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  1. #1
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    Garmin eTrex 30 a good choice?

    I have been doing some research on getting a GPS for my bike and initially wanted an Edge 500/800 but appears the new eTrex 30 might be a good choice.

    Here are some things I need to be able to do with whatever unit I get:

    1. Accurate mileage along with a trip odometer for races with cue sheets (trans iowa and the like). Would this be good for this type of thing or would I be better off with a normal cycle computer like a Cateye?

    2. Long battery life and easy to replace batteries in field. 25 hours of AA batteries looks awesome.

    3. Easy to switch between 3 bikes. What mounts should I use for one of these?

    4. Upload to Garmin Connect. This is compatible.

    5. MOST importantly, be able to upload a route like CTR or Trans North Georgia to follow for the race.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
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    1. mileage should be fine
    2. that's about as good for battery life as you'll find
    3. give Garmin's mounts a try
    4. anything that provides a .gpx file is compatible. this is a non-issue
    5. that depends on the files provided for the race route. if those files were made to be viewed in Google Earth pre-race, they might not work without a good deal of massaging of the data. the answer here is "it depends".

  3. #3
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    Thanks Nate, would you recommend the eTrek 30 for my use or should I be looking at something else?

  4. #4
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    It'd probably work fine. Folks have been using eTrex models of various permutations on mountain bikes since there were eTrex GPS receivers. They're small and light, have great battery life, and do what needs doing.

    The 30 has wireless capability so you can even use a HRM or a GSC-10 sensor if you want to add one. It doesn't have as many fitness features in the software as the Edge or Forerunner models do, but it's a good option that brings the eTrex series back to life.

    That thing does most of the things my Oregon 450 can do in a smaller package with better battery life. Main difference is the screen/interface. The eTrex even is compatible with the Russian GLONASS satellite system which has the potential to speed signal lock and maybe even boost accuracy some in conjunction with GPS.

  5. #5
    Goats Rule!
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    One thing (very important to me) is that the etrex 30 can display the total ascent/descent on different screens by customizing the fields. The Oregons, old etrex line, etc. can not. You have to switch to the elevation plot view to see that in the other units.

    I really like my 30. Just don't forget to reset your odometer and clear the track log at the beginning of a ride and save your track at the end.

  6. #6
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    Is there any way to do two running odometers during a ride I.E. total distance of ride and distance between checkpoints or aid stations for example? Thanks.

  7. #7
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    Ah, found it. Trip odometer is resettable but not the odometer. Similar to a car.

  8. #8
    Rednose/Greenback
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    I just returned an Edge 500 for the eTrex 30 but forgot it didn't come with bike mount. Can't find the right Garmin mount local either. What are you current owners using? FWIW, the GPS does not look like it will stem mount (Thomson 100mm X4) like the 500 did, though maybe I'm wrong. The back of this unit is rounded which doesn't look promising.
    38 54' -77 15

  9. #9
    Goats Rule!
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    It uses the same bar mount as the Oregon. A bit harder to fit on some stems than the Edge 500/800 mount. Sometimes you have to shim it a bit with some old inner tube for clearance. I had to do that on one bike.

    Really stable and solid once you get it on right. One thing - make sure when you attach the GPS unit to the mount you have the metal ring on the back of the unit flipped so it's facing towards the front of the bike. If it's facing towards the back when folded it's a really tight fit on the mount and hard to slide off.

    Quote Originally Posted by apbtlvr View Post
    I just returned an Edge 500 for the eTrex 30 but forgot it didn't come with bike mount. Can't find the right Garmin mount local either. What are you current owners using? FWIW, the GPS does not look like it will stem mount (Thomson 100mm X4) like the 500 did, though maybe I'm wrong. The back of this unit is rounded which doesn't look promising.

  10. #10
    Rednose/Greenback
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheHill View Post
    It uses the same bar mount as the Oregon. A bit harder to fit on some stems than the Edge 500/800 mount. Sometimes you have to shim it a bit with some old inner tube for clearance. I had to do that on one bike.

