GPS for a road bike

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
Bigfish
Posts: 68
Joined: Wed May 07, 2014 5:41 pm

GPS for a road bike

Post by Bigfish » Mon Jan 11, 2016 2:10 pm

I have a Cannondale 8 and I'm looking for a GPS, is the Garmin Edge a good choice? Other choices, model, battery life, suggestions, comments?
Thanks
BF

User avatar
Epsilon Delta
Posts: 6492
Joined: Thu Apr 28, 2011 7:00 pm

Re: GPS for a road bike

Post by Epsilon Delta » Mon Jan 11, 2016 2:46 pm

What do you want it for?

As a substitute for a map?
To find services in the back of beyond?
To follow a cue sheet?
To show your speed and climb rate?
To download your route after the fact?

livesoft
Posts: 56547
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: GPS for a road bike

Post by livesoft » Mon Jan 11, 2016 2:53 pm

My recommendation is to use your smart phone which has GPS and apps. You are going to take a phone with you while riding anyways.

If you want to track speed, cadence, distance, heart rate, then I recommend a low-end Garmin without GPS. I use a FR70 watch and the GSC10 bike sensor, but I am not sure if the bike sensor is available anymore. (Looks like it is, but at an outrageous price.)
Last edited by livesoft on Mon Jan 11, 2016 2:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.

User avatar
jhfenton
Posts: 2176
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2015 11:17 am
Location: Ohio

Re: GPS for a road bike

Post by jhfenton » Mon Jan 11, 2016 2:56 pm

And to add to Epsilon Delta's list of questions:

Will you be doing other sports, like running, in which it could do double duty?
Are you going to be riding seriously and want something smaller and streamlined or could you get by with a phone mount?


I use my old Garmin Forerunner 310XT with a quick release mount. I wear it on my arm running and then mount it on my bike for cycling. (I also have a newer Forerunner 920XT with a quick release kit, but I haven't swapped out the band on that one yet. I've only used it for running and swimming so far.)

The Edge devices have a good reputation, and I assume they have quality similar to the Forerunners, with which I've always been happy. But I can't compare them to any other dedicated cycling computers with GPS. They also have slightly bigger screens than the Forerunners.

texasdiver
Posts: 2269
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 12:50 am
Location: Vancouver WA

Re: GPS for a road bike

Post by texasdiver » Mon Jan 11, 2016 3:04 pm

Depends on your climate as to whether you can use your smart phone.

Here in Texas during the summer I can't keep my iPhone on the front of my bike. I've tried it in the map section of my handlebar bag and also just on top of the handlebars in a phone mount. In both instances I got an overheating warning on the iPhone and it shut down when exposed to direct sunlight in the Texas summer heat.

I still bring my iPhone cycling but it rides in my jersey pocket and I use a regular Cateye computer on my handlebar to track speed, distance, and time. I'm rarely biking on unfamiliar roads so I don't really need the mapping features on most rides.

DoTheMath
Posts: 188
Joined: Sat Jul 04, 2015 1:11 pm
Location: The Plains

Re: GPS for a road bike

Post by DoTheMath » Mon Jan 11, 2016 3:12 pm

texasdiver wrote:Depends on your climate as to whether you can use your smart phone.

Here in Texas during the summer I can't keep my iPhone on the front of my bike. I've tried it in the map section of my handlebar bag and also just on top of the handlebars in a phone mount. In both instances I got an overheating warning on the iPhone and it shut down when exposed to direct sunlight in the Texas summer heat.

I still bring my iPhone cycling but it rides in my jersey pocket and I use a regular Cateye computer on my handlebar to track speed, distance, and time. I'm rarely biking on unfamiliar roads so I don't really need the mapping features on most rides.


I do the same.

I haven't used them myself, but there are some options (like the Wahoo RFLKT Bike Computer) which lets you use your iphone as a bike computer while keeping it safely packed away.
“I am losing precious days. I am degenerating into a machine for making money. I am learning nothing in this trivial world of men. I must break away and get out into the mountains...” -- John Muir

livesoft
Posts: 56547
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: GPS for a road bike

Post by livesoft » Mon Jan 11, 2016 3:16 pm

texasdiver wrote:I still bring my iPhone cycling but it rides in my jersey pocket and I use a regular Cateye computer on my handlebar to track speed, distance, and time. I'm rarely biking on unfamiliar roads so I don't really need the mapping features on most rides.

