/ Bike computer...which one?!

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Lynsety - on 27 Nov 2017
I'm looking at getting a GPS computer for my bike. It's the routing that I really would like. I have read up and the Garmin edge 820 looks ideal but then people are saying in bad weather, the screen locks. I don't want a massive one either.

It would be for riad biking and mountain biking (so biking the sandstone way is onthe list for next year for example)

Lynsey.
ianstevens - on 27 Nov 2017
In reply to Lynsety:

The Edge 520 can also offer routing with a slight degree of computer-savviness. You can download routable open street mpas (free too) for your area of interest and add routes via Garmin Connect. You get sat-nav esque turn-by-turn navigation, but note that there is no sound.

Cheaper and smaller than an 820.
L MGT - on 27 Nov 2017
In reply to Lynsety:

I have a Garmin 1000 that I've used for a few years and it does weirdly lock in wet weather sometimes but not for long. I use it primarily for MTB routes / mapping and at the time was the only bike specific one that had GLONASS and GPS (might have changed now) so a bit more accurate but uses more battery.

The Garmin 820 has GLONASS & GPS.

If you like to nerd out DC Rainmaker is probably the most complete reviewer of tech https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2016/07/garmin-edge-820.html

For .gpx downloads https://www.utagawavtt.com/ is great for european stuff although not really the UK.
nniff - on 27 Nov 2017
In reply to Lynsety:

Personally, I wasn't interested in data (bar heart rate) but did want reasonable maps. Bought a Garmin Touring Plus, which does decent maps and the routing is fairly decent. It does have the odd moment though. I use bikehike for creating routes, which works fairly well and is free. The self-generated routes are a bit hit and miss and use the get me home function with care, especially if you're on a road bike. The three main settings (mountain biking, cycling and tour cycling) defy normal logic and a clear definition is hard to find. Pick the wrong one and it will try to send you down some minging bridle path on your gleaming Dura-Ace Sunday special - tricky, if you're not sure if this unilateral route-improvement feature relates to the turning you passed a while back or the one you have yet to reach....

All I need now is some bifocals so I can see it and the road ahead.
GrahamD - on 27 Nov 2017
In reply to Lynsety:

Although its not particularly small, I'm very happy with the Garmin Edge Touring for navigation, as that's what its optimised for and its not as expensive as other options. Touch screen works OK with big gloves on.

On my MTB I have just enough space for a Garmin mount on the stem, with the unit itself sitting comfortably between the bounds of the outer edge of the steerer tube and the bars so its not so vunerable as on an 'out front' mount. The standard maps work well enough in this configuration (I'll plot courses on an ap which has OS maps, but the Garmin itself will display the course on a choice of map platforms)
wilkesley - on 27 Nov 2017
In reply to Lynsety:

I have had an 820 for a couple of years and am generally happy with it. It has never locked up in bad weather. There are certain foibles with routing. You need to make sure that you have got the settings correctly set up, or it may try and redirect you down a muddy track on your road bike!

Sometimes it will tell you to do a U turn on a perfectly straight bit of road, as it thinks you are off track, despite the blue line on the map showing otherwise. Route directions are generally OK, but you need to be careful about creating routes in places where there are lots of turns e.g. towns. Make sure you place waypoints some way from road junctions.

I use RideWithGPS to create my rides. There used to be an issue with rides longer than 50miles created on rwgps that would cause the Garmin to crash. Not noticed this recently, so recent firmware updates may have fixed it.
1philjones1 - on 27 Nov 2017
In reply to Lynsety:

I’ve got the edge 820. Never had an issue with locking in bad weather, you can adjust the sensitivity of the screen. Very pleased with it- mapping is good. It’s only slightly larger than the 500 series.
Sam W - on 27 Nov 2017
In reply to Lynsety:

My wife has the Garmin Edge Touring. It's generally very good for navigation, works very much like a car sat nav, but watch out for 2 things. Firstly, and as already mentioned, it's not great at knowing whether a road is surfaced or not. Secondly, it has an 'Auto-recalculate route' option. If this is on, it will randomly change your route, normally sending you on the shortest route home. The auto recalculate also has an irritating tendency to turn itself back on when you've switched it off.

I've got an Edge 520, which I love, as above, it will do routing with a bit of messing round on computers, but if you don't need the heart rate etc. sensors the Touring would be a bit bet
Chris the Tall - on 27 Nov 2017
In reply to Lynsety:

Garmin's are great when they work and bloody annoying when they don't. I have an 810. Never known the screen to lock up in bad weather (and I have ridden in heavy rain/snow on numerous ocassions). What has happened is that it will crash and lose all the data from your ride ! This was happening a lot in the spring - and particularly annoying when doing a tour of Flanders - but hasn't happened since I did a full system reset. I have a suspicion that loading additional maps may have triggered it.

