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Does anyone have suggestions on a good but more budget concious GPS to use for trail riding. Our state MC association (CCC Michigan) has all of our state trail maps in downloadable GPS format which I would like to use, but don't know much about GPS's and what to look for. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

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Does anyone have suggestions on a good but more budget concious GPS to use for trail riding. Our state MC association (CCC Michigan) has all of our state trail maps in downloadable GPS format which I would like to use, but don't know much about GPS's and what to look for. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

I spent quite a while looking at a bunch of different ones and ended up with a Garmin Vista C. It's small, light, semi-waterproof, and reasonably priced if you shop around. If your bike has a battery, you can run the Vista C off the bike and save the batteries for when you're on foot and just checking the surrounding area. With all GPS's to be used on off-road bikes, you should put some electronic grease on the battery contacts and a small piece of foam rubber around the batteries to keep them from bouncing around inside the unit. If that happens, they loose contact momentarily and eventually the GPS will turn itself off or even get damaged from the small arc as the battery looses contact.

Some basic pointers:

1. Get a model with a color screen. The cheaper black & white ones are tempting, but when everything on the screen is the same color, it gets very difficult to separate all the different things from each other (trails from streams from roads from railroad tracks from whatever). With a color screen, a quick glance allows you to find what you're looking for.

2. Get a good quality handlebar mount. The RAM mount sold on www.cycoactive.com is probably the best. The website is run by off-road bikers...

3. Get one that is at least semi-waterproof. If it will keep out water, it will keep out dust! Most of the GPSs that are meant for rough ground (versus ones in cars) can stand to spend 30 minutes in 3 feet of water and be okay (which is why I say semi-waterproof).

4. Check all the various maps that you think you'll need. It could be that one brand of GPS makes more or better maps that you want. If the Michigan trail maps only come is the format used by Magellan, then it wouldn't do you much good to buy a Garmin.

5. Practice with the GPS as much as you can. They are complicated little beasts and it takes a while to get comfortable with one (okay, maybe it's my old age that causes that). Some of the manufacturers offer a video tape to run you through all the functions of your model and also offers tips. The tapes are usually pretty cheap.

6. Even if you bought the GPS for your bike, you can also get city maps and load them into your unit and mount it in your car. The cycoactive.com website also sells car GPS mounts for a lot of the models so you can take it on a trip to an unfamiliar city. The maps will guide you to your destination, show you the nearest gas station, restaurant, etc. The screens of most of the bike-size GPS's are a little small for car use (trying to squint and see the screen while you're driving), but your passenger could use it to navigate and pass the info to you.

Anyway, check 'em out, get one that fits your needs, and have fun.

Cheers,

Mac

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REI, not sure if these stores are where you are, has the Garmin ETrex Legend C for $179 after rebate. That is what I am upgrading to and is a very, very good price. Check out their web site.

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