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  1. #1
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    Bike GPS for MTB Purchase Help

    Hey Everyone,

    So looks like the edge 530 is around the corner, and the 520 can be had for 200 on amazon. I like the Bolt as well, and even eyeing the 130 due to size and cost.

    Aside from the typical tracking of my rides, I want to be able to ride new trails alone by inputting trailforks/mtbproject/kamoot routes and follow them. I DON'T need fancy features and even the 130 I think is all I need. Since I can get the 130 and 520 for the same price... is it dumb to get the 130? Like wise, for only 50 more I can get the bolt. $78 more I can get the 520 plus OR spend a little more and get the 530?

    Decisions, decisions...

  2. #2
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    I went for the 520, its a $5 difference and you get more features. Not sure you can have TF on there, but I'm new to these little machines.
    Surly Krampus
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  3. #3
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    Nice. TF?

    EDIT: sorry trailforks I assume you mean.

  4. #4
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    The Garmin 130 is supposed to be pretty good but I couldn't see buying it for the same price that you could get a 520 for. I'd recommend checking out DC Rainmaker for the best in depth reviews. https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2019/04/...eview.html/amp

    He gives good reviews on all the ones you mention and says the new 530 is the best yet. I don't use maps or route finding but for your purposes I'd check those features carefully.
    I brake for stinkbugs

  5. #5
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    at this point, the 520 plus is probably not worth that much more than the regular 520.

    My take on navigating is that it's much better to be able to have actual maps on the screen that your planned route overlays on. The 130 doesn't do that. Following a "course" the way the 130 does (and most other Garmin fitness devices) works better on the road than on mtb trails. I have tried this on mtb trails, and while it "works" there are major limitations - namely you'll get a LOT of "off-course" warnings when you're actually on-course. If you disable those warnings altogether, then you won't get notified when you make a wrong turn. IMO, the 130 on the mtb is best used for recording and fitness feedback only.

    For mtb trails, simply overlaying what you want to ride onto a map is what most do. Even if your map doesn't have other trails on it, compass direction and terrain cues should be enough to point you the right way. But, there are enough sources for trail maps, so many times you can see your planned ride overlaid onto the trail network and get even better/quicker directions.

    That puts you into 520/530 territory. The plain 520 takes a couple extra steps to load maps (the 520 plus makes that process a touch easier, but IMO, is not worth $78 - if you find a 520 plus at a price much closer to the 520, say, less than $50, I might go for it). If you want the easier map loading and larger map capacity, I'd just go straight to the 530. Don't want the extra connected features? Just turn Bluetooth off.

    In some respects, it's nice to have more features than you minimally want right now. They're present if you decide you want to use them later.

  6. #6
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    Thanks, yeah I know that site well lol. I think since this will be used for basic nav on new trails and mtb only, the 130 is good size-wise. Also I think the 520 isn't bluetooth smart sensor compatible which is a deal breaker for me.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ejewels View Post
    Also I think the 520 isn't bluetooth smart sensor compatible which is a deal breaker for me.
    why? most sensors that use BT are dual-band so they'll work on ANT+ devices, too.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    at this point, the 520 plus is probably not worth that much more than the regular 520.

    My take on navigating is that it's much better to be able to have actual maps on the screen that your planned route overlays on. The 130 doesn't do that. Following a "course" the way the 130 does (and most other Garmin fitness devices) works better on the road than on mtb trails. I have tried this on mtb trails, and while it "works" there are major limitations - namely you'll get a LOT of "off-course" warnings when you're actually on-course. If you disable those warnings altogether, then you won't get notified when you make a wrong turn. IMO, the 130 on the mtb is best used for recording and fitness feedback only.

    For mtb trails, simply overlaying what you want to ride onto a map is what most do. Even if your map doesn't have other trails on it, compass direction and terrain cues should be enough to point you the right way. But, there are enough sources for trail maps, so many times you can see your planned ride overlaid onto the trail network and get even better/quicker directions.

    That puts you into 520/530 territory. The plain 520 takes a couple extra steps to load maps (the 520 plus makes that process a touch easier, but IMO, is not worth $78 - if you find a 520 plus at a price much closer to the 520, say, less than $50, I might go for it). If you want the easier map loading and larger map capacity, I'd just go straight to the 530. Don't want the extra connected features? Just turn Bluetooth off.

    In some respects, it's nice to have more features than you minimally want right now. They're present if you decide you want to use them later.
    Thanks. When you say overlay maps... you mean you still get the onscreen navigation (with other metrics like speed/distance) and are able to zoom in and see the trail as opposed to just breadcrumb on a line?

