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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

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

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.