UPDATED: Kit review – iGPSport BSC200 GPS unit

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
4) Cheap

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!

Features

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!

Bluetooth

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.

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The app works well, and I can download one of my routes from RideWithGPS, even while camped in the middle of nowhere, import it into the app, then transfer the route to the BSC200. From there on, the unit can guide me to remain on the route.

Privacy warning!

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.

Ant+

The unit supports speed and cadence sensors, and heart rate monitors in both Bluetooth and Ant+, but with power meters it only supports Ant+.

Navigation

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 BSC200 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.

Other features

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).

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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.

Using it without the app

It’s entirely possible to use the unit without the app, though you will then be reduced to connecting it via a USB cable. The USB cable supplied is a charge-only cable, and won’t work for this. If you connected the cable with a USB data cable, on a Windows PC it will show up as a removable drive.

Within that removeable drive, you will find an iGPSPORT folder, and inside that, subfolders named Activities, Courses, Settings, System and Workouts. The Activities folder contains logs of all your recorded rides, in .FIT format.

In the Courses folder you will see routes you transferred to the unit, via the app, listed .CNX and .TCNX format. Don’t worry about those formats – you can drop a GPX or TCX file directly into this folder, and it will become available to select as a course to follow.

As you can see, you can easily use this device without the app, and as the hardware is really good, it remains a great option and value-for-money alternative to a Garmin, or similar.

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. It will generate a different link each time.

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.

Verdict

UPDATE:
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.

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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 via the app. 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 probably yes, but with some misgivings.

Below is what I originally wrote. The physical device I remain very happy with, but the app comes close to making 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 and 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.

15 thoughts on “UPDATED: Kit review – iGPSport BSC200 GPS unit”

  1. Very interesting review. I’m thinking along similar lines (I currently use Komoot on my phone, but agree about the drawbacks of using the phone), so will look further at this. I’m only mildly concerned about the Chinese tracking me, but…

    In your research did you consider Beeline Velo? https://beeline.co/pages/beeline-cycling It is a bit more expensive, but I wondered if you discounted it on other grounds?

    Reply
    • I’m not for a moment saying that they will track you, only that the possibility exists. To be fair, the same goes for Garmin Connect, Strava and various others.
      As for the Beeline Velo, it has only a third of the battery life that the BSC200 has. Battery life is vitally important to me, as I usually do off-grid cycle touring, and so need to be self-sufficient i.t.o. charging. Having a cycle computer with excellent battery life removes one more worry.

      Reply
      • It’s unclear. I understand the app went down one day with a server error, but did it come back online?

        Reply
        • Yes, it came back online, after almost a day’s outage. The point is the outage proved that, while the device kept working during the outage, there’s no way to get data off the device, or onto the device, when their servers are down, and frankly that’s unacceptable.

          Reply
  2. I was reading the Cycle UK magazine a couple of issues back and there was an article about cheaper alternatives to cycling equipment. They said about Ride with GPS but also cycle.travel app (I’ve been blown away by this, the free version is awesome but £1.99 a month to support the guy gets you os map access!). Anyway the main thing I wanted to say is someone recommended using an old Samsung Galaxy S5 as a cycle computer. They’re quite rainproof, cost around £15-25 second hand and you can swap the batteries out in them. I might give that a try

    Reply
    • I’m a MASSIVE fan of RideWithGPS. There are very valid reasons why I do all the maps on here using that, and I also use the excellent RideWithGPS app when touring, or simply following routes that I haven’t memorised.
      While OS Maps are very good, Open Street Map (and it’s subsets, like the superb Open Cycle Map) are now so good that I see no point in paying for OS Maps access. The benefit of Open Street Map is that anyone can (and should!) edit the map, which is easier than you think.

      Reply
  3. Does this unit (BCS200) work with Varia radar? I believe the newer BCS300 and iGS530 does.

    Reply
  4. Thanks so much for the review. Was on the verge of buying one. Big U-turn following excellent review.
    Many thanks.
    Barry

    Reply
    • I’m still using mine, and it continues to work just fine. However, I cannot in good faith recommend this unit to anyone (and I assume ALL their cycle computers suffer the same reliance on their cloud infrastructure). I think you made the right choice in deciding to NOT buy one.

      Reply
  5. Does it work as regular speedometer/odometer, when I am just out with friends and don’t want to track a workout?

    Reply
    • As a cycling GPS unit, it works really well. Other than the server outage that led to the app not being able to sync data with the unit, mine’s been working extremely well.

      Reply
  6. I can’t speak for the app and I really only wanted the absolute basic function of ‘show me where to turn on a preprogrammed route’. But it seems like I am able to connect to the BSC200 fine with a USB cable. Admittedly, they sent a ‘power only’ USB cable with the device. But providing my own power/data USB, I turn the unit off and plug it into a computer, it acts just like a USB thumb drive at that point. I see folders of Activities, Courses, Settings, System and Workouts …and about 12.5MB of free space. I dump my gpx files in the Courses folder and they are available in the Navigation > Routes section. Note that this connectivity doesn’t work with the device on.

    Possibly this ‘old fashioned file transfer’ could be a workaround in a server crash, or for people just wanting the basic functions without the CCP looking over their shoulder. Ether way, thanks for the great and informative review!

    Reply
    • Hi Corey,
      Thanks for that. Yes, USB transfer works, though I’ve not yet tested it with TCX files (my preferred format).

      Reply

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