Viewing 26 posts - 1 through 26 (of 26 total)
  • Which GPS navigator for mountain biking?
  • fungolo
    Free Member

    Hi,

    Apologies if this has been asked before – or recently – but unless I’m being a doofus the search function isn’t all that helpful.

    I’m in the market for a bike-mounted GPS for navigating and recording rides. For routes I’ve found online or on Komoot etc., and installed, and recording the routes of my own rides. I’m not worried about every single possible training stat, although I realise they all include them these days. I do like the idea of detailed information regarding climbs. Looking at spending £250 or so. I don’t want to be following a ‘breadcrumb trail’, I definitely want a more comprehensive map experience. Ideally with quick and effective re-routing.

    I’m surprised that none of these devices seem to be as good as they could be. I’d have thought the tech would be fairly mature by now. So, what should I go for, for off-road use? People seem to like Wahoo but apparently the navigation isn’t great off-road.

    TL;DR – do I want a Garmin Edge 530, or something else?

    Follow up question: I’d rather not attach it to the handlebars. The vibrations and slams alone make that seem dodgy. Are there any top tube mounted solutions similar to this:

    designed for a GPS computer?

    Sorry for the long post. Genuine advice very much appreciated.

    Cheers,

    fungolo

    thegeneralist
    Full Member

    I use my phone with OSApp installed. Mounted on the bar in a cheapo Topeak case. Works well except when it rains ( touchscreen no longer works).

    A decent OS map is essential for me as I never, well almost never actually follow a prescribed route to completion.

    phil5556
    Full Member

    If you’re looking at Garmin I’m very happy with my Edge Explore 2, the new one with decent battery life.

    I’ve mostly used it for following routes I’ve loaded onto it, either GPX files or from Komoot. It works well, seems to reroute pretty well to get you back on course and is clear enough to see.

    I’ve not used anything else to compare though.

    On a recent ride I tried it on the top tube and it wasn’t easy to read because it’s not a natural place to be looking, fine if you just want to occasionally look but if you’re properly following it then up on the bars / over the stem is much better. I moved it mid ride.

    nickc
    Full Member

    TL;DR – do I want a Garmin Edge 530, or something else?

    Probably one of the Garmins will do what you want. The hardware is pretty robust. If you don’t care about stats over much, or are looking at routes in some-one else’s application, then you also won’t have to deal with their clunky software.

    You can get top tube mounts for the Garmin from project 76  I’ve never had an issues mounting it on the bars, or an out front though

    devash
    Free Member

    I’m really happy with the Edge 530 I recently purchased. Previous to that I was using a hand-me-down Garmin Edge Explore 820 which was extremely slow and clunky. I don’t miss the touchscreen and much prefer the buttons and faster operating speed of the 530.

    I paid around £200 for the MTB pack which includes a really cool mount that attaches to your bars but orientates the unit itself over the top of your stem. Haven’t had any problems with it. Previous to this I was using the cheaper rubber band fixed mount and it wasn’t secure enough for proper trail riding.

    The Edge 530 has tons of training and stats options you may not use, but you can turn off these features and set everything up exactly how you ant it, if you prefer a more streamline experience. Following routes and trials hasn’t been a problem.

    intheborders
    Free Member

    Ideally with quick and effective re-routing.

    How’s it going to re-root you when you’re not on a ‘road’ etc?

    stevextc
    Free Member

    Looking at spending £250 or so.

    That’s 3-4 times the replacement cost of a normal person’s phone.
    Unless you want some other features other than GPS I can’t see the point of replacing a much cheaper item like a phone with an expensive item.

    TL;DR – do I want a Garmin Edge 530, or something else?

    Do you absolutely have to spend £250 ?

    Follow up question: I’d rather not attach it to the handlebars. The vibrations and slams alone make that seem dodgy. Are there any top tube mounted solutions similar to this:

    Nothing is really going to be 100% but I’ve been fairly lucky.. a bar mounted case and phone with the mount so it can rotate out of the way. I’ve had lots of OTB’s and bike cartwheeling away but so far not broken a phone and if I did it’s £60 to replace.

    fossy
    Full Member

    Edge Explore (or new Explore 2). I have a stearer mount that places the unit over the stem on the MTB – the rubber band mounts are fine for the road bikes, but the FS I’ve one of these.

    Survived a number of crashes and the garmin has been fine.

    nickc
    Full Member

    apparently the navigation isn’t great off-road.

