Category Archives: Reviews

TomTom Rider v5 motor cycle GPS review

The newest version of TomTom’s GPS navigation device for motorcycles offers even more features to appeal to riders, but is it worth the price?

As you’d expect, the device is heavily ruggedized in order to cope with the rigors of daily use on the road, and is also resistant to rain and UV sunlight damage. Another key feature of the TomTom Rider is that the 4.3 inch touch-screen can easily be operated while wearing thick motorcycle gloves. The screen size is significantly increased from the previous model’s 3.5 inches, which makes viewing maps and other on screen information much easier to do with a quick glance, so you take your eyes off the road for less time.

Other than the larger screen, the biggest new feature for version five is the ‘Winding Roads’ option which enables you to find more interesting twisty roads on your route. There’s also integration with the route planning service, Tyre, which enables riders to create and share their favorite itineraries. Lifetime map updates are included in the purchase price.

The TomTom Rider comes supplied with a good quality motorcycle mounting kit from RAM, which has a proven track record in this area.

Power options include a six hour internal battery, which can be charged via a microUSB socket like most cellphones, as well as a wiring kit to connect the device to your motorcycle’s battery.

The TomTom Rider does not have a built in speaker, so if you want to get audio navigation instructions you’ll need to use it with a Bluetooth headset in your helmet. It’s unlikely that this will be a problem for most riders, since you’re not going to be able to hear the instructions from a built-in speaker over the wind and engine noise.

When compared against its main competitor, the Garmin zumo 390lm, the TomTom Rider seems a little bulky and offers marginally fewer features. However, it’s still a pretty good navigation system for motorcycles and, as of the time of writing, it’s available for $330, which is a lot less than the Garmin’s $600 price tag.

The real question is whether the Garmin offers enough benefits over the TomTom to justify an extra $270.

Product Name: TomTom Rider v5
Our Rating: 4/5
Amazon Link: TomTom RIDER Motorcycle GPS Navigator

Put some awesome on your head: The 8 Best Motorcycle Helmets for 2014

A motorcycle helmet not only keeps you safe but it can make the ride (not to mention your look) all the more awesome! Let’s take a look at what some of the top companies are offering new for this year!  – by Adam Louis.

Icon Airmada

The intimidating shell is home to industry leading intake and exhaust to help you keep a cool head on your hot ride. The moisture-wicking interior makes for a breathable, comfortable and safe space while a breath deflector keeps your line of sight clear as day (or night).

 

shoei_rf1200_motorcycle_helmetShoei RF-1200

This sleek and stylish slice of perfect protection offers superior aerodynamics, wind noise reduction while still allowing the rider to hear “informative sounds,” and a state-of-the-art ventilation system that combines cool conditions and silence. Combine that with a fits-like-a-glove interior, and it’s everything a rider asks from a high-end helmet and more. Shoei Solid RF-1200 Sports Bike Racing Motorcycle Helmet – get latest prices from Amazon

Bell Arrow

Simple, inexpensive and a hit with bikers everywhere, the Bell Arrow may be low in price, but it’s high in quality. Its lightweight shell, no-hassle anti-scratch shield and adjustable ventilation system helps keep the elements out and the comfort in. Starts at about $60. Bell Arrow Turbine Helmet on Amazon

Arai Signet-Q

Arai’s done it again, taking it’s gold standard RX-Q and creating a long-oval shape for a wider range of riders. The Signet-Q is every bit the perfect protection its younger brother is. It offers an advanced all-over ventilation system, peel-away temple pads for extra comfort and customization and spring supports to keep the helmet on and at the perfect amount of pressure. Starts at about $550.

