looking into buying a handheld gps

Joined
May 30, 2002
Messages
494
Likes
0
#1
i am interested in buying a gps to use while riding. there are a lot of places i would like to ride but im affraid of getting lost in the middle of nowhere. do any of you guys use gps's, if so what kind would you recommend? i was looking at one made by garmin but there are so many different ones i dont know which one i should get. i would like something compact in size, waterproof, and easy to use since i have also never used one before, are they are hard to use and understand. any iformation given would be greatly appreciated.
 
Joined
Nov 26, 2003
Messages
31
Likes
0
#2
i have got a garmin gps v and cant fault it,the only down fall is the limited memory but if your using it off road that wont be a problem,also you can get handle bar brackets,is waterproof etc.you wont get lost with one of these as long as your batteries dont run out ,fairly easy to use once you get the hang of it
 
Joined
Dec 29, 1999
Messages
52
Likes
0
#3
I use a Garmin III+. It is very easy to use. The GPS V is built on the same case but has much more memory and a feature that allows you to pick the start and finish and the unit lays out your path. Local detailed maps can be downloaded.

Batteries don't have to be a problem. You can hard wire the unit to the bikes electrical system. There are several sites that evaluate GPS units on the web, do a search.

Wayne
 

JTT

Subscriber
Joined
Aug 25, 2000
Messages
1,407
Likes
0
#4
I've also just begun to experiment with GPS. I decided, after much searching, to go with a Magellan SportTrax Pro. The Garmin units are very nice and I had one for a short period. The main reason I went Magellan was that I have buddies that use them and can exchange maps and such with them. All the software and data from these things appears to be proprietary so it won'r work from brand to brand.

First you have to decide what you want from the unit. There are "mapping" and "non-mapping" units. The mapping ones allow you to purchase software maps, such as detailed road maps or even topos (if your lucky enough to live in the US) and load them into your GPS. You can now see, in real time, where you are on the map as you move down the trail. Very cool, but obviously more expensive. Even without purchasing maps, these units come equipped with a "basemap" that give some basic landmarks (major roads).

More expensive units have greater memory, so you can store more maps of greater areas. Apparently these maps are quite compact though as large areas seem to fit easily on 8 megs of memory. 8 megs seems to be the starting point for most mapping units.

Some even use "flash cards" so you can add memory or preloaded maps at any time with a simple card swap. (Magellan Meridian line)

With non-mapping units, you can plot a "track" as you move down the trail and use this to backtrack your path or store it so that you can find it again next month. You can also purchase software that will permit you to scan, or buy digitized maps and plot courses and such on your PC. Once you plot the course and set the "waypoints" you can then upload this data to your "non-mapping" GPS and follow the track on the screen...or visa versa. Do a ride, come home and download to your PC, then overlay it onto a scanned map to see where you were.

Most handheld units are waterproof and rugged construction. Ease of use is a relative term, but with some basic reading and some technical aptitude you'll be fine.

Keep in mind also that the antenna has to be exposed to see the satelites. Carrying in a pocket is not terribly effective :| Also, some units have "marginally" better antennas that may be better and seeing through thick brush, etc. Units like the SportTrax and the GPS V have the more powerfull antennas. The Etrex type units use a slightly less powerful antenna. Does it make a difference?? Probably very little in real life.

Screen size is also a consideration, but a trade off. The large screen units like the Garmin 76 series are nice to read, but slightly bulky, particularly compared to the Etrex line, where they're tiny and fit easily in a shirt pocket.

I'm a rank beginner in this field, but this is the information that I've gathered over the past months. I hope its some help to you :thumb: ...sorry for the long winded rant ;)
 
Joined
May 30, 2002
Messages
494
Likes
0
#5
thanks guys for responding. i dont need anything fancy, just something basic that will get the job done. i dont think the handlebar mounting will work with me, i know that i would have the gps smashed to pieces from a crash or something if i did that, can you strap them to your arm?. i was talking to a guy at work one time about gps's, he said he has one built into his cell phone, that would be pretty cool. so you have to keep these things turned on at all times? you cant just turn it on at a specific place to mark a spot, then if you get lost turn it back on and look at it to retrace you path? im sorry if these are dumb questions but i have never used a gps or even had one in front of me.
 

