Cycle Sat Nav

May 2012  Soon to be upgraded or renamed page  Cycle Sat Nav a long way since this was first published in 2007. Smartphones and apps have come a long way in the last few years and rival some of the dedicated GPS units.

Like the early forays with PDA,s one of the limiting factors is still the battery life, another is a decent mount. A third limiting factor is the reliance on a good GPRS signal to upload all the Google mapping data while on the ride.

Links below no longer work because MotionBased is now GarminConnect.

For phone based logging of rides probably the best at the moment is

used by many as a training aid a basic package is free.


Something that I’m trying to expand at the moment, mainly because I haven’t the foggiest idea where I am going on a group ride.

I used to use an XDA 2s (phone,PDA) with Bluetooth GPS receiver. The mapping software being from Anquet.
This would be a great setup if it wasn’t for the major stumbling block of the system, battery life. PDA,s when in all singing and dancing mode eat batteries and when you have you’ve a mobile phone built into it the last thing you need is a flat battery in a emergency.

The aim is to publish routes on the Google map that riders who rode the route could view maybe read a write up of the ride and view the odd picture taken (badly) on my mobile phone. The  routes  could also be downloaded into a GPS/Garmin handheld. The priority being to get a route overlaid on the map that I can play around with in WordPress(which is what this page is edited with).

Update 09 Oct 2006. I’ve decided to invest in a Garmin Edge 305 with Heart Rate monitor and cadence. I’ve given up with the PDA as trying to navigate a route with the Anquet maps was nigh on impossible despite e-mails to Anquet asking how to do it.
I’ve also purchased a book called “Getting to grips with GPS” which is very good and is up to date.

Update 21 Oct 2006  The Garmin Edge 305 is up and running and it is trully staggering to see what this unit logs and where you where in the world when you were doing it. I’m still getting to grips with it. But I still want to put routes onto the Google Map. The next test is to see if it can track a long CTC ride. It coped perfectly with my round Wirral  ride (46 miles)

Update 25 Oct 2006. Using the Garmin Edge 305 has hit a problem indoors. It doesn’t register calories indoors whilst spinning or any other activity. I’ve been in touch with Garmin and they are saying I have to use a footpod thingy. This appears to be a non starter as the stroke of a pedal revolution is about a third that of a runner. The heartrate monitoring is exellent but I’d have thought they could have worked out calorie expenditure from all the data they have without having satellite visibility. I may have to call on Rays expertise on these matters.Otherwise it may be back to the good old Aldi HRM with calorie counter.

30 Oct 2006 The XDA has been replaced by an all singing dancing MDA Compact 2 from T-mobile with a 2 megapixel camera built in. The ride photographs are taken with this phone. The navigation and route logging is all going to be done with the Garmin Edge 305. The mapping software is going to be the Anquet maps that I currently have.
Anquet has been giving a repreive as the Garmin Edge 305 has logged all the recent routes and been able to show the route on the map once it has been uploaded.
By the look of things routes will be uploaded on to the Motion Based website probably with a Eureka Cafe start or finish. That way everybody can get access to them. Thanks for the link Steve.

03 Nov o6 The CTC ride to the Abbey Arms from the Eureka Cafe has been posted onto the Motion Based website and can be viewed by clicking on the following link.

All of the following routes start at the Eureka Cafe and have been uploaded to the MotionBased site. My starting point is Rest Hill which is between 9 and 11 miles from the cafe.

Link to Google map CTC ride to Abbey Arms

Link to Google map CTC ride to Ice Cream Farm

Link to Google map CTC ride to Dunham Arms

Link to Google map CTC ride Okells Garden Centre

Link to Google map CTC ride to Mold

Link to Google map CTC ride to Kinnerton  AGM

Link to Google map CTC ride to Ice Cream Farm2

Link to Google map CTC ride to Belis,s Garden Centre, Holt

Link to Goole map CTC ride to Blue Moon Cafe and Wirral loop

July 2007 This is just a small selection of the rides I have posted on MotionBased,there are now over 40 on there

More rides will be added as and when I do them. The above rides have ride write-ups and pictures in many cases, under the Routes and Rides category.

