What GPS for MTB?

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  • What GPS for MTB?
  • solamanda
    Member

    I’m looking to buy a GPS unit to use occasionally for trips to the lakes or wales. I’ve not used one on a mountain bike before and not upto speed on exactly how most people use them. I understand that tracklogs can be loaded into a unit, which can be used as a guide. How effective is this in reality? Can I simply download a route online and go ride?

    Typically I only bother with a handful of ‘proper’ mountain map following rides a year in the UK so tend to either resort to a map (sometimes getting it wrong) or try to find someone who I can tag along with.

    I’m currently in a position where I can get a massive discount on Garmin units and leaving for another workplace has prompted me to think about getting a unit. If it really is as easy as follow a downloaded tracklog then it might get my riding further afield more often.

    I’ve been looking at the Oregon 200 https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?cID=145&pID=14902

    Also any comments on the usefulness of detail topo maps for an irregular user like myself?

    Cheers

    gusamc
    Member

    I use a Garmin Etrex plus Memory map.

    IMHO.

    You can just follow a route BUT you NEED an OS map to give context – in case of issues (and you do get them as the ‘ground’ can differ from map plus there can be 3 lefts, closures, 10feet deep bogs, you want to shorten/extend route etc etc).

    Speaking without experience I’d love a system will all UK os maps,moving OS 50000 map display (with zoom etc) (as I’m totally used to them) and then I can’t see why you’d need a map (well barring technology failure).

    The ‘route only’ Etrex takes away some of map reading stops (and does recording etc)and means you don’t actually get lost (well unless under tree cover etc).

    As I can read a map and use a compass I’ve found Memory Map a bigger aid – quickly trace route, see hill flow etc etc – so you can adjust start etc points plus work out real effort of ride.

    I’ve got a Garmin eTrex Vista and it’s been fine. You can get free contour maps (google ‘smc contour’) and use in conjunction with the other maps.

    This looks really good though
    http://www.satmap.com/

    Swello
    Member

    I’ve used the Garmin Geko 301 for years. Simple, light, robust and great (AAA, not proprietary) battery life. It doesn’t display maps though – it does indicate that you are on the route you plotted and that has been more than good enough for me on bike and on foot in the most remote parts of Scotland. I always carry a paper map in any case and would never be without one where it mattered, so I’ve always got that and a 6 figure grid reference of my location from the Geko if I need to check anything.

    Dibbs
    Member

    I’ve got a Garmin Edge because I wanted the HRM features, I’ve also got an eTrex Vista that I’ve had for about nine years now. If you just want to navigate, the newer colour Vista takes some beating but the Oregon’s have the advantage of using OS maps, I think the maps are pretty much limited to National Parks at the moment though.

    duntmatter
    Member

    Does anybody use a smartphone with GPS for rides? Thinking about getting one..

    duckers
    Member

    I have a PDA that performs similar functions and its much better having full colour OS maps and being able to put Memory Map on it. Smart Phones aren’t cheap though and neither is memory map.

    Dibbs – I thought that the Satmap was the only GPS that is currently able to use OS maps?

    clubber
    Member

    The new Garmins (Oregon IIRC) can do OS maps but only Garmin’s own ones and they’re fairly limited in their coverage of the UK

    clubber
    Member

    piedi di formaggio – do you use smc contour and if so how do you find it? – that looks like an excellent free product – arguably better than topo maps which cost a bomb.

    nicko74
    Member

    Problem about using a smartphone with GPS on the bike is battery life. I’ve wondered about it myself – and there is software out there that lets you use it for this – but the battery on my phone gets drained pretty quickly by the GPS. It then causes the issue of what you use to call if you get stuck etc.

    Premier Icon glenh
    Subscriber

    Does anybody use a smartphone with GPS for rides? Thinking about getting one..

    Yes, I use an HTC phone with memory map. Works a treat. I just put it in a clear sandwich bag to keep it dry in my jacket pocket.
    You can get waterproof cases so I guess you could mount on the bars, but I doubt you’d be able to see the map properly while actually riding (screens aren’t generally big or bright enough), so I just get it out of my pocket occasionally to check.

