I wondered about buying a Garmin Cycling GPS – and then I thought: Why bother? /cc @dcuthbert

There’s this Garmin video that Dan Cuthbert pointed me at, earlier:

…and it’s timely because January sales are still on, and only yesterday I was perusing ChainReaction and ordering bits and bobs.

I’d been out on the MTB for an hour or so, exploring the heathland around Blackbushe Airport.

I had my Nexus 7 in a pouch running Google My Tracks – it recorded the whole thing, with much battery to spare, plus now appears to have options to Bluetooth-pair with numerous cadence and other sensors.

I’ve been round this loop of thinking before, of course:

…but the big problem last time was only having a phone upon which to run the apps; and when the GPS killed that battery, I would be phoneless.

Whereas MyTracks has clearly been updated since I last played with it, has better usability, and can run for ages on the Nexus’ huge battery; and I can pre-load several huge chunks of GoogleMaps onto the Nexus for offline consumption.

So – £160..£240 for a Nexus, versus … I dunno, £250..£380 for a Garmin with maps? The latter are waterproof / weather-hardened and toughened and all, but the former is cheaper, general purpose and not locked-in.

It probably depends on what you want to do with it / whether you are sprinting or touring / how little you are wearing… but for the moment I’ll take the Nexus with me.

5 thoughts on “I wondered about buying a Garmin Cycling GPS – and then I thought: Why bother? /cc @dcuthbert

  1. Lloyd Watkin (@lloydwatkin)

    This is one of the reasons I’m really looking forward to the Pebble arriving (I supported via kickstarter http://getpebble.com). Running with phone in running pouch (for music/gps) with pebble for watching stats and controlling music. When cycling it can be mounted to the handlebars as a cycle computer, win win.

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  2. Dave Walker

    Admittedly it’s for car rather than bike use (as it doesn’t have cycle paths), but I’ve been a happy user of FreeNav on my iPad for over a year. The maps aren’t completely perfect, but in my experience with various courtesy cars’ in-car navigation systems when mine’s in for servicing or other maintenance, they stand up well enough. I think the days of the dedicated satnav box are definitely numbered.

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  3. Darren J Moffat

    Funny you should post this I’ve just been looking at the Garmin Edge range tonight. I think I will probably get a Garmin Edge for my new road bike along with the cadence sensor. Mostly because it is water proof and attached to the handle bars. I don’t ever expect to use it for naviagation so the Edge 500 rather than the much more expensive 800 will be fine. I wouldn’t attach my phone to the handlebars of any road or MTB.

    I use Endomondo currently for tracking rides on my Android phone.

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  4. Max Allan

    Put the phone in a ziplock bag for waterproofing and for emergencies, take either a spare battery pack or a USB cable and either a solar charger or hand crank charger.
    Maplin do a hand crank USB power supply for about £5 (I think it was). Just leave it with the relevant USB cable in your saddle bag with the puncture repair kit etc.

    I have a cheap solar charger which really needs the planet to be a few thousand miles nearer the sun to work well. Might be OK near the equator but around Blighty, you’re wasting your time.
    Or get a old Android phone off eBay and put all the same apps etc. on and don’t worry about ruining it on the odd occasion it might get wet/dropped. You can probably get an HTC hero for £30. Does GPS/bluetooth/wifi/3g/music etc.

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  5. cdmackay

    Ultra GPS is also very good for tracking. No sensor integration.

    Note that the fitness sensors may require Bluetooth SMART/LE/4.0, which your phone may not have (mine doesn’t).

    The new Garmin Edge models don’t look like worthwhilst upgrades either, see detailed reviews at http://dcrainmaker.com/.

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