I’ve just done a google search for “Cycle Satnav” and seeing as this site is  comes out as number 3 out of 112000 I’ll rewrite this post with the current situation. The PDA solution was only a stopgap. The Garmin Edge 305 probably warrants a category all of its own as it is a superb tool/toy for cycling. Once this section starts to look a bit unweildy it will probably be split. If you’re new to all this click on the hybrid button on the Google map for a superb satellite view. Comments welcome.

For 2007 I’m looking at doing some Audaxes. The first is tomorrow from Cheadle. With a bit of luck The Garmin Edge 305 is going to make the navigation a lot easier. I’ll be posting the route on here if I make it.

Two Audaxes under my belt now and the Garmin Edge has been superb. I’ve also managed to lead a ride to Delamere without having done the route before. It turned out to be good day.

Update 12 July 2007 I notice some phones are now appearing with a GPS receiver built in. I had thought about taking this page down as it doesn’t have much relevance now I fully commited to the Garmin Edge 305. I still think battery life is going to be a problem. Anquet is still a good option if it uses the Windows Mobile platform. The only misgivings I have with Anquet  is that it a closed system and you cant do much with it as it doesn’t export GPX files.

Update 4 Nov 2007 I fired up the T- Mobile MDA the otherday as I found the Bluetooth GPS receiver. Once synced up it worked ok. If the worst comes to the worst I could put the receiver in the saddle bag and still have tho option of pouring over a map on a ride. I’ve got all of Wales and central England on the micro SD memory card and there is still a load of space left. Come phone upgrade time I’ll be looking for one with GPS built in.

Update 29 Jun 2010  Things have moved on a great deal since I started all this. The Iphone with built in GPS has rewritten the rules for satnav with a host of low cost apps and some dear ones like Tom Tom. Battery life is still a problem when in all singing dancing mode and it helps if you have a strong GPRS signal so don’t get lost in the middle of nowhere and rely on a downloaded Google Map on GPRS.
Nokia and Sony Erricson all have good devices that will log your rides, again at the expense of battery life.

58 thoughts on “Cycle Sat Nav”

  1. Frank,
    I’ve been reading about Garmin 305 Edge and it sounds useful but how do you plan a route and upload it to the unit (so that you can follow a route on the bike). Is it possible to plan a route using minor roads, tracks and bridleways?


  2. Thanks for the comment Chris.
    I should really rewrite this whole section now that I’m using the Edge all the time.
    If the minor road or track appears on a Google map your in luck it isn’t going to cost you a penny more. Ray and I use to generate routes to upload into the Edge. The GPX file generated by Marengo is then uploaded into the Edge by GPSBabel another free utility.

    In use you would go into settings on the Edge and select Navigate and select the route. A compass page can be selected and that points you in the direction of the next waypoint. There is another option of doing a Course which is a slightly different route designed more for training. Very basic maps (poor) come with the Training Centre Software to outline your tracks (the log of your ride when you press the start button)

    I originally started just logging rides to get a history of where I went on other peoples rides. I also upload the rides to Motionbased so I can export the ride as a Google Map (See above links)

    I also use OS Digital Mapping software from Anquet which I already had from the PDA days. The problem with OS software is that 1:50,000 doesn’t include roadnames whereas Google Maps (free) does. Just use the zoom buttons on google maps to see what I mean.

    In practise non GPS riders use roadnames at junctions to navigate they don’t use latitude/longitude etc and a map. It’s much the same with the Edge, place the waypoint at the junction but name it as RT1 and as you approach the junction the Edge will bleep RT1 (mnemonic Right Turn 1)and a heading in 10 seconds and give you a countdown to the turn in seconds and in feet.

