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GPS - Dedicated Unit or Smartphone App?

Jarrett

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Apr 12, 2018
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Waxahachie
#1
I'm planning a trip this week and have my GPX file all mapped out on my computer for the route I want to use. My question is, should I find an app that I can use to upload the GPX file to on my Galaxy Note 5 and use that as my GPS? Or buy an additional GPS like a Garmin Zumo?

I already have a Battery Tender USB thingy that I can plug my Note 5 into and already have a RAM X Mount on the handlebars that the Note 5 sits in, I just haven't used it for directions much so far.

This weekend, I needed to get over to a road and I turned on Google Maps on my Note 5 and asked it to get me to the next town and it routed me there while relaying directions into my helmet via Sena 20s. That was pretty nifty, but Google Maps doesn't take GPX files that I'm aware of.

Just trying to figure out if what I have will work ok or is it really useful to get something dedicated like a Zumo.
 
Joined
Sep 4, 2017
Messages
167
Location
Katy, Republic of Texas
#3
So long as you have cell signal or have maps downloaded, the phone will work.
Also one less thing to worry about not carrying around a GPS.

Personally in cars, I use a dedicated GPS (mainly because I bought it before phone GPS was out and I have free map updates).
 

Traxx

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May 29, 2016
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Ft Worth
#4
The only issue that I have had using my phone has been weather. Rain, a case or a weather proof phone does that quickly. The heat however seems to be my downfall. For my 7 plus, over 95 degrees at a stop or in traffic and it wants to overheat.
I went to the phone after several garmin products and the customer support and slow map updates and and and.....well I will never purchase a garmin again.
 

mlinkibikr

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Mar 31, 2003
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1,288
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Fulshear, Tx
#5
I'm on my last Garmin. Can't hold enough maps to cover the country without SD cards, slow to update, illogical mapping functions, small screen and resulting level of detail , yada yada yada.

I need to find a real good pre-mapping / rerouting, point to point software for my I-Phone and then just go with that.

My Zumo 550 doesn't completely suck, but I'm just fed up with the difficulty of pre-routing routes to follow with the capability of tweaking on the fly. Which is essentially why I bought it in the first place.

YMMV

Dave.
 

Jarrett

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Apr 12, 2018
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Waxahachie
#6
Cool, thanks. I've been looking at the various apps and so far Ride with GPS seems like a good one. It allows me to create maps on my computer and save them to their system as well as download the GPX if needed. Then I can open the app my computer, open that saved route and get turn by turn navigation from it. That's really all I need from it.

It doesn't look as slick as Google Maps though, but seems like it will do. They charge $50 or $80 a year to use their service with a 30 day money back deal. I figure I'll try that and see how it goes.

I can download the GPX files to my cycling computer so in case my phone overheats, I'll have a back up. The cycling computer works ok, but it drops my routes quite a bit at highways speeds. I assume its because it is not built to be tracking that fast by design.
 
Joined
May 18, 2005
Messages
587
Location
Plano, TX
#7
I'm planning a trip this week and have my GPX file all mapped out on my computer for the route I want to use. My question is, should I find an app that I can use to upload the GPX file to on my Galaxy Note 5 and use that as my GPS? Or buy an additional GPS like a Garmin Zumo?
I use either Google with offline maps or OsmAnd+ on my Samsung 7. One is a backup for the other. Google Maps doesn't allow uploading a gpx file created with Garmin BaseCamp, but it's easy enough to create URL routes and then use the URL with Google Maps. OsmAnd+ allows loading of GPX files and it works really well.


I already have a Battery Tender USB thingy that I can plug my Note 5 into and already have a RAM X Mount on the handlebars that the Note 5 sits in, I just haven't used it for directions much so far.
GPS uses up a lot of power. Ideally you'd have a fast charger connected to the bike, otherwise you may deploy the battery faster than you're recharging it. My solution is to use a cable and a charger that allows me to do fast charging on the motorcycle:

 
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Joined
May 18, 2005
Messages
587
Location
Plano, TX
#9
Jarrett, I use Google Maps on the computer to create a route by linking points. This is only for one-day routes, as Google Maps only take a small number of waypoints. This generates a URL and you can simply navigate this URL or use gpsvisualizer.com to convert it to a GPX file. Here is a URL for my upcoming trip to New Mexico - I created it directly on Google Maps:

https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Tru...2!1d-108.7578411!2d33.7131104!2m2!1b1!2b1!3e0
 

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Jarrett

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Apr 12, 2018
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Waxahachie
#11
Jarrett, I use Google Maps on the computer to create a route by linking points. This is only for one-day routes, as Google Maps only take a small number of waypoints. This generates a URL and you can simply navigate this URL or use gpsvisualizer.com to convert it to a GPX file. Here is a URL for my upcoming trip to New Mexico - I created it directly on Google Maps:

https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Tru...2!1d-108.7578411!2d33.7131104!2m2!1b1!2b1!3e0
Thanks for showing me that. For whatever reason, It's not working for me.

