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  • Wear a helmet. Despite recent advances in medical science, brains still cannot be mended nor replaced.
  • Wear gloves or mitts. Hands often hit the ground first. Cuts and grazes invite infection and a hospital visit.
  • Wear eye protection, it only takes a twig or thorn to lose an eye. Crud catchers are a good idea in mucky weather.
  • When downhilling, for your own protection, allow plenty of space behind the rider in front.
  • Bring a bare minimum emergency tool kit and a spare inner tube.
  • Breakdowns are a bore. Plan not to have any by ensuring your bike is in perfect working order.
  • Punctures are also tedious. You can minimise them by fitting latex tubes, slime tubes or running tubeless tyres.

Photo: CAMMTB Winter 2022-23 rides have been posted up - please click on the Runs List link..

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Should I get a Garmin?

Hi guys,
I know lots of you have Garmins (or similar). I am thinking of getting one - I use my phone, but its battery is knackered and won't even last a cammtb ride.

I am thinking a garmin would be nice, but I would want it for navigation as well as just recording/training, in fact more for this - this then means I would need a pricy one, right?

If I did buy one of the expensive ones, is it right that I can download free maps (Dom, Paul L?) without any further cost?

And then getting a compatible heart rate monitor strap is on top of that?

Are they really worth it?

Re: Should I get a Garmin?

If just the battery in the phone could last longer, the phone was better protected against weather and impacts, and the gps in it was at bit more accurate, then the Garmin would by no means be worth the price. But as long as non of these smart phone manufactures have realised this potential this comparison is not relevant.

So, trying to forget that the touch screen technology and the OS of the Garmin is way outdated compared to smart phones (though having in mind that the smart phone screen does not work when it is wet, so in fact you cannot just blame Garmin for not using exactly the same screens as smart phones) then it is probably the best you can get for mtb use. You should though also consider Mio ( I know people who have tested them and they, as well as internet reviews in general, are quite happy about them.

Regarding free maps you can find them here: . These maps are optimised for mtb use and have all the footpaths ect. included and they are compatible with the build-in navigation facilities in my garmin edge 800. That means it can guide you home from any pub just like the car navigation excepts that it also uses these footpaths.

You will need a heart rate monitor which is ANT+ compatible. I am pretty sure that bluetooth monitors will not work with the newer Garminproducts.

Finally the Gamin computer is not the most flawless gadget you can get. In fact the rate of errors should be tremendous. On the other hand their replacement service is the best that I have ever experienced. Personally I had a lot of problems with my HR monitor in the beginning even though I got it replaced several times. But the third or fourth one worked and have done so for one-and-a-half year now. Then the computer it self started to crash a few time during this summer. It is almost two years old and even though I just send in the computer itself for service they gave me a brand new bundle containing a computer, a HR monitor, and cadence monitor, a charger, ect. in return. So now I have two of everything except for the computer itself and I have got two new years of warranty.

Re: Should I get a Garmin?

Thanks. Hmmm, maybe I should ask for one for Xmas then.

Need to think about whether I would actually use it that much!

Re: Should I get a Garmin?

Having killed my iPhone using it as a bike computer during a particularly wet race at Thetford I decided buying a dedicated gps enabled bike computer was probably a good investment.

As Jonas says getting free mapping is relatively straightforward. Courtesy of Dom I have UK wide OSM mapping and this works very well with the turn by turn navigation capability of the Edge800.

My only gripe with the Edge800 is that on two occasions it has crashed during long rides. At both the Summer Enduro and Dusk til Dawn this year it fell over at about 6 hours into the race. A google search suggests this is not an uncommon occurrence and a number of potential fixes are described. I've just updated the unit's firmware and we will see if this fixes the problem. Apart from that I'm very happy with it.

Re: Should I get a Garmin?

Now just to go out for a 6hr+ ride to test it then!

Thanks Paul.

Re: Should I get a Garmin?

Paul L
... on two occasions it has crashed during long rides. At both the Summer Enduro and Dusk til Dawn this year it fell over at about 6 hours into the race....

That has also happened to me after approximately 10 hours and 180km (but this crash has nothing to do with the crashes that I refer to in my first post. They appeared under different circumstances). What happened when you then tried to restart it? Let me guess, the booting sequence began but after loading maps or something like that it crashed again and then it was caught in this loop? If that was what happened, how did you manage to out of this loop? To my knowledge the only thing to do is to hold all three buttons down for a few seconds to reset the computer to standard setting (i.e. all data is lost ). I know a few other guys who has also experienced that. One of them contacted Garmin regarding this, but they really did not wanted to admit that they have an issue with these very long rides.

