XT660R

Numbers

Front Axle Allen Key14mm
Rear Axle Nut22mm
Chain Slack40-50mm
Spark PlugNGK CR7E
Front Brake PadsEBC FA209/2
Rear Brake PadsEBC FA213
Oil2.9L
(fill 2L, pause to let it flow down, fill last 0.9L)

Equivalent parts

The brake pads are the same (both front and rear) as a Husky 701

Footpegs are compatible with the XT250 (08-18), YZ/WR 125/250/500 (91-96), YZ80 (91-04), XTZ750 Super Ten (89-18) and Husky TC85: https://pivotpegz.com/search?q=PP-16

Podcasts

I keep talking to people about podcasts, so here's my list of the ones I've probably recommended at you:

Ones I listen to regularly

  • Page 94, the private eye podcast - detailled stuff about stories they're running, you don't need to read the magazine for it to make sense
  • Dan Snow's History Hit - different historian each episode (normally plugging a book) 30-60min of explanation about a different niche of history each time. really annoying ads though
  • Rex Factor - Old, going through all the kings & queens of British history making top trumps cards for each of them. One per episode.
  • Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast - he interviews a comedian each fortnightish, rife with in-jokes and you really ought to get his comedy.
  • More Or Less - Takes some facts, figures or stats from the recent news and explains why they're interesting, remarkable or wrong, and/or how they were calculated.
  • The Allusionist - Etymology and words in general
  • The Bugle - News/satire/bullshit
  • The Tip Off - Reporters describe the process of investigating and breaking their big investigative stories
  • 99% Invisible - (american) About design, largely the bits of it that aren't that obvious
  • Smart Enough To Know Better - Two Australian science teachers entertainingly talking about science and stuff
  • Twenty Thousand Hertz - (american) about sounds and sound design in a "I'd never thought about that" sort of way, rather than anything too niche and nerdy
  • Radiolab - (american) Well-made and designed science documentaries
  • Radio 4 Comedy of the week - A single episode of a comedy from the R4 schedule from the previous week. Always a single episiode so if you like it you often have to find it on iPlayer to get the rest. Also there's a good chance you'll not like it on any given week.
  • Freakonomics Radio - (american) Humans often act irrationally, which has confounded economists in the past and lead to the creation of "behavioural economics". This show describes and explains some of those weird things humans tend to do; it's very accessbile though does have the odd episode dedicated to interviewing an economist.
  • Friday Night Comedy (Radio 4) - One of The Now Show, The News Quiz or Dead Ringers, depending on which is in the friday-night comedy slot on R4. Always a satire show.
  • International Waters - Pop-culture comedy quiz show about US/UK pop-culture. One team is American and gets questions about British things, the other is British and gets American questions.
  • The Bottom Line - Essentially a podcast about how business works. Each episide has a question or theme, and a panel of leaders from relevant businesses discuss and explain it.
  • New Statesman - A sort-of political/newsy round-up show that doesn't irritate me with its partisanship.
  • Invisibilia - Examines beliefs, ideas, common assumptions and how they unexpectedly or quietly affect how humans behave.

Ones I've listened to before but for one reason or another stopped subscribing:

  • No Such Thing As A Fish - by the QI researchers and is mostly trivia (with the same sometimes-made-up problem as QI proper)
  • Answer Me This - Listeners send in questions, Helen and Olly answer them. Largely social/political situations and opinion, rather than trivia
  • The Naked Scientists - science news, not very jokey
  • The Week Unwrapped - Current affairs show about now-small stories that are expected to become more important in the future. I used to listen to this but got really annoyed with one of the regular guests and so stopped. She might not be on it any more and/or you might not find her annoying.
  • Reasons to be Cheerful - Each episode focusses on either a problem for which there are some emerging solutions, or a single large solution to a problem. The focus is on upcoming political positives and improvements.

I finally gave in and bought a garmin

This is written 'backwards' - as time passes I'll come back and update it with my most-recent impressions at the top so it's immediately accurate.

For some context on the "giving in", I've a separate post on motorbike satnavs.