    And my HR sensor is BT only. Not a huge deal, though.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ejewels View Post
    Thanks. When you say overlay maps... you mean you still get the onscreen navigation (with other metrics like speed/distance) and are able to zoom in and see the trail as opposed to just breadcrumb on a line?
    There's a lot of flexibility in how these things work. But for one, let me just stop the notion that a bike GPS will navigate you like a car GPS. If you do the legwork and program a route (especially on ridewithgps), you can program a Garmin COURSE to mimic that sort of navigation. It takes some time to do, but it works pretty well on the road. I've done it a number of times. It does not work well on mtb trails. There are many reasons why. Just suffice to say that it doesn't work well.

    People who use these devices to navigate mtb trails use a different method to navigate than that. This involves displaying the file you want to ride on the map. Digital maps are composed of layers. This is somewhat simplified on a Garmin, but you can select different maps that can display at the same time. So you can load a topo map from gpsfiledepot.com and then layer a trails only map from Trailforks on top of it (because the Trailforks map has a transparent background, but you can also get a map from Trailforks where they've already layered the trails on the basemap for you). Then, your device will layer your planned ride on top of all of those things. That's what I mean by "overlay". A map layer that "overlays" another.

    The map is on its own screen. The 520 models and higher can display metrics at the same time, but they reduce the area the map will show. Models with bigger screens can show more data fields at the same time as the map. But typically, those extra fields are going to be on different "pages" on the device. You can have several different pages with different data fields on them.

    I don't know about the 530, but the 520 does not let you control the map much. The zoom controls are buried under menus, so they're not easy to use. And you cannot pan the map. If you move up to the touchscreen models, you have more/easier control over how the map displays.

    I don't know what you mean by "see the trail as opposed to a breadcrumb on a line". These things aren't displaying satellite imagery, if that's what you're asking. The maps are all vector maps. Just points, lines, and polygons. Satellite images require massive amounts of storage space for a pretty small area or an active cellular data connection. That's why phone apps display them - the active data connection. No data connection, no maps. On a mapping Garmin, the maps are stored on the device so are always available. Vector maps are able to convey lots of information with minimal storage and processing requirements. So the trails you are riding will always be displayed as lines on the map.

    My Oregon 450 can display satellite images. But like I said, they require massive storage space for a small area. And the display quality is generally not good enough for them to be useful. So I don't use them for anything.

  10. #10
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    ah ok, makes more sense now. Thanks for the help. What I meant by breadcrumb is that you see the line resembling the route, and a dot (breadcrumb) that is you following it. But you don't see surrounding points or trails or anything like that. My old Bolt that I sold and I think the 130 do it that way. Very basic and black and white on the screen.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by ejewels View Post
    ah ok, makes more sense now. Thanks for the help. What I meant by breadcrumb is that you see the line resembling the route, and a dot (breadcrumb) that is you following it. But you don't see surrounding points or trails or anything like that.
    The "dot" or arrow is your CURRENT position. The "breadcrumb" specifically, is the track, or the path that you have traveled. On a device with a color screen, this is shown in a different color than the path you intend to follow, which is displayed in a different color from the rest of the map.

    When it comes down to it, your track is not functionally different from anything else your device displays on the map. It's all just a series of points (recorded with spatial coordinates), some of which will have lines connecting them, and those that close off (end point connects to start point by a line) will be a polygon (park boundaries, lakes, etc).

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcd46 View Post
    I went for the 520, its a $5 difference and you get more features. Not sure you can have TF on there, but I'm new to these little machines.
    Do you get electrical interference with your NiteRider light?

    I can't run a NiteRider light on the bars with a CatEye Wireless computer -it trips it out speed/distance reading. NiteRiders don't have great electrical shielding.

    I'm in the market for a Garmin computer as wel and would like it to not have interference in case I choose the NiteRider on the bars as an option.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forest Rider View Post
    Do you get electrical interference with your NiteRider light?

    I can't run a NiteRider light on the bars with a CatEye Wireless computer -it trips it out speed/distance reading. NiteRiders don't have great electrical shielding.

    I'm in the market for a Garmin computer as wel and would like it to not have interference in case I choose the NiteRider on the bars as an option.
    I will post the resutls tomorrow, going for my first ride with it tonight. That didn't even cross my mind.
    Surly Krampus
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    Thanks all. Sounds like even with a higher end unit, mtb nav doesn't work that well. I think the 130 is prob best.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcd46 View Post
    I will post the resutls tomorrow, going for my first ride with it tonight. That didn't even cross my mind.
    I have a Serfas light that doesn't interfere with the computer.
    I wear the nite rider on my helmet since I now have two lights but just in case I wanted to toss the NR on the bars it will be nice to know. Not that I wouldn't be able to learn it myself once I get the Garmin, but still.

    With the CatEye, I'd notice it right away -I will be riding along and instantly the speed dispaly doesn't adjust as it should which of course affects the distance readings as well.

    I don't think the Garmin works on the same technology as a wireless bike computer so probably good. Unless it would affect a speed sensor reading, if one is using a speed sensor.

