It’s safe to say you ride – or at least have an interest in – motorcycles, right? Of course. So by extension, the very fact you’re reading these words means you own an electronic device. Which also means you’re open to the idea of combining your ownership of motorcycles with the usage of electronic devices. Sure, we hear people say they ride their bikes to get away from the emails and phone calls and other electronic noise that bombards their everyday lives, but at the end of the day, technology is supposed to enhance our lives. If you’re one who believes in this idea, then read on, because in this motorcycle gadgets buyer’s guide we show you some cool and/or useful devices that will make your riding experience just a little bit better.
Communicators come in all shapes and sizes, and are great tools for talking to your riding buddies, or simply your friend riding co-pilot. With the redesigned Cardo Freecom series, you have a mid-priced line of communicators with some premium features, like voice-command operation that operates on simple commands like, “Hey Cardo.” It’s also operational with Siri and OK Google, so you can still make phone calls while riding. The communicator itself has been streamlined to better slice through the air, and Cardo has teamed up with JBL for optimum sound quality.
The Freecom series starts at $139.95. More information can be found at Cardosystems.com.
UPDATE: The new Cardo Freecom 4+ is now available for pre-order with online retailers such as Revzilla
If you’ve watched any of the recent videos on Motorcycle.com’s Youtube channel, then odds are you’ve seen us use GoPro cameras. Since Santa thought we were good boys this year, we’ve also acquired ourselves the latest from GoPro – the Hero7 Black – the new industry standard when it comes to action cameras. If you haven’t heard about the Hero7 Black, then you’re probably living under a rock. We won’t bore you with the bevy of features it offers, but rather, we’ll highlight its best feature – Hypersmooth. GoPro says it’s like having a gimbal without actually having one. That’s how smooth the video quality is, and since motorcycles are inherently buzzy, anything we can do to get smooth, vibe-free video is key. In our early tests of the 7 Black, we’ve come away extremely impressed with how smooth the footage is. Take the KTM 790 Duke vs. Triumph Street Triple R video, for example. The opening sequence was shot on the 7 Black, which is remarkable because the camera was bouncing quite a bit as I was talking into it.
Having an action camera is great, but have you ever watched MotoGP footage as the bikes are leaning over and seen the camera stay true to the horizon? Pretty cool, right? For years, shots taken with gyroscopic stabilizers were only possible if you had MotoGP-type budgets. Now, those days are gone. With the Quark Stabilizer from Noir Matter, you can get the same type of footage for only $299.99 (pre-orders can get in for $100 less). Unlike other gimbals which stabilize along three axes, the Quark only stabilizes in one direction. Yes, there are downsides to this approach, but the benefit is a much more compact device that, when paired with the GoPro Hero7 Black, achieves the gyro-stabilized footage with a constant horizon you see in MotoGP, with very little vibration, and for a fraction of the cost.
Learn more and get your pre-orders in at Noirmatter.com.
If you’re wondering where the inspiration for a Motorcycle gadgets buyer’s guide came from, blame Ryan. His GPS buyer’s guide got me thinking about other useful bits to have on a ride. Still, it goes without saying that a GPS device deserves mention on this list, as well. To that end, the Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S offers tremendous bang for the buck. With over four inches of screen space, a touch screen compatible with gloved hands, along with the ability to show you weather and traffic (among many other things), the Zumo 396 is an excellent compliment to any street rider.
Should your adventures take you in the dirt, try the Garmin Montana 680t. And no matter where you ride, if you’re a cheapskate, you could also use your smartphone’s GPS, too…
Does anybody still remember what a compass is? For those of you who refuse to use electronic devices while riding – or those simply looking for an analog backup when a device fails (and it will) – the tried-and-true compass will do the trick. In fact, this set of Handlebar Clips from Aerostich includes not only a compass, but a clock and thermometer, all designed to clip over your ⅞” or 1” handlebars. The compass and thermometer are mounted inside a liquid-filled casing for smooth operation. To quote Aerostich, “The clock clip is specially made for us and features a sweep-second quartz movement that is not really intended for outdoor use but the prototype survived two seasons on Ed’s 500 single so we think it’s OK. YMMV, however.”
Okay, so we poked a little fun at technology with the compass, but sometimes things really can take a turn for the worst, and devices like the Spot Gen 3 can literally be a life saver. This highly sophisticated, vibration activated GPS tracker can be programmed to send friends and family updates that you’re doing just fine. Alternatively, if you get into trouble, a push of a button can send your GPS coordinates to emergency personnel, whether or not you’re in range of cell service. We’ve used the Spot device before and been very happy with its usefulness. Thankfully, we didn’t have to test its ability to call an ambulance.
Shifting away from the life-or-death stuff, we turn to a device designed to lower your lap times. The LitPro is more than just a device, it’s a system. The physical piece is the black transponder on the bottom left of the image above. It goes beyond tracking your lines via GPS, as it’s able to track your fastest (and slowest) laps, sectors, even corners, lap after lap. You can then overlay this data in video form to an iPhone or iPad (sorry Android users, it’s only iOS for now) to see exactly where you’re gaining or losing time. The LitPro software can then analyze your data and suggest better/faster lines. It also has the ability to track your heart rate, which is useful for the rider’s training regimen. If you’re a motocross fan, LitPro can even track your airtime to see if you’re spending too much time in the sky. Originally, LitPro was designed for dirt riders, but the company has also released an app for road riders/racers as well (though you might imagine airtime metrics aren’t part of the road app). These features are only scratching the surface of what the LitPro can do, but it’s safe to say this is the closest most mortals can come to getting data acquisition like the pro teams.
Longtime MO regulars will know who submitted this item to the gadgets list. Thing is, however, Mr. Burns has a point; cruise control is handy on a motorcycle, and just because your bike may not have the function from the factory doesn’t mean it can’t. The NEP Cruise Control system is about as simple and easy as it gets – just install the friction lock over the throttle and flip the lever when you’re ready to cruise. There are other products on the market with similar functions, but for $22, the NEP is about as economical as it gets.
A pet peeve of many motorcyclists is that other motorists can’t hear us. Don’t try to rely on your stock horn either, that wimpy thing will hardly attract attention. Thankfully, there’s the Ear Cannon Air Horn. From the name alone you can probably guess what this thing is for – blasting ear canals. I couldn’t possibly describe this thing any better than Aerostich has, so here they are:
“This is a full-power railroad locomotive/ocean liner type compressed air horn squeezed into a bike-mountable package. Totally overkill, until you need to wake up some lethal driver. It’s got both the high and low ear-splitting tones of the individually sold Fiamm Freeway Blaster Horns, plus a little more oomph. The 140dB high and low tone blasters combine via air induction to cut through the din and make the most distracted of drivers drop their cell phones and pay attention… If Ethel Merman, Sam Kinison and John Philip Sousa ever had a band, and played through a wall-of-sound amp rack, it would sound like this.”
Of course, if you’re going to have gadgets on your ride, odds are they are going to need to be charged. While we’re highlighting the RidePower phone charger specifically, adding a third-party charging system to your machine (if it doesn’t have a power adapter already) is a good idea. In the case of the RidePower, it’s fairly straightforward. A harness connects directly to your battery, and the accompanying charge cable goes to your device and provides the juice to keep it going. A 7.5amp inline fuse prevents any catastrophic damage from taking place.
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