I’ve been using the NUVIZ for several weeks and want to share my experience. If you missed last summer’s roll-out, the NUVIZ is an all-in-one, motorcycle-specific infotainment system with a head-up display (HUD) that mounts to the chin bar of your full-face helmet. Data about speed, routes, calls, camera and music appear on a high-resolution, semi-transparent display that helps you keep your eyes on the road and your mind on the ride. A multi-function controller you mount on the handlebars lets you select various features so you don’t need to touch your phone or the NUVIZ while riding. It’s the first and so far the only product on the market that integrates all these capabilities in one moto-specific unit.
You manage the device with an app on your smart phone or tablet. Both Android and iPhone versions work intuitively, walking you through the pairing process and showing you everything connected to your system. You can set a user profile, view and organize rides and photos, customize settings (everything from audible speed warnings to your choice of a digital or analog time-of-day clock) and more.
Attached to my helmet, the display sits four inches from my right eye, but it’s engineered with a virtual focal length of 13 feet so I see it in focus (without reading glasses). I slightly lower my eyes—not my head—to look at the display. Because it’s attached to my helmet, it moves with my head as I look through corners. The LCOS (liquid crystal on silicon) HUD is crisp and vivid, and because it is semi-transparent you also can see whatever is in the background. The display adjusts automatically to ambient light.
The wired, in-helmet speakers sound about as good as other helmet speakers I’ve tested, which means audiophiles won’t be singing their praises, but you also can pair the NUVIZ with your existing Bluetooth headset. That’s what I did to take advantage of the improved fidelity provided by in-ear speakers plugged into the audio out jack of my Sena 20S Bluetooth headset.
A built-in 8 MP camera, with a lens that’s adjustable for angle, takes good quality still photos and video. Stills and screen grabs save to your phone via Bluetooth. Videos save to a micro SD card (not included) that fits in a slot in the NUVIZ. Several video formats up to HD 1080p are available. The helmet mic records your voice over video, or you can mute the recording of audio if desired. I’ve been narrating my thoughts about the NUVIZ as I use it…sure beats stopping to take notes!
The GPS lives in the NUVIZ, not in your phone, and routing works via satellite. That means navigation isn’t limited by cell coverage, which is important if your rides take you away from major population centers. Routes are entered and saved using the app and deployed via the controller. NUVIZ lets you download whatever maps you want for countries worldwide for free—a major convenience and cost-saving benefit if you ride internationally.
When a GPS route is active, the Dashboard displays time and distance to destination. Audible GPS guidance is turn-by-turn, although specific street names are not announced. As a turn approaches, destination info is replaced with the next turn street name and the route number (if applicable). The Dashboard also shows speed, speed limit, time of day and battery level on one easy-to-read screen…impressive.
The Map display is 3D and zoomable, but there’s not as much detail as the Garmin GPS units I have used for years. I found street names hard to decipher unless you’re zoomed way in, but then you lose the wider perspective of your location. That said, when a route is active, it’s highlighted and you’re getting audible turn-by-turn guidance, so in practice I’ve found there’s not much need to look at the map anyway. In fact, I found I prefer using the Dashboard instead of the Map while a route is active. Go off route and (for better or worse) the NUVIZ recalculates automatically.
When planning a route from your location to your destination, you can choose among Fastest, Shortest or Balanced options. It’s possible to shape routes to an extent by inserting waypoints, but route planning capabilities are not nearly as comprehensive (or complicated) as computer-based programs such as Garmin Basecamp. The folks at NUVIZ tell me the ability to import .GPX files created in other route-planning applications may be coming in a future software update. That would be a HUGE upgrade for the sport-touring folks I ride with.
Speaking of software updates, they’re free and handled simply, using the NUVIZ app. Customer feedback can be provided directly to NUVIZ through the app, and feedback has already been reflected in software updates. Among the updates so far have been an audio mixer to individually manage volume levels (master, music, calls and rides); the ability to save screen grabs, which is handy for taking map snapshots; and most recently, an increase in the maximum volume with Android phones. (I’d still like even more volume since I wear earplugs.)
Calls are placed using your phone’s contact list, which you cycle through on the Calls display. Recent calls appear first, which I found helpful since otherwise I’d be cycling alphabetically through my list of hundreds of contacts to reach the ones I call most (whose last name also often happens to be Williams). There is no way to direct dial without stopping and punching the number directly into your phone. I could not get the Google App to voice-dial calls when my phone was paired to the NUVIZ, which controls the phone. A future software update will reportedly add voice control, which would make calling simpler and more importantly help riders keep their eyes on the road. Caller ID for incoming calls shows in the display.
Music is sourced from your phone via its native player or your preferred streaming service. From the Music display you can play, pause and skip ahead (but not back). It would be nice if a skip ahead button appeared on the Dashboard screen so I don’t have to cycle to the Music screen first. Music continues when GPS guidance comes on, so I use that audio mixer to manage the volume levels to my liking.
