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Hi,

I moved to new place and i'm discovering new trails. Sometimes i use GPX files from past rides (not mine), sometimes i use Trailforks. i do that with a phone. I thought it'd be much nicer/easier if i can have GPS computer in front of me all the time, with all those informations (gpx track i want to follow and TF tracks/segments visible on a map).

I saw there is some integration between TF and Garmin Edge 520 plus - you can install TF app on device and it'll show you all tracks from your list (wishlist? or can you upload all tracks (not routes) nearby?).

also i saw new Garmin Edge 530 has "Trailforks maps are baked into the Edge 530". Does it mean i can't update TF maps? (new trails are created/modified/closed everyday) what's the point of having old and not up-to-date trails in your device ? and what's the point of having trails from all around the world, when probably 99% of them you won't ever ride ....

Can i update TrailForks trails on weekly basis ? (or as a routine before my ride - new trails emerge all the time, some trails are close/open - status changes)

Does someone use TrailForks with some GPS computers here and can shed some light on that ?

any other devices supporting TF ?

Why in almost every 'review', people focus on 'obvious' functionality (or just 'roadies' functionality), omitting new interesting stuff (lazy reviewers? lazy roadies...)
 

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Good questions, suscribibg so i can see the responses. Garmin 530 looks really good considering pulling the trigger soon as it is readily available through LBS or other distributor I trust.
 

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also i saw new Garmin Edge 530 has "Trailforks maps are baked into the Edge 530". Does it mean i can't update TF maps? (new trails are created/modified/closed everyday) what's the point of having old and not up-to-date trails in your device ? and what's the point of having trails from all around the world, when probably 99% of them you won't ever ride ....

Can i update TrailForks trails on weekly basis ? (or as a routine before my ride - new trails emerge all the time, some trails are close/open - status changes)
As this is a new thing for Garmin, and I haven't seen any word one way or another, this is going to have to be a "wait and see" item. It's certainly a good question about being able to update these because stuff changes. And people upload illegal trails to Trailforks often enough (I've flagged a few in my area), how do we know that the ones included on the device are actually legal? I also agree about your "whole world's worth of trails" comment. I don't need all that.

Now, chances are, that the included trailforks maps work the same damn way they do on every other device. You can download trails in basemap format from TF directly, ready to install onto your Garmin. Any Garmin with mapping capability. I can put them on my Edge 520 if I want. Or my old Oregon 450t. Now it would be best if the interface for updating the TF maps was easy. However it may require some knowledge and fiddling, much the way it requires some knowledge and fiddling to put maps on the Edge 520 in the first place.

But even that would be better than not being able to do anything at all, the way many devices from a number of manufacturers function. And IMO, is one reason why some of them have disappeared from the market. Like I said. Wait and see.

Why are all the reviewers roadies? I wish I could answer that conclusively. It's kinda funny, because the first riders using GPS computers were mt bikers carrying etrexes around. Shoot, I once tried riding with a Garmin GPS IV. In all seriousness, I think it has to do with the fact that it's hard to sell all these extra features to mt bikers. Mountain bikers mostly just want a fairly simple device that records, shows a map, shows elevation, and not a whole lot else (for me, a wheel sensor is essential, and a HRM is useful sometimes, but I don't use any other sensors on the mtb). Some want Strava segments or Live Tracking, but based on what I read, it's not most mt bikers...I think roadies like those things more. So I think roadies buy more of these things than mt bikers do. A lot of mt bikers seem perfectly content to run their favorite phone app and stick it in a pocket. There was a short period where people were all about putting their phone on their handlebars, but thankfully I think most of them got some sense and started putting the phone away.

Me? I don't really care about integrating other services into my Garmin. I've had no problem putting map data onto mine for the 16yrs I've been riding with a GPS computer. www.gpsfiledepot.com has all that I ask for in that regard. I just want my Garmin to be simple to use, with physical buttons, a basic map, some sensors, and record where I've been reasonably accurately. The Edge 520 does reasonably well at those things, and while the 530 does include a few improvements to some features I use (more map memory, better battery life, GPS + Galileo satellite mode), they're not earth shattering improvements that will convince me to sell my 520 and buy the 530. If you were buying now, I'd certainly buy the 530 over the 520 Plus no question. But if I found a refurb regular 520 for a good price, I might still buy that instead.
 

