eBent Recumbent Cycling

A Bent Look at Self Contained Touring

Using a GPS as a Bike Computer

with 23 comments

Garmin 60csUpdate: 8/24/2007 – Garmin Maps – Big Price Increase

Update 4/15/2008 – Garmin Maps – Price Increase Continued

I can’t ride without a bike computer.It drives me crazy if I don’t know how the ride is going. I am also a map person and love to look at maps and visualize rides. But I’ve always been resistant to GPS receivers. I always felt I was good enough with maps that I didn’t need any other help. That was until I started following Adventure Cycling Routes.

Part of the reason I didn’t like GPS Receivers was because the first time I saw one was when I was riding through Newfoundland, the GPS only had base maps. I didn’t find that too useful on a bicycle. But things change and I am now hooked on riding with a GPS. I think it’s because the new Garmin’s are easy to love.

Why I Love My GPS

Ever try following an Adventure Cycling Route through New England. If you have you know how great it would be to have help following the route and not have to look at the map every few minutes.

In a car or on a motorcycle if you miss a turn, it is inconvenient. But on a bicycle a missed turn can be a much bigger deal. You often just don’t have the margin to make up for mistakes without some grief. That grief might mean riding for a few extra hours and arriving to the campsite late or it might mean missing dinner. Or worst of all, no beer that night.

Garmin 60cs Big NumbersThe new GPS guide your way and tell you if you missed your turn. The mapping software lets you layout the best route and the GPS keeps you on the route. And, it also makes a great wireless bicycle computer.

I purchased a Garmin 60cs last summer and now it is the only bicycle computer I use. It has nice big numbers and with no wires is a snap to install and move from bike to bike. Knowing what I know now, I should have bought the 60c. The 60cs is great but you really don’t need the electronic compass and altimeter. The better battery life and lower price make the 60c a better choice.

Things I like about the Garmin 60c GPS:

1. Bright Color display, that is readable in bright sun light and in low light.

2. Display back light for dim to dark conditions.

3. Enough memory to hold the maps you need for most bike tours of 1 to 2 weeks.

4. Mapsource software lets me plan the route I want to follow and the GPS keeps me on the route.

5. A bicycle computer display with really big numbers even I can read or a display with smaller numbers and a lot more information. In fact you can pick which items you want displayed on either the big or the small digit display.

6. The GPS tells you how far or close you are to the nearest Campgrounds, Motel, beer, dinner, or what ever you are looking for. And, then it tells you how to get there.

Gamin 60c display

GPS Bike Mount7. A real time display of how far it is to the next turn and a warning if you miss the turn, The GPS also calculates how to get you back on route.

8. A real time map with street names showing where you are.

9. At the end of the ride you can download the route information to your computer and plot your real route and a route profile that shows how much climbing you did.

10. These units are nicely build and very rugged. They aren’t waterproof but I don’t think riding in the rain will be a problem after looking at the seals.

11. The bike mount is very simple to use and very secure. Mounting and removing the GPS is literally a snap.
GPS Mounted on SlipstreamI really love the ability to find things around your current location. If you run out of water you can just search for nearby possibilities and at least make an informed decision on what to do.

Of course, now there is an even better choice now, the Garmin 60cx. The 60cx has more map memory (64 MB versus 56 MB for the 60C and 60cs), an improved receiver that works better under tree cover and uses microSD cards. I might have to get one of these before my cross country ride in 2007.

These GPS receivers make great bicycle computers but are expensive. You can get a 60c for about $320 at Garmin 60c and a Garmin 60cx for about $356 at Garmin 60cx.


Using GPS with Long Distance Cycling – This is a very nice article on how to use a GPS on your bike. It covers the basics but underestimates the value of knowing where is nearest motel, restaurant, campground or store when touring.

More information: GPS for Bicycle Touring

Note: 4/15/08 – I am so upset about the underhanded and sneaky way that Garmin has forced a price increase for maps on their best customers that I no longer recommend their units. I do not believe this is the way that good companies do business, unannounced price increases are just unacceptable.

I have no experience with other brands so I can not comment on other choices.


