The Device

I bought a new speed/distance computer for my new bike. There are a few large manufacturers of bike computers, but only CycleOps, Bontrager and Garmin support the ANT+ wireless protocol used by the DuoTrap speed/cadence sensor designed for my bike. I eliminated the CycleOps Joule 2.0 because it’s the same price as Garmin’s top of the line model but doesn’t include GPS. I eliminated the Garmin Edge 200 because it doesn’t support power meters, and I might want to buy a power meter in the future.

This left the following candidates:

The Bontrager computers look like solid products at good prices, but I decided to geek out and go with Garmin Edge 800 (more info: absurdly long review, shorter review). I also bought the Bontrager DuoTrap speed/cadence sensor. I didn’t get a heart rate monitor or power meter.

I’m happy with it. I’ve uploaded my rides to Strava, which is pretty awesome. I especially like that it compares your rides to each other and to other cyclists’ rides, and highlights personal records and overall records.

The Map

The bare bones version of the device includes only a base map, which lists major roads but not smaller streets. Useless.

I was reluctant to fork over $80 for Garmin’s complete US street map, so I looked for alternatives. One great option comes care of the OpenStreetMap project. I bought a blank microSD card, downloaded a huge .img file, copied it to the SD card and put it in the device.

It worked, but I wasn’t able to search for streets or cities on the device. I also wanted to be able to pre-create routes on my desktop and transfer them to the device. You can do this using Garmin’s BaseCamp software, but you must first register the map with the software. There are a few ways to do this, but none of them are easy if all you have is a .img file.

After more digging I discovered You pick which sections of the world you’re interested in, then it crunches some numbers and emails you a link to download a handy Windows installer. It works really well.


My only complaint so far is that auto-rerouting generally doesn’t do what I want. I went off-route once and it auto-rerouted me using the shortest path to my final destination, which wasn’t what I wanted at all. I wanted it to take me back to beautiful rolling hills of the Santa Cruz mountains—not through the city streets of Cupertino.

Edit 2012-01-18:
I realized that, with auto-rerouting turned off, the navigation does exactly what I want—it directs me back to my route.

Edit 2019-09-13:
DC Rainmaker has a recent and great post on how to download and install free maps on Garmin Edge devices.

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