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Ok so I've seen some of these cool sounding GPS systems for my mountain bike and I'm wonderig from GPS users... why should I buy one? What do you get out of it? Can I follow the trail on a map on my screen? What are the cool reasons to get one? What's not so cool / dissapointing about them?

Any models you suggest?

THANKS !:thumbsup:
 

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OOOOOOOh Gee Are Eee
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Another Gadget

jhruth said:
Ok so I've seen some of these cool sounding GPS systems for my mountain bike and I'm wonderig from GPS users... why should I buy one? What do you get out of it? Can I follow the trail on a map on my screen? What are the cool reasons to get one? What's not so cool / dissapointing about them?
Gadgets don't need justification.

What you get out of a GPS depends on what you want out of it, how much you spend on it and how much time/ effort you put into using it. I have a Forerunner 201 which is a fairly low end GPS which is designed for Runners (and cyclists sortof) to measure their runs (rides). It's not much good for actual navigation but it is fine as a basic trip computer while it's on the bike. Then when I get home I can upload the courses into my computer to generate maps and check out elevation profiles of my rides. My only gripe about my Forerunner is that it is really slow to find a signal and can lose it's signal in heavy trees or canyons. The newer Forerunners and the Edge (Bike specific unit) are supposed to be MUCH better at getting satellite lock and keeping it.

I bought the Forerunner because I wanted something SMALL that I could mount on the handlebar. If I was willing to spend some more money I would probably buy a Garmin GPSMap 60Cx which has a display that is big enough to used for navigation and you can load full topo maps onto it. There are less expensive units that are useful navigation... the 60Cx is just my choice unit.

One note while GPSs are very useful for navigation I strongly suggest you know alternate methods of finding your way around and bring a map if you are doing any real exploration.
 

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I have a somewhat related noobie question... (maybe there's a better place to post this - I am not sure)

I don't have the funds for a decked out GPS unit (and not sure I need one) but I do want something to start recording my rides including elevation change.

Are there any low budget gadgets that will output ride data in a format that's easy to upload to a PC?

Also can anyone recommend a good wrist heart rate monitor thingy?

- Sorry for the hijack - I've just been pondering the whole GPS/elevation ride data thing for awhile now and figured this was a similar topic...
 

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What a GPS will not do (compared to or without be combined with, a map):

Help you find a new route if you get lost.

Always work. They can lose the satellite link at times, no matter where you are.

Work when the batteries die.

See the whole route at once.


Fun to use. Just do not rely on it as your only navigation tool.
 

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I've been using a Polar 720i for the past couple of years. IT's a heart rate monitor and bike computer. It as all of the bike functions that a high-end bike computer will have, in addition to heart rate and altitude and training modes to track VOx and other training details. You can download yor data to a computer and print graphs that show speed, hr, altitude profile, time.. on the same graph. It costs about $300

Garmin has GPS (Edge 202 and 302) unit sspecifically made for bikes that will do most of the same things as the Polar... for around the same price, but they include GPS.

Since I alresdy have the Polar, I had no need for any bicycle functions in a GPS, so...... I'm waiting for delivery (tomorrow) of a Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx. It's a top of the line, full featured handheld GPS (I also purchased the handlebar mount). I hope it's as good as I've heard.
 

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jhruth said:
Ok so I've seen some of these cool sounding GPS systems for my mountain bike and I'm wonderig from GPS users... why should I buy one? What do you get out of it? Can I follow the trail on a map on my screen? What are the cool reasons to get one? What's not so cool / dissapointing about them?

Any models you suggest?

THANKS !:thumbsup:
Well, besides the other recent threads on this issue (http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=191460), there are alot of GPS users on this forum and opinions will vary.

Just about any hand-held GPS unit on the market will suffice for throwing it in a pocket in a pack and uploading the data into your computer at home. You can even buy a used unit to play around with until you make the decision to drop the big bucks. I used a Garmin GPS III+ for a couple of years just to plot my data after a ride. It was useless as a navigation aid since the memory was too small to hold an appropriate number of maps and the batteries would disconnect in the case and the unit would shut off if mounted on the handlebars.

I recently owned, used and returned a Garmin GPSMAP60CS. It had excellent mapping and navigation capabilities but suffered from the same battery disconnection as the GPS III+. Additionally (and I believe that the same will be true with Blue Shorts' 60CSx), it has an antenna mast that is succeptible to damage - it just sticks out way too much and daintily. I had mine bar mounted and it met with an endo that ended its term with me.