JTT

Subscriber
Joined
Aug 25, 2000
Messages
1,407
Likes
0
#6
Not a dumb question at all. Yes, you can simply turn it on, mark the waypoint, turn it off and go on to the next point. I know a guy who does exactly that for marking mountainbike trails. He simply marks waypoints at intersection or notable points, turns it off and puts it back in his pocket. Batteries last MUCH longer that way too.
 

BRush

Lifetime Sponsor
Joined
Jun 5, 2000
Messages
1,099
Likes
0
#7
Originally posted by Lonewolf
thanks guys for responding. i dont need anything fancy, just something basic that will get the job done.

The Garmin ETREX, basic model . It’s small. It’s (relatively) cheap, about $100. The batteries last fairly well. You don’t have to keep them turned on unless you want a track log. The simplest method is to turn it on when you unload the bike and mark a waypoint, then turn it off again. When you’re out on the trail, you can turn it on to see how far away (and in what direction) the truck is. I put mine in my drink system pouch.
 

holeshot

Crazy Russian
Joined
Jan 25, 2000
Messages
1,823
Likes
0
#8
Originally posted by BRush



The Garmin ETREX, basic model .
I use the same model (Etrex Legend). My reasoning was that the thing is so inexpensive, I could lose it or destroy it and not feel too bad. If I needed more features, I could just buy another model (and have two), but thus far, I haven't required anything more (like maps).

Buying a GPS is similar to purchasing a VCR - you hunt around for something with all the wiz bang features, but in reality, all you'll really use it for is to play a tape occasionally. : :confused: (except for a true vidiot).

The speedo/odo on my my Nissan beater failed two years ago, so I've been using the GPS every workday (jammed in the dash and connected with a cigarette lighter adapter) to monitor my speed. :silly:

I'm looking for is a handlebar mount for this thing. Anybody got a link?
 
Last edited:

holeshot

Crazy Russian
Joined
Jan 25, 2000
Messages
1,823
Likes
0
#10
Thanks for the link. One of the local clubs is holding GPS events (races) in the dez, so the GPS must be visible at all times. I'll need one of those mounts if I enter one of these things.
 

Rodzilla

Lifetime Sponsor
Joined
Jul 21, 1999
Messages
615
Likes
0
#11
I'm currently using a Garmin III+ I have an e-start bike so I have it wired into the power with RAM quick mount for changing between truck and bike.

I perfer the Garmin with remote antenna capabilites, I got two remote antennas (bike and truck) on EBay for $24 each ($75-90 each from dealers) this keeps me locked on the satelites in the woods. You can also put your unit in your camelbak and run the antenna to your shoulder strap or helmet.


These guys have good info CYCOACTIVE
 
Joined
May 30, 2002
Messages
494
Likes
0
#12
wow, i didnt expect to get this many responces, thanks guys. i was out christmas shopping the other day and i actually saw some garmin gps's in person, they were the cheaper ones like the etrex, they are pretty small, i could put one im my camelback like one of you guys mentioned.
 

MWEISSEN

Whaasssup?
Mi. Trail Riders
Joined
Dec 6, 1999
Messages
2,233
Likes
0
#13
Lonewolf, your arm strap idea may be a good idea. I've got a Garmin III+ after having a Magellan (sold it, not enough features - to be fair to Magellan, it was a great unit, just not what I ultimately wanted). I mount the Garmin on my road bike, but am leary of putting on the handlebars of my dirt bike. Not enough room/too much vibration.

Let me know what you think of the Etrex. I like their size and price, and may be a good compromise for dirt biking. If you try the arm strap, let us know what you did.
 

BRush

Lifetime Sponsor
Joined
Jun 5, 2000
Messages
1,099
Likes
0
#14
Originally posted by MWEISSEN
... Let me know what you think of the Etrex.
I have a fair amount of time with a Dirtbike + Etrex. It's suitability really depends on what you want it for. If it's for navigation and in case you get lost, the Garmin ETREX is great. Small, inexpensive (relatively!), and weatherproof. Rugged, at least mine has had the crap vibrated out of it, and it's been along for the ride on a few get offs. No problems so far. If your purpose is to map trails, then you should look for something with more features, particularly the ability use an active/powered antenna. In heavy tree cover, a unit with a passive antenna, like the ETREX will lose it's lock from time to time. In addition, you'd want one with Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) capability for mapping.