    Thanks for checking.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by ejewels View Post
    Thanks all. Sounds like even with a higher end unit, mtb nav doesn't work that well. I think the 130 is prob best.
    It works fine, but you have to understand what you do and don't get from it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Forest Rider View Post
    I don't think the Garmin works on the same technology as a wireless bike computer so probably good. Unless it would affect a speed sensor reading, if one is using a speed sensor.

    Thanks for checking.
    Both of those things operate on different frequencies than a plain ol wireless computer. There is a reason cheap cycling computers are so cheap. The wireless tech is less robust, for one.

  17. #17
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    IDK if it's been mentioned, but for on-screen maps to be useful to me for mtbing, I gotta be able to pan and zoom. The 520 and 520+ can't pan, and zooming is many menus deep, so I find the mapping of feature to be insufficient for my purposes. I currently have a 520 and 820. The 820 is good except for it's highly erratic touch screen.

    The new button driven 530 has panning and makes zooming much more easily accessible, so looks like it would work for me. The new touch screen 830 sounds like it has a much improved touch screen.

    Every new Garmin I've gotten has been a dysfunctional bug ridden can of worms which gradually gets mostly sorted over a period of several years worth of updates. The emphasis is on mostly. I'm looking forward to getting an 830!
    What, me worry?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by ejewels View Post
    Thanks all. Sounds like even with a higher end unit, mtb nav doesn't work that well. I think the 130 is prob best.
    Only downside I'm finding on the 130 is when it does it's occasional sync with the phone (if connected via BT) the sensors drop out for the duration.
    Not much of an issue if they connect back up again 10s later, but if your cell coverage is dodgy, it can be 10's of minutes.
    Turn off the phone sync during the ride and no problem.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by NordieBoy View Post
    Turn off the phone sync during the ride and no problem.
    It's probably a good idea to do this regardless. I don't have any problems with bluetooth on my edge 520, but I think that is related to how I use it. I ONLY use phone connected features for the times when I want to use them. I turn on BT (both on the Garmin and on my phone), set up which things I want to use, use them, and then turn those features off when I'm done. I don't try to leave a constant BT connection active all the time. I think the folks who have trouble with BT connectivity with their Garmins are leaving the connection active all the time and expect it to pick up just fine when they turn the device on/off.

    It would probably work fine with sensors. But those are inexpensive enough that I'd lean towards getting a dual frequency HRM that can work over either ANT+ or BT. Garmin sells one now, but many other companies do, too.

  20. #20
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    I recently got an Edge Explore its about the same size as the 1030 but only costs $250. Its been the perfect computer for me for navigating trail systems I don't know. I just downloaded the Trailforks basemap for my state and turned off the garmin basemap. I can see all the trails and dirt roads around me and where I am in the system. It took a little playing with on the trail to navigate with it because the screen is small and I am use to a paper map. But once you zoom in and out you can figure out where you are. Also its a touch screen. I know this is kind of a sticking point with allot of people. But I have found that Its really handy when using the map. Also if you tap the power button you can turn off the touch and the screen will only swipe left and right. It has bluetooth and ANT+ so It works with my hart rate monitor and connects to my phone. I can get all the connected garmin features like live tracking and call notifications. And it uploads my ride on the drive home from the trail for me so I don't have to plug it in to my computer. Over all I am vary happy with it.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forest Rider View Post
    I have a Serfas light that doesn't interfere with the computer.
    I wear the nite rider on my helmet since I now have two lights but just in case I wanted to toss the NR on the bars it will be nice to know. Not that I wouldn't be able to learn it myself once I get the Garmin, but still.

    With the CatEye, I'd notice it right away -I will be riding along and instantly the speed dispaly doesn't adjust as it should which of course affects the distance readings as well.

    I don't think the Garmin works on the same technology as a wireless bike computer so probably good. Unless it would affect a speed sensor reading, if one is using a speed sensor.

    Thanks for checking.
    Sorry for the delay. Did 13miles on Friday, and I ran my NiteRider with the 520. Zero issues, and left the set up as you saw in the picture.

    Love this thing! Love that it tells you climbing grade and distance, live segments. Just a great little device.
    Surly Krampus
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  22. #22
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    Good to know.
    Appreciate the feed back. Thank you.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcd46 View Post
    Sorry for the delay. Did 13miles on Friday, and I ran my NiteRider with the 520. Zero issues, and left the set up as you saw in the picture.

    Love this thing! Love that it tells you climbing grade and distance, live segments. Just a great little device.
    Yeah I have a few of those niterider lights (I have 2, GF has 1)and they don't interfere with any of our garmins (645, 935, 1000)
    All the gear and no idea.

  24. #24
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    I have a 130, it's a great size for mtn biking, I also like the display better than the 520, but it won't be very useful for navigation

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