Tomtom rider as a learner

I’m thinking of getting a tomtom for my bike, I ride mostly just my daily commute but want to start riding all over London.

I feel intimidated to branch out into unknown areas as I take the wrong roads or don’t know about certain one way systems etc.

End up having to pull in, pull my phone out and try and figure out a route etc.

Do you think it would be a good idea as a learner to have one, or too much of a distraction?

For reasonably short durations (short enough for your phone battery to last) I find a smartphone with google maps and one earphone to hear the directions is good enough.

I do have a sat nav for the motorbike but it’s not a motorbike specific one. It has an earphone port so I keep it in a tank bag with a see through top and only listen to directions while I’m moving - only really look at the screen when I’m typing the location in. The only time I ever use it is for long distances as it charges up from the bike battery.

get ytourself an A-Z map and keep it in a tank bag :slight_smile:

I have a tom tom something i nicked off miss wise

its not for a bike but I got a cheap case off amazon it works fine I don’t use in ear commands I just follow the arrow

im going to swap over to my smart phone I just got to haul my fat ass down to infinity & get a twisty go bike mount for it

I used to use a tomtom, then switched to using my phone when i discovered google navigation, which to my mind is far better :slight_smile: The mount + waterproof case was a tenner. I hardwired a phone plug to the bike so I can just plug in and go. I’ve never found it distracting. I like to know when my junction is approaching so I can make sure I’m in the right lane etc. When I’m finding somewhere using it I think it makes me safer.

If you want to learn your way around follow your routes on paper maps where you can see a bigger picture. Nothing wrong in taking a wrong turn every now and again just remember where it took you to for the next time you ride that way. It’s not just about knowing which way to go, it often helps by knowing which way not to go too.

If you’re thinking TomTom for Central London or, any inner city type environment with high sided buildings, forget it. A Sat Nav needs to be able to see several satellites to operate effectively and the buildings block out that view.

I’m saying nothing here about my Diana set up

I think the greatest advantage for me is that you will rarely find me wobbling along at 20mph trying to catch sight of a street name. It’s also pretty accurate when it come to house numbers too, so you won’t catch me distracted by trying to see obscured numbers on front doors. I’ve also found that it’s very ‘intelligent’ when it’s picking routes, based on congestion/time of day etc, so it limits the amount of time I spend in heavy traffic. It also re-routes fairly instantly if you take a wrong turn, so you won’t find me by the side of the road waiting for my TomTom to catch up. It’s also pretty good at recognizing vague input, so if I’m low on fuel I just type in ‘fuel’ and it reognises I want the nearest petrol station. In fact, I don’t even need to type, I can tell it where I need to be, the voice recognition feature is pretty good. I occasionally use it when I’m out and about on country roads, the bend sign by the side of the road tells me a bend is coming, but a quick glance at my screen tells me that it’s a hairpin. :slight_smile:

Yes, what I find frustrating is trying to read street names and not knowing if I’ve gone too far for my turnoff and stopping to check my phone.

Being in the right lane for big junctions is something I have nightmares about ha

So it’s legal to wear headphones then on a bike? I wasn’t sure, haven’t really looked into it, obviously wouldn’t listen to music, but if I’m able to listen to directions, that would be useful, I’d rather that than glancing down at tom tom screen all the time.

Google maps is ok, but sometimes it doesn’t say if a street is one way etc.

I dunno, now a friend of mine who is an experienced London rider is saying I should just learn roads by myself without any help from a gps as it will sink in better.

I feel like such a tit when I get lost though, I can feel the heat in my cheeks when I realise I’ve completely stuffed up the journey haha

I should mention that I’m directionally dyslexic. I could get lost coming down my own stairs. I was always envious of my old labourer, who would glance at the map, lob it in the glove box, then take me directly to where I needed to go, often incorporating a few ad-lib short cuts. I’ve got to have been somewhere at least a dozen times before I stand a chance of remembering the route.
If you are not similarly afflicted, and stand any chance of just remembering your route somehow, then do so.


