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Are There Problems With The Motorcycle GPS - TomTom Rider ?

  Posted at 10:15:02 AM
  File under  Opinion Rumors GPS
  Author: Mike Werner
  Location: Normandy, France

TomTom Rider
With a lot of fanfare, the motorcycle specific GPS, the TomTom Rider was introduced earlier this year {link}.

Slated as a GPS designed specifically for motorcycles, it caused quite a stir in the motorcycle community.

Finally, here was a general purpose accessory designed specially for us bikers, and not produced by a specific motorcycle accessory manufacturer. After a longer than expected delay, Dutch manufacturer TomTom finally started delivering the units. The first few ones have arrived in the hands of expecting bikers.

However, the first few reports read on discussion forums (don't you just love the internet), although not outright negative, don't come back glowing. There seem to be a few design hiccups !

Here's what I've read so far.

"Dumb" Biker Mode (officially called Drive Mode)

This mode is activated when you place the Rider in its cradle on the motorcycle and start riding. The Rider is assuming it's on a motorcycle, and disables all functions apart from standard navigating. This all in the name of road safety. What is disabled for example, is the ability to switch from day to night mode (reduce light from the display in the dark). So, if you're riding along and it become dark, you'll need to stop your motorcycle, take the GPS out of the cradle, switch to night mode and then continue you trip.

The same applies if you want to change destination while riding (if you're caught up in a traffic jam for example). If you know you're going to want to detour, you'll need to stop and reprogram. The Rider will only detour if you arrive at a blocked road, but will not allow you to do so on the fly!

By comparison, Garmin (the big USA based GPS manufacturer), has a similar mode, but you can override it in the preferences (with the usual safety warnings).

No Battery Charging While Riding

Due to the complexity of their "Drive Mode", you can't charge the GPS Rider on a motorcycle without it moving into Drive Mode.

Also, you can not charge the Bluetooth unit while using it, since it switches off when charging.

No PC Route Planning

There's no PC software from TomTom that allows you to plan your route in advance on a PC and then upload it to the unit (like Garmin's MapSource). This is a bummer if you're into long distance riding. You can't plan your trip, hotels, stops, etc. If you're doing a multiple day ride, you're out of luck. You need to do it all on the small GPS unit.


For some £ 600 you get the Rider, and one European country. If you want more countries, you'll need to dish out more cash and download them.


Since you only get one country (more will not fit on their standard SD card), you'll need to get more cards and more maps. It also means that if you're crossing countries, you'll need to stop at the border and change cards.


The sound of the Bluetooth interface is adequate at normal speeds (less so at higher speeds - over 55 mph).


On more positive notes, the first users say the unit is very fast in calculations and display. The TomTom Rider picks up the satellite signals much quicker, and holds them longer.

Also, the TomTom specific 3D navigation is very much appreciated by the users.

There are all comments for other users as I have not been able to test the product. Click here to read some of the comments. {link} {link} {link} {link}

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