Posted: 30 May 2011 10:00 PM PDT
Hey guys, Graham here with an update for our XT 600 project.
I'll start this one with a confession—I'm not from the Bay Area. As a result, it's not unheard of for me to get completely lost, especially once I'm off the beaten path. Of course, most of the Bay's best motorcycling roads are off the beaten path, so this my lack of navigational ability was limiting my ability to go out and find great rides.
Enduros like our trusty old Yamaha are ideal for covering distance in the back-country, so the XT was the logical choice to equip with GPS navigation.
Mounting the GPS unit was easy, thanks to the RAM mounting system that we used. Basically a series of mounted rubber balls and clamping arms, the RAM system allows for quick adjustment of the angle and location of the GPS unit, making it easy to adapt for riders of different heights. It's also easy to simply unclamp the unit and take it off the bike—both for security, and to keep the unit out of the weather.
We chose to mount the GPS on handlebars to the right of center, which allows for easy viewing while riding without obscuring too much of the instruments, but the unit could just as easily have been mounted high in the center of the bars for a Dakar-style setup. The RAM mounts easily connect to the handlebars using a stainless steel u-bolt.
We used an older Garmin GPS unit, which still works great but is seriously lacking in the battery life department. So in order for our new setup to be functional, we had to wire in a 12 volt, cigarette lighter-style plug to power everything. We connected the plug directly to the battery, so it works even when the bike isn't running. The plug, available for under ten bucks at any auto parts store, was easily mounted on the left side of the frame, out of the way of the rider's legs.
With the whole system mounted up and operational, I took the bike on a 4-hour ride along roads I'd never ridden before. Everything worked excellently, not only did the Garmin keep me pointed in the right direction (and show me the way home), it can also be used to show upcoming bends in the road so that tight hairpin turn won't come as a nasty surprise. A word of caution though—it's easy to spend too much time looking down that the GPS, instead of looking down the road like you should be.
In the case of our XT, adding GPS is probably the best upgrade we've made yet, simply because it adds so much practicality to the motorcycle—and with gas prices as high as they are, more everday usability out of a motorcycle is always welcome.
Stay tuned for more updates, and be sure to order your copy of the 2011 print edition of Inline Performance Magazine HERE at the pre-order price for a limited time.
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