SAT NAVS FOR CYCLE TOURING

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
mj2006skinner
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SAT NAVS FOR CYCLE TOURING

Postby mj2006skinner » 15 Jun 2011, 1:38pm

My first post. I hope I am not repeating something already posted, but cannot find anything.

I am considering buying a Sat Nav for use when cycling. Main reason is to be able to display route, and if I go off course be able to work out where I am in relation to planned route. This usually happens when harassed by car drivers, there is a missing or obscured sign, and it is raining. I think we've all been there. Access to OS 50K, 25K and the new OS Open Data Street View would be useful. I am much more concerned with navigation than with performance, heart rate and so on.

I like the simplicity of Google Maps, but realise it assumes you are driving a car so it has limitations for cycling use. Is it possible to transfer routes from Google Maps to a portable device when out on the road?

Should I buy a dedicated device, or use a smartphone? What works best in practice?

Also, does anyone have experience of using Open Street on a computer, and is able to tell me which software will work with it. It seems this is an area of technology that has not, as yet, fully developed, so is still maturing.

I would be very grateful if anyone is able to help me with some advice.

Regards

Martin

DevonDamo
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Re: SAT NAVS FOR CYCLE TOURING

Postby DevonDamo » 16 Jun 2011, 12:21am

My main advice is don't. Use a map, a mapholder and a compass. Once you've got used to using them, they've the best tool for the job - you can plan routes far better than a dumb algorithm in a calculator can. However, if you're determined...

I'd recommend getting a smartphone. Okay, battery life can be a problem, but if you plan to tour using a sat nav, then you're going to need some form of charging arrangement or lots of spare batteries. Personally, I carry 4 spare batteries for mine, but if I was doing a longer tour, I'd investigate a hub-dynamo to power it.

The benefit of smartphones is that they are far more versatile. I've got at least 5 sat nav applications on mine, ranging from 'bikehub' (specifically designed for cycle touring) to GoogleMaps. The best thing is - they're all free! (Okay, one of them was a pirate version I downloaded, but there are plenty of similar applications which are truly free.)

You can buy a fully-loaded smartphone (which is comparable to the iPhone for casual users) for as little as £70. Have a google for the 'Orange San Francisco.'

theopr
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Re: SAT NAVS FOR CYCLE TOURING

Postby theopr » 16 Jun 2011, 12:15pm

I would agree with demodavo's main advice. For me, a real map is way more convenient than a GPS device, mainly because you can see more than about 2 square inches of the map in one go!

I would disagree about the smartphone option. They are great if you are lost and happen to have one in your pocket, but for mounting on a bike I prefer a GPS device that I can drop, stand on, get covered in mud and finally wash by dunking in a stream. And where I know the battery will last all day.

Have a look at some of the newer units by Garmin, Satmap or MemoryMap. They're not cheap (some are in "could buy a bike for that!" territory) but many will accept various mapping options including free OSM.

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BeeKeeper
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Re: SAT NAVS FOR CYCLE TOURING

Postby BeeKeeper » 16 Jun 2011, 12:38pm

I have a SatMap Active 10 which in terms of mapping data is amazing - the whole of the UK 1:50,000 on one card for example, but maps are not cheap - a 1:25,000 map of Brittany is about £60 if memory serves.

The one thing I found a bit odd was that it doesn't wake up and tell me when a waypoint has been reached, which some GPS bike computers can - they beep and indicate with an arrow which way to go. With mine I have to press a button as I approach a junction and check on the map. However, this is easy to do and the buttons are a lot easier to use than touch sensitive screens which some GPS have. The military tried touch sensitive screens in vehicles years ago and gave them up for buttons - which are much easier to find and use when you are moving about as you are on a bike.

I have entered into mine all the camp sites I am planning to visit on a trip next week and they appear on the screen as a little symbol.

It also of course records all the data about your trip including total distances, speed and altitude climbed etc. It also logs your route which can be downloaded to a PC later.

The range of maps for the SatMap is not huge - for example they hardly cover Italy at all but they have most of Western Europe and the US and the antipodes but if you are planning a trip across China forget it and get a Garmin - who do have maps for China.

However, for planning nothing beats a paper map as you can see the "big picture" so to speak and I am still taking the relevant 1:100,000 IGN maps of France with me next week as planning little detours off my chosen route or even a big change of route will be much easier.

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Robert
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Re: SAT NAVS FOR CYCLE TOURING

Postby Robert » 16 Jun 2011, 1:03pm

DevonDamo wrote:My main advice is don't. Use a map, a mapholder and a compass. Once you've got used to using them, they've the best tool for the job - you can plan routes far better than a dumb algorithm in a calculator can.


I agree with all of that apart from the first five words. You can't beat a map and your brain. Letting a machine plan your route takes half the enjoyment of the ride away. However, a GPS can be very useful as a kind of electronic route sheet if you decide where you're going, what roads you're going to take etc. As has been said already, it gives you a track of where you've been how fast how high etc. That's very useful for geocoding your photos. I like the fact that i can pinpoint a photo on the map after the event.

I've used a Garmin Etrex Vista HCx for the last few years. I've found it to be generally reliable, but I've always used road atlas pages as a back up and to get a broader perspective. The automatic routing is a bit of a joke really - if you enter your waypoints and use straight line navigation between waypoints and use your head, you won't go far wrong.

Big T
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Re: SAT NAVS FOR CYCLE TOURING

Postby Big T » 16 Jun 2011, 1:31pm

We used maps for our JOGLE and were fine 99% of the time, but they were only 1:250,000 scale which didn't show enough detail in towns, so we got lost a few times. When lost we usually just followed a compass bearing.

I also have a Garmin Edge 705, which I don't use very much but find useful for audaxes and touring in unfamiliar areas. I use it in conjunction with a map, pick a place on the map about 10 miles away and then let the Garmin take me there using it's routing function. It's usually pretty good and has taken me down some delightful tiny lanes.

Last week, near Castle Acre in Norfolk, I got a bit lost as I decided to take what looked like a good shortcut on the map. The Garmin was sending me the opposite way to what I thought I needed to go, but it was right and I was wrong!
My JOGLE blog:
http://www.jogler2009.blogspot.com
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andrew_s
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Re: SAT NAVS FOR CYCLE TOURING

Postby andrew_s » 16 Jun 2011, 1:51pm

I use both a Garmin GPS and a real paper map.
I don't plan routes in advance (it's boring), but pick a point maybe 10 miles up the road on the map, and tell the GPS to navigate me there Satnav style. Before I start riding I eyeball the route the GPS has picked, and if I don't like it I either cancel and pick a closer point to go to, or add an intermediate waypoint. It saves stopping to check the map every other junction, and is good going in and out of towns where the map is not sufficiently detailed. I use fairly large scale maps like the now discontinued 1:250,000 OS maps in the UK or IGN 1:400,000 in France.

The reliability of automatic routing depends on the quality of the map data being used. All of it has errors - eg two roads get within a metre of each other but don't connect, so a route won't go through the junction, or the road priorities in the data don't match those on the road so a turn is alerted when there isn't one, or not alerted when there is a turn.

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al_yrpal
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Re: SAT NAVS FOR CYCLE TOURING

Postby al_yrpal » 16 Jun 2011, 3:20pm

I find ordinary maps are preferable to navigate with when touring, you can see whats around. I wouldn't like a sat nav barking instructions at me, and the piddly screen size and poor maps on them dont show all the features you get on decent OS type maps.

I do plan out vague routes and distances using BikeRouteToaster.com. I then transfer them to Memory Maps OS Maps, or French IGN maps on my smartphone.

I use an HTC Desire Android Smartphone when touring. Its useful as a satnav in three ways:-

1. To correctly identify my position when unsure by looking at a map which is marked with my position on it. OS Maps have pubs marked! That saves loads of toing and froing.

2. Used as a sat nav using Google Maps/ Directions to navigate out of big towns easily - just like using a TomTom or similar.

3. Before I go anywhere I look up all the likely campsites on Google Maps on a PC and Gold Star them. On my smartphone they all show up in Google Maps. When I want to select a nearby site I just click on the nearest gold stars and up comes a comprehensive page of information on those sites with reviews. If I click on the phone number it phones the site - Simples!

