gkmac's GPS survey

I’m looking to buy a GPS during my “unscheduled rest”, mainly because at least I will be in the house to be there when the postie rings the doorbell.

The main purposes I would use it for would be…

  • Marking places and routes, so if I detour or try a new route I can find my way back.
  • Calculating total distance travelled on a ride, and elevation (how much I’ve climbed and/or descended).
  • Knowing roughly what my current speed is.
I know absolutely nothing about GPSes. Makes. Models. Facilities. All of it flies over my head, and I don’t know anybody to hand who can demo me one. So I need some suggestions from some people who already have one.

The question is simple. What make and model of GPS do you have? What do you like about it?

uh i think this is jc content

There are next generation GPS units out there now, that work in woodland, and close to buildings. Garmin have good units. I like the look of the Forerunner 205. I don’t know much about the features, but it looks like a good option. You get a good deal with www.globalpositioningsystems.co.uk.


I have a Garmin Venture, which is good for open hill sides when hillwalking, but it is no use in woodland.

I have a Garmin etrex legend.

Like most GPS, I can create routes of places that I have been with my GPS and upload them to my PC (or even PDA, if I wanted to). I have mapping software (Memory Map) and I can upload the routes onto that. I can also create routes on the Map and download the route to the GPS.

It does all the other stuff that GPS do - compass, logs distance, speed (top and average), time (moving, still and overall).

I use it to log routes that I have ridden, download new routes from the mapping software. I also log my rides - now and again for the regular rides and also every new ride.

The GPS unit has a ‘base’ (basic) map of europe on it. So I also use it to show Sam how far away from the UK we are when we go on holiday.

I don’t really know how it compares to other GPSs as this is the first one that I have had (except for the sat nav, ofcourse). I do know that it’s probably bulkyish and one disadvantage is that I can’t see it as I ride, so can’t see my speed as I go (which isn’t really a problem for me). If I have it round my neck as I ride, it doesn’t always pick up the satilites, so it’s best placed in my camelbak. If I’m following a route, I have to keep stopping and taking it out (although this hasn’t been a problem so far).

Hope this rather garbled account helps in some way.


Not if it is to be used while unicycling.

Does it matter that much anyway?

Are we not allowed to ask about anything other than questions directly related to unicycling without getting told off now?

i was just going to start a new post on a very similar subject!

In answer to your qestion

Garmin etrex legend C

  • It has a color screen (A must for mapping i think)
  • Maps
  • I use it for navigation when in my car and also on the Uni
  • It tells me how far / fast / average speed etc
  • It is a handheld device
  • AA batteris last about 14 hours
  • Good reception under Trees etc.[/LIST]I use to own a basic Garmin yellow yeko which was great for recording where your been etc. but difficult to use for navigation without mapping.

    Coupled with a good GPS you also need some good software.

    I can’t stress enough how good the FREE sporttracks is. It has a slightly strange interface system but is well worth checking out. You get maps / graphs / and stats a go go. It’s really a training aid but great to see how your rides are going.

    Ok to make this Unicycle related.

    Some stats using the above software from my lastest 29er ride on 150 cranks

    10.36 miles
    Time 1:28:54
    90% at 7.8 mph
    Stopped for 6 mins 44 secs
    81% of the ride was on flat

  • Garmin Foretrex 201. Wrist-mounted, and about the size of a Penguin bar.

    The strap is adequate, but not brilliant.

    It is easy to set at the start of a ride. One function to reset your max speed. Another function to reset trip data at the start of a ride.

    As you’re riding, you can switch between data screens very easily with an up arrow and a down arrow (separate buttons).

    The screens I use:

    • One screen, 4 pieces of data: Max speed, Trip distance (miles), average speed for trip, time spent moving.
    • Next screen: current speed, updated every couple of seconds. One big fat number, easy to read.

    Other screens are available at the push of a button to show current elevation and similar details.

    Change to a different page and you get a little dotted line map showing your route follwoed so far. I have used this exactly once to find my way back to the car.

    Other screens show latitude and longitude, should I choose.

    It does have more complex functions such as setting waypoints and the like. Whether I will ever use these, I don’t know.

    For me, it’s a handy gadget for recording and displaying trip data, with an added navigational function. As all my riding is on or near to paths,I can’t imagine ever really needing the more advanced functions.

    You can buy cheaper, but for me, the wrist mounting and small size are woirth the extra. It’s also weatherproof.

    Foretrex 101

    After I had broken 2 cycle computer on the coker, i got myself a simple and
    (relatively) cheap GPS that’s perfect for my purpose:


    I use it just like a cycle computer. It has no mapping features and
    it cannot do map coordinate transformations. But I don’t need these
    for unicycling.
    It is on my wrist, so it is very easy to read while riding.
    With 2 small reloadable batteries it works for about 10 hours.

