TomTom Urban Rider review

TomTom's latest motorbike sat nav tested

TomTom Urban Rider review
TomTom Urban Rider keeps bikers on track

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

Once the TomTom was snapped into its bracket and both the sat nav and the headset switched on, we paired the devices via the Options menu. Pairing was successful and we entered a postcode.

The touchscreen responded well to gloved fingers and even when we tapped the postcode button and were faced with a row of rather small letters to press we were able to enter the postcode correctly first time.

We were initially worried about whether the screen would be easily visible in bright sunlight but it was clear enough to punch in addresses and to see on the road. But we didn't really want to be staring down at it while on the move, so the clarity of the audio was as important.

TomTom urban rider

About half a mile from home we realised there was no sound. A quick glance at the sat nav screen showed that the volume had defaulted to mute, so we pulled over, tapped the speaker icon and adjusted the volume so it was audible.

Riding with a sat nav is a little disconcerting as it becomes an added distraction that you really don't want on a bike when you're concentrating on avoiding cars and potholes. Each time we glanced in the wing mirror the screen of the sat nav caught our attention and we had to consciously ignore it rather than be drawn to watching the map.

Fortunately, the audio instructions came through clearly even at speed with the helmet visor cracked open, so you only need to glance at the screen if you're at a confusing junction.

A downside of the TomTom Urban Rider is that it doesn't offer voice control. The Cardo headset has a mic for making and receiving phone calls hands-free, and the TomTom Go Live range of sat navs for cars has voice control – so why not in the Urban Rider?

It can't be because of price as both units are similarly priced, so we can only assume that TomTom felt that the added noise of a motorbike made voice control impractical. Still, we would have liked it as an option, if only to be able to use it when parked up.

It would also be useful to be able to use voice controls to toggle the screen on and off to minimise distraction whilst riding.

Global Editor-in-Chief

After watching War Games and Tron more times that is healthy, Paul (Twitter, Google+) took his first steps online via a BBC Micro and acoustic coupler back in 1985, and has been finding excuses to spend the day online ever since. This includes roles editing .net magazine, launching the Official Windows Magazine, and now as Global EiC of TechRadar.