area. Some good people have done a great job of maintaining the accuracy of the OSM maps for the Melbourne area. Thank-god for OSM - i say.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wherewolf View Post
    Open street maps has trails? I doubt it. The 800 battery would be fine for anything but rides over 14 - 15 hours. For any more than that you can buy small portable USB battery packs really cheaply.
    Charging via usb - and how long is that gonna take? On a recent ride - i was using the same AA batteries for about 2-3 rides and it had ran flat mid way- pulled aside and simply replaced them with fresh batts and was good to go again.

    These built-in lithiums in the Edge are super convenient but they have a finite lifespan.....and the performance/durability go downhill steadily over time.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by edubfromktown View Post
    I do not own a dedicated GPS device (yet). The 62 sounds intriguing though bulky compared to a Garmin 500/510 or 800/810. Replaceable batteries are a big plus however some of the solar USB chargers are compact enough to be viable options IMO. I'm leaning toward the 810 myself.

    As for getting lost, you can download the entire US open street maps database onto a Garmin 800/810 in ~4 GB of SD storage or just the trail(s) you are riding on the 500/510) to keep you on course. Downloadable maps is the main feature that has me leaning toward the 800/810 series. I can see the screen output on the 500 and 800 series no problem. Some of my friends who are a few years older (aka over 50) do not have long enough arms so they ask me to tell 'em what the screen says on a regular basis.
    Yes - the 62 is definitely bulky - if i was swimming in money i'll probably also spring for the 810 simply because it should be a lighter and neater package for days when i'll be riding shorter rides and in a relatively known area.

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