Can anyone recommend a good GPS bike computer?

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nwrothery
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Joined: 24 Nov 2019, 7:35pm

Can anyone recommend a good GPS bike computer?

Postby nwrothery » 9 Mar 2020, 10:13pm

Hi all,

Can anyone recommend a good GPS bike computer? With so many available I'm keen to get some input from the wider cycling community....

I currently cycle anywhere between 300-500km a month, all leisure and no commuting.

I would need it for all the normal stuff such as speed, average speed, distance, hills climbed etc.... however a real necessity would be a good map function which is easy to view and easy to upload pre organised routes. I have no power meter or heart rate monitor do that function would not really be of benefit to me. Nothing too bulky.....

I was thinking of either a Garmin or a Wahoo just as they seem to be names I hear quite regularly.

Any suggestion would be greatly received!

Thanks
Nick

Psamathe
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Re: Can anyone recommend a good GPS bike computer?

Postby Psamathe » 9 Mar 2020, 11:07pm

I initially purchase a Wahoo that was so bad https://psamathe.net/wahoo-elemnt-navigation-review/, 1 month into my tour I had to find a shop and buy a Garmin (and when I got home a month later I was given a full refund on the Wahoo).

As I was limited mid-tour (to what they had in the shop) I ended-up with a Garmin 1030 which is over-the-top for my needs but is great and if it broke now I'd buy a replacement (the same). Used it for the 2nd month of the previous tour and for 2 month tour last summer as well a local cycling in UK and it's great.

On my tours on purchasing I didn't have time or internet (in Belgium cam sites) to sort out connectivity to download routes so used on-device routing which was fine - worked well. ast tour (2 months Europe) I used cycle.travel to create the routes with turn by turn instructions and downloaded to the device (every day). All really easy and very pleased with it all.

But it's expensive but Garmin do other units with smaller screens and different connectivity.

Ian

yutkoxpo
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Joined: 20 Feb 2017, 5:12pm

Re: Can anyone recommend a good GPS bike computer?

Postby yutkoxpo » 10 Mar 2020, 2:29am

And with all respect to psmanthe I wouldn't trust a Garmin to navigate around my own town. :D (Because it couldn't!)

This is the problem with this type of discussion, people tend to support one and denigrate another. Psmanthe's experience was dreadful.....but....also not normal.

My advice generally is to really think about what features you want (or think you will want) in the future and then look at what is on offer that matches those requirements.

Always very handy if you can borrow one in advance to test it live.

When you say you want good maps..... Can I ask why? Because you also say that you'll be following pre-planned routes.

For example, I use a Wahoo Elemnt (which has very basic maps), prepare routes in advance but nearly always wander off course (by choice). The basic maps are fine to get me back on course when I want, but if I want a real picture I'll use OSMand or Google on my phone - the screen is bigger. Personally, I don't see a need for detailed maps on a unit - the screens are just too small.

These units are not cheap and there's nothing more frustrating than buying one and discovering it doesn't operate how you want it to.
For example, Garmins don't play nicely with dynohubs. May not be important to you, very important to me.

One idea is to use an app on your phone such as Strava, RWGPS, OSMand until you have an idea of the features that are really important to you. That will help you focus on choosing the right one.

Good luck! :D

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Syd
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Re: Can anyone recommend a good GPS bike computer?

Postby Syd » 10 Mar 2020, 9:01am

I’ve owned many bike GPS units over the years of Bryton, Wahoo and Garmin varieties.

All were good enough to allow me to follow preplanned routes. Where they differed immensely was in either off the cuff planning or bringing you back on route once when you decide to wander off the planned one for whatever reason.

Personally the best I have found (as above) is the Garmin Edge 1030 but it is overkill for many folk. My Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt does an ok job when needed but wouldn’t be my first choice when going somewhere new to me.

Psamathe
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Re: Can anyone recommend a good GPS bike computer?

Postby Psamathe » 10 Mar 2020, 10:08am

Syd wrote:..... Where they differed immensely was in either off the cuff planning or bringing you back on route once when you decide to wander off the planned one for whatever reason......

