Author Topic: bicycle navigation computer  (Read 2680 times)

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Offline Gus

bicycle navigation computer
« on: January 27, 2021, 01:40:40 pm »
I like to use paper maps for navigation when riding. However I am curious about bike computers like the Wahoo Roam and Garmin. All I use is a basic one that tells speed, distance, time etc. Are they worth the price? Seems like a good tool to compliment paper maps? Anyone who uses them I would appreciate some feedback thanks.

Offline John Nettles

Re: bicycle navigation computer
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2021, 02:23:17 pm »
Years ago, I dropped the bike computer when I started using a GPS to supplement my paper maps.  Since you just want a basic bike computer, I would suggest the Cateye Velo 7 or a Planet Bike Protege 9.0 wired.  I avoided wireless as they can go wonky occasionally (riding under transmission power lines) and throws off the numbers, i.e. you have suddenly gone an extra 90 miles with a top speed of 172mph. Both these models are relatively inexpensive, easy to install (take the time to accurately calibrate it by riding a known distance and re-calibrate as necessary), and last a long time.

BTW, you should give a response to your Rohloff question as it looks a bit weird to ask a question and then never return to it.  :)



Offline jwrushman

Re: bicycle navigation computer
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2021, 05:14:32 pm »
If all you want to know is speed, distance and time, why not just use RideWithGPS on your phone?  Perhaps I misread your question.  Do you want to know what additional features a Garmin (for example) will provide?

Offline j1of1

Re: bicycle navigation computer
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2021, 07:07:30 pm »
Let me tell you a story.  I was riding from Alabama to Ohio a few years back.  To navigate I had a Garmin and my iphone - no paper maps.   I had been riding for hours and was in rural Tenn.   My Garmin, though fully charged when I started -- died.  I kept going now relying on my backup - my iphone.   I came to a fork in the road - no signage at all and guess what, no cell phone coverage.  All I could do was simply guess which direction to go, pedal that direction, wait for cell phone coverage to resume to see if I made the right choice.  And I repeated that cycle numerous time that day.  So what did I learn from this?

1.  Don't rely on electronic devices unless you have way to keep them charged.  I do now - SON Hub Dynamo with a USB port on my bike.
2   I don't like the Garmin and frankly wish I never bought it  The screen is small and difficult to read in the sun, the battery life is horrible, and it doesn't do well of redirecting you when you get off track.  There are newer bicycle GPS devices on the market which may be better or worse...
3  My iphone, able to be recharged with my USB port, with a quad-lock mounted on my handlebars, works well assuming I can get a signal.  I've used a variety of apps for navigating and I'm partial to Kommot (#1)
4  If going through remote/extreme rural areas I always print out paper maps as a back up.

Offline Gus

Re: bicycle navigation computer
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2021, 08:34:40 pm »
Thanks for the  input. I already have a basic computer. Thought about possibly upgrading to a Wahoo. Sorry for any confusion. Always good to get feedback from cyclists who have used what your asking about. Thanks again.

Offline HobbesOnTour

Re: bicycle navigation computer
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2021, 09:40:44 pm »
Different devices operate in different ways, therefore I think it's a very good idea to sit and think about what you want the gps device to do. When you have that, then you can look for devices that match your needs.

I always find it helpful to think of bike gps navigation in two parts;
The first is the actual route creation/planning
The second is following the route.
While things are improving, not all units can create a route on the fly and the quality of routes of the ones that can can be variable.

No gps unit will make a poor route better.

The kinds of questions to ask yourself are;
How will you plan routes, and where. At home on a PC, on the road on a phone?
How well does a unit "play" with other services such as Strava, RWGPS etc.
What kinds of maps do you need? Basic or detailed? That can add cost.
Do you want turn by turn directions or a simple line to follow?
Do you need a unit to recalculate a route when going off course?
How tech savvy are you? Or how user friendly is the unit.
Customer service?
And many others.....

A gps unit revoliutonised my touring, although I rarely follow a preplanned route. It is especially handy in larger urban areas where you may not want to be stopping to look at a map. Again, the usefulness of the gps unit is directly related to the quality of the route planning.

You could download OSMand to your phone and get a handle on what a gpx navigation device can do for you. There's a steep learning curve but the process is educational.

 

Offline John Nelson

Re: bicycle navigation computer
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2021, 01:24:16 am »
Wow, some absolutely outstanding advice so far on this thread. I'll add my thoughts anyway.

My views come from the Garmin, which is the only navigating bike computer I've ever used. The screen on my Garmin and the screen on my phone are about the same size. The phone is easier to read in low light; the Garmin is easier to read in bright light.
  • Are they worth the price? No, absolutely not. Those things are insanely expensive. Should you buy one anyway? Yes, of course. Why? Because they are fun and you're worth it.
  • Can you use your phone instead? Yes, you can, and many, many people happily do. Do I? No. Why not? First of all, the battery life on my Garmin is probably five to ten times what it is on the phone, especially in power-savings mode. And if the battery runs out on my Garmin, I'd like to still have a phone. Second, the Garmin needs no network connectivity, so it works anywhere. If you do use the phone, you should download off-line maps to it so that you can still navigate without a network connection.
  • No matter what you do, you should always take along paper maps as a backup.
  • On tour, you should also carry power banks in case you need to recharge in the middle of nowhere.
  • If you let the Garmin plan the route, it will get you there, but the route will probably suck. If you let the phone plan the route, it might be a little better--or it might not.
  • If you want to use the Garmin for navigation, you'll most likely need to load the routes before you leave home, unless you're also taking along a computer (which I would never do) or planning to stop places where you can use a computer and they will let you attach a USB to it (most inconvenient).
You didn't really say what you would want to use the bike computer for. Perhaps you don't know. But without that information, it's hard to give more precise advice.