I replaced it with a Garmin eTrex Vista Cx. The display is slightly smaller but it has similar mapping capibilities to the MAP60 series. The satellite reception is not as good, but it is more durable with no antenna mast.

None of the units I have had were designed specifically for biking. One of the Garmin Edge models does heartrate and cadence with remote sensors but it does not do maps. Effectively, it is a bike computer with GPS tracking collection. The data that can be collected and tracked using Motion Based or other software/web service is epic. Additionally, the Edge series can be mounted on the stem instead of the bars wich protects it better from crash damage.

And the prices vary widely. A used GPS may cost $100 while some of the upper range models discussed here can be more than $500.

As Shiggy pointed out, you can't rely on it as your only navigation aid if you are riding a new place by yourself. The batteries may die, you may lose signal, etc. You might also bust your orienteering compass and your map might blow away. If that type of adveturing is your thing, I would recommend one of the higher-end mapping units.

Mine definately came in handy when one of our riders (*cough* pimpbot *cough*) got lost at Coe a few months back. We had radio contact and a trail map with waypoints courtesy of BigLarry. With some radio comunication, I was able to figure out and tell him where he was and give him directions to a different point to meet us.
 

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Dan'ger said:
Additionally (and I believe that the same will be true with Blue Shorts' 60CSx), it has an antenna mast that is succeptible to damage - it just sticks out way too much and daintily. I had mine bar mounted and it met with an endo that ended its term with me.
Most of my riding will be done with the gps in a pouch on my camelbak... very easy to reach. I'm willing to take the chance on it breaking during the rare times that I have it on the bars. All bike functions will still be available to me since I get that info from a bar mounted Polar 720i.

Here's a suggestion... the 76CSx is currently the top of the line handheld GPS by Garmin. The antenna is encased just like the Vista antenna. You can currently get the 76CSx for $50 less than the 60, since Garmin is offering a rebate.
 

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Feature of uploading the GPS information to Google Earth and it shows you the trail/trip you took on Google Earth...coolest feature I think!
 

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Blue Shorts said:
Most of my riding will be done with the gps in a pouch on my camelbak... very easy to reach. I'm willing to take the chance on it breaking during the rare times that I have it on the bars. All bike functions will still be available to me since I get that info from a bar mounted Polar 720i.

Here's a suggestion... the 76CSx is currently the top of the line handheld GPS by Garmin. The antenna is encased just like the Vista antenna. You can currently get the 76CSx for $50 less than the 60, since Garmin is offering a rebate.
Well, I hope you have better luck than I did - just be careful sliding into home.

I played with the idea of the 76 but in the end I felt it was too large.
 

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Dan'ger said:
Well, I hope you have better luck than I did - just be careful sliding into home.

I played with the idea of the 76 but in the end I felt it was too large.
I hear you.... I also feel that the 76 is too large.

My riding requires the better reception of the SIRF circuitry since most of my riding is done in very difficult reception conditions (heavy folliage, canyons). I specifically want the GPS for mapping trails in my area and Tahoe.
 

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Blue Shorts said:
I hear you.... I also feel that the 76 is too large.

My riding requires the better reception of the SIRF circuitry since most of my riding is done in very difficult reception conditions (heavy folliage, canyons). I specifically want the GPS for mapping trails in my area and Tahoe.
BTW, you'll have to experience this for yourself but you may not get good reception in a chest-mounted pouch. Your body will provide as much or more (due to proximity) blockage to the satellite reception, leaning over the bars, etc. I had this problem with earlier models and had to wear it towards the top of my pack with the antenna exposed or use an external antenna routed to a high spot on my pack.

Good news with the 60 series is that you can get and use an external antenna. Maybe a small whip routed to the top of your helmet - just make sure to wear aluminum foil on your head so the aliens can't use it to read your mind.
 

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0gre said:
I have a Forerunner 201 which is a fairly low end GPS which is designed for Runners (and cyclists sortof) to measure their runs (rides). [ . . . ] My only gripe about my Forerunner is that it is really slow to find a signal and can lose it's signal in heavy trees or canyons.

Agree with the Ogre. I also have the Garmin Forerunner 201. Despite putting it at the best area for reception--i.e. on top of my Camelbak HAWG--it loses signal in foliage and canyons. Even shallow natural canyons will thwart it. E.g. parking lot of Deer Park, Fairfax. Same thing goes for urban canyons. e.g. 4th and King CalTrain Station, San Francisco.