You raise an interesting aspect that (my experience) has a complex answer.

The Wahoo made no efforts to get you back on-route. It told me I was off route but you have to find your way back.

The Garmin changed (software update) at some point 2018-2019. Previous year touring going off-route caused the Garmin to perpetually direct you back to the point where you left the route. A bit like a "treasure hunt" where you have to complete every bit of the route. Which was a nuisance when I deliberately made a detour to see specific places. But when you get back on-route by your own means it recognised this and picked up directions again.

However, last summer 2 month tour some software update seemed to have changed (dramatically improved) this behaviour so when going off-route the Garmin re-calculated and generated its own directions to get you back to the closest part of the route i.e. sensible routing to get you to your destination using as much of your pre-planned route as sensible. And as you continued off-route it updated it's directions to the new (continually changing) best point on the original route. All badly explained!

The GPS directing you back on route is something that you need a better device for. My experience of the Wahoo is that the maps are really only a picture shown beneath the route/track and that the device itself cannot use the maps. Whereas the Garmin not only displays the maps but can us them to calculate turn by turn directions either for a complete route (if you don't download one) but also to get you back on route if you go "off-piste".

Another consideration is I found the colour screen on the Garmin a lot easier to see than the monochrome screen on the Wahoo. I assume it is because through colour additional information could be displayed (e.g. rivers/canals blue, forests green, etc.) but the screen resolution (Garmin higher resolution, Wahoo lower resolution) probably also affects the readability of the mapping.

Ian

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philg
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Re: Can anyone recommend a good GPS bike computer?

Postby philg » 10 Mar 2020, 10:09am

I've had a Garmin Oregon 450 for many years and a Legend for years before that so am firmly in the Garmin camp.
Won't lie to you, there is a steep learning curve, but it is probably just as steep for the other supliers too.

Once over that then the unit does what I need - follow a pre-determined track or route, route planning on-the-fly (needs care!!) and logging ride details. It also links my HR monitor (& cadence sensor if I had one) and saves that data with the ride.

I found their latest effort at a PC interface (Basecamp) the work of Satan so am still using the veritable Mapsource, though that might just be familiarity. I can load it with freebie Open Source mapping (velomap, OpenMTB etc.) as well as my old collection of Garmin maps.
(Tip - don't bother with the OS series maps, they are not vector maps so do not scale well - IMHO they look unreadable at any scale)

I believe the general consensus for Garmins is if you want a bike computer with some mapping, go to the Edge series.
If better mapping is needed then the Oregon/Dakota..... etc. is preferable.
I did have an Edge Touring Plus once and was profoundly grateful when it died - it was not replaced.

Garmins are certainly not short of idiosyncrasies but you do learn to live with them (eventually)

ETA: Battery life is less of an issue now with USB charge packs, but the simplicity of replaceable AA batteries in the Oregon & ilk was my concern back in the days of long Audax rides.

HTH
Last edited by philg on 10 Mar 2020, 11:12am, edited 1 time in total.

Psamathe
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Re: Can anyone recommend a good GPS bike computer?

Postby Psamathe » 10 Mar 2020, 10:15am

Another thought is the Lezyne high end units. When I first purchased such a device the Lezyne devices were all low end but one forum member posted good experiences with the higher end ones that seemed to have better screens/capability. But I'm going from memory and not from personal experience. Maybe search or maybe they will post their experiences.

Ian
Last edited by Psamathe on 10 Mar 2020, 10:47am, edited 1 time in total.

PH
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Re: Can anyone recommend a good GPS bike computer?

Postby PH » 10 Mar 2020, 10:42am

I get on well with the Garmin Touring, which I've had for six years, I use it with it's simplest settings - following a line on a map with everything else turned off with pre planned routes loaded. Occasionally also use it to navigate a short route without pre planning - campsite, railway or bus station, supermarket, Weatherspoons... manages fine with that, not necessarily the best route, though probably better than I'd have done pre GPS days.
There's lots of different functions and ways to use them, no right and wrong way, it can take a while to work out how it best suits your needs, and no device is going to be without the occasional glitch. I'd choose the Touring again, but that's not a recommendation, you'd have to make your own mind up.

