I recently came upon a fairly good deal on a Tomtom GPS unit so being the guy who hates paying full retail for anything, I bought it. My first task was to acquaint myself with it and found that it has all sorts of cool features. I can save “favorites” of different addresses, it has points of interest like the nearest Starbucks (because life must be filled with good coffee), I can set different color schemes including those for daylight or night-time, it tracks my speed and will even display the highest speed reached on a single trip, all sorts of user preferences can be set to do things like avoid toll roads.
Downside; the built-in speaker is the only way you can get the audio. There is no headphone jack and no Bluetooth. But it was such a good deal I couldn’t pass it up.
Now, being the guy who loves cool new gadgets for my motorcycle, I immediately set about adapting this handy little unit to the bike. Of course I knew the audio would never be loud enough to effectively compete with wind-noise (or my stereo), so I had to first make sure the visual navigation would be adequate. Simple answer; Yes!
Okay so my considerations were:
- Mounting to my handlebars such that I can easily see it and reach it when necessary (Remember, I’m blind in my right eye).
- Easy detach for security reasons.
- Delivering constant power to the unit without punching into the wiring harness.
Here’s what I did:
Doing a search online for “handlebar mount for Tomtom” I found Lido . These guys have all sorts of handlebar (and other) mounts for several of the GPS units out there. Including mine. YAY! For me, I chose the RAM mount for my Tomtom. And I came across a power cable that will deliver a constant 5-volt supply to the unit.
Okay, quick word about Lido. Since I didn’t know them well, I looked on Amazon.com for the same mount and found it. Having always had good experiences with Amazon, I ordered the mount from them. And the next day I ordered the power cable from Lido. The cable arrived several days sooner than the mount. So the lesson-learned here is, I should have just bought it all from Lido.
Okay, back to it. Having all the stuff necessary I set about putting it all together. The hardest part about the mount was deciding which side of the handlebars I’d put it on. The part itself came in two primary pieces that I put together with two screws to which I applied a bit of lock-tight (The duct tape of the motorcycle world). Then it was a simple mount to the bars.
The power cable was a bit trickier. Remember, my goal was NOT to punch into the wiring harness. First test; will it work with a simple ground to the frame? No… had to be wired directly to the positive AND negative terminals of the battery. So, I did that but added a push-button switch so I can cut power whenever I want. Why? Because I’m like that. I have no other explanation. End result is a sturdy mount, good visibility, and constant 5-volt power.
Road test time! Again… YAY!
I geared up, told my wife I’d be back and pulled out of the garage. I set the unit to navigate me to a local Starbucks. I picked it from the “points of interest” listing and intentionally picked one that I hadn’t visited. It took me there flawlessly. Next (after enjoying a cup of coffee) I had it direct me home. But, part way through the rout I intentionally took a few wrong turns. It recalculated on the fly and still got me home without my having to make a single U-turn.
What I like most about this unit is I can use it in both the car and on the bike. The RAM mount makes that easy because the unit pops securely in place and easily pops out (though I did almost drop it on my first try). Visually it’s easy to see and it’s position is such that I’m not distracted. I find it no different than looking at the speedo.
Bottom line; for less than $100.00 I managed to set up a GPS unit that will work in my car AND on my bike. I’ll be taking a ride from Los Angeles to the San Francisco Bay area on a couple weeks and intend to take a different rout home. The GPS will certainly come in handy and this, IMHO will make for an excellent test in a real-world scenario.
So stay tuned…