Tag Archives: satnav

Ban on GPS speed camera alerts

Germany is banning fixed speed camera alerts provided on most GPS units and many mobile phone apps in a worrying trend that could be replicated in other countries.

In most Australian states, fixed speed cameras are sign posted, but safety nannies are always looking for new ways to clamp down on speeding and could start pushing for this German ban.

However, this ban will not just catch habitual speedsters, but also affect those who inadvertently drift over the speed limit.

Safety alerts

And instead of motorists watching the traffic and relying on alerts to tell them of a fixed speed camera, it will lead to them monitoring their speedos and looking at the side off the road for cameras.

We are not sure how Germany expects to enforce their €75 (about $A125) fine as it would require police to pull over motorists to check their satnav devices and phone apps.

In some jurisdictions, that would require a search warrant.

Garmin and TomTom satnav companies have emailed their registered users to advise them of the law change in Germany.

autobahns autobahn

It seems strange in a country that has some roads with unlimited speeds and many autobahns with very high posted speeds.

However, if you have ever ridden in the country you will know that the speed limits are enforced and local motorists comply.

On one occasion, I saw an overhead electric sign suddenly flash a warning of a coming storm and reduced the 130km/h speed limit to 80km/h. Immediately the traffic around me slammed on the brakes and settled at 80km/h.

Germany uses a lot of fixed speed cameras in tunnels and around the entries and exits of villages and have already banned the use of speed camera and radar detection systems as in Australia (except Western Australia).

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Garmin zūmo XT now smarter, brighter

Garmin zūmo XT gets smarterGarmin has unveiled its new zūmo XT GPS which is brighter, smarter and packed with more features.

It would want to be, too, as it now costs  $A849 in Australia and $US499 in the USA.

If you have the Garmin Drive app it will also allow riders access to smart notifications, real-time fuel prices, live traffic reports and weather updates, and various hazard warnings.

Garmin Zūmo XT features

The new 5.5-inch HD resolution “ultrabright display” is brighter and clearer than ever and is claimed to be visible in the brightest direct sunlight.

However, if you turn the brightness up high it will reduce your battery life from about six hours to 3.5, although most riders hardwire it to the bike’s battery.

They say the rainproof unit works fine with any glove, whether it has touchscreen sensitivity or not.

You can switch from preloaded on- and off-road maps to topographic maps and BirdsEye Satellite Imagery for an extra $39 at the touch of a button.Garmin zūmo XT gets smarter

It features something called Garmin Adventurous Routing which they say will “turn straightforward rides into twisting, gnarly adventures by selecting your road preferences”.

That sounds very much like what other GPS units offer.

You can also record all the details of your ride and then share it with fellow riders using the Garmin Drive app.

However, be careful what you store as it could be incriminating.

Data stored includes distance, total time, moving time, stopped time, current speed, overall average speed, moving average speed, and maximum speed!Garmin zūmo XT gets smarter


Bluetooth the zūmo XT to your helmet for spoken directions, live traffic and weather updates, as well as listening to music and making and receiving phone calls.

In the event of a crash, you can set the GPS to sent a text of your location to an emergency contact of your choice.

You can also send GPX files from your phone to the zūmo XT.

It comes with a database of notable sites, points of interest, iOverlander and millions of popular places, thanks to Foursquare.

If you are touring, it provides TripAdvisor traveller ratings for hotels, restaurants and attractions along your route or near your destination.

Garmin zūmo XT gets smarterGarmin access Tripadvisor

It will also provide alerts for hazards such as sharp curves, speed changes and speed cameras.

You won’t have to plug it into your computer to update either. So long as you have a wifi connection, you can keep your maps and software up to date on the road.

Zūmo XT even tells you when new updates are available.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Satnav app adds traffic light countdown

A satellite navigation app that has a countdown to how long a traffic light will change has been recognised as a CES 2020 Innovation Awards honoree.

The Slovakian Sygic navigation app used by more than 200 million drivers globally has a new and free Traffic Lights countdown add-on.

