GPS / Heart Rate Monitors, Linux, Cycling...
May 18, 2016 3:32 PM   Subscribe

I have various questions related to GPS watches and cycle computers, particularly when used with Linux.

First, does anyone here use Linux with these devices? Can they be made to work? Is it reliable / simple? Will I be able to use Strava? I don't have easy access to Windows, Android or Apple (but I could start up a VM running WIndows I guess).

If the hardware details matter: I am considering buying a Garmin Forerunner 230 to track my cycling (along with suitable ANT+ sensors). An alternative is the Lezyne Mini GPS, but I prefer the watch because I won't need to remember to add / remove anything when leaving my bike out in public.

Second question: does the above (using a 230 to track bike use) seem reasonable? I am only planning to track cycling (not running or swimming) and I don't need a constant display while on my bike.

And third question: does anywhere sell the 230 with the cycle and heart sensors as a lower priced bundle?

posted by andrewcooke to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm a developer, frequent Linux user and bike rider. I've got a Garmin Edge 510 that I use on OSX all the time. When I plug it in via USB it shows up as a disk drive and I can browse the filesystem. I can pluck the GPX file from the Garmin and upload it to Strava just fine. I think that should all work the same on Linux.

Most folks who ride bikes use the Edge series of computers. If you need bike mounts, the Edge's have a big selection of accessories. I've seen a few folks use the Forerunner series to track their bike rides too. Should work fine either way.
posted by thebigdeadwaltz at 4:21 PM on May 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've had less luck using the Sigma Rox 10 with Linux. Actually, the device will mount as a drive but uses a file format that doesn't translate to apps like Strava. The included Data Center app is used to manage data an transform to formats like GPX and FIT. Unfortunately that's something I didn't get running on Linux, even via WINE. Since I run a Windows VM anyway to VPN to work, it's not a huge imposition to use it to manage the data coming off the ROX 10.

OTOH, the device, sensors, and app are solid. I've been super pleased with the bundle.
posted by Fezboy! at 5:36 PM on May 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

so it sounds like the garmin approach uses the same protocol as linux-compatible mp3 players - basically a usb drive. great. thanks!
posted by andrewcooke at 8:16 AM on May 19, 2016

I don't have experience with Linux and that specific device, so I don't know for certain if it works with Linux, but Garmin does specifically say that USB data transfer works for the Forerunner 230. Not all Garmin watches support that (so if you go for another watch you should check, it's really a pain to get data off a watch that only uses ANT+ dongles for transfer for example). I think the newest Garmin watches all support USB transfer though. If you have an iPhone, the newest watches, including the FR230, can sync through that too.

As for Strava: you can configure Garmin Connect to sync with Strava automatically (or alternatively, if you don't care about Garmin Connect at all and don't have an iPhone that makes automatic uploading to Garmin Connect easy, you can do what thebigdeadwaltz says and upload to Strava directly.)

The 230 is a great GPS watch. I think it's one of the watches that gives the most value for money at the moment. It may be a bit overkill if you just want to track bicycle rides, don't need a display (so presumably aren't interested in many things that distinguish the 230 from its cheaper counterparts), and don't care about its activity tracker and smartwatch functions. There are less expensive GPS watches/bike computers that will also track your workout, show your route, speed and heart rate, and (let you) upload it to Strava. They will have shorter battery life, but even the cheapest watches these days have a battery life of about 8 hours with GPS on. So, if you don't need the bells and whistles of the 230, you may be interested in those. Most of those watches will have a way to export to or sync with Strava. Garmin, TomTom and Suunto all should make this easy. Not sure if Polar supports Strava (natively) already. DC Rainmaker has a useful tool that lets you compare features of different watches/cycling computers and has super extensive reviews of many of them.
posted by blub at 10:00 AM on May 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

A follow-up. I now own a 230. It's a nice looking watch (surprisingly light). You can indeed upload to Strava by manually grabbing the file over USB with Linux. But you need Windows or OSX if you want to modify the software on the watch (eg update the OS version, add an analogue watch face or whatever). Turns out that Windows 7 running in VirtualBox can do this (run the Garmin Express program and talk to the watch over USB).
posted by andrewcooke at 6:59 PM on July 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

« Older Hello flu, goodbye hot flashes. Huh?   |   Measuring time in inches with a pendulum for a... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.