Yes Emily

Yes Emily, girls can ride motorcycles!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Living with Garmin Dan

I promised to write about living with Garmin Dan and here it is ... I met him just shortly before my trip and am truly in love with him. I can't imagine not riding with Garmin Dan now that we've travelled together. I remember how he patiently navigated me through many a busy city never getting angry when I made a wrong turn or just chose to ignore him. I realize we had our differences en route but I do love travelling with Garmin Dan. I have made a lifetime commitment to him but at the same time I know I won't be faithful. I don't trust him 100% and I will still be meeting with Rand McNally every now and then.
I have the Garmin Zumo 660. It's meant to be mounted on the handlebars of a motorcycle. I chose to mount it in the center of the bars rather than on one side or the other. Installing the mount was simple - a U mount on the handle bars and a ram mount for the Garmin unit. I had it hard wired professionally at K-Tec. The headphone, microphone and usb wires are conveniently located inside the locking toolbox on the VStar Custom. For my purposes, travelling alone, I only used the headphone wire and it easily reaches (when connected to my headphones) from the tool box to my ear. I did find that I needed to tuck the slack under my magnetic tank bag, but that posed no problems.
I tried several different models of headphones before I found one that fit comfortably under my helmet. I chose the "Skull Candy" ear bud. It had several different ear piece covers, in various sizes so I was able to find one that fit my ear - a big plus. It is a stereo set and I prefer to have just one ear busy with sound when riding so it did mean having the second ear piece dangle. I did break one ear piece so was thankful that I had the second that I could use. The sound quality was fine for Garmin Dan's voice in mono however it was less than optimal for listening to music in stereo. I think that this is more a problem with the Garmin than the earbud system. The Garmin has the capacity to be an MP3 player but sound quality is definitely lacking - whether on the bike or using it with it's alternate mount in the car. And did I mention that the Skull Candy ear bud comes in white with pink?
I love the fact that Garmin Dan recognizes immediately whether I have it mounted on the bike or in the car and that I can set the options to match the vehicle that I am driving. On the bike I ask for no dirt roads, no highways and I'm not so fussy in the car. The Garmin Zumo 660 is waterproof and stood up to that promise though, if you have been following me, you might remember the slight issue it had with heat. It did recover.
My Garmin unit was new and came with current maps. I had no problems (getting lost or misdirected) travelling in the US but did have two places where the maps seemed inconsistent on the Canadian side.
I found it extemely useful that I could choose what information to display on the screen with the map. I choose the speed, direction, kilometers to destination and the time of day. The speed is a particular favorite of mine as it compensated for the instruments on the Vstar. I could check my speed with just a glance rather than having to look way down the tank for the speedometor. Another feature I was thrilled with was the automatic translation from miles per hour to kilometers per hour. I had my Garmin set for kilometers and all the while I travelled in the US a little conversion sign automatically appeared at the bottom of the screen that translated the speed limit on the road I was travelling from miles per hour to kilometers per hour.
Garmin claims that the screen of the Zumon 660 is "glove friendly" - sometimes it is, sometimes not so much. I'd say, it's okay, not great, depending on your gloves.
As for finding points of interest - food etc. Garmin Dan doesn't always seem to be that reliable. Sometimes the onscreen key board gets a mind of it's own and trying to type in a specific name is impossible. I found the same thing when trying to type in the name of a specific location especially in Canada.
I never left Garmin Dan alone on the bike and appreciated the quick release feature and the compact size of the unit. It fit neatly into my tank bag when I needed to take it with me.
Garmin Dan has his flaws, but then so do I. We make a great pair and will, I'm sure, be travelling together for many more miles to come.

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