Rain messes with visibility for motorcycle riders in lots of ways, from fogging your visor to distorting the view of your gauges. Not surprisingly, water on the NUVIZ optical components can distort the display. The unit is rain proof, however, so once you dry things off all is well again. On especially bright days, the display can get washed out a bit with the sun at certain angles, although it remains visible. Also at certain angles in bright sunshine, I see several small, colored dots at edges of the display; these appear to come from light refracting through the optical-quality plastic of the HUD. I wonder if a matte finish on the outside of those optical parts could eliminate that?
NUVIZ says battery life is up to 8 hours. I’ve been getting closer to 7 hours with constant music and GPS use and occasional phone calls (mostly to test how the calling function works). Recording video consumes battery faster, and also decreases the quality of audio while a video is recording. The manual says not to use the NUVIZ while it’s charging, but you can buy extra batteries direct from NUVIZ. Special batteries with NUVIZ circuitry are required.
It takes more than a minute for the NUVIZ to boot up so I’ve gotten in the habit of turning it on before I start the bike. At rest stops I preserve battery life with a short press of the power button, which turns off the display but doesn’t shut down the system. When I’m ready to roll, another short press turns the display back on.
So what has several weeks of real-world use taught me about the NUVIZ?
- The whole system is clear, logical and easy to use. You quickly learn what info resides on the various screens—and there’s a lot of information available.
- The camera is easier to use than my GoPro. 8MP may not be professional grade, but the NUVIZ camera shoots where I’m looking and the controller makes it easy to use. It was great for shooting video at track day.
- I found the NUVIZ GPS works best for “point A to point B” routing determined by the system, rather than for a route that I design to go exactly where I want. I really want the NUVIZ to import .GPX files prepared on more powerful routing software. How about that for your next update, NUVIZ?
- Since the NUVIZ mounts to a helmet, it’s easy to use it with whatever bike I ride. NUVIZ provides several mounting options for the controller, which is required to access NUVIZ features. I mounted my controller to a small RAM platform I had laying around, which makes it easy to move it from bike to bike. High-strength hook-and-loop would work, too.
- Take your time mounting the NUVIZ to your helmet so you get the HUD positioned exactly where you want it. Sit on your bike with your helmet on and move the NUVIZ around until you find the spot on your chin bar that puts the display where you want it. Have a friend on hand to mark the exact location on your helmet.
- I rode with the NUVIZ on both of my personal bikes (2014 BMW R1200RT and 2008 Kawasaki Versys 650). I also rode to a local dealer and sat on many bikes from multiple categories while wearing the NUVIZ. With that experience, I think the NUVIZ is better suited to nakeds, standards and sport bikes that don’t have a large windshield or dash in the background. It was more at home on my bare-bones Versys than on my fully-loaded RT, which has GPS, music and phone capabilities built in (although not a camera).
- The NUVIZ works best on a full-face helmet—no surprise, as that’s what it was designed for. I mounted it to an Arai Vector 2. The shape of the Arai’s chin bar doesn’t perfectly match the shape of the mounting plate, so I used some extra mounting tape to build up the bottom edge.
- The NUVIZ will attach to a modular helmet (I mounted it to a Schuberth C3 Pro), but let me offer this caveat: a modular helmet’s chin bar detents aren’t engineered for the extra weight of the NUVIZ, and with the chin bar open it can drop unexpectedly. The supplied mic is not designed for use with a modular helmet, but I got around that by pairing the NUVIZ with the Sena 20S Bluetooth headset I already have installed in the Schuberth lid.
- I lost count of the number of riders who asked me if the NUVIZ works with Waze. I’m not really a Waze user, but here’s what I found. I couldn’t get Waze to announce via the NUVIZ wired headset, like in my Arai Vector 2, but when my Android phone and the NUVIZ were both paired to my Sena 20S Bluetooth headset, like I have in my Schuberth C3 Pro, Waze alerts announced audibly. As far as I can tell the NUVIZ and Waze don’t integrate, but they appear to work independently without conflict via a Bluetooth headset (at least in my case).
The challenges involved in engineering a device as complex as the NUVIZ are above my pay grade. That said, I wish the display was bigger and the device was smaller. I’d wager the engineers at NUVIZ are already working on these challenges, as well as other improvements for future NUVIZ products. But the gen 1 NUVIZ is available now, it’s currently the only device that does everything it does, it works remarkably well overall, and the software updates already provided show that NUVIZ is serious about continuous improvement.
At $699 it isn’t exactly cheap, but you can pay more for just a motorcycle GPS and the NUVIZ integrates loads of useful, moto-specific features into one slick device.
Learn more: www.ridenuviz.com.