    I like it.


    The next issue of Cycle (the CTC mag, due out in August) is to have an article about GPS for cycling, with tips and reviews. If you’re a member then obviously you’ll get it anyway, otherwise it might be worth either joining or asking at your LBS whether they can get you a copy:

    I have two GPSes; they are very different and made for different purposes. Ideally I’d like a GPS that had features from both, but I haven’t found it yet…

    Garmin eTrex Venture
    This was my first GPS; I’ve used it for all sorts of things like driving, cycling, walking and canal boating. For me its primary purpose is recording the route of where I’ve been so I can upload it to the computer, but its route-following capabilities make it very useful when going somewhere I have never been before. It has no road map, but I can upload a route plotted on the computer which gives me a line to follow and distances to the next turning, which is generally enough.

    My biggest bugbear with this GPS is the tracklog capacity; it will store only 2,048 trackpoints, which will hold maybe two rides before filling up. If you’re going away for a weekend it’s just not enough, so I’ve sometimes had to take a laptop in the car just to get the tracks off it.

    Garmin Edge 205
    This is a fairly recent addition, bought mainly for the extra accuracy of the better chipset in newer GPSes. The increase in accuracy is very noticeable; I have never yet seen it lose signal even in dense woodland on steep hillsides, and when uploaded to the computer the track is far cleaner. Another big plus for me is that it stores far more trackpoints; on a week long biking holiday of roughly 30 off-road miles a day it went 6 days before wrapping; it will last a weekend with no difficulty at all.

    Whereas the Venture is a fairly general purpose unit, the Edge is far more specialised; it will not tell you your position in anything but latitude and longitude, so it’s pretty useless as a navigational aid. There are rumours that this facility will appear in a future firmware update, but I’m not holding my breath. It does waypoints and routes but you have to enter them using a computer and so far I haven’t found any software that will let me do this before I tear my hair out in frustration. Besides, the screen is much smaller so wouldn’t be as nice to use in the car as the Venture anyway.

    The Edge also has an internal battery as opposed to the Venture which takes two AAs, so you can’t carry spare batteries for when it gets low. I’ve used it for three cycling weekends away - Snowdonia, the Lakes and Dartmoor - and it has lasted the weekend, but it was getting a bit close each time.

    With the Venture you just have to turn the thing on to make it start recording the track; with the Edge you have to start the timer as well. It’s easy to forget to start the timer, so I have a few tracks where I’ve missed the beginning of the ride because of this.

    It is slightly annoying that both GPSes have features I like but flaws that make them not quite perfect. I have at times used both at once; the Edge for recording the track and the Venture for navigating. The Edge is really more of a souped-up bike computer, so is best used as such; if I know pretty much where I’m going I’ll take the Edge, but if I have to use the GPS in conjunction with a map or follow a predefined route that I am unfamiliar with I will take the Venture.

    If somebody made a GPS like the Venture but with a more accurate chipset, or one like the Edge that could report your position as an Ordnance Survey grid reference, I would be there like a shot.


    Mine’s a Garmin Geko 301. It was bought for me a couple of years ago mainly for walking navigation on the moor, but gets used more often as a trip computer on unicycling rides. It’s a bit overkill for that, but is small and works fine. It takes quite a time to pick up the signal when you first turn it on, but once locked on it’s very reliable. Does all the normal stuff and will connect to a computer (RS232) for transfer to and from mapping software (I use MemoryMap). I use it mostly for speed, distance and finding out how close to the official paths I was (a lot of the bridlepaths on the moor are vaguely marked and their course varies depending on the weather and shifting bogs!)

    It will also work the other way round - draw out a route on the computer and the GPS will guide you round it. No map display, just an arrow pointing to the next waypoint. Useful as a backup for normal map, but I rarely use it for that purpose.

    Also, it will backtrack to guide you back you where you came from in the event of getting lost. I’ve never yet used it for that, but I have used it to give a grid-reference to check my location on a map when I’ve been unsure of where I am.


    I have the Garmin eTrex Vista CX. I use it for skiing and uni.

    I wanted mapping and the barometric altimeter. The Vista also has a built in electronic compass but I usually turn it off to extend battery life.

    I initially got the Vista C, then when the CX came out with the memory card for more map storage I took advantage of REI’s no-questions-asked return policy and upgraded.

    For skiing I keep it in an upper front pocket of my parka or in the top compartment of my hydration pack. For uni I usually clip it on the shoulder strap of my hydration pack. I also have the bike handlebar mount. I have had good success with not losing signal. Occasionally it will lose signal in tree cover, especially if it is in a “valley” type terrain.