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Bike GPS navigation or phone case?

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 elliot.baker 10 Jun 2021

Thinking it would be nicer and safer to have something on my handle bars telling me where to go - rather than trying to look at my Garmin watch.  I guess options are

1) bespoke cycle computer with navigation

2) phone case and use Google maps?

 I’m slightly hesitant to put my iPhone 12 on the handle bars in case I crash and destroy it - but then I have it on an arm band anyway normally so it would probably be damaged either way I guess. 
 

Are there any handle bar phone mounts you would trust with a new phone? What do you use? What’s the go to cycle computer with navigation?

I searched the forums but couldn’t find anything. 

In reply to elliot.baker:

The problem with phones is they run out of battery quickly. My phone tends to die after 3/4 hours of cycling, but any cheap holder will work (you can get a flexible rubber one from Amazon for a tenner). I use one when I’m having garmin issues.

If you’re out on your bike for more than 4 hours it’s worth looking at something like the garmin edge which is good for maps (although won’t display power and heart rate data - although it will track it).

You can probably find a cheaper alternative than the garmin edge (about 200 quid), but for your money you do get a largish touch screen, the ability to save routes and a take me home option.

In reply to elliot.baker:

I use an SP Connect mount that attaches to the handlebars and holds the phone in front of the stem. It has a GoPro mount that you can attach your light to underneath as well. Works great. Quadlock make equivalent but more expensive mounts and cases. Before this I had a ziplock style case that attached to the handlebars, worked fairly well but was quite clumsy and large.

In all cases I have a small battery pack in a tribag with all my food and the phone is powered at all times.

Edit: For reference, my Anker 6700mAh pack weighs 118g and kept my iPhone 11 Pro at 100% battery for 7 hours last Saturday, and that was in bright sunlight which meant my screen was at full brightness for most of that.

Post edited at 13:47
 JimR 10 Jun 2021
In reply to Alkis:

I just put my Garmin XT920 watch straight onto the handlebars. It gives me all the data I want (power, cadence, HR) on one screen and can tab to a breadcrumb route I've preloaded. Works well for me.

In reply to JimR:

Yeah, everyone I know that has a good watch or good bike computer is happy with it. My view is that I have a device that gets me all this data that I already own, so I use that instead, especially as I would be carrying it on me on a ride anyway.

 elliot.baker 10 Jun 2021
In reply to VSisjustascramble:

Thanks, do you know what happens if you have a garmin watch and a garmin edge do you need to record the activity only on one? Or both - like the watch could record heart rate for you but then is Garmin Connect smart enough to just take the activity "once" from the two devices?

 oliwarlow 10 Jun 2021
In reply to Alkis:

another +1 for just mounting your watch on the handle bars - make a thicker section using self amalgamating tape/inner tube if required so that it sits nicely.  Only thing you will be missing is heart rate - but heartrate measured on the wrist from a watch it total b***s anyway

In reply to elliot.baker:

I don’t have a watch, but do have an edge for longer rides.

However cycling buddies sometimes record their heart rate using a watch and then everything else on the cycling computer. This seems to back it up: https://support.garmin.com/en-GB/?faq=e3gcLbODQF0jUrDnB7FGK8

Someone might come along and correct me, but the edge is perfect for longer rides for me.

In reply to oliwarlow:

Off topic but it was something I looked at in a previous life: ECG from the wrist (from things like the Apple Watch) is pretty accurate, PPG (light-based) heart rate measurement from anywhere while you're moving is entirely bullshit. There is a fundamental limitation of PPG called movement artifacts. In short, changes in light attenuation from blood in tissues moving, being squeezed, stretched by muscles etc. looks indistinguishable to changes due to blood circulation in the signal.

Post edited at 14:12
 Cobra_Head 10 Jun 2021
In reply to elliot.baker:

I've used a Bryton for years, and it's great the battery is starting to die now, so I only get about 6-8 hours our of it. But it's probably about 10 years old now and had a lot of use.

Heart RT, Cad, GPS, Maps, Speed.

 LastBoyScout 10 Jun 2021
In reply to VSisjustascramble:

> The problem with phones is they run out of battery quickly. My phone tends to die after 3/4 hours of cycling, but any cheap holder will work (you can get a flexible rubber one from Amazon for a tenner). I use one when I’m having garmin issues.