    The proof of the pudding was leading my first ride with 9 other riders not having ridden the route. I had no map to fall back on and my knowledge of much of the area was low. I’ve only been riding with a group since last July so there is no way on gods earth that I can aquire that much route and area knowledge in such a small timeframe.

    Consider the Edge 205 if you don’t need heartrate or cadence data it,s a fair bit cheaper.

    Hope this has been of some use.



  3. I am interested in buying a device such as the Edge 205. I will be doing LE to JOG this summer and wanted something that I could used like a sat nav in a car. From reading your comments I would have to program the route in first – can the Edge 205 cope with a route of this length?

    Thank you.

  4. John, thanks for the comment. An Edge 205 may cope with the LEJOG but not in one go. There is a 100 waypoint limit in an Edge and that is clearly not enough for atrip of this length. It may be possible to do it as a course as there are a lot more points to play with.
    If you were riding with backup/support and a laptop I would say yes, without it no. You’d need to program your route in for each day. There is also a problem with battery life. 12 hours maybe, and then you need to recharge it, the batteries are not replaceable.
    Have a look at a Garmin Etrex Legend it takes batteries and has a 24 hour battery life.

    In the meantime try the Marengo-Ltd link on the site, it’s not going to cost you anything and will give you a good grasp of what problems you may come up against.

  5. Hi Frank,

    Wow, your blog is trully inspirational. I’ve decided to invest in a GPS device as well, to motivate me to work-out more and add some variation to my routes.

    I am wondering how you are getting along with the Garmin Edge 205. If you had to do it all over again, would you go for the same model or would you chose another one with more features. For example, I’m thinking about the Garmin Etrex Legend CX, for its ability to add maps.

    HR monitoring is not that important to me, I have a Polar 720 for that..

    Thanks for your input, and keep up the good work (and the rides! 🙂 )


  6. Hi Loukas,
    It’s the Edge 305 that I use which differs from the 205 in that it has a barometric altimeter as well as heartrate and cadence.
    The barometric altimeter means it can display gradient in realtime, this is is the best feature ever for a cyclist.

    I’ve no use for maps, I’m either riding and logging somebody elses route or I’m navigating a preplanned route. By all means try the Etrex Legend CX but I wouldn’t be without the cycling specific features of the Garmin Edge 305.

  7. Hi Frank,

    Sorry for that, it is indeed the 305 you have! 🙂

    I guess I’ll be going for the 205 myself, seeing as I don’t need the HR. I’ve read your comments on a bicycle forum regarding the usefulness of the gradient function of the 305, but I can’t justify the extra expense.

    Thanks again for your input!


  8. Hi Frank,
    Bought myself the edge 205 after reading your articles.Been trying to use Marengo route planner for gps. Have you used this on your 305?if so any tips you have would be grate. Having a mare trying to download ‘babel’

    Happy cycling


  9. Hi Frank,

    Excellent site! Just doing some research into the 305 and found your resource. Do you know how the 305 handles minor roads and tracks? I’ve seen other GPS systems whose base maps don’t have very minor roads marked on them.


  10. Hi Brian,
    the 305 is not a map based device.Take a look the Marengo site and use the zoom button to see what level of detail you can get. Or just click on the ride links to see what the level of detail is. I’ve done over 40 rides now on Motionbased. You could follow these as a Course or navigate them as a route, there is a difference between the two. For the road and minor roads I can’t fault it, I can’t vouch for it offroad but it logs everthing so you get a very detailed track of where you have been when uploaded to mapping software.


  11. Frank,
    I have recently purchased an edge 305 and I have been trying to upload some waypoints using gpsbabel. However, it keeps failing. I was therefore wondering if you would not mind providing the syntax that you use.

    Many thanks,


  12. Gordon, Try ticking the output boxes, if you just want waypoints you need to tick the waypoint tick box. I’ve pasted this from the tutorial. Sounds like I need a picture of the Babel screen.

