Your Garmin Edge 800 bike GPS can provide true turn by turn navigation. Here’s a great tutorial guide on how to plan and follow a route on your edge 800. Route planning has never been easier.
Update: Garmin announce Edge 1000
April 2014 – Garmin have just announced the Edge 1000 and it looks very exciting. If you haven’t already signed up, you might want to join the Garmin Pricewatch Project.
First things first – your maps
I’m going to use free OSM maps as a common denominator because anyone can use them, they’re free, and routable. If you’re in the UK, grab the talkytoaster maps here. If you need help, watch my tutorial video showing how to install the maps.
Of course, if you’re using commercial maps like the Garmin GB Discoverer (All of Great Britain,1:50K), or the garmin city navigator (see my comparison post here), then these will also work just fine, since they are fully routable.
My personal choice for road cycling is the City Navigator map, as it offers the best balance between clarity and detail. Here’s a half price offer (get the whole of Europe for just £38)
The best way to create a route/course to follow
There are tons of sites out there which will let you draw routes on a map and then allow you to download the route as a gpx or tcx file. There does seem to be some variation in the outputs they produce, and in turn these can be interpreted differently by the Garmin. My advice is to use www.ridewithgps.com - it’s free to use, and very simple. Just point and click on the map, and it will “snap” to the roads. Make a mistake? Just click the undo button.
When you’re done, you can export the file in various formats. I always use the GPX track option, but TCX works fine too. I’ll say that again. Export the file as a GPX track, or a TCX file!
Getting the GPX/TCX file onto your Garmin
This step is very simple – just connect the garmin to your computer via the USB cable, and open it up so you can see the files inside (on most computers you’ll get an autoplay pop up – just choose “open folder to view files”. If you have an SD card in your Garmin, you should get two autoplay options – one for the internal memory in the Garmin, and one for the SD card. It’s better to use the SD card. Open the Garmin folder, then the NewFiles folder. Copy your GPX/TCX file into the NewFiles folder. You can then disconnect the USB lead.
Making sure the settings on the Edge 800 are correct
Before you head out, you need to make sure a few settings are dialled in properly. The Garmin has all sorts of options for things like recalculating routes if you go wrong, whether to avoid certain types of roads, and so on.
If these aren’t set up right, you’ll have problems, so listen carefully!
Set the controls…
The following settings only need to be done once. So set ‘em and forget ‘em.
To access the settings, press the Menu button, then:
1. Press the Spanner icon in the bottom right.
2. Choose System
3. From here, we’ll be changing the Map and the Routing settings
Edit each setting to resemble the images below.
(Note: Map Visibility can be left on Auto)
Here’s another way of viewing it, so you can see how the menus link together.
Click to enlarge.
Setting your course up
Now that your Map and Routing settings are just exactly perfect, there’s only one more thing to do.
Load the Course list (Main Menu > Courses), choose your course to load it up, and hit the spanner icon.
Make sure Turn Guidance is ON.
#You need to repeat this step, each time you load a new course, for the first time.
From this last screen, hit the back button and then finally the big green GO button.
The unit may ask you if you wish to navigate to the start of the course.
If you know where you’re going, say NO.
The unit will then take some time saying “Calculating…”, with a percentage indicator. Once done, your route will be highlighted in purple on the map, and you should get Turn by Turn directions popping up on screen in advance of the junctions,
Note, if you use TCX files, you’ll also get little arrows on the map, as well as the pop up warnings.
Here’s some more screenshots showing the difference between navigating with a GPX track, and a TCX file.
I hope that’s helped a few people out. I know from reading various forums that a lot of people struggle with the official Garmin manual.
Happy course following! Please share this article on facebook or twitter if you found it useful. For an alternate yet very similar approach, you may also want to look at Rafe’s guide at forgot.co.uk
Lastly, if you’ve been thinking about getting a Garmin Edge 800 Touchscreen GPS Bike Computer but had heard stories that they were tricky to use, I really hope this little guide has helped put your mind at rest. It’s really a great device when you set it up right.