Author Topic: GPS query  (Read 5853 times)

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Offline jinay

GPS query
« on: July 07, 2020, 10:56:42 pm »
I have been looking for a good GPS device for my cycle to assist in treks. I came across Garmin products and they look promising, reliable and worth it. Few of my friends have also recommended it. Online reviews are also good. But I’m still a bit confused. Has anybody here checked it out?

https://garminexpressupdater.com/

Help me make a better decision
Definitive reviews are appreciated
« Last Edit: July 13, 2020, 06:16:55 am by jinay »

Offline John Nettles

Re: GPS query
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2020, 11:21:41 pm »
Welcome to ACA Forums!

I have had several Garmin products in the past.  Some are good, some are bad. 

The pros:  Garmin is the de facto GPS so a lot of gps data is geared toward their file format.

Middle of the road:  Hit and miss on reliability/durability.  Customer service can also be hit/miss.

Cons.: Expensive.

For me, a major factor is the battery use. Some units (Montana) will go thru three AA batteries per riding day or day and half.  Others (62) can last a few days on two batteries.  Batteries are heavy so even though I use a dynamo hub, I still carry several batteries since I may not always recharge quick enough or will be charging something else like my phone.  If you do not use a dynamo hub, you have to carry lots of batteries as you do not want to buy them at some back-water store where they have been sitting for 6 years and are half dead.  Thus, you have to have a Walmart type store in order to buy new ones and the stores can be a week apart at times, thus 3 batteries a day x 7 days equals a lot of weight.

I currently prefer the Model 62 as it holds a fair number of waypoints and track points in addition to routes and tracks. The screen is not very big compared to the Montana but the battery use is way less. 

The Montana is a battery hog.  It is relegated to my car trips where I plug into the cigarette lighter.  It has a nice large screen and is a touch screen.  It is a smidgen easier to use than the 62 but the buttons have literally melted due to sunscreen lotion getting on them.  It may have been just really crap material but the only thing that could have done it otherwise is the sunscreen.

The Extrex is not bad but the sound for navigation cues is fairly low.

Considerations:  Are you going to ALWAYS have a cell signal?  If so, use your cell phone.  Assuming your cell phone has a GPS built in, it can probably work even without a cell signal in the airplane mode. 

Does your significant other want to track where you are going at all times?  If so, AND you have a cell signal at all times, you can use your phone and with an app that tracks your location.  If you are going where there is no cell signal, then consider Garmin's InReach/GPS combo unit.  I have the stand alone InReach also.  It is very good but a bit pricey for the subscription plans.  However, I sometimes do remote touring (remote forests, Alaska, etc.) where there is no signal and she wants to be able to know where I am in case the bears eat me (doesn't matter that by the time help arrived, I will have probably been eaten, digested, and pooped out).  At least she will recover the bike. It is very very accurate, within 10 feet I would guess.

Finally, do you even need a gps device (only you can decide)?  If you are dealing with lots of turns on say the Atlantic Coast Route, then it really does help.  If you are on the Western Express, probably not as there just aren't very many turns to get lost.  For decades, everyone got by fine with just the maps and odometer (bike computer now) and maybe a compass.  They are nice but usually not needed.

Hope this helps.  Tailwinds, John

Offline John Nelson

Re: GPS query
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2020, 01:33:29 am »
If you will have regular access to an outlet (i.e., stay overnight indoors), then you can get one of the rechargeable Garmin units. I can get at least 200 miles on a charge. If I carry a power bank, I can recharge it a couple of times, so I can go more than a week between needing an outlet.

As John said, the software is not bug free. Occasionally (not often), it does something weird. And as John also said, they are expensive. On the other hand, the Garmin competitors' software isn't bug free either.

I like a navigation unit separate from my phone, for many reasons.
  • The Garmin is completely weather safe, whereas my phone is not.
  • The Garmin will never, ever fall off my handlebars, even in a crash.
  • The Garmin never needs to download any maps--it already has them all, at least for my country, and I can buy and/or download free maps for other countries (I've done both--the ones you buy are better, but the free ones are pretty good).
  • I don't want to worry about running down my phone battery.
  • The Garmin battery lasts a lot longer than my phone battery.
  • The Garmin screen is easier to read in bright sunlight.
  • I don't want to unmount my navigation device every time I want to take a picture, look something up or make a phone call.

