A little consideration of your requirements should help you decide what kind of GPS you should buy.
Questions about the requirements:
- Definitely want route navigation?
'Yes' excludes devices such as the Garmin 500 that don't have map display in colour.
- Want heart rate and cadence monitoring?
Yes means you need a device that picks up heart pulses from a chest strap.
- Dedicated cycling GPS or a general purpose 'outdoor' model?
Dedicated ones have smaller screens but look right and don't fill up the handlebars. Some cycle-dedicated models can also do cadence and heart rate. General purpose models display more map, but not enough to get a good view of day's ride. I almost always use a paper map as well to provide a wider context.
- Map purchase
Whatever the outcome of the above questions a big part of the price will be determined by whether you decide to buy proprietary maps (from Garmin) or use the excellent re-purposed OSM mapping data available from http://shop.opencyclemap.org/ In my view the opencyclemap is superior to Garmin's own, but OS mapping data is available for the latest Garmin (model 800) and you may prefer it for the detail it offers (at a high price and only for the UK). If you are going to use the opencyclemap, you should buy a 'bare' Garmin Edge 800 (£245 at http://www.handtec.co.uk/product.php/3510/garmin-edge-800 ) or one of the previous generation dedicated Garmins (Edge 605 or 705) which can still be had at bargain prices around £100. I have had a Garmin 605 for about 4 years and make a lot of use of it. The screen is a bit small but still very useable.
Postscript at April 2014:
Recently I've been recommending the Garmin Edge Touring model to my friends. It's a simplified version of the Edge 800 without any of the sport/training features. It seems to be priced at around £180 ukp without maps.
At the high end there is the Edge 810 at around £300 ukp. As well as the sport/training features it includes Bluetooth for pairing with smartphones to transfer routes to/from mapping apps on the phone.
Even if you get a Garmin without the sport/training features, you can use yor PC or Mac to upload your tracks to strava.com and compare them with your own and other performances.
All the Garmin devices have software/firmware issues which you have to learn to work around. The 800 may be better, I don't have direct experience, but I know that one of the major issues is still there.
And Garmin's proprietary software for PC and Mac is worse. In the next lesson we will learn that you don't need to install any of Garmin's proprietary software on your PC or Mac; open Internet tools are a better way to go.
Become the owner of a Garmin cycling GPS or a suitable Outdoor GPS
We'll progress to the next lesson when a majority of the class are in posession of a Garmin GPS. I hope that will be possible by the end of August.
" previous generation dedicated Garmins (Edge 605 or 705) which can still be had at bargain prices around £100"
What do others think?
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