It is only working in the US at the moment with plans to be introduced in Europe in 2020. There is no scheduled release time yet for Australia.

How the countdown worksRed-light traffic light

The Traffic Lights countdown add-on does not trigger a green light.

That’s a particular issue with riders whose motorcycles may not be large enough to be detected by the induction loop cut into the pavement. Click here to read more about triggering green lights.

Instead, the Sygic add-on displays a green or red light countdown timer at each traffic light.

They claim it will encourage motorists to slow down, increasing safety at intersections, reducing CO2 emissions and improve traffic flow.

Sygic CEO Martin Strigac says their artificial intelligence add-on “will have a major impact on safety and the time of arrival”.

“The kit will be continuously upgraded with additional assistance features, including detection of speed-limit signs, lanes, and obstacles on the road, and collision detection,” he says.

“We are also exploring the idea of integrating it with rail-crossing warning systems.”

CommentsTraffic Lights

Two out of every three motorcycle accidents (66.7%) occur at intersections and motorists running red lights is one of the major causes of those crashes.

Anything that can reduce that would be welcome.

However, we are unsure if a countdown feature for a green light to turn red might actually encourage motorists to speed up to catch the light.

Also, a countdown to a red light turning green might encourage motorists to jump the lights.

We are also concerned that drivers who already don’t look for motorcyclists might be more intent on watching their satnav traffic light countdown feature than scanning the road for riders.

Technology is great when it is proven to increase safety, but the jury is still out on this, as far as we are concerned.

Meanwhile, the CES 2020 Innovation jury of 82 technology experts says the Sygic GPS Navigation’s Traffic Lights add-on “showcased innovative features that scored highly across the evaluation criteria and joins a special group of other products given this honour.” 

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

TomTom GPS makes all riding safe and easy

Most people only use their TomTom GPS to guide them to a destination they don’t know, but there are advantages to putting in the destination even if you know which way to go.

I’ve recently been riding around with the TomTom Rider 550 tuned into destinations I know, and I reckon the various alerts have not only helped me to get around quicker, but probably saved a few demerit points on my license.

That’s because TomTom Rider 550 includes relevant alerts about traffic jams, roadworks, speed cameras and even on adverse weather ahead of you. It will also tell you how long a particular hazard might hold up your ride.

These alerts flash up on the screen and if you pair the device to your phone and/or helmet intercom, there are also audible warnings.

This has allowed me to concentrate more on the road rather than worrying about looking out for speed cameras, roadworks and hazards.TomTom Rider 550 GPS

Services alerts

But wait, there’s more. It also shows important information about upcoming services such as petrol stations, rest areas, tollways and ferries.

And when you reach your destination, it will even guide you to the closest parking areas. Just press the parking button on the route bar.

It takes a lot of guesswork out of negotiating through heavy traffic and around traffic snarls and roadworks.

TomTom Rider 550 GPS

The GPS could also save your licence with reminders about where and when fixed and mobile speed cameras are located.

Custom displays

The information is displayed on the map and/or the route bar down the side.

It also displays your estimated time of arrival, distance and/or time remaining to destinations, upcoming events and services, as well as current time or distance to the next event, depending on how you set it up.

Now that’s a wealth of information that could easily be distracting were it not for the audible alerts.

You can actually customise the Rider 550 to just display only the alerts that are most important to you. That makes it a much simpler and less distracting screen display.TomTom Rider 550 GPS

The GPS can give you an alternative route by just tapping on the icons on the route bar. However, I suggest you pull over to do this. It won’t take more than a few seconds.

You can even help other riders using the TomTom MyDrive app by adding updates to the vast network of important information. 

Just tap on the speed panel at the bottom of the screen and a menu comes up with options: “Report speed camera, mark location, change speed limit and avoid blocked road”.

Data usage

To access all this information, you just need to set up a personal hotspot on your paired smartphone which accesses your data as the GPS doesn’t have a SIM card.

That keeps the GPS affordable at $599.

But don’t worry about blowing all your data. 

