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GPS for cyclists

Why are the benefits of a GPS over a map. Do you need it or is a map enough on your bicycle journey? To answer that, we need to know what it is and why you possibly want it.

What is a GPS


A Global Positioning System is a global navigation satellite system (GNSS) developed by the United States Department of Defense.

It has become widely operational in 1993. It became a useful tool for ship, geologists, surveyors, ships and ... bicycle adventures!

The principle is simple: the system needs 4 satellites for an accurate position on earth. 3 seems to be enough as space has 3 dimensions but there is a small clock error multiplied by the speed of light which results in a positional error, hence the 4th satellite.

Do you really need it on the bicycle?

Do you really need a tool like this? Honest answer in my opinion? No, in most cases a decent map will do. Even if the map is in local language (see my story about cycling without a map).

So why would you choose to bring one?

The answer is quite simple: the more expensive odo meters have it build in!


And if you have the money to get a more expensive odometer, why not using.

The question is if you need to know your position at the meter? Not really. But it is a handy gadget in cities to find the hotel you are looking for (if you know the address).

It is extremely useful in the middle of nowhere to find out how far you still have to go. But in general? I sincerely doubt it.

One reason is that such a tool is yet another gadget next to your cell phone, odometer, Ipad/Iphone and possible other electronics you may want to bring. One of the things about cycling is to experience the land where you are, meet the people where you travel. I know, I am old school, I don't use cell phones, Ipads and GPS's

Further, it's a piece of electronics, and despite it's made to endure, it can break down or being stolen. Replacing or repairing can be an expensive business if possible at all. This depends of course where you are cycling.

But that said, the choice is yours, many use it these days and  EBay is a good source to get them cheap.

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