The only explanation that we have been able to come up with is that the edge 800 as default logs the way points in the internal memory during the ride. And when the internal memory then is full it crashes instead of give some kind of warning to the user that the current logging sequence has to be saved and a new logging sequence must be started.

The solution may then be to choose to log the ride to the external memory card instead. I have though not been on such a long ride since to test if that solves the problem, and off cause the external 2GB can also run full

Re: Should I get a Garmin?

Hi Claire,

I did it the other way around to Paul - I bought a Garmin Edge 705 bundled with HRM and cadence sensor in 2008 and later loaded View Ranger onto my smartphone.

In the five years that I've had it, I've been most impressed with the accuracy of the Garmin GPS (far better than any of my smartphones, including my iPhone 4S) and the battery life. Pat will back me up on this second point - it will just keep going for ride after ride before it needs charging, unlike my phone. It's tough, waterproof and straightforward to operate too.

I've not been impressed by the cadence sensor, which packed up on the 2008 D2D, nor the barometric altimeter, which appears to show that we are subterranean.

But the screen is quite clear enough for navigating by and if you buy Garmin's maps you can also use it as a car sat-nav. The memory on it is amazing too. I recently downloaded my rides to Garmin's website (Garmin Connect) and it had everything still on the unit going back to when I got it in 2008 - 323 rides (not enough I know). And the solid-state memory still wasn't anywhere near full.

I now use the 'talkie-toaster' free mapping, courtesy of Dom, which is fine for what we do and clearer than the Garmin maps, but not quite as clear as the OS mapping on the Edge 800.

Mine, Jonas and Paul's slight misgivings notwithstanding, the Garmin units are excellent. In the phraseology of Uncle Tom, if I lost mine I'd buy another straight away.

Better get writing to Santa. If he's unavailable, try Santana. Or even Sultana.


Re: Should I get a Garmin?

Hi Claire

Better late than never to join in?

My immediate and instinctive answer is: "Of course you should!" Personally, I wouldn't be without mine, for a variety of reasons. In a vague order of importance, they are:

  • Putting routes onto, which I then follow. If I'm going on a ride round here, or leading a CamMTB ride, I'll almost always do it (and if my battery runs out it leads to multiple circumnavigations of a carpark). If I'm going away anywhere, offroad or on, I definitely always do. When I'm riding, I want to ride, not keep stopping to look at a map, and a GPS allows me to do that easily.

  • Downloading rides from it to my archive (like Pasty, I use Garmin Connect). I'm a bit sad and geeky, so I do find it interesting to see how far/how fast/how much climbed/how heartbeaty a ride was. I do also find it useful to have a record of rides I've done before so that I can repeat ones I like (like the ride I led you all on in the Peaks in May).

  • Use it as a during-a-ride bike computer

  • At a push, use it to get me home if I'm lost or want to curtail a ride. The 'push' comes from the mapping I'm using - it's not great for looking at the bigger picture, and you can't do a route to a location with it - but as Pasty says, you can with Garmin's own maps (the ones that came with mine are fairly crap for offroad and don't look anything like OS, but you can navigate with them - I have to make a choice!). And Paul has found that the mapping I use does give you navigation on an 800. I hadn't heard of the one Jonas mentions - I'll have a look - I wonder if it will work with my 705?

Unlike Pasty, I haven't had any issues with the cadence meter - but I've only used it on my road bike (maybe it's not so good on a mountain bike?). I really like to be able to monitor my cadence on my road bike, but I don't think i'd find it particularly helpful offroad.

What don't I use it for? As a car satnav (I use my phone for that, with turn-by-turn, voice prompts, time till arrival etc etc). As a multi-day trip unit with no battery recharging - my 705 gives me about 12/14 hours, so two full-ish days is its limit, really (but there's always somewhere to recharge). Strava? No thanks. (Sorry, Jonas!)

If my assumptions about what you might use it for are correct, I suspect you're right in that you'd need a higher-end model. I only know about Garmins really, and I like my 705, which is a lot cheaper than the newer 800. Looking at ones that have sold on ebay, you might get lucky and get one for around 100 notes, but 150 looks more common - but that would be with everything you need (sensors and heart rate strap in particular). And yes, the maps that I use and the ones Jonas mentions are free!

Hope this adds more murk to the cloud!

Re: Should I get a Garmin?

