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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I would really REALLY like to ditch my Garmin Edge 500 and instead use Strava app + iPhone 5s + bluetooth HRM. I am already using the latter for trail running, which represents at least half of my workouts these days.

What is holding me back:

1) Viewing the display on the iPhone during a run is a bit more cumbersome than the Garmin.

2) I'm not confident existing mounts/cases will adequately protect my iPhone on the bike. I occasionally ride super technical trails. Also, I own/ride multiple bikes.

I suppose if I just forget about viewing the display on the fly during rides/runs, I can stick the iPhone in my arm band/jersey and be done with it.

Thoughts?
 

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since 4/10/2009
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how long do you ride? you are going to spend a small fortune in mounts unless you deal with moving the whole mount between different bikes. may not necessarily be possible for all bikes depending on the available bars and space.

anything that allows you to put the phone in a pack without providing an external GPS chip is going to result in some seriously degraded track quality and a loss of accuracy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I ride anything from 2-8 hours, with trail runs up to ~2 hours.

My iPhone 5S GPS capabilities are pretty amazing and I'm starting to think they exceed the reliability of the Edge 500, at least in not abruptly losing a signal/blowing a track mid ride or run. My iPhone has yet to do this.

It looks like the RFLKT has an option to use the quarter turn Garmin mounts I already have installed.
 

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I ride anything from 2-8 hours, with trail runs up to ~2 hours.

My iPhone 5S GPS capabilities are pretty amazing and I'm starting to think they exceed the reliability of the Edge 500, at least in not abruptly losing a signal/blowing a track mid ride or run. My iPhone has yet to do this.

It looks like the RFLKT has an option to use the quarter turn Garmin mounts I already have installed.
putting the phone in a pack will degrade the track quality from what you get with it mounted somewhere with a more unobstructed view of the sky. it doesn't matter how good it might be to start with.

I suspect that the "amazing" capabilities of the GPS are not due to the GPS alone, but rather the phone using multiple location determining options, especially utilizing cell towers while also using GPS. I don't know about where you ride, but some places I ride, cell reception is fine and such tech would improve accuracy. But other places I ride, cell coverage is spotty, especially in valleys. IME, phone GPS-only reception is frequently suspect (especially on iphones) so when cell reception is lost, the positional accuracy gets pretty bad. And most phones have pretty small and wimpy GPS antennas and I have seen the GPS signal drop out on phones before the cell signal does.

Yes, the Edge 500 is an older device than many more recent models and is going to have lower accuracy. Especially when compared to devices that can connect to more satellites (like the Edge 510 and many newer cell phones that connect to GPS and GLONASS satellite networks). I also question when people talk about their GPS losing signal completely because that has not happened to me in about 10 years of using GPS receivers (I have been using GPS for about 15 years, starting when the gov't still scrambled civilian signals. those troubles ended for me when the SirfSTAR III chipset debuted in the early-mid 2000's). I HAVE seen phones completely lose GPS signal very recently.

Under what conditions does your Edge 500 lose a GPS signal? Location, terrain, forest type/cover, weather?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the feedback NateHawk.

I can assure you that the Edge 500 (and the 305 I had before it) has this nasty habit of failing to collect track points or recording wildly inaccurate ones. This happens about every 4-5 workouts with me, even in light tree cover, gentle terrain. I've downloaded the latest updates, troubleshot the issue, etc. I'm done now: all the Garmin units need to do is accurately record tracks and it can't. Life is too short to be frustrated with this.

Good point about the cell towers, I had not thought of this. I'll test out my iPhone 5S soon in a more remote location to see how the GPS performs.
 

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since 4/10/2009
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Thanks for the feedback NateHawk.

I can assure you that the Edge 500 (and the 305 I had before it) has this nasty habit of failing to collect track points or recording wildly inaccurate ones. This happens about every 4-5 workouts with me, even in light tree cover, gentle terrain. I've downloaded the latest updates, troubleshot the issue, etc. I'm done now: all the Garmin units need to do is accurately record tracks and it can't. Life is too short to be frustrated with this.

Good point about the cell towers, I had not thought of this. I'll test out my iPhone 5S soon in a more remote location soon to see how the GPS performs.
WHERE are you having these issues, though. this matters a lot. the farther north you are, the more sporadic GPS gets. GLONASS performs better in northern latitudes.
 

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if you are located in the town of the organization in the link in your sign, that terrain is no more severe than what I ride and have no trouble in. No idea what your forest canopy looks like, but I haven't been in too many western forests more dense than eastern forests. some of the coastal forests with more precipitation, sure...those get damn thick. but in the drier areas, forest canopy tends to be thinner than what I'm used to. the terrain immediately near town shouldn't be obscuring signal much, but obviously if you get closer to Tahoe, you're going to have issues.