    Most of the available navigators use Open Street Map as a base. It’s “mostly” OK on well trod routes like BW and bridleways, but i find it’s always good to have a general sense of where you’re headed, and map (electronic or otherwise) JIC. Some (like Garmin) you can load with OS mapping which is obviously better, but all of them have hiccups to a greater or lesser extent off road.

    fungolo
    Free Member

    Thanks for the suggestions.

    It sounds like a Garmin is what I’m after. I like what I’ve (now) read about the Explore 2 – it loses some of the training functionality I wouldn’t use in favour of better a re-routing algorithm, and it still has the ClimbPro feature.

    In answer to the question asking how it would re-route when I’m not on a road, I don’t know. Essentially that’s what I started this thread to find out. In my ignorance I thought / hoped that missing a track or route I was cycling XC or at a trail centre (I’d like to find the interesting, un-marked alternative trails) would be picked up by one of these units. The overwhelming majority of my riding will be off-road – and not on gravel. Mountain biking only.

    Just need to decide between the Edge 530 and the Explore 2, but I think I’m leaning toward the latter. Sounds ideal for exploring rather than serious training. Pity a cable to connect to a power bank is £40, but then 16 hours from the internal battery – before setting power saving modes – isn’t bad.

    Are these units relatively secure mounted on the bars then? Clearly I wouldn’t take it down a black run, but can the mounts handle the buffeting from rock gardens and the typical trail centre (not bike park) red routes? Or gentle XC only?

    Finally, for thegeneralist, I’d considered just using my iPhone, and brining along a 20.000-30,000mAh power bank.It would be a cheaper option. Do you feel limited by the apps? I can see that a phone could work in a pinch for pure navigation, but how is it for giving detail on climbs, and using apps such as Komooot or TrailForks?

    Again, sorry for the long post and thanks for your input. All very helpful and appreciated.

    fungolo

    fungolo
    Free Member

    That’s 3-4 times the replacement cost of a normal person’s phone.
    Unless you want some other features other than GPS I can’t see the point of replacing a much cheaper item like a phone with an expensive item.

    Is your phone a Nokia feature phone? My smartphone costs a fair bit more than £250 (unfortunately).

    Do you absolutely have to spend £250 ?

    Well no, I don’t have to. But as stated I want it for navigation, not training stats. Frankly, I’d find a breadcrumb trail highly frustrating, and I’m not interested in a glorified old-school cycle computer.I’m not particular interested in training stats.

    Thanks for your response but I did try to specify what I wanted – and can afford.

    fungolo

    scotroutes
    Full Member

    A Garmin on a bar mount will handle any terrain you can throw at it.

    freeride_addict
    Free Member

    As a full time MTB guide for 20 years (In France, the UK, and NZ working year-round) I’ve certainly done the rounds on this topic. I spend hundreds of hours per year just staring at maps – and I’m with you on not being a fan of the komoot-style map which does not contain anywhere near the detail I need.

    My setup is as follows and honestly its by far the best solution I’ve ever had.

    Mapping software: FATMAP (seriously the best and most comprehensive mapping software I ever saw, ever!)
    GPS Device: My Phone – Just a cheap Motorola G-Series with a huge battery. Works a treat
    Bar Mount – Quad Lock. Since Ive been using Quad Lock (3 years now) Ive never lost or broken a phone. I Used to break about one every 3 to 5 months when I had them in my bag or pocket.

    I’m such a fan of FATMAP, they’ve given me a load of free premium trial tokens to give out to customers and colleagues. Premium allows you to use the full IGN / OS Maps (included for every country in the world, assuming the map itself actually exists). Plus you can download maps for offline use etc which is really handy.

    You, or indeed anyone else reading this would be welcome to take a free 3-month FATMAP license, just use this link:
    ***https://fatmap.typeform.com/enduro150?typeform-source=trans-savoie.com***
    (No credit card details required, its genuinely a free 3 month trial, no strings attached!)

    nickc
    Full Member

     (I’d like to find the interesting, un-marked alternative trails)

    Nothing beats local knowledge. Those fun unmarked alternatives are unlikely to be on a widely available GPX routes downloadable from the internet and the GPS navigator isn’t going to point them out to you unless that’s the way it wants you to go.

    stevextc
    Free Member

    Is your phone a Nokia feature phone? My smartphone costs a fair bit more than £250 (unfortunately).