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^^^ Totally agree. DCR reviews are at least an order of magnitude better than anything else out there. But, even his reviews don't tell you all you'll want to know, especially since these devices are getting more and more features. DCR can't begin to review and test these in all the possible circumstances. As I mentioned elsewhere, Garmin Edge units always have lots of bugs. Whether they bother you or how much they affect you depends on how you use the device. Unfortunately, you don't find out about them until you've had the chance to use the device for a while.

And I gotta say, having mapping Edge units since getting a 705 back in 2010, I basically never use the routing features or use the device to figure out where to ride. I use it to navigate rides I researched and planned on my computer, and use the little map on it to try to figure out where I am if I'm a bit lost, but the small size, low resolution, slow screen refreshes when panning and zooming make stopping to whip out the phone usually a much better option.
 

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I use Strava live segments because I race but train solo.
Live tracking is no use here off-road as there's no cell coverage.
Live tracking on the road, much more cell coverage.

I mainly use TrailForks to report trail conditions/damage.
 

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I'm in the same boat as the OP I moved from out west to central PA. I am using a combination of paper maps and trail forks on my phone to find my way around. I use an Edge 500 with a Mio link hart rate monitor. I really like seeing my hart rate and using it like a tach on your car. I just wish Garmin would do a mountain bike edge with buttons the screen size like the 1030 but with just the basic functions and really good trail navigation. I have to think there is a really good market for that with how mountain biking and adventure bikes have kind of taken over in the last few years. I have been considering a stand alone GPS unit but its going to be the same problem I have with my phone. Its just something more to put in my pockets. I don't like having a bunch of stuff on my bars.
 

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And I gotta say, having mapping Edge units since getting a 705 back in 2010, I basically never use the routing features or use the device to figure out where to ride. I use it to navigate rides I researched and planned on my computer, and use the little map on it to try to figure out where I am if I'm a bit lost, but the small size, low resolution, slow screen refreshes when panning and zooming make stopping to whip out the phone usually a much better option.
I have played with the nav functions of my Garmins and I find them infinitely more useful for road riding. Especially events where they post the route, but course markings will be minimal at best. Following a course "works" off-road, but not optimally. Pretty much the only navigation I use on my device is to look at the map to get an idea if I'm close to the next intersection (or the trailhead), or to see if the painful climb I'm on ends soon. Simple stuff. Screen is too small on small devices for that. And though larger devices are better for navigation, I don't like them on my bars.

Cell reception is so spotty here that I often don't even bother with trailforks or mtbproject for navigating. Sure, the apps "work" and will show the trails. But without cell reception, you don't get to see the basemap, which might give you a better idea of the terrain. People around here have been adding the gravel roads and even some paved roads to both sites BECAUSE of this problem with the apps and nonexistent basemaps without cell reception.

I mostly use old school paper maps anymore and my phone mostly just gets camera duty. Though in bright sun, it's kinda impossible to set up photos or videos, even, because the screen gets totally washed out.
 

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I have been considering a stand alone GPS unit but its going to be the same problem I have with my phone. Its just something more to put in my pockets. I don't like having a bunch of stuff on my bars.
Stuffing a GPS in your pocket kinda defeats the functionality. Seriously. It reduces the positional accuracy. GPS signals are weak and your body will interfere with them if the device is in a pocket or backpack.

This is why I prefer small devices, because the big ones are too big to put on my bars.
 

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And though larger devices are better for navigation, I don't like them on my bars.
Harold, I've seen you comment on this before and am curious as to what stem length, which Garmin and mounting system ?. Reason I ask is I use a Garmin 1000, the stem is 80mm, so longer than a lot of the really short 35-50mm stems I am aware of and I have no issues using an out-front mount turned around so the device is over the stem and top cap. My knees never hit this and the device seems like it's in a good position. I'm thinking the shorter the stem, the harder to get a mount that doesn't get hit by your knees as you've commented on. And yet I see a lot of YouTube's of mt. bikers using short stem bikes and GPS devices off all types, it's actually about the most common bike computer I see.

