Mountain biking is a fun way to get in shape and get out of your house and become close with nature. However, it is not possible to know and remember all the trails by heart and you increase your chance of getting lost. This is why you need a GPS for guiding you on direction and navigation on your trails.
GPS for Mountain Biking: What to Consider
Today, the scope of GPS for mountain biking has grown much more to include both navigation guidance and fitness training. Here is a guide to buy a GPS for mountain biking. If you are thinking of buying a GPS for your off-road adventure, you must consider some of the features of the GPS device.
Basic Features That Your GPS Device Should Have
- The GPS device should have a USB connection to make sure that you can connect your device to your desktops.
- The GPS device must be able to track your path and continuously mark your location on screen, to ensure that you can get back to your starting point if you feel you have been lost.
- The GPS device must also give you a reasonable accuracy on tracking the elevation.
- The device must be able to track your speed and distance as accurately as 99.9 percent.
- The device must be able to help you in marking the locations of your interest with an option to add customized title to the location to help you in remembering the location if you need it in future.
Forward-Seeking or Backward-Looking GPS Device
Another important point to consider when you are buying a GPS for mountain bikes is that whether you want the GPS data to guide you forward on your trail or you want a device which helps you in tracking your ride and gives you data to analyze at a later point.
If your GPS device is forward-seeking, it must incorporate features like navigation software, built-in maps and larger storage space along with a bigger screen. This will cost you more than the backward-looking device.
The backward-looking GPS device will help you in tracking the data as you go along. It will also help you in the comprehensive analysis of the data after your ride. However, it will not have detailed routing data.
Use of a GPS Device: Navigation, Fitness or Both
The choice of a mountain bike GPS device depends a lot upon the way you are going to use it. Basically there are two ways in which you can use your GPS device – for the navigational guidance and for fitness training. You can also get a GPS device which features both; however, it will cost you more to buy this type of GPS device.
For navigational guidance, choose a GPS device which enables you to load comprehensive map of the area you are planning to ride. If you want your GPS device to provide you fitness training, choose one which incorporates training software and can be attached to fitness devices like heart rate monitors.
Additional Features to Look for
- Another feature to consider when buying the GPS devices is the mounting option. There are some GPS devices that can be worn on the wrist, but they are not suitable for mountain biking. Most mountain bike GPS can be mounted on the handlebar and the stem of the bike.
- Display size is also an important feature that you should consider. The larger the display, the heavier the device. Therefore, it is important to find the right trade-off between the screen size and weight.
- There are options of choosing a device with rechargeable or replaceable battery.
Best GPS for Mountain Biking: A Buyer's Guide
Garmin Edge 510 GPS Bike Computer
Garmin Edge 510 has all the basic features of a GPS navigation device for mountain bike ANT+ sensor capability. However, there are a few things that make this device different and better from other devices.
The bright colored screen of the cycle computer allows the rider to read the data more clearly than the monochrome screens of other models. The touch screen functions even in rain or if you are wearing gloves.
The best feature of this GPS bike computer is its long battery life of 20 hours. Another feature that sets this cycle computer apart is its ability to connect to your smartphone using Bluetooth. The smartphone then exports the data to the Garmin website for further analysis. This wireless feature makes the data export to the Garmin website very easy.
Sigma Sport ROX 10.0 GPS Set
Sigma Sport ROX features all the basic GPS functions including, speed, distance, time, elevation and temperature. But that is not all. It has some of the advance features of high end bike GPS set like navigation system and ANT+ sensor.
The ANT+ sensor allows the device to monitor and measure your heart rate, power and paddling tempo. It also has a backlight to ensure that your LCD display can be illuminated even in low light conditions. The 1PX7 water resistance feature allows your device to resist one meter of underwater for half hour.
The battery life is for 13 hours, which is more than enough for short rides. However, if you are planning a longer ride, it might just not be enough.
Garmin Edge 1000
Garmin Edge 1000 has all the features that a GPS bike computer should have. But it has several other features which are unique to it. The basic features include the information while you are riding like speed, distance and altitude.
It also includes the temperature display and an altitude display calculated with the help of barometric sensor. The ANT+ sensor compatibility allows the user to train effectively.
The computer is a heavier than usual bike computers weighing at 4 ounce. The 4 inches display is a lot like smartphones with pressure based touchscreen.
The device comes with a small attachable remote, which can be attached to the handle bar. The three buttons in remote are used for scrolling, setting laps and customized function respectively. The battery life of the device, however, is only 15 hours.
CatEye Stealth Evo Plus Bike Computer
If you are looking for an affordable mountain bike GPS which has all the advanced features then CatEye Stealth Evo Plus is the right choice for you. Apart from all the basic features of GPS, Evo Plus has ANT+ wireless compatibility with sensors.
This allows you to train more effectively as it can be paired to any ANT+ sensor. You can also export all the data from Evo Plus to a bike training website for analyzing. It also has the option of backlight to guide you in low light conditions.
You can either set the backlight manually or you can set a time at which you want the backlight to turn on automatically. The only weakness of this device is a low battery life of 10 hours.
Garmin Edge 500 Cycling GPS
The Garmin Edge 500 GPS has a wide range of features which makes it one of the best rated GPS devices for mountain bikes. The device is not only pretty straightforward to use, it is also highly durable and affordable.
The device weighs only 2.1 ounce and is one of the lightest cycling computers in the market. This means that you can go on your ride without worrying about the additional weight of the bulky GPS device. The battery life of Garmin Edge is 18 hours which is pretty impressive. The device can be paired with ANT+ censor to help you in detecting your heart rate, pedal rhythm and power.
The screen will display the real time data of speed, distance, time and elevation which can be customized. This data can be uploaded to the Garmin Connect website through a USB cable for detailed analysis. However, the device cannot be integrated to the