    Really stable and solid once you get it on right. One thing - make sure when you attach the GPS unit to the mount you have the metal ring on the back of the unit flipped so it's facing towards the front of the bike. If it's facing towards the back when folded it's a really tight fit on the mount and hard to slide off.
    Thanks for that info, I'll put it to good use.
    38 54' -77 15

  11. #11
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    This is a useful thread. I've been looking at the etrex models as well, and I've had a few questions that this thread has cleared up. I do not need a gps for heart rate and all the extra stuff for training; I mostly want one to record my tracks and to upload routes by other riders. I do have a couple additional questions, however.

    1. How does the etrex 30 work within the car (i.e., street navigation)? I do quite a bit of road tripping during the summer months, and I need something that will get me to the trailhead or the campground.

    2. I'm interested in the same features as the OP. Is there any reason why the etrex 30 is a better choice than the etrex 20? Is the basemap on the etrex 30 sufficient?

    Thanks!
    The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets. ~Christopher Morley

  12. #12
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    If you load street maps, you can have it get you to an address. With the joystick, entering that data will suck. And don't expect the GPS to do anything more than just beep at you when you need to turn. You will have to read the small screen to see what you need to actually do. It will work, but not terribly well.

    The included basemap sucks (standard crap Garmin basemap) if you want a basemap for anything. Download a new one at GPSFileDepot - Free Custom Garmin Maps, Ximage hosting, tutorials, articles and more for your GPSr.

  13. #13
    Rednose/Greenback
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    "Is there any reason why the etrex 30 is a better choice than the etrex 20? Is the basemap on the etrex 30 sufficient?"

    If the barometric altimeter & electronic compass features are important to you, then yes. Ditto with sharing data (tracks, routes etc.) wirelessly with other compatible Garmin units.

    As for automotive use, I'm pretty sure you need to pay for Garmin maps to get the turn by turn functions most useful for automobile use. Not something I'm willing to do as I've already got some older versions of City Nav & Topo maps I could reload. The base-map in both the 20 & 30 are the same. FWIW, don't know that I would be all that keen on hand holding this while driving around to ant real length...unless someone else was holding it.

    One total drag on both these units is lack of USB 2.0. Whereas it shouldn't be too hateful once you've loaded it up, bring tent pegs to get through the first session. I'm astonished Garmin didn't add the faster bus version.

    Oh, and the color's not so lame as the 20...for whatever that's worth.

    +1 on what Nate-Hawk stated, especially with GPSFileDepot- lots of useful material there.
    38 54' -77 15

  14. #14
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    Smile

    Thanks for the responses.

    Since it seems that the etrex would not be the best choice for car navigation, is there an alternative? The Oregon 450, perhaps? Do I need to purchase Garmin maps for auto use regardless of what model I eventually get? Or, would that only apply to the etrex models? I have checked out the GPSFilesDepot site, and it does appear that I can get road navigation maps there, no? I don't need an elaborate road navigation system, just something that will get me from point A to point B. I usually just print off directions from Google Maps to get me within proximity to where I need to go. It's usually the last 5-10 miles before I reach the trailhead, which are typically on unmarked forest roads, that the car navigation will come in handy.

    My girlfriend, who loves mountain biking as much as myself, accompanies me on all my road trips, so she'll basically be the "co-pilot" who will tell me when to turn, etc.

    I'm all ears for additional suggestions. I will most likely get my GPS on ebay or on sale from REI or the like. I don't want to exceed the $300-$325 mark, and I would prefer not to spend any extra on maps from Garmin, if that's possible. I plan on racing the Wilderness 101 in PA, and I want to check out the Kingdom Trails in Vermont. Having the ability to follow someone else's route after uploading it from Garmin Connect would be nice.

    Thanks
    The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets. ~Christopher Morley

  15. #15
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    "I will most likely get my GPS on ebay or on sale from REI or the like. I don't want to exceed the $300-$325 mark, and I would prefer not to spend any extra on maps from Garmin, if that's possible."