I keep my phone in my pocket, too. I strap the FR70 wristwatch to either my wrist (Duh!) or to the handlebar. I don't have a special mount for it. I have part of a swimming pool foam noodle to shim the handlebar for the watch band.
This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.

crit
Posts: 354
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2015 12:54 pm

Re: GPS for a road bike

Post by crit » Mon Jan 11, 2016 4:15 pm

Just beware that GPS mapping/tracking apps drain your battery much more quickly. Not so much of an issue these days, but I still try to head out with a full battery if I'm going to map.

fishboat
Posts: 447
Joined: Tue Oct 14, 2014 12:15 pm

Re: GPS for a road bike

Post by fishboat » Mon Jan 11, 2016 4:43 pm

I use a Garmin Etrex 20 to track my rides(clipped to a small under seat-pack)..particularly ones that involve lots of trail to road, back to trail transitions. I'm also interested in elevation. The tracks are then loaded into Garmin Base Camp to generate route & elevation plots..etc. The Garmin(Base Camp & Etrex) is loaded with a high-def topo map obtained from Caltopo extracts. Output from all this often ends up on meetup group ride-event pages either on the event pre-planning side or on the post-ride wrap-up(people can see exactly where they rode, distance, elevation..etc..they often don't have as good a handle on all the specifics if it's the first time they road the route taken..it gives them a good reference for other rides..and..the output looks purdy.. :).

I use the Etrex for hiking & kayaking too..cycling is just a different vehicle..

Example:
>>The definition isn't very high on this one as it's part of a larger-area map. Maps used for hiking are much higher detail.
>>This was an out & back group ride..about 45-ish miles.

Image

Image

Image

Carson
Posts: 500
Joined: Fri May 09, 2014 3:26 pm

Re: GPS for a road bike

Post by Carson » Mon Jan 11, 2016 5:43 pm

crit wrote:Just beware that GPS mapping/tracking apps drain your battery much more quickly. Not so much of an issue these days, but I still try to head out with a full battery if I'm going to map.

This for sure. I got an iphone and bike mount last year thinking that I could ride around for 4 hours and constantly have a Mapmyride cue sheet live while I was riding. Nope, my battery and data plan couldn't handle it. So I still have to roughly know my route and have something mildly planned. The phone did come in handy when encountering road construction or other re-routes. Or if I went to a different area than planned knowing approximately where I was going, but not sure how I would sync up to return or whatever.

I have a fairly basic wireless cyclo computer that tells me time, distance and a few other things. I would like to get a new one with cadence, but the old one is still working, so...

I like that garmin etrex - nice that it could do double duty for hunting, hiking, and cycling.
30-something personal finance enthusiast, just get getting started on this whole portfolio thing.

User avatar
Toons
Posts: 12015
Joined: Fri Nov 21, 2008 10:20 am
Location: Hills of Tennessee

Re: GPS for a road bike

Post by Toons » Mon Jan 11, 2016 5:51 pm

Garmin Edge 20 :happy
"One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity" –Bruce Lee

fishboat
Posts: 447
Joined: Tue Oct 14, 2014 12:15 pm

Re: GPS for a road bike

Post by fishboat » Mon Jan 11, 2016 7:05 pm

Carson wrote:
crit wrote:Just beware that GPS mapping/tracking apps drain your battery much more quickly. Not so much of an issue these days, but I still try to head out with a full battery if I'm going to map.


I like that garmin etrex - nice that it could do double duty for hunting, hiking, and cycling.


This is my experience also. I use the google maps navigation on my smartphone and it pulls lots of power. I always have it plugged into power when doing so. I've never used a cycling type app with it so no idea if they're easier on batts. I only use the phone google maps when I'm riding without the GPS to figure out where the heck I am...then shut it down.

Note that the base-loaded map in the Etrex, and most mapping GPS units, is nearly useless. Garmin sells hi-res maps, though they can be had free, or at low cost, from other sources. Good LiH batts last 24 hours with the unit running continuously.

This is a little higher res USFS map of the Cisco Chain in the U.P. Michigan, as prepped in Caltopo, extracted, and loaded into the Etrex. It was prepped as a reference map for kayaking to check the accuracy of the whole map prep process, relative to the lat-lon as determined by the GPS while paddling up to a land-form-waypoint. My pre-planned waypoint lat-lons and the paddling actuals were nearly identical. The Etrex base-loaded map doesn't even show water.