    Next to What tick Waypoints and Routes

    Next connect up your Garmin Edge 205/305 it should have no Routes and no Waypoints in it. If it has delete them now. Deleting just the Route doesn’t delete the Waypoints you need to go into Waypoints and select Delete All. That done it is time to download the Route into the Edge.

    Click the Lets Go box and you should rewarded with:

    gpsbabel.exe -p “” -w -r -i gpx -f “C:\Documents and Settings\My Documents\Z8mileTT.gpx” -o garmin -F usb:


  13. Hi Frank

    Thanks for putting this site together.

    I’m still playing with my 305. When planning a route on Marengo, where is the best place to locate a waypoint in relation to a road junction/turn? I found that to accurately place a waypoint you have to increase the scale (ie go for maximum detail) on Marengo. I’ve tended to plot the route at a lower scale, and then tidy them up by increasing the scale and fine-tuning their placement. However, I still haven’t worked out if it’s better to place them right on the junction, a bit before, or a wee bit down the new road after the turn.

    I’ve also seen a problem when plotting waypoints on a homeward journey that are close (or identical) to some on the outward journey. I’m not sure how it knows which one to follow – is it to do with the numeric numbering? I also set up a a more or less circular route with the start/finish at the same location, and despite starting navigation, it didn’t spring into life at any of the waypoints.

    You probably know this, but running an external USB power pack allows you to charge the unit on the move. My one takes four AA batteries. I connected it to the USB port on the Garmin, keeping it alive for the duration of a 400k audax.

  14. David, it’s a personal thing, I like to place them near to the junction, Ray who Emails me routes likes them a bit before as if he is at the back of a group he can shout the upcoming turn out.

    If you have points to spare you can put extra points after the turn to make sure you are on the right road. The routes is followed numerically so it shouldn’t get confused.

    Leave a gap at the start and finish at the same location. The 305 gets confused and thinks you have finished the route as soon as you start it. Stop the Route and restart it further up the road and it should pick it up.

    I’ve mixed results with my homemade USB charger, it is OK in cafes and control points but I hadn’t fully sorted the on bike charging of it properly and it ended up bouncing down the road on one occasion.

  15. Hi Frank

    Thanks very much for that. I’ll just need to experiment with placing the waypoints. When I’m on the bike I can’t be bothered to stop and correct itor make notes, and when I get back home I can’t remember which waypoints it got early/late.

    Is there a way to retrace a route (ie, get back home following the waypoints you put in for the outward journey)? I see there’s an option to ‘go back to start’ but I haven’t read the manual to discover how this works!

    I put my USB battery device in my saddlebag (to keep it dry and secure) and ran the USB cable along the bottom of the top tube, using velcro ties to keep it in place. It seems to work great. I think the Garmin draws power from the USB battery first (as if it were plugged in to a computer), and then when that runs out it will then go onto its internal battery. For even longer rides, it should just be a case of filling up with some more AA’s.

  16. Great site,
    Real usability reviews of sat-navs for cycling is long overdue.

    My son (mark) has been riding with the ride earth project ( They have solved the battery problem with the Freeloader Solar Powered Charger at:

    having used it for 3 months continuously while away from any normal power sources – he and his collegues swear by the device. and its very “green”. no, i’m nothing to do with the company, just like cycling and green issues.

  17. Are there any internet map based search programs for cyclists which can choose the route of lowest overall gradient when plotting a course?


  18. Colin, I don’t think there is. The Google based sites don’t include any elevation data. If your looking for flat routes I think you’ll have to try one of the didital OS maps. The Edge counts all elevation changes not just contour lines on a map. The digital OS maps aren’t that expensive if you are selective with the area you want to ride. MotionBased gives an elevation profile for peoples stored rides. There are tens of thousands of rides on there.
    Look at some of the routes that runners send in, they tend to be flatter but maybe not long enough.

