Author Topic: Bike GPS Dilemma  (Read 601 times)

humesapprentice

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Bike GPS Dilemma
« on: September 07, 2017, 07:45:42 PM »
My sense of direction is probably only a hair better than the mentally impaired. Luckily, GPS systems exist for people like me, but in the process of transitioning from car to bike I've hit a bump in the road. Google Maps leaves much to be desired as a bike GPS, although it does have some functionality as that. What I want to know is: what is a good bike GPS that meets all the following criteria:

(1) Enter an address and generate a route from your current location.

(2) Instant turn by turn navigation. I want the device to say "turn in 500 feet." I want the device to update that 500 feet to 250 as I get closer and closer to the turn.

(3) Generate bike friendly routes. I want to use the back roads as much as possible, of course I'm not going to be biking alongside a freeway.

Any app or piece of hardware that can do this would be very valuable to me!

Dave1442397

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Re: Bike GPS Dilemma
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2017, 07:12:56 AM »
If you want all that functionality, I'd just use a smartphone. Get a good mount, a waterproof case, and an extra battery pack if you need it.

For mapping rides, you can use something like https://ridewithgps.com/

I don't bother with all that myself. I have a Garmin Edge 500 that I bought in 2012. When I go somewhere new and want to find a good route, I use Strava's activity search to find rides that other people have done, and then just follow them - https://www.strava.com/activities/search

When I'm in a new area, I generally write down the turns that I need to remember and carry the piece of paper in a ziplock bag. If I get stuck, I just pull out the phone and figure out where I need to go.


GuitarStv

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Re: Bike GPS Dilemma
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2017, 07:31:40 AM »
I don't use a GPS or a smart phone, like to cycle long distances in unfamiliar places, and generally suck at navigating my way around on my own . . . so can certainly understand your concerns.

What I do now, is plan out my Saturday route on Friday night.  I'll check Strava heat maps to get an idea of the most commonly cycled routes in an area, then use google maps and streetview to plan out the best loop to take to get where I want to go.  Once I've planned out a route, I write down instructions for where to turn (like turn left on highway 35, continue for about 45 min) and copy a couple maps with tricky sections of the route (as blown up as possible) into a couple page Word document and save it with a useful name (something like Toronto-Pickering-Mt.Albert-Toronto_140kmLoop) .  Then I email the route to myself where it joins dozens of others in a folder in gmail, and print it out.

I stick the printouts in a plastic sandwich bag (otherwise it gets soaked/smeared with sweat or rain) with the printed turn instructions facing outwards and stick them in one of my pockets.  Generally I can do the whole route by pulling the baggie out of my back pocket while cycling and reading what the next turn is going to be, but when I occasionally get lost I can stop and open the baggie to pull out my maps and navigate my way back on course.  Absolute worst case scenario I've had to stop at a gas station and ask for instructions to get to a road once.

It's worked pretty well for over 7000 km of riding this year.  :P

megaschnauzer

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Re: Bike GPS Dilemma
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2017, 08:28:48 AM »
are you commuting, touring or just riding around?

Sibley

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Re: Bike GPS Dilemma
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2017, 11:53:53 AM »
I also am very bad with directions, and have no sense of direction either. I use GPS, but I also deliberately don't use it at times. Using GPS, you become dependent on it, and you don't actually learn where you're going. By not using GPS in low risk times, it helps me learn the area and actually need to use it less overall.

And whoever decided it was a good idea to not plan streets on the grid system - go to hell.

GuitarStv

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Re: Bike GPS Dilemma
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2017, 12:21:07 PM »
And whoever decided it was a good idea to not plan streets on the grid system - go to hell.

I've come across some puzzling/annoying road things while cycling around and trying to figure out where the hell I am:
- A very long one way street that loops around at one point and intersects itself.
- Streets that change names 5-10 times over a ten km distance.  Particularly annoying when you want to turn onto this street, but aren't sure which of the dozen names it goes by the street sign at your turn will report.
- Streets that google maps shows as connecting that actually have 20 - 30 meters of forest between them.  (It's why you should use mountain bike shoes rather than road.)

robartsd

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Re: Bike GPS Dilemma
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2017, 12:29:50 PM »
I also am very bad with directions, and have no sense of direction either. I use GPS, but I also deliberately don't use it at times. Using GPS, you become dependent on it, and you don't actually learn where you're going. By not using GPS in low risk times, it helps me learn the area and actually need to use it less overall.