TomTom says it will only use about 7Mb a month even if you run your GPS on it an hour every day. That’s less than downloading two songs and certainly wouldn’t blow the budget on most people’s mobile plan.

It might also save your life, save you time and save your licence!

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

TomTom Rider 550 unveils hidden gem

If it wasn’t for the ride-sharing and mountain and wriggly route options on our TomTom Rider 550 GPS we might never have discovered a hidden gem of a mountain road.

Riding partner and map expert Peter “Worldmapman” Davis recently reviewed the TomTom Rider 550 for us and has been using it now for some time.

Usually one of our riding group decides where to go and then leads the pack. It’s usually me and I’ve almost run out of routes in the South East Queensland area.

I think I know every twisting, winding scenic roads in this region. But I was wrong.

TomTom decides

TomTom Rider 550 GPS satnav gem
“Plan a thrill’ with TomTom Rider 550

This time we decided to put the TomTom unit to the test and let it decide a route for us.

Since it was hot, we thought a ride up to Toowoomba at the top of the Great Dividing Range would give us a respite from the heat.

So we put that in as one waypoint, plus Hampton and Flagstone Creek.

You can select the waypoints by typing in a place name or simply pressing a point on the screen to drop a waypoint “flag”.

We then selected a return journey with maximum mountain and winding roads options. There are two levels of each and we chose the top levels.

That increased an out-and-back journey on the highway from about 160km to about 250km.

Because we were riding cruisers, we chose the “avoid dirt roads” option. You can also choose to avoid toll roads, highways and even roadworks in the settings menu.

Sharing a gem

TomTom Rider 550 GPS satnav gem
Sharing a route is easy

Route selected, we shared it among ourselves either with other TomTom GPS units or via their MyDrive app platform on their phones.

Sharing a route like this is great because it means you don’t have to bother about corner-man systems as riders can’t get lost.

You can plan your route on the GPS unit, or on the TomTom MyDrive app on your phone or your computer. Each allows you to share with other TomTom users via Bluetooth, email or message.

When we headed off on the Brisbane Valley Highway TomTom almost immediately took us off the highway on to back roads.

Map expert reviews TomTom Rider 550 route
TomTom will include scenic back roads

This led us the long way round to Esk before heading up the only sealed road to Hampton.

In fact, it even bypassed some of Esk.

Peter says a good tip in selecting waypoints on this sort of route is to never select a town’s CBD or the name of a town.

TomTom Rider 550 GPS satnav gem
Following the route

Always select a waypoint on a road past the town. That will actually throw in a nice little deviation and avoid sending you down every suburban street.

In fact, you should even start your journey out of town or it may take you on a wild goose chase around the suburbs first.

The great thing about the TomTom Rider 550 is that you can change your mind along the way.

If you decide to go into town for a coffee or toilet stop, just head on in and the unit recalculates the route very quickly.

In fact, it is the fastest of any unit Peter has used in his extensive mapping career.

You can also add more waypoints, or change the winding road option from super wriggly to less wiggly or to the fastest or most direct route if you are getting tired and want to head home.

TomTom Rider 550 GPS satnav Peter Davis map
Wriggly route

All it takes is a touch of a button on the screen.

If you decide to bypass a waypoint, the unit will try to recalculate you back to it, so it’s a good idea to delete the waypoint by going to your list of stops and deleting it.

Gem discovered

We largely followed the directions, but also chose to ignore them a little and explore.

But we are glad we did not ignore its advice when we came down the Range on Flagstone Creek Rd.

It pointed left on to Blanchview Rd which we have done before and enjoyed, so we followed.

TomTom Rider 550 GPS satnav gem
Silver Pinch Rd is a gem

But shortly after TomTom took us right on to Silver Pinch Rd which looks almost like someone’s driveway. We’ve ignored this road in the past … but not today.

Just as well as it is a real rider’s gem.

It traverses several narrow ridges past Table Top Mountain, overlooking beautiful fertile farmland with jaw-dropping views on either side.

