GPS?

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Nhammy
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GPS?

Postby Nhammy » 19 Jan 2012, 8:44am

After many many years of using and loving maps I have a deep prejudice against GPS. However I'm doing a ride from Caen to Nice this summer and the appeal of having a little box with every detail of my route and all relevant campsites exactly located in it is obvious. What do people think about GPS for cycle touring and are there any recommendations for which, from the confusing range available, might be most suitable. I'm not that bothered about measuring my cadence or heart rate, just the mapping. And I'd rather not spend £500 - at that price tearing pages out of my Michelin atlas looks attractive!

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patricktaylor
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Re: GPS?

Postby patricktaylor » 19 Jan 2012, 9:37am

I like my Garmin eTrex Legend HCx a lot and use it for cycle tours in Europe (and day rides in the UK). Including the City Navigator NT map for most of Europe the total outlay needn't be more than about £200. A friend bought one recently for £100 (without the maps, but that is good value). I usually plan the route beforehand in Google Earth and follow it exactly but there are other ways to navigate.

There is a learning curve but it isn't too daunting: eTrex Legend HCx cycle touring setup.

The Legend HCx is essentially a hand-held GPS but I fix mine to the handlebars (with a purpose-made bracket from Garmin). I especially like its simplicity and the long battery life using AA batteries. I would recommend that you don't become pre-occupied with fancy OS type maps and focus on reliability and ease of use.

The other thing about a GPS is that you can upload the route you actually cycled onto the web, share it with others, etc - or view it years later as a pleasant reminder.

Nhammy
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Re: GPS?

Postby Nhammy » 19 Jan 2012, 9:47am

Sound like exactly what I want - I'll check it out. Thanks!

Ayesha
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Re: GPS?

Postby Ayesha » 19 Jan 2012, 9:59am

Study the route from paper maps.
Memorise the route. Take good photos of the maps on your mobile phone. Take the paper maps with you.

Back up, back up, back up.

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patricktaylor
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Re: GPS?

Postby patricktaylor » 19 Jan 2012, 10:01am

Ayesha wrote:... Take the paper maps with you ...

Nonsense.

freeflow
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Re: GPS?

Postby freeflow » 19 Jan 2012, 10:20am

Maps and GPS routing are two completely different entities. The fact that a 'map' appears when following a GPS route does not mean that a GPS unit gives you the same facilities. Maps allow you to understand the general laypout of roads an apprecoiate the many varies routes that you can follow. The alsoprovide other information that is useful, such as topographical and limited location details. If I want to know how to best get from A to B I'll usually look at a map first, even in the most limited case if its google directions.

The function of a GPS unit is to get you from A to B by giving turn by turn directions, and possible by showing you a limited view of the next one or two junctions that you will have to navigate. The can also provide extermely details location information (points of interest). Some GPS allow automatic rerouting, but all in my experience require some form of advance tweaking if you are plaaning a walking or cycling route. I've used garmin Edge and Bryton units and in both cases I planned my rotes on the PC and uploaded them. In niether case would I allow the GPS unit to plan a cycling oute except in a get me to x emergency.

I have found that cycling with a GPS (Garmin Edge or Bryton 50) has improved my cycling experience greatly as I now feel more freedom to travel backroads. They've also been invaluable for keeping me on course when doing sportives where the direction signs are poor or have been maliciously removed.

So please don't critices GPS units for being what they are not. Try borrowing a GPS unit to cycle a long distence unknown route and see how you feel afterwards. If you are the sort of person who like taking on the whim detours, you'll likely still need to take maps (or a broadband enable laptop with you (Big smile).

Nhammy
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Re: GPS?

Postby Nhammy » 19 Jan 2012, 10:42am

Good point Freeflow. I can't imagine doing any kind of tour - cycling, walking or driving - without poring over maps outside the tent in the evening. I can't see how you'd get a sense of the journey without a map. But equally I can see just how useful a GPS would be when coming to a confusing road junction on a windy, wet day, or trying to navigate a network of back-roads without stopping the whole time.

GeoffL
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Re: GPS?

Postby GeoffL » 19 Jan 2012, 10:58am

Nhammy wrote:I'm not that bothered about measuring my cadence or heart rate, just the mapping. And I'd rather not spend £500 - at that price tearing pages out of my Michelin atlas looks attractive!

There seem to be a few schools of thought on this subject.

First, it's worthwhile mentioning that there's a difference between satnav and GPSr (or GPS receiver), The first is a dedicated navigation device that gives directions to a particular point of interest. It is difficult to fine-tune the route with this sort of device but in general they seem to offer better routes than the default route of a GPSr that has a routing capability. In contrast a GPSr is a navigation device the primary functions of which are to give you your current latitude and longitude coordinates, and to calculate and indicate the distance and direction to another point (often called a waypoint). Most GPSrs let you create a route as a series of waypoints from which you navigate by 'following the arrow' from one waypoint to the next. Most modern GPSrs also have the ability to add mapping and many also have a routing capability similar to satnavs.

So you need to be clear how you want to use your GPS, but in either case you shouldn't need to spend much more than £250, which is about what a TomTom Rider Europe + external battery pack costs. You can also buy a Garmin Dakota 20 (which is what I have) plus SD card and handlebar mount for less than that.

If you want to just pick an address and let the device take you there, something like a TomTom Rider (which Ayesha has recommended several times on these forums) will probably fit the bill. However, if you want to pre-plan your route (like you would with a paper map) and then have the device guide you along the route of your choosing, then a mapping GPSr like my Dakota 20, the newer GPSMap 62, or a higher-spec eTrex (Legend or Vista) will probably be a better bet. For a little more, you could have an Edge 800, which is a very capable GPS cycle computer. However, you can also add a heart-rate monitor and cadence sensor the Dakota 20 if you ever feel so inclined.

