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Garmin’s zumo 396 LMT-S TESTED

One thing certain about motorcycle navigation systems is that they attract attention and people want to know how well they work. When you ride with two of them on your handlebars they also generate a lot of odd looks and a few bad jokes. But we did it anyway.

We had been using Zumo’s for over 6 years across the UK, Europe, the Middle East and as far as South Africa so were well versed in its main features, the pro’s and cons and couldn’t wait to get the latest unit on test. We’ve also had TomTom’s Rider 450 for about 6 months and had grown quite attached to it is a we put more miles on it.

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TomTom’s Rider 450

We’ve tried many navigation systems over the years and map systems on our phones. Each one had its own limitations when used on a bike and with gloves so when the chance to test the Rider 450 from TomTom came up we jumped at it!

Competition in the navigation market is strong and differentiating a product from all the other systems out there is no easy task.

TomTom’s Rider 450 replaces the 410 Rider with a revised screen and operating system. The new display can be set up for senstivity based on how you’ll use the unit (with thin or thick gloves) but one of the features that we liked the most was the “Plan a Thrill” option.

Plan a Thrill allows the device to define your route based on three levels of ‘twisty’ and ‘hilly’ that you select via the main screen.

Does it work?

Yes it does! The North West of Scotland isn’t short of great routes but the 450 still found us more. It managed to pick up on some backroads and tracks that we would never have found and whilst it still linked us back on main roads now and again it was great to get out somewhere different a little lost but on route all the way.

The Rider 450 also comes with biker friendly options such as Points of Interest, Nearest Fuel Stops, and 100 of the top routes to ride around the World.

It’s a ‘Bucket-List’ on your handle-bars.

May riders use their mobile phones for navigation these days and whilst that is a viable option in many cases you do lose a lot that these biker friendly navigation products provide.

You’re not going to get the Plan a Thrill options on your iPhone and we doubt that Apple of Samsung are going to go out of their way to develop some biker friendly phones anytime soon.

Our experience with the Rider 450 was a good one. The ease of fitting to handlebars with the RAM mount, the ease of wiring it into the bike (or simply using it off its own internal battery), the quick removal each day to download routes and updates, and the interface that can be used with all forms of gloves sets this TomTom ahead of the competition.

Amongst the items downloaded are routes shared by other TomTom users.
With that on top of the loaded routes there’s no longer an excuse of not knowing where to go for a ride (not that we ever used that one).

The menu’s are simple and quick to get through, directions are clear and the Bluetooth, if you care to use it, works a treat. The unit comes with free ‘lifetime’ updates to maps and speed camera locations. Bonus! No more, well maybe less speeding problems…

Time to Plan a Thrill