I bought a shiny new Garmin Edge 800 last month and, after a bit of trial and error, have managed to get it guiding nicely with the routes I create. In talking with others, this doesn’t seem to be the experience of many who’ve splashed out, some of whom are resigned to using them as overpriced speedometers.
For the benefit of such individuals, here’s a quick guide to getting your Edge 800 in particular playing nice with your mapped routes. Most of these points should also apply to Edge 705 owners, but there may be a few discrepancies.
Mapping your routes
Update: The advice below is primarily for mapping with MapMyRide, but I’d now recommend RideWithGPS.com for mapping – MapMyRide seems to have reduced the quality of route GPX exports, so it only plots points every 500m or so, meaning the course doesn’t always end up following your intended route. RideWithGPS also exports elevation data, which is only available in the paid version of MapMyRide.
There’s a heap of mapping sites out there, I use Mapmyride.com as it is user friendly and enables easy editing of existing routes. You can create routes by creating a new one from scratch, uploading an existing GPX file, or copying an existing one in your profile and editing that. Creating one from scratch shouldn’t need any explanation. If you’re uploading a route previously recorded on a GPS device, or one created from another website, here’s a few tips:
Uploading a previously recorded route to MapMyRide:
- If it’s a long route, you may get an error during upload saying something like ‘Request Entity Too Large’. This is due to the file being too large and the website can’t handle it – the file is too large because your Garmin plotted a point every second or two for the whole 6-10hrs of your long ride, making for a lot of unnecessary data. To reduce the size of your file and make it uploadable, go to CourseCompactor, upload it there (File > Load), select ‘Compact the track’, and download the resulting GPX track (File > Export). It just removes the unnecessary points on your route, leaving you with the same route but a smaller file. You can then upload the compressed file to MapMyRide.
- Once you’ve uploaded your route to MapMyRide, you should see a ‘Snap to Roads’ button near the start of your track. Click this and it will ensure your route sticks to actual roads and paths, rather than the recorded GPS route which can veer off route sometimes. It will also make your route more easily editable as will be less route markers to drag/delete if you want to adjust the route.
Once you’ve either uploaded your route via the above steps, copied an existing route within MapMyRide, or created a new one from scratch, you may want to edit it. With the map opened in Edit mode, do the following:
- In the map editor toolbar on the right, ensure that Follow Roads is highlighted.
- You can then drag the small dots along your route to change it. If you want to delete a point, click on the point and go to the Actions tab on the popup that opens. You can delete just that point, or all points before or after it. The latter is useful if you want to significantly alter a route.
- You can always click undo in the top left of the toolbar if you make a mistake.
- If you’ve mapped to the farthest point on your route and want to just take the same home, you can then use the ‘Out + Back’, ‘Loop’, or ‘Lollipop’ options in the toolbar to complete your route back home. You can then obviously tweak the return route a bit if you like.
- Once you’re done editing, save the route. You can then export it as a GPX from the map summary page, with the Export Route link below the map. This may take a few minutes to appear after creating a long route.
Uploading routes to your Garmin Edge 800
- When you plug your Garmin into your computer, it will appear as a drive. If you browse to that drive, go into the Garmin folder, and you’ll see the NewFiles folder. Copy your completed GPX files into this folder.
- When you unplug and restart your Garmin, your newly created routes should be available under Courses.
Setting up your Garmin for easiest navigation
If you leave your Garmin with the default settings, you’re not going to get the best routing on your rides. In reading the forums and from some trial and error, the following works best for me:
- Under Menu/Settings/Map:
- Orientation: Automotive mode
- Auto zoom: On
- Guide Text: Always Display
- Map Visibility: Auto
- Under Menu/Settings/Routing:
- Routing: Calculate Routes for: Bicycle
- Guidance Method: On road for distance
- Lock on road: No
- Avoid: U-turns, toll roads, highways, unpaved roads
- Recalculate: Off
- For each Course that you’ve created:
- Browse to it and go into the settings (click on the spanner icon)
- Set Turn Guidance to On, and Off Course Warnings to On
- When you are navigating, ensure you are zoomed in enough so you can see all minor roads and turns. If you’re zoomed right out, you’ll only see major roads and wonder why you keep missing turns, or why you don’t seem to be moving very fast along the route.
You’ll see that I suggested you turn Recalculate Routes to Off – this means that if you wander off-route, your device will tell you so, but it won’t tell you how to rejoin your route. Recalculate can be great in some scenarios, but it does come up with some odd recalculations sometimes, so this just saves some hassle if you only want to follow your planned route.
Aquiring Maps for your device
As the default maps provided on Garmin’s are a little too basic for any real use (unless you like cycling on motorways), you have a couple of options if you want maps for a specific country.
The easiest and most obvious choice is to buy the appropriate Garmin City Navigator maps on SD card from an online retailer. Just pop the SD card into your Garmin and you’re good to go.
For the more technically capable, you also have the option of using OpenStreetMap maps. They’re free, and often contain as much detail as proprietary maps. There’s a number of websites offering downloadable maps, such as this one. I’ve not used personally yet, but many people seem to with good results.
Hope this helps to get a few more successfully navigating around London and beyond… if you have any corrections or suggestions then speak up and I’ll update the post accordingly.