I've been using viewranger on my phone rather than my garmin etrex for the last five years. I use either the standard galaxy S3 battery which will give me around 10hours with the gps, mobile data and bluetooth on. I also have an alledged 5000mah battery & extended back panel (£10.00 off ebay) which I get about twice this time on, standard micro usb charging, it has a four inch screen, an 8mp camera, torch, radio, music etc etc etc and excellent gps/phone coverage.
I also use it on my motor bike as a sat nav using a £25 mount and IX64 water proof housing which can also be attached to the handlebars of my MTB. Batteries are easily swappable, I can use a blue tooth receiver for using it wearing a motorcycle helmet, It has the whole of the UK on Landranger 1-50,000, I can down load decent maps in Europe, Americas etc, It has very good free mapping, it has a buddy beacon facility so that I can be found if something goes *its up, you can run shed loads of apps, a bluetooth heart rate chest strap & i've always got it with me!
I last used my etrex in 2010

Re: Should I get a Garmin?

Thanks Duncan, yes the other option would be to get a new phone, would probably have to be an android as I don't find the batteries on apple up to the job.

Re: Should I get a Garmin?

I use an iphone with os maps. lasts for a days ride no problem, although I tend to have in in my pocket. Its tracking the route but the screen is off.


Re: Should I get a Garmin?

Hi Claire,

Just to add that while my iPhone app (Cyclemeter) does chew battery power, I carry a fully charged lightweight spare battery/case with me.

While I've never run out of power yet (except when the phone got cold), it adds flexibility. I can either keep the phone in it, ready to boost it or boost it in the pub later if needed.


Re: Should I get a Garmin?

So does that mean Claire doesn't need to get a Garmin OR a new phone, just use her existing crap-batteried iPhone with a charger-case?


Re: Should I get a Garmin?

Asda are selling Samsung galaxy S3s' for £239.00 at the mo...................that's jeffin cheap
The cheapest I've seen them elsewhere is £299.00 retail was around £450

Re: Should I get a Garmin?

I've been using viewranger on my phone rather than my garmin etrex for the last five years. I use either the standard galaxy S3 battery which will give me around 10hours with the gps, mobile data and bluetooth on. I also have an alledged 5000mah battery & extended back panel (£10.00 off ebay) which I get about twice this time on

Last time I looked at ViewRanger, quite a while ago, I remembered it being quite expensive - as opposed to free! So, I thought I'd have a go and have downloaded it to my Samsung Galaxy S2. On a first glance, I was very impressed with what it does.

However, I thought I'd give it a go today in the real world - well, a car trip, anyway. Trip record and BuddyBeacon were really good. However, battery use was pretty terrible. I used it for just under an hour and a half, and battery went from about 95% to about 40%. I normally reckon to get between 20 and 27 hours from my S2 (which I think is pretty good), on fairly normal usage (phone on all the time, wifi about a third of the time, bluetooth and GPS always on, emails, texts, some internet, BBC News app, an hour or so of music).

- I had the screen on all the time (but then you would if you were using it as a bike computer and/or for navigation, wouldn't you?
- I forgot to use saved maps, so the phone was constantly downloading mapping.
- I had BuddyBeacon on and set to ping every ten minutes.

Anybody know if this sort of battery usage is normal for ViewRanger?


Re: Should I get a Garmin?

Hi Dom,
No this is not normal I get the times stated above. Unless abroad I use maps from the memory card (whole of uk is about 4gb)and infact this year I downloaded some for France and Switzerland before I went. Why do you want the screen on all the time? The screen is the largest user of battery power on any phone (bar a couple of elec paper models) If you come to a junction, touch the screen and there it is or I believe it is even possible to have this happen automatically or at least make
a beep if following a route.
The S2 was also a bit of a battery muncher which luckily was some what addressed with the S3.
I also disable bluetooth when out riding my mtb (not motor bike).
I think viewranger is a tip top app (if you hadn't guessed, one box, one battery, good camera, HD video camera (used it a few times in a case zip tied to my camel bak straps), mine has a 64gb card & 16gb internal memory & a choice of where things are stored, I've used it twice on 2 & 3 day mtb/camping trips this year, even sneakily used it on club rides whilst experiencing **ck it, is this right type moments. I do struggle to fault the s3/viewranger thing....what happened Nokia, we used to get on so well!
They even let you down load & install previous versions of their software if you are not keen on the latest update, and to top everything Dom...........
the company was born in Cottenham, the hub of the Fenland mtb scene.

Re: Should I get a Garmin?

Sadly I think I do need a new phone as it lasts half a day (without GPS). Max 2 hrs with GPS. Sometimes it will last from morning til 5pm if I literally don't use it.