Tomtom is one of the recognised brands in the motorcycle satnavs big league, and its Rider series of navigation aids is getting smarter and smarter. The latest in the range, the Rider 550, is a simple-to-use, robust and powerful tool for navigating.
Compared to the Garmin, the Tomtom looks a little lacking on paper, with its smaller 4.3” touch screen, and 16GB of internal storage (compared to Garmin’s 32GB). However, these are not necessarily real-world concerns, and the Rider 550 does come with world maps for free, while Garmin only includes Euro maps and charges for the rest. The RRP of the Tomtom is a bit higher than that of the Garmin, but in reality, the retail prices are very close if you do a bit of digging online.
The basic Rider 550 pack comes with everything you need to set it up on your bike, or you can opt for the £100 more expensive ‘Premium’ pack, which also includes an anti-theft device for the bike and handy car mounting items. If you don’t want to bother with wiring the satnav to the bike’s battery, you will get up to six hours of battery life on a full charge.
With the maps downloaded on the device (and kept up to date with regular updates), you are not reliant on your mobile data for navigation or even speed camera alerts, but linking up with the phone will allow you to get traffic alerts in real time, make hands-free calls, and even get your text messages read out to you. And the Rider 550 is compatible with Siri and Google Now, too.
Navigation options include the fastest route approach, as well as an option to get sent down some twisties, with the option to select just how winding or hilly you want it to be. Using a 40-minute A1 commuting route to test it, the winding and hilly option added about an hour to the journey, skirting the A1 and taking me down minor roads. There are three levels to choose from, which can potentially make a much bigger difference to the route, but this particular one cuts across flat-as-pancake Lincolnshire, so the hill selection made little difference in this scenario.
One area where Tomtom really excels is the My Drive online route planning platform. Using the simple map-based tool, you can save your favourite places and routes, as well as discover loads of curated routes from Tomtom, Adventure Bike Rider, bestbikingroads.com, and others around the world. You can then choose to share them with the Rider 550 wirelessly, and you’re ready to ride.
Using the Rider 550 is simple in pretty much every way, including the updates, which are done wirelessly over the Wi-Fi. On the bike, being able to see your route on the screen, and hear the instructions in your headset makes navigating easy. You can also connect the device with your phone for more online services.
The Rider 550 is a satnav packed full of functionality, yet simple enough to use, and backed up by a terrifically robust online route planning tool.
Price: RRP £399.99, but check online for offers
Display: 4.3" (11cm) glove friendly touch screen
Waterproofing: IPX7 rated
Battery life: Up to six hours
Maps: World maps pre-loaded, updates included
Storage: Internal 16GB, plus microSD (not included)
What's in the box:
- Tomtom Rider 550
- Motorcycle mount
- RAM mounting kit
- USB/power cable
Other satnavs reviewed: