GPS/Smart Watch Advice

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GPS/Smart Watch Advice
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Posted: Jul 28, 2021 at 0:26 Quote
Hi All
I've recently been thinking about a GPS or Smart watch as I would like combine the cheap Cat eye handle bar speedo an the Strava/Trailforks I have on my phone. The phone is allways in my hydration pack hence, why I got the cheapy cateye for the bars. Also as I'm now aproaching my 50's it's probably time I got into heart rates. Then having all that in one easy to read unit.
Thing is.. I know NOTHING about this stuff.
So, some questions:

Smart watch with GPS apps or a dedicated GPS watch like Garmin or Suunto?
I'd really like something rugged an outdoorsy as MTB, Hiking an camping. AND I'm a clumsy idiot at the best of times which has got me thinking dedicated GPS watch?
not bothered about socials, smart pay stuff or MP3 so thats steering me away from a smart watch though if I did opt for smart watch it would deffo need to be android not apple. (MP3 would be nice tho Wink )

GPS accuracy.
I have noticed over time that (Free) Strava I use isn't very accurate. I mean it's accurate enough for my novice needs but, I definitly get varying distance results on the same ride an plenty of blipping out very recently. My cateye is setup to the MM of the front wheel and gets a lot different/better? results to the starva on me phone.
Are there any watches that can combine GPS and a wheel sensor?
Are suscribtion services more precise?
Are GPS watches with dedicated services more precise than phones using free apps?

Live maps
I really like the live maps of Trail forks over Strava's so, having that feature on my wrist is something I'd want but, not a hundred percent deal breaker as I can allways get the phone out if I'm lost,

Heart rate
Complete Beginner, know nothing with this! As an old git I'd be looking for fitnes but, more importantly a warning of some sorts??
So anything you can inform me about heart rate needs in the watch is great.

I'm aware of Garmin an Suunto, so any other brands I should consider as I'm on a 'sale rail' budget. Last years model or maybe second hand
I guess the brands have thier own software/apps an tracking training sites?
can I combine these with my bathroom smart scale?
Subcription services, again I would like to keep the £££ to a minimum.

Thank yous in advance for any info,tips an advice and any thing I've forgotten to consider!


Posted: Jul 29, 2021 at 10:13 Quote
I started with bike computers before there was a GPS option. I've adapted to the technology as it has evolved and I've found a good fit with Garmin. I presently use a wearable - FENIX 5X. I recommend it.

It will track your rides, hikes, runs, swims, etc. You can save them on the watch and then transfer them wirelessly to a Garmin Connect account which will let you see all the data you desire: GPS track, elevation gain, min/max altitude, average/max speed, heart rate, pace, VO2, etc and you'll see it all on a graph if you like. This can be viewed on your mobile device (phone) or even better on your desktop. Garmin Connect is free. You can use GC to track other health related items if you desire: sleep, weight, hydration, etc.

You can seamlessly connect GC to Strava or Trailforks if you desire to share your rides with your buddies.

You can add a TF app to the FENIX wearable for maps, routes and turn directions, but I find just pulling out my phone a little easier - the map is kind of small on the watch face and I use the TF features on the phone to update trail reports and take photos all the time anyhow.

Bottom line: I recommend Garmin FENIX 5X

Posted: Jul 29, 2021 at 10:22 Quote
Thanx for the reply!
Been looking at a couple of watches on sale but, bad you tube reviews seems to let me know why they're on sale! Garmin seem to get the best reputation on these reviews. I'll check out the Fenix,
Thanx again

Posted: Jul 29, 2021 at 10:46 Quote
I bought a Fenix 3 sapphire (used) just months ago for same reasons. You absolutely cannot use wrist based HR for mtb. I got a CooSpo for under $40 CDN works brilliantly. GPS signal reception is enhanced by using a Garmin handlebar mount so the watch face is always up and less interference. I ride under heavy tree canopy and it’s pretty good. You can check out my rides on Strava.
Love my Fenix and “someday” will treat myself to the 6x sapphire.

Posted: Jul 29, 2021 at 11:00 Quote
Again, many thanx. And the same, I've heard that the watches aren't the best for heart rate. Which is kinda important for me so maybe I'm better off with a bar mount an a strap?

Posted: Jul 29, 2021 at 13:44 Quote
nojzilla wrote:
Again, many thanx. And the same, I've heard that the watches aren't the best for heart rate. Which is kinda important for me so maybe I'm better off with a bar mount an a strap?

I've never had any issue with HR on my Garmin. It tracks just fine for my purpose. If you're training by heartrate that's fine, maybe you do need more accuracy found in a chest strap and sensor - and I'd also recommend a power meter on your bike to get even better training results.
Anyhow, the watch will track HR all day and night showing my resting HR and easily comparing to max HR. Here's just some of the HR data available by using the watch and Garmin Connect.
Heartrate measured all day including the activity
Heartrate measurement of a section of activity
Resting heartrate over the last 6 months
Present heartrate recording today
Finally, here's a piece of what you can see about an activity on GC. All of the data can be drilled down for more granularity as you desire.