The road really does wriggle along and it seems it has only recently been paved along its entirety until it becomes Topps Rd and ends at the T junction with the Back Flagstone Creek Rd.TomTom Rider 550 GPS satnav gem

What a rollercoaster of a road it is with plenty of elevation, looping corners, esses and switchbacks.

We enjoyed it so much we stopped along the way for photos and doubled back a bit to ride some sections again.

Consequently we ended up running a little behind our schedule return time.

So at Laidley we simply decided to switch to the shortest destination and head home.

When we got home, we shared photos and maps with each other via MyDrive so we can do it again another time … maybe in a reverse direction.

You can do that by simply shuffling the order of the waypoints. Just drag and drop the last stop to the top and make the rest of the changes accordingly.

Click here for our route.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

What do riders know or care about GPS?

Map and satnav expert Peter (World Mapman) Davis provides some interesting background information for riders on GPS in this fourth instalment in our satnav series.

You can check out the other articles by clicking on the topic: Satnav for beginners, planning a route and reading a map the right way. You can also ask Peter any tech questions on satnav by clicking here.

What is GPS?

Global Positioning Systems (GPS) use satellites that are in a geo-stationary orbit. That means they rotate at the same speed as the Earth so they remain in the same place above the globe.

You need at least three satellite beams to “triangulate” your position, which means it is the average position between the three beams.

The original satellites were sent into orbit by the US military for their use in navigation.

However, tech-savvy people soon found out how to communicate with them and use their navigation services.

When US authorities discovered that their satellite navigation systems were being used by civilians, they allowed what they called “selective availability”.

They actually built in some positioning inaccuracy.

TomTom Rider 550 GPS satnav Peter Davis map
Map expert Peter Davis

Military GPS

If the military needed to use their satellites for operations, they would simply turn off selective availability and suddenly people would get very accurate positions.

It became evident that this was a very useful tool for the civilian population, so the last Bill President Bill Clinton signed was the abolition of selective availability.

These days we now get more accurate readings as there are a lot more satellites in orbit that belong to other countries and even commercial operations.

To obtain an accurate position, a GPS device needs to have at least three satellite connections.

A satellite is a transmitter, not a receiver. It transmits a signal which the GPS picks up.

The more satellites you get the more accurate your position.

Early GPS

Early GPS devices had a very narrow beam of reception to gain signals from satellites.

This made them lose satellite reception very easily if you were riding in dense forest or even through cities with tall buildings.

Europe motorcycle travel parking Italy tunnel GPS satnav

All GPS units need line of sight with satellites.

However, newer GPS units have a broad spectrum of reception which is basically horizon to horizon.

Consequently, so long as you can see some sky, it works. The satellite doesn’t need to be straight above.

They also now work in some tunnels that have repeaters in the roof to beam the satellite signal.

Land beacons

Satnav has become even more accurate with the introduction of ground-based GPS nav beacons or “differential nav”.

Your position can be triangulated using a combination of satellites and land beacons which can be radio transmitters or mobile phone towers.

Early on, they used the Triple J radio signal.

Land beacons improve position accuracy from about 5m to 1m, or even less depending on how close you are to a land beacon.

The real advantage is that they are very accurate for vertical elevation or altitude.

Surveyors even use them and it helps adventure and off-road riders using topographical satnav.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Do you turn your paper map or GPS to face north?

Should north be at the top of your paper map or GPS satnav device for the best guidance? Satnav and mapping expert Peter (World Mapman) Davis looks into the phenomenon in the third part of our satnav series.

Paper maps always have north at the top. However, you can just as easily turn the map around to face the direction you are going.

GPS satnav units also have north at the top when showing your position on a map and sometimes even when a route has been selected.

However, they usually default to having the direction you are going at the top when you start navigation mode.

Map expert reviews TomTom Rider 550
TomTom Rider 550

You can overrule that by selecting the option to have north at the top.

So which is the right way?

I believe those who turn a map in the direction they are going may actually be better map readers.

Turning the map so the top is the direction you are heading allows you to get your bearings.

It also makes more sense. If you need to turn left, you turn left.

Having north at the top is not the wrong way to do it, but it does require your brain to do another process.Map expert reviews TomTom Rider 550 paper map

For example, if you are heading south, then a left turn becomes a right turn on the map.

This can become confusing and is often the cause of navigation errors.

On a motorcycle it is also better and safer to have a simple process as riding already takes a lot of mental activity.

Some people can do both methods. Some can only do one.

But people who say they are a terrible navigator are usually those who persist with the north-at-the-top orientation.

I can make them a good navigator just by turning their map around.

Are paper maps obsolete?TomTom Rider 550 GPS satnav Peter Davis map paper map

It seems GPS satnav devices and smartphones with maps have taken over the world.

In fact, some experts say the reliance on satnav has robbed millennials of their sense of direction.

I say use both.

Before you start your road trip and every day before you start the next leg of your ride, get out a paper map.

It shows you the whole route and gives you a good idea of distances and perspectives.

Also, when satnav fails — and it periodically does — you will have some idea of working out which direction to go.

A paper map is a great fallback and the image in your head will also help you find your way.

If you blindly follow satnav guidance it is just like following someone’s taillights.

Click here to find out about types of satnav guidance.

Click here to learn how to plan a route.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

How to plan a ride route on GPS

Map and satnav expert Peter (World Mapman) Davis tell us how to plan a ride route on a GPS in this second in a series on satnav.

In the first in this series, we talked about the different types of Satnav: moving maps and guidance navigation. 

Planning a route moving maps

TomTom Rider 550 GPS satnav Peter Davis map route
Moving maps

Using moving maps, you can select points on the map which creates a waypoint file.

These can be selected by going to the menu and usually clicking a plus sign.

You can then either nominate a latitude and longitude or simply touch your finger on the screen to drop a “flag” icon.

If you enlarge the map, you can move the flag to an exact point.

Give the waypoint a name and you will be able to find it easily later on.

The waypoints show up as a layer over the map and you navigate yourself on the tracks and roads to those waypoints.

If you save those waypoints, you can share the file with others no matter what moving maps app they use because it is just a series of lats and longs.

Once you import a waypoint file, go to the menu and it will show waypoints as a series of flags on a moving map.

Moving map nav also allows you to record and save the tracks you have done which allows you to view and share so you can repeat the journey.

Planning a route on guidance navTomTom Rider 550 GPS satnav Peter Davis map route

GPS units allow you to plan a route using waypoints just like on a moving map by touching the screen.

But it also allows you to use POI (points of interest) or type in names of places, street names, towns, etc.

You can save the routes to favourites, my routes, etc.

However, once you have created a route, you can only share it with other riders who have the same satnav brand.

That’s because manufacturers develop unique software with features they continue to develop. They don’t want people to use their system unless buying their GPS unit.

You can export them via email, Messenger and sometimes Bluetooth or wifi, depending on the device.

They often include a smartphone app so you can plan a route on your phone or computer and then send it to your device or are it on an online community such as TomTom’s MyDrive.

How to become satnav savvyMap expert reviews TomTom Rider 550 route

The trend with most satnav software is to provide fairly limited instructions in the owner’s manual, or no manual at all.

These days you get comprehensive instructions on the internet or even in YouTube.

But studying the manual first will only get you so far.

By all means, explore the menus at home, but then get out on the road.

The only way you really get to know your satnav device, is to start using it and not worry about making mistakes.

Take your satnav device or app for a ride through an area you already know well so that if you get things wrong, you can still find your way home.

I’ve learnt more satnav quirks as I ride along, rather than from studying the manual.

Explore the settings and try changing things to see what happens.TomTom Rider 550 GPS satnav Peter Davis map route

You can also go for a ride with friends and talk to them and get their tips.

They don’t have to be using the same satnav device as you.

These days most systems are fairly similar in how they work.

So it doesn’t really matter what satnav you use.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

All you wanted to know about GPS and satnav

Satnav and mapping expert Peter (World Mapman) Davis provides some interesting background information for those riders who would like to understand how to better use their satnav unit.

