Garmin StreetPilot i5 GPS
by Bill C. for webBikeWorld.com
| Owner Comments (Below)
| Garmin i3/i5 External Speaker
This is not a motorcycle GPS. Now
that may be obvious to you, but it wasn't to me, a complete rookie when it
comes to mobile
GPS (Global Positioning System) units.
But I'm also a Myers-Briggs ISTJ, so when I decided that it
was time to learn about GPS, I rolled up my sleeves and immersed myself in
the facts, the trivia and as much of the details as I could absorb before I made
my purchasing decision.
In the end, I chose a great GPS unit, but it isn't really
designed for motorcycle use, as I discovered. But that's OK -- we're here to make the
mistakes so you don't. So bear with me while I tell the tale, and
hopefully you'll pick up a tip or two along the way.
I now realize that although I'm definitely interested in a
GPS unit that can help me get from Point A to Point B without getting lost,
what I'd really like to have is a "reverse GPS". I'd like to have a
system that will record my motorcycle wanderings that I can play back
at a later date to see where I've been so that I can get back there again the next
I absolutely love to just take
off on my bike on a journey of discovery, turning this way and that,
exploring new roads and new vistas. The problem is that when I find a
great new curvy road, or a beautiful view, I can't always find my way back there. I had a rough idea of how GPS worked,
and I thought it could help me, but I really didn't understand what GPS was
all about until I took the plunge and brought one home.
I read the GPS reviews, but
they seemed to go from one extreme to another -- they were either too full
of arcane details and techno-babble
or they were simply a cut and paste from the manufacturer's press release. I
picked up enough knowledge though to learn the basics, even though no single
GPS really seemed to stand out as a solution for me.
In the end, I decided that perhaps I should not spend the
$1,000.00 or more on a high-end, sophisticated system as my first GPS.
wanted was a color screen, portability and built-in maps of the entire U.S.A.
I also wanted a speaker, an earphone jack and a waterproof GPS. The
Garmin i5 has 4 out of these 6 requirements.
Garmin i5 Startup and Navigation
The Garmin i5 is claimed to be "the lowest priced car
navigator with pre-loaded maps on today's market". This was a strong
selling point for me. Since I frequently travel around the U.S.A., I
definitely wanted a unit with built-in maps, so that I didn't have to worry about
downloading the correct maps onto a memory card and the possibility of not
having the correct maps or forgetting the map CD-ROM.
The Garmin i5 comes with the same maps as the Big Boys; the
NAVTEQ City Navigator North America. The i5 uses the "NT" version
of the maps, which means that it has
a different compression algorithm, but otherwise it's supposed to be the
same. The maps include full coverage of the U.S.A., Canada, and Puerto
Rico. The i5 also includes nearly six million "Points of Interest" (POI), like
gas stations, ATMs, hotels, restaurants, and other attractions.
There's no messing around with map downloads to the i5;
everything's loaded and ready to go right out of the box. In fact,
after becoming totally confused from reading a zillion different opinions on
GPS units, I was absolutely amazed at how quickly I was up and running with
the i5. I came out of the store, opened the box, turned it on and it
was ready to go. I didn't even unpack the instruction manual until the
next day, which is very unusual for me (an ISTJ surely would prefer to read
the entire manual from cover to cover to make sure everything was understood
I've seen some astoundingly bad computer interfaces in my
time, and I can tell you that the Garmin i5 is positively a sublime
revelation, it's that easy to use. Mercedes, BMW and Microsoft interface designers
aren't even at the level of the Grasshopper when compared to the Enlightened
Zen Masters of the Garmin engineers. I have handed the i5 over to complete computer
illiterates, old timers and kids and they're up and running with about 10 seconds of instruction.
All they need to know is which button to press to make a selection.
The rest comes naturally.
After turning the unit on (the button on the right in the
photo above), every possible choice is controlled by only two buttons. The wheel in
the middle rotates and has indents to give it feel. Rotate the
wheel to see the choices and press it to make a selection. Press the
arrow button to the left of the wheel to go back. That's all there is
After starting the Garmin i5, an initial "i5"
displays for a few seconds. Next comes a screen warning the user not
to mess with the system while driving. Press the wheel once and the
screen shown in the photo above will display and it's ready to go. The
next choices are
obvious: select "Where To?" to navigate to an address, a point of
interest (food, hotels, fuel, etc.), an intersection or a city, as
illustrated in this photo:
From the "Where To" screen, the user can make the following choices:
||Sub Categories and Descriptions
||A home address is stored here.
||Select destination by: State, House
Number, Street Name.
All Food, American, Asian, Barbecue, British Isles, Chinese, Deli/Bakery,
Fast Food, French, German, International, Italian, Mexican,
Seafood, Specialty Food Products, Steak/Grill.
||Fuel - Lists gas stations
from closest to farthest.
||Lodging - Displays lodging
from closest to farthest.
All Shopping, Apparel, Computer/Software, Convenience,
Department, General Merchandise, Grocery, Home Furnishings,
House and Garden, Pharmacy/Chemist, Shopping Center, Specialty
||Bank/ATM - Displays list of
banks and ATMs from closest to farthest.
All, Bar/Nightclub, Casino, Live Theater, Movie Theater.
||Recreation - All,
Amusement Park, Arena/Track, Bowling, Golf, Park/Garden,
||Attractions - All,
Amusement/Theme Park, Arena/Track, Hall/Auditorium, Landmark,
Museum/Historical, Park/Garden, Winery.
||Community Services -
Bank/ATM, Border Crossing, City Hall, Community Center, Court
House, Fire Department, Government Office, Library, Place of
Worship, Police Station, Post Office, School, Utility (which
also includes trash services, commercial and private electric
repair companies, plumbers, recyclers and more).
||Hospitals - Listed from
closest to farthest.
||Transit - All, Air, Auto
Rental, Ground Transportation, Transit Services.
Auto Services - Auto Rental, Auto
Repair, Automobile Club, Car Wash, Dealer/Auto Parts, Rest Area/Tourist
Info, Truck Stop, Wrecker
||Keeps track of last choices for easy
||Store favorite choices for easy access.
||Search for intersections.
||Search for cities.
Once an address, a restaurant, an intersection or other
point of interest is
selected, it can be saved with one click in the "My Favorites" section.
Once a favorite is saved, it can be selected as a "Where To?" destination
from anywhere in the U.S.A. and the i5 will provide directions.
Each menu choice has the option to spell out the name.
This is accomplished by rotating the wheel to highlight each letter or
number and then pressing the wheel to select it. As each letter is
selected, the i5 searches its database and brings up potential choices.
For example, in the photo below, as the letters "MONTG" are
typed in, the i5 will start displaying street names, first starting with "M"
as the "M" is selected, then
"MO" as the "O" is selected, then "MON", etc. As far as I can tell, it will display every
street in the U.S.A. that starts with those letters, but they are quickly
narrowed down to the correct street.
You can see in the photo below that I have so far selected
the letters "MONTG". Montgomery Village
Ave., the street I was searching for, is listed fifth. All I need to
do at this point is to press the back arrow button and scroll down to
Montgomery Village Ave. to select it (Note that prior to getting to this
screen, I have already entered the state (I selected "Maryland") and the
street number ("100") in two screens prior to this).
Once the state, the street number and street is selected (or
the intersection, or city, or POI, etc.), the i5 will display the
destination. The phone number is also displayed for a restaurant, gas station or other POI, which is handy in case
the user would like to
call first to place an order, find out what time the store is open, etc.
At this point, there are three options, as shown in the
photo below: "Start Navigating", "Show Map" or "Save as Favorite".
Click "Start Navigating" and the i5 will calculate a route and display the
map. The route calculations are very quick; local routes of, say, 50
miles or so are calculated within several seconds. A coast-to-coast
route of around 2,500 miles takes about 10 seconds. The directions can
also be shown in turn-by-turn text form.
The i5 will recalculate the route
almost instantaneously if a wrong turn is taken. The bottom line is that although I have
nothing else to compare it to, apparently there are complaints about slow GPS routing and
recalculation times on some brands and models. I can report that the i5's calculating speed seems extremely fast to me
and I have no complaints.