Generally, being on the northern slope of a mountain or hillside, the GPS signals will be somewhat obscured by the terrain. GPS satellites sit more towards the southern sky, so some will be blocked. this won't matter whether you use a phone or a dedicated GPS. If you can receive GLONASS satellites which are more visible to the north, you'll have better reception.

I think you've got something else going on that might be an issue with settings or your particular GPS. you should not be having trouble LOSING signal. you will always get less accuracy when you're in a valley or a northern slope because of the issues I mentioned above. thick canopy has not been a problem for me in a very long time. I also do not think your phone will perform quite as well as you think it is right now. Do not rush to dump the Garmin just yet.
 

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I've had the same issues with my 500 living in Massachusetts and riding in areas that are dead flat(not my 305 though, that thing was always dead accurate). I've seen several other users with 500's experiencing the same issues when looking at their Strava tracks. Mine will very frequently take on a 100-200 yard offset and maintain it for a couple miles. Even while going straight on roads or a bike path. Other times it will just go completely loopy and somehow continue to clock displacement roughly equal to the distance I've moved in, but drift off in random directions doing it. Not with a noisy/jagged trace either, it'll be smooth and appear real until you realize it has you driving through lakes and highways.
 

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I have seen some solid tracks from 500s also. I have heard more than one report like this and I try to get more information to TRY to find trends of some kind. So far, I have nothing except that there appear to be some 500s out there that are not accurate.

I have not experienced such performance on any of the handful of models I have experience with. Edge 705, Oregon 450, Forerunner 305, 76 CSx, or even the old Rino 120 I had years ago or any of the various older etrexes I've used with high sensitivity receivers. The closest performance I ever had to that was with the original etrex over a decade ago.

The 500 WAS widely panned by my bikers after its release and Garmin released some updates to try to improve it and they seemed to do most of the job. Some still did criticize that model though. Maybe they were right and the 500 has been somewhat of a flop. It is a good question and is why I always ask for details when someone mentions problems with a Garmin's accuracy.

Shiggy also had serious problems with the 800 but I do not know of anyone else with similar problems.

Sent from my DROID BIONIC using Tapatalk
 

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I'd say 3/5 times mine gives solid data. 1/5 it's a got a decent offset through 1/3rd of the ride. The other 5th of the time it's just bat arse crazy. Overall though it has been less accurate than my Forerunner 305. It looks to me like it has the same base accuracy as my forerunner 305 but with a whole bunch of filtering to make it look cleaner. My 305 would have a jagged trace but always be dead on if you drew a line through the noise. My 500 generates nice clean traces, but the filtering is obvious any time there's a sharp turn as it will just continue going straight, then turn and show me driving on the opposite side of the road. Usually it will snap back but the times it goes wonky it will continue showing my path as straight for another 50 yards after I've turned. Then the trace will turn and continue parallel to my path while maintaining that 50 yard offset. Throw in a couple more turns and it gives you trace that looks like it could be real and includes turns/straights, but is no where near where you've actually ridden.
 

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Are you using 1sec recording? I have abandoned "Smart" recording on all of my devices for rides because it behaves exactly as you describe, regardless of the device. I will use smart recording if I'm walking, but that's about it. It doesn't matter the device, Smart recording royally f's up a mtb ride track.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Following up on this. I've been using the iPhone 5S exclusively for over a month, both in remote areas and closer to civilization. While it is not perfect, in all but one instance, it produced high fidelity, accurate tracks of my ride.

I can much more conveniently post rides/runs to Strava, it has a much better screen. Personally, I don't need a computer mounted to my handlebars. I'm ditching the Garmin. Actually, I'll avoid all future Garmin products given the horrendous quality of the last two models I've purchased from them.

BTW, I am using a Jarv bluetooth HR monitor, which cost me all of $40.
 

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I had a Garmin 500 that worked well for about 5 months, and then suddenly would take 30 minutes to connect to satellites, and when riding on the road in a straight line in the wide open it would have me making crop circles way off in a field. Completely bizarre... I ended up returning it to REI and upgraded to a Edge 510, which has been absolutely fantastic for over a year, no issues. More accurate than my iPhones, and I also don't have to worry about battery drainage. I do a lot of long rides, and that would just kill the phone which was bad for not getting the whole ride and also cutting off my emergency form of communication.

Glad to know I'm not the only one who had 500 issues, but I didn't swear off the whole brand. I've had luck with a car GPS, hiking based GPS unit, forerunner 910xt, and my 510 so I think Garmin can make some good stuff... there were just some weird ass 500's out there in circulation...
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Ordinarily, I may not ditch a brand over just one device. But the 305 had almost the same exact issues. Not impressed that Garmin could not resolve these problems with years of time between the two product releases.
 
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