Thus I'm wondering if the GPS mounts and companies that manufacturer are as yet inventing mounts that could do a better job than what seems to be out there for use on really short stems. Only thought I had was wondering if this stem, the type that installs on the 2 top bolts of the stem clamp, would work turned around ?

https://www.amazon.com/Corki-Out-Fr...refix=garmin+edge+,aps,176&sr=8-2-spons&psc=1
 

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Harold makes a good point about how GPS navigation is very road centric. It's really only been a few years since the TrailForks type apps and database has been available and it's still very much a work in progress.

Biggest issue I see is lack of full data about EVERY available trail you might want to follow. The Wahoo, Garmin and other devices currently use some form of the Google road database to navigate on roads. Thus the device knows which road to follow in the course/route and knows there are other roads that are not part of the course, thus can determine when you are off the course and can (in theory) help get you back on course or at least show you on the screen map, where you are. As everybody is aware, the ability to re-route is really marginal, even on road systems as the device just isn't currently smart enough to make intelligent choices as to where to send you. Some of the tracking apps and cloud based systems are starting to use what Strava calls Heat Map (Garmin has it's own version) that can look at other users uploaded rides and generate good suggestions based on what other routes have been used by cyclists. Needs cell service though.

This is harder on a trail system, if only as 1) The database of trails is far from complete. Currently it's only a bunch or tracks as recorded and uploaded, thus there a lot of stuff missing. This issue rears its ugly head when you do a on-line route/course to follow, get it to the device, but find that while navigating there's a lot of "other" trails that exist but are not in the map database. 2) With marginal cell service in area's it's hard for a device to then recommend an alternative route if you get off-course as that's driven by the Heat map and isn't data residing in the device.

Thus in my experience, trying to follow trails from a pre-loaded navigable route, is really hit and miss, currently, though I know it's going to get better as more trail systems get logged and uploaded.
 

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Harold, I've seen you comment on this before and am curious as to what stem length, which Garmin and mounting system ?. Reason I ask is I use a Garmin 1000, the stem is 80mm, so longer than a lot of the really short 35-50mm stems I am aware of and I have no issues using an out-front mount turned around so the device is over the stem and top cap. My knees never hit this and the device seems like it's in a good position. I'm thinking the shorter the stem, the harder to get a mount that doesn't get hit by your knees as you've commented on. And yet I see a lot of YouTube's of mt. bikers using short stem bikes and GPS devices off all types, it's actually about the most common bike computer I see.

Thus I'm wondering if the GPS mounts and companies that manufacturer are as yet inventing mounts that could do a better job than what seems to be out there for use on really short stems. Only thought I had was wondering if this stem, the type that installs on the 2 top bolts of the stem clamp, would work turned around ?

https://www.amazon.com/Corki-Out-Fr...refix=garmin+edge+,aps,176&sr=8-2-spons&psc=1
I've got 3 bikes with varying length stems. My commuter has the longest stem, at 90mm, IIRC, and I use an out-front mount on that bike. In that case, I wouldn't care as much about device size. On my Bucksaw, I'm using a 60mm stem, IIRC. I use a mount similar to the k-edge steerer spacer mounts with a hinge, that places the computer right over the center of the stem. Good placement for that bike. On my Guerrilla Gravity Pedalhead, that location doesn't work so well. I'm using a 40mm stem on it. I also wouldn't want the computer directly over the top of the top cap (k-edge makes a mount for that) because the computer would overhang too far back. And with the 520's physical buttons, I'd tap the damn buttons with my knee all the time. On that bike, I use the basic bar mount, and I attach the computer just to the right of the stem clamp. It works so far. I have an out front mount that's meant to be flipped backwards (SRAM Quickview) and it resides on one of my wife's bikes with about a 60mm stem, I think.

Part of my device preferences on my mtb are simply due to an aesthetic to not have huge stuff on my bars. Part of that is related to not wanting big stuff overhanging the bars and hitting things. Me. Branches and vines while I'm riding. The ground in a wreck. I've had devices of all sizes over the years I've been riding, and the Edge 520 is about right for what I prefer. I don't think it really matters what features a manufacturer crams into a bigger device, I'm just not going to buy it.
 