A cool feature is the ability to simulate the route once
it's selected. The i5 will step through the entire route, turn by
turn, instruction by instruction. I'm not sure how useful this is
other than perhaps to familiarize the user with the route, but it's fun to
The Garmin i5 maps can be displayed as
"3D", "Track Up" or "North Up". The i5 defaults to
the 3D map; the Track Up will orient the map so that the
route being traveled is always pointing towards the top
of the screen. North Up orients the map so that
north is always at the top of the screen.
The wheel can be used to zoom in and out,
as shown in the photo below. The map display can
go from a view of just about the entire U.S.A. down to
maybe about 1/2 mile resolution. Keeping it
at about the fifth "notch" leaves enough resolution
to see the street names go by on the left and right,
which helps to keep the user oriented when driving.
The routing instructions can also be
displayed in text format, two turns to a screen.
The "miles to go until next turn" and estimated time of
arrival are also displayed (as they are in the map
view), and the voice instructions are also active in
text mode. The screen will scroll through the
routing instructions during the ride.
That's about all there is to it.
Here's something I learned: the Garmin i5 will probably
get you to your destination, but it will use the most
common route to get there. There is a choice for
"Shorter Distance" or "Faster Time" in the settings, but
they both seem biased towards Interstate highways and
main roads. This is not a device that will lead
you through the interesting back roads, even though you may know a
back road short cut with lots of scenery. A wrong
turn will generate an immediate recalculation, but the
unit will almost
always try to route the user around the block to get back to
the original routing.
The Garmin i5 has a variety of settings that can be
adjusted, including volume and screen brightness (a
problem see below). The other choices include:
(Most, More, Normal, Less, Least)
(Track Up, North Up, 3D)
(built in or additional map on SD memory.
This is not necessary but may be desired to
hold additional POI or maps of other
(Alkaline or NiMH)
||Color Mode (Daytime,
Night Time, Auto) Dims screen automatically.
(Normal, GPS Off, WAAS)
(On, Off) On prevents user from menu
selections when driving.
(On, Off) Beeps for attention.
(Toll Roads, Highways, Carpool Lanes,
U-Turns, Unpaved Roads)
(Faster Time, Shorter Distance)
(Car/Motorcycle, Truck, Bus, Emergency,
Daylight Saving (automatic
(12 hr, 24 hr, UTC)
||Select from 18
different languages for text and voice.
Two English voices are available, British
and U.S. accents.
It's my opinion that the firmware and updates page
for the i5 is hidden on the Garmin website. Thanks
visitor "B.B." (see "Notes" section below) for providing
URL of the Garmin i5 update page. Go to that
page to download the Garmin "WebUpdater", which allows
the i5 to automatically connect via a USB cable to the
Garmin site to download the latest firmware. I
discovered that even though my i5 was brand new, a
firmware version was available (version 2.7).
That page also has links to the Garmin
POI loader, which allows the owner to load custom Points
of Interest onto optional portable memory in the i5.
A link to the i5 USB driver is also provided, but
shouldn't be needed for a new unit.
By the way, It's my understanding that
some websites are now available that contain free
downloads of speed camera POIs, which may or may not be
useful, depending upon your driving habits!
The i5 can be powered by two AA batteries. This is
a rare feature for a GPS and a real plus. Fresh
batteries last about 4-5 hours. Garmin does not
include batteries in the box, which is strange.
The i5 comes with an automotive style power adapter
(cigarette lighter type) on a 6 ft. (183 cm) cord.
The i5 includes a ball mounted
suction cup adapter which works well on flat, smooth
surfaces. It is designed for use on glass
windshields. A lever on the suction cup removes
the air and makes it stick very tightly. The i5
also has a receptacle for an external antenna (not
included). But the unit seems to have a very good
ability to pick up the GPS satellites, even when the
device is partly hidden under a fairing or dashboard.
Motorcycles and the Garmin i5
The i5's screen is dim in daylight and the screen is
also very reflective, making it hard to see anything
unless a sun shade is improvised. This is also
true when using it in a car.
