The days of map reading are over - especially for motorcyclists - and these days, you can get to wherever you want to go without really knowing exactly where you are. Satellite navigation is the motorcyclist's new best friend and we've got the Americans to thank for it. Invented to enhance the effectiveness of their military operations, this system has other, more welcome uses, like directing you - door to door - to any address, or finding the nearest petrol station when your bike is nearly out of fuel. It will also get you home when all the major routes are blocked and even tell you what time you'll be there.
But how does it work? Twenty-four satellites orbiting thousands of miles above the earth's surface relay their positions back to control stations on the ground. A Global Positioning System (GPS) unit then uses this information to determine exactly where you are - anywhere in the world.
Since the introduction of BMW's original Motorrad Navigator several years ago, the sale of maps to BMW riders has fallen dramatically. The subsequent Navigator II and Navigator II Plus GPS systems further revolutionised long distance route finding for drivers and riders with their fast processing speed, fuel and water-resistant casing, and unique mounting cradle that enabled portability as well as operation with gloved fingers.
BMW's latest Navigator III GPS system is set to considerably raise the benchmark in motorcycle navigation equipment. A plethora of new and unique features makes it technologically far superior to its predecessors and also a 'giant leap' forwards when compared with many of the inferior 'competitor' products that have been launched in a bid to enter the motorcycle GPS market.
Key features of the new Navigator III:
- Street level mapping for the whole of Europe is now preinstalled on the unit (plug and play, as opposed to having to download it via a pc)
- High resolution TFT screen for the best possible visibility - even in direct sunlight
- Text-to-speech voice output, stating actual street names, rather than "take the next left"
- 3D map display viewed from the rider's perspective
- Bluetooth interface to allow wireless communication of voice directions and mobile phone calls to the rider (via BMW's System 5 helmet)
- 'Tracking' function to record the exact routes travelled
- Voice directions in a choice of 12 European languages
- Turn-by-turn route finding with a choice of shortest time, shortest distance or linear distance options
- Trip computers show current, average and maximum speed, elapsed time, time stopped and total time
- Mapping software shows all types of roads, points of interest, hotels, restaurants, BMW Motorrad dealers, and petrol stations
- Routes and waypoints can be planned (and stored) on the pc or on the unit and then shared via email with other users
- Compass function allows for off-road navigation, or navigation in areas where mapping doesn't exist or is unreliable
- The unit is completely portable and can be used in any vehicle (it comes with a power socket adaptor) or by walkers or cyclists if used with the optional battery pack
- the unique mounting cradle is designed for operation with gloved fingers. The unit can also be removed quickly when leaving your parked machine but can also be secured safely with a special screwdriver
The Navigator III is powered by plugging it into one of BMW's on-board power sockets that come as standard on all of its machines. Riders of other machines can also use the Navigator III with minimal mounting modifications and by connecting it to the battery, or fitting a generic connector lead. Additionally, all accessories and mounting hardware of the Navigator II and II Plus may also be used with the Navigator III without any modifications required.
Technically, the BMW Motorrad Navigator III is one of the most advanced GPS units commercially available. Taking coordinates from 12-satellites that ensure an accuracy level of less than 15 metres, it weighs just 420g and can be operated in all weathers - in fact it is rated from minus 15 degrees to plus 70 degrees Celsius.
The brand new BMW Motorrad Navigator III is priced £995 and can be demonstrated at any BMW Motorrad UK dealership now.