When I use Google Maps on my computer to make the route, it looks like this:

Capture.jpg


When I copy the URL from the browser, send it to my phone and open it in Google Maps on my phone, it looks like this:

32684126_10213820362916724_3522866591475695616_n.png


The red line is an offline map that I created in an attempt to use Google Maps to route me, but in this case it shows the errors in the blue (URL) route. These kinds of inconsistencies are what keep me from using Google Maps.

I did a test run with Ride with GPS app yesterday and it worked well. It was only a 17 mile route, but it worked fine. It relayed voice prompts to my Sena Momentum helmet and told me when and where to turn. A few times I got off course on purpose and it alerted me. A cool function it has is that will tell you and show you how to get back to the course. Seemed like a useful fuction. Also, while doing this, the USB plug charged my phone back to 100% during the trip, so its got enough power that I don't have to worry about it running out while navigating.
 
Joined
Jul 16, 2012
Messages
906
Location
Near San Antonio
#12
Anyone else tried Tyre? I've downloaded it, and messed around a bit, but haven't really tried too much.

I know they have a site (link above), and it can create GPX files to up/download, and I'm not honestly sure what else. I heard some good things about it, signed up (free), and then never did anything with it.
 
Joined
Feb 4, 2016
Messages
151
Location
Pottsboro
#13
Been researching this same issue.. Scenic app is looking very promising... And, it is specifically for motorcycle trips... So there are options to choose items like curvy roads when generating maps.. Also, easily download Google Maps from My Maps directly into app.. Also, can use downloaded maps for offline use. Also, will locate you and navigate on offline maps unlike Google Maps that will only show you the route but not navigate offline. Turn by turn directions. Navigate to address. And a biggie for me after using Google Maps, it will not redirect and completely change your route if you stray. It will redirect you back to your created route. And, options to allow you to start at closest point in created route instead trying to navigate you to the beginning of the route... I am still testing but seems to be the complete package needed for offline use...


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Traxx

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Ft Worth
#14
It looks like scenic has changed a few things since I tried them before. I know that I have sent in emails for small issues that I have and there was very good response. I need to give it another run.
One thing that I have had issue with was importing from Furkot. I then have to zoom in and check the route to make sure that it doesn't loop me around or some other crazy junk. I have had to fix these routes my deleting points one at a time.
Rever just added nav to it line up but won't navigate the tracks or planned routes.
I like rever for the tracking and scenic for the nav.
 
Joined
Aug 9, 2012
Messages
401
Location
austin
#15
When we rode w the big group into galiana mexico, the gps routes provided provided by others easily interfaced w. my android app called osmand. I used the free option, up to 5 free territory map downloads, including mexico.

I also use osmand to record my single track rides deep in the woods. This here is one of my recent recordings.
Screenshot_2018-02-04-05-46-10.png
 

copb8

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Nov 27, 2013
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Location
Highland Village (Dallas) TX
#16
Do any of you find that your smart phones aren't durable enough to stand up to rough or unpaved roads?

Two friends experienced the same issue on their ride down to Galeana last October. Both brand new iPhones had a failure of the video/photo stabilization mechanism of the phone and couldn't use their forward-facing cameras during the trip. Both were replaced or repaired when they got back.
 
Joined
Aug 9, 2012
Messages
401
Location
austin
#19
The s6 edge I'm using is bomb proof and waterproof
It's all one piece Construction, no removable battery, no external memory card slot, Etc... I use it on all of my single track rides, and it's survived 2 hard years including a couple of hard hits where it broke off of my case holder and flew off into the ditch submerged underwater 4 couple of days. Still works!
 

copb8

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Nov 27, 2013
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Highland Village (Dallas) TX
#20
I've subscribed to this thread so that I can maybe migrate to a better solution.

BTW, I have a Garmin 590LM and that thing is SO FRUSTRATING! It constantly routes contrary what I mapped on Basecamp because of subtle setting differences that are buried in the menus. It's difficult to change routes on the fly. Lacks the satellite zoom capability of the phone apps and is overall very clunky to use.

I think it's fine for most US street based travel but really comes up short when your routes are less planned, more fluid and perhaps take you off the beaten path.

Oh, and I HATE how it doesn't follow the a route if your beginning and ending points are the same. I tjust assumes you're there already even though you haven't hit a single mapped waypoint.
 