  19. This blog is great news. Am planning to ride from Yorks to house I own in Marche Italy this summer and had been wondering about navigation. Does anyone know if you can charge a phone or GPS/Sat Nav direct from a hub dynamo? I note the Garmin will charge from a USB which is at 5v.

  20. Pete, your going to need some sort of regulation. This should be a 7805 type voltage regulator. There are some other regulator articles on the following link.

    Alternatively I’ve built a charger to be used on the move that uses 6 AA cells. A ride of that length is going to take multiple routes. A garmin Edge is going to be a bit limited with it’s 100 waypoints. I would say it is OK for routes up to 200Km.

    USB charging is 5v @ 500mA max.

  21. HI am Looking at the new garmin 605 or 705 looks a better option for sat nav capabilities. Not on sale till end of feb though.

  22. Hi Julie, I’ve been waiting for months now with still no sign of one. If you can live without cadence or heartrate have a look at the Etrex models. It’s not going to be cheap to get a 705 up and running with the maps you need to buy on top. Also 205’s are going on ebay for £60 now and Ray doesn’t have any trouble on the rides.
    We don’t take a map and the route sheet is superfluous too. We just ride until it bleeps with the turn direction.

  23. Hi, I’m possibly looking to buy a satnav to use on my bike. I’m looking to use it mainly on roads. Will it work like a car sat nav? In that it will tell you when to turn left or which exit to take on a roundabout or whatever road situation occurs.

  24. nick the Edge that I use bleeps when you reach a waypoint but that is on a preplanned route. For your roundabout problem you’d name the exit. It’s basic compared to some of the car satnavs but you’ve got more time on a bike to enjoy your ride.
    It logs your ride when you press “start” so lets you build up a history of your rides. There are no voice prompts.
    You get back as much as you put into it. I only use Routes for events such as Audaxes where it excels. No maps or routesheets just ride with the map mode or the compass pointing to the next waypoint.
    The bike mount is very secure. I used to use a mobile phone but gave up after it bouunced own the road twice.

  25. So I would just need to program in waypoints for every time the route turns or something?
    I would like to use it in places where I’ve never been before so I dont want to end up lost

  26. Hi Frank, Having owned a Garmin Etrex Summit for several years, I decided to buy an Edge 705 as soon as I could get one. I also purchased MemoryMap at the same time, Amazon had messed up on pricing and the Premier edition was priced as a standard edition! It only became apparent upon receiving all these new toys that one doosn’t talk to the other. This is not made clear at all on the MemoryMap website. They say are working on it, as I’m sure you’re aware. In the meantime, the only successful way I’ve found of getting anything into the Edge is by setting my route on and downloading it as a course. I am due to participate in my first ever Sportive on Sunday week and would love to load the route as a “route”. Is there any way I can do this without spending even more money? Many thanks.


  27. BentSpike. Try the Marengo tutorial save your GPX file to your documents and then open up Mapsource and load the route into Mapsource. Then send it from Mapource to to your Edge. GPS Babel currently doesn’t work with a 705. This is how I planned last weekends ride.
    A Route is far better than a Course on an event as you are getting turn information just when you need it.
    You should be fine even with a basemap in MapSource.


  28. Frank, I have experimented with Marengo this morning and it’s looking good. However, the only copy of MapSource I own is years old and will only let me connect through a serial connection, which neither of my current computers have. I have heard that I should have a current copy simply by owning the Edge but at Garmins site it states that:

    “WARNING: This software will not work unless you already own a MapSource product”

    Without a current copy of MapSource, I don’t hink I can make use of Marengo and it’s back to using courses rather than routes.

    Yours confused!


  29. Andrew, download the latest version of Mapource and take it from there. You do own a MapSource product it is the basemap that come with your shiny new Edge. You be able to select between basemap and none.

  30. Hi Frank,

    Audax and training for me but 305 or 705. Which one? 305 looks simplest and best value but battery life worries me with a few 400 + coming up – Could just get faster!!!