Satnavs, like the TomTom Rider, come with mapping and usually an update subscription for a year or two, after which you have to buy an update subscription that can cost as much as the device did originally. The prices I've given for the Garmins don't include mapping. You can spend almost as much on commercial mapping as you do on the device itself but, thanks to the Open Streetmap Project, there is a free alternative. Several people have created map sets for Garmin from OSM mapping that you can download and install for free and for which you'll never have to pay a subscription fee - http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/OSM_Map_On_Garmin/Download is a good place to start looking for this. Mapping for most of the world is available and France is certainly included.

If you go for a GPSr, you'll want to plan your routes. You can do this using software like Garmin's Basecamp or MapSource on your computer. Alternatively, you can use one of the many websites like Bikely or Bikeroutetoaster to create a .GPX file that you copy to your GPSr.

HTH,

Geoff

Ayesha
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Re: GPS?

Postby Ayesha » 19 Jan 2012, 11:15am

patricktaylor wrote:
Ayesha wrote:... Take the paper maps with you ...

Nonsense.


Paper maps can be purchased quite inexpensively at any gas station in the area being navigated.
JIC your Garmin eTrex Legend fails ( not unknown, there is a bit of wiring inside that vibrates until it breaks ), take some local currency with you.

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al_yrpal
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Re: GPS?

Postby al_yrpal » 19 Jan 2012, 11:51am

A turn by turn GPS doesn't appeal to me. Whatever they are you can't really see the area around you. I use memory map on a smartphone and paper maps. I navigate using the maps and find my exact position if I am unsure of it with memory map. This leaves me free of data charges abroad.
That said, google maps are useful for locating and contacting campsites. You can star all likely campsites on and near your route, then click on a star to ring them without hassle. The problems with smartphones are battery life and data charges. Fitting a hub dynamo has eradicted the battery problem, there is no way around the data charges except to purchase a data simm locally.
I am not tempted to purchase a GPS, a smartphone is much more versatile, albeit with some disadvantages.

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?

Nhammy
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Re: GPS?

Postby Nhammy » 19 Jan 2012, 12:06pm

GeoffL wrote:If you go for a GPSr, you'll want to plan your routes. You can do this using software like Garmin's Basecamp or MapSource on your computer. Alternatively, you can use one of the many websites like Bikely or Bikeroutetoaster to create a .GPX file that you copy to your GPSr.



Absolutely want to plan my route using maps. In fact I already have! Its half the fun. Its an easy way of storing, transporting and accessing it I want, so I think a GPSr is indicated. By the way quite a few seem only to work with Windows - is that the case? I'm using a Mac.

Thanks to all for really useful reponses to date

Ayesha
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Re: GPS?

Postby Ayesha » 19 Jan 2012, 12:14pm

Nhammy wrote:
GeoffL wrote:If you go for a GPSr, you'll want to plan your routes. You can do this using software like Garmin's Basecamp or MapSource on your computer. Alternatively, you can use one of the many websites like Bikely or Bikeroutetoaster to create a .GPX file that you copy to your GPSr.



Absolutely want to plan my route using maps. In fact I already have! Its half the fun. Its an easy way of storing, transporting and accessing it I want, so I think a GPSr is indicated. By the way quite a few seem only to work with Windows - is that the case? I'm using a Mac.

Thanks to all for really useful reponses to date


If you purchase a Garmin, best to install Parallels and a full version of Windows on your Mac. Makes life a lot simpler.

GeoffL
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Re: GPS?

Postby GeoffL » 19 Jan 2012, 12:15pm

Nhammy wrote:
GeoffL wrote:If you go for a GPSr, you'll want to plan your routes. You can do this using software like Garmin's Basecamp or MapSource on your computer. Alternatively, you can use one of the many websites like Bikely or Bikeroutetoaster to create a .GPX file that you copy to your GPSr.



Absolutely want to plan my route using maps. In fact I already have! Its half the fun. Its an easy way of storing, transporting and accessing it I want, so I think a GPSr is indicated. By the way quite a few seem only to work with Windows - is that the case? I'm using a Mac.

Thanks to all for really useful reponses to date

Basecamp is available free of charge for the Mac and should work with most Garmin GPSrs. However, the GPSr appears on the computer (Mac or PC) as two USB drives (one for the device and one for the SD card). So if you're going to use a web-based planner you just download the generated .GPX file and copy this to the /GARMIN directory on either the device or the SD card (you might need to create this directory on the SD card).

HTH,

Geoff

Edited to add: You can open web-generated GPX files in Basecamp to fine tune them and save them with named for easy recognition once on the road. Basecamp can also load the routes onto your GPSr if you don't want to do this manually.

Reigncloud
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Re: GPS?

Postby Reigncloud » 19 Jan 2012, 5:47pm

I'll chime in here with my usual GPS response!

My personal setup is linked below. Nokia 6120 with bluetooth GPS unit and TomTom software installed. Whole setup should cost you less than £50 (assuming a 2nd hand phone and cheap BT receiver off ebay). I pre-plan everything on google maps/bikeroutetoaster to optimise for scenery/traffic/hills/attractions/campsites and then upload waypoints to TomTom on the phone. Then on the day I just select my route and go. Lots of benefits over a full TomTom rider (weight, bulk, value to thieves etc) and much cheaper and easier to manage than a full Garmin setup. No problems with autorouting as long as its all planned properly first.

viewtopic.php?f=16&t=46919 (page 4)

and here:

viewtopic.php?f=16&t=52283&p=441479#p441479

Nhammy
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Re: GPS?

Postby Nhammy » 20 Jan 2012, 3:46pm

Thanks to reigncloud for pointing me to the previous topics - should have thought to search for "sat nav" as well as GPS before posting! All really helpful stuff