Setting Up Your Garmin for Navigation

You’d think once you have put the GPX/TCX file on your Garmin, you could just ride it right? Wrong. Unless you change a few settings, navigation is a bit sketchy, trying to route you random ways, down footpaths, all sorts of rubbish.

What you need to set depends on your device. If you have a device that supports maps, but only have the basemap and not the expensive Navigation Bundle. You can get free, legal, fantastic maps. See my post on free maps.

Garmin 605/705

  1. Turn off recalculate route, with this on it will shortcut you home. Which is the start. Which is a short ride as you’re already there!
  2. Turn on Settings -> Map -> Lock on Road to keep you on road.

Took me some time to crack that. I had fun for a while, but with that everything is fantastic.

Garmin 800/810

  1. Routing => Bicycle
  2. Guidance Method => On Road
  3. Lock on Road => No
  4. Recalculate => Off or Prompted

I don’t have an 800/810, so I am not 100% sure of this. So if you know better, let me know.

Garmin 1000

  1. Click the Settings Icon at the bottom of the home screen
  2. Select Activity Profiles then select your preferred profile
  3. Select Navigation, then select Routing
  4. Set Routing Mode to Road Cycling
  5. Set Calculation Method to Minimize Distance (though Minimize Time shouldn’t be too different)
  6. Ensure Lock On Road is set to On
  7. Select Avoidance Setup and make sure all options are disabled. Since we are loading pre-planned routes onto the Edge, we don’t want it recalculating the route on us if it thinks there may be a toll, highway etc.
  8. Set Recalculation to Disabled.

Garmin Touring

Don’t know, sorry 🙂

Garmin 500

It doesn’t do fancy navigation and maps, it just points an arrow. No further setup required.

Downloading and Copying Files to Your Garmin

First step is to download from the Strava Route page. This will have options for “Export TCX” or “Export GPX”. You probably want a GPX file, unless you know specifically your device requires a TCX file (Garmin 500, 510 for example) . Click on the right button and your browser will download the file to your disk.

Where it goes depends on your browser and set up. I prefer Google Chrome. In this case you get a little box in the status bar for the file you have downloaded:



Click on the drop down arrow and select the “Show in Folder” option. This will jump you straight to the file selected in Windows Explorer. You can then right click on the file and select “Copy” from the context menu.



With Internet Explorer, it’s similar, but you have to confirm you want to Save the file:


And then select Open Folder:


You then need to navigate to your Garmin. On the tree on the left side of Windows Explorer there should be a GARMIN device, if you plugin your Garmin via the USB cable.



Clicking into this should show your Garmin folder, and inside that, your GPX (Edge 605, 705) or NewFiles folder (Edge 500, 510, 800, 810, 1000, Touring, Touring Plus). Click into there and press Ctrl-V, or right click and select Paste to copy the file in.

That should be Job Done. However, some users find that clicking on the GARMIN device launches various Garmin software. This is irritating Windows Autorun features. Just close whatever it opens and hopefully it’s let you in. If not, on the left hand side, when you hover over the GARMIN device you should get some little expander arrows or plus signs.


Carefully click on these smaller icons to expand out the folder structure until you can see the GPX/NewFiles folder and click directly into that to paste.

And that really is job done.


Using Routes on a Garmin

This is just a quick guide to help people load routes onto their Garmin’s for successful cycling navigation.

  1. Get your device set up right
  2. Get a route onto the device
  3. Ride with the navigation enabled

You need to make sure the right options are set on your garmin, or you won’t get turn by turn direction and you’ll get all sorts off odd behaviour. It varies by garmin. I only have a 705. Important thing is to turn recalculate off on all garmins, or generally it finds the quickest way to the end. Which given most rides for us start and end in the same place makes for short, confused rides 🙂 You may also need to turn on “stay on roads” or whatever the option is.

For turn by turn directions, like a car satnav on a 705, 800 or 810, you need to use GPX files. Unfortunately, Garmin Connect downloads the TCX option to your device. Which is why I re-draw club routes on strava as that lets me export the GPX file. GPX files go in the GPX folder on your garmin when plugged in to your computer.

500 it seems gives your best navigation option with a TCX file.

To get a route on your device from Garmin Connect, make sure you:

  1. Install Garmin Express
  2. Visit the course
  3. Click send to device

It should then be on your device as a TCX.

If you want a file from Strava, Click Export, pick your device type and follow the instructions (use the GPX file unless you have a 500/510).

When riding, choose the route to navigate.

Now, bit vague with these instructions, but, there are more detailed Ride with GPS specific details on the Ride with GPS support pages here. I will try and improve the info here when I have more time. Grab me at the start of a Club run if you can and I’ll see if there’s anything I can do to help, or grab me on Facebook.

Free Garmin Maps

Many people ride with a Garmin GPS unit. Some people have Garmin Edge 500 or 510, these don’t provide a map display. Some people ride with a Garmin Edge 705, 800, 810 or 1000. These do support maps.

Some people with the map supporting Garmins do not have the maps as the Ordnance Survey map bundles are pricey. Some people aren’t taking the upgrade plunge because of the map price.

Fortunately, thanks to Open Street Maps, there are free suitable maps you can use. Frankly, it’s a bit confusing finding out what you need and how to use it.

So this is it boiled down for cyclists in the UK who want a “just get me mapping option”

  1. You need a MicroSD card to go in the Garmin. You may already have one. You only need a 1gb one for the maps I recommend.  An 8GB Sandisk high quality card is less than a fiver from Amazon
  2. You need to download the maps, I use and recommend Talkie Toaster’s UK Contour Routable maps and have ridden with them for years now. Download this file. Or if you know what you want look here.
  3. When you download the file, it’s a zip file, extract the file there should be a GMAPPSUP.img file in it. That’s what you want.
  4. Follow from Step II here.

You now have free maps on your Garmin.