How To Choose Your Motorcycle GPS System
By Tracey Simpson
A GPS system for your motorcycle can turn your journeys, into adventures. Opening up a whole new experience, you can find amazing places to explore by planning your trips at home, and downloading your routes to your GPS device. New landscapes, destinations, and road trips await; with the security and confidence of never getting lost again.
A GPS system for your motorcycle can also help to make your journeys as comfortable, and stress-free as possible. If you fancy a break, or you're running out of petrol, your GPS can help. More importantly, your GPS unit can guide you back to safety when you get lost, or accidentally take the wrong turning. With voice guided directions, and software brimming with points of interest (POI), such as petrol stations, restaurants, service stations, and hotels; your GPS can guarantee you a journey of uninterrupted enjoyment.
Sound like the perfect toy? Well, with GPS systems becoming mainstream, and new features and models endlessly hitting the shelves, it can be a hard task deciphering which GPS device best suits your needs.
To help you out, it's worth considering the following points before you go ahead and purchase your first GPS for your motorcycle.
What Type of GPS Do You Need For Your Motorcycle?
Are Its Reception Capabilities Suitable For Your Needs?
Does the Battery Life Of Your GPS Suit Your Needs?
How Resistant Is Your GPS To Vibration & Hard Ware?
Do You Want 2-Way-Communication?
How Easy Is Your GPS To Update?
How Easy Is Your GPS To Update?
What Price Is Suitable?
What Type of GPS Do You Need For Your Motorcycle?
There are 3 types of GPS units for motorbikes; portable outdoor units, GPS units designed specifically for your motorcycle/ scooter, and GPS/PDA hybrids.
If you also enjoy outdoor activities such as mountain biking, rambling, or even camping; a portable GPS that can be taken anywhere with you would be ideal. As well as navigating your off-road persuits, versatile Sat Nav's, like the Garmin Quest 2, operate in any vehicle. As well as motorcycling, you can take it in your car, on your boat, or even on a plane with you.
GPS devices designed exclusively for motorcycles can offer you some very impressive features. Especially designed with you, the motorcyclist, in mind, units like the TomTom RIDER have tough, weather-proof casing, touch-screen options for gloves, and anti-glare screens. One of the latest features introduced by TomTom for effective communication, is a system which transmits your spoken instructions via a built-in Bluetooth audio system, using a headset that sits inside your helmet.
The final type of GPS device that may appeal to you is the PDA/GPS hybrid. Although these devices have been designed primarily with portability in mind, most come with the added bonus of having a large screen. So, like the hand-held outdoor GPS units, this type of GPS would be ideal for those of you who enjoy a range of outdoor activities. With an integrated PDA on top of this, GPS/ PDA devices, like the Mio A201 for example, can be handy for work and play. With features like Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, you will be able to catch up on work anytime, anyplace. If you prefer to listen to music on the move, play games, or store digital photos, a GPS device like this one is an ideal choice
Does the Reception Capabilities of Your Motorcycle GPS Meet Your Needs?
When selecting a GPS for your motorcycle, it is worth thinking about how accurate you want your satellite signals to be, in pinpointing your position.
A lot of GPS units available today have an accuracy of approximately 6-8 meters. However, many of the newer GPS models are designed with a WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) capability, resulting in accuracies of 3-4 meters 95% of the time. The Garmin Quest 2 for example, has a flip up external antenna equipped with a 12-channel WAAS GPS receiver; supplying position accuracy of up to 9 feet.
If you enjoy riding in dense woodlands and urban areas, it is worth noting that GPS devices incorporating the new SiRF Star III Chip Set, are units to look out for. This high performance, low power consumption chipset has superior sensitivity in high foliage surroundings. It is also worth noting that GPS units with external powered antennas are great in maintaining a signal in deep woodlands.
Does the Battery Life of Your Motorcycle GPS Suit Your Needs?
With the freedom to ride just about anywhere with a GPS; battery life is an important component to consider. Most GPS units use 2, 4, or 6 'AA' batteries, which can last up to 6 hours. GPS units with integrated rechargeable batteries are the ideal choice if you occasionally lose track of time. With GPS systems like the TomTom RIDER, you can charge your battery at home, while planning your next route, or continuously keep topped up with power, by charging your GPS directly from your bikes battery.
How Resistant Is Your Motorcycle GPS To Vibration & Hard Ware?
With the freedom to ride just about anywhere and not get lost, it is guaranteed your GPS will get a great deal of use (and reverberation). So, it is important to consider how durable your GPS is, in withstanding such conditions.
GPS devices designed exclusively for Motorcycles, like the TomTom RIDER have been designed with this in mind. Not only weather proof, its tough outer case and rugged shock proof mount has been designed to absorb any external friction.
Although most GPS devices come with a mount, it is an absolute must that you use a vibration isolated mount if your GPS will be used regularly on your motorcycle. The RAM mount by NPI, which is fast becoming the industry standard, manufacture anti-vibration ball and socket mounting systems allowing you to mount practically anything, anywhere with vibration protection and durability. This would be an ideal addition to the Garmin Quest 2 GPS if you were purchasing this portable GPS for a lot of use on your motorcycle.
Do You Want Your Motorcycle GPS To Have 2-Way Communication?
Some of the most recent GPS systems to be launched for motorcycles have taken 2-way communication to a whole new level.
If you own a GPRS Bluetooth enabled mobile phone, it is worth knowing that many Sat Nav's, like the TomTom RIDER, have incorporated a Bluetooth receiver, amongst their many features. With the ability to connect your phone via Bluetooth, and receive incoming phone calls through your GPS and Bluetooth headset, you need never have to take your gloves and helmet off to answer your phone again.
You could even use your Bluetooth enabled phones' wireless Internet, and with certain models of GPS, receive real time information on traffic conditions.
Enjoy riding in groups? It is worth knowing there are some recent hand held units that can offer built in radios that will not only allow you to communicate with other members of your group, but will also display everyone's location on your screen.
How Easy Is Your Motorcycle GPS To Update?
With Roads constantly changing, the ability to update your device easily, and at a reasonable cost, are very important factors to consider when selecting your GPS.
It is important to realize that each type of GPS will be updated in a different way, and so you need to choose which process is better for you.
Those which are attached to a PDA, like the Mio A201 for example, are usually updated via a PC, whereas dedicated in-vehicle units tend to be updated via a CD. These have to be purchased from the road map data supplier.
Some specific software vendors have solutions for preparing maps which can be downloaded to your GPS unit. Most notably, TomTom operate the TomTom PLUS service.
The Choice: Budget Considerations
In essence, your choice can be reasonably simple: Buy the most expensive GPS that you can afford, that suits your needs.
It is important, using my pointers above, to decide which features are most important to you. If you want an up-to-the-minute GPS for your motorcycle; with features like real-time, on demand traffic information, hands-free calling, turn by turn voice instructions via bluetooth headsets, alerts for speed camera locations, plus thousands of useful points of interest, GPS sytems like the TomTom RIDER start from approximately £550 inc. VAT.
If, however, you are looking for more of a toy to play with, and a GPS that will simply get you from A to B, then a hand held device could be a better choice. With a range of features, like simple voice guidance, compass mode, MP3 player, and essentially portability, GPS devices like the Mio 268 and the Garmin Quest 2 are ideal for motorcycles, and a range of outdoor activities. The Mio 268, and hand held GPS units with similar features, start from approximately £250 inc. VAT.
To browse a variety of discount GPS Sytems For Your Motorcycle, or Accessories & Software For Your Motorcycle GPS Systems, visit http://www.globalpositioningsystems.co.uk.
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