Author Topic: GPS: strictly for xcountry cycling adventure...so confused!!  (Read 3777 times)

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Offline Stevenp

GPS: strictly for xcountry cycling adventure...so confused!!
« on: February 27, 2011, 01:40:10 pm »
Hey,

I have been doing so much research that I am at the point now where the more reviews i read and the more I learn, the more confused I am becoming. Please help!

I just need a gps unit to get me all around the US on a bicycle. One that will help me find food, where to turn, and the slopes of the mountains ahead.

My confusion is about what is my need, as opposed to over-kill with a unit—in other words, a unit that does way more than i need it to do.

I just need everything a cyclist would want to zigzag across the country—something sharp and very usable.

What is THE answer? I'm tired of researching and the confusion that is coming with it.

Thanks much!!

Offline Fred Hiltz

Re: GPS: strictly for xcountry cycling adventure...so confused!!
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2011, 02:41:00 pm »
Yeah, it is confusing, isn't it? Once upon a time, you picked one of two or three manufacturers, and each had just one unit that qualified.

You will get a lot of "my favorite is..." answers easily enough, but tell us a bit more about how you will use this thing to get more relevant answers. Some questions that might come to mind if we were sitting down over a beer:

Camping, hotels, or a mix?
Road biking, Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, or both?
Will you be carrying a netbook or equivalent small computer?
Will you use the GPSR to navigate in an auto as well as on the bike?
Will you use it for hiking?
What percent for biking, auto, and hiking?
Close-in detailed surveying, such as finding the bounds of a plot?

How tight is the budget? You don't want to spend more than necessary, of course, but would you sacrifice some utility to save money? For example, having to load data every couple of weeks vs. every eight weeks, or not seeing slopes to save $80?

Your answers will suggest what maps to buy, as well as what hardware.

Fred

Offline Stevenp

Re: GPS: strictly for xcountry cycling adventure...so confused!!
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2011, 03:37:25 pm »
k, here's as much detail as I can presume or that I know of for my trip.

     • I will be leaving SC headed west towards WA.
     • Also be using the TransAm, NT, L&C, including some custom routes I want to make up.
     • Able to see the small streets and roads that are available to me anywhere in the U.S.
     • I want to know my progress and know what kind of elevation I will be encountering (doesn't mean I need a topo map)
     • Strictly biking, i am not concerned about hiking.
     • I will be operating from a Mac laptop which will be on the trip with me.
     • Needs to be waterproof.
     • I would like to sit at my mac at the end of the day and see what my journey looked like for the day with data.
     • I would like it to have an odometer, cadence, temperature..etc like a bike computer would have.


Would i be better off having a gps and a bike computer working side by side or can i get it all in my gps?

Thanks for simplifying my life by responding to this!

Offline Fred Hiltz

Re: GPS: strictly for xcountry cycling adventure...so confused!!
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2011, 09:16:41 pm »
I know the Garmin line best, but perhaps someone will add suggestions about DeLorme and Magellan.

The eTrex Legend HCx sounds like a good fit to me. Equipped with the City Navigator map set, it will take you through the 50 states and most of Canada. Buy the maps on DVD, not the preloaded SD card, and put them on the Mac for your trip planning and reloading the receiver with maps, routes, and waypoints. City Navigator does not include elevation data. The ACA maps show contour lines at large intervals, and their GPS waypoints include elevations in mountainous terrain. You could buy the Topo US 100K map set for full elevation coverage.

Having the Mac eliminates the need for huge map storage or waypoint storage in the GPSR. You will probably load maps every few weeks of riding. Other features of more expensive models: magnetic compass and barometric altimeter. The Legend shows your direction as soon as you start moving, but not when stopped. Its GPS altitude is less accurate than barometric, about +- 50 feet vs. +- 20 feet. Both are fine for cycling.

Use the free RoadTrip software to manage the maps, load them, take your daily tracks and waypoints, and plan routes.

Accessories you are likely to want: handlebar mount, 4 rechargeable AA batteries and an AC charger, MicroSD card (probably 2GB size), and card reader for the Mac if it does not have a slot. If you get a camera that uses AA batteries, it can share the charger and probably the card reader.

This unit does distance and speed, but not cadence nor heart rate. (The Edge series does, but it is not suited for touring, being specialized for training.) No temperature, either, but a keychain thermometer does as well.

I still use a bike computer beside the GPSR, mainly for cadence and as backup for distance. GPS eliminates the mental subtraction exercises that we all did when estimating the next turn.

GPS takes some practice to use well. Plan to spend an hour in an easy chair with receiver and owner's manual, then take it on local rides to see how it does on routes you know. A few hundred miles will give you a good idea of what it can and cannot do.

Finally, be sure to have paper maps and a keychain compass along. Electronics gets lost and broken too often to not have a backup. I think of the GPSR as an adjunct to the ACA maps. It is a good navigator, but lacks the cycling knowledge built into those maps.