I assumed that all Garmin GPS units were
waterproof (I'm not sure why I assumed that, but I did) and
I didn't discover that the i5 is not waterproof
until after I purchased it. However, I can mount
the i5 by sticking it on the tachometer of the Triumph
Tiger, which protects the unit from the wind and
partially from the elements. I'm not sure if the
i5 could be covered by a plastic bag or something to
protect it from moisture, but I'll bet that the warranty
will be voided it it's used outdoors. UPDATE:
article describing the new
GPS mount, which eliminates the suction cup.
Although the navigation instructions are
loud enough for use in a car, they can't be heard when
riding a motorcycle (see the
installing an external speaker on an i3 or i5). There is no provision for an
external speaker or earphone, so the navigation is
limited to visual only when the i5 is used on a
Here are a few more observations after spending more
time with the Garmin StreetPilot i5:
UPDATE: "I am here" Location Marking
- I originally thought that the i5 would not allow the
user to mark a location; that is, I thought that I
could not save a
location in memory or My Favorites without first
having navigated to it. However,
visitor and Garmin i3 owner (the i3 is very similar
to the i5, except that it uses downloaded maps into
portable memory) "B.B." wrote us with an
undocumented tip (that I will paraphrase for the
The current location can indeed be
marked. First navigate to the map of the
current location. Press and hold the wheel
button for a couple of seconds while the map is
displayed. The i5 then gives the current
location a default name, such as "001", "002", etc.
You then have the option of naming the location.
B.B. says that this is a "pretty
handy feature, especially when you find a location
that is too new to be in the POI database and want
to be able to easily navigate back to it sometime in
By the way, B.B. also sent us the
link to the the
Garmin i5 software update page. Thanks,
Route Start Instructions -
The i5 doesn't always seem to start the routing from
the user's exact current location. For
example, if the user is located in a parking lot or
if a series of short turns are required to navigate
out to the main starting point, the i5 doesn't
directions until the main road is reached or shortly
This can be a problem when there are multiple route
choices facing the rider immediately at the start of
the route. Twice so far I haven't been able to
figure out which way to turn to start the route, so
I simply guessed and waited for the i5 to turn me
around. Unfortunately, the "no U-turns" box
was checked in the settings, so it took me way out
of my way to get back to where I needed to go.
"Via" Routing - when entering
a new "Where To?" address, the i5 will ask the user
if the address should be set as a "Via Point".
This allows a one-instance "waypoint" to be set, so
that, for example, the user could travel to Atlanta
via Greensboro. Only one via point can be set,
but another one can be set after the first one has
This function is inconsistent, at least on our unit.
At first we though that only a direct street address
can be used as a via point and not a selected
POI, like a restaurant or gas station. But we
discovered that our unit will sometimes ask us if we
want to enter a POI as a via point and sometimes it
doesn't. Seems strange -- we'll report back on
this if we learn more.
Mounting - Now that the
weather has turned colder, it seems like the suction
cup mounting system that worked so well is prone to
failure if the temperature falls during the ride.
This happened twice on the bike and more than
once in the car. There is no alternative
mounting system for the i5, but I'm sure a home-made
solution could be designed.
Lockup - The i5 locked up for
the first time today. It seemed to have
trouble locating the satellites, and about 4 miles
into a new route, the screen froze. I pulled
the plug and the batteries for about 15 seconds and
plugged it back in. I left it at the "Where
To?" screen and somehow it picked up the route again
and knew where it was and successfully routed me to
the intended location.
If you have questions or comments about
the i5 or if you have other tips on its use, please send
The Garmin i5 is very easy to set up and use. I've
learned that it's not designed for motorcycle use, which
is too bad, because it's nice and small and light weight
at only 6-3/4 oz. (193 grams).
say that the i5 gets the award for the fastest "out of the box"
up-and-running time of any electronic device I've ever owned.
I've learned a lot about using GPS and I'll probably use
the i5 in the car only. But now that I know more
about the technology and how it works, I'll
investigate other GPS systems designed for motorcycle
use and we'll report back in upcoming webBikeWorld
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change or differ from our descriptions. Always check before purchasing. Read
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Review: Garmin StreetPilot i5
Retail Price: $535.70 (Street price approx. $499.99)
|Colors: Dark Gray.
