Circular routes & a suitable satnav.

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Circular routes & a suitable satnav.

Postby lemonstar » 29 Dec 2014, 5:22pm

Maybe I need another satnav - I'd appreciate some recommendations - I don't have a smart phone. I'm new to this forum and sort of new to cycling as I've just had to give up running - I have done a fair amount on and off but never really enjoyed it that much compared to running. I was told a few months ago that I have grade 4 patellofemoral arthritis and they aren't interested or able to do anything atm - I'm heading back for a second opinion and more info but for the time being I'm starting to make cycling my focus (still not really enjoying it as I wish I could still run). I had some knee surgery in 2005 (microfracturing) and have had a great 8 years with my running.

Anyway I have a Black Edition TomTom XL and it's impossible, as far as I can see, to enter a circular route (e.g. for cycling away and back to my house) - I tried using the "Itinerary Planning" (you put in waypoints to define a route) - setting only the start and finish as destinations and everything in between as waypoints but the satnav ignores the waypoints and spends all of it's time suggesting u-turns and calculating new routes so I get no information about how far it is to the next waypoint - I found it surprising that it ignores all of the waypoints and insists on trying to reroute me back to my house - it's odd because I have selected the cycling option and I do, definitely want to go via the waypoints I have entered. I have tried selected one of the waypoints (about halfway round) and making it into a destination thinking that it would take me to that destination via the waypoints but again it ignored the half-way destination and kept on trying to re-route me back to my house (the final destination)- basically the TomTom software or this version/satnav seems to be largely unsuitable for my needs as a cyclist - admittedly it is the satnav I bought to use in the car but are there satnavs geared towards my needs as a cyclist?

Also - are there any satnavs with more intelligent routing options that can take into account elevation or at least warn about routes involving steep ascents/descents? Obviously there are times when I want this but my knee will not tolerate me putting huge forces through steep inclines. When there is a mountain spur my satnav will try and route me up and over the spur along narrow winding roads instead of taking me around the mountain spur on more major/A-roads.


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Re: Circular routes & a suitable satnav.

Postby skicat » 29 Dec 2014, 6:14pm

The behaviour you are seeing is exactly what Garmins do as well (or at least my eMap, Colorado, Oregon 450 and Oregon 650 all did this). The routing algorithm is trying to be "smart" and getting you to the closest via-point in your route. As you set off, that happens to be your endpoint. I've long since given up on trying to fool the devices, so now I always just create 2 routes - one to the point furthest from the start, and a second that starts there and finishes at my final destination. This strategy has a second benefit of making it less likely that you will run up against the "maximum number of waypoints allowed in a route" limit.
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Re: Circular routes & a suitable satnav.

Postby Tigerbiten » 29 Dec 2014, 6:39pm

I've a Garmin Etrex Vista and after a couple off year use, I worked out it's quirks.
In the setup if ...........
If you pick "use fastest route" it will route you down two side of a triangle to keep you on main roads.
If you pick "use shortest route" it will route you around three side of a square to keep you off main roads.

With those two quirks in mind I tend to plot the route directly into the Etrex by picking roads/junctions a few miles apart and then letting it work out the route between the points.

I've also had to turn off "recalculate route" otherwise it reroutes you directly to the end the first time you go off course.

So it all in the way you set it up once you work it quirks out.

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Circular routes & a suitable satnav.

Postby RonK » 29 Dec 2014, 7:56pm

Get s Mio Cyclo. They have s Surprise Me function that will propose three loop route alternatives based on either desired distance or time, rate each loop for difficulty.
The theory is simple: a) cycling is inherently fun, and b) the less weight you carry, the more fun it is.

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Re: Circular routes & a suitable satnav.

Postby DaveP » 1 Jan 2015, 10:58am

Never used TomTom. I've had a few Garmin satnavs (for driving) and a Garmin handheld GPS for walking / cycling. I'm writing this in the expectation that similar considerations would apply to TomToms.
Garmn maps, AFAIK do not include elevation data - they are road maps and car drivers don't worry about hills these days. You would need to load a third party map. Ordnance survey is good but expensive. You can get free Opensource mapping - try this guy: He's well regarded! The easy and safest way to use such maps is to install od buy them on a memory card. Not all GPS units will accept plug in memory, so this is something that could influence your choice.
Having said that, most of the time I cycle on roads so I use the Garmin road map that came with the device simply because its a clear display. I believe its possible to use an elevation overlay with it, but I haven't tried it.
As a result of my experiences with satnav navigation I am reluctant to use the routing function of my GPS, out of town anyway. I prefer to prepare routes on my pc, load them into the device, and follow the coloured line. This does give you absolute control of the route. I do seem to recall reading that a "joined up" circular route could create problems, so leave a gap of a few hundred yards.
Have a look at You can prepare a route here and view elevation display at the same time. This in itself might answer your concerns, as I'm not sure if the cheaper GPS units deal with elevation. When you are happy with the result you can download it as a gpx file for gps/satnav use or a kml file which will display on Google earth.
To get a file into the device - well Garmin offer free software Basecamp which will do the job for Garmin units. I don't know about other makes, but there is also the option of simply copying the file into the correct folder. Yes, I got that wrong once and yes, it was a disaster!
Hope some of this is helpful!.
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Re: Circular routes & a suitable satnav.

Postby Mick F » 1 Jan 2015, 11:18am

+1 for BikeHike.
Create your route, connect your Garmin to your computer and transfer it.

You have to experiment with the file types, because Garmins can re-calculate your route into something you didn't want.
My Garmin 705 for instance, needed a TCX to faithfully follow what I wanted, but my Garmin Montana needs a GPX Track to do the same. Put anything else into either of them, and they will re-calculate.

My Montana has an app called Route Planner. You can use addresses or post codes or waypoints to construct a route, even a circular one. Each segment will give turn-by-turn info, but constructing a route takes a bit of time and effort, so it's best to use BikeHike.
Mick F. Cornwall

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Re: Circular routes & a suitable satnav.

Postby DaveP » 1 Jan 2015, 12:07pm

I think I should have mentioned that Basecamp, if it can talk to a device, can display whatever map is in it, and will allow you to prepare a route based on that map and then transfer it to the device. So at a pinch, you could manage even without going on line - but unless your map has elevation info you would have to chance encountering a steep 'un! I've really no idea if it would recognise non Garmin equipment, but as its a free download it might be worth experimenting.

Has anyone tried this?
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