Iphone or GPS?

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by ruffntuff, Apr 18, 2012.

  1. ruffntuff

    ruffntuff TUFRDR

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    Does anyone have any thoughts on the best/easiest/most reliable/durable way of navigaing on a bike trip from Virginia to Alaska and back? I've been looking into the Iphone but since it's not made for exposure to the elements I'm not sure it would be a good idea...plus not sure about how good service will be in BC. Also, i'm a total technology idiot so too many bells and whistles freak me out. I've never used a GPS, so I have no idea what to look for in that department either.
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  2. UtahFox

    UtahFox Been here awhile

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    From my point of view, if you're going to be in service range most/all of the time - why not? I have an Android which I can listen to music and get audible directions to my Scala G4. You could have it powered in a tank bag or even in a pocket. I've been looking at GPS units all morning and I think I am going to get a Garmin Montana for the backcountry road thing (if I don't just use a paper map), then my phone for navigation while on the road.
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  3. beechum1

    beechum1 Grimace Soup

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    droid does. I have the EVO since it came out. I use it for GPS and music. Whatever phone you go with, if you do, make sure it has real GPS and not the Agps, which just uses towers to triangulate position.

    oh, and dual sport maps dot com has an android app for backcountry stuff too.....
    #3
  4. Gruesome

    Gruesome Alter Heizer

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    Maybe both, for redundancy? Some handheld units (I got a Garmin 60csx) are a bit more rugged than an iphone. The screen is big enough if you mount the unit on an extender arm (see below for my setup) from the handlebar.

    Potential downsides of phone:
    - no map without phone connection (depending on application; certainly the iphone google map doesn't update without cell phone connection)(*** but see added info below);
    - touch screen might not work through waterproof case (the ones I've seen don't).

    My mounting setup (complete with 2007 cyclegadget prices...):
    Code:
    PL-PPC-002  $28.95      1     Straight Garmin power cord with PowerLet Plug
    RAM-9M      $18.00      1     9mm Mounting Hole
    RAM-COMP    $8.00       1     Compact Base / Cradle Ball Adapter
    RAM-GPS60   $7.50       1     Garmin GPS60 Cradle
    RAM-LONGARM $17.00      1     5-1/4" Black R-A-M Arm
    ADDED: On my new phone, Google/Android 'Labs' (under settings/labs when viewing a map) in android 4.0.4 has a 'pre-cache map' extension that downloads google maps for offline (no cell phone) use. No satellite view though.
    #4
  5. bomber60015

    bomber60015 Anatomically Correct

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    I suppose it depends on your carrier, but just riding around in Northern Illinois and WIsconsin, I loose cell coverage on a regualr basis the further west (and the more into the Thulies) I go, the worse the coverage becomes -- I can't imagine that you'd be in any better shape for at least 50% of your trip . . . .

    If it was me, I'd by the best garmin I could afford (search for refurbed units) and go that route.
    #5
  6. Garp

    Garp Long timer

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    Garmin has a Streetpilot app that downloads maps of North America to your iPhone so you don't need a signal (which would get expensive when roaming in Canada)

    http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/garmin-n.-america/id435740864?mt=8

    The interface is pure Garmin, which is good. The downsides are that the phone isn't going to take any exposure to the elements, so you'll need to keep it covered, and it's difficult to work with when you are wearing gloves.

    If money is no object I'd get a Zumo that is waterproof and designed for motorcycle use. If that's not an option, then a waterproof handheld GPS with a handlebar mount is good. I used a 60CSX in the past.

    If you already have the iPhone, then the Garmin software is a cheap option. Keep your eye's open as they often knock it down 50% and it's hard to beat for $30
    #6
  7. Velocifer

    Velocifer Been here awhile

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    app to work properly
    I've used the Navigon app in Europe with all the telephone functions disabled. It's a proper gps receiver on its' own.
    I've used it as an adjunct to my Zumo 550.
    The iPhone is a power hog when using GPS. I keep it powered using a Powerlet adapter. It's also great with Bluetooth into the helmet..
    There are plenty of sturdy cases available for the phone
    #7
  8. squish

    squish Out of the office.