Scorpion EXO-500

Scorpion is on the rise with the EXO-500. This top-notch helmet creates a sleek profile and features a retractable sun visor, perfectly engineered polycarbonate shell and element-fighting KwickWIck 2 liner (for warm or cool weather). Starts at about $210. Scorpion Bio-Metal EXO-500 on Amazon.

speed and strength ss700Speed and Strength SS700

The Speed and Strength SS700 boasts the perfect price tag for beginning riders while offering high-end quality. The aerodynamic, tough outer shell hosts a fully removable moisture-wicking liner, excellent air flow and a fog resistant, wide visor for optimum field of vision. Starts at about $90. Speed & Strength SS700 on Amazon

AGV K3AGV K3

AGV proves just because a helmet’s low in price doesn’t mean quality is sacrificed. This tough, lightweight has become a reliable industry standard. High on comfort and low on noise, this helmet features a high-resistant thermoplastic resin shell, standard Street 8 clear face shield, a micrometric adjustable chin strap and much more! Starts at about $170. AGV K3 Icon Helmet on Amazon.

LS2 FF386

Not only will you feel awesome pulling on this high-tech helmet, but you’ll be ready for the long haul! The flip-up chin bar allows for open-face riding when you want to feel the wind and a closed helmet when the going gets tough. Its wind-cutting design reduces rider fatigue and keeps you cool (or warm) behind a wide, sratch-resistant eyeport and precision-fit inner padding. Starts at about $170.

What helmet revs you up? Discuss in the comments below!

(Header photo credit: Richard Stowey)

Ducati Monster 1200S – Review Roundup

“Cleverly updated Italian icon that blends traditional Monster style and V-twin character with much improved performance, comfort and refinement.”
Rating: 4/5
Daily Telegraph – March 2014

 “…the air-cooled engine has been switched to a large, liquid-cooled 1198-cc twin derived from the same powerplant found in Ducati’s Diavel and Multistrada. Output eclipses the outgoing 1100 EVO model by a wheelie-popping 35 hp (or 45 hp with the S model). “
Popular Mechanics – February 2014

” It is the strongest, probably the best, and arguably the most beautiful ‘roadster’ in a long line of Ducati nakeds and most Monsteristi will once again fall for this newest iteration.”
Asphalt & Rubber – February 2014

 “The engine has linear power delivery, low vibration levels and a feeling of refinement. Engine surge and excessive drivetrain lash are evident only if you hunt for it, by, say, keeping it under 2,500 rpm in top gear. “
Cycle World – February 2014

“Driving out of corners, it nearly doesn’t matter how high a gear you’re in. A gentle throttle hand draws the power like water from a deep well. The wide bars make it easy to stand up quickly as the road unravels. Then you nail it and the power builds and builds and keeps building.”
Visor Down – February 2014

“There’s loads of mid-range and low-down grunt, and it sounds fantastic for a standard bike. The handling on the S model is excellent, just as happy on road or track, and light and easy to ride.”
Rating: 4/5
Motorcycle News – February 2014

“It doesn’t look dramatically different at first glance, but the 2014 Ducati Monster 1200 S gains a slew of modifications that make this naked bike’s personality much closer to its menacing moniker than ever before, while still maintaining an air of civility.”
About.com Motorcycles – February 2014

“Ducati has improved every aspect of its naked bike, making it faster, more comfortable and better handling. I expect the existing and new Monstertisti will fall head over heels for the 2014 Monster 1200S in short order.”
Motorcycle USA – February 2014

Review: Garmin zumo 390LM motorcycle GPS

Manufacturers of specialised motorcycle GPS navigation systems are having to find new ways to compete with smartphones which offer built in navigation features. The Garmin zumo 390LM is the newest offering designed specifically for motorcyclists, with the kind of specialised features that smartphones can’t compete with.

First up, the 390LM comes in a rugged, rubber casing that not only protects it from daily battering out on the road, but also keeps the unit from being damaged by water, fuel and UV sunlight. The 4.3 inch touch-screen is easy to use while wearing a pair of riding gloves.

The device is supplied with both motorcycle and car mounting options, and features all the expected connectivity options, including Bluetooth, MicroSD port, USB connector, and headset socket.

The LM designation shows that you get free Lifetime Maps with the zumo 390LM instead of having to pay for new versions whenever they’re updated. There are a few brand new features for this model. Curvy Roads mode will help you find a more route that has more interesting, twisty Tarmac – perfect for riders who want to work on scrubbing off their tire’s chicken-strips.