  31. hi Frank

    I have never looked for a sat nav for a bike ride – I enjoy getting lost then tracking back home. August I shall be attempting Lands End John O Groats over 9 days. Will a sat nav be of use for this type of ride? which one would you recomend and has any one already got a plan to cover 100 miles a day route that I could down load, why invent the wheel!!!!

    Great info



  32. Ivan, a 705 is a lot better than a 305 as you will see what road you are ridding on rather than a waypoint 10 miles away.
    Edge 705 has a 15 hour battery life in it’s internal lithium battery. You are going to have to recharge it as it doesn’t have replaceable AA,s like the Etrex models.
    You could just let the 705 plan your 9 days riding unless you want to visit something specific. Just set the destination each day.
    I don’t know if you will be able to log the full route without an upload to a laptop or computer.
    There are some useful guides to GPS on the Audax Uk site.
    Good luck with the ride.
    You don’t NEED a GPS but they are useful for logging your journey.
    Don’t leave it until the last minute as the learning curve is steep.

  33. It’s really great what you are doing here. Keep it up.

    I am a runs leader for a CTC group and I use Garmin products and Tracklogs to plan and run our routes. I started with a Foretrex in 2006, graduated to an Edge 305 and after a year of frustration, went back to a Foretrex.

    I was responsible for hammering Garmin to fix several bugs on the Edge 305 in 2006/7. By day, I’m a purchasing manager at Ford and I used my leverage with the US nav-product buyer to get them to fix several bugs. I discovered a dozen really stupid ones that caused chaos with CTC rides- that no decent company should release onto the unsuspecting public, let alone give excuses for and only (still) fix half of them. I had to send screen grabs to them and sample files to prove the point. I have a deep mistrust of their new products!

    By the way, the Edge 305 still doesn’t have a permanent Odo function! Garmin’s head man says it doesn’t need one! Clearly he doesn’t cycle. The virtual racing partner also cheats or loses itself, with perfect location and reception!

    To my point: everyone is overlooking the Foretrex. It is cheap, small, batteries last long, it WORKS and is reliable. It has a decent cycle computer, with an Odo function and the navigation system is quite useable. The legends are more visible from a distance than the edge 305 too. It doesn’t have some of its bells and whistles – but hey, for £75, what the heck! It is perfect for Audaxes and has proven itself over several thousand miles. When you are out there, 60 miles from home, reliability is the name of the game.

    I use it with Tracklogs. I plan the routes beforehand and upload them through the serial port. I love gadgets and it’s fun to try out the new stuff but for reliable route planning, one should really acknowledge the simple usability of the Foretrex. I keep a site for my CTC group at which has our routes in Tracklog form, some reviews of tracklogs and the Foretrex.

  34. Chris, thanks for the comment. That’s a nice site you are running there. I’ll put a link to the gear calculator on the “Bikes” page as it is really usefull.

    Edge 305 uses TrainingCentre for it’s Odo function or at least that’s the way I see it.
    Got to agree with you about Garmin releasing bugged products to us cyclists. If they did the same for the Auto products there would be chaos.

    I’ll take a look at your Etrex review as I liked the pdf format of the Edge 305 review. The site is coming up to it’s second birthday and is becoming a part time job to keep it all up to date.

  35. I couple of my CTC clubmates turned up with a 605’s last Sunday. I had to laugh, all I could hear as we went along was a series of exclamations as the device instructed U-turns. Clearly there was no option for ‘choose the most picturesque route between A and B, avoiding hills, nasty junctions and using the most meandering lanes possible’.

  36. They probably had it set to link to road and didn’t tick avoid Major Roads on the routing. There is a steep learning curve to using a GPS to navigate.

