Sat Navs for Motorcyles - Phones or Dedicated? - David Ellis_2016

Go to content

Main menu:

Using CoPilot smartphone app for use on rideouts
Dedicated motorcycle sat navs are quite expensive .  OK they are very expensive!
To create your planned route the device has to be able accept markers or waypoints so that the sat nav program follows correctly the required route and not the shortest or quickest route that it would normally do if you just ask it to go from A to B.
Another requirement is that the map data has to be preloaded on the device because there may not always be a signal to download ‘on the fly’.
Many people now already use smartphones. There is an app called CoPilot that will fill the above requirements.
The disadvantages of using CoPilot on a  smartphone are:
·         Not many phones are waterproof (there are plenty of waterproof cases though)
·         Most screens don’t work with motorcycle gloves on.
·         You will have to buy some sort of mount for your bike
·         The screen layout is not optimised for use whilst riding a bike (but you can use the audio instructions)
·         May be difficult to see in bright sunlight
There are advantages though:
·         The CoPilot software is fairly inexpensive £20 for single map e.g. UK and Ireland or £35 for Western Europe.  
·         If you have a smartphone already, it’s much cheaper than the £200 - £500  for a dedicated unit.
·         CoPilot app and map  updates are free of charge
·         Smartphones generally have faster processors and can update quickly
·         You can use the phone’s mobile data to show traffic problems
 
Creating a route
To create your route it’s best to use a program on a bigger screen than the device.  One such popular program is Tyre to Travel  - Download Tyre here
With this program you place waypoints on the desired route. You can rename the waypoints if you wish to ‘Rest Stop’ or ‘Petrol Stop’  for example.
A good tip is to place waypoints after the turning that you want to go down i.e.  not exactly on the junction.  This will ‘force’ the sat nav to calculate the turn before you arrive at the junction.
Once you have created the file you need to save it. Garmin uses gpx files. TomTom uses itn files. CoPilot uses trp files, the latest version of Tyre now will save as trp file.
 
Adding the file to the smartphone
The file needs to be put into the com.alk.copilot.eumarket.premiumeupan/EU/save folder or for the free version com.alk.copilot.mapviewer/EU/save folder on the phone
To use the file in the CoPilot App you need to load it in as a route .
In the Copilot main menu at the bottom there is a route button (2dots and an arrow in a circle) press this and choose Plan or Edit Trip > Options> Load and then choose your saved file(s)

More details about planning a ride can be found here.
Garmin

Although CoPilot is an excellent piece of sat nav software, the smartphone is not the ideal hardware for mounting on a motorcycle and so when I saw the Aldi offer of a Garmin Zumo for £199.99  inc free delivery, I couldn't resist.
 
 
The Zumo 340LM comes with Western Europe lifetime maps, and RAM accessories to mount the unit. The bar mount was no use for clip ons but I already have RAM kit and could use my centre yolk mounting straight away. Fixing the power cable to the bike and sat nav holder didn't take long as I already have a switched power tap behind the screen. All the hardware seems robust and has a high quality feel.
 
So of course the Zumo 340  works fine if you put in an address and the press Go - it will get you there. What I want to use it for is custom routes. This where I find it strange. With Copilot or TomTom you create your route ( I use Tyre to Travel) put the route into the device and off you go. You can edit the waypoints during the journey if you need to.
 
With the Zumo, Tyre can send the route to the Zumo through the USB. You then unplug the usb and start the Garmin up. It then ask you whether you want to import the route into Trip Planner (there are 2 apps built into the Zumo - Trip Planner and Tracks - the route will automatically be listed in Tracks) . If you import the route into Trip Planner and then press Go it doesn't always give you turn by turn instructions to the first waypoint but just has a direct line of sight indication - a bit strange. 
 
if you create the route manually with Trip Planner it seems fine.
 
 
If you go to the Tracks app it lists the tracks you have loaded select one and you can see the route  on the map. It gives you the option to convert the track into a trip. This time the trip will always give you turn by turn instructions but not list all the waypoints only the start and finish but it does give you turn by turn instructions on the route you have designed.

After 3 days experimenting.................... 
 
Firstly newer Garmins use a different system to older ones.  As mentioned above they have 'apps'  - Trip Planner and Tracks. A Track will guide you and follow your custom route that you have created but only from Start to Finish (or reversed). This is fine but not if you want to stop for Petrol, meals etc.
 
Trip Planner is different, it only allows 29 Waypoints but thousands of via Points which is OK unless you envisage more than 29 meal breaks or petrol stops on a journey.
The down side is you need to use BaseCamp because it doesn't work properly 100% if you just save your Tyre route.
 
Firstly plot your route using Tyre ( A lot easier I find than BaseCamp) and save it.
Load your route into Basecamp.
Double click on the route at the bottom LHS to open the box with all the vias.

Choose Driving not Motorcycling symbol in Activity profile at the top of the screen. (I found it is better or else you may be going up dirt tracks)

Click recalculate

The route on Basecamp will then be plotted and displayed to follow the desired route.
 
You can highlight the vias where you do/do not want to stop and  chose 'Alert on Arrival' or 'Don't Alert on Arrival'
 
Waypoints will then be in black and Vias in grey
 
Right Mouse click on the  route at the bottom LHS and send to your Garmin.
 
When you start the Garmin it will ask you whether you want to import the route. Click Yes and then you can run the route from Trip Planner. It will now show the distance and time (which it doesn't direct from Tyre), the vias and any Petrol stops etc as destinations.
 
Maybe I should persevere with plotting a route only using BaseCamp but I'm not convinced yet. Need to watch some more instruction videos.

After 4 months use.....

The Garmin is a well made, rugged piece of kit but the foibles above make it awkward if you want to make custom routes. 
The routing is sometimes bizarre.
Sometimes Give Ways e.g. junctions aren't shown and can be confusing.
If you select Miles as the units the distance count down to junctions etc is in 1/10ths of a mile instead of yards. If you select Kilometers it's in metres??
The pronuciation of places is confusing. English voice selectable but it sounds like US pronunciation to me.
Every waypoint you put in on a custom route becomes a favourite! Makes trying to find a proper favourite difficult.
Basecamp is not easy to use to create a custom route -Tyre is intuitive and quick to create a route. My Route App (by Tyre Team) is also reported to be good but I think you need to purchase the license to make it useful because it then comes with Garmin and TomTom maps. The free version has limitations. Even with the discount of being alrea a Tyre purchaser it's too expensive for me.


So would I buy one again?
No, I got the Garmin at a good price but I'd now pay more for a TomTom.
The CoPilot software is far superior to the Garmin but using a phone is not so convenient and rugged enough for regular use on a bike.

I would buy a TomTom. From my experience with car sat navs, the routing display is clearer. It integrates well with Tyre. You just upload the itn file and it works.
If you don't want to make custom routes then the Garmin works fine as a get you from A to B sat nav.

Twitter: @Bladeowner


 
This video shows how to use Tyre and Basecamp together to plan your route.


 
Back to content | Back to main menu