NAVIGATING ON TWO WHEELS… with the itinerary at your fingertips

Smartphone or GPS, where are they fixed on motorcycle?

Do you remember when only paper maps were used for travelling? And to call home, on the other side of the world, you had to go to a post office? Those days are long gone.
Today, small technological devices such as the smartphone or GPS are used to communicate and navigate. These devices have become indispensable for those who explore the world by motorcycle too.
Yes but … where and how are they fixed on board?

You really can do everything with a smartphone: communicate, take photos, share things, find your bearings …
This is why many travellers choose to rely completely on this kind of mobile device when taking a trip.
However, there are some routes that require an extra guarantee, namely, the features offered by classic GPS navigators, some provided in versions dedicated to motorcyclists, like receiving satellite signals even in the most remote places, without the support of a network connection. Not to mention the possibility of inserting previously prepared routes on files, such as GPX, which can be read by this type of device.
And to make sure that they are ready for anything, the most “experienced” travellers tend to have a Plan B, which often takes the form of (old, expensive) printed maps that still find a special place in many of the tank bags currently in production.

Smartphones and GPS:
how can they be properly secured to the bike?

The market offers plenty of solutions, but it would be impossible not to indicate GIVI as the reference company, given its great commitment to researching holders, types of mountings, materials, shapes… to successfully diversify what is on offer. Let’s have a look at the current range.

DEVICE HOLDER EQUIPPED WITH “CASE” AND MOUNTING SYSTEM

Models that allow for the insertion of a smartphone or GPS navigator inside a case, equipped with a sun visor and a transparent touch-sensitive window, to allow access and use of the device’s screen. This category includes 6 different products divided into two lines:
S952B, S953B, S954B, developed horizontally, are designed to accommodate the classic navigator.
S955B, S956B, S957B, developed vertically, are designed for smartphones.

This “family” interfaces with the “Mini-Tanklock” mounting system, which makes it possible not only to unhook the case with a finger but also to install it on supports with irregular sections, for example, those of the mirror rods on some scooters. The rainproof cover supplied adds an extra guarantee for the safety of the device, although it is not 100% waterproof it still offers plenty of protection from light rain and on short journeys.

SMART CLIP S920M/L

The SMART CLIP is designed to accommodate almost all the smartphones on the market and can be adjusted both vertically and horizontally. This solution was designed by GIVI to allow those who use it to take photos or film their route (even in selfie mode): in fact, the lenses, both front and rear, are unobstructed. Furthermore, direct access to the screen eliminates any issues related to capacitive keys, fingerprint unlocking or facial or iris recognition.
The clamp is available in two sizes, S920M (for devices from 112 x 52 mm to 148 x 75 mm) and S920L (up to 178 x 90 mm). Although the tests carried out to measure the safety of this support have reached extreme levels, for the most cautious traveller we should point out that an elastic, the “a 8”, is provided to further secure the device. What if it rains? Just get one of the new GIVI T519M and T519L watertight cases.
The fitting that allows the clip to be fixed to the motorcycle is the same Mini-Tanklock shared by the models mentioned above.

WHAT THE MINI-TANKLOCK LOOKS LIKE

The fitting is made up of an arm, divided into two parts, equipped with adjustment screws with a run-stop, this fitting system can be applied to most of the motorcycles in circulation including exceptional cases (such as mirrors placed directly on the fairing or cast half-handlebars) thanks to the Z279 accessory.
What is more, there is a safety strap if the device holder case (here we refer to the family with which we began the article) is not properly attached.

SMART BAR S900A

Those who need to keep their eye on several devices can opt for this aluminum bar, which creates a support for positioning smartphones, Telepass holders, GPSs or even action cams …).

THE NEW ALUMINUM SUPPORTS

These are called S901A, S902A and S903A. Functional and carefully designed, these models “fit like a glove” on those bikes that deserve special attention from an aesthetic point of view or that, for one reason or another, have some peculiarities that would not allow the device to be fixed in “standard” positions.
The S901A Smart Mount support uses the screw holes that fix the risers, creating a base on which to place a device holder at the centre of the handlebar (assembly requires a specific screw kit based on the type of bike owned).
The S902A, on the other hand, is designed to be paired with the crossbars that some “Adventure” enduros have behind the standard fairing.
The last model in this series, the S903A Smart Mount, uses the brake fluid reservoir cover located in the handlebar area (again, with the appropriate screw kit).

WHAT ABOUT MOTORCYCLE GARMIN AND TOM TOM NAVIGATORS?

