Motorcycle sat nav: BMF reviews new TOMTOM Rider 400 series


Published on 10 March 2016 by Tom Wadlow

I have had the opportunity to review the new TomTom Rider 400 GPS device. I have been a user of the Garmin Zumo 600 series GPS for about 5 years so getting hold of a more up to date device was going to present good comparison opportunities. 

There are three devices in the new line up. The Rider 40, the Rider 400 and the Rider 400 Premium Pack. RRP’s are £279.99, £319.99 and £399.99. 

Out of the box the mount is easy to fit to the bike. Wiring takes a bit more effort. For those with a canbus system it might take a bit more time. I wired the review model direct to the battery with an intervening fuse. I was not intending to leave the device on the bike as the model I tested did not have the anti theft solution that comes with the premium pack. I have not had the opportunity of reviewing the anti theft device, but suggest the tit is a must have for any biker. I spoke to a biker in Glasgow who had left his GPS on his bike while he nipped into a shop. It was not there when he cam out of the shop. An expensive lesson!!

On first use the Rider 400 found the satellites very quickly when compared with the Garmin. I liked that as my Garmin can be very slow to find the satellites. My first GPS (an aviation Garmin) was one that I bought for flying back in the 1980’s. It often took 10 or more minutes to find the satellites. Back then accuracy was measured in miles whereas today it can be measured in millimetres. Such is progress!!

The Rider 400 has a plethora of features. It is great for those techy folk who like to monitor and record everything that is going on. There are features such as “Plan a thrill menu” There is also a feature for hilly roads, round trip planning, and route sharing to name a few.  I did try the plan a thrill and it was very interesting to see where it took me. As most of you know, the roads in Scotland can be very interesting and very challenging, so its a feature that may not get a lot off use from Scottish riders.  

The Rider 400 can rotate in the mount from portrait to landscape view - which I did find useful. In practical terms it gives a view of more of the road so that you get good advance warning of what ahead. I don’t use the TomTom as an indicator of turns on the road. I much prefer good observation and looking for limit points. 635685033746565754OC

Its meant to have a fully interactive capacitive touch screen menu which can be used with motorcycle gloves. The unit I had worked only intermittently when I tried to change things when I had my gloves on. I have had no such problems with the Garmin and assume that its particular to the review device. 

The Rider 400 has the ability to link to the web when it is paired to a suitable mobile phone. This then gives you real time traffic information  and safety warnings. I found that feature quite interesting and useful. 

As you would expect, the amount of information in the database is simply enormous. You can find almost anything that has a physical address, from petrol stations, restaurants, pubs to specialist shops etc. There are literally hundreds of points of interest icons in the database. 

A particularly useful feature was the information that popped on screen when I was traveling through a section of average speed cameras on the A1. It showed the location of each camera gantry, the applicable speed limit and the average speed that I was traveling at as I went along.  An interesting and useful feature. 

Route planning was simple and straightforward. You can plan using points of interest that are in the database or you can plan on the map on the computer and then transfer the route to the Rider 400. 

The device deals with the issues that arise when riding in France and the legality of receiving information about speed camera locations. In France they warn you of danger zones and risk zones. 

One of the things I like a GPS for is checking the accuracy of the speedo on the bike. This one is not great in that regard. If you are driving at or below the speed limit it is almost impossible to see the speed  indicated on the TomTom due to a lack of contrast between the background colour and the colour the speed is displayed at. Once you travel faster than the speed limit the contract was more marked and it was easy to see the speed. Of course I only read about that feature in the handbook...

Would I buy one? If I was in the market for a new GPS it would be top of my list.

By Tom Duncan, Admin Director for BMF and Chairman of Scotland BMF 

TomTom Rider winding road midres copy