Enigmadick
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Re: Can anyone recommend a good GPS bike computer?

Postby Enigmadick » 10 Mar 2020, 11:07am

Although the more recent and high end Garmin devices appear to have improved battery life, I switched to Wahoo a year or so back and have never regretted it.

Last June a gang of us rode from Chepstow to Chester (145 miles) up the Welsh border in a day and the Wahoo still showed 29% battery life left after being on from 6.00am until 7.15pm, which I thought was quite impressive.

Seems to work best when routes are planned with Ride with GPS.
ENIGMA DICK aka Richard Barrett

PH
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Re: Can anyone recommend a good GPS bike computer?

Postby PH » 10 Mar 2020, 11:16am

Enigmadick wrote:Although the more recent and high end Garmin devices appear to have improved battery life, I switched to Wahoo a year or so back and have never regretted it.

It is a consideration, so for the record:
I can get around a 200 km Audax on a single charge of the Touring, around 10 hours, with not much left and being careful not to leave it on the map page all the time. Or, I can take a USB power pack and run it for several days, either running while connected, or charging it up during breaks.
Etrex fans will point out the advantage of it running on easily available AA batteries which last a couple of days.

Psamathe
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Re: Can anyone recommend a good GPS bike computer?

Postby Psamathe » 10 Mar 2020, 11:47am

Enigmadick wrote:Although the more recent and high end Garmin devices appear to have improved battery life, I switched to Wahoo a year or so back and have never regretted it.

(For the record) my Garmin 1030 does e.g. 4 hrs with turn by turn directions (route created on cycle.travel) with Garmin connected to iPhone (via Bluetooth for phone e-mail/call/text notifications passed to Garmin (aged parent emergencies)) and ANT connected to wheel sensor and still have 75% battery remaining.

I have found that then connected to my solar panel the Garmin 1030 recharges surprisingly quickly. When I had the Wahoo I also recharged it from solar panel but cannot remember how fast it recharged (and cannot remember examples of battery %age after rides).

Ian

Gearoidmuar
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Re: Can anyone recommend a good GPS bike computer?

Postby Gearoidmuar » 11 Mar 2020, 6:29pm

Got a Garmin GPS 62st in 2011. I've used it for lots of touring since. Never let me down. Totally waterproof. Goes for maybe 4days on a set of good batteries or more than a day on re-chargeables. Screen is small and not touchscreen.

LittleGreyCat
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Re: Can anyone recommend a good GPS bike computer?

Postby LittleGreyCat » 11 Mar 2020, 10:24pm

I've only ever used a Garmin Edge Explore and that for just over a year but it seems to work fine for my needs.
It accepts routes from a number of planning packages (e.g. Comoot) planned by others and I prefer to use Cycle Travel and TCX files.
Battery won't do a full day of turn by turn mapping so for longer rides (4 hours+) I use a power bank to top it up.
One thing I like is the zoom facility.
I usually ride with the map zoomed in so I can see the road and turns in detail, but now and then I like to zoom right out to see where I am in the area (especially when riding some one else's route).
It usually copes with going off track and brings you back, although I have had one suspicious moment when it has seemed to try and take me back towards where I diverged from the route instead of taking me onward.
It did take a ride across the Netherlands to Germany without too many problems (all maps pre-planned and loaded in) and the problems were mainly me learning how to interpret the instructions. The most memorable was when it wanted to take us the wrong way down a one way street (which turned out to be permissible for cycles, but as far as I could tell it kept navigating us back to a no go point). Reverting back to a paper map and asking a local we found our way back to the route a bit further on and the Explore picked it up again.
We had phones with Google Maps as back up, which was very useful for checking final destinations. Dutch post codes aren't always as specific as UK ones! So sometimes navigate until the last half mile, then double check with Google. One win that way, but the next day the Explore took us right to the door of the B&B.