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Ciaran1602

A clever sat nav alternative...The Beeline Moto

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Ciaran1602

Link: Beeline Moto

 

Experimenting with this lovely bit of kit came about after I started going for longer rides, to family and what not. Let me tell you ladies and gents using your phone's sat nav tucked in your pocket with wired headphones stuffed in your helmet is less than ideal. Last time I was in London with it the sat nav kept losing connection and it was just pants really. The alternative is spending £250 for a rubbish garmin or more on a completely unintelligible Tomtom and honestly I'm just too tight for that. Maybe I have some northern blood? :angel:

 

Anyway so I spotted this on youtube and thought I'd give it a punt. The Beeline Moto is a development of a bicycle sat nav system, the Beeline Velo, by a relatively small kickstart fund a few years back. It uses your phone as the "interface" to set routes, use GPX files and to provide auto-rerouting on the fly. Meanwhile the little Beeline itself provides a small, neat sat nav that is attached to whatever you want. Instead of having a big map it uses a "compass" style interface - the arrow points you down the direction of road you should be travelling while the little white dot in the corner tells you in what direction the next turn/junction will be. In the centre is distance counter which morphs into a roundabout or a merge symbol for motorways etc when needed.

 

You don't get a lot in the beyond a USB cable, the beeline itself and two of the most basic mounts. YOu get a 3M sticky pad or an elastic mount - the mirror, the stem, RAM and handlebar mounts are additional extras. 

 

First, fitment - how easy was fitting the mount? Surprisingly easily actually. I did it in the dark at 8pm while it was peeing it down with rain and I had no light so I hardly made it easy for me but it took about 10 minutes. Mostly this was about fiddling about with the right size rubber "cushioning" in the screw together mount. It works very well. The little Beeline simply pops in, locks into place and off you go. There is no charging function because the Beeline is good for, supposedly, up to 30 hours battery life.

 

Second, programming - The Beeline App is available on both Android and Apple. The programming works via bluetooth, it does some updates and such like to begin with which took no more than about 3 minutes. Programming a route is surprisingly easy - I tend to just leave it on "route" mode so it does the quickest mood from A to B which works fine for me. You have the option to program waypoints (I think up to 22 at the moment) Or you can use the "compass" mode which pretty much says "head thataway". The impressive thing for me is how well it works - once the route is programmed the connection isn't "necessary" as such as long as you follow the route. Rerouting is done with the bluetooth connection (and your phone's data connection), it works perfectly after a few minutes.

 

Most importantly does it work? Is it good enough? For me, emphatically the answer is yes. You get all the information you need in a quick easy snapshot. Distance to next turn, the direction, what direction on the road to follow, what junction at a roundabout and do i merge or not. That's it. I find I want as few distractions as possible on the bike and so having a super quick "glance" prompt really works for me. The routing does exactly as I expect it to for routes that I know well and, for routes I don't, gets me where I need to go. It's never yet turned me wrong.

 

Battery life wise it's not *quite* the 30 hours but I can comfortably go a week of long riding without needing to charge it. The real advantage is not having to have power for it while it's on the bike.

 

Bad points? Well it doesn't support traffic in anyway which could be considered a problem. There's clearly no actual map which I know some people would prefer. There's also no voice or bluetooth connectivity if that is important to you - personally I find them more of a distraction. The real achilles heel for some is that it's entirely reliant on a smartphone for routing and re-routing. Your device must remain connected to your phone throughout if you want the device to reroute - this may be data intensive. I have an unlimited data connection so it doesn't bother me at all but others it might.

 

Overall I think for £165 including the additional mount it's a really rounded package. It just works, in a really simple and effective way. It misses out on the big features of a full size sat-nav but is also half the price. I prefer to avoid distractions as much as I can when I'm out on the bike so having this as a prompt is very much my thing. Anyways, have a moosy, below an image when it's on the bike.

 

49628004322_811526c7c1_h.jpg

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pjm

But if it points you at a brick wall that's a bit iffy 😂 seriously though looks like a great and simple idea.

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kayz1

That looks very much like the bit of kit Vespa had on the scoots a couple of years ago, but they had one or three different coloured units to pick from.

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Ciaran1602
6 hours ago, kayz1 said:

That looks very much like the bit of kit Vespa had on the scoots a couple of years ago, but they had one or three different coloured units to pick from.