No this sums me up to a tee!

As me_groovy suggest, I have a paper map in the tank bag and rarely I get lost.

Also I learn that with the number of the roads wrote on a paper is far enough to get you to the destination.

I havent done any particularly long journeys that I’ve had to navigate to, if I had, I wouldnt be posting right now because I would have been MIA never to be seen again!
I plan to get a TomTom at some point, especially when I get a bigger bike for riding to/from Up North.

As for the headphones question; its not illegal, it is actually recommended that you wear earphones to prevent hearing damage. I wear headphones and listen to music, I don’t find it distracting and I find my music calms me on a ride as its either that or loud wind whistling through my helmet which is worse for me and more distracting IMO. But when I first started riding I didnt wear earphones/headphones as I didnt trust myself without ALL my senses, kind of like how I was in the car, the more confident I got on the bike, the more I wore them. I don’t have the music blasting, its high enough to drown out the wind but at speed I can hear my engine.

I wear headphones an I know loads of ppl that do no different to wearing ear plugs
I don’t have the music up that hi that I can’t hear anything around me
If your worried get in helmet Bluetooth headfones/ intercom

My 2 penneth on this is that you should get lost every now and again. I find that doing that rather than relying on a sat nav you follow blindly is better. It also allows you to discover alternatives for the odd occasions where the road you wanted to go down is closed or where there is a traffic jam. It’s the reason I managed to learn a few of the shortcuts in London which if I had been using a sat nav, I would have never picked up :wink:

Re-trace your steps when you get home and then you can work out the mistake and bear it in mind for next time…

Yes it will be a slight hassle at the time but worst case you drive around a town 2-3 times… :smiley: Agreed with the above about keeping a map handy with you or even a phone with sat nav to get your bearings…

I would only use a sat nav when time is critical and you’re going somewhere completely new. But at £300+ for a bike specific one, I wouldn’t think that’s worth it this much. I would advise to use a car one with the usual adaptations which will cost considerably less… but it does mean you have to rely on the screen which can be tricky if you’re a new rider still trying to work out things…

I found that sat nav on my phone works great. No need to spend loads of money on the bike specific sat nav. I use Navfree on my HTC, must say that I got lost few times with it when I used only voice guidance having the phone in my jacket and earplugs in my ears, as the sat nav guidance on a tricky junctions sometimes is confusing, but most of the time it tells you road numbers (on the next junction turn left on to A41 etc) so you can look at the road sign and find out for yourself if it really is a second exit at a roundabout.
After being confused few times I got handlebars mount off ebay for a tenner and I found it much better than earplugs, a glance on the screen takes a split second and I never got lost and missed a right junction. But since few months I changed commuter bike for a sportsbike and need to get a new holder for my phone as the old one doesn’t fit.
And bear in mind one important thing, GPS on the phone drains battery very quick so if you don’t have a plug wired to the battery it is good only for a short distances. My old HTC with sat nav and battery fully charged last maybe for about one and a half hour.

Couldn’t resist it any longer, Here’s my less than elegant but very functional Diana set up, note the on screen back up system :wink:

It must be 10 years old by now so it owes me nothing, in fact its probably saved me a small fortune in excess fuel consumption by not having to go round in circles to find my way on unfamiliar turf. Its been repaired twice at £18.00 a time after water ingress. Latest adaptions include a dedicated 5v power supply and its own jacket to keep off anything our British weather can throw at it.

I don’t use the sound just view the map and watch out for the on screen prompts. Suffers from occasional human error, especially in strong sunlight when the screen can appear as if its blank. On the whole it gets me where I want to be via the route I want to get there by. Ignore the elastic bands that was just a handy place to keep them.

Females and paper maps don’t mix. :slight_smile:

Why is that ?

Something giving instructions to a lady???

There was a study done some years ago that found a significant proportion of female drivers turned the map so that it matches the direction they were traveling in (like a sat nav). The majority of male drivers held the map in one position. There might be some science behind that comment :wink: