Yesterday I got the Oregon attached to the stem of my mountain bike for a 10 mile jaunt through town and on the local mtb trails. I have a handful of impressions about how it worked in that application. First, have I mentioned yet how I like the mounting system on this?
The mount fits nicely on my stem with no unusual protruding parts. What is especially nice is that unlike the earlier (pre-Edge 500) Edges, the release tab is not some flimsy little tab that people with gorilla hands are going to be apt to break. The release tab on this mount is solid, it’s out of the way, and it had better not break.
Now I never had a problem with breaking the release tab on any of my Edge 705 mounts. I had them mounted on two bikes, too. One mount was the earlier style stem mount that came in the box with the GPS. The other I purchased aftermarket and it turned out that Garmin had redesigned it slightly to have a thicker release tab. I didn’t have problems with either one.
At any rate, I like the stem mount for the Oregon. And, it looks like Garmin likes it, too. They use it on their 62 and 78 series, as well as the Dakota models, also.
The GPS itself fits the stem mount location well, too. It’s slightly larger than the Edge in length and width, and significantly larger in thickness. Those larger dimensions did not make it difficult to fit on my bike. If you had a shorter stem, you’d certainly have troubles, as you can see by my shot of the mount. You might be able to shim the mount to make it sit a little higher in some situations. But some stems are too short to mount anything to. Fortunately, this same mount can attach the GPS to the handlebars, too.
I went ahead and installed a screen protector onto this thing. I’ve damaged enough gadget screens that I figured it’d be worthwhile. The particular one I used is a ScreenGuardz Universal. I had to cut it to make it fit. You can see a lot of bubbles in it in the picture to the right. I’m hoping those fade (the instructions say they will), but they do not reduce screen visibility that much. I was able to read the screen on the Oregon 450 pretty much on my whole ride with the backlight off. On one situation, I was out in the sun with the sun blasting right onto the screen, but turning the backlight on solved any visibility difficulties.
Now for my impressions based on its tracking abilities. There were no reception problems on my ride whatsoever. I wouldn’t expect any (I’ve never lost signal before), though. Upon analyzing the track afterwards, I particularly looked at a location where my riding group stopped just to talk for quite awhile. It was nice out and we were enjoying being outside. I compared that location with the one from an earlier ride (with the Edge 705) where I stopped for a long time and noticed quite a scatter. By the way, the white object in the picture on the left is a water tower. No, I did not climb the water tower.
But the Oregon 450 did not scatter nearly as much during an extended stoppage period. Actually, it looks like the Oregon automatically condenses tracks and reduces the number of track points prior to download automatically. I have it currently set on an automatic record method at the “most often” interval, but when I plug in the USB cord, the GPS cycles through some messages about saving the active track. I did have the Edge set for 1sec recording, and it may be that condensing process on the Oregon that reduces the scatter for periods of extended time in one place.
Overall, my track for the ride came out nicely.
One thing I see is that there was some nice barometric drift occurring while we were stopped talking in the woods. That’d be why the starting and ending elevations are not the same. I also noticed that I was not bumping into the controls of the Oregon while I was riding. With the Edge 705, I had a tendency to hit the little joystick button. I’d lock the controls out so it didn’t do anything, but the GPS would still beep at me when I did it, to alert me that the buttons were locked out. Likewise, I locked out the touch screen on the Oregon, and it will beep at you to tell you the screen is locked if you try to use it during that time. I never got alerted as I was riding (and having mechanical issues with my derailleur).
I am still happy with the Oregon 450 GPS, and so far its performance for mountain biking is pretty good. I think on my next ride, I’ll try using 1sec recording to see how much drift it processes out by using auto recording. I’ll be taking the Oregon out for a hike today and probably look for a couple geocaches, so I’ll report back with my impressions about its performance in those cases.