Best GPS Units for Mountain Biking


Viewing 11 reply threads
  • Author
    • #68332

      Who makes the best GPS units for use with mountain bikes? I’ve only used Garmin units myself, the yellow eTrex, the eTrex Vista, and the Forerunner 201. The Forerunner sucks for biking but at least it’s small. Most of the units I’ve seen from Magellan seem like they’re bigger than the eTrex series and might be a bit more cumbersome.

      The bike mounts I’ve used from the Garmins are okay but I can definitely see problems since the battery cover is only attached at a single point. Does anyone know if the Magellans have advanced features that come in handy on bike rides? The eTrex has pretty much everything I need but I could see having a temperature gauge and a heart rate monitor integrated being helpful. Also some good data management software included for computer use would be handy as well. What do ya’ll think?

    • #68333

      Even though they’re kinda big, but small enough for a camelbak, I like our Garmin Rinos….. They’re beefy, and have a lot of neato functions. I’d be a lot less worried about taking a fall on a Rino, it’d probably survive.

    • #68334

      I use a Garmin Summit. It’s an older unit, and there are some big disadvantages to it that have just about led me to buy a new unit. Particularly the limited number of track points (3000) and that you can’t control when the breadcrumbs get placed. These disadvantages are manageable if you’re only going out for a couple of hours, but if it’s all day you lose a bunch of track. The newer Summits still only have 3000 track points, but they’ve got a control for how often a breadcrumb is left (either by time or distance).

      I don’t mind the Garmin bike mount…I’ve had a couple of good falls with it and the GPS has always ended up in one piece. I’ve never had it fall off while riding down the trail (but I have had the batteries get so bounced
      around that the GPS stopped working–a little bit of foam in the cover to hold the batteries in place solved that problem). I do, however, worry about falling in a creek with it. I don’t think the bike mount backcover
      is as waterproof as the original (and I’m not ready to test it out–has anyone fallen in a creek with their GPS?).

    • #68335

      I have used the Garmin Vista for a long time on the trails and now the newer Garmin Vista C. I have never had any trouble with the bike mount itself, but loads of trouble on the original Vista monochrome with batteries bouncing around when you hit bumps. The result is the thing shuts down on you when you get in the tough stuff. There is a post that tells you how to fix the problem with some rubber bands and tweesers:

      I don’t think that this method would alter the watertightness, as it shims the betteries from the ends and not against the over.

      I tend to ride in the woods and tree cover can be an issue if you are really in the deep woods. Overall, it’s great getting back and downloading the GPS track to see where the heck you went in the woods.


    • #68336

      I think this one has a lot of promise:

      Garmin Edge

      Although Garmin has been dinged a lot of their reception and HRM features, this probably represents version 2.0 and might work pretty well.

      MotionBlog has a little write up on this: … unces.html

    • #68337

      I love my Garmin GPSmap60CS. I use a RAM mount and it is rock-solid.

      Rich Owings

      “We were desert mystics, my friends and I, poring over our maps as others do their holy books.” – Edward Abbey

    • #68338

      Just purchased this unit…so far so good…everything that i wanted…very easy to use…to many functions to list…but current elevation…elevation gain and ascent during and after ride…heart rate and cadence if you’re more into training…very very lightweigh…long battery life…easy to mount on your bike or in a pocket…wireless everything…if you have any questions feel free to send me an email…i had a difficult time finding anyone that had used this unit or used any gps unit (rei and several bike shops had no useful info for me.

    • #68339

      I second the vote for the Garmin GPSMAP 60CS…I moved over from a Lowrance handheld. The GPSMAP 60CS is the bomb:
      – Color screen, fairly easy to view in sunlight, with backlight
      – Most durable chassis I’ve seen on a handheld GPS, waterproof and submersible
      – Separate electronic compass that backs up the GPS readings at slow speed(so when you’re climbing a hill, S/A error is not causing your “crumbs” to jump all over the place)
      – Combination Barometric/3-D Satellite fix altimeter that charts with a graph, shows your total ascent etc – make sure to run the self-calibrate on both the compass and altimeter! Takes <5min…
      – Easy to save and manage tracks(trail maps) and waypoints
      – 56mb of re-writable memory, great to use with the Garmin “Topo” map CD and/or “City Select”(all roads, POI’s, etc). On 56mb, I have BOTH Topo maps and the FULL detail maps loaded for an area of about 500-600 sq miles right now…so storage is decent
      – I use the Garmin handlebar mount and car mount, which are interchangeable and integrate with the belt clip nut(like a cell phone clip, it’s nice!)
      The GPS is a solid part of the bike when it’s in the mount – it’s the way to go, $20.
      – 20hr battery life
      – PC interface, easy and quick to upload/download to the GPS via USB 2.0.
      – The Garmin “TOPO” and “City Select” will set you back a couple more Benji’s…but they really open up the functionality of this GPS, especially with the color screen. Another thing- Go to the Garmin website to get your map software updates!! Not enough people do that, the downloads are free to the same version software…all you need is your license key. That way you have the most up-to-date info on your GPS – no use mapping to something that ain’t there anymore!

      One suggestion:

      Garmin just came out with the “x-series” in this model it would be the Garmin “GPSMAP 60CSx”. The “x” has everything above and adds:
      -Expandable memory from memory cards (microSD format), comes with a 64mb card
      – The new “SiRF” chipset, which boasts a better speed to GPS signal fix and is supposed to maintain a lock on sat’s under heavy canopy and in canyons(Urban or The Grand)
      Costs about $30-50 more than the GPSMAP 60CS.

      What are you still doing here? Get to the store!

    • #68340

      I have a Magellan explorist 500 that I absolutely love. All the Magellan handhelds that I’ve seen are waterproof, with a screw-on battery cover, so that’s not such a worry; also, the explorist series are very small and lightweight (even moreso than the eTrex series) so they fit nicely into a camelbak or jersey pocket. As far as software is concerned, the unit will draw a vertical profile of the active track, which is nice for after a ride, but I also have the topo 3D software which helps see the hills before you get to them (at least the big ones!) In addition, the explorist 500 has a TFT color screen and supports DirectRoute street software to use in the car on the way to some of these out of the way trailheads. Bottom line: I’ve done a lot of research on these units and I believe that this is the best product for the money right now.

    • #68341

      For inexpensive and bike friendly, I vote Foretrex 101 – i looked at the forerunner but like the foretrex better. Also the 201 looks good but the main difference is that the 101 uses AAA and the 201 uses rechargeable batteries. So if you’re out on tour, the 201 is only good as long as the batteries last.

      I haven’t gone on any tours but my guy goes each year and I plan to go next season. (He also has the Foretrex 101 – same reasoning)

    • #68342

      I’ve been using a Garmin eTrex Legend for a couple of months now. I just attach it to my Camelback and let’er track. I’ve had no problems with it, except an erroneous trackpoint once in a while when riding in valleys. It does everything I’ve asked for a low end unit since I mostly use basic GPS features and don’t look at it while riding. I download with MapSource, convert, and submit. We’ll see how well it lasts. 😆

    • #68343

      I just bought the Delorme PN-20 and it is awesome. I little tricky to learn, due to all of it funtions, but man once you get the hang of it 😃 Go to the website and check it out. All the functions for only 399.00 I bought mine at great deal with memory and Topo 6.0

Viewing 11 reply threads

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.