TomTom produced the first Rider motorcycle GPS in 2005 and today we’re going to review their latest installment in the series—the TomTom Rider 400.
If you’re searching the market for a dedicated motorcycle GPS, then you would have come across both the Garmin Zumo 595LM and the TomTom Rider 400. In this review, we will analyse the differences between the two and help you decide whether the Rider 400 is great value for money compared to the more expensive Garmin Zumo 595LM.
Presented in four variations, namely the Rider 40, 400, 400 Premium and 410. The only real difference is the accessories inside the box, and the maps offered. Only the 400 is available in the United States, while the others are European models.
Price wise, obviously there is a difference between the base model 40 and top of the range Premium. The Premium package includes a car mounting kit, anti-theft hardware and carrying case.
The Rider 410 was launched to mark TomTom’s 10th anniversary of the very first Rider GPS. The Rider 410 ‘Great Rides Edition’ features the same hardware as the 400 but includes worldwide maps and one hundred of Europe’s most thrilling routes.
The basic 400 model comes with a motorcycle mounting kit only, which is no problem as there’s an aftermarket car mount available. It is equipped with an onboard speaker but is also Bluetooth enabled. So, for audio commentary at highway speeds, you’re going to have to link it to a compatible Bluetooth headset.
Around town the TomTom’s speaker is fine. If you haven’t got a Bluetooth headset, don’t be put off as it’s possible to navigate without sound. If you do, it opens up more of the 400’s features and will make your rides safer. By linking it to your smartphone, you will get real-time traffic and weather updates. The GPS will also alert you to incoming calls and divert the conversation to your helmet speakers.
In the Box
I was pleased to see that the Rider 400 comes with a wiring kit that allows you to rig it up to your battery. Best of all, you can configure it so that it turns on with your ignition. This means it's not going to drain your battery if you leave it in place.
Mounting is taken care of via the usual type of motorcycle handlebar mounting hardware. The GPS comes with a RAM kit, which is the industry standard.
Bolting it to your bike is straight forward enough with angle adjustment to get it just right, i.e. in your line of vision if possible. The mount doesn’t have to be wired. The 400 is perfectly happy to run on battery power for up to six hours.
Functionality and Usability
I’ve read on the internet that some people are complaining that the Rider 400’s touch screen doesn't react as quickly as their smartphone. This raises the question, why don’t you just use a phone as a GPS instead? Firstly, I haven’t experienced any problems with the swipe or select functions on the 400, especially on the move. But if you want to compare it, try operating your smartphone with a glove on—it’s just not possible. Secondly, sure you can use your phone for navigation, but phones aren’t weatherproof, they can overheat, and they are not designed to tolerate the vibrations. For these reasons, I will continue to use a dedicated motorcycle GPS.
Initial start-up out of the box was a bit slow, but after that, it boots quickly. The navigation tabs are easy to select, and the screens move seamlessly around. Entering information on the search function brings up what you’re looking for without having to go into laborious detail. But like most sat navs, the alphabet keys are too small for a gloved finger. Once again, not a big deal as no-one is going to use that function on the run.
Software and Updates
As with its competitors, additional maps and information can be downloaded via the supplied cable and a PC. Also, Rider 400 owners can load and swap routes and point of interest information with each other. To get the best out of that function, you will need to download the free MyDrive software.
Downloading the software is easy, and it is available for PC and Mac. Once loaded onto your computer, linking the GPS brings up the TomTom menu of content and services. This automatically lists the new updates available.
Updates and fixes are frequently released, and it does make sense to keep your GPS up to date. Obviously, some updates will just be technical fixes that you won't even notice. While others, for example, give you the option to move icons around making it easier to find your favorites. TomTom does offer free lifetime map updates with the device.
The Rider 400 comes with 16GB of storage and an additional SD card slot. This is something you’ll be able to take advantage of if you use TomTom’s interactive software Tyre Pro. The software allows you to pre-plan a route and search, edit, design and save routes on your PC before sending them to your sat nav.
Route planning is also made infinitely more enjoyable by the 400’s onboard options. These include the adventurous routing feature, which incorporates TomTom’s trademark “Plan a Thrill” option. The navigation option gives you the opportunity of requesting a more thrilling route through interesting or challenging roads—avoiding motorways where possible.
As with all high-quality motorcycle GPS units, points-of-interest including gas stations and restaurants along routes are well marked and up to date.
The MyDrive app lets you upload new POIs from people who do know where the best burger or the cheapest accommodation in town is, your fellow motorcycle riders. This is more important than it sounds. Points of Interest continuously change on the road and being able to update the information in your database is a great function.
One final thing that I like about the GPS is that you can swivel it around in its cradle to go from landscape to portrait mode on the move. This gives you a little more visual of what's in store for you further ahead.
TomTom Rider 400 vs Garmin Zumo 595LM
The TomTom Rider 400 has all of the essential features to help you navigate the roads, but it does fall behind in some areas compared to the more expensive Garmin Zumo 595LM.
So, what do you get for your money if you go for the Garmin? Well, the more expensive GPS comes with a 5-inch screen compared to the 4.3-inch screen on the Rider 400. The Garmin does include the car mount hardware kit with a built-in speaker as standard.
Something else to consider is the ability to control music from your smartphone, MP3 player or SD card on the road. The Rider 400 lacks the capability to play music while the Zumo 595LM excels in this area; it even offers Pandora and Spotify streaming support.
You will also be able to take readings from the optional tire pressure sensors that can be purchased with the Garmin Zumo 595LM.
Another point of difference that some riders may find useful is the ability to load Topographic maps. The TomTom Rider 400 does not support TOPO maps while the Garmin Zumo 595LM will give you the option if you need it.
The TomTom Rider 400 is a motorcycle GPS that has all of the important features while remaining affordable. If you do want the best GPS for your bike and need the extra functionality, then the Garmin Zumo 595LM will be a better choice.
TomTom Rider 400 Review
The TomTom Rider 400 is a GPS that offers value for money, but it doesn't quite stack up to the more expensive Garmin Zumo 595LM—given the price difference we can't complain. If you do need a GPS with a larger screen that also has the functionality to control music, then the Garmin Zumo 595LM is the better choice.