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  1. #1
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    Best Value GPS for MTB NOT Road Riding

    Hey all,
    Looking for a basic GPS to show current speed, distance, and average speed. I don't need anything fancy like a color screen or background maps.
    I was looking at the Garmin Edge 200 (discontinued but still available to purchase at many retailers), but from the reviews I have read, it is more of a road biking GPS and it's data points are spaced far apart thus compromising accuracy.
    I fully realize ALL GPS units are not 100% accurate but would like something that does what I need for a decent price. Is this possible?

    Thank you for your responses!

  2. #2
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    Lezyne Mini GPS > Accessories > GPS & Computers > GPS | Jenson USA

    I like this little guy, it has more options I could ever need, super compact. I called Jensons when I bought it, and they gave me 15% discount.
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  3. #3
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    When heart rate and clor display are not what you are looking for, than maybe an Etrex10 is an option?
    https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/87768
    The bikemount fits most XC stems and all bars.
    Very good sattelite reception, long batterylife, IPX7 waterproof rating.
    Can be found on ebay for less, new or 2nd hand.
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  4. #4
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    Do you have a cell phone with GPS? Why not get a free app like Runtastic and a mount for your phone?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by MSU Alum View Post
    Do you have a cell phone with GPS? Why not get a free app like Runtastic and a mount for your phone?
    I have thought about this, but I kind of want to keep my phone battery charged for an emergency.

  6. #6
    since 4/10/2009
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    For mtb use, I recommend a GPS with both 1sec recording and the ability to add a wheel sensor. The wheel sensor will give you distance measurements on par with old fashioned cyclocomputers (avoiding the inevitable speed/distance errors inherent in GPS-derived measurements) and the GPS part will give you the visual aspect of having maps to look at later and possibly even some routing capability if you want that.

    I honestly think Garmin hit a home run with the Edge 520. I like it so much, I bought one for myself and another for my wife. She basically wants what you do out of a computer. She'd been bugging me for awhile about how my computer (with wheel sensor) always had more distance than hers (without). So when she ordered a new mtb a few months ago, I got her the new computer, too. It's simple enough to use (getting it set up to show you what you want exactly how you want takes some time, though) that she's totally happy with it. The GPS is accurate enough to make me happy. It's got enough features to satisfy data and fitness junkies, but that stuff doesn't detract from the ease of use for those who aren't. Only real negative is that it's probably more expensive than you're after.

    I am wholly dissatisfied with Garmin's lower priced models, though. Garmin strips the wrong features from them. If you want less expensive than the Edge 520 without sacrificing too much, you have to move to another brand. It seems like Lezyne is doing the budget computers better than anyone else at the moment.

    I'd really only recommend a handheld for someone looking for a basic GPS that they intend to use for a variety of outdoor activities, or for extended bikepacking trips. The basic handhelds can't do a wheel sensor to give you the distance accuracy, and that's part of it. But there's also a user interface aspect of things that does make a difference. The ease of hitting the start/stop button on an Edge or Forerunner when you're doing an activity with a definite start and finish helps. The quick access reset/memory clear function helps, too. The handheld can do those things, too, but there are a fair number more steps to it that make it annoying if you're using it for frequent, shorter rides. Handhelds are also chunkier, and after having ridden with one on the bars for awhile (I rode with an Oregon 450 for a few years), I definitely prefer having a small computer when riding.

    I also don't want a touchscreen anywhere near my bike (a la lots of more expensive computers). The touchscreen is very nice when you use the GPS to mark waypoints and you want to type descriptive names and maybe some comments. But it's a power-hog and it is too easy to activate when you don't want to. And to avoid that, you have to enable a screen lock which adds more steps to things. It really doesn't add anything to my riding experiences. No, thanks.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by GnarBrahWyo View Post
    I have thought about this, but I kind of want to keep my phone battery charged for an emergency.
    Auxiliary battery chargers with capacity to charge a phone a couple times are cheap, small, and light.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    For mtb use, I recommend a GPS with both 1sec recording and the ability to add a wheel sensor. The wheel sensor will give you distance measurements on par with old fashioned cyclocomputers (avoiding the inevitable speed/distance errors inherent in GPS-derived measurements) and the GPS part will give you the visual aspect of having maps to look at later and possibly even some routing capability if you want that.