Weight: 7.24 oz. (205 g) with two AA batteries.
|Dimensions: 3.00” W x 2.74”
H x 2.15” D. Display: 1.7” W x 1.3” H, 220 x 176 pixels, TFT
Comments: Super easy to set up and use. Makes a great
all-around GPS for first-time users and for anyone who wants a very
portable solution. Not waterproof and can't attach remote
speakers. Screen gets washed out in daylight. Weighs 6-3/4
oz. (193 grams). Review Date: November 2005
|Garmin i5 Features: WAAS-enabled,
12 parallel channel GPS patch antenna with MCX-type connector for
optional external antenna. Audible and visual navigation
instructions and warnings. Operates on two AA batteries (claimed 7 hours
maximum). Includes removable 12-volt power adapter cable for
external power. USB Interface Built-in Flash memory for storing
preloaded map data.
►Your Comments and
Please send comments to
Comments are ordered from most recent to oldest.
Not all comments will be published (details
). Comments may be edited for
clarity prior to publication.
From "J.N.": "I saw in your review someone wrote in
wondering why the distances listed were too short. The reason is because
it's an "as the bird flies" distance from where you are to the favorite point.
The road distance is, of course, longer. I see that this product is
discontinued, but I'm sure this is true of more GPS units."
From "J.W.": "Great review thanks a million.
I just got mine and am loving it. I noticed something though that a I have
been wondering about. When viewing "favorites" the mileage to destination
is always way too low.
Sometimes after the route is calculated the first "leg" of the
ride is more than the whole reported mileage on the favorites page. In
other words the route calculation comes up with the right mileage but the
initially displayed mileage is much too low. Is this point to point
mileage or something? Has anyone else noticed this?"
Editor's Note: I haven't noticed this problem but I
haven't really been looking at the mileage numbers. I'll check ours to
see... Meanwhile, if anyone has any insight to share on this, please email us at
Mike Cecchini, a
fellow member from the Mid-Atlantic Ducati Owners' Club, recently went on a
quest for a GPS. I thought his research would be of interest to
webBikeWorld visitors, so with Mike's permission, I'm reprinting it here:
Well this have been one hell-of-a GPS fact finding marathon for the past two
weeks. Gotta love the
'net and the amount of information, reviews, sales, auctions and down-right
bargains out there on GPS's
In typical fashion, I set out on this with reasonable
expectations and equally reasonable (I thought) budget of $500. Since
GPS's have been around for a while, I figured good deals could be had on new,
nearly new units. I was right. 50% off list (or more) is easy if you
really do your on-line homework.
As someone pointed out and rightly so, my $500 was right in
no-man's land when it came to a GPS purchase. It's too much for the base
units and not enough for the really good units. But as you will see, I
managed to find that zone where high/low model and price compromise finally came
together for me.
So, with "only" 10--20 hrs of on-line searching and reading I
quickly came to realize that Garmin is the
industry leader and rightly so with all the horror stories I've read about the
also-ran's that confuse the issues.
This search ended up with the classic comparo of the low-end
bargains that serve the bare need vs.
the high-end units that have way too many bells 'n whistles, but as usual,
there's usually something that I really really think is a great idea......... so
I typically stretched my $500 budget to get this much appreciated option.
So without further ado, here's where I ended-up and why.
Garmin i5: List: $360, EBay & Outlets circa $275 (new in
box w/ everything)
I'm convinced that this is more than enough for 90% of us that want a good
waterproof unit that can be moved from car to car to bike, not to mention it is
self contained (internal battery powered) and normal 12v vehicle powered.
If the Garmin 2730 didn't exist, I would have chosen this unit as all of the
reviews from owners and mags say this is just a great simple unit that does it
all for car or bike.
