GPS question

I have a question for those of you that use GPS.

What do you use it for mainly?

To keep track of your position on a map?

To record trails and routes so that you may re-trace the trail later?

To keep track of average speed and distance? While racing?

All of the above?

The reason I ask is because I thought it might be nice to have an area on ThumperTalk to keep GPS stats.

Can I easily do a ride here in Colorado and post my route for others to follow when visiting? Or is that a big hassle that no one would ever use?

How many of you have and use GPS regularly?


I use my GPS regularly. I mostly just set points. Before leaving I may set towns, crossroads, etc. When starting out my ride I set a point at my parking area, campground or whereever. During my ride I can then check my points, distance, direction.

If you were to post the lon/lat of some of your favorite trailheads or spots others could use these. I don't think you could post a whole trail only certain points.

I hope this gives you some insight.



A GPS section would make an excellent addition to the site. I'm a GPS newbie and having the info available for new riding areas may be what's needed to force me to learn how to really use my GPS III+.

Currently, I use my GPS as a speedometer in my truck - oversize tires have thrown off the stock speedo. My buddy used his to record our entire route in Mexico last weekend.

Take a look at a 4WD & Sport Utility issue. They usually have the GPS coords for the trails - tabular form. Might be the way to do it on-line.



I am a veteran GPS user (5 years) and have an old Garmin GPS 45 ( now GPS48XL ). The novelty has worn off and now it is used as a practical device.

- Mainly it is used to get back to the truck in unfamiliar areas when we are short on gas and don't want to walk out. Must mark the position of the truck before we leave, and then usually put the GPS in the fanny pack and forget about it until it is needed. May mark critical points along the way if they are needed later. The GPS is mainly my safety net.

- Maps need coordinates, Longitude & Latitude or UTM units. UTM comes gridded on some maps (Univ. Transverse Mercator). USGS maps have borders in Longitude and Latitude. More gridding can be added to the map. You still need a compass!! The GPS tells where you are, not your direction unless you are moving or have moved.

- Retraceable routes get complicated. Simple points of interest would be good to start with. Parking spots, road and trail junctions, view points..... All in order of the route.

- Start simple as this technology is changing fast and hardly anyone has all the mapping software and GPS interface adapter stuff to download the complete routes.

- The speedometer is more accurate than the truck's. It doesn't handle average speed well unless you are going in a straight line.

- The Garmin GPS45 (48XL) has been reliable and had good support from the manufacturer. I would recommend it to others. It was originally sold as a marine application.

It is cool technology and fits offroading as a sport as well as any application out there.

James Dean


I have been using GPS for several years now, primarily for work, but also as a piece of survival equipment. What I mean by this is to aid in rescue if I ever experience an emergency somewhere remote. If you, or anyone else in your group is ever seriously injured on a ride, a GPS receiver and a cell phone could be the best investment you ever made. The precise lat/long from a GPS mark can allow rescue personnel to arrive on scene fast enough to provide assistance that might otherwise be too late. Even in the mountainous terrain where you ride, if the cell phone doesn't work, you can get good coordinates and send somebody back to call them in to rescue personnel. Garmin sells a new very basic model that you can get for about $110 including shipping that is perfectly suited to this type of use. I also do use it to keep track of trails however, and it would be cool to have access to routes other people have gathered.


[This message has been edited by Brad (edited 05-06-2000).]

I almost forgot, but Brad reminded me...

Just after I got my GPS two of us were riding in Eastern WA when we came accross a 4X4 broken down in the woods. He was 20 miles in with 2 kids. (a foolish person to go where he did with kids) My partner had a ham radio and he relayed his position to helpful person who called relatives 100 miles away. His dad also had a GPS and was able to rescue him without having to call 911. My partner called him at home later and it all ended well.

-Brads comments are very true.

I use a $120 GPS receiver and $200 software to map trails. Check it out at:

Oh, I forgot to mention the $80 antenna, the $100 backpack, etc. It all adds up quickly, but it works great!