    Some iPhone thing … SE2 or something. Currently £60 or so on ebay refurbished – I don’t really need such a fancy phone but for £60 there isn’t much to save. TBH I think if for some reason I needed one of those

    4hr+ ride time .. but anything over 3 I’d probably take a battery backup just in case.
    Since I often sneak in cheeky rides around WfH I tend to take cafe/pub stops and catch up on work if necassary and I find that can be the biggest drain on the battery.

    You can use whatever the most appropriate App is.. (which I find tends to vary depending where you’re riding) and ultimately when “touring” or “exploring” you can have OS Maps as well to check RoW. (I’m not against a bit of cheeky but I do want to know when and be respectful as possible or inconspicuous)

    Well no, I don’t have to. But as stated I want it for navigation, not training stats.

    That’s one of my main reasons I hate the idea of a garmin.
    I purely want routes and navigation… I don’t want to have screens and config for some fitness type stuff.
    I really dislike anything to do with fitness or training to the point even knowing it’s there would make me feel uneasy.

    The other big reason is my eyesight isn’t what it was and Komoot on my phone is big and colourful enough I can actually see where to go without glasses.

    I use Komoot mainly but then I bought into it when it was going commercial at or around the same times as Trailforks.
    It all just works well enough for me.. but I like the option of being able to choose whatever I want. Unless I’m somewhere I know will have signal I download the map first…

    It’s not great at creating a new last minute route on the phone (either manually or dynamically), it will try and get you back to a planned one though.

    fungolo
    Free Member

    Thanks stevextc, that’s useful.

    My phone isn’t anything flash – an iPhone SE 3/2022 – but still cost more than £60.Obviously you haven’t shared where you bought yours but the SE 2 seems to go for a lot more than £60. £150+, depending on condition, with warranty on eBay…

    Anyway, this discussion is leading me towards trying the phone first. As I’d have to pay for the apps (TrailForks, Komoot and so an) anyway – yes? – I might as well see how the phone does, and 30,000+mAh power banks are cheap.

    Unless anyone is willing to take the time to write a counter-argument in favour of a Garmin/GPS computer? Which I would appreciate 🙂

    Aslo, beyond the focus on training stats on the 530, is there any compelling reason to go with the Explore 2 or 530? It seems the Explore 2 is much newer, with the attendant newer software.

    Thanks everyone. I won’t keep on with follow-up questions as you’ve all been most helpful. I’ll pop back to read and thank those who’ve left further messages though.

    Cheers

    thepurist
    Full Member

    Unless anyone is willing to take the time to write a counter-argument in favour of a Garmin/GPS computer?

    Three words – “Always on display”.

    I’ve dabbled with using an old phone but (when I was doing this) couldn’t find a way to either have the phone sat there with the screen on for me to glance at when I wanted to check something (killed battery life to just leave it on) or for it to auto-unlock and show the screen when I approached a waypoint. Maybe I missed a trick, maybe things have moved on, but a dedicated GPS works for me.

    stevextc
    Free Member

    My phone isn’t anything flash – an iPhone SE 3/2022 – but still cost more than £60.Obviously you haven’t shared where you bought yours but the SE 2 seems to go for a lot more than £60. £150+, depending on condition, with warranty on eBay…

    Yep .. sorry I was taking what my 13yr old had told me on face value.. but Yep £150 seems about thereabouts from a quick check. (He’s probably tracking loads of auctions and picking the cheapest one went)
    I did check though a while back (couldn’t say how long) and my insurance has £75 excess and was barely worth it then so the lad quoting prices sounded convincing. It makes me think they must have been closer to £100 at that point for me to cancel the insurance?? (maybe it was just around a new release??)

    However, even at that price (or paying for insurance) it means paying for a good mount/case – backup battery etc. it still seems cheaper so for me unless I actually wanted fitness/training stuff (and I actively don’t) its a feature for feature thing.

    I really value having the choice of Apps and like planning on the PC and I find the turn by turn good in Komoot
    … plus having OS Maps is an extra bonus… and equally I like the fact as my van has no satnav if I’m driving somewhere its seamless from using Waze to whatever on the phone… and back.
    My previous phone was a 6s (I think) … anyway same size case so I just used previous case and mounts etc.