I agree that relying on turn-by-turn navigation prevents you from really learning to navigate on your own. I've never used GPS on bike (I do like smart phone navigation with live traffic in a car). I usually route plan in Google Maps, though I wouldn't say I'm bad with directions and like GutarStv's suggestion for how to carry dirrections and a map.

When I've explored new areas without a route plan by bike, I keep track of known boundaries that I will not miss (usually major streets or the river) and which dirrection I would have to turn when I meet such a boundary to proceed in the direction I intend to travel. After exploring, I like to try to trace my route on a map to help me reinforce what I learned about the area. It does help that my area has most major streets on a grid system with .5-1 mile spacing (many of the suburban areas have no sense of a grid within the larger major street grid).

robartsd

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Re: Bike GPS Dilemma
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2017, 12:31:54 PM »
I've come across some puzzling/annoying road things while cycling around and trying to figure out where the hell I am:
- A very long one way street that loops around at one point and intersects itself.
- Streets that change names 5-10 times over a ten km distance.  Particularly annoying when you want to turn onto this street, but aren't sure which of the dozen names it goes by the street sign at your turn will report.
- Streets that google maps shows as connecting that actually have 20 - 30 meters of forest between them.  (It's why you should use mountain bike shoes rather than road.)
- A pair of streets that intersect each other more than twice.

BlueMR2

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Re: Bike GPS Dilemma
« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2017, 12:39:02 PM »
- Streets that google maps shows as connecting that actually have 20 - 30 meters of forest between them.  (It's why you should use mountain bike shoes rather than road.)

Ugh.  Yeah.  Recently one "street" that google told me to take to get to a park didn't exist at all.  Wasn't just disconnected, but there's a fenced in housing development there where it claims there should be a street...  Annoying having to backtrack around and find another way.

Debts_of_Despair

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Re: Bike GPS Dilemma
« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2017, 01:32:19 PM »
You are looking a $300+ for a dedicated bike GPS that can do on the f!y navigation.

For $100 or possibly less you can get an entry level bike GPS that can do navigation from a course loaded from your computer.  It will give you turn prompts and show a basic bread crumb trail.

GuitarStv

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Re: Bike GPS Dilemma
« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2017, 07:29:06 AM »
- Streets that google maps shows as connecting that actually have 20 - 30 meters of forest between them.  (It's why you should use mountain bike shoes rather than road.)

Ugh.  Yeah.  Recently one "street" that google told me to take to get to a park didn't exist at all.  Wasn't just disconnected, but there's a fenced in housing development there where it claims there should be a street...  Annoying having to backtrack around and find another way.

I'll admit to occasionally hopping fences and doing hikes with my bike shouldered to get to where the road was supposed to be rather than backtracking many kilometers.  :P

dogboyslim

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Re: Bike GPS Dilemma
« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2017, 11:38:37 AM »
Garmin Edge computers work pretty well.  They have touring/explore models that are a somewhat less ridiculously priced, but still in the $300-400 range.  If you want all the data - power/speed/hr/cadence/ etc., then the edge 1030 is hard to beat.  That said, google maps on my iphone has worked better for routing in town than my garmin has ever done, so if navigation is really the only reason you want the GPS, I'd agree with the others on getting a good waterproof phone mount.

Debts_of_Despair

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Re: Bike GPS Dilemma
« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2017, 01:13:01 PM »
I was going to say, I don't think you are going to get better routing on a Garmin than you will with Google Maps.

Another option to try would be to buy the cheapest Android phone you can find that will run a somewhat recent version of Google Maps.  You can download the maps over WiFi and use them offline so you won't need a data plan.  I'm not sure if bike mode navigation works in offline mode though.  I know for sure car navigation works offline.  You might have problems with it routing you on an expressway, etc.

frugalnacho

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Re: Bike GPS Dilemma
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2017, 10:58:50 AM »
google maps is by far the best gps I have ever used for any purpose on any device.  Just change the settings from the car to the bike.  I purchased a mount for my bike on amazon: http://a.co/aszW4Ym

I mostly use it to hold my phone so I can listen to music while I ride, but it holds it in the perfect position on my handlbars for a gps display.  I've only ridden to work since I purchased it so I don't actually use it for gps, but I intend to once I'm able to actually take it out for a leisure ride.