Fred

Offline rvklassen

Re: GPS: strictly for xcountry cycling adventure...so confused!!
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2011, 09:32:39 am »
If you want to know about topography you need the Topo map; for everything else you need the City Navigator.  You can have both of them loaded in the device (if you have enough memory), but it won't display both - you need to switch between them.  I generally hope to do route planning where I can get to Google Maps Terrain View, and then more-or-less remember what to expect on the road, letting the GPS help keep me from getting lost, and find things like food.

And yes it takes some practice.  It is designed to take a fair bit of weather.  And be small.   This leads to some compromises in the user interface - where they give you more power than you might really need, but wind up with a complex system as a result.

You should not need a card reader if you have everything on a Mac.  All transfers can be via USB cable.

Offline Stevenp

Re: GPS: strictly for xcountry cycling adventure...so confused!!
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2011, 10:41:26 am »
Is there a version of the etrex that has an altimeter like this that will show you the hills you are about to face:

Offline Fred Hiltz

Re: GPS: strictly for xcountry cycling adventure...so confused!!
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2011, 11:03:53 am »
No. That display looks like the profile you have just ridden. The eTrex Vista has it, but not the Legend. Other vendors might offer a unit that looks ahead when loaded with a topo map, but I do not know of them.

The Topo US 100K map in your Mac will give you a profile of any route you make there, and a profile of a track that you load from your GPSR of the day's ride. The ACA maps contain profiles of their routes, in addition to the contours.

You might enjoy browsing the eTrex Owners Manual, free at http://static.garmincdn.com/pumac/eTrexLegendHCx_OwnersManual.pdf

Fred


Offline B-52

Re: GPS: strictly for xcountry cycling adventure...so confused!!
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2011, 01:03:16 pm »
Garmin....not because i own stock....i own stock because i have 7+ units....for Boat,Plane,Cars and bikes

Offline Stevenp

Re: GPS: strictly for xcountry cycling adventure...so confused!!
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2011, 02:35:16 pm »
B52...
So you own stock and have one for every vehicle. So tell me which garmin you use for your bicycle.

Offline JimF

Re: GPS: strictly for xcountry cycling adventure...so confused!!
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2011, 11:42:51 am »
I don't believe you can go wrong with the Garmin 60 csx. I've gone across country, shorter tours, and around my town with it. Features a bicyclist can like (and hiker; works OK for auto). Good luck.

Offline Stevenp

Re: GPS: strictly for xcountry cycling adventure...so confused!!
« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2011, 05:15:47 pm »
I don't believe you can go wrong with the Garmin 60 csx. I've gone across country, shorter tours, and around my town with it. Features a bicyclist can like (and hiker; works OK for auto). Good luck.

The problem with the Garmin 60 csx is that it is not Mac compatible and that's a huge bummer. I am taking my mac laptop with me on the trip so I need the gps to work with my mac.

I can't seem to find everything I want in a gps. I find one that has almost everything and that sucks.

Offline Fred Hiltz

Re: GPS: strictly for xcountry cycling adventure...so confused!!
« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2011, 07:03:07 pm »
The problem with the Garmin 60 csx is that it is not Mac compatible and that's a huge bummer.

Huh? Who told you that? After this "advice," I'd treat anything further from that party with skepticism.

The 60CSx, like all GPS receivers, does not care about the computer to which it connects. All it asks is a working USB port, on the other side of which can be OS X, Windows, Linux, Unix, DOS, etc.

That said, you need to buy maps on DVD and a program that runs on OS X to manage the maps, waypoints, routes, tracks, and the GPSR.

As I wrote on Feb 27, Garmin's RoadTrip does this on OS X. Read about it and their suite of Mac software at http://www8.garmin.com/macosx/

Fred

Offline Stevenp

Re: GPS: strictly for xcountry cycling adventure...so confused!!
« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2011, 08:46:44 pm »
Well, the information I am going off of is on the REI comparison chart where one of the categories is OS compatibility, where most the garmins are Windows/Mac, except for the 60csx only says Windows.

Considering my limited knowledge of how the gps operates, I look at that and it tells me that it will not work with my Mac. Which I translate that to mean that if I usb it up to my mac, it will not be recognized.

So, what does that mean then?

Offline John Nelson

Re: GPS: strictly for xcountry cycling adventure...so confused!!
« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2011, 09:15:27 pm »
REI may not think it's compatible with the Mac, but Garmin does. I think REI is noting that the product is only shipped with Windows software, but you can download the Mac software from the Garmin website for free.

Offline Fred Hiltz

Re: GPS: strictly for xcountry cycling adventure...so confused!!
« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2011, 03:41:00 am »
Exactly. REI needs to get its documentation updated. When the 60CSx was new, Garmin's Mac software was--to be polite--rudimentary. Not any more, though.

Fred