    In winter if I carry/use lights my light has a charging port for phones so I tend to just rely on that.

    and 30,000+mAh power banks are cheap

    My main light has a real 10Ah and would run the phone for days continuously…. so you don’t need anything near that size unless it has another use as well. (2-3 full charges on top of starting from charged should be long enough for anything but a 24hr endurance race) Obviously depends how you use it.. but I tend to pass cafe’s and pubs or view points… if I was taking a spare battery I’ll just do that when I stop rather than mess about with extra leads and stuff while riding.

    I take my £35 Anker battery on long weekends… (20Ah) and that includes watching video’s etc. at night.
    I can technically recharge the Anker from the van leisure batteries but I never had to over a long weekend as far as I remember. (I could charge the phone as well but usually it’s just more convenient laying in my sleeping bag to use the Anker)

    stevextc
    Free Member

    I’ve dabbled with using an old phone but (when I was doing this) couldn’t find a way to either have the phone sat there with the screen on for me to glance at when I wanted to check something (killed battery life to just leave it on) or for it to auto-unlock and show the screen when I approached a waypoint. Maybe I missed a trick, maybe things have moved on, but a dedicated GPS works for me.

    You need to unlock the phone (at least I do). If you have it unlock then it can’t open the full screen just the banners. Komoot will keep the screen open but I get about hrs of that and when I’m night riding I prefer not having it on. If I turn it off the banners come up for turn by turn but If I want to open the App fully i have to unlock.. and to be fair that sucks in the rain wearing gloves…

    eyestwice
    Full Member

    I’ve had an Edge 1030 for years and can’t fault it.

    Used with a Bar Fly mount, which sits over the steerer top cap so doesn’t suffer as much vibration as it would out in front of the bars.

    In fact I’ve now had that exact setup on four separate bikes and it’s great.

    phil5556
    Full Member

    I’ve just added the Trailforks base map to mine, not been for a ride yet to test it so don’t know how useful it will be.

    What I have done though is followed someone else’s route from Trailforks that I downloaded as a GPX – that worked pretty well.

    I usually use it on the gravel bike but on the mountain bike bars it was solid over some pretty rough stuff, that was just using the rubber band mounds. The SRAM mount is good and can be used out front or behind the bars. I’m going to get a second one for my mountain bike.

    thegeneralist
    Full Member

    I’d considered just using my iPhone, and brining along a 20.000-30,000mAh power bank.It would be a cheaper option.

    Tbh I’ve never taken a powerbank with me. The phone blackscreens for most of the ride and I only unlock it when I need to. I’ve done some very long rides, I’ve done some rides in unknown areas and I’ve used the phone a bit since the battery became a bit shit BUT never all three at the same time. If I did then I guess a power bank would be good.

    Do you feel limited by the apps? I can see that a phone could work in a pinch for pure navigation, but how is it for giving detail on climbs, and using apps such as Komooot or TrailForks?

    Generally I despise apps, so am not the best person to ask. I got OSApp simply because flicking the screen on was simpler than unfolding a huge OS map every few minutes 🙂
    I got strava simply to know how far my logbook rides were for my Guide ticket.
    Never used Kommot.
    Trailforks was OK.

    chestrockwell
    Full Member

    I had a similar list of requirements to you. Picked up an Edge Explore during lockdown and it’s just the job.

    johnnystorm
    Full Member

    I’ve gone from Garmin Edge 200 > 500 > 810 > Wahoo Elemnt and back to Garmin With Edge Explore.

    If you asked me which portable camera, or which in-car GPS or mp3 player you should get I wouldn’t hesitate to say “get a smart phone to do it”.

    For on-bike navigation however I see the value in a standalone for weather resistance, battery life, mounting points, space and general robustness.

    From my experience if you value ease of set-up and mobile phone integration overall get a Wahoo, if you want more detailed mapping options get the Garmin. My recent Edge is leaps and bounds ahead of my previous ones and closed the gap significantly on Wahoo.

    Both systems are easy to get routes onto from 3rd party sources. Smartphones do still have their places for very detailed “bigger picture” use when you’ve come to a halt though. I wouldn’t want to ride about trying to keep track on a super detailed OS map for example.

    nickc
    Full Member

    Anyone have or known anything about Bryton devices?

    rickmeister
    Full Member

    Second hand Edge 1030 here. Good battery, screen is fine. Open MTB software and mapping plus it bluetooths to the e-bike and shows battery data.

    I just ignore or not configure the fitness features.

Viewing 26 posts - 1 through 26 (of 26 total)

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