Ever since I have been driving my motorcycle…. I have been thinking of buying a TomTom Rider. Tried a ‘normal’ TomTom meant for my car but that didn’t cut it. Then tried to put a RAM mount with my mobile phone on it. That… also didn’t cut it because my phone bill went up like a rocket when I drove abroad. AND! my camera broke because of the vibrations coming from my huge 650cc engine. (649cc of course). A friend of mine had that same problem with his phone.. so I can really recommend not to do that.
Beginning of 2016 I finally made the 350 euro step.
I bought the base model (TomTom Rider 40). And took it out on trips in a combined 16.000 km!
What’s in the TomTom box!?
This basic model comes with a RAM mount and specialized mounting for slamming the Rider on your bike, a USB-cable for charging and connecting it to your PC, laptop, power-bank or whatever other USB port you can find.
Also TomTom was so generous to provide a cable which you can connect directly to the battery or, like I did, directly onto the electrical cable for the headlights. This way your never run out of power for the TomTom. Big plus on the latter is that the Rider doesn’t pull any charge from your battery. This means that you can still drive your bike out of the desert after a nice night’s sleep or even better, drive home after a hard day at work!
This review I will be addressing a few main things about the Rider. To specify:
– User friendliness;
– Out in the field.
I’m a bit of a Neanderthal when it comes to digital things. I always use these kind of things where they are for and all the extra options I would rather not wander into. With the Rider you get triggered to do so. They give you the ‘MyConnect’ program and the Rider is compatible with ‘Tyre’ maps. In the topic ‘Software’ I will come back to that.
It’s very easy to navigate through the menu and all the options are pretty much clear and available when you want them to be! Although… some options need a little searching. I can imagine that this will not be a problem if you are already familiar with the new TomTom devices but me, a novice, needed to get used to it. But after a few minutes I found all I needed and I was ‘#Braaping’ through Holland, Germany and Austria without any problem. Because….. * drums * TomTom gives you a lifetime Western Europe map and a lifetime of TomTom Traffic. Of course when you live in Australia or the US of A they won’t give you a free lifetime map of Western Europe.. But you get the idea.
I hear you guys going: “Oke, now I need to update that thing and that takes long and its hard and I don’t like that because I want to drive my bike!”. Well, you will be surprised. It’s easier than you think. Just plug in the USB, install MyConnect, activate your account and press the big button update. In the meanwhile you can go to your bike and prep it for take-off.
I really, really and literally really, like the hardware. It looks good, it feels robust, and it can take a punch. Naturally its rainproof and weather resistant. The screen can be operated while wearing your favourite gloves . And the 4.3” (11cm) wide screen really has a great visibility in the shimmering sunlight. It has a 8 GB internal storage, SD card slot and the battery has a lifespan of around 6 hours on its own. But this is hardly ever needed because they supply you with a charger-dock which can be built into your bike, like I stated earlier.
The RAM-mount that is included is also of a robust and sturdy quality. The mount for the handlebar is easy to put on and adjust. TomTom also sells locks for the RAM-mount. This way you can leave your device on the bike when you stop for gas or when you leave your bike for some other reason. I’ve bought this lock system and I love it. It helps me keep my TomTom… I forget things on my bike once in a while and this ensures I stay the rightful owner of this TomTom I call mine.
The Rider allows you to drive from ‘A’ to ‘B’ in all the ways you can imagine. Fastest, avoiding freeway, avoiding toll roads etc. But! It also allows you to make an exciting route without any effort. You just put in your destination and select how much hills and how much swerves you want in the route and then let the Rider do the thinking. Just follow the arrow!
In this ‘exciting route’ area I did a loads of riding. I noticed that it leads you through a lot of towns. This depends on how much swerve you selected in the ‘exciting route’ menu. The TomTom sends you through these towns because there are a lot of corners and turns there. This is not always desirable, although I don’t really mind because you get to see some nice architecture. But I can imagine that if you don’t like riding in built up areas, it’s kind of frustrating.
Let’s start with the ‘MyConnect’ program which comes with the device. This allows you to update and manage your content on your TomTom Rider. Things like maps, updates and purchasable extra software like TomTom traffic and so on. It also allows TomTom to show you stuff you might want to buy. Like a suction-cup for in your car or the anti-theft kit I’ve mentioned before. They only do this in the update screen and not in annoying pop-up windows. So that’s a plus.
After a little internet research I found a program called ‘Tyre’ this is recommended by TomTom and allows you to build your own routes and transfer these to your TomTom. It also allows you to take routes that other bikers made, and put these into your TomTom’s hard drive.
Another aspect of ‘Tyre’, and arguably the most important one, is the ability to change the file type of the routes.
There are 2 main file types, .itn and .gpx. These file types both have different pro’s and con’s but I’ll give you a short head’s up:
.itn allows you to fix certain waypoints in your map and lets your TomTom calculate the route between them. This ensures you don’t skip one of the waypoints, for example your favourite bikers watering hole or the house of your mother in law.
Just like your mother in law, .itn will not let go of it’s waypoint. It is not possible to drive around one of your waypoints because .itn will express it’s disappointment in you and direct you right back to the passed waypoint and will do so for the rest of eternity or, unlike your mother in law, until its battery dies out.
.gpx is built a little different. It’s made in two different sub files. These two are know as .gpx(route) and .gpx(track). .gpx(route) is less rigid in its waypoints as .itn but also a little more rigid in these waypoints as .gpx(track). It’s waypoints are also a lot further apart from each other what could result in a different route in different devices. It could even result in different routes between two identical devices but with different updates.
That is where .gpx(track) comes in. It’s waypoints are not rigid like .itn. Also, it’s waypoints are much closer together and are like a line in the sand on which the TomTom, or other device, can build its route. Ensuring that in 99% of the cases the same route is driven.
I always like to drive with .gpx(track) this ensures I can make adjustments to my route and that my other riding companions have the same route as I do. So that if we ever lose each other we just have to wait on route and we can meet up.
Oke let’s get back to the TomTom’s software. So, ‘Tyre’ is a handy tool to make your routes and keep your stress level low during the preparation of your trip.
Never get caught speeding again!
Another fancy trick this TomTom has in it’s software is the ‘speed camera’ option, if it is legal in your country to have this option, TomTom will tell you where the speed camera’s are hidden and it will warn you for them and show the speed you are allowed to drive.
In Holland we have this thing called “trajectcontrole” this means the speedcamera at point A catches you and several miles down the road, speedcamera B catches you again. The system calculates the time it took you to reach speedcamera B and then calculates your average speed. This system is killing for speeddemons and that’s why TomTom shows you exactly how high your average speed is in this section. Epic for me because I have a patience tolerance of 0%. So it really restrains me!
I took the TomTom with me on a 16.000km journey of routes driven over the 2015 motorcycle season. I’ve had it with me in the mountains of Austria, hills of Germany, swamps of Mordor, forests of Germany and low countryside’s of Holland. It has never let me down.
I am very content with the way it operates and how it held itself in my adventures. Also its proven itself useful in navigating my car to its destination.
To conclude, this is a device that every biker should have in his/her arsenal. Are you thinking of buying one?
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