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    waterproof or treated paper Map.

    No really then I'd bring a durable GPS I use a Garmin 60csx, But I don't use the Garmin for telling me how to get somewhere.
    I use it to tell me where I am. Then I use the map to show me the options on where to go.

    Then I pick them out.

    Last is the smart phone as the GPS and map back up device.
    #8
  9. daught

    daught Adventurer

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    To my surprise the iPhone has the best GPS receiver from any phone I tried. I used to use a N95, but the iPhone is 10x better. Dunno where this notion that they have weak GPS comes from. I thought so myself for a while but I have perfect tracks from when I go trail riding with my bicycle. My friend's galaxy takes a while to lock in. The iPhone is almost instant.

    There are numerous apps that store the maps on board. I tried a bunch of them and Navigon is my favorite with Garmin right behind it. Navigon has very nice routing options and it's quite easy to create routes with multiple waypoints. You can skip/add points as you go through your route. Browsing the map for that one road you know it's somewhere on there kind of sucks. Garmin is much better at that. Browsing through the map is much more detailed.

    It also has strong topo map software. GPS-kit and MotionX are great.
    #9
  10. PDsgt

    PDsgt Realistic about life

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    I tried to navigate using my I-Phone on my bike, and I will say that the screen is pretty small to see directions while you are riding. Thats just me though. YMMV.
    #10
  11. mikemaycga

    mikemaycga Adventurer

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    I have been using GPS for a long time now and have concluded that it is at best a navigation aide. If you don't know where you are going, it can take you on the wrong path. the consequences range from a minor annoyance to potentially dangerous. More than once, people pointing out "you went through what part of town - were you trying to get killed?"

    I plan my trips on google maps or using a high quality water resistant map. The paper map sits in my map pouch on the tank bag. A garmin Montanna sits on the handle bar to let me know where I am and to help with routing. My iPhone has Navigon loaded and it seems to provide the best highway routing. I'll keep that in the map pouch as well on major city routes, but the iPhone needs to be powered since GPS navigation consumes a lot of power. The iPhone also gets really hot when navigating so it can cut out on a hot day, so it's just not reliable. Plus, the touch screen is wonky or unusable with a waterproof case. Try connecting a water proof case to power - it doesn't happen. Navigon does not need a 3G connection so it works anywhere, as long as you are getting a GPS signal.

    All of my Garmins have crapped out on me, so I don't trust the hardware at all. Having said that, they do repair/replace them but I have extended warranty on the Montanna because I know it will break within 2 years. There are a lot of map options on the Garmin and that keeps me using their hardware.

    A paper map gives better situational awareness of the various route options and it continues to work without power or view of satellites. That's why paper maps are my primary route device. The garmin is the navigation aid and the iPhone is my source of music and gps back up. That combination ensures I am never disappointed.
    #11
  12. Lost Rider

    Lost Rider Roadie

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    I've rode to Alaska, I have a iPhone with the new Garmin all-included Streetpilot app, I have an opinion on the matter.
    There's no cell service most of the way past Saskatoon.
    For the most part you don't need a GPS for Alaska trip, as once you get to BC there's only one road most places you are going; no navigation needed!
    It does come in handy for calculating distance to gas, but again, the whole way to Alaska there was never more than 100 mile between gas or lodging. Imagine that, people expecting other people to drive/ride to Alaska during the summer months. Not including the far over-rated and incredibly wasteful trophy ride chase to get past the Arctic Circle.
    I rode up through Alberta from Chicago, rode down through BC and crossed over in Idaho. YYMV.