I use my phone for recording Strava and it's fine on all day rides, but that's sat in my pocket not using the screen. You can squeeze more life out by putting it in airplane mode and using pre-loaded maps, or zip-tying an external battery under the stem or somewhere.

 Sans-Plan 10 Jun 2021
In reply to elliot.baker:

I *think* you can do this on the higher end devices (Fenix and Edge 530 up) but not sure about lower end ones. If you have a Fenix or other capable watch you would just transmit HR to the Edge anyway, the Edge have more cycling specific functions and metrics which are quite useful when doing routes using direction etc

I have and Edge 530 and its a good bit of kit but the screen is a bit small for my aging eyes, If I were buying a bike computer now I think it would be a Hammerhead Karroo or Wahoo over a Garmin as the Garmin UI is a bit of a pain sometimes, its beyond me why you can't setup data screens from the App and send them to the device...

For phone mounts Quadlock seem to be quite common and look well designed

Post edited at 15:09
In reply to elliot.baker:

I use a phone on the stem because its cheap and the screen is massive.

Got an old phone off ebay (was faulty as a phone but fine as a bikenav). Installed Komoot (other navigation apps are available). Cut 4 slots in an old plastic phone case, thread two zipties through and fix to stem. Total cost was £30 for a solid system which lets me use / save my main phone for when needed. 

Battery life can be an issue but if its not your main phone then you can stick it in flight mode and turn location back on (on Komoot you can customise the amount of time the screen is on which further saves battery, I assume other apps do this too) and if you're out for ages then just sick a power bank into it, I had 8 hours out of mine last week. The biggest issue is when it's wet you can forget about being able to use the touch screen.

Post edited at 15:30
 Marek 10 Jun 2021
In reply to elliot.baker:

I use a phone more often than a Garmin. I picked up an waterproof Ulefone for <£100 on ebay and stuck a Garmin compatible mount onto the back (ebay, came with 3M VHB tape). Solid as a rock. For software I use either Komoot (simple and just works, free for local maps, £40 for the whole world) or Locus Maps (lots of feature and mapping options). Both do turn-by-turn navigation well. Battery is no problem: If I have the app turn on the screen at each turn, it use ~5% per hour. For REALLY long rides I have the option of an external battery in the top-tube bag which can recharge the phone as required. Never needed it though.

Unlike the Garmin, it also gives me access to OS mapping (Maverick) and any other Android app I care to install.

 Jon Greengrass 10 Jun 2021
In reply to elliot.baker:

2) My wife got me a Quadlock handlebar mount and case for my Iphone SE at Christmas. The mount is easy to use and holds the phone securely even on rocky mountain bike trails. Sadly its a gen 1 iPhone SE so not waterproof therefore  I've only uses it offroad when its bone dry, which this year in  Scotland was 1 day in April, any other time I'd be worried about riding through a puddle and getting it soaked. This is not going to be an issue if you are riding on road or have a modern phone that is water resistant. as others have said Google maps and having the screen on kills the battery so its probably an non starter unless you strap on a power pack.

1) I got a Wahoo Bolt v1  cycle computer for my birthday, which I now use to record all my rides to save the battery on my phone for emergencies. It only does very basic nav on a monochrome screen and I wouldn't want to use it for exploring new routes. 

If you've already got a Garmin watch that does navigation, mount that on your bars. Similarly I can't afford a second GPS device so I bought a watch strap mount for my Bolt that I use for walking and running.

 Al Randall 10 Jun 2021
In reply to elliot.baker:

I tried several handle bar mounts, Quadlock was by far the best but for serious navigation I would use my Garmin.  It's rougher, tougher and the battery lasts much, much longer.

Al

 nufkin 10 Jun 2021
In reply to Alkis:

>  ECG from the wrist...is pretty accurate, PPG...heart rate measurement from anywhere while you're moving is entirely bullshit

What do chest straps use? I assume proximity to the heart is important, but beyond that I realise I've no idea how they measure heart rate

 Marek 10 Jun 2021
In reply to nufkin:

Apple (and all other wrist-based HRMs as far as I know) are light based* (measure pulsing of dark blood in pale tissue), not ECG (measure electrical signals from heart). Chest straps are usually ECG. Both rely on good consistent 'contact' and that can be challenging. Generally you have to have the sensor quite tight against the skin which can be uncomfortable if you're moving around a lot (e.g., hard cycling).

