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  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jul 2013

    What's the verdict on Garmin 500's navigation/course feature?


    I'm in the market for a GPS. My main needs are tracking basic functions (speed, time, elevation, etc.) and course navigation. Breadcrumb trail navigation is sufficient for me, I'm not looking for a map or turn-by-turn navigation. I like to hit new trails that I'm not familiar with and would like some sort of an idea I'm on the right path while on the trail. Cadence and HRM would be a plus, but not a deciding factor.

    I had my heart set on Garmin 500, but after reading so many contradicting reviews, I'm about to hit my head against the wall...
    Some people reported no issues with the course functionality. Some said the course would come and go from the screen, some even reported the units froze up, especially for longer rides. Most seem to agree that more issues happened after firmware 2.6.

    I'd like to stay below $200 and am now considering Timex Cycle Trainer unit. I know Garmin 500 is the "standard" here, any input from Garmin owners is greatly appreciated!

    Thank you in advance!

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation: ghettocruiser's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    If you're in the woods on a winding course, there is a high probability that you are going to get a constant stream of "off course" and "course found" beeps from compromised reception. So much that it may be hard to tell what the hell is going on at some points. However, the 800 does this too. I have not tried the 510/810.

    There is a basic little "map" screen that lets you follow the track line with the arrow icon, but on a mountain bike ride you'l need to pretty much stop to to see it clearly.

    If your trails are more linear this might not be such an annoyance.

    As for the ability of the unit to actually handle a course file, my 500 had no real issues following a 200-mile-long track on a road bike ride. I have the Ver3 firmware.

    It also can give turn-by-turn directions (as in "turn left in 200 m" not street names) if you're into that kind of thing
    The above statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration

  3. #3
    DeForest Stump
    Reputation: Cobretti's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    The course following function isn't great from my experience. If the course you're following crosses itself, you'll have to guess which way to go. Since some trails ride much better in one direction than the other, this could make a big difference in your ride. Also, when you go really slow or stop, it zooms out. Then you can't tell which way the trail goes, there's no way to manually zoom back in. Once you get going again, it zooms back in, then you can see where the trails if you get off course.
    If the course you're following doesn't cross itself and the trail is well defined enough that you don't have to hunt for it often, it works decent.
    Hope that helps.

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Thanks for the insights! Really appreciate it!

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