Written by Roland

April 5, 2006 at 5:02 pm

23 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. The problem I’ve always had with my eTrex Vista is that whenever I go over a serious bump it shuts off because the batteries get momentarily disconnected. I’ve tried a number of clever “packing” systems to snug up the batteries, but nothing seems to work. If I get them too tight the eletronics in the eTrex just go haywire. I just ordered a 60cx on the theory that this problem has been corrected, since you haven’t mentioned it. But just to make sure, you haven’t noticed the unit shutting off when you hit a big bump, huh? (Fingers crossed in a hex sign.)


    June 16, 2006 at 10:44 pm

  2. I have not had any problems with my Garmin 60cs. The case is rugged and looks pretty rainproof. The batteries are held firmly in place and shutting down after hitting a bump is certainly is not a problem.

    We had one of the worst winters ever for road freeze cycles and a sprind with hundreds of roads washed out this Spring in York County area (I live on New Hampshire/Maine Border). Our roads are a disaster and I have hit my share of bad bumps with no problems.

    This case seems to be a common case for them now and looks to me like a very sturdy design..

    My only frustration is that I will create a map in Mapsource and when I install it in the 60cs if I don’t put in enough points it will modify the route. This is not easy to find until you are well into the ride. Garmin does provide a method to check the route by simulating it but that is pretty slow.


    June 17, 2006 at 3:41 pm

  3. Thanks eBent, I just received the 60cx today. Can’t wait to try it out! This is in lieu of getting an heirloom watch that my grandfather gave me fixed, by sending it back to the factory in Switzerland. I decided I can wait on that, and I need the reliable GPS in order to go on safe rides here in NJ, where a wrong turn can get a person into serious trouble.

    Also, it looks like the bike mount has to be purchased separately, and I probably can’t use the one that fits the eTrex. Thanks for the recommendation. Will let you know how it goes.


    June 20, 2006 at 11:18 am

  4. Demosophist

    I think you'll love it. Please update me on X functionality. I'd love to hear how that works. I am planning a 1000 plus mile ride for July and would love to be able to break up memory. 

    Did you get the City Select Maps also? You will find the best prices for the holder and maps on eBay.

    I was very skeptical; about GPS but fell in love with the 2610 and then got the 60CS for the bike. I have really enjoyed the 60CS. If you get stuck or would like some maps of where to ride in New Hampshire and Maine just let me know. I'll be posting some of my favorite rides with linked GPS files.

    Enjoy … Roland


    June 20, 2006 at 12:04 pm

  5. Roland:

    Thanks. I guess I’ll use my Metroguide 4 for the time being, although they don’t list it as compatible with the GPSMap series for some reason. I’ll check on eBay for some good deals, although they don’t seem to be selling City Navigator V7, for some reason. Guess I’ll wait for that, or maybe Metroguide 4 will do me for awhile.

    I’d love to go riding in Maine and NH, but it’s sort of a longish drive from NJ. Maybe I’ll get up there though. I think Rich Pinto lives up in that neighborhood somewhere, or used to. Tell him “hi” if you see him.


    June 20, 2006 at 9:23 pm

  6. The Map Set for the 60c series is City Select and version 7 is available on eBay. City Navigator is used by my 2610, I don;’t think it is compatible with the 60C series.

    I don’t quite understand how maps work for the 60CX series, do you buy them on a ROM or is that just an option?

    You might find it cheaper to buy the Old Version if you can get a great deal and upgrade than to buy the latest version. Garmin explains that on their site.


    June 20, 2006 at 10:14 pm

  7. Roland:

    According to the Garmin website the City Select isn’t recommended for the GPSMap series. They recommend the City Navigator. I’m not sure why, and “compatible” is probably not the same as “recommended.” Strangely, Metroguide Canada is recommended for the GPSMap series though. That’s sort of odd. I can apparently load the Metroguide USA into the unit even though it’s not recommended, because I have. Might not be able to autoroute though.

    Thanks for the ebay tips.


    June 21, 2006 at 11:09 am

  8. Hmmm… Apparently there’s not much difference between Navigator and Select other than the history. Navigator used to be bundled with some products but wasn’t available as a standalone. Now they’ve made it available as a standalone, but are no longer selling Select as a standalone. That’s probably why it’s not listed as compatible with anything other than the GPSMAP 60, although that might also mean it’s compatible with the whole series.