    Now, if you're on a limited budget, you'll need to save money on a GPS to pay the $9 a gallon fuel, $15 a burger, $8 beers, $175 a night crappy motels, let alone the $300 chains, or $275 front tire prices you'll find in the Great North. If you can afford it, a stand alone GPS like a Zumo, or Montana with fancy bike mount is also cool to play with while bored as hell riding the long ass boring roads, XM works pretty far up if that's your thing.

    If you have an iPhone already, buy the Garmin app with Canada for $60, get a LifeProof case + mount and a Bike USB charging plug to charge the iPhone while riding on your bike, save your money for the uber-expensive trophy trip and have fun! If you don't have an iPhone, go get one, because if you don't have an iPhone, well, you don't have an iPhone. :deal :lol3
    #12
  13. Garp

    Garp Long timer

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    I understand the issue and have thought in the past that a demographic based GPS would be a good idea, keeping people out of parts of town where they don't belong, or guiding them there if that's what they are looking for. Not sure what it would have made of my time in the Lower 9th Ward, but there you go,

    That said, how would a paper map or Google Maps help? Until Google adds a "Here be the Crack Houses" layer to maps, it's no different than a GPS.
    #13
  14. Lost Rider

    Lost Rider Roadie

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    Are you suggesting want a GPS that you tell what color you are and what colored people's neighborhoods you'd like to avoid?
    That what your comments sounds like to me, and it's pretty fucking ignorant. :ear

    No need to reply as you comments are so far off topic in this thread anyways it's pointless.
    #14
  15. Garp

    Garp Long timer

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    I see, so you get to call me "pretty fucking ignorant" and then try and dictate that I not reply?

    I said demographic, if you saw that and just read it as "color" then that says all I need to know about you.:deal
    #15
  16. JoshBMW

    JoshBMW Been here awhile

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    Iphone or Ipad for nav. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    I use the Iphone. <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    For directions you can blue tooth to your head set, same for music.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    GPS MotionX Drive works great for road roughs when you have 3g signals, you can pre-down load maps as well but it works best in civilization.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    GPS MotionX is a fantastic off the grid map. You download the maps you want and they stay on the phone, no cell needed. They are true topo maps giving you a lot of the info from forest service maps.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Always carry a back up.<o:p></o:p>
    #16
  17. soyanarchisto

    soyanarchisto Long timer

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    I tried using my iphone as a GPS. There are lots of places in the PNW to go where you have no cell coverage. No cell coverage means no map on the iphone. Screw that. I'll stick with my GPS. If you stay on major roads and highways then you are fine with the iphone as a GPS.
    #17
  18. Lost Rider

    Lost Rider Roadie

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    The Garmin Streepilot App file s 2.7 GB and includes City NAV NT map, no network needed. :deal
    It's the same as having a Garmin Nuvi, though better with the awesome Apple screen and Google built in (if you have a network), but no ability to load tracks, though it does keep one of where you've been.

    At the very least it's a great backup GPS to have with you, though I use mine all the time for single day road rides.
    #18
  19. mike54

    mike54 You don't get me

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    Sounds like you had a terrible trip. Sorry about that. I had a great time all the way to Coldfoot. Got turned back by weather at that point but the whole ride was a blast anyway.

    To the OP. If you want to save money you don't need a GPS in AK or even to get there really. We did it with paper maps and there just aren't that many choices of roads once you hit BC. I think someone else pointed out the same thing. There's not even that many choices of roads once you're in AK actually.

    My partner had a cell phone that he used to call home a couple times to check in but coverage wasn't always reliable. If I were to do it today I'd just get SPOT so I could send "I'm OK" messages to the family back home.

    Enjoy your trip. I'd love to go back one day.
    #19
  20. moggi1964

    moggi1964 Tiger Keeper

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    I just tried Sygic on my Android (they do ti for iPhone too of course) and my first two outings were very impressive. I kept having it reroute and it does so very quickly.

    Sygic downloads to the phone so can be used offline.

    More trials required for sure but I got it free for 7 days so that should give me some opportunity to go further afield.
    #20