Offline driftlessregion

Re: bicycle navigation computer
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2021, 01:12:18 pm »
"BTW, you should give a response to your Rohloff question as it looks a bit weird to ask a question and then never return to it.  :)"

Really? Seems like just taking up space if he got his answer.

Offline John Nettles

Re: bicycle navigation computer
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2021, 01:26:28 pm »
I think that it is nice to get a response to a question.  We can sometimes learn too based on the decision. Plus I have seen a lot of people post their one and only question and never come back.  I wonder is it because they were a troll (if so, why), did they decide not to do anything, did they make a decision based on these answers or something else (what), did they die, etc.  Sort of like when a TV series gets cut after the season when lots of story lines are left hanging.

Offline Gus

Re: bicycle navigation computer
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2021, 09:11:54 pm »
HobbesOnTour, I agree with you. When you have to start making all kinds of turns in populated areas A turn by turn feature is nice versus constantly looking at a map. Thanks.

Offline HobbesOnTour

Re: bicycle navigation computer
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2021, 10:31:53 pm »
Yes, a gps is very handy in built up areas, but remember the key is the actual planning/planner behind it.
Depending on your location different planners will be better or worse. All a gps unit will do is follow that route.
I'm currently in a pretty large and strange (to me) city. Komoot tries to get me killed regularly, RWGPS is useful for "borrowing' other people's routes and cycle.travel works a dream while the inbuilt planner in my unit is ok. Sometimes I need to restart it for safety's sake.

I got my GPS unit when I lived in Europe and it was brilliant because we have a lot more turns! I travelled in the US from Virginia to Texas and it had significantly less importance. (My planning apps though, were vital).

I'd strongly urge you to test the concept and think about what you want. Online discussions about gps units can be divisive often because someone has bought the wrong unit for the job and is very unhappy.
It's not unlike a newbie cyclist buying a MTB and then complaining that he can't keep up with his roadie friends.

Offline Nyimbo

Re: bicycle navigation computer
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2021, 01:56:57 am »
Thanks for the  input. I already have a basic computer. Thought about possibly upgrading to a Wahoo. Sorry for any confusion. Always good to get feedback from cyclists who have used what your asking about. Thanks again.
I rarely see anyone in this forum recommend the Wahoo, I’m not sure why, because on the one other forum I frequent it is highly and often recommended. I used a Garmin to go halfway across country, and the Wahoo to go the second half.  They both work great as long as you know how to use them but I preferred the Wahoo. I Actually only used the routing functions when I went off route for about a week, otherwise I preferred paper maps and just enjoyed the GPS devices for an up front dashboard with its clock time distance, speed elevation, and all that stuff.  Absolutely not required but I enjoy keeping up with that stuff, especially for keeping track of how long I’ve been traveling and how many hours I’ve been pedaling.

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: bicycle navigation computer
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2021, 09:23:53 am »
I am looking at the Garmin 1030 because it can activate emergency messaging and location tracking via satellite for about $35 a month, which can be suspended when not in use. My wife and I are planning to do a modified TransAM East to West in a few years and use a lot of bike trails. I know that cell phone coverage is non-existent on the GAP, many remote places in Montana and other states, and along the Eastern Palouse Cascades Trail. We will both be in are late 60's (I might even be 70 depending on COVID) and there are extremely remote areas. Spending $100 for safety is worth it to us.
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Offline John Nettles

Re: bicycle navigation computer
« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2021, 09:48:54 am »
If you are looking at a GPS, one thing to strongly consider is the battery usage.  Some, like a Garmin Montana, look nice and are easy to read, etc. but they go through about 3 AA batteries a day in my experience.  A Garmin 64 (now the 65 & 66) have double or triple the battery life. 

Then there are the batteries themselves.  The problem is not just the cost of the batteries.  You have to carry them.  The batteries you find in remote small town convenience stores typically are pretty old and may in fact be out of date, if you can even find them. So you have to buy them in a larger town and maybe carry 12-15 extra batteries.  See how much that weighs.  If you go rechargeable batteries, you still have to recharge them so now you have to have a generator hub (I love them) and/or carry a charger with you along with enough spare batteries in case you can not find enough mains current to recharge.  My generator hub at my slower speed charges about 2-3 2500mAh AA batteries per riding day.  Still have to charge the phone too.

If the GPS uses a built-in and/or removable proprietary rechargeable battery, you still have to find a way to charge them.

My point is be sure to seriously consider the battery use of the device.

As HikeBikeCook suggests, a device like the Garmin 65 that have built-in satellite tracking and emergency contact is nice but costs extra of course.

Offline John Nettles

Re: bicycle navigation computer
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2021, 09:55:54 am »
I am looking at the Garmin 1030 because it can activate emergency messaging and location tracking via satellite for about $35 a month...
If you are talking about the inReach feature, I do not see that feature on the 1030.  https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/567991 . It is on those with the inReach feature which are under the handheld models.  Also, be sure a lot of the "communication" features on a GPS require a smartphone with active cell coverage so it won't work if there is no coverage where a phone can't make a call anyway. 

I have use the inReach in past remote tours as my wife has this inordinate fear that it will save me from being eaten by a bear or at the very least I can tell her my last goodbye as I am being eaten alive.  I do like the feature but it is a bit pricey. One very nice aspect is people can track you on a (mostly) real-time basis and then when paired with Google Map's satellite view, you can see very accurately where I am at.