The Smartphone Apps I use are Google Maps and Navigation, MMTracker, using Memory Maps both are free. You will have to pay for the maps. I looked at Open Street Maps but they seem full of errors and ommisions and are thus unreliable.

My smartphone has email, a decent camera, a Kindle, web browsing, newspapers, BBC News, video, YouTube (emergency bike adjustment instruction), radio, MP3 player, forum browsing!, emergency flashlight, notepad, voice recorder and Google Sky Map for star spotting on dark campsites, as well as phone and texts of course. It saves you lugging laptops, netbooks cameras and all sorts of other electronic paraphanalia around.

The downside of Smartphones is that you must have a way of charging them. I have a battery pack that means mine will last 5 days in normal use. I recharge the battery from electrical hookups if camping. I am intending to get a hub dynamo when funds permit.

I have no desire to get a Garmin

Al
Touring on a bicycle is a great way to explore and appreciate the countryside and towns you pass through. What do you do to make a difference?

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BeeKeeper
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Re: SAT NAVS FOR CYCLE TOURING

Postby BeeKeeper » 16 Jun 2011, 5:10pm

I forgot to say I don't use my GPS to actually work out the route - I wouldn't trust it not to take me somewhere daft. I just use it like a big scrolling map and the OS style detail (contour lines etc) I find much more interesting and useful than the typical car GPS type map - which is what I think you get with Google maps.

llayercake
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Re: SAT NAVS FOR CYCLE TOURING

Postby llayercake » 17 Jun 2011, 5:20pm

Just completed my first tour, coast to coast.

Maps and occasionally compass were main method on the open road.

The i-pod touch was very useful on my return for navigating from Paddington to Liverpool Street.

The Garmin Edge 605 got my 'Chocolate Teapot Award' for the most useless item that I took with me, too little information on the open road and too little information in town and not anywhere near as user friendly as the i-pod. I'd love it to be me and not the Sat Nav as I paid £170 for it but it doesn't compete with paper or Smartphone Technology.

ossie
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Re: SAT NAVS FOR CYCLE TOURING

Postby ossie » 17 Jun 2011, 6:02pm

Buy a Garmin Etrex Legend Hcx and back it up with a map. It takes 2 AA batteries. Ive just cycled from Spain to the UK and got 5 days out of a pair of AA Lithiums, 2 sets got me home and they were about a fiver for 6 batteries on Amazon. It was on for between 6 and 14 hours a day.

I stayed in camp sites and wild camped where obviously there was no means of charging anything so its just another thing not to worry about. Really impressed with the battery life of this little device.

Mattie
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Re: SAT NAVS FOR CYCLE TOURING

Postby Mattie » 17 Jun 2011, 6:41pm

al_yrpal wrote:
..........The downside of Smartphones is that you must have a way of charging them.

Al


........ and a £35 per month contract ?

sbesley
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Re: SAT NAVS FOR CYCLE TOURING

Postby sbesley » 18 Jun 2011, 1:05am

Re Smart 'phones

... and don't even think about using them abroad for your £35 a month!

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al_yrpal
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Re: SAT NAVS FOR CYCLE TOURING

Postby al_yrpal » 18 Jun 2011, 8:45am

£30 a month, and with Vodafone. You get fixed cost data in Europe £2 a day. Don't believe everything you read without checking. I need the facilities of the phone for my voluntary charity job, so its no sweat.

Input via voice from my phone.

Al
Touring on a bicycle is a great way to explore and appreciate the countryside and towns you pass through. What do you do to make a difference?

sbesley
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Re: SAT NAVS FOR CYCLE TOURING

Postby sbesley » 18 Jun 2011, 10:22am

Agreed. But...

the £2 a day is only for Europe, £5 a day outside Europe

and the data is limited to 25 MB

What I would like to know is how many Megabytes of data would be downloaded on a day's touring using a smart phone as a GPS and downloading the mapping as you go?

Anyone any experience of this?

I might become a smart phone convert!