Ipad on the Bike for NAv review

Discussion in 'GPS 101 - Which GPS For Me' started by Micl, Jul 21, 2013.

  1. Micl

    Micl Been here awhile

    Feb 19, 2009
    ACT Australia
    Hi Guys

    For my last trip I trialled a new Nav system and figured I’d put up a review it is a bit long.

    The old faithful CS62 died and I needed a replacement. The biggest issues I had with the Garmin is the screen is getting hard for me to read with my old eyes and it is no use for planning on the small screen. In the past I have done my planning on a PC and downloaded the routes. This is hard to change in the field as you cant see a lot of detail on the small screen. I used to hate hitting a locked gate and trying to use the garmin to find an alternative way around. I thought about a Zumo but they are expensive and not that much bigger. Next obvious choice was to run Nav software on my Ipad.

    I have a normal large Ipad in a Griffin Defender tough case that I use in my PT and mountain bike coaching business. I spent $40 on a Ram tablet mount and $22 on a longer arm so it connected to the existing Ram mount on the bike. Software wise I bought a copy of Hema maps $150 from App store. It works great. The trip didn’t go as planned for many reasons but we still got away for 8 days and did a range of slab and bush in crappy weather so it got a good test.

    First the Bad
    Its Big and sticks out lots above the fairing on the 640. This made it noisy and increased wind buffeting a fair bit.
    Can use it with my Motocross gloves but not my winter gloves so needed to stop and take glove off to change things.
    No turn by turn and auto routing and the map is always the right way up so it doesn’t rotate so its at the view of the direction you are travelling.
    Ipad still has limited weatherproofing so I am weary about using it if really pissing down but I did use it in the rain and it was ok.
    Power connector isn’t really that weather proof.
    Cant lock it on so need to take of bike when I stop but I often use it at a stop anyway.


    This worked great, the Hema maps app is really good. It comes with the full set of Hema Maps and 1:125000 maps. As you zoom in and out it switches between maps really well. The maps are great.
    It is really easy to see and use and all the info you could ever need is instantly available while riding and I didn’t find it distracting although it was probably good I couldn’t use with gloves as it was so easy to use I was tempted to plan etc while cruising on the highway.
    Routes are really easy to create you just link together the route by touching the screen. If you create lots of route points that match the twists and turns of the road it gives accurate nav. At first look this looked like a pain but it’s actually really easy to create really detailed routes really quickly that go exactly the way you want. It is great for planning on the fly or around a campfire. I found myself sitting at night and planning OCR etc. You need no other device or maps ever again to plan your trips. Hema has lots of info on the maps re camp sites fuel etc that are supposed to be accurate.
    You have two displays to choose from, one is the map and the other the nav info. The map is just the map and you can zoom in and out and it marks your current location as well as drawing your route (you can choose colour and line thickness etc for route). When using Motocross gloves I sometimes zoomed in and out while riding to see more detail. This made it really easy to see where you were and where you needed to go including turns etc. As I had it mounted high and its big it was easy to see and work with while riding and easy to switch vision between road and data without being distracted. With the Garmin it was hard for me to change focus between them. While moving you get a speed reading on the map although it seems to appear in random places. If you have a route set you get a big green arrow pointing where you need to be going.
    The nav display gives you about 20 spots where you can customise to display lots of different data. It gives you speed, distance, etas, just about anything you can imagine and lots I couldn’t. I had mine set for speed (helpful as I have a speedo issue and the KTM speedo turned to a random number generator), distances, etas etc. I found it really easy to use and useful. I really like the eta functions as it just works out eta at destination based on current average speed not an understanding of roads. Out west this works really well as often the speeds GPSs think you can do and that they use to calculate eta is unrealistic. I found it useful to look and see that I was going to get to my destination 30 min after dark and then speed up 5km/h and realise I would make before dark. This is really useful while riding. We were trying to get to a campsite 20km away and it was a muddy goat track. Our average speed while riding was 10km/h and so it was getting late so after a km it was obvious we would be riding for an hour in the dark so chose to backtrack and go a different way.
    For turn by turn in town when I have mobile coverage I just use apple maps and I am considering buying Tom Tom.
    Oh and You can track where you have been and export as GPX, email straight from the device.
    Biggest advantage…. It is an Ipad and has all the other useful features. Can do email, ADVrider, games, watch movies etc, I was running my business while away and getting advice from ADV when broken down. I had my Sena intercom paired with it so got music from the Ipad rather than phone as I like to leave phone off to ensure its battery is always charged in case I need for an emergency.