The unit’s Bluetooth feature means it’s now easy to connect your smartphone to it, so with a headset you can easily answer calls while you’re riding. For many riders being unreachable is part of the joy of being out on the road, but long distance riders might well appreciate the ability to take calls without having to stop.

When used with a pair of optional tire pressure sensors (currently priced at $69.99 each) which fit onto your valve stems, the zumo 390LM will also monitor the pressures and provide you with a visual alert if they drop below a preset level. The system can monitor up to four wheels, so you could set up your car as well as your motorcycle if you intend to use the device with both vehicles.

Currently selling for $699, the zumo 390LM is certainly more costly than using a smartphone to navigate, but if you do a lot of long distance riding, particularly on unknown roads, it will certainly make life a lot easier.

Product Name: Garmin zumo 390 LM
Our Rating: 4/5
Amazon Page: Garmin Zumo 390LM 4.3-Inch Motorcycle GPS Navigator

Hit-Air MX-7 inflatable motorcycle air-bag jacket review

Air-bag jackets have been the single biggest innovation in motorcycle safety over recent years. The idea is simple enough: the jacket contains a series of strategically positioned airbags which will instantly inflate if the rider gets thrown off the bike. These bags will cushion any impact and significantly reduce the chances of injury, particularly to your neck – which is something all riders worry about, due to the risk of paralysis.

Hit-Air is one of the best known manufacturers of air-bag jackets for motorcyclists, and the MX-7 is the company’s newest model. The jacket features an airbag which will fully inflate within a quarter of a second of impact, providing a cushion of air that covers the neck, upper and lower spine, hips and chest.

In addition to the airbag, the jacket also features conventional padded armour for the shoulders and elbows, as well as high visibility reflective detailing. The jacket comes with a special coiled wire which is used to attach it to the motorcycle – it’s designed to activate the airbag if the rider is thrown from the bike, but should not accidentally set it off if you simply forget to detach the wire at the end of your journey.

The jacket is designed to be reusable, the airbag can be easily repacked and replacement compressed air canisters are available at low cost. So if you have a low speed crash and the jacket is not damaged, you won’t need to discard it.

The Hit-Air system has been extensively tested by the Japan Automobile Research Institute and exceeds all international safety standards – the company also produces similar products which are used by police forces and emergency rescue services around the world.

Diagram of inflated airbag jacket protection
This is what the MX-7 airbag looks like when it’s fully inflated.

Obviously all motorcyclists have their own taste when it comes to the design of their gear, but we think the Hit-Air MX-7 looks stylish enough. There are a few color options, plain black, and black with with either red or green. Optional extras include chest and spine armor inserts and a breathable waterproof lining for extra weather protection.

This jacket will not make you completely invulnerable – but it certainly adds a welcome new level of protection over the standard gear that most riders wear. Priced at around $550, it’s not cheap, but if you’re unlucky enough to be involved in a crash, you’ll never regret investing in good quality safety gear. (If you’re looking for cheaper options, you might consider the previous generation Hit-Air “MX-6” model inflatable air vest.)

Product: Hit-Air MX-7 Inflatable Motorcycle Jacket
Our Rating: 5/5
Amazon Page: Hit-Air “MX-7” model inflatable air vest.

What is the best motorcycle in the world?

So you came here looking to find out what the best motorcycle in the world is? Obviously there can’t be any one answer to that question, because what actually qualifies a bike as the best motorcycle depends very much on your point of view.

If, by best motorcycle, you actually mean fastest racing motorcycle, it’s fairly easy to get an answer – just go and look at the leaderboard in the World Superbike Championship or MotoGP, and you’ll find your answer. On the other hand, if you’re looking for the fastest production road motorcycle, and you’re talking about ‘fastest’ purely in terms of top speed, then that changes every year as manufacturers release new models or fine tune existing bikes.

