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To GPS or not

Discussion in 'Electronics' started by ralph, Aug 14, 2010.

  1. I am thinking of getting a GPS for my thunderbird. I am thinking with all the safety cameras starting to pop up it might be handy to have something that warns.

    1st Question:
    Are the new safety cameras coverd in the Garmin 550 or Tomtom rider?
    2nd Question
    Are the GPS's worth the coin ?

    It would be helpful for navigation occasionally - i normally have a pretty good idea where I am riding and check out it out google maps before I leave. More keen to have something that lets me know where all the cameras are poping up - can you also program places as well? Was thinking this might be useful if I wanted to plug in the Mobile camera locations from the RTA website. More just a prompt to be ware when riding in areas I am not regurlary riding in.

    Thoughts ?
  2. 1st question:
    I can't speak for the TomTom Rider, but for Garmin you can elect to subscribe to a safety-camera update service... Though there are free sources of custom POI (Points of Interest, which can contain stuff like speedcameras/etc) which are user-created and managed. The free custom POI may require a little computer-fu to transfer onto the GPS, mind you.

    2nd question:
    This is one of those arguments like whether or not a "real" motorcycle should have ABS or not. I personally find GPSes quite useful because of how frequently I've moved from city to city. At least until I become familiar with the area.

    Other people loathe GPSes and like to use their brainthoughts, enjoy the task of being a navigator, etc. (Mind you, I don't mind using paper maps when I'm a passenger... but that's not normally a luxury when you aren't carrying a pillion)

    It's ultimately a call you've gotta make on your own. If you're planning on doing a lot of touring, visiting new places, riding super-long distances over elaborate routes, or are just downright lazy when it comes to navigating.... It could well be a useful investment.

    If you don't mind taking the time to plan out your stuff on paper maps, print stuff out on Google Maps, and have an uncanny memory for street names and distances, maybe you can keep navigating the hardcore way.
  3. I'm one of those people. You really learn where your going when you've got no other option then using your head, but you need a good sense of direction. I also readily use maps, the difference being it is you that decides your own route, not some mindless bint recorded onto a computer chip.

    However, having that app that provides constant updates of speed camera locations would be very useful, but that is provided through your mobile, not gps unit.

    this. good instinct/premonition/intuition also helps.
  4. To be fair, when sport-touring or simply wanting to follow more interesting roads, I'll scour over the maps on my home computer and plan out the specific roads I want to take (Garmin, whee!)

    Ownership of a GPS and hand-selection of routes isn't mutually exclusive. :)
  5. I got one when I moved back to Melbourne for the reasons you mentioned, mainly the school zones. Don't use it much in town now.
    Started using it for longer trips after I missed a few turns even though I had planned the route and had a google maps printout in the map window of my tank bag. Its nice to be told "Turn left in 600 metres" as you're barreling down an unknown road.
    My wife calls it Bossy Betty.
  6. For me it's not a must-have, just a nice to have.

    I really don't need one at all, but I love gadgets - so what the hell.

  7. Yeah, I like mine. Hate having to stop and ask directions in a large city when you're late for something. Most people are friendly and willing to help but I'd much rather just be where I need to be, when I need to be.

    I second the view that using it as a regular map is a good idea - it covers you pretty well in that regard.

    Cheers - boingk
  8. 1) Good to have when you go for a ride with someone who knows where they are going, so you can record the trip and find those roads again later on your own.

    2) Good to have if you need to find a specific address in an area you are unfamiliar with

    3) Good to have if riding somewhere new so you can concentrate on the ride, and not have to keep trying to identify every cross street that might be the one you want to take.

    4) Good to have if you need to find petrol etc in a hurry

    In general I like having it, also for the above reasons.
  9. I disagree, going down road that you have no idea where they will take you is one of the most liberating aspects of riding. :] You can often find brilliant empty roads if your not overly concerned about the surface. Particularly excellent if you have a whole day at your disposal.
  10. brainthoughts?? beh!

    Id find unfamiliar destinations so irritating if not for the little voices in my helmet telling me what to do.

    I wanted to select a male voice with a German accent. There was one on the TomTom software, but unfortunately he spoke German.
  11. Thanks for all the replies. Sounds like they are quite popular... and generally seen as a good idea.. now I gotta work out if I buy it,,, where do I put it on the Thunderbird... given cruisers are all about the look - and there's no screen to hide it under... hrmm... and find the spare $800 if i got the garmin option...
  12. Hey Ralph I might be stating the bleeding obvious here, but does your phone have gps? Cos you could install nav software on that for a tenth of the price.