  37. Well maybe you canhelp me out – I’m taking up cycling again & having got dreadfully lost last weekend I’ve decided I need a sat nav I can use in both the car & when cycling. I’m not a techy head, so the simplest solution would be best.
    What would you recommend & where would you recommend I buy it from? By the way my phone is an SPV E650 – I’m not sure what relevance that has – maybe you can enlighten me? (Told you I wasn’t a gadget head!)
    What would you say?

  38. Beggy, there is no easy answer to that question as no one device covers all eventualities.
    A car sat nav is great in a car but out on a bike you going to have problems mounting it on the bars and the battery life is only three hours.
    Battery life will also be a problem with your phone which would work with a Windows Mobile package. Anquet would give you OS maps but no routeing.
    A Garmin Edge 605/705 with a map would get to where you needed to go but wouldn’t give you voice directions. Maybe a bit of overkill as it is mostly about all the data it captures.

    I’d think I’d start off with a £99 Auto model with GB maps. Don’t go for a widescreen model as it will be bulky in a pocket. That way if you get lost switch it on and let it find you a route home or to a place you have saved. You also get full postcode routing, the maps are built in and they work straight out the box.

    If it doesn’t work well on the bike it’s still usefull for the car.
    I’ve all three, I use the Garmin Nuvi for the car to get me to event starts and the Garmin Edge for the ride which I have planned.
    The smartphone stays at home as the bluetooth GPS receiver is one box too many.

    Hope this helps,

  39. OK thanks – I think what I’d probably do would be to have one for the car with voice directions which I can then carry in a back-pack while I’m cycling, just for emergencies as you say.

  40. Someone told me of a trick with using Garmin Pre-loaded SD cards with Training Centre. Copy the .img file off the SD card onto your desktop. Make sure your SD card is safe and then, rename the file on your desktop to the same name as the .img file in the garmin training centre program folder’s basemap file and drag it over to replace it. Apparently it works on PC’s. Unfortunately I have a mac and it doesn’t. Let me know if anyone has success in this.

  41. Thanks for that Chris, I might give it a try once I’ve got a recent SD card map. I’ll copy this comment over to the 705 page. Thanks again, it’ll help a lot of people out.

  42. I too get hopelessly lost on my ‘TFL’ cyclist route to and from work. It’s getting me down to the point of giving up. Does the £99 Auto model with GB maps give voice instructions? I simply can’t imagine how it works given that I’m not even a driver prefering to walk or take public transport instead. I have a Sony Ericsson C902 phone – might that help?

    Congrats on the website by the way – very insteresting – gives me a bit of hope!


  43. Marianne, An Auto model will give you turn instructions but can only route you on roads. It can’t cope with paths, Cycle paths and parks.
    It not going to practical on a bike.
    A Garmin 205 doesn’t have a map but you can ride a Route or a Course, see the 305 Route Planning Tutorial.
    A Garmin 605 has maps but you also have to factor in the purchase of a Garmin map.
    Some of the Nokia phones have GPS built in.
    Garmin 205,s were £50 in my local PCWorld. You could do your ride and save it as a Course to ride again another time.
    Once familiar with it you can then use the Google Route Planning sites to plan a ride without haven ridden it.


  44. Frank,
    I read on this page and the one that explains courses, that you say there is a limit of 100 waypoints that limit the length of a route on the Edge/Forerunner series..
    Though there is indeed a limit of 100 waypoints in total.. And routes created on the Edge/Forerunner are made by “stiching together” previously created waypoints. That way the 100 points limit applies.
    But using my website ( the Routepoints, are by default not saved to the Garmin Device as waypoints. (but can be as an option). Routepoints that do not have a corresponding waypoint in the device will still be displayed on the screen when following a Route.

    Not sure what the limit for the quantity of Routepoints is though. Have heard something in the range of 17000!

  45. Henk, an Edge 305 has a 13,000 routepoint limit. There is a memory overhead if you use CoursePoints but no one has worked it out yet.
    Coursepoints are really handy as they give you the same functionality as a waypoint but without the 100 Waypoint limit.

