I know there are many GTT forum family members who are Motorcycle riders. I am planning a motorcycle trip and would like some input on the actual experience of our esteemed GTT family. I will try to keep this short but I have several questions and am looking for suggestions. Thank you to those who respond to help me make these decisions and use the best equipment for the trip.If the moderators think this should be posted elsewhere for maximum benefit, please do what you think is best.
Issue Number 1 - Bluetooth for my helmet.
I wear Bose wired ear buds which are plugged into an IPod classic which I wear on my left upper suspender strap under my shirt. The cord goes around the back of my neck and then I have an ear bud in each ear. Once I turn the IPod on, I generally just let it play until I reach in and either pause it or turn it off. I have about 650 songs on the IPod classic and like it outstanding battery life, ease of use plus I am just very familiar with it.
I like the fact that the Bose Ear Buds block out some of the external noise with their tapered fit. They stay in my ears and I have no issues with fit.
My bike has a set of Vance and Hines True Duels and is not annoyingly loud, but certainly not stock quiet. I can hear the music just fine and only when I am hard on the throttle does the music get swallowed up by the exhaust noise. So it's not a concern as I presently use it.
Question 1. - What do others use for listening to the music in their helmets when riding?
Question 2. - Does anyone use the Bluetooth Bose earbuds and if so, what type of battery life do you get between charges? Now, with the cord, I don't have to concern myself. But if I switch to Bluetooth on the ear buds, battery life that is a concern because when I am on the road, I often ride 12 to 15 hours per day and battery life is about 6 hours for the ear buds according to Bose.
Question 3. - My Ipod classic does not permit a bluetooth broadcast signal as it came from the factory. I have tried to add on a device I got from Best Buy to broadcast the signal but it didn't work. If you have any suggestions for a way to access the huge music library I have on the IPod classic so I can broadcast it to either wireless ear buds or helmet mounted speakers, I would like to be aware of the options and best alternatives.
Question 4. - I use a Motorola Droid Razor Turbo (something) phone which I really like. Presently, I have no way to even be aware of calls when I am riding. If I need to make a call I pull over, remove my helmet and remove my phone from it's Otterbox belt clip. Since the phone has a myriad of capabilities., I would like to have it available to me when riding. I suppose I could transfer the music from my Ipod to the phone plus I would have the GPS capabilities of my phone for use, which I have not had before while riding. What is the best technology to have access to the use of my phone, access to my music library as well as having the GPS capabilities for use while riding? I would like it to be as simple as possible, require as little integration as possible to use and to avoid running into battery troubles.
Right now it's 5:38pm , after my phone having been on since 5am today, I still have 90% of my battery life. Obviously, if I start using the phone for music, it will use more battery and the same applies to using the GPS features. I am flexible for using my phone entirely or in combination with my Ipod classic and even a separate GPS system for the motorcycle. I just want the "best" approach for being easiest to use, most dependable and not running into battery trouble. Even on a very heavy phone use day, rarely does my battery on the phone get down below 70% by night time. The battery on this phone is really good.
Question 5. - I have to admit I have not used my phones GPS features other than in a very basic sense when I have verbally asked Google to give me directions to an address. I don't know if the GPS functions on the phone vary from the functions on a stand alone system like a TomTom or Garmin which is designed for motorcycle use and mounts to the handlebars or other "dash areas". Is there a huge advantage to having a separate "stand alone" GPS system for the motorcycle over just using the GPS technology in the phone? I have always been a paper map and tank / dash bag traveler but maybe it's time to use the GPS and have the "old reliable system" of paper maps in the clear pockets on top of the tank bag or dash bag as a back up system. I am looking for instructions about the differences and any distinct advantage one may have other the other (phone GPS verses dedicated stand alone GPS).
Question 6. - I wear a modular full faced flip up style helmet. I am not opposed to having the ear speakers inserted and a microphone inserted into the helmet if it makes the technology easier to use and to avoid any extra or dangerous steps. Do you wear ear buds and have a microphone set up that is not installed in the helmet or is all of your stuff hardwired into the helmet? I like the ear bud approach and how it blocks out some of the external sound. I am concerned that the helmet speakers may not provide the same clarity and noise blocking as the Bose wired ear buds I am using. The Bose system has outstanding sound quality and once you have used it, it's hard to imagine anything else. I am looking for suggestions on the best way to proceed with the microphone in the helmet and for the best sound quality and clarity.
Question 7. - VIDEO, I have a new "GoPro" style camera I plan to use to record much of the trip. I have a bunch of the 32GB and 64GB memory cards for the video files as I travel. While I haven't used the system yet, I plan to before i leave so I am familiar with it. I would like to post video each night of my days travels (highlights obviously) so they can be shared with those interested. I plan on developing a separate website for this information and It will include reviews of the route, establishments I frequent along with tips and suggestions for other travelers and especially two wheel travelers on the same journey. What is the most efficient means to post these video files and even photo's and route tracking online? Is there a specific video editing program or what is the best way to do this? I would inagine the video clips would be a few minutes in length when done, per clip, so those interested can see the highlights of the day. I will be looking for some guidance on posting video and any suggestions on what to avoid or mistakes to not make would be greatly appreciated. I can tell you I have never posted a video even on GTT online, but it can't be that complicated if so many people do it.(not naming any specific names....)
Question 8 - Online / Live Route tracking. There are various devices out there including GPS, cellular and satellite tracking which will provide some route tracking and access for those who are interested in following the route. One device which I have used in the past is the SPOT TRACKER, which is supposed to be a combination emergency rescue beacon and general route indicator for those who you grant access to see the "live route". My "SPOT" was very "SPOTTIE" and I would give it a D- of a grade for functioning as it was supposed to or is indicated in the literature. I was unable to get it to send reliable test signals even from my driveway. Plus SPOT uses an annual "Fee" for the service which has to be cancelled within 30 days of the anniversary. They like to use the "Auto renewal" approach to catch as many people as possible in their $149 to $199 "service" fee.
I used the SPOT during a ride from Michigan to Sturgis, South Dakota during the August Black Hills Rally. It was mounted on top of my handlebars with unobstructed view to the sky. I had it set to send route information every few minutes. I encountered a tornado while riding across Iowa and I actually was at one point, within half a mile of the twister.
The winds tried to tear the helmet straight up and off my head, which was really an interesting experience because most of the time, unless you are wearing a parachute of a helmet, the wind is pushing DOWN on your head and not trying to tear the helmet off your shoulders. Of course, one of the few times the SPOT actually did provide the route tracking was when I was in the immediate vicnity of the tornado, which caused property damage and took the lives of a few local Iowa people.
So Mrs. Bear is watching the weather channel and looking online at my SPOT information because she could not reach me by cell phone (I was riding). The SPOT gave her the impression that the tornado consumed me and she was unable to reach me and on the Weather channel, she could see the destruction and reports of several people dead. She was in a panick until I stopped about an hour later to finally call her. I really wish I had the GoPro that day because as I tried to evade the tornado, it seemed to come at me head on. I was taking back road after back road trying to get away from the tornado headed right towards me and the more I turned, the closer the dang thing kept getting. I could see debris flying and finally, I got off my bike and I laid in a road side ditch while it passed by, probably not more than 3/8th of a mile away. Of course after it passed, none of the cell towers in the area worked. Also, I had to flag down a passerby to help me set the Harley back on it's wheels as it tipped over despite my best efforts to keep it upright.
Anyways, if anyone knows of a system which will help me post a live or nearly live route of my trip as I travel, I would like to hear about the product and service. I like the idea of an "Emergency Button" in case I am somewhere that cell service doesn't work. I think this would add to the interest as well as provide me some safety so Mrs. Bear can see where I am most of the time.
Tentative Trip Plans
Departure - As it looks right now, I plan to leave towards the end of July. I have some huge business cases I am concluding and once that is at a point where Mrs. Bear can wrap it up without me, I plan to be on the road.
Estimated total Mileage of Trip -
Home to Detroit - 225 Miles
Detroit to Mackinaw - 375 miles
Mackinaw to Drummond - 86 miles
Drummond to Soo - 70 miles
Soo to Marquette - 150 miles
Marquette to Copper Harbor - 140 miles
Copper Harbor to Hwy 2 - 107 miles
Hwy 2 to Western Termination end - 2,000 Miles
Hwy 30 from Western point to Home - 2,460 miles
Total Trip - 5,523 Miles
The goals for the trip are;
A. - Avoid riding on Interstate Highways unless no other reasonable choice exists.
B. - Support all "Mom and Pop" businesses. Avoid all chain gas stations, restaurants and other national or franchised establishments.
C. - Document the trip so that others can take advantage of the "Old Ways" of doing things, Two Lane Roads, Local Family owned and operated businesses .
D. - Find several unique regional gifts to send back to Mrs. Bear and my canine kids. This means shopping local small towns and looking for home made items and unique things not mass produced. I will ship these purchases back home as I travel.
The rough plan for the trip is to leave S.W. Michigan on highway 12 near New buffalo and go east on 12 to Detroit. Highway 12 was the main business route between Detroit and Chicago prior to the interstate highways. Also, I was raised in a couple of rural small towns along U.S. 12 in Branch and Hillsdale Counties and I would like to go past the old farms to see how they look. I may even stop and see the Amish family I sold the one farm to when I was concluding my grandmothers estate many years ago. I can tell from Google Maps the same family still lives there.
Once in Detroit, I plan to go right through the heart of the city through the new Tigers district where the stadiums for the Red Wings and Lions and Tigers are. I will go north along the coast all the way to Mackinaw City, where I will cross the Mackinaw Bridge and then go east to Drummond Island, which requires a ferry crossing at DeTour Village. This is the eastern most part of Michigan and within a stones throw of Canada at this point.
After some time on Drummond (which lacks consistent cell service in most areas I am told), I will tour along the Superior shoreline to Sault St. Marie and then to Marquette. I plan to proceed up the Keewenaw Pennisula to Copper Harbor and then loop around and come back down to Ontonagon and along lake Michigamme in the U.P. Eventually, I will pick up Highway 2 which I can take all the way to western Washington state. I have taken this route a few times and really like it. It is the northernmost highway which crosses the United States.
Once I reach the western termination of U.S. Highway 2, I plan to go south to pick up U.S. Highway 30 in Oregon, which is also known as the Lincoln Highway. It was the first highway to cross American from the New York area to Western Oregon and back in the early days, San Francisco. I plan to take U.S. Highway 30 back to northern Indiana, which will put me back within 90 minutes of home.
From what I have seen, U.S. Highway 30 is much more intact and not all chopped up and consumed by the Interstate Highways as is "The Mother Road", U.S. Route 66, which I have also ridden from end to end. That was much more difficult and I had to spend a bunch of time trying to back track to cover as much of the original road as possible. There were parts of Route 66 traveling which I really enjoyed including Northern Arizona and New Mexico and even parts of California. But much of the original road is long gone and now has been remarked onto the Interstate highway system. Sadly, I doubt I would ever make the effort to ride Route 66 again because my goal is to avoid the Interstate Highways and travel on the 2 lane roads of America.
So, based upon my broad route description, I will likely pass near some of the GTT members. If they the personal interest and have time to meet and the schedules permit it, I would like to meet some of the GTT people I have talked with over the years.
In Wyoming, It appears that U.S. Highway 30 merges onto I-80 at exit 61 west of Rock Springs and continues on I-80 until it leaves I-80 at Walcott, Wyoming, which looks like Exit 311. It leaves I-80 again around Laramie and then at the shared state line with Nebraska. It looks like Nearly all of Nebraska, much of Iowa and even much of Illionis and Indiana have kept the original 2 lane road of U.S. Highway 30 well marked, separate from the Interstate and navagible. I may even continue east of Northern Indiana to reach the eastern end of the Lincoln Highway for my documentation and photo / video and travelers review.
Thanks to all who respond and provide insight into the equipment they like or dislike. I want to keep it simple, but have the access to the equipment to keep the trip safe and provide the documentation I am looking for.
Also, if you have any suggestions for variations to the route to visit special or unique areas, landmarks, communities, etc., please don't hesitate to suggest them. I plan on being flexible during the trip and not running on a deadline or tight schedule. Thanks again.