Confession: I like gadgets. If I could have a bucket seat, air conditioning and almost any other gadget on my bike Iíd have it. Iím not the purist type who likes a stripped down engine with a frame and wheels. So, here are product evaluations for two items Iíve purchased the last few months.
TomTom Rider Ė My hated Garmin Zumo 550
finally died. The GPS functionality worked well and the screen was nice and bright, but Ö It had Bluetooth functionality that was supposed to connect to my headset and my phone. That was supposed to allow me to use the GPS to see who was calling or to allow me to make calls. However, none of the 5 Verizon phones I had while I owned the Garmin worked properly with it. My last phone is an iPhone 5, and I thought surely the single best selling phone would be compatible. However, I was told not only that it wasnít compatible, it never would be! It is also not listed as compatible with any of their Zumos. Multiple phone calls and emails with Garmin got me nowhere.
I replaced it with the newest TomTom Rider. Itís really not fair to compare it to the Zumo 550 since they were designed 5 or more years apart, but itís my only comparison point. Plus, even the newest Zumo is not compatible with the iPhone. Also, the TomTom was $400 (ordered through Target) and the newest Zumos are between $650 and $800.
The TomTom works very well and seems to be well made. I donít think the screen is as bright as the Zumo, but their software allows you to adjust the color schemes. Once I adjusted a high-contrast scheme the screen is plenty visible. Feature for feature, I like the TomTom. Some items are easier than the Zumo to find (such as switching from a 3D view to an overhead view), and some are harder, such as seeing that the phone and headset are both connected. It automatically zooms in and out depending on your road situation. You can zoom in and out manually, but after a few minutes it re-selects its own zoom level. It actually works quite well.
The Zumo had a built in MP3 player (which I donít need on the Voyager) that is absent on the TomTom. The Zumo allows you to keep a bread crumb trail and itís missing on the TomTom, however, the TomTom allows you to easily record routes and publish them. The TomTom rider offers an anti-theft kit for about $100 more, but lacks the security set-screw that was standard on the Zumo 550. The Zumo allows a North-up view which is curiously missing on the TomTom, but there is a North pointer that is always displayed on the TomTom. Finally, the TomTom has a neat feature where you can organize icons you use most frequently in an easy-to-find quick menu. The Zumo had a mileage counter you could set to warn you when your gas tank should be getting low, but I donít need that on the Voyager since Iíve got a fuel guage.
The good news is that the Bluetooth functionality works perfectly. No issues with the iPhone 5 or the Cardo headset. For me, this was an important feature and made me decide Iíd made a good choice.
Big Bike Parts Handlebar Mounted TPMS Ė Getting to the rear air valve on the Voyager is a real pain given the saddlebags which block a lot of the access to the rear tire. You have to roll the bike to where the valve is on the bottom, and that is trial and error. Maybe Iím a weak old man, but pushing a 900 lb. bike around is not something I enjoy. I've got a leg stiffness issue which requires me to get on my back on the ground to reach the valve. I usually end up put the bike on my jack.
The TMPS consists of an attractive, compact handlebar-mounted battery-powered display, which receives signals from sensors that mount on the air valves. The sensors are light enough you donít have to re-balance the tires. You can set high and low pressure alarm limits as well as tire temperature alarm limits. You can select English or metric units. Took me about 20 minutes to install the whole package. The sensor batteries are expected to last about a year and the display unitís AAA battery should last around 6 months. I had trouble with one of the sensors, but the customer service department at Big Bike Parts was extremely helpful.
The system works beautifully. The sensors only transmit when the tires are spinning, and the display unit shuts itself off when it stops receiving signals. The sensors transmit every time the air pressure changes by 0.5 lbs or more. When any pressure or temperature is outside of the set points, the display flashes a red LED. Although the display is not backlit, there is a backlighting button that will light the unit for several seconds, and the alarm LED is visible at night.
I wish the display unit was waterproof (the tire sensors are, and there is an awful silicone cover for the display to increase water resistance), and I wish it could be locked to the bike so I wouldnít have to remove it each time I park. Itís easy enough to snap on and off, but Iím lazy.
Overall, great purchase. I only have to manually check air pressure when the TPMS tells me itís low. I havenít quite determined why I need to know tire temperature, but itís there in case I ever figure it out.