Joined
Jul 27, 2016
Messages
86
Location
Wichita Falls
#21
Subscribed also, Ill be traveling down to Santiago Chile in February. I am renting a bike to explore the area for a couple days and not sure what to do about GPS.
 
Joined
Feb 4, 2016
Messages
151
Location
Pottsboro
#22
I agree copb8... My experience (I admit isn’t a lot) is that GPS devices are frustrating. And, we all carry phones with us everywhere and if it has the same features and even better than GPS units in many cases (screen size, zoom ability, speed, etc) why not use it.. I disagree that they are not durable enough. One issue that can be an issue is the overheating..


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ricks77eb

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Aug 24, 2009
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218
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Deer Park, TX
#23
Have used the Garmin 660 for years, keep the rerouting function turned off, and still building my routes in Mapsource on a 10 year old laptop. Never seem to have any problems.
 
Joined
Dec 10, 2005
Messages
2,358
Location
kilgore
#25
Anyone else tried Tyre? I've downloaded it, and messed around a bit, but haven't really tried too much.
I used Tyre to create a multi-day .GPX loop up through Canada and back a few years ago. It's been a couple of years so it may be better, but at the time it didn't import Garmin waypoints cleanly. I think it works best with TomTom.
 
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Joined
May 18, 2005
Messages
587
Location
Plano, TX
#26
I will never pay Garmin again for anything. Lousy firmware and software, expensive, not integrated with anything. I don't know about iPhones but my Samsung is ruggedized and tough. I have dropped it dozens of times (in its case) and it keeps working fine and without cracks. After spending too much on unreliable Garmin units, I am very happy with my Galaxy S7 both on road and off road
 
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bwdmax

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Oct 20, 2010
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Victoria
#27
I have been a Garmin user for about 20years. I have had my share of frustration with their hardware, firmware and software. They have always helped me with the issues, several times I had to escalate my issue to get resolution.

There Is something about the interface of their products that works for me. I have used handhelds, auto, marine, and aviation units and for the most part intuitively can use them. I did struggle with basecamp at first creating tracks but, worked through that with some help. I don’t like how maps work between basecamp and the units. I have tried a couple apps on my phone and struggled to get them to work. I have been reading on here about using some different maps. I have also been reading on advrider about phone options. To be honest I don’t know where I’ll go next. I may get a used phone and make it a dedicated GPS just to see if I can figure out all the file manipulation and make it work. I would likely run it side by side with my Garmin just to compare.
 
Joined
Apr 25, 2018
Messages
18
Location
Houston
#29
Does anyone have much experience with the updated Harley ride planning? I think they have an ap now? I wonder if you can save your routes online and pull them up on the ap...?


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jfink

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May 29, 2007
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Conroe, Tx
#31
For me, it isn't the software/firmware/hardware comparison, it is what I know and what I will have to learn. I don't want to invest a lot of time in learning a completely new system of developing, storing, uploading, modifying and using maps, only to find out it has the same or other limitations as the system I am currently using (Garmin). I am as frustrated as anyone that Garmin develops systems that don't even work together (Basecamp/Zumo), but my limited experience with other systems (Google/Android, a couple of windows apps) is they have their own limitations.

My Windows phone allowed me to download maps for offline use as large as the SD card could hold, but had only a few klugy apps that worked with it. My Android/Google phone asks me for a "box" that is only about ten miles square to download for offline use. It doesn't take long to use that up.

I also found that because of the volume of Garmin devices in the market other entities such as OSM develops interfaces to work with Garmin. That's a big plus.

Finally, I am not sure I trust my electronics to attempt a single point of failure. With a phone doing everything, should it fail, get lost or stolen, everything is gone. Mapping, Phone, Text, email, etc. I guess I could carry a second phone, but then why not carry a GPS. Until something comes along, and takes the consumer market by storm, I am pretty much a stuck in the mud, complaining about Garmin's overall system approach.
 
Joined
Sep 4, 2009
Messages
11,165
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Arlington
#32
There's no perfect answer to your question. Personally, I use a GPS - a Garmin Nuvi. You'll find advantages/disadvantages either way. I just got back from a long wanderfest across some desolate parts of west Texas, NM, and AZ. I had both my Garmin and my Galaxy phone (Google Maps open) on my handlebar. Every time I lost cell service, I got a popup message warning me. Yeah, the map still worked, but that stupid message was blocking it. And since Galaxy phones aren't touch sensitive through gloves, I couldn't clear the message without stopping the bike and removing a glove. Also, if something happened while you were out in the middle of nowhere and you had to start a new map, even a preloaded one, my understanding is it wouldn't work because the phone wouldn't be able to figure out your starting place - somebody else will have to comment on whether this is accurate.

Also, if you're prone to occasionally searching out something while riding - i.e. wanting to poke a button to see where the next gas station is - the Garmin is the way to go. Even though they're made for cars, Nuvis work quite well with motorcycle gloves on.