At present, the best motorcycle for top speed is Suzuki’s Hayabusa – although if you tried to compete on a track day or twisty country roads, it would get eaten alive by more nimble sports-bikes. Most major motorcycle manufacturers have subscribed to a gentlemen’s agreement that limits the top speed of their bikes to 186mph.

If your definition of the best motorcycle in the world is one that handles better than all the others, it’s going to be hard to pin down an answer because handling is subjective. Most of the current crop of razor sharp sports bikes will handle comparably well, depending on the skill of the riders, and picking out one that stands head and shoulders above the others will always be difficult. Again, this changes every year as the manufacturers update their bikes.

The best motorcycle in the world.

Perhaps you’re into cruisers, in which case the idea of what makes the best motorcycle is even more subjective, because styling plays an even bigger part in this. Some would argue that it has to be the Harley Davidson V-Rod, while on the other side of the pond the Triumph Rocket III might be thought of as the world’s best motorcycle. They’re both good cruisers, and there’s no scientific way to measure which is “better”.

For many people the best motorcycle in the world would be one that’s affordable, extremely reliable and highly fuel efficient, in which case there’s no arguing that the long running Honda Super Cub ticks all of those boxes. Over 50+ continuous years of production mean that it’s practically bullet-proof because all of the flaws have been ironed out, and there are tons of cheap parts available for the rare occasions when it does go wrong.

OK, so when you came looking for the best motorcycle in the world, you probably weren’t thinking of a cheap little scooter, so we’d suggest that Honda’s CBR600 is a worthy contender. It’s been in production for a long time, has a reputation for being extremely reliable and serves well on the track, on country roads, or just for commuting to work.

Of course, if you’re looking for something a bit more exciting, our vote for the current best motorcycle in the world (based on looks, attitude and sheer awesomeness) has to be Ducati’s heart-stopping Diavel.

What is the best GPS for motorcycles?

In our opinion the best GPS for motorcycles is the Garmin zumo 665 Widescreen Motorcyle Navigator. The unit is designed especially for use by motorcyclists with features such as an interface than can easily be operated whilst wearing riding gloves, and enhanced 3D navigation which gives you much better at-a-glance situational awareness and realistic visualisations of junctions, making it easier to navigate whilst maintaining your concentration on the road. A lane assist feature also lets you know what lane you need to be in ahead of a junction so that you’re not trying to switch lanes at the last minute in heavy traffic. The Garmin zumo 665 is designed to be waterproof, resistant to fuel spills and to withstand UV rays so that it won’t suffer from prolonged exposure to rain or sunshine.

The screen is 4.3 inches wide, providing a large visible area to make it easier to see the on-screen navigation instructions. Nobody likes waiting endlessly for a GPS to locate satellites before it can begin working, so the zumo 665 features HotFix technology to acquire satellites more quickly. One of things that make this the best GPS for motorcycles is that it features Bluetooth, a built in MP3 player and XM radion, which means that with a compatible headset you can also use the device as an entertainment center, or link it up to your mobile phone so that you can take calls without having to get off your bike. The motorcycle mount also includes a built in headphone/mic jack to to connect a headset.

Features that make this the best GPS for motorcycles

While most people use GPS systems to find the quickest route, motorcyclists often like to plan rides along scenic routes. The zumo 665 comes with route planning PC software which allows you to decide the route you want to ride and then upload it to the GPS, for motorcycle riders this is a very useful tool. The device also offers an integral digital picture viewer. Another helpful feature is the digital fuel gauge, which keeps track of the miles you’ve covered since your last refill, to help make sure you never run out of fuel. You can also use Garmin’s Connect online service to share and compare your favourite routes with other riders.

If you are using the zumo 665 with a headset, it can also provide you with spoken directions as well the visual navigation, to make it even easier to keep your eyes on the road. We think this is the best GPS for motorcycles, but it can also be used in a car as it comes supplied with a vehicle mount and power cable to make switching from two wheels to four a piece of cake. An XM antena is supplies, which means that with an appropriate service subscription you can get up to the minute updates on traffic and weather conditions to make sure you never get caught by surprise.