Posted: Jul 29, 2021 at 18:43 Quote
If your talking road biking or other smooth surfaces ok sure. Mtb? I can’t even wear a watch without it banging about plus trying to actually look at it while riding is almost impossible. Again I’m riding fast on technical trail. I need to have accurate warning when I’ve reached 95% of my max HR for health reasons and the health professionals said chest strap only option (it was a few years ago maybe I’m out of date now!). My bias on the issue, whatever it’s worth.

Your data shown is awesome and looks like wrist based is working well for you so the OP should take my opinion with a grain of salt

Posted: Jul 29, 2021 at 22:16 Quote
Mate, I'm a complete newbie with heart rate, as mentioned I'm approaching my 50's so that's my main concern.
All info an opinions are being taken on board so many thanx again.

I think my main wants an needs is having a phone, a cateye an 2 apps, I'd like something that combines it all into one unit, one app too.
One thing I'm getting from YouTube reviews is that wether stunts or garmin the reviewers are still using Strava as thier main thing?

Posted: Jul 30, 2021 at 2:25 Quote
Ok I see. If I understand your question relating to apps…
The good news is that with garmin you can use the Garmin connect site to see all your data as BenLow has beautifully shown *and* have all that data automatically pushed to Strava which is super fun for comparing with mates because everyone is on Strava using any sort of watch, phone or bike computer . Very motivating. Fenix is the outdoor fitness super watch to rule them all. Personally I had to buy an old model just to see how useful it is. Obviously I’m super happy with it and let’s face it it looks absolutely BOSS too. Lol.
Oh and my other main use will be xc skiing where all it’s qualities will shine.

Posted: Jul 30, 2021 at 7:26 Quote
nojzilla wrote:
One thing I'm getting from YouTube reviews is that wether stunts or garmin the reviewers are still using Strava as thier main thing?

Strava is an app that millions of people (amateurs to professional athletes) use to socialize their rides and other activities. It is sort of like the Facebook of exercise: you can share your rides, follow your friends, follow your favorite sport heroes and give them 'kudos' for their efforts and such. It will display the data captured during an exercise (such as your HR) and it has some built-in training tools to offer based upon your activities, but only if you subscribe (monthly fee required). Strava is using the data you captured with whatever device you strapped to yourself and presenting it to you and also letting you share that with the world if you want to. You can control privacy to limit sharing as well.

Garmin devices will synchronize with Garmin Connect which also has built-in training tools you can use and it is free. You can use and view Garmin Connect data on your phone and on your desktop. The desktop version has more capabilities to offer of course which is true for all of these applications. You can also share your activities with your colleagues that use Garmin Connect in much the same manner as Strava if you desire. Most people I know that use Garmin devices ignore this capability and prefer to share over Strava because if its popularity.

If you want to use Strava and see how it works then the basic package is free - your data from Garmin Connect can automatically mirror to Strava easily. Strava also offers a limited time use of the subscription package so you can sample the advanced features for a short period before the subscription kicks in.

Posted: Jul 30, 2021 at 9:05 Quote
Yeah, I'm using the free strava already. Thing that bugs me the most is that I can ride exactly the same trail an get varying results, sometimes by over a mile!

Posted: Jul 30, 2021 at 9:59 Quote
The track that is displayed by Strava is first based upon the GPS data provided by the device that recorded it. Strava, (and Trailforks, Garmin Connect, and all the others) then takes this raw data, conditions it and displays it.

Folks will typically begin their foray into activity data acquisition by using their smartphone to record their activities. Smartphones are generally pretty okay, but there is a wide variety of challenges you may face when using only the phone.

Example: As an experiment I used my iphone to record a bunch of rides (part of a Trailforks challenge to record rides
using the Trailforks app). The GPS tracking was pretty good and pretty closely matched my Garmin watch (I also recorded the rides on my FENIX as a backup), but it was different (by less than a mile). The big problem for me was that the iphone went through the battery much quicker than normal which put me at risk of entirely draining the battery during the rides. That doesn't work for me because I like to ride for long periods and still be able to use my phone for its intended purpose - making a call.

Posted: Jul 30, 2021 at 13:24 Quote
Fantastic summary. I’ll only add this: gps based estimates of distance especially on biking and even more on mountain biking will always be less (many explanations on YouTube etc) but Garmin (or course!) makes a little thing you put on your bike axel to get balls on distance accuracy.

Posted: Jul 30, 2021 at 22:38 Quote
Hence one of my questions,
Is there any products that use a wheel sensor like my cateye?

I've started to look at bar mounted now :'D an thats just got me thinking I should just stick with my phone.
Is there a phone app that connects to a wheel sensor and HR strap? That could save a lot of €£$ an batteries an cables an hassle

Posted: Jul 31, 2021 at 6:01 Quote
There will certainly be phone apps for the speed sensor and HR monitor.

So… my excitement about Fenix is partly that it can be a watch (for tracking XC skiing) then summer be a “bike computer” with the handlebar mount.

I cannot use touch screen devices for skiing (reasons obvious I hope) and part of mtb for me is *getting the hell away* from my phone - last thing I want is it in my face.
But the phone mount may be -your- best option!

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