For those who own a motorcycle navigator made by these two brands, GIVI offers specific adapters that allow you to mount them on the three aluminum supports mentioned above, using the original attachment system.

GPS VS PAPER MAP


As we mentioned earlier, there are still those who prefer not to sacrifice the traditional map to find their way while travelling.
Why rely on such “old school” help when you can have advanced technologies at your fingertips? There are pros and cons for each of these two means of navigation, let’s analyse them.
The GPS signal now covers almost the entire planet, it is reliable and convenient for various reasons. Above all, thanks to the fact that you never have to stop along the way to check which direction to take. Devices equipped with GPS signals always indicate the exact time and now guarantee an accuracy of about 10/20 meters from the actual position.
It is also possible, including with the popular Google Maps (or other APPS), to download maps onto the smartphone to use the navigator in offline mode too.
However, as sophisticated as the new devices are, there is always something that can go wrong (breakdown, power failure, theft …) and it is on these occasions that a paper map can come in handy.
Economical, they don’t run out of power and don’t lose the signal; there is little risk of them being stolen either. When technology refuses to cooperate, it is always useful for a motorcyle traveller to have a couple of maps with them, which do a great job at helping to find the way.
And finally: just think of the sense of “adventure” they bring to the trip! They represent an iconography that make them objects to be treasured once the journey is over.

 


MAKE SPACE FOR A LENS ON YOUR BIKE

RECHARGE, TRANSPORT AND PROTECT YOUR MOTORCYCLE DEVICES

A journey on two wheels is an experience to be documented and shared with photos and videos. Here are some tips on how to do just that, as we look at the ideal equipment and how to protect and transport it by motorcycle.

With online platforms, blogs and social networks, updating your followers in (almost) real time has become a real challenge.
For those who travel the world on two wheels, the game is even more complicated: taking photos or shooting videos with a smartphone is undoubtedly easy and effective; however, many prefer to make a report using more conventional tools (although as we will see, not even that much) which, of course, need space and protection on board.

 

THE PHOTO/VIDEO EQUIPMENT OF THE MOTORCYCLE BLOGGER

If you are a blogger or simply a “social media addict” and want to share your shots and videos on a daily basis, you don’t have to give up the quality of a real camera.
There are many “compact” mirrorless cameras on the market with interchangeable lenses that deserve a mention, such as the Sony® 6000 series, which can be seen in the hands of various motorcycle travellers and journalists in the sector.
This camera adds to the high quality of photos, video and audio (with the possibility of using an external microphone), with an integrated Wi-Fi system which, in conjunction with the appropriate application (Imaging Edge Mobile), allows you to send media files directly to your smartphone, so you have everything at your fingertips, without even having to take out the memory card.
Of course, this line can be a starting point for choosing a camera with similar features, amongst which, the important wireless sharing with the smartphone.

As for the lenses, for photos and video reporting, we recommend accompanying the standard one with an 18-105mm F/4 zoom.
Normal cameras can make fantastic videos; however, they cannot compete with the dynamic shots made possible by so-called action cams, thanks to the very compact dimensions and the many accessories available to mount them in different positions (helmet, handlebar, fork, etc …)
First and foremost is the giant Gopro®, but there are many brands that offer valid (and even more accessible) models, and that often use the same mounting standards as Gopro®. Among these we can mention the Mi Action by Xiaomi® and the H9 by Midland®, both 4K.

TRANSPORT AND RECHARGE YOUR PHOTO EQUIPMENT ON MOTORCYCLE

When out and about, we all know that it is essential to make sure that all electronic devices are always charged, even more so when travelling on two wheels.
So how do you avoid ending up “in the middle of the desert” with completely flat smartphone or camera batteries?
We offer a simple solution: the S111 Power Hub from GIVI.
This is a power supply kit specially designed for tank bags that allows you to connect three devices via USB (for a total of 9000mA), and a fourth, with an ISO 12v connector, directly inside the bag. The power supply kit includes a totally waterproof wiring system external to the bag.
The Power Hub must necessarily be combined with the S110 kit, fully waterproof wiring that leads from the motorcycle battery to a 12v socket in the handlebar area, allowing you to create an independent circuit to recharge the device while protecting from possible overloads.

Camera, lenses, action cam, accessories, cables, spare batteries, smartphone …
Ideally you should be able to store this important equipment in a safe and easily accessible place. GIVI’s answer is the T508, a motorcycle bag designed for photo/video equipment. Its interior is shaped and padded, the lid has an internal mesh pocket and the shoulder strap allows for easy transport. What makes it different from the many camera bags on the market? The fact that it was developed by a specialist in motorcycle accessories.
The dimensions of the T508 allow it to be inserted into all the tank and saddle bags produced by the brand, with a capacity of at least 14 litres. Charging can be completed inside them, even whilst driving, without having to consider rain, humidity and bad weather.