Garmin StreetPilot 2730: List $1200, Ebay & Outlets circa
$600--$650 (new in box w/everything)
This is a recently discontinued by Garmin model, but still available on-line by
many on-line stores, so real bargains can be had, but what really got my
attention is that this unit will play through your vehicle's FM radio, so it can
be heard/understood under any circumstance. I like this feature a lot and
it is not offered on any other Garmin model, no matter how high you go, so this
raised my $500 limit by $120, but I'm very happy with my decision and got one
off Ebay brand new in sealed box with all the accessories for $620,
As a 100% newbie to all this, I unpacked it and began with step
1 to go through the set-up steps. I quickly came to a halt with an
instruction that just didn't work, so I called the Garmin hot-line and got put
on hold immediately but I was determined to hang-on and out-wait them.
These are the times where my desk speaker phone pays for itself as I happily
work on something else as the answering machine recordings repeat themselves.
Sure enough within 20 mins an extremely helpful lady came on to talk me through
each step like butta. In 10 mins we got everything working and we even did
a free upgrade to the latest software. Then she steered me to a site where
I could get the latest North America street map CD (vs 8)... free ($130 value).
Happy as a clam, I played with it for a while inside (120v to 12
v adaptor that came with it) .........then went out to the van and set the unit
on my dash (kind of a low profile bean bag mount that really works well).
I tuned the radio to a unused FM2 frequency and punched that
frequency into the GPS......... presto bingo !! I now have 100 watts of easy to
hear soft voice commands (pick from 20+ male/female languges) from 8 speakers
instead of over-driven 1/2 watt from a one inch speaker at the cigarette lighter
plug. Sweet. So far everything works as described and I'm still
working my way around all the buttons 'n bells.
Averatec Voya 350: List $400, Ebay & Outlets circa $300.
I tossed this fully featured unit into this issue as someone mentioned it, so
with his recommendation I went off to see what this new-comer was offering to
get into the very popular GPS market. I looked at it's spec's and features
and it certainly looked promising.......especially at it's remarkably low price.
Maybe I found something special here, so I dug deeper.
I searched and searched and finally found it at Circuit City, so
I called the Rockville store to see if they had one on the shelf. "I've never
heard of that unit sir" is what I got from all three of my local Circuit City
stores, so I went back on-line to call the 800# given by Circuit City gave to
"That unit is only offered on-line sir"....... Hmmmmmm, not the
warm and fuzzy feeling I was looking for, so I dug deeper and went to the
Averatec site to click and click only to come up with endless "Page cannot be
displayed" time after time. Then I called the customer service 800# and
got "that # is no longer working". Needless to say that this was the nail
in the Averatec coffin and why CirCity is even offering it at all still confuses
me. I guess it's just a blow-out item that they are trying to get some of
their money back. Go figure.
MC's bottom line......... if want a great basic GPS, you can't
go wrong with the $275 Garmin i5. If you are into programs, bells 'n
whistles there's a whole range of $600--$1500 Garmins and Magellans out there
that will do just about anything imaginable for you on the road."
From "J.W.": "Hi
from the UK! Just came across your article regarding the Garmin
StreetPilot and its use on a bike. I looked long and hard here in the UK
for a small but portable GPS. I couldn't believe my eyes when the Garmin
StreetPilot came it, it's perfect for using on a motorcycle. Like
yourselves I use the GPS attached to the tacho on my Triumph by use of the
suction cup. It works absolutely fine.
What I have done in
addition is that I have modified the unit by undoing the case and soldering
speaker wires to the existing speaker, then CAREFULLY (!) drilling a small hole
in the case and feeding the cable (which has a jack-plug) through the case;
putting the case back together and hey-presto fitting an earpiece (which a buyer
on eBay sells specifically for motorcycles) into my crash helmet with
crystal-clear sound inside my crash helmet! It works absolutely perfectly
- give it a try, it only takes a few minutes to do the conversion, the screws in
the Garmin unit are easy to get to (one in each corner). (Editor's Note:
Remember that this will void your warranty.)
My only problem now
is to try and track down a manufacturer who is prepared or makes a soft plastic
case to put the unit into. To date no manufacturer appears to see the huge
potential market out there because everyone I know who has a bike is going for
this small, brilliant piece of equipment. Perhaps you can persuade someone
to make and sell something - if you do please let me know immediately!"
