Article by John Childs
Map reading on a bike is even more of a pain than it is in a car. To check your route you need to pull up and park, remove your gloves, dig the map out from your pocket or bag, unfold it to the correct place and only then can you take a look at your route. Then the whole process has to be reversed before you can move off again. And that's in ideal conditions; add in a drop of rain or the need to find some light at night and the procedure becomes unbearable, especially in an unfamiliar area where this process may need repeating several times before finding your destination.
Satnav is the obvious answer to all this rigmarole so then the question arises on how best to fit it. Many bikers just drop it into a tank bag but there were a couple of reasons why that didn't suit me. Firstly, I don't like tank bags because they can mark the paintwork if not fitted or used correctly, they get in the way when refueling and with a Gold Wing I don't need the luggage space anyway. Secondly, I wanted the PDA to be higher up on the bike so that I could refer to it by simply dropping my line of vision a degree or two rather than taking my eyes off the road altogether. The idea of running into the back of a truck whilst my head was buried in a tank bag didn't appeal.
Fitting was simplicity itself. The dashboard fascia was removed by unclipping the speaker grilles and removing the two allen bolts thus revealed, then simply pulling the dash away from its other mounting clips. Don't pull too hard because once the panel is free there is an electrical connector to the lcd display which will need unplugging before the dash panel can be taken off the bike completely. Also the left hand luggage box will need removing and this is just a matter of lifting the lid and poking the retaining clips in the center to release them and then pulling out the box.
A short flexible arm was fixed to the underside of the dashboard with short fat self tapping screw to give a firm mounting. Take care to put this fairly close to the dash lip thereby leaving enough room for the dash panel to be re-fitted behind the mount. At this point I used one of those rotary tool things to remove some plastic from the dash so that the cables aren't pinched between the dash panel and the dash itself.
Run the power cable around the dials and feed it down under the left hand luggage box and hook it up to a 12 volt power feed. In the case of the Wing there is a socket in the wiring loom and a plug to fit this is available from your local Honda dealer. I also took the precaution of fitting a 1 amp inline fuse. Re-fit the dash panel and luggage box and that's it. Job done. From the riders position it ends up looking like this.
There is the consideration of security as I didn't want the PDA jumping out of the holder and bouncing down the road if ever I hit a serious bump or pothole. I needed an audio out lead and with the socket for this being at the top of my iPaq 2210 I found that by keeping the lead fairly tight the cable will stop the PDA from jumping high enough to come out of the cradle.
The other issue was weather proofing. Whilst traveling the PDA is protected from driving rain by the windscreen and from road water splashing up by the bodywork. The only real problem was rain whilst standing still and I solve this by merely slipping a clear fronted plastic cover over the PDA It has been left open at the bottom but this is not an issue as water does not come up from underneath. It has no fixings but, due to the size of the bag, is a fairly tight fit over the PDA and flexible arm and has never blown off. If it ever did a little piece of self adhesive Velcro to pinch the bottom of the bag closed would solve it.
The pictures show my second attempt at mounting. In the original I used the TomTom fitting kit but thought that the clamp type mounting looked ugly. Also with the connector coming out of the bottom of the PDA it was all hanging in front of the speedo and obscuring the most important area of the dial between 60 and 100 mph. I replaced that with the Brodit mount, which is a whole lot neater cradle, and with the wires coming out of the rear also solved the speedo visibility problem. My only problem is the audio lead coming out of the top of the iPaq and I intend to replace this with a right angle connector lead at the earliest opportunity. When I have done this I think it will be almost up to the standard of an original equipment factory fit in the appearance department and I am well pleased.
Oh, yes. The Tom Tom Bluetooth mouse is mounted inside the boot and the shoe is wired to the boot light. The iPaq audio is plugged into an Autocomm system and fed into my helmet speakers, along with the radio, cd player, mobile phone and two way radio. I'm a sucker for gadgets.
As a finishing touch, I fixed a spare stylus to the dashboard with a bit of velcro so that the unit can be operated without even having to remove my gloves.