First Trip

I went round a bit of the TET and used the Garmin as my main navigation tool for it. The idea was to just follow the GPX downloaded from www.transeurotrail.org and follow it, occasionally routing off it to find things like petrol stations.

So, the Garmin is very good at drawing a line on a map, which is all it can reasonably do with a GPX that involves trails; even with the Talky Toaster OSM maps it was very unreliable at turn-by-turn on the trail. I wasn't comparing directly (and I've never ridden those trails before) but it felt much less useful than Locus Maps' off-road navigation.

Bafflingly, while the Garmin Connect app lets you send locations to the satnav, you can't send routes. The only reasonable way to plan routes mid-trip is to use a USB OTG cable and/or micro-sd card reader. The unreasonable-but-expected way is to just carry a laptop with you... I'd opted for the latter for several reasons, and found that basecamp relies fairly heaving on having a proper mouse, too, since that's the only not-infuritating way to zoom onthe map...

I tried using the tools I'm used to (Viewranger and Locus Maps on Android) to create GPXes and send them to the garmin to create on-road routes, but it *always* complained that there were too many "waypoints2, and offered to convert them to "shaping points". I don't know what the difference is, but often I seemed to get the right sort of routes, though I don't know how reliable this is.

So, generally, I stuck to having it just draw the GPX route and follow it by keeping an eye on the screen, which is fine at dirt-bike speeds. I did try to use it to find things to use - petrol stations, restaurants/cafes, motorbike shops etc. - and it was all but useless at this, to the point where I think I must have got something wrong. It was *always* faster and easier to use my phone and either transcribe the postcode, or send the location to the satnav.

I think that most of the obvious failings of the device - that you cannot reasonably view or plot maps on it because the screen resolution is so poor - is probably explainable as a result of it needing to be a resitive touch screen and those having a poor resolution. I've not really researched it, but I want to believe there's good reason my £350 navigation device is so bad at navigation. And I've not yet managed to explain why it takes so long to render the map.

I can now see myself using this for trail riding and off-road biased trips where I can create a GPX route and send it to the device and have it drawn on the map. I haven't yet worked out how I'd make it work on an extended road-riding trip, where I'll need something less prone to reinterpretation than a GPX route. But I haven't yet looked.

Second Impressions

(23rd Sept)

I’ve resolved to try to not have fully decided how good an idea this was until at least post-Christmas, but from a first week-and-weekend’s riding (some commuting, two blood runs and a day’s errand-running) this is better than my phone at:

  • Plugging in one-handed
  • Not worrying about charging
  • Always being a satnav and never accidentally-switching to something else

And worse at:

  • Sending me to petrol stations that haven’t existed for five years
  • Finding its position quickly
  • Recalculating a route quickly when I turn off (perhaps because of a road-closure that’s been in place for years…)
  • Creating a route on-the-fly out of a series of waypoints
  • Showing an overview map that conveys much information

I expect some of this this will get better and the rest just more-acceptable with time, but I’ve really not had the “why didn’t I do this sooner” thing that I keep hearing about other people doing.

The "Favourites" feature is very crude and unconfigurable (which it may be worth me figuring out Baseamp to fiddle with?) but the Garmin Connect app installs itself as a mapping thing, so when you "open" a location on the phone (from a calendar event, say) you can send it to the satnav. I suspect that I’ll carry on using my phone for storing locations and whatnot, and just send them to the satnav as I'm used to sending it to a satnav app.

Right now, I think it’s worth having (and will feel less lacking if I can move more audio-player controls to my headset from my phone) and I’m not really thinking about just getting shot of it yet, but I can’t see myself becoming one of those people who advises other people buy one. This is definitely lacking in almost every way compared to CoPilot and friends, and I’m not (yet) convinced that that’s just familiarity.

First Impressions

It's 20th September and it's arrived!