    Having just swapped out an Edge 500 for the eTrex 30 at REI, I'm with you on all those points. Not buying any more Garmin software either as I can use older maps just as well or add content from free sources.
    38 54' -77 15

  16. #16
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    Free worldwide routable Garmin maps from OpenStreetMap

    Check out that link for routable maps - free.

    If you want car nav AND trail-worthiness, the Montana is the way to go.

    Things important for auto navigation (for me):
    big screen that's easily visible for prompts
    fast, easy-to-use interface (I haven't found anything with buttons to meet those needs - so far touch screens only here)

    The Oregon has a better interface for auto navigation with its touchscreen, but I don't think the screen size, or more importantly the orientation, is all that good for auto navigation. The Montana will rotate to a widescreen format for auto nav.

    my advice is to get the outdoor receiver that will meet your needs best and get a cheap auto nav unit. I have a base model widescreen auto gps that I use. it was cheap - around $100 - a few years ago.

    I had no idea that the eTrex line lacks USB 2.0. that's supremely idiotic considering USB 3.0 is showing up on the scene. with the new eTrexes supporting raster custom maps, you're actually pretty likely to want that extra oomph in data transfers.

  17. #17
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    Thanks for the link for the routable maps.

    Unfortunately, the Montana model is a bit out of my price range. The road navigation is a nice feature, and one that I definitely want, but I'd rather have a gps that excels on the trail. I guess it's a toss up between the etrex 20 and the Oregon 450. The etrex is cheaper by about $100 and appears to offer all the basic requirements that I'm looking for, while the Oregon has a nicer interface (touch screen) and probably has more memory. Both allow me to upload user tracks/routes, and both seem to have pretty good visibility in direct sunlight and in the shade. Both can be mounted to the handebars with a Garmin mount, but the Garmin mount appears to come with zip ties. Does this mean I need to buy two mounts if I want to switch the gps between different bikes? I don't want to reattach the mount every time I switch between bikes.

    So, I guess that between the etrex 20 and the Oregon 450, which one would offer me the best of the following?

    1. Intuitive interface and ease of use (I'm a total newb regarding gps technology)

    2. Ability to upload user tracks from Garmin Connect so I can follow someone else's route when I'm in an unfamiliar area.

    3. Accurate recording of my own tracks.

    4. The ability to get me from point A to point B while in the car (not hugely important, but would be nice).

    5. Durability (I don't want it to break if I happen to crash my bike)

    Thanks so much everyone!
    The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets. ~Christopher Morley

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bodie6 View Post
    Thanks for the link for the routable maps.

    Unfortunately, the Montana model is a bit out of my price range. The road navigation is a nice feature, and one that I definitely want, but I'd rather have a gps that excels on the trail. I guess it's a toss up between the etrex 20 and the Oregon 450. The etrex is cheaper by about $100 and appears to offer all the basic requirements that I'm looking for, while the Oregon has a nicer interface (touch screen) and probably has more memory. Both allow me to upload user tracks/routes, and both seem to have pretty good visibility in direct sunlight and in the shade. Both can be mounted to the handebars with a Garmin mount, but the Garmin mount appears to come with zip ties. Does this mean I need to buy two mounts if I want to switch the gps between different bikes? I don't want to reattach the mount every time I switch between bikes.

    So, I guess that between the etrex 20 and the Oregon 450, which one would offer me the best of the following?

    1. Intuitive interface and ease of use (I'm a total newb regarding gps technology)

    2. Ability to upload user tracks from Garmin Connect so I can follow someone else's route when I'm in an unfamiliar area.

    3. Accurate recording of my own tracks.

    4. The ability to get me from point A to point B while in the car (not hugely important, but would be nice).

    5. Durability (I don't want it to break if I happen to crash my bike)

    Thanks so much everyone!
    They would both offer what you want. The OS on both will look similar, but the etrex will simply take more button pushes to do certain things like entering text. Keep an eye out for sales on the Oregon 450. I bought mine on sale for $250. I believe I saw them on sale at EMS for $279 right now. But EMS is running a sale on most GPS receivers right now. Pretty sure the new etrex is an even better deal.