    I honestly think Garmin hit a home run with the Edge 520. I like it so much, I bought one for myself and another for my wife. She basically wants what you do out of a computer. She'd been bugging me for awhile about how my computer (with wheel sensor) always had more distance than hers (without). So when she ordered a new mtb a few months ago, I got her the new computer, too. It's simple enough to use (getting it set up to show you what you want exactly how you want takes some time, though) that she's totally happy with it. The GPS is accurate enough to make me happy. It's got enough features to satisfy data and fitness junkies, but that stuff doesn't detract from the ease of use for those who aren't. Only real negative is that it's probably more expensive than you're after.

    I am wholly dissatisfied with Garmin's lower priced models, though. Garmin strips the wrong features from them. If you want less expensive than the Edge 520 without sacrificing too much, you have to move to another brand. It seems like Lezyne is doing the budget computers better than anyone else at the moment.

    I'd really only recommend a handheld for someone looking for a basic GPS that they intend to use for a variety of outdoor activities, or for extended bikepacking trips. The basic handhelds can't do a wheel sensor to give you the distance accuracy, and that's part of it. But there's also a user interface aspect of things that does make a difference. The ease of hitting the start/stop button on an Edge or Forerunner when you're doing an activity with a definite start and finish helps. The quick access reset/memory clear function helps, too. The handheld can do those things, too, but there are a fair number more steps to it that make it annoying if you're using it for frequent, shorter rides. Handhelds are also chunkier, and after having ridden with one on the bars for awhile (I rode with an Oregon 450 for a few years), I definitely prefer having a small computer when riding.

    I also don't want a touchscreen anywhere near my bike (a la lots of more expensive computers). The touchscreen is very nice when you use the GPS to mark waypoints and you want to type descriptive names and maybe some comments. But it's a power-hog and it is too easy to activate when you don't want to. And to avoid that, you have to enable a screen lock which adds more steps to things. It really doesn't add anything to my riding experiences. No, thanks.
    Thanks for the write up. I will look into that.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by evasive View Post
    Auxiliary battery chargers with capacity to charge a phone a couple times are cheap, small, and light.
    And that phone on the bars that breaks in a crash isn't
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoTone View Post
    And that phone on the bars that breaks in a crash isn't
    Sure, but that's not the point I was addressing.

  11. #11
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    I use my iphone and cyclemeter app. Compared to a standalone GPS unit, the iphone has a much better user interface, and the functionality of the cyclemeter app is amazing.

    When I need to know periodic stats for pacing my rides, I set up the cyclemeter app to announce various stats every 2 minutes e.g. current split average speed, average heart rate, max heart rate and cadence, and every mile the app announces distance, elevation gain, overall average speed, heart rate and cadence. I listen to these announcements through a single ear bud.

    When riding on singletrack, the verbal announcements are a lot easier and less risky to absorb than looking down at a screen - lets face it, it only takes a second of inattention to come off the bike on twisty, rocky, rooty singletrack.

    I keep my phone in my pocket with the screen off, and have ridden 8 hour rides with still plenty of battery life remaining at the end.

    I've been debating getting a bike computer that I can mount to my handlebar, but the only added benefit is having the screen - all the measurement and recording functionality done by the iphone is as good as the GPS. I haven't yet convinced myself the added cost would be worth it.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigWheels7 View Post
    all the measurement and recording functionality done by the iphone is as good as the GPS.
    No, it isn't. If you're not seeing it, it doesn't mean it's not inferior. I've seen how smartphones are inferior. I'll use one in a pinch, but I'd rather not.

    I don't get all of the "user interface" arguments the smartphone fanbois throw out. I have used a handful of apps, and SOME aspects of user interface are better, but others absolutely are not. Sweat absolutely ruins your ability to use a smartphone with a capacitive touchscreen. If I just want to take a picture with my phone on a sweaty ride, it can be an absolute nightmare with the phone freaking out. For a bike computer, get rid of the touchscreen and give me some physical buttons to control it. So much better. Sure, it can make navigating some things more clunky...but the benefit there is that it's always the same. No matter the gloves. No matter the amount of sweat.

    Announcements of all your ride stats every 2 minutes? Christ. No, thanks. Talk about distractions. I don't look at the computer when I'm actually riding. Who does this?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    No, it isn't. If you're not seeing it, it doesn't mean it's not inferior. I've seen how smartphones are inferior. I'll use one in a pinch, but I'd rather not.

