Mountain Bike Reviews Forum banner
1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
195 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,
I recently purchased a Garmin Edge 530 specifically to follow routes in a dense set of trails. I have my phone for big picture view of the trails, I need the on bike view to tell me which turn to take next. After two rides I have a couple of observations and questions. For those who are in the same camp as me, I made a couple of adjustments after ride 1. The auto pause with restart at 6mph is not that useful for a group ride on technical terrain. The recording stops every time that you need to wait for the next rider to take a turn and reaching 6mph to reactivate may take a few hundred yards. As a result I deactivated auto pause for my mountain profile for ride 2. I also deactivated auto zoom because the live view did not provide the detail necessary to follow the route. To ensure that the view is as accurate as possible, I recalibrated the compass.

Ride 2 was better, but it was really difficult to see where I was in relationship to the trail map. Any suggestions for set up of the map or settings to allow me to navigate a complicated trail system in real time?

Thanks
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,773 Posts
I do not know if the Garmin will do that.
I can't see the screen well enough for it to be useful. Had the Garmin for a few years and I found the navigation to be inadequate. I got lot on local trails when using the navigation feature to guide me through a previous ride I'd uploaded.
I did it on another series of trails and it was useless in one area. fortunately I knew where I was (in both situations actually). The mountain bike portion wasn't on the map or something because it kept wanting me to go places that didn't exist. It was off course and tried telling me to head 1 mile west, or something. There were no west's to even take.

Put the map zoom back to the way it was. Otherwise, you will just need to stop and zoom in to read the map then continue your riding. I'm pretty sure the Garmin 530 will in no way whatsoever allow you to remain in motion and still read the screen to know which left you should be taking in 3 seconds from now.

I will summon @Harold -he is really Garmin savvy.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
148 Posts
I also have been incredibly frustrated with the turn-by-turn routing of the 530. I gave up trying to use it, and am much happier now that I've lowered my expectations. If you still want to try, three things that might help a bit if you're determined are:

Choose GPS+GLONAS or +Galileo (Settings - Activity Profile - GPS Mode)

Get rid of all the redundant maps (Settings - Activity Profile - Navigation - Map - Map Info)

Change the recording interval to 1s (Settings - System - Data Recording)

The GPS+... choices in the navigation settings greatly increase the accuracy of the system when under trees. I don't know which of the two is better, but either one is better than straight GPS.

The redundant maps I'm talking about are the five different data sets loaded into the unit (AMR Standard Basemap; Garmin Cycle Map Amer, North; Trailforks; etc.) that are all enabled by default. Many of the trails I rode would have a spaghetti of lines displayed and it took me a while to realize it was multiple datasets showing a slightly shifted--and not quite identical--version of the same trail. I don't know if this confused the routing, but it sure confused the heck out of me when I would try to get back on the the route when the system inevitably thought I was off. It may also be worth connecting the unit with a cord to you computer and launching the Garmin software. I noticed when I did that, it surprised me with a big update of the maps. I thought the firmware updates were keeping the maps up-to-date, but I'm guessing not.

The recording interval of 1s forces the map to update more often. This will decrease the battery life, I'm sure, but I still get about 10 rides between charges. Similarly to getting rid of redundant maps, I'm not sure if this helps routing at all, but it does make it easier to see where the heck you really are when you have to figure out if you're really off the route like the 530 always thinks you are.

These things combined with the constant firmware updates might make MTB routing possible now, I don't know. I recently tried on a long ride and it only went into u-turn mode once for about 5 minutes. Regardless, the changes I recommend help the map display to be more accurate and less confusing, which makes manual routing better. On new trails now, I find myself visualizing a route, following it as best as possible, and stopping to get an overview and correct when necessary. I think the 530 is totally capable of doing routes on roads, but not up to the task on trails.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
195 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks Riled, I will try only the Trailforks maps since I will be using that app to create routes. When setting the GPS mode the unit provided a tip to use the extended GPS modes for difficult conditions. Will try Galileo.
 

·
high pivot witchcraft
Joined
·
6,721 Posts
I recently got an 830. I love it. It does so many things reasonably well.

This is not one of them. Among other things, the screen is not nearly large enough for me for this to be a usable feature. I gave up and carry my large iPhone Max Pro in my pocket with TrailForks Pro loaded.

The whole mapping/TrailForks thing for me on my 830 has been a fail. I gave up trying pretty early on, including the turn by turn function.

The learning curve for the 830 was a little steep for me. I’m a bit better now after having used it continuously for a couple of months. Maybe now that I am more accustomed with it I will rewatch some YouTube videos so I can try to access a few more of the countless features of the 830 that seem inaccessible .

Still love the 830 though. Just not for any trail map related features. My iPhone works much better.

PS - are any of you Garmin experts able to give simple step by step instructions on how to use the time to complete and distance to complete data fields? This will be the next thing I try to figure out.
 

·
since 4/10/2009
Joined
·
37,079 Posts
Hi,
I recently purchased a Garmin Edge 530 specifically to follow routes in a dense set of trails. I have my phone for big picture view of the trails, I need the on bike view to tell me which turn to take next. After two rides I have a couple of observations and questions. For those who are in the same camp as me, I made a couple of adjustments after ride 1. The auto pause with restart at 6mph is not that useful for a group ride on technical terrain. The recording stops every time that you need to wait for the next rider to take a turn and reaching 6mph to reactivate may take a few hundred yards. As a result I deactivated auto pause for my mountain profile for ride 2. I also deactivated auto zoom because the live view did not provide the detail necessary to follow the route. To ensure that the view is as accurate as possible, I recalibrated the compass.

Ride 2 was better, but it was really difficult to see where I was in relationship to the trail map. Any suggestions for set up of the map or settings to allow me to navigate a complicated trail system in real time?

Thanks
I hate autopause. I just turn it off for bike rides, period. There's really no need to have "stopped time" displaying on your computer. If you need that data, whatever website you upload to will calculate it from your recorded file later, anyway. I do use autopause for running, but since I don't really run ever since a half marathon destroyed me, that's not really relevant for me anymore, either. IIRC, a wheel sensor will get autopause to deactivate sooner if you do choose to use it (I'd recommend a much lower threshold speed if you do, though). I recommend a wheel sensor for mtb use regardless, though.

I have an Edge 520, which lacks some of the features you have access to. I haven't used a 530, so I'm of limited use on device-specific settings.

One thing I do when I use the navigation functions is to take a little more time programming my route. Wherever I got the file to begin with, I take it into the route planner tool on RideWithGPS so I can make sure I program turn notifications into that route. That way, when I need to make a turn, my Garmin chimes at me and pops up a notification with an arrow telling me which way to go. In a dense trail network, I'd probably look to also put notifications to tell me to go straight through intersections, as well. It takes a second to learn this tool, though, and probably a couple rides to learn where to place those notifications (hint - it's BEFORE the intersection).

Getting a useful map view for a dense network will probably take some experimentation with zoom levels. Deactivating auto zoom is a good first step. The next will probably be to play with the manual zoom controls to get the map zoom where you like it. Because otherwise the 5x0 models just choose a zoom level for you automatically and it might not be the one you actually want. The manual zoom controls are kinda buried so messing with them can be annoying.

I do not know if the Garmin will do that.
I can't see the screen well enough for it to be useful. Had the Garmin for a few years and I found the navigation to be inadequate. I got lot on local trails when using the navigation feature to guide me through a previous ride I'd uploaded.
I did it on another series of trails and it was useless in one area. fortunately I knew where I was (in both situations actually). The mountain bike portion wasn't on the map or something because it kept wanting me to go places that didn't exist. It was off course and tried telling me to head 1 mile west, or something. There were no west's to even take.

Put the map zoom back to the way it was. Otherwise, you will just need to stop and zoom in to read the map then continue your riding. I'm pretty sure the Garmin 530 will in no way whatsoever allow you to remain in motion and still read the screen to know which left you should be taking in 3 seconds from now.

I will summon @Harold -he is really Garmin savvy.
There are some nuances to Garmin navigation. I'd be curious which model you had. The first scenario almost sounds like you had one without navigable maps, and no turn notifications, so the best you could get would be a compass pointing the way to go. I agree that way sucks. The second scenario sounds like the "lock on roads" setting was enabled, or maybe the GPS didn't have a good position lock for you (if you haven't used it in a long time, or you traveled a long distance since the last time you used it, it takes extra time for the GPS to figure out satellite positions and calculate its own position), and it was sending you overland to where it thought you were supposed to be.

If you make sure you program turn notifications into your route, you absolutely can have an Edge 530 help you find which turn to take (even without stopping). Granted, it might be a bit confusing if you're coming up on an 8-way intersection or something complicated like that (that one will probably require stopping to do some figuring out, as the possible turn notifications aren't fine-grained enough to tell you to take the 3rd left or whatever).
 

·
high pivot witchcraft
Joined
·
6,721 Posts
I hate autopause. I just turn it off for bike rides, period. There's really no need to have "stopped time" displaying on your computer. If you need that data, whatever website you upload to will calculate it from your recorded file later, anyway. I do use autopause for running, but since I don't really run ever since a half marathon destroyed me, that's not really relevant for me anymore, either. IIRC, a wheel sensor will get autopause to deactivate sooner if you do choose to use it (I'd recommend a much lower threshold speed if you do, though). I recommend a wheel sensor for mtb use regardless, though.

I have an Edge 520, which lacks some of the features you have access to. I haven't used a 530, so I'm of limited use on device-specific settings.

One thing I do when I use the navigation functions is to take a little more time programming my route. Wherever I got the file to begin with, I take it into the route planner tool on RideWithGPS so I can make sure I program turn notifications into that route. That way, when I need to make a turn, my Garmin chimes at me and pops up a notification with an arrow telling me which way to go. In a dense trail network, I'd probably look to also put notifications to tell me to go straight through intersections, as well. It takes a second to learn this tool, though, and probably a couple rides to learn where to place those notifications (hint - it's BEFORE the intersection).

Getting a useful map view for a dense network will probably take some experimentation with zoom levels. Deactivating auto zoom is a good first step. The next will probably be to play with the manual zoom controls to get the map zoom where you like it. Because otherwise the 5x0 models just choose a zoom level for you automatically and it might not be the one you actually want. The manual zoom controls are kinda buried so messing with them can be annoying.

There are some nuances to Garmin navigation. I'd be curious which model you had. The first scenario almost sounds like you had one without navigable maps, and no turn notifications, so the best you could get would be a compass pointing the way to go. I agree that way sucks. The second scenario sounds like the "lock on roads" setting was enabled, or maybe the GPS didn't have a good position lock for you (if you haven't used it in a long time, or you traveled a long distance since the last time you used it, it takes extra time for the GPS to figure out satellite positions and calculate its own position), and it was sending you overland to where it thought you were supposed to be.

If you make sure you program turn notifications into your route, you absolutely can have an Edge 530 help you find which turn to take (even without stopping). Granted, it might be a bit confusing if you're coming up on an 8-way intersection or something complicated like that (that one will probably require stopping to do some figuring out, as the possible turn notifications aren't fine-grained enough to tell you to take the 3rd left or whatever).
Harold - are there any good YouTube videos or other resources of which you are aware, that explain how to use the mapping and other features of the Edge?
 

·
since 4/10/2009
Joined
·
37,079 Posts
Harold - are there any good YouTube videos or other resources of which you are aware, that explain how to use the mapping and other features of the Edge?
None that I know of. Doesn't mean they don't exist. Just that I've never looked for any.

I do use RideWithGPS's tutorials on route planning when I'm using their tools, and they have some Garmin instructions in there specific to what RWGPS offers and how they can work together.

Ride With GPS Help

A big part of the difficulty in getting a straightforward how-to is that Garmin intentionally offers many options so people can customize the device's function for a wider variety of needs. A lot of folks like to blame a poor UI and whatnot, but it's not really that. The learning curve to dive into these things is pretty steep, and Garmin kinda expects you to know a lot of things before you can take advantage of the settings on their devices. It's how they've always worked, tbh.

They've tried to address this on the navigation side a couple different ways over the years. Getting good navigation ON TRAILS has always been a challenge. Using routing on roads is pretty easy. Get a mapping model, load your route, and voila, it will give you turn notifications automatically because it knows all the roads in the map. Garmin tried for awhile to include routable trails in its own topo maps. Then they learned that they bit off more than they could chew with that one. It just didn't work how they wanted. Then they offloaded that function to OSM maps, and still it didn't work well because trail data quality varied FAR too much for it to work consistently. The newest version of that is offering this Trailforks app, and all GARMIN has to maintain is the ability for Trailforks to offer said app. It's finally out of Garmin's hands completely, and in the hands of a company that is more focused on trail maps. Data quality still varies some, of course. It always will, because trails will always be harder to map consistently in a big picture manner than roads.

This is why I think you get better actual navigation when you do more work beforehand to ensure that you program your desired route well. This is a bit harder to do when traveling, of course.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,773 Posts
My Garmin is the 830.
In many cases the turn by turn worked okay but in more remote situation it was not reliable.

I rode a lake tahoe trail late last year and it wasn't useful to me. I need eye glasses to see the screen. I didn't have turn by turn because I did not have a route to follow, but it was difficult to see the trail names and/or to see enough screen to know if that was even the one I wanted.
If I had retrieved my glasses it would be fine. I actually did clip my glasses to my shirt for a while until I got sorted out, but to dig out the glasses, I might as well also grab the phone that is in the same pack. I used the phone later on the ride, early on was a mix. First the phone then realized I was stopping too frequently that I kept my glasses out.

I figure if the turn by turn tried to get me lost on my home trails, I would not trust it while traveling. At least if I had a route on the screen thought I could look at the course to know if I were even on the correct trail.
The tools are helpful, and combined with a trailforks screen on a larger phone screen (for me) we can navigate about anywhere. I don't know if we are quite there yet where we can hit "start" and have a zero-stop flawless navigation mtb ride in ALL locations.
I'm using the Galaxy S7 Edge (still). Not a max screen like is available now but it is large enough for me to read and scroll with enough view to see if that is where I wanted to go.
 

·
Disgruntled Peccary
Joined
·
6,564 Posts
The amount of effort that went into turn-by-turn navigation on roads was not trivial. It's not surprising that it's iffy at best on crowd sourced resources. This seems to be a data quality issue more than anything else, complicated by rather short runways for turns.

I don't have a problem with it, most of the trails are properly labelled, and if I stop and look at turning points everything's good. Kind of like when you had to carry a map.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
195 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks everyone for your replies. I tried just using Trailforks maps and created a route to follow. The results were extremely discouraging. Tracking was not accurate vs. the route with the point often not near the listed route. The route line was confusing as well. The route I created is bar bell shaped with two loops connected by a trail ridden in both directions which provided the opportunity to assess how the unit handled that scenario.

I will continue to experiment, but I feel that the 530 is only useful for recording data and not suitable for navigation. I don't believe that the issue is data quality because the tracking is extremely reliable when using Trailforks on my phone. Also damning is the fact that the tracking error was there vs the track recorded on the same trail ridden in the opposite direction. I will post back here if I make progress. At this point please don't tell my wife that I wasted $300.
 

·
since 4/10/2009
Joined
·
37,079 Posts
Data quality is a huge issue.

Phone apps have built in a LOT of "fudge factor" to deal with it. Garmin has always wanted more precision (since they started as backcountry navigation devices, first and foremost). There are hardware reasons for that (phones generally have a large amount of error for each recorded position than a dedicated GPS, for one), but practical ones, as well, as Garmin has always had a bigger push towards accuracy and precision than most phone GPS receivers. Phone apps have poorer quality raw data to work with, and therefore they can't have the same focus. They have to use software to weed out bad data, give a little extra buffer, etc. The one place where phones do better is with urban navigation, because they're able to use OTHER wireless signals to help refine location. When they have to rely on GPS signals by themselves, they typically do worse.

In some scenarios, you don't see the difference so much. The most challenging situations are where you have dense trail networks with tight turns. Where just a very small amount of GPS error can make the GPS think you're on a very different spot of the trail or your planned route. And that, ultimately, will affect the directions you're given.

The OTHER elephant in the room is how the data presented on Trailforks or other online sources was collected in the first place. These crowd-sourced trail maps weren't generated with $10,000 survey-grade equipment using best practices for data collection. There's a huge range of equipment and techniques used. Some will have been recorded well. Others won't. And beyond that, to help with server loads, these crowd-sourced websites strip out data and actually reduce the accuracy of the files uploaded for the trails. So that data might have been really, really solid when it was uploaded, but to reduce storage needs and to help with map loading times, data was stripped from the files and the files reflect the trails on the ground less accurately. So when you use that data to plan a route, a GPS that expects a higher level of precision is going to have a difficult time. Garmin's navigation works best when you build a course from an unadulterated recorded file of a previous ride. That's not what Trailforks and MTBProject are supplying you. Trailforks and MTBProject didn't exist when Garmin build their Course navigation system. At the time, people shared recorded ride files. RideWithGPS and Strava didn't have their route-building tools at the time. I remember when you could search anyone's activities on Motionbased and then on Garmin Connect, download them, and follow them. THAT is what Garmin's Course navigation was really built to do. And they had training functions for it, as well. They gave you the Virtual Partner so you could compare pacing to that previous ride. So you could see how you stack up to faster riders, or try to beat your personal best, or whatever.

Trying to shoehorn road-type navigation onto trails is never going to work as well. Roads are typically mapped to an extremely high accuracy. They do tend to get simplified, too (for public consumption maps), but since they're straighter to begin with, it tends to matter less. Trails are never going to get mapped at that kind of quality for public consumption. For that matter, trails are more likely to change over time (tread creep, reroutes, closures, etc), whereas changes to roads are discrete events and it's easier to incorporate those changes into map updates. Trails are practically changing all the time. Nobody is going out and re-mapping trail networks every year to account for all the minute tread creep that's occurring.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
195 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Data quality is a huge issue.

Phone apps have built in a LOT of "fudge factor" to deal with it. Garmin has always wanted more precision (since they started as backcountry navigation devices, first and foremost). There are hardware reasons for that (phones generally have a large amount of error for each recorded position than a dedicated GPS, for one), but practical ones, as well, as Garmin has always had a bigger push towards accuracy and precision than most phone GPS receivers. Phone apps have poorer quality raw data to work with, and therefore they can't have the same focus. They have to use software to weed out bad data, give a little extra buffer, etc. The one place where phones do better is with urban navigation, because they're able to use OTHER wireless signals to help refine location. When they have to rely on GPS signals by themselves, they typically do worse.

In some scenarios, you don't see the difference so much. The most challenging situations are where you have dense trail networks with tight turns. Where just a very small amount of GPS error can make the GPS think you're on a very different spot of the trail or your planned route. And that, ultimately, will affect the directions you're given.

The OTHER elephant in the room is how the data presented on Trailforks or other online sources was collected in the first place. These crowd-sourced trail maps weren't generated with $10,000 survey-grade equipment using best practices for data collection. There's a huge range of equipment and techniques used. Some will have been recorded well. Others won't. And beyond that, to help with server loads, these crowd-sourced websites strip out data and actually reduce the accuracy of the files uploaded for the trails. So that data might have been really, really solid when it was uploaded, but to reduce storage needs and to help with map loading times, data was stripped from the files and the files reflect the trails on the ground less accurately. So when you use that data to plan a route, a GPS that expects a higher level of precision is going to have a difficult time. Garmin's navigation works best when you build a course from an unadulterated recorded file of a previous ride. That's not what Trailforks and MTBProject are supplying you. Trailforks and MTBProject didn't exist when Garmin build their Course navigation system. At the time, people shared recorded ride files. RideWithGPS and Strava didn't have their route-building tools at the time. I remember when you could search anyone's activities on Motionbased and then on Garmin Connect, download them, and follow them. THAT is what Garmin's Course navigation was really built to do. And they had training functions for it, as well. They gave you the Virtual Partner so you could compare pacing to that previous ride. So you could see how you stack up to faster riders, or try to beat your personal best, or whatever.

Trying to shoehorn road-type navigation onto trails is never going to work as well. Roads are typically mapped to an extremely high accuracy. They do tend to get simplified, too (for public consumption maps), but since they're straighter to begin with, it tends to matter less. Trails are never going to get mapped at that kind of quality for public consumption. For that matter, trails are more likely to change over time (tread creep, reroutes, closures, etc), whereas changes to roads are discrete events and it's easier to incorporate those changes into map updates. Trails are practically changing all the time. Nobody is going out and re-mapping trail networks every year to account for all the minute tread creep that's occurring.
Ok, obviously you are way more familiar that I am about how these things work so I am not questioning your knowledge. Coming from IT I have a hard time understanding how a less accurate device using the same flawed data produces accurate, reliable results while the 530 is not usable. Using trailforks on my phone I was able to follow a complicated route through a maze of trails with only a few yards between different trails. Does the GPS use a different methodology to display the pointer on the map vs the phone?
 

·
since 4/10/2009
Joined
·
37,079 Posts
Does the GPS use a different methodology to display the pointer on the map vs the phone?
yes, sortof.

because phones are less accurate (and the apps built to work with data of a given accuracy), they've got a bigger buffer to "snap to road" (or trail) than Garmin uses, which lets the navigation continue unmolested while the gps position deviates a little farther from the actual route you're on. I wish Garmin would let you adjust this, tbh. apps don't let you adjust it, either, so it'll probably never happen.

But I see my phone gps go berserk occasionally when I'm driving and the pointer keeps wandering and snapping to different roads, which then changes the navigation directions, so it happens for phones, too. the bigger buffer just reduces the incidence of problems.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
195 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
thanks, that makes perfect sense. one key that i take from your response is the bias to follow the route visually vs. accuracy that is built into the two platforms. is there any way to dumb down the sensitivity on the gps to improve the experience?

The real question is what are the realistic expectations for navigating vs pre determined routes? I am going to start to explore gravel riding with much more road sections. will the accuracy of the road maps make following a route better?
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top