I’ve lived with the Rider for a little under six months now. I’ve gone through using it in rain, hail, snow, wind… for short rides, for France, for get out a jail free card when I want to go ‘off route’… and I love it… I’ll say now it has one serious short-coming, but I’ll come to that a little later.
First of all let’s deal with the basics; how much does it cost? You can pick up the Rider for anything from £250 all the way up to £399… if you pay any more than £270 you’re being done, and in a lot of cases you’ll be able to get the Rider and get it installed for between £270 and £290. If you’re confident with electronics then it’s worth installing it for yourself, but if the thought of hooking into a live (switched) feed scares you then pay for it to be done properly – you’ll be very disappointed if you get half way to France and the unit dies because it’s got no power.
Form factor – the unit is heavy, it’s big even in my large hands and it feels very well made, the screen is large and seems to avoid being covered in fingerprints. It’s confidence inspiring, and will amaze you the first time your drop it and discover it still works. I know several people who have had a nasty bump and seen it go sailing 20 feet up the road, only to discover it still turned on and functioning. It’s fully waterproof and I’ve had it out in rain that soaked me to the skin in 30 seconds, for hours, and still no problem. The small ‘hatch’ at the bottom of the unit that protects the SD card slot and the power input is thick and well placed, it has a nice little rubber grommet that protects the sensitive electronics inside.
The only problem with the design of the unit is the power key, situated at the right of the unit it can, at first, be difficult to differentiate between the rubber ‘hose’ surrounding the unit for protection.. there’s no positive feedback as to if you’ve pressed the button and it’s impossible to turn on or off with gloves.
The unit is incredibly easy to use, simple menus, navigation and clear simple buttons that work well even with gloved hands (except the buttons on the sides like the ‘done’ and ‘-‘ and ‘+’). You can easily put in locations using both post codes and street addresses, you can even navigate to the location using the maps browse function. My favourite is the ability to store favourite locations – I’ve got several – including my work and college locations, as well as friends houses – it’s really handy when you’re in some outer part of London and you have to get to your collage class before 7pm!
One of the best things is the ability to define how you want your route ‘mapped’ – you can set ‘fastest’ or ‘shortest’ or ‘walking’ or several other options that will allow you to customise your journey to the n’th degree… if I’m playing I can avoid motorways, or a specific section of my journey – if a road is closed when I get there I can tell it to avoid the road block and it automatically works out an alternative.. and if you use the traffic service (pointless on a bike) it will automatically re-route you around traffic jams.
The Bluetooth integration is great, I have the unit connected to my Starcom1 Advance unit via Bluetooth so spoken instructions are sent straight to my helmet wirelessly, it also connects to my mobile which is uses for data connections (for weather reports and traffic – as well as map downloads and updates) and will allow me to answer my phone, call someone from my address book or even send / read text messages (all whilst stopped – the unit will stop you doing anything other than basic functions whilst on the move).
I have no real grumbles with the unit bar one…the mount it shipped with has, over time, loosened somewhat and does not ‘grab’ the unit as securely as it once did… it now bounces around and frankly I’m concerned that it may jump out whilst I’m doing 70mph down the M1 – several other people have had this issue too – however – a quick call to TomTom customer services has resulted in a new mount being sent out – and if it’s like the new ones sent to my friends it’s of a much more sturdy design. I guess this is one of the issues of buying early – you’re the tester for the next generation – I’ve been very impressed with how TomTom have responded to customer complaints and problems and they genuinely seem to want to incorporate changes into the product.
Another small concern is that you can’t plan your route on your computer before you leave home, you can build an itinerary on the device or download ones other people have created… but when you tour as much as I do I want to be able to plan my route right down to which b road I’m going to take when – and that may not be the way the device wants me to go… as soon as they have that sorted I’ll be a very very happy man (maybe they could also let you see where you’d been too).
My final point is the availability and ease of install of the maps – many available (not cheap) to download from the TomTom site and they work really well – the France one really helped out this summer… I hope the rest of Europe will prove as easy as I plan Journey To Russia! You’ll need to buy a much larger SD card to accommodate them – but they’re so cheap now who cares.
In summary a great device I could no longer live without – worth it’s weight in gold.