And frankly, if I were going to be in REAL back country - away from roads, I'd trust neither a Nuvi nor a phone. I'd have my trusty old Garmin 76CSX backpacker GPS with me, with topo maps of the entire western United States loaded on. Heck, when you're on a bike, you can always find room for an appliance that size in a bag somewhere, and the weight is inconsequential - a few ounces.

Ultimately, we can only tell you what works best for each of us. Now you get to go experiment and find out what's best for you.
 
Joined
Jan 26, 2016
Messages
50
Location
Beaumont
#33
Another vote for iphone app. I use Gaia GPS (~$20) and MAP Plus (free). The free app MAP Plus works great. Create a route on desktop using Google maps, email the kmz file to your phone, open with app, download enough of the “map” to cover your route, done. Easy.
 
Joined
Feb 4, 2016
Messages
151
Location
Pottsboro
#34
Scenic is really looking very promising and basically free.. I have downloaded Texas and all surrounding state maps for free.. Now, exploring Furkot for trip planning.. This software seems very easy so far to create trip..


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StromXTc

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Dec 29, 2017
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George West
#36
Unfortunately I found out last weekend that I didn't want my phone exposed to the numerous rain showers . I use android osmand for the .gpx tracks. Works well, when i can keep the usb plugged into the phone. May try a 90 degree usb plug with some tape nextime.
 

Jarrett

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#37
Unfortunately I found out last weekend that I didn't want my phone exposed to the numerous rain showers . I use android osmand for the .gpx tracks. Works well, when i can keep the usb plugged into the phone. May try a 90 degree usb plug with some tape nextime.

Learned the exact same thing last Friday. 316 miles in the rain with my Note5 exposed and plugged into USB. It shut down a couple of times. It spawned random apps. Now the USB charging port is fidgety after all the vibrations. Might have to get a new phone soon. I ordered a Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S this morning.
 

StromXTc

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George West
#38
Learned the exact same thing last Friday. 316 miles in the rain with my Note5 exposed and plugged into USB. It shut down a couple of times. It spawned random apps. Now the USB charging port is fidgety after all the vibrations. Might have to get a new phone soon. I ordered a Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S this morning.
if you can handle the price tag, of course, its the gold standard....congratulations. :thumb:
but with that awesome a.t. you have, why choose anything else.
 
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Joined
Jul 6, 2004
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3,786
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Santa Fe, TX
#39
Low voltage signals are subject to galvanic corrosion. Unless your USB/charging plug is sealed and watertight, very likely going to be an issue somewhere down the road.
 

Jarrett

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Apr 12, 2018
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Waxahachie
#40
I did a test run with the Zumo today and I'm kind of on the fence with it. It really didn't offer more than my phone did except for being able to touch it with gloves on.

Wondering if I should just get a more sturdy USB connector and go it with the phone.

I was hoping I could use the USB port on the Zumo for charging on the bike, but no luck, they block it with the mount. You have to hard wire it into your motorcycle and I'm not sure if I want to do that. Seems like if you forgot and left it plugged in, the battery could get drained.
 
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Joined
Sep 4, 2009
Messages
11,165
Location
Arlington
#41
I doubt a single test run is really going to tell you everything you need to know to make your decision. I think you'll find that most of us who are hardened in our personal positions are there after having spent long days on the road, finding out what works and what doesn't. Before you lock yourself in one way or the other, you might plan at least a weekend trip with both devices on your handlebar - and with a self-declared rule that whatever you do, you do with both devices. Be sure to dial in some time outside of phone range so that you can see if that's going to bother you or not.

I'm not sure about the Zumo plug setup, so can't comment on that; I'll have to take your word for it. But if you can lay your hands on a Garmin Nuvi - there are a million models out there - you can attach it to your handlebar via any generic phone mount, and it will plug in via standard mini-USB. Nuvis definitely aren't as robust as Zumos, but then neither is your I- or Galaxy-phone. They're plenty tough, easily handled through a glove, and can be bought cheaply. If you drop a Nuvi on concrete, it'll die. But it'll survive most everything else, including rainstorms simply by slipping a baggie over it. You can buy an older model brand new from EBay for $100 or so and get a few years practical use out of it.
 

copb8

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Highland Village (Dallas) TX
#42
The zumo wiring harnesses are a pain but all you need to do is tap it into a switched source and that will prevent any battery drain.

The wiring harness on my 590 was ridiculous in terms of cable size and cost. So many additional wires that I had no use for. So I gutted the wiring harness to supply power only and dramatically shortened the cable length. I put an SAE connector on the end. Now I can move the same cradle from bike to bike in seconds.

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