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Harold makes a good point about how GPS navigation is very road centric. It's really only been a few years since the TrailForks type apps and database has been available and it's still very much a work in progress.

Biggest issue I see is lack of full data about EVERY available trail you might want to follow. The Wahoo, Garmin and other devices currently use some form of the Google road database to navigate on roads. Thus the device knows which road to follow in the course/route and knows there are other roads that are not part of the course, thus can determine when you are off the course and can (in theory) help get you back on course or at least show you on the screen map, where you are. As everybody is aware, the ability to re-route is really marginal, even on road systems as the device just isn't currently smart enough to make intelligent choices as to where to send you. Some of the tracking apps and cloud based systems are starting to use what Strava calls Heat Map (Garmin has it's own version) that can look at other users uploaded rides and generate good suggestions based on what other routes have been used by cyclists. Needs cell service though.

This is harder on a trail system, if only as 1) The database of trails is far from complete. Currently it's only a bunch or tracks as recorded and uploaded, thus there a lot of stuff missing. This issue rears its ugly head when you do a on-line route/course to follow, get it to the device, but find that while navigating there's a lot of "other" trails that exist but are not in the map database. 2) With marginal cell service in area's it's hard for a device to then recommend an alternative route if you get off-course as that's driven by the Heat map and isn't data residing in the device.

Thus in my experience, trying to follow trails from a pre-loaded navigable route, is really hit and miss, currently, though I know it's going to get better as more trail systems get logged and uploaded.
There are other challenges with trails that make this a problem. In my area right now, there are some pretty outstanding map resources. Reliability is pretty high in that regard. It's a popular area, and most of the trails are pretty old, so folks have had a lot of years to map them out.

GPS accuracy is a problem, though. For example, I can plot out a route to ride on any bit of singletrack out here and load it into my Garmin to follow. Due to a combination of the inaccuracy of the data I based my route on, and the inaccuracy of my own device, I'll get almost constant "off course" warnings when I'm in the middle of the correct trail. Sometimes this might be due to small adjustments to the trail alignment that never made it into the online data. But it's irritating AF and limits the utility of this kind of navigation method for mtb trails. Roads are generally straighter and in more open sky, so they're mapped more accurately to begin with (plus, they tend to be mapped out with GPS gear that costs tens of thousands of dollars), and the straighter, more open conditions tend to give your own GPS a better environment to operate. Hence FAR less fuss on the "off course" warnings.

Road alignments also change far less frequently than trail alignments. So update frequency becomes a bit of an issue. With crowdsourcing, you HOPE this happens, and sometimes it does, but not always. With crowdsourced data from trailforks and mtbproject, accuracy becomes a problem again, though. For one, both sites make it exceedingly easy for people with terrible hardware to map trails for the sake of inclusion and getting SOMETHING mapped. Then there's the data massaging that goes on behind the scenes that basically reduces the accuracy for the sake of improved storage and less server load.

That oversimplification can really screw up the ride stats, too. It often reduces the stated distances of the trails, and moreso for trails with lots of sharp turns (like switchbacks). Since the data tends to cut the switchbacks a bit, it also may show the trail to be steeper than it actually is. This is going to mess up routing algorithms that take distance and climbing totals into account.

Onboard processing capability is another limitation for onboard routing (and rerouting) and is something Garmin somewhat discusses in the marketing for the Edge 530. The old "traveling salesman" problem. Exceedingly difficult for a computer to figure out. Oddly easier for the human brain. And frankly, I don't trust most devices to do this. I've had computer algorithms utterly fail to route me in a manner that made ANY sense whatsoever such that I actually double check the routing when I use it for driving. Where I live, I commonly look at the suggested route, say "f*ck that, I'm going this way" and then ignore all of the "recalculating" BS while my phone catches up. Not a snowball's chance in hell I'm going to trust a (smaller, less powerful) bike computer to actually build a route for me.
 