    I don't get all of the "user interface" arguments the smartphone fanbois throw out. I have used a handful of apps, and SOME aspects of user interface are better, but others absolutely are not. Sweat absolutely ruins your ability to use a smartphone with a capacitive touchscreen. If I just want to take a picture with my phone on a sweaty ride, it can be an absolute nightmare with the phone freaking out. For a bike computer, get rid of the touchscreen and give me some physical buttons to control it. So much better. Sure, it can make navigating some things more clunky...but the benefit there is that it's always the same. No matter the gloves. No matter the amount of sweat.

    Announcements of all your ride stats every 2 minutes? Christ. No, thanks. Talk about distractions. I don't look at the computer when I'm actually riding. Who does this?
    The guys at Singletracks did 2 tests, one in 2014, and another in 2017. Same result from both. iphone as good if not better than GPS devices.

    https://www.singletracks.com/blog/mt...cyclocomputer/

    So if you don't need a screen to see real time stats, a smartphone does the job for recording ride data.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigWheels7 View Post
    The guys at Singletracks did 2 tests, one in 2014, and another in 2017. Same result from both. iphone as good if not better than GPS devices.

    https://www.singletracks.com/blog/mt...cyclocomputer/

    So if you don't need a screen to see real time stats, a smartphone does the job for recording ride data.
    I am always looking at my data compared to others. It is clear that the people using standalone computers, especially with well calibrated wheel sensors, get better results.

    The results are even more stark when looking at smartphone tracks. Phones are enormously varable in gps accuracy, and this probably relates a lot to the app used. But phones are obviously less accurate than standalone computers when taken as a group.

    I take a lot of issues with the tests that singletracks has done. Riding circles around a track doesn't even come close to the reality of mtb riding. But the illustration that the iphone track was "messy" should be indication number one. The raw gps data is shit. It is well known and heavily documented that strava does massive amounts of data processing and it makes phone data usable. But it doesn't change the fact that the phone's gps data is still garbage. They made no effort to quantify the spatial accuracy of the track. They also apparently made little effort to follow the exact same line on the track, and their calibration for the cateye didn't include a weighted rollout. WTF? The entire article is garbage.

    Sure, Strava is probably the most popular app, but you can put your Garmin data there, too, so the results are bs if the data was not all subject to the same processing, or if the data was all subject to zero processing.

    This is the article you reference to back up your claim? Boo. You are going to have to do better.

    If you want to record your ride cheaply with a device you already have, then sure, a phone works great. But if you want accuracy (in all aspects, not just distances after heavy processing), you will need to move on. To pretend the phone is more accurate after reading a blog post test with shitty methodology is just ridiculous.

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  15. #15
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    Garmin Edge 20. Cheap, Simple. Not nearly as accurate as some need, but I don't care... Serves its purpose for me.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigWheels7 View Post
    The guys at Singletracks did 2 tests, one in 2014, and another in 2017. Same result from both. iphone as good if not better than GPS devices.

    https://www.singletracks.com/blog/mt...cyclocomputer/

    So if you don't need a screen to see real time stats, a smartphone does the job for recording ride data.
    I'm not sure whether to laugh at this or to cry...

    Theyre comparing GPS distance and time accuracy around a freaking 400M track? Thats about the least applicable test they could have come up with. Its completely open to the sky, and consists of perfect straightaways and large arcing regular curves. You could turn your polling down to 10 seconds and still get close results. And measuring the accuracy of time? I cant even believe they suggest this should be necessary. Every poll has a timestamp. When your coordinates break the plane (finish line) it knows when it happened. Its not a freaking hour glass made by some elementary schooler.

    Go carry an iphone, and a quality GPS, and go dodge some trees, weaving some tight singletrack, zig zagging under a thick canopy of trees, and then compare the two. Straightaways and gradual curves are a useless comparison.

    And to whoever wrote that article, What youíve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

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    The OP asked about a GPS device at a decent price for measuring speed, distance, etc. The cheapest GPS device is the one you already own - so assuming you have a smartphone, the GPS device on that phone is likely going to suffice for riding. By all means get a standalone GPS device if you want a good handlebar mount option, or if you think your smartphone will not be sufficiently accurate for your needs.

    The singletracks methodology may lack scientific rigor, but it's done by a group of guys who are well intentioned. Pls post a link to a more scientifically rigorous methodology comparing smartphones with standalone GPS devices - I'd be interested to see the comparison, as this would help inform a decision on when a smartphone would suffice vs. when a standalone GPS device is necessary.

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