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  1. #1
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    Noob to bike GPS, Need some advice

    I was reading in the forums that many of you have gps units that tell you speed, cadence, location etc... Does any of the units provide anything else besides these features? Do they give you bike routes? I would buy one in a heart beat if a unit provided bike routes? Any other features that make a gps a worthwhile purchase? Any units stand out above the others? Do they double as car gps?

    Thanks for your help

  2. #2
    mtbr member
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    Since I have been researching this recently, I'll try to help as best I can. Some GPS units can double for the car. The starting price point is around $230 for such a unit. It has to have an "auto route" feature to do so. But thats not it...you will also have to purchase Garmin city/street navigator, which will run another $80 or so. With most units you can set up a track through the supplied software and transfer it to your gps, and follow that track on your bike; but it wont be like "turn left on 1st street". Unless you have the city software and input a specific destination. Many units also track where you have been with "breadcrumbs", so you can double-back if you get lost in the woods. If you have the funds and definitely want to have it double as a car unit, the Garmin Vista HCx would be a good starter unit. It has a slot for a memory card, so you never have to worry about running out of map space. Just so you know what you are dealing with as you do more research, for Garmin products "H" mean it has WAAS (it will pick up satelites more quickly and through greater cover, i.e. in a car, under heavy tree cover, near tall buildings) and you will want this feature. "C" means that the unit has a color display. "x" means it has a microSD card slot. If it doesnt have the "x", it will have a small amount of internal memory; probably enough to hold city maps and topo maps for several counties, but maybe not an entire state. There are some fantastic units out there, if you are willing to spend $400+, but for basic functionality and to cover many bases you can start with the Vista. I like the Garmin Venture HC, though it can't auto-route; but it will let me know where I have been and has enough memory to store many counties of city and topo info, at a price about $120 less than the Vista.

  3. #3
    Scott in Tucson
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    Quote Originally Posted by whysoserious
    I was reading in the forums that many of you have gps units that tell you speed, cadence, location etc... Does any of the units provide anything else besides these features? Do they give you bike routes? I would buy one in a heart beat if a unit provided bike routes? Any other features that make a gps a worthwhile purchase? Any units stand out above the others? Do they double as car gps?

    Thanks for your help
    Depends what you mean by "bike routes"? Almost all GPS units will allow you to upload a GPS track to it, which you could get from a website or a GPS collection like motionbased. So if you wanted to follow a particular trail you could find a file, upload it and follow it.

    If you're asking about routing for bikes, like car GPS units do for cars, there's nothing like that. The best you can do is look at the car options and stay off the freeways.

    Anything other than the Garmin Edge/Forerunner works OK as a car GPS, provided you have the street basemaps loaded (additional cost). The main downside is the smaller screen. But you don't want anything too huge for cycling.

    As for what's cool about GPS, I got into it for tracking my own rides, mapping them out afterwards and crunching all the stats. Nearly every GPS does this -- records a breadcrumb trail of your ride.

    Hope that helps a little.
    Author of TopoFusion GPS Software. MTB+backpacking = bikepacking.net. Ride Diary.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the help guys. Cleared up some confusion.

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