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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I'm looking to buy a GPS soon. I'm a total noob when it comes to GPS units. I've read the sticky and searched the forums and am more confused now then ever.

I need some recommendations on what I should be looking at buying. I need a GPS that I can:
-record where I've been so I can map new trails
-download routes of unfamiliar trails posted by others that I can follow
-use on both my mountain bike and my dirt bike

Is there any other features I should be looking at?

Alot of guys in my dirtbike club use the Garmin 60 CSX and have recommended it to me, would this be a suitable unit for mountain biking as well?
 

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since 4/10/2009
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-record where I've been so I can map new trails
all of them can do this
-download routes of unfamiliar trails posted by others that I can follow
all of them can do this
-use on both my mountain bike and my dirt bike
you can do this with most

RatchAttack said:
Is there any other features I should be looking at?

Alot of guys in my dirtbike club use the Garmin 60 CSX and have recommended it to me, would this be a suitable unit for mountain biking as well?
You need to consider map options. Do you want to see/use satellite images?

How long are the rides where you plan to use it? Battery life varies.

Do you want to use it for anything else? Hiking, geocaching, getting to the trailhead, hunting, fishing, etc?

The 60CSx would be worth a look. It's a reliable GPS that just works. It has been discontinued, so if you can find one, it'll be fairly cheap. But considering the number of folks asking about them lately, I'd suspect they might be getting hard to find nowadays. The 62s is essentially the replacement for it, and it has all the new features.
 

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I'm liking my Garmin Edge 500. It doesn't do mapping, but that's what Topofusion is for. Fits my needs as a route recorder, speedometer, altimeter, and ride data system. Seems like the next step up is another $200 or so, but gets you on-screen mapping as well. Those are also pretty big to hang off your handlebars (edit: haha, about the same size as the camera case in my photo... go figure)... I like the 500, it's basically the same size as my non-gps cyclometer.

On my build-in-progress:



Left to right -
Digital camera in case, NiteRider 700 Dual, Garmin Edge 500, Planet Bike Protege 9.0.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
thanks for the input guys, I agree with Wherewolf that being able to see where I'm going is important.

Natehawk - my longest rides are 6-7 hours, so battery life for that amount of time is important. The only other thing I might use it for would be to find an unfamiliar trailhead.
 

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RatchAttack said:
thanks for the input guys, I agree with Wherewolf that being able to see where I'm going is important.

Natehawk - my longest rides are 6-7 hours, so battery life for that amount of time is important. The only other thing I might use it for would be to find an unfamiliar trailhead.
If you need that sort of battery life for a long ride, it would definitely be worth noting that you should stay away from smartphones. It could get expensive and a bit of a pain to pack enough extra batteries or some sort of charging device on such rides.

Stick with dedicated GPS receivers. Even the most power-hungry should have no problem lasting that long. Even my Garmin Oregon can handle that on basic alkalines. Better batteries can give it double your requirements. Simpler ones (like the eTrex models) can last for nearly an entire day on a set of batteries. Depends how important battery life is to you.

But based on your desires, you still have a LOT of models available to you. You need to narrow them down one way or another.

Do you want satellite images?
Do you want a simple 4-way arrow button interface, a joystick, or would you prefer a touch screen?
Do you care even remotely about altitude change?
Would you want HR data on the bike or any other fitness measurements?
Would you prefer replaceable batteries (AA's) or a rechargeable lithium one?
 

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ballbuster
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Second that...

Wherewolf said:
Buy more than you think you need now. I grew into mine very rapidly.
I got a Garmin Edge 305, which I love. I think its a killer little thingy, especially considering Best Buy was blowing them out for $135 when I got it with a HRM belt. I spent the extra $35 each on a few cadence/speed sensors to bolt to my assorted bikes. Too bad the new stock cheap dealz are now gone.

I just wish the mapping was more usable. In theory, you can download a map to it, and follow its arrow to tell you which way to go, but I have yet to be able to use it in a useful manner. It has a breadcrumb kinda trail as well, but with no reference, who the heck knows where you are going or have been.

It just makes me wanna blow more $$$ on one with a real usable map screen. Then again, I rarely go places I don't know like the back of my hand.

That said, I get a lot out of it. I've been spinning around with it for a good year and a half and totally dig it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Satellite images would be cool, no touch screens though. I do care about accurate altitude measurements though. Heart rate monitor would be neat but not really needed as I already have one I use.
 

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RatchAttack said:
Satellite images would be cool, no touch screens though. I do care about accurate altitude measurements though. Heart rate monitor would be neat but not really needed as I already have one I use.
For good altitude measurements, you want a barometric altimeter.

Many newer models allow you to load satellite images from different sources. Delorme handheld models can load images you purchase from Delorme.

Several Garmin models can load satellite images you buy from Garmin, but they also support "custom mapping" and with the right program, you can load whatever images you like.

Any particular reason for not wanting a touch screen? I find it useful, and it is not the same kind as on most smartphones that doesn't even register touch with gloves on.

At any rate, eliminating touch screens eliminates a few Garmin models from the lineup. The GPSMap 62s can do satellite images and has a barometric altimeter. It is also compatible with ANT+ HRM straps and speed/cad sensors if you choose to add that capability later.
 

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mtbr dismember
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Non barometric altimeter?

NateHawk said:
For good altitude measurements, you want a barometric altimeter.
So this question crossed my mind while riding here last weekend. I start by the middle bridge of these three (center right), ride up to where this photo was taken, then across the bridge at the top, which is 730 ft. above the river. After a while I come back across that same bridge and back down to the start. So if I did not have a barometric altimeter my GPS would register 1,460 more feet of both climbing and descending?