"Bought it 4 days ago... (paragraph cut, edited for brevity)... (the
webBikeWorld review) stated there was no charging status for both the TomTom
unit and the Bluetooth headset - both statements are false. The unit I
have with version 5.420 software clearly indicates the charging status and
battery level on the Status Summary screen (with or without a route planned).
Additionally as the battery level runs down to about 1/3 to 1/4 it constantly
flashes on the main screen. Also the headset displays a red LED while
charging. Finally the power switch - just push it in, as the rubber moves
you'll feel a slight click. Don't use a finger nail or anything sharp.
If you have it connected to your bike correctly (switched DC) you'll never turn
in on or off by the switch anyway. It automatically turns on when you
start and off when you turn off the bike or remove it from the DC cradle.
So why was your reviewer so concerned with the power switch
since its never needed? Did he even install the unit on a bike?
Additionally your reviewer completely glossed over the Bluetooth connections and
web information (weather, traffic and emails). Because of the Bluetooth
connection you don't have to look down at the unit while riding and you can hear
the instructions at speed like having a real intercom system without all the
wires. Because it connects to your Bluetooth cell phone you can easily
call any POI and make reservations while under way. With the ease of making and
receiving calls with the TomTom Rider and a Bluetooth headset it very easy to
use your cell phone as an intercom system between riders and cycles. All
concepts that completely escaped your reviewer. It appears based on your
reviewers words and preference for a Garmin he thinks all a GPS is is a
glorified electronic map. He really missed the boat...."
Editor's Reply: Thanks for visiting
webBikeWorld and for sending your comments on the TomTom Rider. As we
mentioned in the review, our example was a very early production version, so
perhaps some features have been changed after the initial manufacturing run.
Ours does NOT have a charging indicator that is visible on either the ear piece
or the TomTom unit when it is being recharged. Other TomTom Rider units
that we used since then also did not have a charging indicator on the Bluetooth
headset or on the screen during normal (map) viewing.
We have tried several units and had problems with the on/off
switch on all of them. It's completely unacceptable on ours and can barely be
turned on or off. It's a very frustrating experience.
Our feeling is that the primary purpose of a GPS is for
directions and mapping and not for making calls, listening to music or
downloading email. Our feeling is that talking on the phone whilst riding
a motorcycle (or car) is extremely dangerous and we don't recommend it,
thus we didn't try this feature, although we do now have a cell phone that has
the capability of connecting to the unit.
We compared the TomTom to the Garmin i5 and a built-in unit in a
2006 Ford Explorer that we use as a tow vehicle. We reviewed only the
mapping features of a GPS system, which is the primary purpose of the device.
We're not big fans of using GPS on a motorcycle anyway and find it too
distracting. Thanks again for sending your comments!"
From "H.P.": "I'm
not a biker but I would like to thank Bill C. and webBikeWorld for the excellent
review of the Garmin StreetPilot i5 published on the Web. Looking for
information on GPS devices for automobiles, I searched the Web for a review of
Garmin StreetPilots and found your article. The point of view of the
article is perfect for a beginner who doesn't know anything about what to expect
from these devices, how to operate them or what comparative levels of quality
the i5 has. It is also spectacularly well thought out, well written and
illustrated and contains its own hallmarks of credibility. Without further
searching, I know the i5 is one that would work well for my needs. I wish
this article could be a universal model for user oriented equipment reviews."
Thanks H.P., it sounds like we met our goal for the article's point of view -
mainly because we're GPS beginners ourselves! - Editor.
From "B.M.": "Just
read your review of the Garmin GPS unit. I'll second the other reader
comment about the 2610. I'm very happy with mine. (Oh, yeah: the 2610 will
store your track as you ride and allow you to upload it to a PC to help you
figure out where you've been.) But that's not really why I'm writing.
I'd like to point out another feature or capability that I consider essential
for a motorcycle GPS.
