TomTom Rider GPS Review

I have always had a fascination for maps and never tire of thumbing through a highway atlas, recollecting stretches of roads from trips taken. So when Editor Tuttle assigned a review of TomTom’s updated Rider, I wondered if a GPS could teach a cartophile (map lover) anything new.
Netherlands-based TomTom has been a leader in navigation and mapping technology since its founding in 1991. Its Navigator, launched in 2002, created the Personal Navigation Device (PND) product category. The company has since sold more than 75 million PNDs worldwide. The Rider was introduced in 2005 to meet the specific demands of motorcyclists. My tester was the latest version 5 of the product.

The $299.95 Rider arrived complete and ready to install on almost any open handlebar motorcycle. Included are a handlebar clamp and adjustable arm RAM mounts to which the Rider dock mounts. The 5- x 4- x 2-inch Rider display module (4.3-inch screen) quickly snaps to the dock and is absolutely stable. The hooded display is perfectly sized; large enough to easily read but small enough not to be in the way. It is viewable even in direct sunlight, has a switchable night view and the numerous drenchings it received during my travels proved TomTom’s waterproof claims.

The Rider’s top-mounted power button, zoom views and gas station finder are all glove friendly on the go. Entering a new destination is easier and safer accomplished gloveless, at a stop. Options are available for the fastest or various winding routes to your destination.

TomTom Rider GPS
TomTom Rider GPS

If all you require is the correct highway to the next town, just stick with a paper map. But it is the additional info the Rider displays that converted me to GPS. Actual motorcycle speed; current highway speed limit; estimated time and distance to destination; name of upcoming cross streets and highways; distance to and direction of the next turn; and my favorite, direction to the closest gas station. It’s all there at a glance, without being obtrusive.

Voice navigation is also provided via Bluetooth, requiring a Bluetooth compatible headset. A variety of voices are included and many more available
for purchase.

TomTom says the Rider’s lifetime battery lasts six hours from a full charge. When the unit was new, I got that and more. After a year of use, the Rider needed a charge within three hours. Connecting the included hardwire harness or USB cable to your motorcycle’s power outlet will insure you are never powerless.

For map updates and preplanning and downloading of trips, the Rider connects to a computer via its USB cable. TomTom includes two route-planning programs with the Rider, its own dedicated planner and Tyre Pro. These allow riders to preplan trips, on or off road, and then download their route to the Rider. These programs have some amazing capabilities but take some time to learn using the online manuals. No additional memory slots are included in the Rider.

The TomTom Rider is available direct and from a wide variety of motorcycle and tech product retailers. The price includes lifetime map updates for the USA, Canada and Mexico. The company has recently been hinting at the release of an additional model, which may be available by the time you read this.

For more information: Call (866) 486-6866 or visit


  1. Why can’t the GPS makers make regular sized GPS models which hold regular batteries? I can use my phone for most navigational uses but of course that is dependent on phone service. I don’t want to wire the thing. That begs the question: Why are bikes not pre wired for the myriad things that bikers need. Some bikes are but most are not.


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