Another thing, unless I'm mistaken, the breadcrumb function appears to be useless if you are lost in an area with bodies of water all around you and you are trying to find your way back to the starting point. E.g. Drakes Estero Bay area.

As a means of tracking your path for generating an elevation profile, however, it is sufficient. That, and it is relatively lightweight and small.

My added gripe is that its batteries croak out after 14+ hours, with no ability to swap in fresh ones.
 

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I have the Garmin GPSMap 60Cx and I am very happy with it. I use the plastic aligator clip with the quick disconnect attched to my backpack shoulder strap. The clip is very well designed although I didn't think it was up to the task when I first saw it. If you clip it with the jaws pointed across to the opposite side of your body the thing hangs in a position that is perfect. I never even know it's there. Reach up with the hand on the the same side it is mounted and my thumb is on the quick realease with the GPS snuggled perfectly in my hand. I do all the jumps except the gaps on Culvert and Confluence and have never had a battery dislodge.
 

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Thanks for the information. The UPS guy is scheduled to bring it tomorrow. I can't wait. I'll try to use in in the cell phone pouch on my camelbak... and I'll try it the way you mentioned... sounds like it'll work great!!!!!
 

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Edge 305 rocks

I've been using a Polar 725 for over a year and had been very pleased. I had the speed sensors on my singlespeed and roadbike and was easily able to download ride profiles (speed, cadence [only on roadbike], altitude, heart rate). I frequently took my GPS (original Vista or 60cs) along and would try to sync the times before the ride so I could better align the data.

I bought the Edge 305 ~2 weeks ago and have to say it absolutely rocks. It combines the functions of the Polar with the GPS, providing it all in one place. My only knock on the Edge is that its trackpoint sample rate is either 1/sec or "smart" (variable). At 1/sec sample rate, there is only ~3.5 hours of storage. All of my other Garmin's have configurable sample rates, so if I want 12 hours of consistent data I'll set it to record every four or five seconds.

I'm not that keen on the graphs provided by Garmin's Training Center software, and don't like the hassle/subscription for Motionbased. There is a shareware (contribution encouraged) program called SportTracks that provides a lot of the display capabilities of Motionbased while running locally ... very cool:
http://www.zonefivesoftware.com/SportTracks/

This past weekend I rode Bullards Bar with both the Polar and Garmin heart rate straps. Over the course of 3.5 hours, the heart rate data for each matched the other (Polar samples at 5 second intervals). There was a difference in distance travelled and average speed (Polar uses a wheel sensor, was using the Garmin's GPS) based on the different methods of determining speed, however I'll put the Garmin's speed sensor on the bike to try to do a complete comparison. There were significant differences in the elevation gain/losses, however that is entirely dependent on the algorithms each uses, and Bullards Bar has a lot of minor ups and downs that the Polar may have been tracking and the Garmin was ignoring.

For roadbiking, I mounted the Polar on the handlebars while allowed for good visibility. On the singlespeed, I always wore the watch on my wrist due to shock concerns (at Polar's recommendation) and it was rarely of use during the ride. The Edge allows complete configuration of the display content, though it quickly becomes unreadable if you put too many items on the page (I have %HR as my main line, then speed and elevation as minor lines).

Before I remove the Polar speed sensors, I'll confirm that the Garmin with speed sensors is as accurate. Even if it isn't, using the GPS as a means for speed/distance measurement is generally good enough and eliminates the need to zip-tie speed sensors to the bike.
 

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Vista vs. Edge 305

I have been using a Garmin Etrex Vista for several years and really like being able to plot the route, get elevation profiles, total ascent, etc. I have done a few extras to do translations to other formats, create a rotating 3-D elevation profile, etc.

That said, the Vista was a bit large and lost signal more than I would like, especially in canyons with trees. There are quite a few of those nearby, so it is a bit of a pain. When the display started to flake out, I decided to change.

I got the Garmin Edge 305 (heartrate but no cadence since I don't care about it). The heartrate is more of a curiosity. Sucking air correlates pretty closely with high heart rates(!), but now I have a graph showing where I was sucking air. The Edge seems to track and retain signal much more accurately than the Vista. I don't have large gaps (a perfectly straight line on the route plot) and haven't experienced the auto-shutoff (this usually happens midway through an epic ride).