    Premier Icon snowslave
    Subscriber

    Highly recommend gps if you want to spend less time navigating and more riding, but I think you will always need proper maps as backup at least, unless you’re in an area you know well enough to not need maps?

    I use a really basic geko 201 with no maps on the device. Programme in routes beforehand on memory map. It’s fine for what I want, and cheap too.

    You defo need a handlebar mount too, and they’re extra for this model.

    Sam
    Member

    Does anybody use a smartphone with GPS for rides?

    I’ve just recently purchased the Viewranger software for use with smartphone (nokia e71) and it’s good so far. Battery life seems ok, I think it would at least last a day – though I’ve not tested it to exhaustion yet. I guess that depends as much on your phone as anything. Will give it a full report once I’ve had more of a chance to use it.

    Premier Icon glenh
    Subscriber

    nicko – I know this defeats the point of most new phones having built in GPS, but you can connect via bluetooth to a separate GPS receiver to save battery ( http://www.bmcdigital.co.uk/catalog/view/freedom-keyring-gps-reciever-51-channel ).

    I’ve ridden with one of these for 10 hours no problem (which is about the length the battery lasts on the gps receiver).

    Clubber, The SMC maps work just fine and you can use these in conjunction with other maps as well (so you get the contours over roads, etc). Having said that, they are really only of any use in hilly areas!

    boblo
    Member

    Aaah, the perenial ‘What GPS’ question followed by ‘Which tire for south facing mud’ and ‘What knife for belly pork’… Only joking. 😛

    I use a Garmin Edge 705 for road biking and faffing around. It uses Garmin’s own City maps and Topo maps but they are pretty gash compared to OS stuff.

    I also have a Garmin Etrex that I’ve had for yonks. This coupled with Memory Map (or similar) is brilliant for biking and hillbashing. On the bike, I preplan the route in MM and upload to the Etrex. I then use the pointer and breadcrumb trail to navigate the route. This saves a lot of stopping and faffing though I always take a printed map – just in case. When hillbashing, I switch the Etrex on, stick it in my pack to record my trail for later download and navigate by map and compass. If I manage to get in the sh…errr, make a mistake, I can get a grid ref from the GPS.

    The Etrex is cheap enough to take MTBing and not worry about damage. It has normal batteries you can change if they go flat and points you where you need to go.

    The Edge, though very well featured, has poor mapping for off road use, has a mind of it’s own when it comes to rerouting (if you go off route or wish to change route) and has an internal battery that you can’t change in teh field. It’s also f’ing expensive if you bash it.

    So, Garmin Etrex (basic yellow one with 20 route and 125 waypoint memory, not the ealrier one with a single route memory) ’bout £50 – £70 new plus Memory Map from free for moody copies to a coupla hundred for pukka copy and maps.

    Humphry
    Member

    Got an Edge 705 here… Seems to work well, heart rate monitor is useful too if doing any training….

    Premier Icon chipps
    Subscriber

    I’ve been using a Garmin 705, but so far only ‘retrospectively’ – in that I’ve used it to see where I’ve been, rather than work out a route and follow it on the GPS unit. Now that you can finally get decent GPS downloading software on a Mac… Grumble.

    flamejob
    Member

    Good point chippy…. what is the deal with Mac software?

    Premier Icon BadlyWiredDog
    Subscriber

    Good point chippy…. what is the deal with Mac software?

    The deal with Macs is that you can’t use Memory Map or Tracklogs or Anquet, but Garmin does now support uploading and downloading of routes from and to GPS units from Macs, so you can download a track and then use a free routes site or use a routes site to plan your route and then download it to a GPS.

    Still some way from ideal, but an improvement on how it used to be…

    flamejob
    Member

    I see… presumably one could use VMWare Fusion with Vista or XP with the ‘normal’ software?

    Swello
    Member

    Flamejob – I have memory map running nicely with my Geko on my Linux netbook using WINE (free) – I know there is a WINE implementation for OSX, but I’ve never looked into it – might be worth looking at before you fork out for any commercial software.

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