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204666

 Glug 10 Jun 2021
In reply to oliwarlow:

> another +1 for just mounting your watch on the handle bars - make a thicker section using self amalgamating tape/inner tube if required so that it sits nicely.  Only thing you will be missing is heart rate - but heartrate measured on the wrist from a watch it total b***s anyway

Garmin do a handle bar mount for the Fenix series watches.

 Tom F Harding 10 Jun 2021
In reply to elliot.baker:

I use a Garmin Etrex 20x with the stem mount they sell (called 'Garmin GPS Unit Bike Mount' on wiggle). You can then install the free Open Cycle Map for the whole UK. It wont do turn by turn navigation so I make my GPX routes on something like cycle.travel and upload them to the device. It works great for bike packing/touring use because it takes AA batteries. It will also record your route for the day so you can stick it on Strava when you get back.

 spenser 10 Jun 2021
In reply to elliot.baker:

I use a Satmap Active 20 with the route preloaded onto it with the quadlock mount. The device is waterproof (as long as I don't crack open the charging socket).

If I need to do some local nav away from the route I will pop my phone on my handlebars.

In reply to nufkin:

ECG, the chest band is the proper way of doing it, wrist ECG uses quite some signal processing magic to detect the signal.

In reply to Marek:

Apple Watch 6 has actual ECG, the rest of them are PPG.

 SteveJCox 10 Jun 2021
In reply to elliot.baker:

If you think you're likely to get more into cycling then a dedicated bike computer is the way to go. Loads of battery life and plenty of scope to connect sensors (HR Monitor, Cadence Sensor, Power Meter etc). I've been super happy with my Edge 520 plus and you can pick them up for as little as £150 now (+ £25 for maps that cover the whole of Europe). Personally I prefer buttons to a touch screen as they're a lot more practical in cold and wet weather when you've got gloves on 

 Marek 10 Jun 2021
In reply to Alkis:

> Apple Watch 6 has actual ECG, the rest of them are PPG.

Only in static conditions - i.e., the ECG function is only available when you put your non-watch hand on the crown of the watch for a steady (non-moving) 30 seconds - it requires contact with *both* hands. You can't get an continuous ECG reading while riding a bike. ECG relies on two well separated contact points on the body (unlike the light method).

In reply to Marek:

Ah, right, ok, that makes sense. I was wondering how they were detecting the signal without an electrode across the heart: they don't. Thanks.

In reply to Alkis:

What heart rate monitor do people use?

I’ve been using the Garmin Dual chest strap one and they keep dying on me. Does anyone have a more reliable suggestion?

 Dave B 10 Jun 2021
In reply to VSisjustascramble:

Polar h10

Polar h10

Or

Polar h10

Wahoo, but the chest straps are unique and hard to get replacement

 Mouflon 11 Jun 2021
In reply to elliot.baker:

For my road cycling and touring for the last few years, what I've used with my last couple of phones (currently Moto G7 Power) is a

Quadlock Out Front mount on the handlebar

SCL Mobile phone case which protects the sides & back with just a Sparin screen protector on the front (other cases & protectors are available!).

Quadlock Universal adaptor which is glued on the back of the phone case. The glueing is a simple peel off cover and seems very strong to me, it's always felt secure.

As the universal adapter is not that thick, I keep the case with adapter attached on my mobile for everyday use, so no messing about.

When raining I put a Quadlock poncho over the phone. There wasn't a specific one for my phone/case, so I got a slightly larger one which is fine as there's an overlap at the top which keeps it on, even over bumps & potholes. It's been fine in heavy rain and is easy to lift off to use the phone.

When I changed my phone to a bigger one, all I had to do was replace my case, obviously, but I also bought a new universal adaptor, as I trusted the adaptor's glue rather than reusing my old adaptor with my own glue.

 Mouflon 11 Jun 2021
In reply to elliot.baker:

A bit of additional info. 

For my day long tours, the battery on my G7 Power is excellent navigating with google maps but I also carry a battery pack which I can plug into my mobile if necessary. For touring, I use a handlebar bag so the battery pack sits in there with a lead to the phone, but if you don't use a handlebar bag, there are loads of little bags which would hang on or near the handlebars.

 wilkesley 11 Jun 2021
In reply to VSisjustascramble:

At the moment I am using the Wahoo one. It seems accurate enough when compared to my Garmin chest strap. IMHO chest straps are a pain. They are a faff to put on and you usually need to use something like  Tens gel to make sure they have good contact. I did have a Huawei? wrist monitor which is accurate but only had short battery life so wasn't useful on long rides. The Wahoo wrist strap has long battery life. I can't find the claimed life ATM, but it's around 24hrs. The Wahoo battery is rechargeable. It's important that the wrist strap is tight for getting the most accurate readings.

 Sans-Plan 11 Jun 2021
In reply to Dave B:

I use the Wahoo Tickr HR strap as its ANT+ and Bluetooth so useful for Zwift in winter straight to a laptop, never had an issue with it.

 coinneach 11 Jun 2021
In reply to elliot.baker:

If I’m going for a ride in unfamiliar territory I carry a map.

Never ran out of battery yet.

 hang_about 11 Jun 2021
In reply to elliot.baker:

For option 1 I've just got a Wahoo Elemnt Bolt v2 - largely for the navigation.

A phone in the pocket did fine for Strava route recording before.

For navigating across town (trying to do some more miles to the East of Sheffield) it's good to have something that keeps you on the backroads. Got me across the M1 last weekend on a tiny bridge. Maps are fine when there's few roads and little need for checking, but inconvenient for the wibbly bits.

Pity I hadn't checked the weather forecast and did 4 hours in the rain - when that's been the only rain for quite a while.

 Dave B 11 Jun 2021
In reply to Sans-Plan:

Yes, my wahoo  has been good, but I prefer the h10. It also does Bluetooth x 2 and ant+

The replacement strap thing with the wahoo is what fails it IMHO.

I want two elastics for days when I train twice or late, then early next day.

 Sean Kelly 11 Jun 2021
In reply to elliot.baker:

I've got one from Halfords that fits on the handlebars. It seems to work OK. I only put it on the bike when I need the nav. Otherwise it stays in the saddle bag. I find Google Maps works fine.

Post edited at 20:19
 Marek 11 Jun 2021
In reply to elliot.baker:

One thing no one's mentioned that's worth bearing in mind: 'Navigation' can mean two (at least) quite different things - (a) "Get me from here to there" and (b) "guide me round this route". Some apps are good at (a) but poor at (b), e.g., Google Maps. The (b) option also splits into two sub-categories: (b1) "I'm going to define my own new route" and (b2) "I want to be guided round a route someone else has defined". Apps like Komoot and Locus Maps are good at (b1) since you can define the route on a desktop PC with a big screen (far easier than on a phone) and get turn-by-turn navigation from the phone app (or some Garmin computers that support Komoot). B2 is far trickier because the general GPX file format was never really designed to support navigation, so different implementation have diverged and generally don't do turn-by-turn very well - typically you get lots of redundant turn instruction when the road goes round a bend. Not too bad in a dense urban environment, but really annoying on windy country lanes.

Anyway, the point is that you need to be clear what you mean by 'navigation' otherwise you might be quite disappointed with whatever solution you choose. In my case, I almost always what to follow rural routes I've defined (i.e., b1), so Komoot and Locus Maps both work fine. Your mileage however may vary (as the saying goes).

 Baz P 13 Jun 2021
In reply to elliot.baker:

I have a neoprene covered power pack with integral phone holder that fits to the bars. It charges my phone, if needed, four times.

On the phone I have MemoryMap, Google Maps, Wikiloc and what used to be Viewranger so I'm pretty much covered at OS25,000 and below.

I plot all my routes on the PC and send a GPX file to the phone. Both MemoryMap and Cyclemeter record the stats, if I want them, but there are loads of free apps for this.

Oh, I can also make and receive calls.