  19. #19
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    Finally located the right mount kit, though it was a PITA. If you buy the eTrex 30, be sure to get the GPS and mount at the same time. Wish I'd been able to do that. While the mount it similar to that of the Edge 500, there are differences worth noting. make sure you get the right kit too.

    @ KingOfTheHill- "One thing - make sure when you attach the GPS unit to the mount you have the metal ring on the back of the unit flipped so it's facing towards the front of the bike. If it's facing towards the back when folded it's a really tight fit on the mount and hard to slide off." Great observation.

    This is not a twist on/off mount like one might expect with the Edge family of GPS. Too bad, as it's a nice design for attaching on stems. This mount on the other hand, has a release tab which must be pressed downward before allowing the GPS to slide forward and off. Because of this design, I found it difficult to separate at first. Worried about placing too much torque and breaking something, I clipped and unclipped the GPS from mount a couple dozen times and it became easier to detach. I would suggest this type of break-in before actually attaching the unit to your bike.

    A bummer for me was that this particular mount would not play nice on my stem (Thomson X4/ 100mm). You can see from the 3rd photo, a longer stem (or major shim at the very least) is needed. Cutting the steering column is another solution, though not one I'm willing to do at this time. If you use bar lights the problem gets worse. Ultimately I decided to just place the mount on one side of the stem so as to allow room for my light.

    Alt bars would be one way to get around this but at $$. Something like a Dashboard Genie or similar product would enable more options at less cost. A shim or cradle made of foam is something I plan to experiment with in the future. The eTrex 30 itself should be fine for bike use. Just don't expect the same stem friendly mount design as what comes with Edge products.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Garmin eTrex 30 a good choice?-etex30-mount-1.jpg  

    Garmin eTrex 30 a good choice?-etex30-mount-3.jpg  

    Garmin eTrex 30 a good choice?-etex30-mount-4.jpg  

    Garmin eTrex 30 a good choice?-etex30-mount-5.jpg  

    38 54' -77 15

  20. #20
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    Holy spacers on top of the stem. That is not a stem problem, that's a spacer problem.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    Holy spacers on top of the stem. That is not a stem problem, that's a spacer problem.
    I'd tend to agree, but the spacers are there because the fork is uncut. Originally placed under the stem, I needed to lower the bar hight to better match that of my seat. Swap 2 spacers or cut the fork after only 100 miles on the bike? I chose moving the spacers for now. For comparison, here's a picture taken with the Edge 500 on top. No issues with fit, despite the spacers. Wish that were so with eTrex.

    Remember, one of the OPs concerns was "Easy to switch between 3 bikes. What mounts should I use for one of these?" Being mindful of that, it should be useful to see he will likely need 3 mount kits at $10/each to switch easily. There's only one Garmin mount option available too. So differences with the bars and stems will factor in how this GPS rides from one bike to another, being as it's not so bike centric as the Edge units. It would still be a good choice once you determine how it fits your bike.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Garmin eTrex 30 a good choice?-grfb-9.jpg  

    Last edited by apbtlvr; 12-16-2011 at 08:38 AM. Reason: Typo
    38 54' -77 15

  22. #22
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    If you're still working out the fit of the bike, then don't blame that on the GPS or the stem. It's worth noting that it has certain space requirements to use it on a stem, but that's all.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    If you're still working out the fit of the bike, then don't blame that on the GPS or the stem. It's worth noting that it has certain space requirements to use it on a stem, but that's all.
    Hmmm, based on having just bought the GPS and mount, I thought to share personal observations in a constructive way - not assign blame. Not sure how you got that idea. Hopefully, the OP got the answers to his questions.
    38 54' -77 15

  24. #24
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    Thanks for the update and the pics, apbtlvr. I've narrowed my choice to the etrex 20. It appears to have all the basic requirements that I'm looking for, and it's quite a bit cheaper than the Oregon 450. I won't be mounting it on my bike until April, but I will take it out when I go xc skiing (living in the snowbelt kinda sucks).
    The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets. ~Christopher Morley

  25. #25
    MattSavage
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    Does anyone know if the Etrex 30 has auto pause/start when paired with the speed/cadence sensor?
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