 

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Wherewolf said:
So this question crossed my mind while riding here last weekend. I start by the middle bridge of these three (center right), ride up to where this photo was taken, then across the bridge at the top, which is 730 ft. above the river. After a while I come back across that same bridge and back down to the start. So if I did not have a barometric altimeter my GPS would register 1,460 more feet of both climbing and descending?
Maybe. If the GPS had a 3D position fix at the time, it would probably maintain a roughly consistent elevation as you crossed the bridge. However, if you used the elevation "corrections" in Topofusion or Garmin Connect, you could be pretty certain that a situation such as you describe would occur, since they use DEM elevations for the corrective calculations in most cases.

GPS elevation wanders an awful lot, though, so it tends to overestimate, anyway. Some comparison graphs have been posted here before, but the barometric altimeter elevation profile comes out pretty smooth, more accurately reflecting the terrain you actually rode. A profile shown from GPS elevation data has a lot of noise in it, and you really can't tell what the terrain looked like unless the elevation changes in your terrain are big enough to come through the noise.
 

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get the 60csx. rock solid accuracy and your dirt bike buddies can help you use it.
DO NOT GET THE EDGE 500. it is not accurate enough for single track rides
 

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The ugly side of Garmin

The following info may not apply to your GPS unit or your intended use but I'm relaying it anyway.

Garmin recently change map software companies. In doing so, they have invalidated the 'lifetime' mapsets that previous owners have. So, the high-dollar initial cost of the sets that that then could be updated later at a lower cost are no longer supported.

I contacted Garmin about a discount for the previous owners of the 'lifetime ' mapsets for the new ones and was told 'sorry, but you get to pay full price again.' Notably, the new mapsets are more expensive than the old ones and they try to push you toward the 'lifetime' mapset.

I don't know what Magellan or DeLorme offer, but I would be inclined to at least look at their products before purchasing another Garmin product.

Oh yeah, Garmin's technical or customer service line has a wait time of 25-30 minutes, too.

Caveat Emptor.
 

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trail rat
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Lule said:
The following info may not apply to your GPS unit or your intended use but I'm relaying it anyway.

Garmin recently change map software companies. In doing so, they have invalidated the 'lifetime' mapsets that previous owners have. So, the high-dollar initial cost of the sets that that then could be updated later at a lower cost are no longer supported.

I contacted Garmin about a discount for the previous owners of the 'lifetime ' mapsets for the new ones and was told 'sorry, but you get to pay full price again.' Notably, the new mapsets are more expensive than the old ones and they try to push you toward the 'lifetime' mapset.

I don't know what Magellan or DeLorme offer, but I would be inclined to at least look at their products before purchasing another Garmin product.

Oh yeah, Garmin's technical or customer service line has a wait time of 25-30 minutes, too.

Caveat Emptor.
That is pretty much a non issue to us GPS map geeks.

GPS File Depot, www.gpsfiledepot.com

Mostly free, topos have much more detail than Garmin, fully Garmin compatible with Windows and Mac installers for most.

You want routeable maps for road bike or car?
http://garmin.na1400.info/routable.php

Again - free. Based on Open Street Maps and more detail. They even have the trails where I ride in California.
 

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Lule said:
The following info may not apply to your GPS unit or your intended use but I'm relaying it anyway.

Garmin recently change map software companies. In doing so, they have invalidated the 'lifetime' mapsets that previous owners have. So, the high-dollar initial cost of the sets that that then could be updated later at a lower cost are no longer supported.

I contacted Garmin about a discount for the previous owners of the 'lifetime ' mapsets for the new ones and was told 'sorry, but you get to pay full price again.' Notably, the new mapsets are more expensive than the old ones and they try to push you toward the 'lifetime' mapset.

I don't know what Magellan or DeLorme offer, but I would be inclined to at least look at their products before purchasing another Garmin product.

Oh yeah, Garmin's technical or customer service line has a wait time of 25-30 minutes, too.

Caveat Emptor.
Non-issue here. Besides, if you buy a car GPS without lifetime updates, and you pay for one map update, it'll cost you $50. A lifetime maps subscription costs $90, so if you update your maps twice, you've saved $10. Garmin publishes map updates 4x per year, so you do the math. Yes, it's a hassle to have to repurchase a maps sub since they changed providers. But it's not the end of the world.
 

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Thanks for the info getting me around Garmin's 'graciousness.' I had no idea there was an alternative. The road, topo, and marine maps my Legend uses keep getting more expensive.

I'll try them out soon.

Thanks again,

Lule
 

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Wherewolf said:
So this question crossed my mind while riding here last weekend. I start by the middle bridge of these three (center right), ride up to where this photo was taken, then across the bridge at the top, which is 730 ft. above the river. After a while I come back across that same bridge and back down to the start. So if I did not have a barometric altimeter my GPS would register 1,460 more feet of both climbing and descending?
No, that's not the case. Both barometric and GPS based altimeters measure the actual elevation where they are located (in different ways) and each has its virtues and drawbacks. In essence GPS gives your position in three dimensions, while a barometric altimeter relies upon sensitive air pressure measurements to establish elevation.
You might not get identical figures but both would show your elevation to be ON the bridge - not following the natural terrain down then back up as you suggest .

But the hypothetical extra climbing and descending you describe could appear if you were to (1) manually create a track in Google Earth or Topofusion (which inherently relies upon DEM figures) or (2) replace the elevation values in a recorded GPS track with DEM data. DEM or mapped data typically DOES follow the natural contour and ignores manmade structures such as bridges and tunnels.

DR
 
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