There are various other sat navs on the market for bikers, but we think that the ease of use and comprehensive feature set makes the Garmin zumo 665 Widescreen the best GPS for motorcycles.

Click here to get the latest prices from Amazon for the Garmin zumo 665 Widescreen Motorcyle Navigator

Choosing the Best Motorcycle GPS Navigation System

Navigation on a motorcycle can be difficult because it’s difficult for the rider to read a map whilst on the move, so handlebar-mounted GPS satellite navigation systems can be very useful. GPS systems for motorcycles need to be more rugged than those for cars, since they are exposed to the elements, and the controls have to be easy to operate for somebody wearing gloves.

Motorcyclists also need anti-glare screens, since they don’t have a roof to shield their navigation system from bright sunshine. Another point to consider is that, unlike cars, motorcycles do not have a power socket to connect a GPS unit to, so battery life is an important issue – although some satnav units are supplied with adapters that can be wired into the bike’s electrics.

Both of the leading manufacturers offer GPS navigation systems designed especially for the needs of motorcycle and scooter riders:

Garmin Zumo 550

Garmin Zumo motorcycle gps system
Garmin Zumo motorcycle gps system

The Zumo 550 offers all of the features you would expect from any GPS navigation system, along with some handy extras designed with motorcyclists in mind. The touch screen and controls are easy to use with your gloves on, and can be operated with your left hand, which means you can keep your right hand covering the front brake at all times.

The 3.5 inch screen can be read in bright sunlight and is UV resistant to prevent it from fading over time. The unit also keeps track of your distance travelled between refuels, and can warn you when the bike is running low on gas. It weighs 10.6 ounces and is reasonably compact, so it’s easy enough to carry around when you get off the bike.

The GPS unit features a speaker to provide voice directions, and also has built-in Bluetooth, allowing you to use it with a headset and your mobile phone, making it possible to answer calls while you’re on the move.

For the style-conscious, Garmin supplies caps in a variety of colors to match your motorcycle’s paint scheme. A universal mounting bracket is supplied, so you should be able to attach the device to any motorcycle, and a car-mount is also supplied.

Price: $650 (approx)

Click here to learn more about the Garmin Zumo 550 at Amazon.


TomTom Rider 2

TomTom Rider 2 motorcycle navigation
TomTom Rider 2 motorcycle navigation

In addition to a 3.5 inch anti-glare screen, this motorcycle GPS navigation system also features a sun visor built into the casing, to make it even easier to read in bright sunlight. The Rider 2 comes supplied with a Bluetooth headset, allowing motorcycle riders to listen to the spoken navigation instructions even when they’re wearing a crash helmet.

The device is waterproof and designed to be easily operated whilst wearing gloves. A universal motorcycle mounting kit is supplied, but a car mount is only available as an optional extra.

The TomTom Share feature allows you to modify the maps with your own points of interest and to share with your friends, so you can share information about your favourite roads with other riders. Another handy optional extra feature will let you know where to find the cheapest fuel near to your current location.

Price: $449

Click here to learn more about the TomTom Rider 2 at Amazon.

Garmin Zumo 665

Garmin Zumo 665 motorcycle GPS navigation unit
Garmin Zumo 665 motorcycle GPS navigation unit

If you want the very latest in motorcycle GPS navigation units, the Garmin Zumo 665 is for you. The Zumo 665’s unique features include advanced 3D navigation, a large 4.3 inch screen, and a built in MP3 player allowing you to listen to music or e-books through the supplied Bluetooth headset.  Alternatively, you can connect a headset through the standard headphone jack.

The device also offers a lane-assist feature, guiding you into the most appropriate lane as you approach a junction, and also provides you with a lifelike image of the approaching junction so that you can be better prepared for it.

Optional extras include an XM antenna, which will enable you to receive traffic and weather updates as well as XM Radio® with 170 ad-free music channels. The Zumo 665 features a built in MicroSD slot and allows you to share ride data with your friends – you can even review your rides on Google Earth when you get home.

Price: $999


Click here to learn more about the Gamin Zumo 665 at Amazon.