  46. Hi Frank,
    A few of us are completing the Trans pennine trail west to east , for charity this June. I was wondering which satnav system is best to purchase, would it show the whole route (roads, canal paths etc..) and does it give directions?? I have just got back into biking and just like to ride and enjoy ..not think too much!!


  47. Hi Frank,

    Do you know of a device which you can just put the postcode in like a car sat nav and it will give you a good biking route?



  48. Becky, I think you want to look at the likes of the Garmin 705 with maps. It won’t give you postcode routing but you could always download the free National Cycleroutes. Planning your rides is a far better option than having a device route you to a destination.
    GPS phones are good at tracking your rides.

  49. Hi Frank,

    I’ve been following your blog for some time and the Garmin stuff is gold dust, I’m pretty IT savvy but I really struggled with my 305 at first and it was great to find some practical help.
    Just wanted to offer something in return, I’m a pro photographer and have the kit to take close ups of the Gramin screen which I think would help some of the explanations. If you like I can do some for you (I have a 305 but I’m not far away if you want some of your 705) no charges of course.

    Andrew Williams

  50. Thanks Andrew, that would be great. I currently upload the pictures to Flikr so how does that affect your copywrite?.
    The 705 page get about 2500 hits a month and has attracted nearly 400 comments in a year. It probably warrants a couple of page rewrites.
    I’ll be in touch.

  51. Frank, thanks for the wonderful advice on using the Garmin 305. I think mine would have ended up an an expensive paperweight were it not for the details you have published on how to use tracks and courses. I use a mac (sorry if another post has pre-empted this) and offline software for mapping is very thin on the ground. Routebuddy software does seem to be improving slowly however and I can now plot a course and send it to my Garmin. You have commented on the fact that OS maps are not much good for cyclists as they do not show road names. I have the detailed road map of the UK loaded behind a local 1:25k os map. So I see the OS map but when I hover the curser over a road it shows the name!

  52. Hi Frank,

    I have been a long time Garmin 305 user – loved it for mountain biking here in South Africa! I mostly use it to keep track of my routes and training (rather than for directions). I would love to have something that can give me directions since I often get lost! I live close to the routes for the ABSA Cape Epic, it would be fantastic to ride the route, map it, and then ride it again with the aid of GPS directions.

    My 305 is synced to a program called ‘Ascent’ on my Mac (it works like a charm!) I get all the data I need. I’m not sure if there has been a firmware update since you had your 305, but mine does do calories indoors (I simply need to change the variables from distance / exertion to time / exertion on the graph and it shows me my calories burned).

    Thanks for your information. I’m getting my 705 this week – I’m training for a 3 day stage ride (280 km’s over three days, over the mountains near Cape Town – the ride is called wines2whales. So I am looking forward mapping my training and the ride itself.

    Here are one or two routes I’ve ridden in South Africa (the Cliffs of Mossel Bay and an ‘epic’ ride in the in the Helderberg near my home. Here’s an early post when I changed from my Polar 625 to the Garmin 305.


    Dion from Cape Town, South Africa

  53. Hi Frank,
    Not sure whether you still use this or not but it’s worth a shot. I’m currently planning a tour to from London to Norway. (Using the North Sea Cycle Route). The maps for this route are very expensive, do you think it would be a better option to invest in a GPS device? If so, what model would you recommend?


    1. Hi Matt, I’d reccomend the Garmin Edge 800 . It has a 15 hour battery life and you can download the free OSM maps but I don’t know how detailed they are for Norway. The Cycle OSM maps have the NCR cycle paths on them. It is a steep learning curve to go from maps to a gps device like an Edge 800.
      OS maps for the UK are also available for the 800, A map bundle costs about £50 extra for the whole of the UK which is a good deal.

  54. I was curious if you ever thought of changing the page layout of your site?
    Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could
    a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it
    better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1
    or 2 images. Maybe you could space it out better?

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