    This is the best Nav system I have used and will be the way I do things in future. I have a windscreen suction cap Ram mount now to use in the car as well for day to day around town GPS as I always have the Ipad with me. I need to modify bike screen etc to provide better wind protection and provide some more weather protection for the Ipad but its worth it cause the Ipad works so well. I also need to wire power better as I was using a bit of a dodgy temp system to test it out. I am convinced this is a great system. If I was buying an Ipad specifically for this I would probably look at a Mini as it may fit better and would still be big enough but I already had a full size. NOTE you need the 3G one as the WiFi only doesn’t have a GPS.
  2. notsoslow

    notsoslow Been here awhile

    Jun 20, 2006
    Camperdown NSW
    I'm pretty sure the ipad mini wifi only has GPS. I was using maps of europe offline and the mini was able to use the GPS function.

    FLICKIT Long timer

    Aug 9, 2011
    Down-under Down-under
    Good stuff!... I love hearing about and seeing setups like this... Thanks :D

    Some photos of your setup would be good to see :wink:

    I used an old iphone 3gs for a while, it was too small so I got a cheap 7.7" Toshiba Android tablet, it was overkill (*for me on my bike*), around the same time I was given an old HTC Desire HD Android phone (4.3" screen) which I find good... I couldn't live without a smartphone/tab on my bars now, combined with a Sena (SMH10R) they make life easy (gotta have music)...

    Being a cheapskate I use the free Memory-map software, I did a rambling post about it in this thread a while back:

    For waterproofing in bad weather, a snaplock bag does the job, they obscure the screen a bit, but considering the sun's not normally out when it's raining, it's not too bad...

    A cheap chinese stylus is handy for using the touchscreen with gloves on, there's a lot of hard rubber ones around which don't seem to work too well, but these soft rubber ones work great:
    I have a bit of 1/2" polypipe cable tied to the bars for the stylus to live in, so it's easy to access...

  4. rvt

    rvt Big Fat Trail Bikes

    Feb 20, 2011
    Western Australia
    Any chance of some photos please? Sounds pretty cool.
    I just gave up trying to match a weatherproof touchscreen case with a device and mountings. Ordered another cheap 4.3" Chinese gps unit instead.
  5. F_R_E_D

    F_R_E_D Lurker

    Mar 24, 2013
    East Gippsland. Oz
    I use a Guitar pick shaped stylus attached with a little springy cord on my bike to use TomTom software on my iphone.
    I have a lifeproof case on it so the weather isn't a worry.
    +1 for Sena SMH10 for music, I can only hum to myself for so long.
  6. Hrspwr Hero

    Hrspwr Hero wipe off 50 or.....

    Jun 15, 2011
    Melbourne, Australia
    We have messed about with Ipad also.
    Used the WiFi version with a plugin GPS
    The only really bad thing is that in bright sunlight you can see the screen which proves to be a pain.
    Also the plug isn't that robust compared to a GPS designed for a caining
  7. Mudguts

    Mudguts when in doubt GAS IT

    Jan 16, 2006
    Some were in , lostralia
    I just got an acer 7" android will be doing the same. But a suede leather pouch with clear vinyl and
    Elastic valco straps . This will sit on my MD map roller while adv ridding .
  8. mexipike

    mexipike Been here awhile

    Jun 21, 2010
    Austin, TX
    What about overheating issues. Here in Texas, I pretty much can't use my iPhone on the bike. Does the ipad have similar issues?
  9. Micl

    Micl Been here awhile

    Feb 19, 2009
    ACT Australia
    No idea it's winter here, I'll let you know whe it gets warm agai :rofl