When I'm routing for my car, I probably
want the fastest route, which all of the auto-routing GPS units from Garmin and
others will do. But when I'm routing for the motorcycle, I am more likely
to be looking for the most entertaining route, which is something no GPS I've
seen is capable of doing. The Garmin units will sometimes generate
interesting routes if you choose the "shortest distance" option (which may not
exist on the little i5), but sometimes this just chooses traffic choked main
If I really want to create an entertaining route,
there's no real choice but to build the route manually, by seeking out twisty
roads and inserting way-points to force the GPSR to follow the roads you want.
And to do that, you really want a GPSR that will let you create routes on a PC
and download them. Creating waypoints and manually building routes is at
least an order of magnitude easier with the large screen, keyboard, and mouse of
a PC than it is on the small screen and limited interface of a GPSR itself.
For this reason, I won't even consider any GPS that doesn't come, or at least
offer, the ability to use a program like MapSource in a PC."
Editor's Response: Thanks for the feedback, B.M. As we
mentioned, the i5 will get you where you want to go, but the route may not be
the shortest, prettiest or even the one you'd pick from a map. Comparing
the 2610 to the i5 is an apples vs. oranges thing. Many new and
experienced GPS owners don't want to mess with a computer, mapping software and
downloads. The i5 is a very good basic GPS that will get you from here to
there with a minimum of fuss. It can be stored in a tank bag or glove box
and it's ready to direct the owner anywhere in the U.S.A. within seconds.
From "T.M.": "As an
ISTP to an ISTJ, here we go. In the past 10 years, I've owned a lot of Garmin
products as well as gps receivers for use with real-time computer mapping,
mostly DeLorme stuff on Mac and PeeCee laptops.
The laptop stuff is tough to use even in
the car and I gave up on buying new versions of the
DeLorme products 4 or 5 years ago, but the voice
controlled versions were a lot of fun, especially the
"Where am I?" and "Are we there yet?" commands.
But I admit I often followed up the where am I question
with "Why am I here?" and I never did get anything but
silence when I asked that. HA!
When I bought a VStrom 650 last May, I decided against moving
the Street Pilot 3 from the car to the bike and bought a Garmin C-330, which
blew me away with the speed of route re-calculation when I decided, or was
forced, to take a route diversion. This unit isn't waterproof, but I
figured I'd just plastic bag it if the weather got wet. The other problem
with it is the lack of a motorcycle mount, so ultimately I retired the Street
Pilot 3, moved the C-330 to the car and bought a Quest 2 for the bike. BIG
MISTAKE! The Quest 2 is brutally slow like the older models at calculating
and recalculating routes -- not at all acceptable when you're forced to reroute
in heavy traffic.
So I spent a long time reading on
has gloriously detailed reviews and is a site that's been around for a very long
time. I used it when I bought my first Garmin 12XL in 1995 or so.
My final decision was a Garmin 2610 with motorcycle mount from
gpscity.com and I love it. It has all of the nitty gritty details of the
Street Pilot 3, like the ability to mark waypoints, the wicked fast speed of the
C-330, and you can dump the entire country on a Sandisk Ultra II compact flash
card, the same fast ones I use for audio recording.
BTW, I love your website, except for the animated front/back
type pictures you often use. I see the point, but they're distracting me
from the text content and I'd like it better if you could time out the
animation. Of course, I do have a habit of using post-it notes to block stiff
like this. ;-)"
Editor's Response: I have read that the Quest 2
recalculating time is very slow. If it wasn't for that, I probably would
have chosen it instead of the i5. I don't have much to compare it to, but the i5
seems incredibly fast to me - it locates satellites usually before I'm even
ready to tell it where to go, and if I make a wrong turn it recalculates almost
instantly, probably in less than 5 seconds.
Regarding the animated photos in the reviews, thanks for the
visitors didn't like that solution. The photos are animated .gifs, the
simplest way to do this. The only reason )for the animation) is to save
precious space on the review page. I'll see if I can figure out something
else - I think I can make the .gifs so that they loop a certain number of times
and maybe the visitor can click to start it again.
By the way, we're waiting for the TomTom Rider to come out "any
day now", a GPS that's supposed to be specifically designed for
motorcycles.....we'll have a review as soon as we can.