The Edge is very small. Perhaps not as small as the Polar, but I have a lot more information on there. I have mounted it on the stem and have not had problems so far. It is pretty thin so it does not stick up too high. One nice feature I used tonight was showing the time the sun sets. Sure enough, as I came off the trail a few minutes after sunset (but still within regulation), there was Ranger Rick waiting to generate some revenue by ticketing the stragglers. Being able to see the current time and sunset, I had been able to turn around at the right time. I suppose I paid for the new GPS tonight by avoiding the ticket!

My Vista uses the parallel port, so it is sloooowwww. The Edge is USB which is much better. As noted before, the Edge has a built-in battery so it must be recharged betweeen rides. it was noted that it has a 14 hour limit. None of my rides have taken 14 hours yet, but I suppose this would be a pain on a multi-day camping trip. I suppose the solution here is to get your buddies to bring theirs and each can record a different day (this also avoids exceeding your memory with multiple 14 hour rides).

The Edge does not connect with my National Geographic Topo program. I have v3.4.3 which only supports a serial channel. They are supposed to have some sort of an upgrade plan but it is listed as "not available" so they seem to want people to pay $100 for v4 :mad:. A lot of what I want is in Google Earth and there are some nice features in Topofusion, so I may not get the new Topo.

All in all, I really like it. It allows you to remember some of your rides, find the right profile for training for a race (I helped a friend with this), and you can generate a useful map database. If you get intense, there are all sorts of training things you could do. The Edge is definitely setup with this in mind.

Have fun!
 

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I've been considering a GPS unit for awhile. Mostly because I am terrible at remembering trail names and even worse at recognizing trailheads. Is it possible to download maps that someone else has put together on the GPS units with mapping capabilities? It'd be nice to see the line / trail / series of waypoints on the display and know when to make a turn. I was condering the Edge 305, but it looks like the GPS functionality is mainly for plotting maps on something like Google Earth. If maps like this are available, where do you get them?

Justin
 

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GPS Overview: Recommend eTrex Legend

A lot of good advice here. So I'll only try to add some simple observations.

First, I give a good summary of the Garmin GPS line usefull for MTB in this post on this thread.

I use the GPS for many purposes. Here's a list of some. Some are for play. Others are very useful, and possibly life saving, especially when doing solo rides in new areas. Navigating a new ride, and recording the ride in all sorts of ways (3D topo, profile, distance, climb data, ...) are the biggest values. I find new routes and am willing to explore new places knowing how to get back to a previously marked trail. I'm continuing to have fun with the GPS even after 3 years of use. I very much want to get even a better unit, with bigger color screen, more memory, better receiver, etc...

It's good to carry backup paper trail maps, especially because they can give you the trail name that matches the signs you often find. But I find that putting waypoints at intersections help me make sure I don't miss turns and head off into oblivion. Staying on a planned route is especially important if someone has to come look for me. I leave a map with my planned route with my wife when riding solo. Finding new trails, and even the trail head is nicer with the GPS. It's also fun for geocaching with friends and kids.

My eTrex Vista can go for about 8 hours on rechargeable NiMH batteries. I carry a spare pair of AA batteries anyway, for my flashlight and other emergency tools. The eTrex line does very well on the handlebars, and many of them can show maps. The eTrex does occasionally loose signal on the north side of deep canyons with trees. That's not very often really, and it usually comes back within a short distance of riding. The new SiRFIII receivers like on the small Edge and GPSMAP 60CSx would be good, but those units are from $300-$400, or more.

The small Edge can't take AA batteries, and doesn't display maps. It won't help you navigate, but more features for training. But it's good for tracking and recording ride data on the computer, especially with the better SiRFIII receiver. It's expensive though ($300)

The wrist mounted units, Forerunner and Foretrex, are moderately expensive ($200) and similar or less than the Edge in features, and with less receiver sensitivity.

My recommendation: For lower cost with good general function, look at something like the eTrex Legend for $120. It can display maps that are useful if you're lost (and even nicer if you buy the downloadable Topo map software for $80 more).
 

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CheapWhine said:
The Edge does not connect with my National Geographic Topo program. I have v3.4.3 which only supports a serial channel. They are supposed to have some sort of an upgrade plan but it is listed as "not available" so they seem to want people to pay $100 for v4 :mad:.
If you purchase the National Geographic 3D with Streets upgrade (for around $25 at REI), you get:
3D Topo Plots
Animated 3D flights to replay your MTB ride at warp speed in and out of the canyons.
Overlays of street names on the topo plots
*** Upgrade to NG version 4.0 automatically ****

What a deal!!!
 
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