DRIVING A MOTORCYCLE IN SOUTH-EAST ASIA

 

RULES ON LICENCES AND PERMITS

Inspired by an article published in World Nomads, we take a look at the issue of “driving documents”, starting with a specific area of the Asian Continent. A group of countries that are neighbours but often have different regulations when it comes to road traffic.
Here is the information we have gathered.

Planning to travel by motorcycle in South-east Asia? First of all, let’s clarify which countries are actually part of it: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Burma, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, East Timor and Vietnam. In some cases, for example Indonesia, there are no regulations that are valid for the entire country.

Generally speaking, there are seldom situations that are unclear or problematic on the type of licence required and recognised; from this point of view, an experienced traveller who enters one of these countries with their own bike isn’t likely to encounter any issues with the local authorities…. But not wanting to leave anything to chance, we think it might be useful to indicate where the licence issued in our country is currently valid, where you need an international one or when you could be asked to pass a driving test on the spot. This also goes for driving a rental bike there, even if the “rent a bike” companies would have you believe that everything can be solved by simply handing over a tip…

The almost unavoidable rule is to hold a valid licence for driving a motorcycle and have a validating document with you. We say “almost” because there are some exceptions: in Bali you can obtain a driving permit by taking a test on the spot. It can be obtained at the police station in Dempasar: if you pass the practical test, then pay a fee of 45 US Dollars, you will be given a tourist driving licence that is valid only on the island.
As a rule, the international driving permit follows the limits of category, power output and power to weight ratio indicated on your own national licence. Trying to be smart could be risky. Above all, this goes for those who decide to rent a 2-wheeler (whether a motorbike or scooter) in South-east Asia but underestimate the regulations and driving difficulties. In these countries, with roads that are often rough and cities where the traffic reaches levels of pure chaos (one of the worst is Ho Chi Minh City), the statistics on road accident fatalities are shocking (above all in Thailand and Vietnam).
In the event of an accident, the insurance policy that you have taken out (which we highly recommend) linked to the vehicle or the journey, will not be valid if you do not hold a licence that is required and recognised in the country where the accident happens. And it will not do so if you are driving while drunk or driving without a helmet where this is compulsory.

 

LICENCES, COUNTRY BY COUNTRY

 

Brunei: International licence. Drive on the left.

Cambodia: Conversion of the international licence to a licence issued by the Cambodian authorities. This conversion costs around 25 US Dollars. It should be noted that often the rental cars and motorbikes provided offer poor guarantees of safety. Helmet compulsory.

Indonesia: International licence. Drive on the left.

Bali: International licence. It is possible to obtain a local tourist licence by passing a practical test on the spot (only valid here). Drive on the left. Helmet compulsory.

Laos: International licence. It should be noted that, often, cars and motorbikes provided for rental offer poor guarantees of safety. In any case, if involved in road traffic accidents, more often than not, foreign citizens are called upon to pay damage compensation to third parties, both for people and things.

Malaysia: International licence + currently valid national licence. If one of the aforementioned documents is missing, you will have to apply for a Malaysian licence by following the local procedures.
Helmet compulsory.

Myanmar: Licence for visitors, issued upon presenting an Italian licence or international licence to the local police in Yangon. By Burmese law, any driver involved in a road traffic accident with a pedestrian is always considered to be guilty. Maximum care is recommended when driving.

The Philippines: The international licence is recognised according to the model of the Convention of Vienna (ratified by the Philippines on 27/12/1973). Use of a national licence is generally accepted by the local authorities for short periods (up to three months from entering the country); in any case, the proper translation in English, declared compliant by the Embassy, is required.

Singapore: National licence with official translation in English (again, certified by the Embassy) or Vienna 1968 or Geneva 1949 international licence. Drive on the left. Helmet compulsory for both driver and passenger.

Thailand: International licence. Helmet compulsory. Drive on the left.

East Timor: International licence. Drive on the left (but you can often see people driving on the right…).

Rental is very common.

Vietnam: Since about a year ago you can now drive in Vietnam if you hold an international licence accompanied by a national one (in the past, renting a vehicle of 50 cc or over was only allowed with a Vietnamese licence or with the current regulations, but with the addition of a visa of at least three months, so not a tourist visa). Drive on the left. Helmet compulsory for both driver and passenger.
Document updated in March 2019.