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  1. #1
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    GPS Watch, which one for me?

    I think I might like to pick up a GPS for my bike. I'm not sold on having it installed on my handlebars. Maybe I'd luck a GPS watch. I always wear a watch when I ride, so I'd just replace my watch with the gps watch.

    I do not have a smartphone. I also own a Mac.

    I'd like the watch to be able download/synch data with the computer so I can use Strava or some sort of similar program to keep track of where I've been and all that.

    Thanks for suggestions!

  2. #2
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    Kinda depends on your budget and needs.

    If you're looking for the most feature-packed pure training device you can strap to your wrist, the Garmin 910XT might be it. It isn't designed to be a watch, just a training device. Seems pretty solid, though some complain about bugs. It runs about $450.

    If you're looking for something that works as an actual watch for daily use and still has the GPS/HRM and sports features to track, the Garmin Fenix ($400) and Suunto Ambit ($550) are the top dogs in most peoples' opinions it seems.

    If you have a lower budget for this, Garmin has some Forerunner models that range from sub-$200 to $350-ish with scaled-down features. And there's the Motorola MotoACTV ($200 with HRM) which "kinda" works like a watch, but it's very buggy and is not supposed to be used in water, so some have run into water damage from just sweating (they say).

    Garmin is the only watch currently that will sync *directly* with Strava, I believe. But the others can be converted pretty painlessly, often pretty easily (<20 seconds of your time) for Strava upload after a ride.

    The best reviews out there (imo) for these watches are on dcrainmaker.com but there are various other sites that have great collective thoughts on consumer experiences with each, and Amazon has a good amount of reviews on them.

    I personally went with the Suunto Ambit after seriously considering the Fenix, and trying the MotoACTV, and a Polar. I wanted the most stable interface with solid GPS signal finding that was accurate and simple to use and manage with HRM and the potential for more if I wanted. I also wanted it to work as a watch. I love this thing, it has never lagged or had an issue with syncing, logging, or anything. The display is very crisp (better than the Fenix) and interface is simple and fast. The battery is awesome. I ride 3-4 times a week with 1 second tracking for around 1.5 hours. Between the ride and the 1-2 days of wearing as a watch, when I sync my ride, I've never seen the battery under 83%. I could probably go all week wearing it as a watch and track my 3-4 1.5hr rides during that week, then upload that week's rides and charge it and it would make it.

    The main things that sold me on the Ambit over the Fenix is the Fenix has a few bugs, though it was released more recently and will surely get some software update fixes. But still, Garmin is known to have some bugs here and there and lag on fixing them. Also the display on the Ambit is much more crisp/less pixel-looking. It tracks in-door training just fine and can monitor HRM and other tracking with a GPS signal. The Fenix needs a GPS signal to start a workout.

    For converting to Strava, you can just export your ride from Movescount (which it auto-syncs to when you plug in) and Strava will take it, however you will lose your heart rate data currently. So what Mac users like, is using RubiTrack, which many love the program itself, but it also auto sync with your Ambit and you can export it to Strava with all the extra data.
    If you have a Mac

    I use a Mac, but I'm more often in Bootcamp/Windows lol, so I use SportTracks 3.1 with the "Export2Tcx" plugin and it syncs with my Ambit when I plug it in and I just hit export and upload to Strava (since many friends are on Strava).

    But again, depends on your needs. One of the advantages of the Fenix is it currently supports ANT+, if you currently own ANT+ devices it will sync to them. Though Ambit is said to have that in the Nov. update and its HRM it comes with is as good as any I've used.

    I left a lot of stuff out as a very general overview specifically pointing out my very basic needs and what worked. Read the in-depth reviews to see which is best for you because they each have some advantages when it comes to things like mapping, geocaching, virtual trainer, multi-sport, and using various monitoring devices with them.

  3. #3
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    i got forerunner 110 recently. little over $100 if you shop around online a bit. all i wanted was track my rides and upload them to strava and thats what it does. plus i wear it as a everyday watch. has hrm too which i dont use plus couple other functions.
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  4. #4
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    Thanks for the info guys. I was leaning towards the cheaper end of things right now. This is pretty new tech and I'd expect more robust features to be worked into watches over the next few years.

    I just really want to load some data from my different rides into Strava and see where I went and how long it took. I don't need a HRM and a bunch of fancy stuff. I just want to know what time it is and know where I've been, so I want the receiver to be reliable in the woods under the cover of the trees.. I'd like to be able to use it on my road bike too.

    It seems the Forerunner series might do the trick for me.

  5. #5
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    if you want cheap and basic, consider a Forerunner 205. It's older and bigger than the newer models, but it's reliable. I use one for running. I have used it on the bike before and it worked.

    the smaller the device, the smaller the antenna, so reception tends to get more finicky unless the receiver chip is upgraded enough to process the raw data better. I think the Forerunner 205/305 series are pretty good. They're from the same era as the Edge 205/305, which are so highly regarded for the bike. For later models, Garmin started experimenting with some new interface options and reducing the size. Some of those changes were successful, some were not. I have heard that the models with a touch bezel can be a pain to operate.

    keep in mind that the only watch that will do a barometric altimeter is the fenix. Because of that, you will be relying on the elevation corrections of whatever site/program you use. And they won't be all that good no matter which you use. any elevation data you get from the device will be of limited use.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the info Nate. I didn't even consider the elevation factor, and upon thinking about it I guess it is a must have feature for me. Maybe the watch isn't the right product for me after all. Maybe it's back to the drawing board and just get something like the Garmin 500 on the handlebars. I guess if I go the Garmin 500 route I'll just buy a second mount for my road bike and just deal with the handlebar set up.

    I have a bunch of watches already, and I don't really need another one. I was just hoping for a cheap and easy fix to a problem I don't really have

  7. #7
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    Another vote for the Ambit. That watch just rocks. I have a forerunner as well and it always loses GPS signal in the woods. Not the ambit, it has yet to lose signal in the woods. A little expensive but well worth the cost. You'll be disappointed when you get a cheaper model and your mileage is never correct because the GPS loses the signal, trust me.

  8. #8
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    Using the Garmin 405CX for running and biking. Keeps the signal good. Great for running but having trouble keeping the bike sensor working on rough terrain. The watch will figure the speed anyway but I like keeping track of the cadence. Moved the sensor to the other side to see if it stay there better.

  9. #9
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    GPS watches have been around for a while. I wouldn't worry about tech. Spend more and get something you want to replace in 3 months.

  10. #10
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    I use a Garmin Forerunner 310XT and I've been very satisfied. The 305 is a great option if you don't need the extra water proofing and battery life, as a log distance triathlete I make use of it.

    If can be found for around $200 on sale when you find a deal. I'd been completely satisfied with it.

    My sugestion is to check out DC Rainmaker's blog/reviews DC Rainmaker

  11. #11
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    I've been researching this myself lately.

    No solid recommendations from me, I haven't bought something yet, let alone lived with it. At the moment, my front runner is the Garmin ForeRunner 410. I was leaning toward the 310XT but it's huge. The 910XT is a little smaller and a lot more expensive. The 410 looks like it's shaped in a little friendlier way. I'm going to borrow the 405 from a friend and try it out for a while.

    However, depending on what you want, one of the cheaper models may be fine. I wanted to add heart rate monitoring and recording, complicated intervals workouts, and cadence. The intervals and cadence aspects both push me up-market.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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