    In this iPhone age it actually amazes me that there is still a market for dedicated gps equipment!
  13. I'm not totally amazed just yet; Before replacing my aging Garmin eTrex Legend C (a bushwalking/mountainbiking GPS that can also do street navigation), I did strongly consider using my Motorola Milestone/Droid for GPS. I don't think it's feasible for anyone who does motorcycle touring though.

    Let me count the ways! :)

    An iPhone or Android device has a capacitive touchscreen, which won't work reliably with gloved hands.

    A dedicated GPS has resistive touchscreen or a D-pad instead, which does work.

    Battery life:
    With the GPS turned on, without external power, an iPhone or Android device has a battery life of about 2 hours at best before it's a shiny glass paperweight.

    With GPS turned on, well... my eTrex Legend C would get a good 20-30 hours out of a pair of AA's. Zumo 660 only lasts something like 5-6 hours, sure, though it has two (2) vehicle power supplies, one for the car, one wired into the bike, for constant power.

    Remote places:
    Unless you buy a mapping application with offline maps, an iPhone or Android device will be a paperweight once you head into the high country, or down to Tasmania... Anywhere that isn't a city, really.

    Dedicated GPSes (and apps with offline maps) are immune to that issue. :)

    Waterproofing and mounting:
    Outdoorsy GPSes can be submerged to a depth of 1m for 30 minutes or longer (mind you, the only IPX rating above that is "submerged until the end of time at a depth of 1 billion"). iPhone or Android is gonna need some waterproofing/weatherproofing in the form of an Otterbox or similar, which is gonna make screen interaction even harder.

    Throw in the cost of a RAM mount, and...

    A lot of these issues disappear if you're only using the phone in the car, around cities, of course... But for all-weather motorcycle touring on interesting roads, I think dedicated GPS still has a place. :)
  14. Spots, you're clearly a very clever lad. And every time I see your avatar, Im gripped by a inexplicable desire to cuddle you.
  15. What - with it turned off, perhaps.

    I have one as well. I've consigned it to my desk drawer now that I have the Aldi GPS (Mk. I). I was lucky to get a day's worth of work out of one set of batteries, if it could stay powered up long enough, that is.

    There was a problem which is inherent in all Garmin Etrex series - that the battery contacts can move or that the case flexes somehow and causes power to the unit to be lost. I ended up buying a mobile car charger for it and installed a cigarette lighter socket (these days called "Aux Power Outlets" or something like that) onto the bike.

    Before I retired it I got around to installing Mapsource Street Navigator on it. However, it was too much for the old Etrex to handle as it would often lock up. Plus its limited memory only allowed partial maps of Victoria to be installed onto it.

    In the final analysis, I can't see how using a smartphone as a GPS on a bike can end in anything but dismay as dust, vibration and moisture will eventually kill it.

    I paid a fair amount of dough for mine, so I like to keep it as long as possible. A dedicated bike GPS is the way to go if you're into them. They're built for the job, unlike an iPhone or any other brand of smartphone.
  16. Like spots said, depends what you are using it for. I've only used it to get around town, and haven't needed charge for more than a couple of hours. I'm not interested in the visual display, I just look at the route and then put the iPhone in my pocket and listen to the voice. (in an upsideown snap lock bag if pouring). I like that it doesn't need to be mounted on the bike, and that's it's already in my pocket when I jump off at the servo, and I really like that's it's all wrapped up in a device that I am carrying already. But each to their own!
  17. I have a blackberry that is pretty well locked down thanks to our US parent companies policies. I can get online and go to google. But map apps are out.

    I dont care too much about the price... its more how I can make it look right on the bike ... i think I want one... Already had a couple of arguments with the fiance about needing to know a fair good idea where I am going when we are heading to somewhere specific ... and not just will work it out as we get closer....she doesn't quite get "we aren't in a car wheere we can use a roadmap, and pulling over to make a call to find out where your friend is a pain in the ass with all the gear on.."

    And i'd love to track a few sneaky back streets a mate has taken me through, where the plod would be very unlikely to be found and we were able to ride very spirited!

    If you go the GPs do you then need some bluetooth device to link it up to the helmet ?
  18. Yes, or you can have physical wires going to your (purchased separately) helmet speakers/microphone or (purchased separately) underseat audio mixer instead, if you prefer. Or just not bother with audio guidance. :)

    F'r example, on my ancient eTrex Legend C, all the device does is beep loudly if it wants you to pay attention to it - it can't speak, it has no bluetooth, it's just a tiny phone-sized bushwalking GPS. Instead I'd glance down at the eTrex (as one might glance down at their speedo) and memorise the distance/time until the next turn, and remember to check it again in a few kilometres (or whatever).