Offline HobbesOnTour

Re: GPS query
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2020, 11:39:44 am »
There's a lot of good advice above, but I'll come at this from a different perspective and that is to have a good think about what you want from your gps device - then look at what is on offer.

For example, bike gps units are different to car devices because only some have the ability to plan a route on the fly. In fact, for bike navigation I prefer to think of planning and navigating as two separate tasks.

The kind of things to think about are ;
Where & when will you use the device? Is it only for cycling or for other outdoor pursuits too?
Where will you do your route planning? Only at home or on the road? If on the road online or offline?
Mapping: What detail do you need and will you require turn by turn directions? Also, are maps included on the device or are they extra?
Battery life & charging options.
Ease of use.

Personally, I don't need detailed maps on my gps device - my phone is far superior for that.
I don't need turn by turn directions - a breadcrumb trail is fine.
I do need to be able to plot a new route on the fly so online & offline options are a necessity (through my phone).
I don't trust maps stored on a memory card in the device - I've read of too many cases of corrupted cards.

One feature I do use (which I had never considered before) is Strava or RWGPS connectivity. Each day's ride is recorded, sent to my phone and photos are easily added - a simple, but wonderful, log of each day on tour.

I use a Wahoo Elemnt (now discontinued) and for three years it has been flawless.
The new Roam (with greater mapping & routing options) is probably overpriced but the Bolt does the same job as the Elemnt in a smaller package.

I should add that my battery has recently started to fail and Wahoo have offered a very attractive discount on a new unit.

I've never quite understood Garmin's points on their tracks or routes. I do know I can throw routes of several thousand kms onto my Elemnt and navigation is flawless.

While I'm not a fan of using my phone as a gps while on tour, depending on circumstances they can be a simple and user friendly option.

Good luck!



Offline Pat Lamb

Re: GPS query
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2020, 12:36:47 pm »
The first response is usually a clarification question.  In this case it is, what do you want to do with a GPS?

If you want to pre-plan your trip, particularly a trip on roads and streets, one of the Garmins is the way to go.  Pick your roads, lay out the route, put it on the Garmin (I started with an 800 and it still works well, but the 830 and 1030+ are improved from that), and follow the route.  The maps are on the GPS.  No need to worry about rain or battery life if you've got a power pack.  As John Nelson noted, you can go a week with a decent auxiliary battery pack; then treat yourself to a night indoors (B&B, motel, etc.), do your laundry, have a hot shower, and oh, yes, recharge everything.

Forest service roads or trails?  I don't know, perhaps the Montana or 62 John Nettles referenced would be better.

I personally like to find places there's no cell phone service.  That usually means traffic is lighter, and the scenery is superior.  It also means if I need some kind of navigational help, you better have downloaded the map and saved it before you left.  The GPS, if you didn't lay out a route, will have roads and road names (usually, depending on the map), and a dot to show where you are.  If you forget to download a map and get into such a zone, your cell phone will have a "You are here" dot on a blank screen.  Not very helpful (BTDT).

Offline jinay

Re: GPS query
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2020, 02:03:27 am »
Thanks for the real reviews guys. Finally, it feels like I'm talking to a rational on the other side. I think I'll go with the combo suggested by John Nettles

Offline John Nettles

Re: GPS query
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2020, 08:26:23 am »
Depending on the specific tour, I either use the Recreation or Expedition plan.  If I have relatively lots of cell coverage, I go with the Recreation.  If I am in the areas without cell coverage for days on end (Alaska, parts of Canada) then I go with the Expedition. 

I do not know how the battery management of the combo InReach is but my standalone InReach is very very good, i.e. a set of batteries last at least a week on the 10 minute tracking interval.

Remember that if choosing the "freedom" plans they charge $25 annual/activation fee in addition to the plan and that it is billed in monthly installments so if you tour is 35 days long, you have to pay for two months.  Be sure to cancel when you are done or it just keeps billing too.

Have a great trip, John

Offline Nyimbo

Re: GPS query
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2020, 01:22:35 am »

The pros:  Garmin is the de facto GPS so a lot of gps data is geared toward their file format.

I think Garmin is the standard still but I just read a post on my Facebook Cycling Group about 30 mins ago and the question is do you use a Garmin or a Wahoo and about 2/3 of the respondents wrote they use the Wahoo and most commonly was the Wahoo Bolt.   I think it is quickly (over the past 5 years) becoming a new favorite. I used mine traveling cross country and tried to charge it every day there was power but could go two days in a pinch.  The Wahoo software is noted to be much less buggy and it just works.  Also, mine is b&w screen and uses less battery than the color screen Garmins do. 

Last if you enjoy research check out https://www.dcrainmaker.com/product-reviews
The link you provided is for the new Garmin wrist watch versions which we haven't really commented on.  Most (not all)of the discussions have been on the bike specific computers.

Offline ray b

Re: GPS query
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2021, 06:47:11 pm »

The pros:  Garmin is the de facto GPS so a lot of gps data is geared toward their file format.

I think Garmin is the standard still but I just read a post on my Facebook Cycling Group about 30 mins ago and the question is do you use a Garmin or a Wahoo and about 2/3 of the respondents wrote they use the Wahoo and most commonly was the Wahoo Bolt.   I think it is quickly (over the past 5 years) becoming a new favorite. I used mine traveling cross country and tried to charge it every day there was power but could go two days in a pinch.  The Wahoo software is noted to be much less buggy and it just works.  Also, mine is b&w screen and uses less battery than the color screen Garmins do.... 

So, to pick up the thread in 2021, the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt will now handle turn-by-turn directions on download maps from Ride With GPS and Komoot. The Elemnt Roam will handle these files, Strava, and "any other routing source file."

Anyone know if "any other routing source file" would include the FrontPack platform used for the Adventure Cycling Association Bicycle Route Navigator? I have a question in with Wahoo, but figured folks on this forum would be approaching the question from the opposite direction of Wahoo, and might already have the answer.
“A good man always knows his limitations.”

Offline John Nettles

Re: GPS query
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2021, 06:51:51 pm »
While I don't know for sure, I doubt you can even get the Navigator data (it is proprietary to ACA).  However, the GPS data you purchase from ACA is in a GPX format I think and that "should" work I would think as it is still a major format.

Offline HobbesOnTour

Re: GPS query
« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2021, 07:11:57 pm »

The pros:  Garmin is the de facto GPS so a lot of gps data is geared toward their file format.

I think Garmin is the standard still but I just read a post on my Facebook Cycling Group about 30 mins ago and the question is do you use a Garmin or a Wahoo and about 2/3 of the respondents wrote they use the Wahoo and most commonly was the Wahoo Bolt.   I think it is quickly (over the past 5 years) becoming a new favorite. I used mine traveling cross country and tried to charge it every day there was power but could go two days in a pinch.  The Wahoo software is noted to be much less buggy and it just works.  Also, mine is b&w screen and uses less battery than the color screen Garmins do.... 

So, to pick up the thread in 2021, the Wahoo Elemnt Bolt will now handle turn-by-turn directions on download maps from Ride With GPS and Komoot. The Elemnt Roam will handle these files, Strava, and "any other routing source file."

Anyone know if "any other routing source file" would include the FrontPack platform used for the Adventure Cycling Association Bicycle Route Navigator? I have a question in with Wahoo, but figured folks on this forum would be approaching the question from the opposite direction of Wahoo, and might already have the answer.
Wahoo are very private and don't play well with outside partners other than the big boys like Strava etc.
The ACA gpx tracks will work, but will need to be edited in something like RideWithGPS.
Please see here: https://forums.adventurecycling.org/index.php?topic=15797.msg83354#msg83354

Offline ray b

Re: GPS query
« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2021, 07:45:06 pm »
While I don't know for sure, I doubt you can even get the Navigator data (it is proprietary to ACA).  However, the GPS data you purchase from ACA is in a GPX format I think and that "should" work I would think as it is still a major format.
Wahoo are very private and don't play well with outside partners other than the big boys like Strava etc.
The ACA gpx tracks will work, but will need to be edited in something like RideWithGPS.
Please see here: https://forums.adventurecycling.org/index.php?topic=15797.msg83354#msg83354
Many thanks. Your replies certainly answer my question as to whether a thread left fallow for 6 months can be resuscitated.

In the old days, I'd load the GPX data directly into the brick that was my Garmin Montana. The Wahoo Roam can accept .GPX and .TCX data files, but as implied by HobbesOnTour, Wahoo officially notes this should be a last resort - i.e., buggy. And correct, the company suggests loading maps into Ride With GPS as a preferred solution.

Thanks for the link to the prior thread. (When I searched bicycle route navigator, I had no hits.)

The Wahoo units have supposedly been upgraded significantly in the last 2 y to include some navigation capability, but still suffer when asked to handle raw .GPX files.

My problem - purchase of both the phone-based ACA Bicycle Route Navigator routes and the ACA .GPX files seems a redundant and unnecessary expense.

Wouldn't it be slick if the ACA phone-based routes would communicate directly (or indirectly) with GPS through their FrontPack platform. 

If I hear back from Wahoo, I'll post their answer.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2021, 07:49:19 pm by ray b »
“A good man always knows his limitations.”

Offline HobbesOnTour

Re: GPS query
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2021, 07:58:32 pm »
RayB, for what it's worth I import "raw" gpx files onto my unit all the time and never have a problem.
I normally use https://cycle.travel/

I also use Komoot (not a fan) RideWithGPS and sometimes routes downloaded from other sites.

By the way, it's not a good idea to transfer a route from one app to another too much - that's a great way of getting a route you hadn't planned!

I used the ACA app for one section of the Atlantic Coast Route and it was fine except it only had data (stores, campgrounds) for the official route. When I had to go off course due to a storm it was as useful as a chocolate teapot. It was supplemantary to my own gox files.

For any device you want to use on a tour I can't emphasise enough the importance of testing it out and becoming familiar with its foibles in advance.

Offline ray b

Re: GPS query
« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2021, 02:30:29 pm »
...By the way, it's not a good idea to transfer a route from one app to another too much - that's a great way of getting a route you hadn't planned!

I used the ACA app for one section of the Atlantic Coast Route and it was fine except it only had data (stores, campgrounds) for the official route. When I had to go off course due to a storm it was as useful as a chocolate teapot. It was supplemantary to my own gox files.

For any device you want to use on a tour I can't emphasise enough the importance of testing it out and becoming familiar with its foibles in advance.
Right you are, though a chocalate teapot would still be useful while touring if nothing more than a source of calories....

Reply from Wahoo with my inquiry.  This doesn't look like it's going very far. (Have to say, the folks at Garmin/Delorme are up to date on all available platforms and file structures)

   
Michael S (Wahoo Fitness Support)
Feb 19, 2021, 11:11 AM EST
Hello Raymond -
Thanks for writing in. My instinct tells me that the Roam is not compatible.  However, I am not familiar with the product you are referring to.  Could you send more information on that?

Kind regards,
Michael
-----------------------   
Raymond E Bourey
Feb 18, 2021, 6:29 PM EST
Do you know if the Element Roam is compatible with FrontPack's platform for download and display of route and service data purchased from the Adventure Cycling Association? (This should be a big market with just the GDBMR alone.)
“A good man always knows his limitations.”

Offline jrobertson

Re: GPS query
« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2021, 02:42:40 pm »
Hi Ray - The Bicycle Route Navigator app (powered by FrontPack) isn't directly supported by any third party platform like RWGPS or Wahoo. Those in-app map section purchases in the BRN app can only be used there. This is the best option for folks who don't want to mess with file management or having a phone and a gps unit. But for people who really want the handlebar-mounted gps  experience, we offer the gpx data packages on our website for the same map sections. This data is the same that is in the BRN app, just workable on a number of platforms that support gpx files (almost all do). Here are some instructions for getting gpx data on a wahoo: https://wahoofitness.yonyx.com/y/conversation/?id=0879d4c0-53dd-11e8-8f6c-bc764e10d166

Regards,
Jamie Robertson

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Routes Director, Routes & Mapping

Adventure Cycling Association
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