Overall rating: ⭐
Do read the update to this review further below.
I know my cunning plan was to never replace my ageing old Garmin Edge 500 GPS unit, and instead rely on the superb RideWithGPS app on my phone. It was for this exact reason that I bought a rugged, waterproof smartphone.
Some flaws in the plan led to the BSC200
There were a few minor flaws in that grand plan, though. For starters, my phone is only waterproof when the headphones and charge ports are closed. Obviously, running GPS hammers the battery a bit, and as a result I need to often have the phone on charge while riding. That cannot safely be done in the rain.
Additionally, when the screen is wet, the touch-screen doesn’t work as it should. That’s common to all waterproof touch-screen devices.
Finally, what consumes most battery power is keeping the screen on. That’s easily overcome, by setting the RideWithGPS app to switch off the screen, and only switch it on near junctions. In fact, I set the app to keep the screen switched off, but to give me voice instructions, while I keep the volume on the phone cranked up.
That works really well, but also means I don’t have the ability to at a glance see what speed I’m doing, what the time is, and what the gradient of a road may be. As a result, I still used to use my old Edge 500, though the battery life on it is now down to around only 6 hours.
Introducing the BSC200
True to my original plan, I wasn’t willing to spend several hundred on a new GPS computer. My needs are simple:
1) Basic GPS navigation (I don’t need full maps)
2) Long battery life
3) Easy to use
The iGPSPort BSC200 ticks all these boxes, so I ordered one. First, an explainer though: this is a Chinese-made device, and it can sync ride data through their app (Android or iOS) with their cloud servers. While you can use just the most basic functions without the app, to do anything remotely useful, you need to link the unit via Bluetooth to your phone, using the free iGPSport app.
There are some glaring privacy concerns there, starting with the fact that by default all the routes you add to the app are public. I didn’t realise this until some completely random stranger liked a route I added to the app!
Great battery life
While cheap and cheerful (it cost me quite a bit less than my Edge 500 did, back when I bought that new) the BSC200 outperforms my old Edge 500 in every way. For starters, at 30 hours of use, the battery life is FAR better!
Because it links to my phone via Bluetooth, and the app in turn can link to Strava, even when camped in a field in the middle of nowhere, I can quickly and easily get my ride uploaded. I changed the settings so all my routes and all my rides are private to me only.
However, as someone who’s day-job involves IT security, I need to highlight this next bit: You have no way of knowing who at the company is able to look at your routes and your rides, regardless of the privacy setting. If you’re a Chinese national that left China, and is a critic of the Chinese state, I would seriously caution you against using any iGPSport devices! This is especially important, given what I wrote in the updated section further below.
As it happens, while I am a privacy activist, I’m also known for publicly live-sharing many of my ride – I did so during my recent(ish) Wild Atlantic Way adventure. As a result, personally I’m not overly concerned about whether staff at iGPSport can or cannot see my logged rides, and to be fair, I also don’t know if staff at either Garmin or Strava can see my logged rides.
The unit supports speed and cadence sensors, and heart rate monitors in both Bluetooth and Ant+, but with power meters it only supports Ant+.
You’d expect navigation from a unit like this, but bear in mind that it doesn’t support full maps. Instead, it effectively does breadcrumb navigation, but that works well enough for me. Besides, I have much better, detailed maps available on my phone, which also has a larger screen.
It supports GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, Gallileo and QZSS, and I found satellite lockon to be fast. Unlike my Garmin Edge 500, the NSC200 has never left me waiting ages for satellite signal.
When navigating a route, you need to download the .gpx or .tcx file to your phone, then transfer it to the device via Bluetooth. When you then select a route to follow, the unit works well, and alerts you to upcoming turns in advance. It’s simple, but very effective.
The BSC200 has an automatic backlight, and does auto-pausing and auto-sleep. I’ve taken to just leaving it on the bike (provided I remain nearby!) and letting it pause itself, then go to sleep. When it’s time to ride again, the integrated motion sensor will wake the unit up again as soon as you move your bike.
It also supports SRAM eTap and Shimano DI2, and can be used on a smart turbo trainer. Finally, it logs the temperature and displays the gradient you may be riding on, depending on how you’ve configured the display settings (they’re customisable).
The unit uses the same mounting system as Garmin devices, though initially it was a bit tight on my out-in-front mount. It also comes with a mounting that can be fitted to the stem, and it uses USB-C to charge.
Live-sharing your location
The BSC200 has a feature that allows you to live-share your location with people you choose. Once the unit started recording a ride, in the app you can generate a link to share with others, allowing them to see where you are. Obviously, the unit shares its location with your phone, via Bluetooth, and the app on your phone does the sharing to the link it generated.
Again, there’s a privacy caution around this: while only people with the link can see your location, anyone with the link can see it. That means, if you sent me your link, and I then shared it with everyone who follows me on Twitter, ALL those people will also be able to follow your progress in almost real-time.
Finally, of course the location-sharing only works as long as you have your phone’s Bluetooth turned on (the app wants to turn it on when you launch it) and your phone has a data signal.
I have changed my mind about this device. Further below you can read what I originally said about it – I left that in unchanged. Why the U-turn? Simple:
On the 11th of July 2023, the app for this device stopped working on my phone. It started up, then displayed an error message, saying it couldn’t connect to the server. With a day-job in IT, I have enormous sympathy for anyone having to deal with a server catastrophe. However, there simply can be NO excuse for creating your app in such a way that it cannot work if your servers are down.
There’s simply no excuse for this. I couldn’t even connect to the BSC200 device from the app, meaning I couldn’t retrieve my logged rides. Everything about the app seems geared to linking you to the iGPSport servers, which from a technical perspective makes no sense.
The device itself continued to function, and I still consider it a rock-solid device. The app I now consider to simply be a poorly-engineered piece of spyware, with serious privacy issues.
With any product review, I ask myself a simple question: If I knew beforehand what I know now, would I still have bought it?
In the case of the BSC200, the answer is a resounding no!
Below is what I originally wrote. The physical device I remain happy with, but the app makes it a deal-breaker.
Overall, I’m very happy with the BSC200. That certainly doesn’t mean I give it a five-star grading, though. You get what you pay for, and this unit is best described as cheap & cheerful. My biggest gripe is probably a bit petty though: the casing had an uncomfortably sharp edge to it, which I dulled by scraping it down a bit.
It’s not touch-screen, but I consider that to be a bonus. You see, controlling touch-screen devices doesn’t work well in the rain, and besides, having large external buttons to use mean I’d be able to easily operate it in in the depth of winter, while wearing full winter gloves.
The BSC200 delivers considerably more than my old Edge 500, and navigation (while still basic) is better, too. All for a price considerably cheaper than what I bought the Edge 500 for. If you’re in the market for a cheap cycling GPS unit, and you’re not a Chinese dissident, this may well be exactly what you’re after.