Tuesday, October 12, 2010

GPS Woes

I need a new GPS.  I know, I know.  Real bikers don't use GPS.  I recently talked with an old biker at Strokers Ice house in Dallas who looked old enough to be Methuselah's grandfather.


 He described to me how he rode the the entire perimeter of the United States in the early 1970's with little more guidance than folded maps.  I thought about that; no GPS, no cell phone, no iPod or stereo on the bike, no cruise control, and AMF-era Harley Davidson quality.  After considering what it would take to make a trip such as he described, two words came to mind. "Fuck that!"  I respect the accomplishment like I respect the Apollo moon landings completed with vacuum tubes, but I need more than a slide rule, sextant, a compass, and maybe an abacus.

I have been called many things, but I have never been labeled a Luddite.  I'm a digital man.  If it makes my life easier, if it's cool, if it lights up, makes noise, and has a handlebar mount, I want it.  Better yet, if it has a USB port, I need it! I'm working on a blog entry to detail the electronics and technology that will be accompanying me on this ride. I think I'll title it "Ned Ludd Can Suck It"
I used a TomTom Rider2 GPS on my last trip. That trek was 6,000 miles; roughly 300 of which could have been avoided because the TomTom led me astray.  I had printed maps and routes as a backup, but those a bit tough to use at 80 miles per hour.  I admit that it was my fault that I hit the road with map software that was from 2006, but I tried repeatedly to update the map software and had no success.  TomTom support said it's a common problem and that since my unit was out of warranty, I had no recourse.  They did offer me me 10% off a new Rider2.  I respectfully passed.  It wasn't the poor customer service agent's policy and she was embarrassed to break the news to me.

Needless to say, my eyes and mind are open for something new with update capabilities and I'll be scanning reviews of the latest motorcycle-specific GPS devices.  In the mean time, TomTom can get in line behind Ned.


It didn't take long to find the model I want. I'll keep my eyes peeled for a good price on the Garmin Zumo 660.  It sports all the features I need and has a good reputation among my riding peers.  Garmin sure is proud of it though.  The cheapest I've seen it on line is $575. Consumer electronics prices always drop during the holiday season and I'm in no hurry to buy.  I'll set  some internet price alerts and strike when the price is right.