 

TomTom did it I believe,. Called it the vio. It's been discontinued now. I was looking at one prior to seeing it's no longer available.

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Tex
Posted (edited)

The Vio! That’s the chap! I looked at one a while back. I liked the fact it could be mirror mounted and seemed quite simple. 
 

 

Edited by Tex

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Ciaran1602

From what I can see on Amazon's reviews connectivity was a bit iffy. I too was prepared to take the punt though.

 

In hindsight I think a mirror mount for the Beeline would probable be better. A sideward glance is a lot less distracting than a downward one - good thing Beeline make one and they're not too expensive if I decide to get one.

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Tex

A video review from young Henry..

 

 

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Mr Toad

I really like the look of these and very nearly bought the TomTom Vio for my Bonneville. Unfortunately the Vio didn't get great reviews and was dropped.  As a result I ended up with the much more bulky but excellent TomTom Rider.

 

The Beeline and the Vio still use the GPS in your phone and is basically just a simplified additional screen for the phone which is a brilliant idea, why invest in a second device when you already have one that is more than up to the job. 

 

Let us know how you get on because I'm still interested for the Triumph. While my TomTom Rider does the job both it and the Ram mount are big,  ugly and do nothing for the classic looks of the T100. Also as it's my bimbling about bike full on navigation is fine but not essential. However, but the compass nav setting on the Beeline would be more useful, heading in the right direction but free to explore.

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Ciaran1602
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Tex said:

A video review from young Henry..

 

 

 

It was this video that convinced me as it happens. There were some early complaints that the compass was a touch iffy but Beeline themselves have been very proactive in fixing things.

 

It marks the difference for me as company that is dedicated to their product. I always get the feeling that bike stuff from TomTom and Garmin is a sideshow, an experiment. They charge a premium because they can and then don't properly engineer cheaper more accessible products like the Vio because why bother?

Edited by Ciaran1602
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Tex

Smart phones must have damaged the traditional sat nav makers in the same way they have, nigh on, killed off the point and shoot camera.

 

I have never had the slightest interest in having a traditional sat nav on a motorcycle (only use one in the camper under extreme duress) but the Beeline has a lot of appeal. Small, neat, basic, simple and affordable. Works for me. :niceone:
 

Only worry is how much data it will chew through (have another year on my phone contract then will get a better package I think).

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Mr Toad
1 minute ago, Tex said:

Smart phones must have damaged the traditional sat nav makers in the same way they have, nigh on, killed off the point and shoot camera.

 

I have never had the slightest interest in having a traditional sat nav on a motorcycle (only use one in the camper under extreme duress) but the Beeline has a lot of appeal. Small, neat, basic, simple and affordable. Works for me. :niceone:
 

Only worry is how much data it will chew through (have another year on my phone contract then will get a better package I think).

 

The trick with phone data is to download the area of Google maps you need via wifi and save to the phone so even if you lose the network you can still navigate. Also the maps delete themselves after a while so that they don't clog up your phone memory and you don't get left with and out of date map. This is how Google maps operate anyway, all you are doing is telling it advance the map area it will need.

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Ciaran1602

Undoubtedly so. You only have to look at how popular the Quadlock mount system is to see that - a lot of the top end smartphones now have waterproofing and such so with a secure case, clip it and off you go. Indeed this is what all the scooter riders in the city do - especially the UberEats and Deliveroo lot as their deliveries are all delivered via smartphones.

 

In terms of data I have the good fortune to get discounts through my other half who works for a vodafone franchise so I get their unlimited everything, max speed & entertainment sim only for £14.40. It can be tempting to go with the likes of Giff Gaff etc but these "virtual networks" piggy back off the back of the main networks. Most of them are subject to speed limitations and more stringent data throttling, not usually by their own will but by the network that supports them. For most that probably isn't a problem.

 

I'll keep an eye on my data usage and see if it makes any meaningful impact. I average around the 10gb data per month mark so will see if it increases exponentially with a few longer weekend rides.

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Tex

 

2 minutes ago, Ciaran1602 said:

I'll keep an eye on my data usage and see if it makes any meaningful impact. I average around the 10gb data per month mark so will see if it increases exponentially with a few longer weekend rides.