There are two forms of Global Positioning System (GPS) satnav (satellite navigation): moving maps and guidance navigation.

Moving mapsTomTom Rider 550 GPS satnav Peter Davis map

This satnav is basically a “raster” or computer graphics image of an actual map.

It is geo-referenced which means the map is embedded in the satnav device and knows where its latitudes and longitudes (or lats and longs as we call them) are on the map.

These are all used in apps for phones or computer programs on desktop or laptop computers.

It shows you where you are. Your position is an overlay on the map and as you move, the map moves with you.

It’s my preferred nav in a remote area because you see details such as water holes, tanks and gradients of roads.

These systems don’t supply turn-by-turn navigation, but you can still use them to plan a route.

Guidance navigationTomTom Rider 550 GPS satnav Peter Davis map

This is turn-by-turn navigation as used in GPS satnav units from companies such as TomTom, Navman, Garmin, etc.

They use raw data collected by driving the roads, photographing them, mapping them and from satellite images.

The only map data collectors in the world are Navtecm, Teleatlas and Google. They also field-check maps and sell their data to the end users.

They collect the geographic location (lats and longs) and geo-reference images and features.

All of that data is then embedded in proprietary software that can be used on the GPS unit.

Teleatlas was bought by TomTom about 15 years ago and is not sold to any other user.

TomTom is the largest single GPS manufacturer in the world, closely followed by Garmin. But they do not have the majority of the market as there are so many models available.

Their software is set up like moving maps with similar designs for roads, rivers, and even the little position arrow.

The Hema Navigator and Mudmap are the only GPS units that include both turn-by-turn guidance and a moving map option.

Smartphone satnavTomTom Rider 550 GPS satnav Peter Davis map

Smartphones have a built-in GPS device that allows you to use moving maps via a mapping app. Just make sure you have turned on “location services”.

These don’t need a mobile signal or wifi to work, although they will provide more accurate positioning.

You can be riding in the middle of the Simpson Desert and still use your GPS to access an app with relevant maps downloaded.

Even if you are riding overseas and do not have a mobile plan for that country, the program will work.

The best and easiest to use mapping apps are Hema, Mudmap and Avenza.

Mud Map and Hema Explorer apps for iOS and Android cost $99.99 and $49.95 respectively and come with some maps.

Avenza is free, but you have to buy the maps. They get 10% commission.

Some maps are free and some start at just a few dollars.

Once you buy them, you own them, they are on your device and the GPS will place you on those maps.

By the way, other smartphone apps that use maps such as Uber and Find My Friends won’t work unless you have mobile signal or wifi.

Smartphone mapsTomTom Rider 550 GPS satnav Peter Davis map

Smartphones also have either a proprietary map (like Apple Maps) and/or Google Maps that use mobile signal and/or wifi.

Google Maps collect their own mapping data.

Apple started collecting its own data and bought some data, but didn’t do any field checking.

They introduced the service too soon and relied too much on free crowd-source data, so it was riddled with errors. They have since just bought known data, so it is now more reliable.

You can use both of these to plan a route, find where you are and source nearby points of interest.

In fact, this is how they get their funding as companies pay to be included on their maps.

Next in the series we will talk about how to plan your route.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Map expert reviews TomTom Rider 550 GPS

TomTom has finally released their new Rider 550 satnav with new routes, wifi, personalised trips, smartphone connectivity, group sharing and voice activation.

It costs $599 and we wondered whether it is worth the money when smartphones these days seem to do so much of the tasks of a satnav.

So we handed over the unit to regular riding partner and map expert Peter “Worldmapman” Davis.

Map expert reviews TomTom Rider 550
Peter Davis

The qualified cartographer has spent 20 years as Sales and Marketing Manager of HEMA Maps and five years running his own geographic information consultancy, so he knows what he is talking about.

Here is his review:

Tom Tom Rider 550Map expert reviews TomTom Rider 550

Out of the box the first thing that impresses is the handlebar mount.

It is RAM brand which I believe to be the best, most secure and robust range of vehicle electronic mounts in the world.