    On the other hand I read where Navigator has more street information, which provides more and better autorouting. That’s according to some of the news groups.

    Sort of confusing, actually. Anyhow, I bought the bike and car brackets and the car power adapter. So I’m good to go there, I think.


    June 21, 2006 at 1:06 pm

  9. City Navigator definitely has more information than City Select. Here’s what I’ve been able to gleam about Maps for the GPSMAP Family:

    City Select is a better choice then City Navigator for the 60CS. City
    Navigator has much larger sections of map and is designed for automotive
    units with more memory then the 60CS. With City Select you can be much more
    selective in the map areas you upload.

    Metroguide is another option, but the current version only supports
    automatic route generation on your PC and not on the GPS, hence the lower
    cost for identical maps.

    There are no other compatible brands that can load maps to the unit. There
    are some free maps available, and instructions for creating your own
    available. Free ones primarily for areas where Garmin does not have maps


    This seems to be the consensus from the Garmin GPS Group. The map size issue won’t be as big a deal for you if you can expand memory.

    Enjoy … Roland


    June 21, 2006 at 4:49 pm

  10. You should send this story to Garmin’s blog. They’re giving away t-shirts to Garmin owners with a cool story. http://www.garmin.blogs.com


    June 26, 2006 at 9:21 pm

  11. Thanks Andy, great tip. I will do it.

    Enjoy the Ride … Roland


    June 26, 2006 at 9:32 pm

  12. I have had the same shut off issues with my eTrex on my bike. I found that packing the battery base with some filler laid in on top of the batteries didn’t work either. I did find that laying in a small part of a rubber band under the battery terminals did. It snugs up the batteries pretty well and I haven’t had problems since. I’ve covered about 3,000 miles since doing this with no issues.

    See the link below:



    July 2, 2006 at 10:40 am

  13. Thanks, Scott – Great Tip


    July 3, 2006 at 5:07 am

  14. I like your solution. Can you show some details on how you mounted the handlebar mount to your adapter which then mounts to your central tube. I have been riding with my GPSMAP60 in various places, including different places on my body but I have recently found that the best place is on my stem. Unfortunately, there is no mount from garmin big enough for the stem of a mountain bike. Been looking at some other altenatives, and came up with one myself, but even that is a kluge using the cell phone belt clip that the GPSMAP60 has to mount into and then tying it down with a bungee cord.


    September 19, 2006 at 10:10 am

  15. Mark, unfortunately I use the stardard Garmin Mount but my Slipstream has a computer mount on the main stay. You can see that mount in some of my posts for example “2nd Ride with Eggbeaters and Shimano Shoes”.

    I am up in the White Mountains this week with the Sat-R Day but will take a more detailed picture when I get home.

    Enjoy The Ride …. Roland


    September 21, 2006 at 3:57 pm

  16. Hi Great article. Just what I was looking to do!
    Where do you buy that bike mount and who makes it?


    May 14, 2007 at 9:26 am

  17. That’s a Garmin part should be available everywhere that sell Garmin.

    You didn’t mention what GPS model you are using, the part varies some by model.


    May 14, 2007 at 11:23 am

  18. Garmin 660 can use this software?

  19. Looking at Garmin’s page for that unit https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?pID=400, it looks like it uses the same software but that the software comes on an SD card not a CD.

    I suspect that Gamin may not support copying the Maps to your own SD card. But that work arounds are available if you search on line.


    April 13, 2008 at 2:11 pm

  20. […] Comments Using a GPS as a Bik… on Garmin Maps – Price Increase C…Garmin Maps – Price … on Garmin Maps – Big Price […]

  21. I found your article while searching the web for examples of GPS on bikes. My bike computer and GPS tend to disagree by a very slight amount ( 1.5 mi on a recent 61 mi ride ), and I’m wondering if this is something other people notice, have opinions on, etc … and whether I’m right to expect the bike computer is more accurate?


    January 15, 2010 at 7:36 pm

  22. […] is an excellent touring tool, the GPSMap 60CSx . I have used this GPS on several long tours (see eBent Review). The battery life is also limited but you can just pop in new AA batteries. The display is also […]

  23. It is always great to share the innovative ideas with others on our demand.That is the main way for the people to know about the good types of techniques to equip it.

    Garmin Gpsmap

    July 9, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: