A guide to getting turn-by-turn navigation working on the Edge 800
The Edge 800 is fantastic for is navigation – I frequently cycle up to and over 100 miles, often in places I’ve never been before, without getting lost. Even better is that I pre-plan my route to visit particular places, follow the nicest roads/avoid the nasty roads and pass the features I want (cake stops!) when I want.
What’s not fantastic is the documentation on the best way to get this working. I’ve therefore put together this guide broken down into just 6 steps:
- Set up your Edge 800 – some of the default settings are a bit odd so we’ll change them (only needs doing once)
- Plan your route
- Download your route
- Copy your route onto the Edge 800
- Configure your route – again, some of the default settings are a bit odd so we’ll change them
- Go ride!
After the guide there’s some sections covering other relevant information.
As maps are so important to the success of turn-by-turn navigation, and the main reason people have problems, I’ve moved this section to the start.
In short, the built-in map on the Edge 800 only know about major roads and there is not the detail needed to give turn-by-turn navigation. If you’re reading this page you almost certainly need to add a better map via a Micro SD Card.
There are three options for these maps:
- Garmin City Navigator – good quality road maps, ideal for road riding only
- Garmin GB Discoverer 1:50K – OS maps for the UK, ideal for cross country mountain biking
- Open Street Map (OSM) – consumer made maps including cycle paths, ideal for road riding and use of cycle paths
The Garmin maps cost and you can’t get updates without buying another. However, they are very convenient as they come ready to go on a Micro SD Card.
I now prefer the OSM maps and, even better, they are free (except for the cost of the Micro SD Card). John Tiffany has written an excellent step-by-step guide to getting them in the comments below.
Some of the default settings on the Edge 800 are a bit odd/undesirable/wrong so you need to make a few changes (this only ever needs doing once).
Select Menu, Spanner (Wrench), System, Map and then set the options like so:
Once done, press the back arrow, select Routing and then set the options like so:
When you get to Avoidance Setup, set the options like so:
Keep pressing (or press and hold) the back arrow to get out of the menu system.
Plan your route
There are numerous websites out there that allow you to pre-plan a cycle route but RideWithGPS is by far the best so that’s what I’ll assume you’ll be using.
Some tips for route planning (originally written by Uncycle on the Garmin forums):
- To avoid the confusing the Edge 800, always finish a circular route 10-15 metres away from the start
- When plotting a route always click in road segments NOT at junctions (to avoid little side stubs when you click a bit inaccurately)
- Allow the website’s routing algorithm time after each click to complete its routing to that point (avoids odd little loopbacks)
- Go round the course at max zoom to check that all is correct
Another little trick that I do is to grab “peg man” and hover him over the route, if my route lights up blue, it means the Google StreetView car went down that part of the road and so there shouldn’t be a problem going down it myself. If it doesn’t light blue then why did the StreetView car not go down there? Most likely it’s an unpaved or private road that Google thinks is navigable when in fact it’s not practical and/or legal to do so.
Download your route
Once you’ve planned your route on RideWithGPS, use the Export feature to save the route as a GPX Track.
If you ignored the very first section about maps (and only have the built in ones) or you’ve added your own entries to the Cue Sheet on RideWithGPS and want to be notified of these, then you will need to export the route as a TCX.
Copy your route onto the Edge 800
Plug the Edge 800 into your computer, wait for it to be recognised and then copy the GPX file you exported into the Garmin\NewFiles folder on the Edge 800. I prefer to use the Garmin\NewFiles folder on the SD Card as it means that should the Edge 800 ever do a “factory reset” during a ride (I’ve heard this being reported, but it’s never happened to me) then at least my route is still safe.
Configure your route
Once you’ve got a route on the Edge 800, it’s worth changing a few of the default settings.
Unplug the Edge 800 from your computer and once it has booted up, select Menu, Courses, your course, Spanner (Wrench) and then set the options like so:
When you get to Map Display, set the options like so:
Of course you can pick any colour you like, but I find lime green works well. Note that this colour only applies when Always Display is On; If you’re “doing” a course then this will be shown in purple and you can’t change that. See Go Ride! section for clarification.
Keep pressing (or press and hold) the back arrow to get out of the menu system.
Once you’ve done the above actually navigating a route is really simple, just select Menu, Courses, your course & hit the big green Go button. This will cause the Edge 800 to:
- Overlay the route on the map page (in purple, you can’t change that)
- Give you turn-by-turn instructions (bleep & on screen prompt)
- Give a bleep and an instruction for every entry in the RideWithGPS cue sheet (if you used the TCX option)
- Shriek and show “Off Course” if you stray off the route
An alternative (if you don’t want the bleeps & prompts) is to not hit Go but select the Spanner (Wrench), Map Display and set Always Display to On. Then keep pressing (or press and hold) the back arrow until you’re out of the menu system. If you then find the map screen you’ll see your course displayed (in the colour you chose, e.g. lime green above) and you just need to follow the line. This option obviously removes any intelligence from the device, which is no bad thing if you don’t want to follow a course exactly or you’re not totally familiar with the technology and want to keep it simple and/or quiet.
Note that when you hit the Go button, the Garmin will say “Calculating” from 0 to 100% whilst it works out the turn-by-turn notifications for your route. The speed at which it goes through this process is not consistent (e.g. it may take as longer to get from 30% to 40% than it did to get from 20% to 30%). On longer routes it may stick on 100% for a while.
Ride WithGPS Premium Users
It’s worth noting that RideWithGPS Premium users have two extra features directly relevant to the Edge 800:
- Garmin Write – this sends a route directly to your Garmin Edge 800 as a GPX Track meaning the Putting a route onto the Edge 800 section is completely redundant and the whole process is easier/quicker.
- If you use the TCX format you can tick the “Notify before turn?” option to get an extra bleep just prior to junctions.
There are lots of other benefits to being a premium user as well as the fact you’re supporting a great website run by two great guys so it’s worth considering.
There are some issues/bugs relating to the above that I’m aware of:
- If the maps you have loaded don’t contain all the paths used on your route, the Garmin might change your route during the “Calculating” phase. I’ve heard of another user experience this and I’m 95% certain I saw this once or maybe twice when I used a lot of cycle paths on my way from Calais to Amsterdam. I did my route plan on RWGPS using OSM (which knew of the cycle paths) but had a Garmin map loaded on the Edge (which didn’t have all the cycle paths). I suspect different settings (e.g. “off road” in guidance) might of have meant this didn’t happen but I haven’t experimented as I now use the OSM maps on my Garmin so it’s unlikely to reoccur.
- Sometimes you don’t get a turn prompt when you expect one. This is because the map you have loaded doesn’t know about or understand the junction and isn’t a fault with the Garmin. Typically this happens when the map thinks a junction has a different layout (different road priorities) to what is marked on the road.
- I’ve heard people say that turn-by-turn notifications sometimes stop working during a route. I think I’ve seen this myself too, though I’m not very observant of it as I’m not very reliant on them. I’m happy just following the line on the screen, following the obvious road and relying on the “off course” shriek to alert me if I made a mistake. If this happens to you, then stop the course and restart it, it’ll carry on from where you are.
If you’ve any questions or comments re navigation using the Garmin Edge 800 then leave a comment below. Please don’t ask generic questions about the Edge 800 or questions not related to the above as unfortunately I’ve not got time to answer those, use the Garmin Forums instead.
You may also want to visit the excellent tutorial at ScarletFire.