Image

tigermilk
Posts: 469
Joined: Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:32 am

Re: GPS for a road bike

Post by tigermilk » Mon Jan 11, 2016 7:27 pm

Reiterating what someone asked, what would you use it for? I recently purchased a Powertap Joule GPS+ , but that's because I also bought the new P1 pedals (been using their hubs for 14+ years). In my running days I had a Garmin Forerunner watch. The only time I used it for cycling was when I was overseas and I needed that crumb trail to find my way back.

chonp3
Posts: 72
Joined: Wed Oct 14, 2015 7:11 pm

Re: GPS for a road bike

Post by chonp3 » Mon Jan 11, 2016 7:49 pm

I use a Garmin edge 500, can get for about $150. Basic map display, but you can export routes created online to get a cuesheet of turns. Works well for traveling.

sk55
Posts: 30
Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2016 11:20 pm

Re: GPS for a road bike

Post by sk55 » Tue Jan 12, 2016 7:58 am

Bigfish wrote:I have a Cannondale 8 and I'm looking for a GPS, is the Garmin Edge a good choice? Other choices, model, battery life, suggestions, comments?
Thanks
BF



Map my ride on iPhone. Works great. Has other riders routes.
I just use the free one.

I just put away my cervelo for the winter.

fourniks
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2010 5:38 pm

Re: GPS for a road bike

Post by fourniks » Tue Jan 12, 2016 9:17 am

I would say it depends on your type of riding. Assuming you are riding a CAAD 8 you will be going for road rides, short to long.

My weekend rides are typically 35-70 mile rides lasting up to 3.5 hours or more. My Iphone battery would drain long before that, and I need to know it will be there for emergency purposes.

Last year I bought a Garmin 500 and I absolutely love it. For those types of rides listed above, I will generally have "90%" of the battery remaining after the rides. If you add any power meter or speed/cadence sensors, or always have the light on (not needed during the day), battery will likely drain faster. I only have a heart rate strap.

It has what are called "bread crumb" maps, which will show your location relative to a loaded map. You must load these on the unit (typically from Garmin Connect, Strava, RidewithGPS, etc web pages). I don't use the map function very often, but occasionally to try out new routes and I like it very much. I haven't noticed too much more battery usage with the map on.

While you can still by the Edge 500 at various stores, the 520 is their latest version and I believe allows instant upload to Strava (vs having to download to your computer via USB). There are multiple other models as well. Personally, I wouldn't like the bulk of using a typical Garmin hand-held hiking model on my handlebars.

livesoft
Posts: 56547
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: GPS for a road bike

Post by livesoft » Tue Jan 12, 2016 9:28 am

With all these reports of no battery life on iPhones, it seems that folks would also want to add a solar-charging option to their bike.

I have a solar charger that doubles as a high-intensity LED headlight. It even has flashing mode. I normally just use it camping in the backwoods where GPS still works.
This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.

kcb203
Posts: 67
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2013 11:27 am

Re: GPS for a road bike

Post by kcb203 » Tue Jan 12, 2016 10:47 am

As others have said, the Garmin 500 is a solid workhouse. It's been around for 7 years, but Garmin still sells it because lots prefer it to the newer models.

texasdiver
Posts: 2269
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 12:50 am
Location: Vancouver WA

Re: GPS for a road bike

Post by texasdiver » Tue Jan 12, 2016 10:53 am

livesoft wrote:With all these reports of no battery life on iPhones, it seems that folks would also want to add a solar-charging option to their bike.

I have a solar charger that doubles as a high-intensity LED headlight. It even has flashing mode. I normally just use it camping in the backwoods where GPS still works.


I messed around with solar chargers when I was doing multi-week bike tours but any solar panel you can put on a bike isn't going to throw off enough amps to actually charge a phone. Over time a solar panel can charge up a backup battery and from that you can charge your phone but that is a little too Rube Goldberg for the average cyclist who isn't touring some place in the developing world without reliable electricity. For the average cyclist doing long day rides who is worried about phone battery life the simpler solution is to just carry a small backup battery for the phone. There are lots of them on the market such as this one which I have: http://www.amazon.com/10000mAh-Portable ... B009USAJCC

Another good option for the long distance cyclist would be to wire up a generator hub to provide charging power when you aren't using it for headlights. You need to have a dynamo hub on your front wheel which generates AC power and then a transformer unit on your stem to convert the dynamo current to 12v DC current for USB charging of phones and tablets. Here is one such device: http://www.amazon.com/Supernova-ThePlug ... B00FA5HEVI

If I were creating the ultimate long distance touring machine I would skip the solar stuff and just run everything off a dynamo hub

