GPS mounts &
power supplies




February 12th 2013




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GPS installation on the motorbike


GPS12 mountWe do not want to deal with the explanation how to use GPS receivers on that page. But since we would not like to travel without that great units anymore, we would like to report our experiences about installation and use. More in depth details on GPS receivers and navigation software can be found in the section NAVIGATION on this website. But one important information upfront - we don’t use navigation systems, but GPS receivers. And there is a major difference.

Well , but what’s the difference? A GPS receiver does not autoroute and always comes up with a new calculation of the route when I have decided to go another way. It does not yell at me which turn I have to make or which exit I have to follow. A GPS receiver always shows me the direct line to my next waypoint, shows me where I am on a pre-loaded moving map and guides me along a pre-programmed route which I have loaded onto the receiver before I went off onto that motorbike tour. A GPS receiver guides me anlong a route set by waypoints like perls in a chain and informs me with an arrow 600ft before I have to take a turn where I have to go. That’s how we navigate in the Alps.

Garmin GPS12 Until mid 2005 we were using the Garmin GPS12, which is a very basic GPS receiver. In the meantime we have upgraded to the Garmin e-Trex Legend, which is the monochrome non USB unit. If it is possible for you to purchase that unit in the United States and bring it along, you can save at least half of the cost and it is no difference, since the USA basic map that is installed cannot be used anyway. Additional maps, required to load onto the unit can be purchased from Garmin in Europe or anywhere else and Garmin asks about 150,- Euro for the European Map set. Advantage is, you don’t need to buy a licence, since that software has no autoroute function.

We use two mapping software packages. The first one is the “Tourenplaner” from the German motorbike magazin MOTORRAD and the second one is from Garmin the MapSource MetroGuide Europe V7 software package. The MOTORRAD-Tourenplaner comes every year in an updated version and does cost around 25,- Euro. The Garmin package is about 150,- Euro as we already outlined. We do a first overview planning on the MOTORRAD Tourenplaner, save it on a pdf file including the roadbook and then do the detailed tour planning with the Garmin software. The route planning with the help of the Garmin software is lots of fun and lets you already dream your next motorbike tour.

If you plan to install a GPS system at the motorcycle, then do it that way, that the display always is located in your viewing field without moving the head too much. We had our GPS12 installed onto the left panel to the Varadero and had made a small aluminum mount ouerselves. This was not the best solution. Offroad accessories supplier like Touratech and Bikertech offer different layouts for GPS mounts, whereby Bikertech builds mainly with epoxy and Touratech with aluminum and plastic. Touratech is high price and hightec, whereby Bikertech offers the smarter solutions for a much better price.

Garmin eTrex Legend on a Honda VaraderoWith the eTrex we went a completely different way and included our experiences of the last years into the new construction. We designed a 25mm aluminum tube with two mounts and installed that on top of our instrument panel on our Honda Varadero. Now the unit is absolutely nearly on eyes level and easy to read.

The original mount from Garmin, which we have used first on that aluminum tube failed after three weeks and died the vibration death. The Gramin construction with the handle tie-clip is in such a way designed, that the mounting plate gets “sanded away” within shortest amount of time by vibrations. Thanks God there are guys on the market like Bikertech. One E-Mail with my order and two days later, we had this excellent design in our hands. The mount is buffered with three rubber vibration dampers and we have this new mounting plate now already since over 2.000km in use and would not like to miss it. Absolutely recommendable.

This entire construction of the mount was then installed exactly above the instrument panel. The Garmin eTrex can now be easily clipped into that mount and sits perfect in the view field of the driver. For power supply we used the standard 12V connection set from Garmin. We just removed the 12V car connector and replaced it by a 5-pin stereo DIN connector. We then also installed the small electronic circuit that sits directly in the car connector, in a small plastic housing from Conrad Electronics.

12V power supplyYou really should have done such constructions already before when trying to install the mount on top of the instrument panel. It’s not easy and there is not much space left. So do it carefully. Honda has designed the plastic parts for perfect fit, and there is just a very little room to maneuver. We were happy that we have had a mount installed at this place from last year, that was our first design for video shooting during ride. So we only had to cut off the old mount and use the rest of it.

The picture to the right shows all necessary details. In the lower section of the picture you can see the grey stereo DIN connector, which is used here in the angled version. The socket is 5-pin, the connector is the 3-pin version. After a short piece of connection cable, the electronics is installed in a plastic housing from Conrad. It contains everything which was installed in the car connector supplied by Garmin before. The cable is installed with rubber tubes to ensure maximum protection against water and rain.

We recommend to remove the rechargeable batteries and/or batteries from the Garmin GPS unit when you operate on the 12V motorbike power supply. Not because the batteries or rechargeable batteries could cause electrical problems - but because of the weight and the vibrations. Less weight stresses the unit less. That’s all. This we have experienced over the years as well. Therefore we operate the GPS receiver at the motorcycle always without batteries and have therefore installed a permanent voltage supply to the stereo DIN socket. The ignition switch does not cut off that supply. Therefore we have in addition installed the left switch in the picture with the red LED that cuts off the power to the GPS unit separately.


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