Bryan, it would be a way cool deal to exchange waypoints of interesting trailside places and things to see with other motorcycle riders.


Great Demo! Do you have both the DeLorme and the TOPO! programs? The DeLorme has 3D where TOPO! is only 2D but has many levels of actual USGS maps with much better detail on the 7.5 minute level. The DeLorme covers far more area for the money but in my local spots it has roads that don't exist or are off track. The 3D makes a big difference in visual effect.

Thanks guys. I'm going to get one for sure.

I can think of many occasions in the last few years where it would have been helpful.

Like the time I was riding my mountain bike in New Mexico near Taos on a trail that hardly anyone rides. I thought I was on the trail and was going down and down and down for about 50 minutes. I was taking forks in the road based on trail use. This is a stupid rookie mistake. 50 minutes downhill on a mountain bike at 20 mph average can relate to about 3 or 4 hours going back up if it's steep.

Well, it was steep and was getting to be late afternoon and the trail suddenly ended right by a cliff. I had to backtrack my route for HOURS and at every intersection I had to get off my bike and look for my own tire tracks.

I was scared to freak'n death!

Finally I came across some 4wd'ers and they pointed me in the right direction.

Then there was the time KerryT and I were riding our WR's and forgot our map. We were almost out of gas and had NO CLUE where we were. We tried asking a local guy in a cabin where we were but he was a doofus and couldn't help us. As it turns out, we were only about 1 mile from my truck!

I have more stories but don't want to bore you more.

Looks like the GPS III + is the way to go. It looks like it would be a good tool to use with my Colorado Topo software too. I could map Colorado trails and fax them to people on this forum. Wouldn't that be cool?


Does your wife know how much this site has cost you Bryan? You better start charging for posts :)

I'll wait until you dish it out for one and see how you like it and how it works before I don't tell my wife and buy one too.


Dougie, '99 WR400

Mods: YZ timing, Race Tech Suspension, FMF PC IV, FMF Hi FLo Moto, YZ seat, IMS 3.3 tank, One Industries Graphics, Renthal bars, 14/52 gearing.


I have a Garmin lll+, purchased for a trip to Colorado (really an excuse, I wanted one for a long time).

Everone's comments are appropriate, I'll add that a GPS does't replace a map for the big picture. While I was not afraid of getting lost, the GPS was invaluable in planning the rides and finding our positions on maps in unfamiliar terrain. We had bikes with small fuel capacity, the GPS gave us confidence in our positions and route.

The downloaded info from Mapsource Topo contained amazing detail, including a lot of the single track trail we rode.

The Garmin would not function on my KTM handlebars due to vibration. I am told that an external power source will fix this problem.

They are a fun, informative toy and with your apparent computer backround, you will enjoy playing with one.

Ron. Cool info on your page.

I too have the Topo! software for a section of Colorado I ride most. I'm finding that with a GPS it's pretty useful!

I'll have to check out the DeLorme Software too I guess. This sounds like another money pit to me!

I've found that with the GPS III + and the Topo! software, I can ride a trail, download the waypoints I've created into the Topo! software, fill in between the waypoints using the log data the GPS III + creates, and the end result is a topo map with my trail that is about as good as I can buy in the store. It even has an elevation profile included! I can then even fax the map to someone else to use.

I just wish I could figure out how to extract ALL the log points the GPS creates and use them as way points. Somehow the Garmin must save all the log data as some sort of waypoints. You can convert log points into waypoints but it chops quite a few out. However, for the sake of actual GPS navigation, I don't know if this is necessary.

This is fun stuff.


Waypoints are stored in the GPS unit in a separate area (waypoints) and the track (the route you've ridden) are stored as a Track. With my Garmin GPSII, I can store 200 waypoints and only 766 trackpoints. This turns out to be good for only about an hour and a half of track recording. The GPSIII stores 3,000 trackpoints. Way better.