User avatar
yukonjack
Posts: 483
Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2007 10:36 pm
Location: Rocky Mountain West

Re: GPS for a road bike

Post by yukonjack » Tue Jan 12, 2016 11:02 am

Another vote for the Garmin Edge 500. I've had mine for 3 years and really like it. Nice size and fits in the middle of the handle bars on the stem. You can certainly get a higher end unit but imo this is a good value. A single charge last between 15 and 18 hours and the unit recharges quickly.

fishboat
Posts: 447
Joined: Tue Oct 14, 2014 12:15 pm

Re: GPS for a road bike

Post by fishboat » Tue Jan 12, 2016 12:38 pm

texasdiver wrote:
If I were creating the ultimate long distance touring machine I would skip the solar stuff and just run everything off a dynamo hub


I agree..I can't imagine any cycling-type solar panel would throw off enough juice to keep a phone gps unit running in real time.

Regarding the dynamo hub... I was camping at a campground in north-central Wisconsin last summer and a guy came riding into the campground on a Surly Disc-Trucker. He was riding from Seattle to New York..or Virginia..or..he hadn't decided, but he had time yet to think about it. He had a charging hub setup and said it worked great. It was the only reliable (low effort/no maintenance) way he'd found to keep his phone powered up. While he had a fully setup touring bike, there are size-weight appropriate hubs available for road bikes.

(while those of us that ride in the country always keep an eye open for that 'too friendly' farm dog..he had pictures of bears he met on the road & had to ride around..)

Alex Frakt
Founder
Posts: 10730
Joined: Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:06 pm
Location: Chicago
Contact:

Re: GPS for a road bike

Post by Alex Frakt » Tue Jan 12, 2016 1:37 pm

For the most thorough reviews of bike and running electronics gear, see this site: http://www.dcrainmaker.com/

livesoft
Posts: 56547
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: GPS for a road bike

Post by livesoft » Tue Jan 12, 2016 2:44 pm

fishboat wrote:I agree..I can't imagine any cycling-type solar panel would throw off enough juice to keep a phone gps unit running in real time.

Sounds like a new business opportunity. Who's in with me on this one?
This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.

User avatar
Epsilon Delta
Posts: 6492
Joined: Thu Apr 28, 2011 7:00 pm

Re: GPS for a road bike

Post by Epsilon Delta » Tue Jan 12, 2016 2:58 pm

livesoft wrote:
fishboat wrote:I agree..I can't imagine any cycling-type solar panel would throw off enough juice to keep a phone gps unit running in real time.

Sounds like a new business opportunity. Who's in with me on this one?

Sorry. I can imagine a cycling-type solar panel that would run a phone running GPS. We're only talking a Watts or two, so a milliare or less of solar panel would do it and that's quite possible. But there are better solutions, so it's not a good business opportunity.

Alex Frakt
Founder
Posts: 10730
Joined: Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:06 pm
Location: Chicago
Contact:

Re: GPS for a road bike

Post by Alex Frakt » Tue Jan 12, 2016 3:06 pm

livesoft wrote:
fishboat wrote:I agree..I can't imagine any cycling-type solar panel would throw off enough juice to keep a phone gps unit running in real time.

Sounds like a new business opportunity. Who's in with me on this one?

Weave the cells into the jersey or a helmet cover.

Seriously though, there's a bunch of rotating parts on a bike that have the potential to provide a much more robust and reliable source of power than the sun. Not surprisingly, products already exist: http://www.amazon.com/s?url=search-alia ... usb+dynamo

livesoft
Posts: 56547
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: GPS for a road bike

Post by livesoft » Tue Jan 12, 2016 3:07 pm

Y'all missed my point. This is not just for bikes. I have a wind-up charger with a solar-cell, too. So perhaps the niche is filled, but there is still marketing!
This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.

fishboat
Posts: 447
Joined: Tue Oct 14, 2014 12:15 pm

Re: GPS for a road bike

Post by fishboat » Tue Jan 12, 2016 4:00 pm

Epsilon Delta wrote:
livesoft wrote:
fishboat wrote:I agree..I can't imagine any cycling-type solar panel would throw off enough juice to keep a phone gps unit running in real time.

Sounds like a new business opportunity. Who's in with me on this one?

Sorry. I can imagine a cycling-type solar panel that would run a phone running GPS. We're only talking a Watts or two, so a milliare or less of solar panel would do it and that's quite possible. But there are better solutions, so it's not a good business opportunity.


