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  1. #1
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    Should I Get Topo Maps with the Garmin 810?

    Trying to decide which bike computer I should ask Santa for.

    I currently us a iPhone app to track my rides.

    I want good navigation features and the ability to use gpx files to learn trails I haven't been on before. I also like the live tracking feature since I frequently ride alone.

    My primary question is, do you need the topo maps for good navigation, or are the base maps adequate? Or maybe 510 is all I need???

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkP View Post
    Trying to decide which bike computer I should ask Santa for.

    I currently us a iPhone app to track my rides.

    I want good navigation features and the ability to use gpx files to learn trails I haven't been on before. I also like the live tracking feature since I frequently ride alone.

    My primary question is, do you need the topo maps for good navigation, or are the base maps adequate? Or maybe 510 is all I need???
    If you only ride places you know relatively well, topo maps aren't all THAT useful. if you like to ride new places, esp in remote places, topo maps can be a godsend. You don't need to buy them in a package with the gps, though. GPSFileDepot - Free Custom Garmin Maps, Ximage hosting, tutorials, articles and more for your GPSr has what you'll need.

  3. #3
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    Thanks Nate, you are always a big help with my nav questions.

    I do have this lingering dream of bike packing from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon next summer!

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkP View Post
    Thanks Nate, you are always a big help with my nav questions.

    I do have this lingering dream of bike packing from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon next summer!
    Doing a ride of that length will require you to address battery life at some point. Not sure how long you intend to take, but the Edge should probably get you through ~20ish hours of actual riding before it needs recharged, give or take depending on how long you have the screen on and running. IME, the USB dongles that fit AA batteries would be better to use if you'll be riding for just a few days (a long weekend type trip, for example). Once you get up to about a week or two, the weight of spare batteries starts to get up there, and a solar charger starts to become advantageous (with a solar charger, you've gotta figure in the weight of a couple spare sets of batteries on top of the charger's weight, so how fast you're burning up the device's battery is a large factor into how long you have to be out for a solar charger to be a better option than the USB dongle with AA's).

    Being in AZ with good sun exposure (better than many parts of the country, at least), you should be able to charge a spare set of batteries in a day or two. For me, especially right now where I may not see the sun at all for more than a week, or when taking a trip through deep forest (even when it's sunny out), a solar charger probably wouldn't make sense at all.

    This is why you're seeing folks with dedicated bikepacking bikes putting dynamo hubs on. You can set them up to charge just about any USB device.

    BTW, how do you like that SC Solo? I hope to get a new bike next year, and a nearby shop has had a very sexy orange carbon Solo for awhile that has caught my eye.

  5. #5
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    I think the USB dongle will work for me. Thanks again!

    I just put my Solo up for sale on ebay.

    This was my first new bike in 10 years and my first full suspension bike. After years of riding upright head tube geometry, I've had a really hard time getting comfortable on the Solo. I've come to realize I should have bought a XC bike that will be more similar to what I started riding back in the 80's. I've got the Pivot Mach 429 and Salsa Spearfish on my short list.

  6. #6
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    I hope you find something that makes you comfortable. I've also been on the same bike for over 10 years (Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp). I've been able to demo a bunch of bikes and I've pretty much settled on a 5" full suspension. I've ridden longer travel bikes and they don't handle quick enough for me. They just plow through everything so even the most rugged trails around here feel like MUP's. I'm also not a 29" wheel fan. Some are better than others, but overall, they don't handle quickly enough for me. I can't really tell much difference between 26 and 650b on the bikes I've ridden, so that's the general area I'm looking. Just got my wife a carbon XTR-level Santa Cruz Blur XC on the used market for dirt cheap this year, and the carbon is working out well for her. Thinking about it for myself.

    I built myself a Salsa Vaya this year for commuting and road rides. I'm more likely to load up my camping gear and head out for the weekend than I am to latch on to a roadie hammerfest, and the Vaya suits my needs well. I've been extremely happy with the way the frame was built. I built it up a little unorthodox - it's a 1x10 with a mtn cassette, so it has nearly the same range of gears as a compact double. My previous commuter was a PITA with some features that looked good on paper but were not applied well to the end product.

    So with the GPS, how would you like to use it to learn new trails?

  7. #7
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    I like the 29, but I will be doing some racing and they roll over our Arizona chunk well.

    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    So with the GPS, how would you like to use it to learn new trails?
    To track all my rides and related data, allow my wife to track my rides, learn new trails and long ride navigation.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkP View Post
    I like the 29, but I will be doing some racing and they roll over our Arizona chunk well.

    To track all my rides and related data, allow my wife to track my rides, learn new trails and long ride navigation.
    The bolded part is what I was getting at. Some people have expectations about how a bike GPS should do these things. Some people come at it from a car GPS standpoint, where it should give verbal commands for all the trails...which isn't really how it works. Others have expectations that it should function like a smartphone, which isn't really true, either. To get the most out of it, you have to learn the unique way that it functions, and how to use it with different software for data analysis or to upload the kind of stuff you want on the GPS to help you navigate. You can get the GPS to prompt you for navigation cues, but it works more like a digital cue sheet than a car GPS does. You can also set it up to simply display a map so that you can free navigate, which is how I tend to use a mapping GPS most of the time. But doing this requires you to have a better understanding of navigation and map reading in general. My work and education has required this of me, so it's very little problem and in a pinch I can usually make do without navigational tools (and sometimes I test myself to stay sharp), though I usually walk in circles inadvertently for awhile before I get my bearings.

    I have noticed that the 29" wheels do roll a little easier over chunk than smaller ones, but that is not such a big advantage to me that I'm willing to sacrifice "flickability" or maneuverability for it. Here in Indiana, our expanses of public land tend to be small, so our trails are twisty to fit more miles per acre, as well as to follow the terrain, which can be steeply rolling with many small but steep drainages in parts of the state. When I've ridden a 29er on some of those trails, I am dissatisfied with how much I have to exaggerate turning motions (both turning the bars and leaning) to rail a tight corner. I'm also not a racer, so I care less about how fast I'm going. I care more about riding fluidly on the flowy trails. We are working here to connect some places so we can have some truly long mtb routes and real bikepacking options. I want a fatbike for that kind of riding.

    I'm also quite a bit smaller than you, so I think that plays a role in my preferences. I ride somewhere between a 17.5-19" frame, depending.

  9. #9
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    I was a quartermaster/navigator in the Coast Guard in the pre digital GPS days (post sextant). We did everything based on lat/long and paper charts. So I understand the concepts, I just need to figure out how the device works. I assume my Mac will be OK for uploading??

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkP View Post
    I was a quartermaster/navigator in the Coast Guard in the pre digital GPS days (post sextant). We did everything based on lat/long and paper charts. So I understand the concepts, I just need to figure out how the device works. I assume my Mac will be OK for uploading??
    Garmins have been compatible with Macs for a good number of years now. It will change the software you'll use with the GPS, though. There are a number of threads in here related to Mac software. Two or three options tend to come up regularly as being the best.

    Land nav is a bit different than sea nav. Some of the terminology is different. And frankly, I find lat/long to be clumsy. I prefer to work in the UTM projection, which allows you to work in linear units (meters). For the GPS, it doesn't matter much, as you can change the coordinate systems as you need. However, if I need lat/long coordinates, chances are, decimal degrees is all that's necessary, rather than DMS.

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