Garmin’s Edge Routing Still Sucks … and Unlocking Garmin City Navigator Maps

After cracking the screen on my Edge 800 I upgraded to a Garmin Edge 1000 which is a fantastic unit and a huge improvement. I really like the new interface and the ability to run multiple sensors. With Glosnoss the GPS fix is almost immediate and much more accurate.

But what about routing? Last year when racing the Transcontinental from London to Istanbul I, along with a number of others, were taken on what called the ‘Tour de Garmin’ wherein the routing software on our Garmin GPS units (I was using an Edge 800) took us on seemingly random—and always longer—routes than any rational human (or halfway decent routing algorithm) would take.  I was quite impressed with the wide number of options now available for routing but unfortunately … it still sucks.  Oh, and it also won’t read the Garmin City Navigator Maps. Here is a bit of a rant, and a solution for the maps issue.

Routing

I decided to test the unit when returning from a training ride by asking it to route me home. I know all the roads in this area really well and so would be able to make an assessment of the quality (or otherwise) of the recommended route.  I didn’t need to think deeply—just look at the routing proposed on the screen below.

image

I was at the intersection of State Highway 60 and Pugh Road. There is one bridge across the Waimea River and so one has to take SH60. However, even though I had selected the ‘Shortest Distance’ option, it proposed taking me about 1.5 km over to Lower Queen Street, and then 1.5 km back before rejoining SH60 to cross the bridge. Hello. That is not the shortest distance route.

Perhaps it was because there was a bicycle path on Lower Queen street (although it was not routing me there), but you can see that after crossing the bridge it takes me inland before rejoining SH60 at Westdale road and taking me home.

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I tried all the options:

  • Shortest time
  • Routing for bicycles, touring, cars and motorcycles
  • Combinations of the above

And the system still wanted to take me away from the shortest route distance or time wise. It was only when I turned off the ‘Avoid Major Highways’ that it would take me home the most direct route.  While one wants to avoid motorways, two-lane State Highways in New Zealand are not exactly major highways. Besides, it put me on the highway to get across the Waimea River!

So I’ll have to leave the ‘Avoid Major Highways’ off when I’m racing the Transcontinental again this year. Hope I don’t need to do any auto-routing because who knows where I’ll end up. Pity that Garmin can’t do better …

Unlocking Garmin Maps For the Edge 1000

I bought the Garmin City Navigator maps for my Edge 800 and used them when cycling in the USA and Europe. One would naturally assume that when upgrading to the new Edge 1000 all I would have to do is to swap out the SD card and the maps would work. Ahhhh, that would be too easy for Garmin.  I got the cryptic message ‘Cannot Unlock Maps’.

After visiting the Garmin support boards I find that this is a common complaint going back a year, with no solution beyond a promised future upgrade. Well done Garmin.

All is not lost because one can get an Open Street Map custom done for your device from: http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl/, but it did bother me that I could not use my existing maps.

As always, if you dig deep enough on the Internet there is a solution. Tthe site: http://www.navitotal.com/tutorials-f90/unlocking-any-garmin-map-t16213.html has an ‘Unlocker’ for Garmin maps. Managing to avoid the adware, I downloaded it, put it in the file with my maps and ran it. Soon there was an unlocked version. Moving it over to the memory card and the maps loaded. 

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