About the Topo! Software, I purchased it about a year ago and was very disappointed. The DeLorme product has many more features and a much better GPS interface than Topo!. Output is also superior with DeLorme. No, I don't work for DeLorme. I do, however, create digital maps for a living using $10,000 software and sub-meter differential GPS (accurate to about six inches).

For me, the GPS motorcycle trail mapping thing is just a hobby. Many of my riding buddies get a kick out of the maps I produce, and sometimes they even come in handy on the trail. DeLorme's product will plot profiles, can zoom in to extreme detail (not shown in my demo), and you can turn on or off many map "features", i.e. roads, elevation contours, placenames, etc. Bottom line it is much better than Topo! and in the long run probably cheaper too.

Ron and Bryan,

Can you reset your track log acquisition rate to a slower rate? I slowed down the rate of collecting points to get more time, something like every 30 seconds spreads out 750 points to over 6 hours.

Ron you've got me hooked on this, it sounds like a money pit to me too!


Thanks for the tip! Free!!! Wow!!!

James Dean

I've been trying the WayPoint software that Ron told me about and it works GREAT!

I can now take track logs and save them off, or turn them into waypoints. I can put the track logs on my Topo! map and make a perfect map. I can edit the track log points and re-load them into my GPS.

By the way, this software DOES work with GPS III+

I'm stoked!

Thanks Ron for helping me in this GPS world!

Bryan... :)

Hey all!

I was wondering if you guys could help me get started here. I'm looking at the GPS III+ and am wondering what else I should I should get. I want to map and name and print all my trials as accurately as possible.

Let me have it, dont leave anything out. It aint gonna be cheap but whoever dies with the most toys...

If you know of a good place to buy this tuff cheaper please post.


Great question. You can reset your track log acquisition rate to a slower rate, and this works if you are not going to "map" the track. What happens is you loose all your resolution with the track, making the lines go strait from recorded point to recorded point. Curved trails become straight, and your maps have the appearance of being very inaccurate.

I've found it works best to just leave it on auto. Now if I could just figure out how to solder a new memory chip onto the GPSII that would give me 3,000 points or more…

Thanks for the info Ron.

The GPS III can convert it's log data to waypoints but many are lost in the conversion. The log points must be stored in a seperate format? It would be nice to be able to access these log points directly since they represent an EXACT position on the trail. Am I confusing you? I'm new to this.

James, as far as your aquisition rate, the GPS III+ allows you to customize your aquisition rate for automating waypoints. But, the log tracking is done seperately and the rate is pretty tight. This must be a GPS III thing?

Yesterday on my mountain bike, I rode a local trail and entered way points after each major turn. I did the waypoints after each turn because I figured the little arrow would point to the correct direction if someone retraced my path. When I got home I downloaded the GPS waypoints to my Topo! software. I then went back to my GPS III + log data and got long/lat coordinates between my waypoints by pointing the arrow on my GPS to the log point and recording the associated long/lat on my Topo! map. This gave me an EXACT path of my ride on Topo!.

I can then get elevation profiles, distance etc. But, the process of filling in the waypoints using the GPS log tracking data is combersome and I wish I could just access this log data directly.

Ron, you say the Topo! doesn't have a good GPS interface. I purchased Topo! GPS to go with my already loaded Topo! for the Colorado Front Range. It seems to interface pretty nicely. I'd be interested to see what the DeLorme does better. Have you used the Topo! GPS add-on? The Topo! for Colorado has adequate trails and 4wd roads but not as good as other maps I've seen. How does the DeLorme compare? Have you mostly used the California Topo's with the two products?

Now that you, Ron and James, are telling me the DeLorme software is better, I have to go check that out. DAMN YOU GUYS! I'll have my wife call you BOTH!

Ron, I might have to call you sometime to discuss all this cool stuff.



I use this sometimes to connect track logs and to rename waypoints. It works great. Did I mention it's FREE!

Go to:

Bryan, now am I off the hook with the wife?

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now