Confession Time: Shame on me, I have cheated on my maps

Confession Time: Shame on me, I have cheated on my maps

Ready for it? Last week sometime, Kenny put his Zumo on my bike. Yes, yes, I know. Open mouth, insert foot.

Triumph Speed Triple with a Zumo 450 GPS

I’ve taken 5 rides on the bike with the GPS now. It was turned off for 2 of them. 1 ride I strictly used the MP3 player. 1 ride I kept it on for the duration but I found that my desire to look at the screen was distracting. And lastly, while out playing tag-o-rama with the LI guys from ADVrider.com, I managed to unintentionally set a waypoint. Being that I had absolutely no familiarity with the device, I’m not sure how this happened as I was largely just listening to music.

What was an enjoyable ride listening to tracks from NIN’s Year Zero turned into me being hassled by some British lady who kept trying to tell me that I needed to make a left because I was going the wrong way. Considering that I had no idea how I turned on the way point, I surely didn’t know how to intuitively make that uppity broad shut the hell up. I ended up turning the stupid thing off.

What have I learned from my rides with the GPS so far?

Pros:

  • If you are in unfamiliar territory from wandering as I am apt to do, you can set a course for "home" and just mindlessly follow it.
     
  • Gas locations and distances at the touch of a button. Can’t beat that.
     
  • Saving your tracks is a big Pro. If you are a wanderer this can be a great reminder for future outings.

Cons:

  • Lengthy route planning is most easily done at a computer. For multi-day trips routing on the fly seems like it would be more difficult if you didn’t have access to a computer. You don’t get a high enough overview like you would by cracking open a map of the area.
     
  • The propensity to look at the screen feels distracting to me at this point.
     
  • Blind faith in a machine can be a hazard. Assuming that the machine is always right is… wrong. Though it may not happen often, you sometimes find yourself at  a gas station that was there 5 years ago. We ran into this issue in Tennessee once.

I think the reality is that GPS is absolutely useful but won’t always be the only right tool for planning when I don’t have access to a computer. My perceptions might be colored by my unfamiliarity with the device at this point. At the very least, you always know exactly where you are and wherever that may be you’ve got yourself an easily accessible and waterproof MP3 player.  More time is needed for me to formulate a better informed opinion.

How about you? Is a GPS a must for you? Can you take it or leave it? Hate it? Comment below!

16 Replies to “Confession Time: Shame on me, I have cheated on my maps”

  1. I’ve recently started using a GPS to supplement my paper maps. It’s one of the older Garmin marine-grade handhelds, which I got at a BMW club swap meet for $25 (including a Touratech cradle, w00t!)

    Likes: tracking, route navigation, distance to next waypoint feature.

    Dislikes: route planning via computer is pretty much mandatory as the interface on the unit is unusable, the irresistible tendency to look down at screen while riding

    To me, it’s a supplement and not a total solution.

  2. I’m glad that you fessed up, I was afraid that I might inadvertently out you!

    FWIW, it’s a matter of learning and getting used to using the device. Routing on the fly, while not all that fun isn’t too hard to do on the Zumo.

    This season I’ve found that I only navigate with it less than half the time. Like you, I use it for mp3s and Sat radio. As far as navigating goes, it’s let me down more times than I care to admit (software up date) but in those instances, I rely on my dead reckoning to get to where I want to go, or not go.

  3. @E –

    Are you kidding me? I pulled into the lot that night and the FIRST Thing you saw was the GPS 😀 I figured you’d mention it here sooner or later.

    We’ll see how it goes over time. By now i should know better than to never say never.

    How do you get different icons? I’m using the yellow bus right now. I saw someone with a pirate ship. That isn’t a stock option is it?

  4. Sounds like we’re in a similar frame of mind, Stacy. Its good as an addition to your toolbox but not the only tool in it.

    Score on the $25!!

  5. Just keep using it. You’ll get used to it. Then when your totally reliant on it you’ll be out one day and it will crap out. You’ll feel like a child who can’t find their mother, talking from experience. I’m totally useless without it now that I’ve been using it for quite a while.

  6. If YOU can fall to the GPS side that might not bode well for me and FB…for I too uttered the words never.

    LOL

    I think the pirate ship is included as a stock icon but I’d have to check. You can also download vehicle packs for the Zumo. You should use the tank when it’s mounted on the GS. Nevermind, they have a lawnmower that works better with Kenny’s pull string starts. HAHAHAHA =D

    http://www8.garmin.com/vehicles/bundles/allvehicles.html

  7. Fuzz, if you go to http://www.zumoforums.com you can find a ton of “mods” that you can do to the Zumo, different vehicle icons, different voices, home screens etc.

    A word of advice though, DO NOT listen to audio books while on the bike, you’ll fall asleep… don’t ask me how I know.

  8. You can imaging as one who grew up before personal computers, pocket calculators, and hell colored TV! i dont take easily to a GPS. Just trying to see the darn thing is a challenge for older eyes. I have tried them and again its a nice toy, but not something you cant live without.

    Its sad that some people will spend 500 bucks on a GPS, but have tires with dry rot on them or very little tread left!

    There was an article in the paper not long ago about how the Airforce was not keeping the GPS satellites (non military) serviced and that the whole grid might crash soon. NICE!

  9. I’ve said many times, “a GPS is great to tell you exactly where you are, or where you were – it sucks when it tries to tell you where you are going”. Combined with paper maps, I think it’s a great tool.

    Why does mapsource have to be so horrible? You’d think at this point they could come up with a more intelligent map and routing app.

  10. @Cruddy, seriously my friend, Mapsource is horrendous. I am very much with you in the “great tool to know where you are” camp. On the way home from Maine today, I giggled aloud as my Zumo kept trying to route us through the gates of hell ( ok, NYC on a Friday afternoon.) I have a few favorite maps that work well for me in conjunction with the GPS. Knowing where you are and having a idea how to read a map coupled with a little info regarding the area you are traveling is the way to go. As Fuzzy said, blind faith in the GPS is not a reliable, safe option.

  11. I use a GPS in the truck all the time (to the point my family complains) but have yet to bu a mounting bracket for the bike. I think it’s a good idea though. I’m def one of those that loves to get lost on the bike.

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