The 820 is the same size as the 810, and I am finding the screen size a little too small for navigating. Generally OK if you are riding a pre-planned route, but more difficult when you take a wrong turn or decide to take a different route. I do often end up getting my phone out as it's quicker to scroll in and out, up or down etc. So the larger screen on the 1000 might be worth considering.

Maybe my expectations are too high - and I haven't tried any of the competition, but I can't help but feel the Garmin's could be much better if they could just iron out a few of the issues.
krikoman - on 27 Nov 2017
In reply to Lynsety:

Have a look at Bryton, mines old now but I think they brought out some newer versions. thy do the same as Garmin, but considerably cheaper.
GavinB - on 27 Nov 2017
In reply to Lynsety:
I've had a few Garmins over the last few years (200 and now Touring Plus) and also have a 910XT watch, but would not get another. The UI is just awful.

I've heard very good things about the Lezyne GPS computers recently - meant to be easy and reliable to use, with a good range of functions. When my Touring Plus breaks, that's where I'll be looking.
In reply to Lynsety:

Does a bike computer offer much that you can't get from a mobile phone on a decent bike mount?

Longer battery life for sure, and a less expensive item to break, but the bike apps and mounts are so good these days that I haven't use a bike computer for years. A Quad lock mount and whatever phone you have would be my suggestion.

Alan
Hardonicus - on 27 Nov 2017
In reply to Lynsety:

Bollocks to Garmin. Wahoo is the way to go. Get an Elemnt Bolt - it pairs with your phone and uses that as the interface for downloading routes etc. This is a much better philosophy that having an expensive overspecced dedicated computing system like a Garmin in my opinion. In addition it is very rare for me to go out without my phone in the jersey pocket, so if I need to remap a route on the fly then it is no hassle. The device itself is small, simple very effective and cheap for what you get.

Wahoo's constant improving of firmware to add new features is refreshing to see. Turn by turn navigation was recently added.
Chris the Tall - on 27 Nov 2017
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

> Does a bike computer offer much that you can't get from a mobile phone on a decent bike mount?

An excellent question and the answer is not much. When I was having problems with my Garmin in Flanders I was recording my ride on my IPhone, and the battery held up for a full days ride (100 miles), with a few photos and texts as well. And since I often like to listen to podcasts on the bike, then having controls for that would be good. Not to mention being able to see texts and other notifications - think the newer Garmins may do this.

However the screen doesn't stay on, so not sure what it would be like using it for nav or simply checking your distance etc. and I often like to keep an eye on the gradient profile when climbing so I can measure my effort to get to the top without dying. Suspect you'd start running the battery down quicker if you access the screen a lot, not to mention it being a pain if wearing gloves.

Garmin devices are pretty robust, so less likely to get damaged in a crash. And of course if you have a crash bad enough to damage something on your bars, the chances are you are going to need to call for help.

I'm surprised no-one has produced robust and integrated bike mount/battery pack, but last time I looked there wasn't anything.
In reply to Chris the Tall:

> However the screen doesn't stay on, so not sure what it would be like using it for nav or simply checking your distance etc.

Lots of apps allow screen on all the time although that does gobble the battery much faster. You can still get a couple of hours.

> I'm surprised no-one has produced robust and integrated bike mount/battery pack, but last time I looked there wasn't anything.

There are a few integrated versions but nothing very good, but loads of external mounted battery options.
GrahamD - on 27 Nov 2017
In reply to Hardonicus:

> Bollocks to Garmin. Wahoo is the way to go. Get an Elemnt Bolt - it pairs with your phone and uses that as the interface for downloading routes etc.

Not for everyone. Much as the clunkiness of Garmin software is a real pain in the arse, the only smart phone I have access to is a work phone which is far to fragile and power hungry to sit on my handlebars for navigation. The touch screen on that phone has no chance with big gloves and so would be totally useless if I had to put it in some sort of waterproof case (which I would).
Hardonicus - on 27 Nov 2017
In reply to GrahamD:

You don't use the smart phone on the handle bars, it just provides the interface as and when you need to update navigation and settings. Basically use the phone to upload a route and off you go.

As for not having a smartphone - you could by one with the price differential between a Garmin and a Bolt.
GrahamD - on 27 Nov 2017
In reply to Hardonicus:

So I guess in this case, you need maps downloaded onto the phone ? One thing i like about the Edge Touring is it comes pre-loaded with all the European maps.

I admit to being a luddite but I'm always nervous about relying on my (well, work's) phone for everything.
Chris the Tall - on 27 Nov 2017
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

> Lots of apps allow screen on all the time although that does gobble the battery much faster. You can still get a couple of hours.

Wouldn't even get me to the first cafe ! Well, depending upon which mates I was riding with

> There are a few integrated versions but nothing very good, but loads of external mounted battery options.