 

That would be useful to know, eh? 
 

I would like a sat nav that can read a map like my oldest son. I don’t want one that reads a map like my wife, if she had been an RAF navigator we would likely have bombed Coventry (and saved the Germans the bother)..  🙄

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ste7ios

Be sure that creating maps, maintain them and add useful & updated data in them can’t be for free.

 

Only Google can do that because they fund it with advertising... Anyone else must charge it.

 

The problem of TomTom today is their map updating cycle (an update may take 3-6 months to get published), their unstable software & hardware, especially for the motorcycle segment.

 

Tons of problems with their Rider devices and connectivity issues with Apple devices from day 1...

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Ciaran1602

As far as I understand it from the T3 article on the Beeline moto, their mapping is provided by Google Maps. The Google Maps platform permits developers to use their navigation system provided it is paid for, I imagine this is a significant part of the cost of the Beeline itself. Given that the device is essentially an tiny LED screen with a bluetooth connector slapped to it I cannot imagine the device's construction itself is overly expensive.

 

The risk there is that Google pulls the plug which is a fair criticism. However Tomtom and Garmin are fond of declaring their devices to be 'out of lifetime' so their lifetime maps don't cover it. No solution is ever permanent unfortunately.

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Mr Toad
17 minutes ago, Ciaran1602 said:

As far as I understand it from the T3 article on the Beeline moto, their mapping is provided by Google Maps. The Google Maps platform permits developers to use their navigation system provided it is paid for, I imagine this is a significant part of the cost of the Beeline itself. Given that the device is essentially an tiny LED screen with a bluetooth connector slapped to it I cannot imagine the device's construction itself is overly expensive.

 

The risk there is that Google pulls the plug which is a fair criticism. However Tomtom and Garmin are fond of declaring their devices to be 'out of lifetime' so their lifetime maps don't cover it. No solution is ever permanent unfortunately.

 

As it's just an additional screen for whatever phone you pair it to as you upgrade or replace your phone and Google update their maps it should be about as close as it gets to a lasting solution. 

 

As for lifetime maps on Garmin and TomTom while it seems like a great idea technology moves on. I have an old TomTom somewhere, it still works but it's about more than maps. New devices offer all sorts of stuff the older hardware can't deal with.

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Ciaran1602
Just now, Mr Toad said:

 

As it's just an additional screen for whatever phone you pair it to as you upgrade or replace your phone and Google update their maps it should be about as close as it gets to a lasting solution. 

 

As for lifetime maps on Garmin and TomTom while it seems like a great idea technology moves on. I have an old TomTom somewhere, it still works but it's about more than maps. New devices offer all sorts of stuff the older hardware can't deal with.

 

Indeed. Provided Beeline continue to update the application so the various bluetooth APNs etc from Google Maps work with it then it should be stellar. I've a new phone on the way next week so I'll have the chance to ensure swapping devices is simple and effective.

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Tex
14 minutes ago, Ciaran1602 said:

 

Indeed. Provided Beeline continue to update the application so the various bluetooth APNs etc from Google Maps work with it then it should be stellar. I've a new phone on the way next week so I'll have the chance to ensure swapping devices is simple and effective.


Another new phone? You get through those like razor blades! ;) 

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Tel

Please excuse my ignorance because I've never used a satnav but isn't it possible to buy a car satnav [which are very cheap in Halfords] and just put that in a waterproof case on the bike?

When I was tempted to try  one some time ago a lot of people online had done this to save being ripped-off with the cost of a motorcycle specific satnav.

This option would be even cheaper than the Beeline.

If I'm talking rubbish please forgive my ignorance; just trying to offer a more economic option. 

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Tel
4 minutes ago, Tex said:


Another new phone? You get through those like razor blades! ;) 

Dodgy backhand deals from his partner who works for Vodafone? Jammy so and so....:angel:

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fred_jb
47 minutes ago, Tel said:

Please excuse my ignorance because I've never used a satnav but isn't it possible to buy a car satnav [which are very cheap in Halfords] and just put that in a waterproof case on the bike?

When I was tempted to try  one some time ago a lot of people online had done this to save being ripped-off with the cost of a motorcycle specific satnav.

This option would be even cheaper than the Beeline.

If I'm talking rubbish please forgive my ignorance; just trying to offer a more economic option. 

It is not just the waterproof aspect.  Many car satnavs, especially the cheaper ones, are not able to import pre-planned routes, so are only really good for getting from A to B in the most efficient way.

 

Fine for commuting and suchlike, but not so good for leisure use or touring if you want make sure you take the most interesting and entertaining roads.

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fred_jb

Most people these days have a smartphone, many of which are water resistant, so why not use one of the many good satnav apps?

 

I use MyRoute Navigator and TomTom on my phone, with the former having excellent route planning capabilities through the associated online route planning application.

 

 

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Ciaran1602
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Tex said:


Another new phone? You get through those like razor blades! ;) 

 

It's a vice and I'll admit to it. I like buying tech stuff; I've spent more time this year taking my computer apart and tweaking with it, putting new components in it than I have using the damn thing. I tend to think as vices go it isn't drugs, alcohol or overeating plus I always recycle the old one so someone else can benefit from it. :angel:

1 hour ago, Tel said:

Please excuse my ignorance because I've never used a satnav but isn't it possible to buy a car satnav [which are very cheap in Halfords] and just put that in a waterproof case on the bike?

When I was tempted to try  one some time ago a lot of people online had done this to save being ripped-off with the cost of a motorcycle specific satnav.

This option would be even cheaper than the Beeline.

If I'm talking rubbish please forgive my ignorance; just trying to offer a more economic option. 

 

In terms of pure cost you're right it's an option and a viable one.

 

As Fred mentioned, lack of pre-planned routes. Most car navs work on a A-B way of doing things with either quickest, shortest or most economical as your only real options. Secondly they use touch screens that are often incompatible with gloves which, though not critical, is a pain in the ass. Third they're designed to be powered - A good bike nav can last maybe 2-3 hours without charging. Most car navs I've used you're lucky to get more than an hour before it's dead. Lastly no waterproof case is entirely shock proof - it might survive the rains but if it DOES come off it's far more likely to be damage by impacts than a bike nav (or so the manufacturer says anyway - I'm not entirely convinced either way but I don't want to throw the money down the road to test it!)

 

1 hour ago, Tel said:

Dodgy backhand deals from his partner who works for Vodafone? Jammy so and so....:angel:

 

:angel: Maybe. Pro tip for the less fortunate, never buy the thing from the network. It's almost always more expensive. If you've got the capital buy it outright or even use one of the upgrade finance programs that are interest free rather than get into a contract.

 

25 minutes ago, fred_jb said:

Most people these days have a smartphone, many of which are water resistant, so why not use one of the many good satnav apps?

 

I use MyRoute Navigator and TomTom on my phone, with the former having excellent route planning capabilities through the associated online route planning application.

 

 

 

Two reasons for me

 

1) I tried it on my trip to Pride and Essex last year. Admittedly at the time it was Apple maps and I didn't have any bluetooth or whatever, it was purely my phone in a tank bag. I found on several occasions it just stopped navigating for no reason whatsoever - this is probably specific to Apple Maps but it put me off a bit. I didn't like MyRoute much - Can't speak to the Tom tom app. 

 

2) I am not willing to risk the smartphone coming free of its mount. I tend to put mine in the frunk or its in my jacket where it's unlikely to get lost - even if I come off, it'll be somewhat shielded by my armour. While good mounts like quadlock will likely save the phone it's then very easy for it to get lost or further damaged by other traffic before I can locate it. With top of the line phones now costing well in excess of a grand I'm just not willing to take the punt.

 

There's no reason a good case and a phone won't work perfectly well but I'm...jittery about it. If I'm buying a 2nd phone as a throwaway navigator I might a well get something purpose built for the job.

 

 

Edited by Ciaran1602
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Tex
40 minutes ago, Ciaran1602 said:

It's a vice and I'll admit to it. I like buying tech stuff; I've spent more time this year taking my computer apart and tweaking with it, putting new components in it than I have using the damn thing.

 

Christ! That sounds like me and Percy... :( 

 

40 minutes ago, Ciaran1602 said:

I tend to think as vices go it isn't drugs, alcohol or overeating plus I always recycle the old one so someone else can benefit from it. :angel:


I was thinking of getting my name down for one of your cast offs!  :niceone:

 

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fred_jb
15 minutes ago, Ciaran1602 said:

 

It's a vice and I'll admit to it. I like buying tech stuff; I've spent more time this year taking my computer apart and tweaking with it, putting new components in it than I have using the damn thing. I tend to think as vices go it isn't drugs, alcohol or overeating plus I always recycle the old one so someone else can benefit from it. :angel:

 

In terms of pure cost you're right it's an option and a viable one.

 

As Fred mentioned, lack of pre-planned routes. Most car navs work on a A-B way of doing things with either quickest, shortest or most economical as your only real options. Secondly they use touch screens that are often incompatible with gloves which, though not critical, is a pain in the ass. Third they're designed to be powered - A good bike nav can last maybe 2-3 hours without charging. Most car navs I've used you're lucky to get more than an hour before it's dead. Lastly no waterproof case is entirely shock proof - it might survive the rains but if it DOES come off it's far more likely to be damage by impacts than a bike nav (or so the manufacturer says anyway - I'm not entirely convinced either way but I don't want to throw the money down the road to test it!)

 

 

:angel: Maybe. Pro tip for the less fortunate, never buy the thing from the network. It's almost always more expensive. If you've got the capital buy it outright or even use one of the upgrade finance programs that are interest free rather than get into a contract.

 

 

Two reasons for me

 

1) I tried it on my trip to Pride and Essex last year. Admittedly at the time it was Apple maps and I didn't have any bluetooth or whatever, it was purely my phone in a tank bag. I found on several occasions it just stopped navigating for no reason whatsoever - this is probably specific to Apple Maps but it put me off a bit. I didn't like MyRoute much - Can't speak to the Tom tom app. 

 

2) I am not willing to risk the smartphone coming free of its mount. I tend to put mine in the frunk or its in my jacket where it's unlikely to get lost - even if I come off, it'll be somewhat shielded by my armour. While good mounts like quadlock will likely save the phone it's then very easy for it to get lost or further damaged by other traffic before I can locate it. With top of the line phones now costing well in excess of a grand I'm just not willing to take the punt.

 

There's no reason a good case and a phone won't work perfectly well but I'm...jittery about it. If I'm buying a 2nd phone as a throwaway navigator I might a well get something purpose built for the job.

 

 

 

I can understand not wanting to risk your pride and joy new phone, but you can get a highly capable second hand phone for not much money and use that as your satnav.  That's what I do, and it also means that you have a backup phone while away on trips or tours, in case the main phone breaks or gets nicked.  Having said that, if you use a strong tight fitting back cover for your phone (assuming it is a water resistant type) and stick a Quadlock universal mount to the back, there is virtually zero chance of it falling off.  I use a Spigen type transparent back cover which is very secure.  It is more of a danger that you park the bike and forget to remove the phone, which I have done more than once!

 

I've been using phones as satnavs for several years now and it generally works well, though if you want to use it all day when touring then you do need to fit a 12V to USB power adaptor to keep the battery topped up. The only issue for me, and this is not specific to phones as it is a problem with dedicated GPS devices too, is that it is well nigh impossible to share GPS instructions between rider and pillion while also keeping the intercom function live.  Not essential, but I like Anne to be aware of turns and help to decide where to go when the instructions are a little ambiguous.  Even my fancy BMW TFT instrument panel which has the ability to pair to a phone and to two headsets doesn't work for this requirement, and is so flaky with unreliable pairing that I am loath to use it anyway.

 

My new Cardo headsets have better sharing abilities than my previous one, but still don't do exactly what I need.  I am currently using a Pixel 2 XL phone as my satnav, but have just picked up a Samsung S8+ on that auction site to try instead because it has the unique to Samsung ability to pair to two headsets simultaneously over Bluetooth, and share the same audio with both.  Since my new headsets have the ability to merge incoming intercom and Bluetooth audio sources so that you can hear both at the same time, if the Samsung feature works as advertised this should achieve what I want. I tried to do this by pairing both headsets to a Bluetooth splitter device connected to the audio output of my Pixel phone, but although it actually worked, the pairing was totally unreliable.

 

Here is my current setup:

 

_6K52537-XL.jpg

 

_6K52534-XL.jpg

 

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