There may be..but my only reference point is my Galaxy S3. When running with the location services(GPS) on and using google maps navigation, my car charger barely keeps up with the phone's power consumption...a small solar panel wouldn't be able to match what the car charger is pumping out.

A solar panel to supporting a phone sitting idle with location services on..sure, but some user-output is needed. There maybe be an app that consumes very little power that tracks cycling..hiking..etc..I've never needed it, nor looked into it...shrug..

User avatar
Epsilon Delta
Posts: 6492
Joined: Thu Apr 28, 2011 7:00 pm

Re: GPS for a road bike

Post by Epsilon Delta » Tue Jan 12, 2016 4:43 pm

fishboat wrote:
There may be..but my only reference point is my Galaxy S3. When running with the location services(GPS) on and using google maps navigation, my car charger barely keeps up with the phone's power consumption...a small solar panel wouldn't be able to match what the car charger is pumping out.

A solar panel to supporting a phone sitting idle with location services on..sure, but some user-output is needed. There maybe be an app that consumes very little power that tracks cycling..hiking..etc..I've never needed it, nor looked into it...shrug..


How does it do when your running navigation but it's not plugged in? Sometimes it's a question of the phone increasing power usage to match the available supply. It wouldn't be too surprising if a phone consumed 5+W when plugging in and only 1W once unplugged, even without explicit setup.

fishboat
Posts: 447
Joined: Tue Oct 14, 2014 12:15 pm

Re: GPS for a road bike

Post by fishboat » Tue Jan 12, 2016 5:25 pm

Epsilon Delta wrote:
fishboat wrote:
There may be..but my only reference point is my Galaxy S3. When running with the location services(GPS) on and using google maps navigation, my car charger barely keeps up with the phone's power consumption...a small solar panel wouldn't be able to match what the car charger is pumping out.

A solar panel to supporting a phone sitting idle with location services on..sure, but some user-output is needed. There maybe be an app that consumes very little power that tracks cycling..hiking..etc..I've never needed it, nor looked into it...shrug..


How does it do when your running navigation but it's not plugged in? Sometimes it's a question of the phone increasing power usage to match the available supply. It wouldn't be too surprising if a phone consumed 5+W when plugging in and only 1W once unplugged, even without explicit setup.


If I run google maps navigation without the car charger, then the battery is depleted very quickly...maybe an hour?? The battery is fine..or at least acts as it did when the phone was new. I have no issues with it fading fast at any other time. Typically, I'll only turn the GPS and/or bluetooth on when I'm actually using that feature. With them off..the phone loses maybe a few % charge overnight(sitting idle, turned on, overnight).

I checked for android apps & it looks like there's a couple for an application like this(cycling..fitness..etc) ..they may run in a much less energy intensive mode..no idea.. Ok..now I'm curious..I just looked up one the best sounding apps for running & cycling.."Strava". Looks nice. Per reviews..battery life with it running on the 4S iphone or S3 Galaxy is reported at 3-5 hours. Not bad.

For me..cycling falls in the same category as using a smart phone for navigation while kayaking...I don't need a smart phone for navigation as I have something that navigates longer, better..etc. What I need a smartphone for is to help bail my butt out if I'm lying in a ditch or need a rescue as something went very south. I'd rather have a full battery charge saved for that event.

texasdiver
Posts: 2269
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 12:50 am
Location: Vancouver WA

Re: GPS for a road bike

Post by texasdiver » Tue Jan 12, 2016 5:55 pm

Epsilon Delta wrote:
livesoft wrote:
fishboat wrote:I agree..I can't imagine any cycling-type solar panel would throw off enough juice to keep a phone gps unit running in real time.

Sounds like a new business opportunity. Who's in with me on this one?

Sorry. I can imagine a cycling-type solar panel that would run a phone running GPS. We're only talking a Watts or two, so a milliare or less of solar panel would do it and that's quite possible. But there are better solutions, so it's not a good business opportunity.


The laws of physics mean that there is a finite amount of electrical energy that can be generated per square foot of solar panel, even with a 100% efficient solar panel. And in real life there are no 100% efficient solar panels. Not even close. You'd probably have to tow a trailer of some sort to gain a large enough solar array to charge a phone in real time. One could install a small-ish solar panel on a rear bike rack but I doubt it would be good for anything more than trickle charging a backup battery. Something like this would accomplish that goal if you mounted on your rear rack: http://www.goalzero.com/p/79/guide-10-plus-solar-kit But at that point you might as well just carry a charged backup battery unless you are doing multi-day trips into really remote country.

Post Reply