When I attached the mount to the handle bars and went for a run, it did not disappoint; solid with virtually no vibration.

It also allows you to quickly swivel the unit from landscape to portrait mode depending on what you prefer.

The Rider 550 came fully charged and ready to go. And with faster processing, it fires up very quickly. No more waiting for it to load.

It includes a short cable with a proprietary plug on the end to connect to a cable with bare wire ends to route it straight to your battery terminal. There is also a cable with a USB plug to go to a USB charging port. Handy.

However, on my first test I didn’t bother plugging it into power. I ran it on full nav operation for more than four hours and it still had 3/4 battery left. (It is claimed to have six hours’ battery charge.)

I haven’t yet got around to plugging in the power cable and might never feel the need with that much battery power storage!

Speaking of storage, I downloaded the complete set of free world maps. Not many satnavs have that much storage capacity. 

The instruction manual is concise but tells you everything you needed to know.

Wifi connection

TomTom Rider 550 wifi

Since it has wifi, you don’t have to connect to it to a computer for updates.

Once connected to home wifi, the TomTom Rider 550 tells you if there are any updates required and you do this while you are connected.

Operationally it is typical of any modern satnav devices. It is easy to use and quite intuitive. When you take a wrong turn it is lightning fast at recalculating. So much faster than any other GPS unit or smartphone navigation app.

Its stored POIs (points of interest) are also extensive.

On the bike, the screen visibility is very acceptable even in full sun. I could read the screen in all light conditions with minor head adjustments. It automatically reverts to night mode when it is dark.

Its touchscreen works with most gloves, so long as they are not too thick. So if using winter gloves, get a pair with touchscreen-sensitive fingertips like these from Macna.

Macna Saber gloves rider 550
Macna gloves with “touchtip”

Mapping data

The mapping data is very up-to-date which is underlined by the accuracy of the speed zone, speed camera and red light cameras.

Another thing that impresses me is that during school hours the speed in school zones automatically change.

Here’s another impressive feature: the strip map window down the side shows distance to speed cameras, fuel, etc. Very handy!

As you would expect, the device can connect to Bluetooth intercom units. However, if you turn up the volume, it’s easy to hear without Bluetooth connection at all but highway speeds.Map expert reviews TomTom Rider 550

Given that I don’t use Bluetooth much, I wasn’t able to test the voice activation or the new feature that reads smartphone messages aloud in your headset.

However, that sort of technology works well elsewhere so Im sure it’s fine, if you like that sort of thing.

My only concern was that the view randomly swapped orientation between horizontal to vertical, but it did correct quickly. (We noticed this with the previous model if you set it too close to horizontal. It needs to be positioned closer to vertical – MBW).


TomTom Rider 500 is a useful navigation tool and much more suitable to the rugged conditions on your bike than a delicate smartphone.

Given that traffic warnings, speed camera locations and worldwide mapping is included free for the lifetime of the unit, it could be taken and used anywhere in the world.

Tech specs




Rechargeable Lithium Ion

Battery charge

Up to 6 hours autonomous operation

Screen type

11 cm (4.3″) touchscreen. Capacitive, glove-friendly, sunlight readable screen

Screen Resolution

480 x 272 WQVGA




16 GB

RAM Size

512 Mb

SD slot

Micro SD slot


IPX7 – Protects again any wet weather conditions


Smartphone Connected, Bluetooth audio


Update and download without plugging into a computer


Hands-free calling. Smartphone messages. Siri & Google Now


TomTom Traffic, TomTom Speed Cameras, QuickGPSfix via Bluetooth® on your smartphone


Pre-installed Australia, New Zealand, North America, Canada, Mexico. Worldwide maps available to download. Lifetime map updates.


Lifetime Traffic and Speed Cameras Updates


Micro USB port and 2.0 USB cable


136.8 x 88.4 x 30.5




RAM universal mounting kit – fits nearly all bikes



Bring Your Own Connectivity


Automatic Speech Recognition(ASR)


Tilt Sensor


Light Sensor




Source: MotorbikeWriter.com