GPS showdown

A couple of years ago I did a GPS showdown between my old Garmin 205 and my then-new Timex Global Trainer GPS.  Now that I have become hooked on Strava, I became disenchanted with the Timex as it does not support upload to nor export to Strava (shame on you Timex for not working this out).  So, most of my rides where done with my Timex on the handlebars and my iphone with the Strava app running in my pocket.  I like the data that is produced with the Timex, which is uploaded to Training Peaks…..but not having direct Strava compatibility really sucks.  Then my iphone app started getting extremely weak GPS signals and oftentimes would not record any ride data.  I tried updating the app software, but it didn’t improve.

So, I started looking around and doing some research on low-priced GPS units that could directly export to Strava.  I really didn’t want to spend the $200+  on a Garmin Edge 500, and ended up instead getting a much cheaper Cateye Stealth 50.  Cateye uses their proprietary Cateye Sync software for downloading the ride data from the unit.  The software is fairly straightforward and user-friendly, and offers one-button uploading to cateyeatlas.com and strava.com.  It also allows the data to be exported as several different file types such as .gpx and .fit that can be imported in Training Peaks.  The Cateye Atlas website pretty much sucks, but at least the data is there.  I typically go to Strava anyway.

I recently did two GPS showdowns, this time between my now-old Timex and the new Cateye Stealth.  My first ride was on July 7th on one of my typical quick training routes on the mountain above Mt Laurel.  It is mostly pavement with little tree cover, so I figured the satellite signal would be strong enough to get a good shakedown.  My second showdown was on August 2nd while riding trails at Oak Mtn State Park.  The July Strava ride data can be found here.  The August Strava data can be found here.

First, the comparison from July goes like this: Timex = 11.03 miles, 13.8 mph avg, 2651′ elevation gain; Cateye = 11.30 miles, 14.5 mph avg, 1257′ elevation gain.  Having ridden this ride numerous times, I knew that the elevation gain should be much closer to what the Cateye showed than what the Timex showed.  Plus, I have always known that the GPS signal on my Timex would occasionally get spotty and rob me of some mileage.

For the August comparison, I forgot to start the Timex until 5:15 into my ride.  Nonetheless, the ride data looked like this: Timex = 13.03 miles, 9.4 mph avg, 3507′ elevation gain; Cateye = 15.4 miles, 10.5 mph avg, 1296′ elevation gain.  I had covered right at around 1 mile when I turned on the Timex, so it should have finished only 1 mile different from the Cateye.  Instead, it was off by over 2 miles.  And once again the Cateye proved to be closer to what the elevation gain should be.

So, with these two shootouts I can realistically state that the Cateye Stealth 50 more accurately records both ride distance and elevation gain as opposed to the Timex Global Trainer GPS.  Another thing I like better about the Cateye is the cleaner mounting option (rather than the rubber ring that snaps around a handlebar for the Timex).  What I have found that I don’t like, however, is that sometimes when exporting to Strava or Training Peaks the Cateye will only send partial data (such as only giving credit for 3 miles after a 15-mile ride).  This has usually happened when I am exporting multiple ride files at once, so I will hold out hope that it works properly when doing just one ride at a time.

All in all I’ve been pretty pleased with the Stealth 50, and think that for the money it is a good investment.  It pairs with my speed/cadence sensor on my CX bike, which allows it to give more accurate readings for speed and distance, along with the added benefit of cadence data.  Next time I get a chance I plan to do another GPS showdown while on a road ride with the CX bike paired with the speed/cadence sensor.  Once that comparison is done I will try to post an update.

Cateye Atlas ride data from July

Cateye Atlas ride data from July

Training Peaks ride data from July

Training Peaks ride data from July

Strava app ride data from July

Strava iphone app ride data from July – obviously way off

topping out point of July ride - 7999 Double Oak Way

topping out point of July ride – 7999 Double Oak Way

Cateye Stealth 50 (left) and Timex Global Trainer (right)

Cateye Stealth 50 (left) and Timex Global Trainer (right)

Cateye Atlas ride data from August

Cateye Atlas ride data from August

Training Peaks ride data from August

Training Peaks ride data from August

Cateye ride map from August

Cateye ride map from August

Training Peaks ride map from August

Training Peaks ride map from August

Strava iphone app ride data from August

Strava iphone app ride data from August

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