Post edited at 23:55
 GrahamD 08:03 Mon
In reply to elliot.baker:

If I'm cycling somewhere I'm not familiar with, I feel a lot happier using a dedicated bike computer.  This is partly down to battery life and ease of use with gloves, but mainly because I then have the phone as an emergency back up. 

In reply to VSisjustascramble:

Another one for the Wahoo Tickr chest strap. Cheaper than the Garmin equivalent, more comfortable than my previous strap (Garmin) and seems 100% reliable so far. Can't say much about accuracy, but I assume its as accurate as any of them. It was picked up by my Garmin watch immediately and also by Sufferfest.  

In reply to Marek:

> B2 is far trickier because the general GPX file format was never really designed to support navigation, so different implementation have diverged and generally don't do turn-by-turn very well - typically you get lots of redundant turn instruction when the road goes round a bend. Not too bad in a dense urban environment, but really annoying on windy country lanes.

Much of that does not come from GPX but from the map and navigation data provider having incomplete data. Both Google Maps and whatever Komoot uses are particularly bad at that even without having been fed an external route. Every bend is a turn on Google Maps in the Peak.

One thing that I found extremely important when following anything resembling a loop with any sections that are either shared or close between the two legs of the journey on Komoot: Disable automatic rerouting. All it takes is one wrong turn or GPS glitch for it to decide that you are actually on the way back and it is WAY too stupid to realise that your 6 hour route having being cut to 30 minutes is not what you intended.

Post edited at 08:40
 Marek 12:23 Mon
In reply to Alkis:

> Much of that does not come from GPX but from the map and navigation data provider having incomplete data. Both Google Maps and whatever Komoot uses are particularly bad at that even without having been fed an external route. Every bend is a turn on Google Maps in the Peak.

Indeed. And as I understand it from discussions with the OSMAnd guys, the key problem is trying to correlate GPX trackpoints (with some random positioning errors) with the app's underlying mapping data (with some other random errors). The end result seems to be that they just don't try to correlate, they just follow the GPX track and guess where the junctions are from the shape of the track. Doesn't really work too well.

As for Komoot, as long as you create the route in their desktop web app (or on the phone), the navigation is really good (in my experience) - announcements only at junctions and 90% of the time good enough not to have to glance at the map. That's the advantage to tying the route creation code to the route navigation code - there's much less guesswork involved. I've never tried to import a third-party route into Komoot, so can't comment how that works. Locus Maps is much the same - as long as you create the route in their own desktop app (or phone) then the turn-by-turn instructions are spot on. Some random GPX track off the internet? Forget it.

> One thing that I found extremely important when following anything resembling a loop with any sections that are either shared or close between the two legs of the journey on Komoot: Disable automatic rerouting...

Agreed. Automatic re-routing is pointless (IMHO). If I go off-route it's usually for some 'tactical' reason (food, drink...) and I'll happily get back on-route myself using the map. Both Komoot and LM handle this quite well - they just tell me I've gone off-route (with regular reminders) and give me a rough pointer and distance to the nearest point on the route. That's all I need.

 Fellover 12:28 Mon
In reply to elliot.baker:

Imo if you just want navigation then a phone will be fine, probably superior to a lower end bike computer. If you want to look at various stats as you ride then a bike computer is much better. Personally I really enjoy looking at the stats... find it entertaining to know how much ascent I've done so far, how far I've gone, average speed etc. Then if you get a power meter you can display power and cadence - even more things to obsess about

I've used a Garmin 520 plus, new for £150 in a sale. It'll follow a predefined route loaded from a computer via usb. The navigation isn't always amazing, probably not quite as good as google maps on a phone. Buttons rather than touchscreen is nice in the wet. Great battery life (lasted 16h on Saturday, admittedly just recording rather than doing navigation, less if doing nav as well). My phone loses battery quite quickly if it's navigating and recording on strava as well. If you spend a bit more then you'll be able to load routes and get your ride data back to strava via wifi rather than faffing with plugging in, get a bigger screen etc.

In reply to Marek:

>I've never tried to import a third-party route into Komoot, so can't comment how that works.

I do it all the time. There is no difference between an imported and a Komoot created file as they are both subject to the same processes behind the scenes.

Post edited at 14:14

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