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Harold, I've seen you comment on this before and am curious as to what stem length, which Garmin and mounting system ?. Reason I ask is I use a Garmin 1000, the stem is 80mm, so longer than a lot of the really short 35-50mm stems I am aware of and I have no issues using an out-front mount turned around so the device is over the stem and top cap. My knees never hit this and the device seems like it's in a good position. I'm thinking the shorter the stem, the harder to get a mount that doesn't get hit by your knees as you've commented on. And yet I see a lot of YouTube's of mt. bikers using short stem bikes and GPS devices off all types, it's actually about the most common bike computer I see.

Thus I'm wondering if the GPS mounts and companies that manufacturer are as yet inventing mounts that could do a better job than what seems to be out there for use on really short stems. Only thought I had was wondering if this stem, the type that installs on the 2 top bolts of the stem clamp, would work turned around ?
The Bar Fly SLI-D is an out-front mount turned around.
I've got an older one that's Garmin only and a convertible one.
Mounts everything from an Edge 25 to an 810.
My knees brush the stem clamp bolts occasionally when standing so I don't want anything back that far or that low.

Bicycle part Bicycle accessory Black Carbon Bicycle
 

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With the Garmin on top of the stem or bars, I sometimes hit it with my chest. In front of the bars it was prone to getting hit, so I turned around a Barfly to mount it behind the bars. I can tap it with my knee on rare occasion, but it's loose enough on the bars to be able to rotate. I don't think this particular mount is available anymore. On top of the top tube behind the steerer would probably be good, though more out of the line of sight.

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Take a look at the Garmin Explore. Missing some features of the 530 but as a navigation gps it does great with a nice big screen. You can download the Trailforks app into the unit. Works great.
 

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Take a look at the Garmin Explore. Missing some features of the 530 but as a navigation gps it does great with a nice big screen. You can download the Trailforks app into the unit. Works great.
I have thought about that unit. How good is it with the trail forks app downloaded? Can you actually navigate a trail system? I don't want to have to plain out rides before had. Just ride around a complex trail system and be able to look at the screen and see where I am going or how to find my way back to the parking lot.
 

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I don't want to have to plain out rides before had.
And this is where I think GPS computers and smartphones can be problematic.

It is very poor outdoors-craft to go somewhere without some level of planning. You should at least have a general route in mind, and if your rides often include exploration, that should be part of the plan, too. Part of this should also include noting shortcuts or spots to dump out onto a road in the event of an emergency or a mechanical.

An urban trail with a single loop shouldn't require much effort. But the more remote the location, and the more complex the trail system, and the more unfamiliar the place, the more planning you should invest in beforehand. As you learn the trail network, a lot of your planning will occur behind the scenes, or in your mind, without consulting lots of maps. But don't be confused - you're still planning your ride.
 

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And this is where I think GPS computers and smartphones can be problematic.

It is very poor outdoors-craft to go somewhere without some level of planning. You should at least have a general route in mind, and if your rides often include exploration, that should be part of the plan, too. Part of this should also include noting shortcuts or spots to dump out onto a road in the event of an emergency or a mechanical.

An urban trail with a single loop shouldn't require much effort. But the more remote the location, and the more complex the trail system, and the more unfamiliar the place, the more planning you should invest in beforehand. As you learn the trail network, a lot of your planning will occur behind the scenes, or in your mind, without consulting lots of maps. But don't be confused - you're still planning your ride.
Don't get me wrong I have paper maps for the places I am going and I bring them with me. But I don't want to have make a route on the computer and then download it on to the garmin. I generally have an idea in my head what trails I want to hit. But what I am looking for from a computer is to just have the map running on the screen and to quickly look at it when I get to an interaction and see what way I want to go. If I were to really get lost I just get the paper map out. Having it on my bars would be way faster then getting my phone out of my pack with the trail forks app running all the time. Also my phone is getting kind of old and I don't have much signal in the places I ride. So i like to keep it on airplane mode to us the downloaded maps and GPS but keep it from killing its self looking for signal.
I guess being able to just use some of the routs from Trail Forks would be cool. But from what I have experienced here in central PA is that the bigger rides have some really crappy hard to follow trails in them. I like to bypass some of the crappy ones and use a nearby dirt road.
 
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