Yep, suppose you could put an external battery in a top tube pack

garycrocker - on 28 Nov 2017
In reply to Lynsety:
My Motorola screen just doesn't respond when it's wet so it would be no good mounted on the bars. Is that the same for all capacitive screens?
L rubertm on 28 Nov 2017
In reply to Lynsety:

I also have an Edge 820. A bit pricey yet has great features and good battery life.
Hardonicus - on 28 Nov 2017
In reply to GrahamD:

No all the mapping for Europe is already installed on the device. The phone just provides the touchscreen interface for relatively complex tasks like configuration and route setting. The actual control of the device while riding is done entirely from the unit which has a simple 6 button interface.

What I like about this type of design is that it leverages existing computing power that 98% of the population have (smartphone) to supply a lot functionality in a relatively cheap unit. I guess it appeals to me as an engineer...
GrahamD - on 28 Nov 2017
In reply to Hardonicus:

I too am an engineer, but I've developed a certain aversion to inextricably linking systems with software and more batteries if it can be avoided Especially since the phone seems to go AWOL after every other SW "upgrade".

I guess having found something that works for me I'm happy to stick with it.
Hardonicus - on 28 Nov 2017
In reply to GrahamD:
Luddite! Even everything mechanical is chock full of electronics and software. You'll have a fit when IoT takes over...
Post edited at 12:44
NorthernGrit - on 29 Nov 2017
In reply to Lynsety:

Elemnt bolt.

At least try one if you can. I think they blow garmin out of the water. Absolutely love mine.
drpetermorgan - on 30 Nov 2017
In reply to Lynsety:

i have a Garmin edge touring plus. It is about three years old now. I have had three previous garmins, first one broke in a MTB incident, second one got left on car roof, and last one sold on ebay. I can't recall the models of these but was happy with all of them. I have three problems with this current model. My chief concern with it is that the screen visibility is awful except in midsummer with the sun shining down from the front, at the moment, in this wintry season, the map display (the trip pages are passable) is awful without using the background illumination and this limits its use as a map tool. Secondly, in rainy situations on both road, but particularly on muddy trails, the barometric altimeter ceases to function because its sensory holes get clogged up. Finally there is an unremovable banner across the top 18% of the screen showing the quite unnecessary message giving the road you're travelling on. It is hard to know the value of this given the included map.
I would suggest that before buying any garmin I would take it out of the shop and evaluate the display qualities in murky conditions.
becauseitsthere - on 30 Nov 2017
In reply to Lynsety:

If cycling was my main sport then yes I'd probably get one. But I'd ask yourself how much you really need one.

"I'm off for a cycle.... Hang on let me just program my GPS. When I get in I can download it and post on FB and not impress all my friends with my incredibly mediocre times." Ditto with another gadget when off running. Waste of time!

A lot of these "must haves" are also obsolete within a year or two. You can be 100% certain that in six months or a year your friends will tell you how much better the Garmin Superdooper is than your 820.

I have a drawer full of old gadgets at home. I wish I'd spent the money on climbing trips. £240 could get you a nice wee trip.
Chris the Tall - on 30 Nov 2017
In reply to becauseitsthere:

Have to disagree with your rather sniffy comments - I regret not getting one earlier

Yes my Garmin is set up to automatically upload to Strava, so all the world can see my gradual decline. I don't do this a means of boasting, but Strava (and better still Veloviewer) give me loads of data about my ride. I am also interested to see what my friends are up to (don't do FB).

Thing is I love having a record of where I have been over the years - much the same as the UKC logbook does. And as well as showing me I have been, it shows me where I haven't been, which is just as important. So whilst for most of my rides I just turn on the GPS and go, there are occasions when I do want to plan a route, either because I'm in a new area or I want to take in a particular trail, or as many belgian cobbled climbs as I can possibly fit into a days ride.

Going back to the OP's original question and there statement that the routing is an important factor - does anyone who simply uses a phone and the various apps have much to say about that functionality ? Are you able to check that you are still on course without having to stop ?
GrahamD - on 01 Dec 2017
In reply to becauseitsthere:

I'll bite. I really like riding new routes (on and off road) in areas where I don't know all the roads or bridleways and I like to know roughly how long it will take (I might need to get a train back for instance). I also like to make sure I don't have to do any riding on trunk roads. For this a planned route on an easy to follow map is perfect. I've tried using bits of maps but it leads to too much stop/start and on one occasion, a blown away and lost map.

Last few years a few of us from the local pub have done multi-day rides in Europe visiting quiet rural villages on scenic lanes. The Garmin (other makes available) was essential for making those trips possible.

Like CtT I also like to have a record of where I've been. £150 doesn't seem like an excessive outlay for all that .
krikoman - on 08 Dec 2017
In reply to GrahamD:

Almost exactly this ^.

I quite often link the best bits of off road riding in to one great ride.

My memeory being a crap as it is, simply doesn't cope with keepiong track of all the bit I like.

I also like the data from riding similar bits of routes and comparing heart rate, speed etc. A measure of fitness if you like.

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