Out of the box, first impressions are not great; they're still using the USB socket that's so old that I know it as "the one GoPro use", and I don't even have a GoPro (or any of those cables):

The bracketry is all easy to fit and the lead's surprisingly long and thing; the 12v/5v step-down box is partly along the wire, but does mean that it doesn't *need* to be on the bars or right by the battery, and is easy to hide away in the plastics.

Bizarrely the screen seems to only have a landscape mode. Hopefully I'll figure out where that setting is later.

Picking One

There's very limited options here, really. The Zumos have the widest selection of features and are the most-modern, the Montana is specifically aimed at off-road riding, and the Monterra is actually an Android device and so may solve all my problems.

The Monterra is an Android 4 device (Android 5 came out in 2014; 4 years ago at time of writing; 8 is current) so even if the apps I like now do work on it, it's likely they will stop at some point in the future. This was clearly Garmin's experiment with Android, and they've sadly decided to not keep it up.

The Montana is the one everyone recommends, because it's got an 'off road' mode and an 'on road' one. The off-road mode doesn't appear to add anything; it's not any more aware of rights of way than the road-mode one and is still largely used to display GPX routes. The on-road mode is much more primitive than that found on the Zumos.

The Zumo can be loaded up with an off-road map (courtesy of TalkyToaster, who is recommended for the Montanas over Garmin's mapping anyway) and can have a GPX file displayed over the top. While you can trivially switch between off-road and on-road on the Montana, it seems you can do similar on the Zumo just by changing whether the map has just-roads or everything on it. It's also got the much-better road mode, and the modern ones have some sort of smartphone syncing.

Motorbike Satnavs

It's often said that a standalone satnav is far superior than a smartphone app, often for a multitude of reasons that are demonstrably wrong ("offline maps", "better signal", "better routing"). Here, I aim to compile all my related arguments on the topic :)

Relatedly, I did give in and buy a Garmin, and I'm documenting my finding out what I've been missing separately.

(Android) Apps

There's no technical reason for apps to be less good at the important bits than a normal satnav - smartphones have plenty of storage space for maps, use the same or similar GPS and GLONASS chips and are at least as likely to be able to use GSM and WiFi to get better/faster fixes. There's some obvious benefits, too (drawbacks are listed further down): a smartphone is more of a general-purpose computer so you're less dependent on the way the satnav happens to implement podcasts or music, and can just use whatever app you prefer. You're not tied to any particular route-transfer options since you can just email them to yourself, and you can use the web browser to look up addresses not already in the device. Get your calendaring and route planning right and you can turn up to ferry terminals with the booking reference appearing on your screen as a notification. You can even use multiple satnav apps - mid-route I'll often switch to a different one to find a petrol station or lunch stop, for example, and I use different ones for road and off-road riding. Finally, the hardware's generally better - the maps render faster, the screen resolution is much better so looking at maps when looking at an overview of the route, or modifying it, is a much more pleasant task.

I've used some of them recently (all on Android):

  • Google Maps is generally regarded by anyone who has tried anything else as the least-good option, but it's catching up and is workable if you're not interested in plotting a route (and instead just want to go to your destination). Annoyingly it's also everyone's first impression of using their phone as a satnav and tends to be off-putting. Its points-of-interest are its real feature; I keep it around to use when I'm already in a town and want to find a restaurant or something, but I'd hate to have to use it to do anything substantial. It can now do offline maps, but only of areas/regions rather than whole countries, and insists on a re-download every month or so. It recently gained support for multiple waypoints, but if you cause it to recalculate for any reason (by going off-route) it'll recalculate directly to the destination rather than considering all your waypoints.
  • I think CoPilot's the best for plotting routes with several waypoints, though they've recently 'upgraded' it and removed the drag-and-drop route planning. The UI used to be an acquired taste, and by the sounds of things it's still rather odd (I'm quite used to it, though, so a bit biased). One of the big features for me is that you can set 'Routing Profiles' where you can adjust the priority/cost of using each road category, and save a series of profiles - I have a 'rideout' one that generally sticks to good roads, a 'Dirt Bike' one that sticks to shit roads, a 'No Motorways' one that does what you'd expect, and a 'Normal' one that's like all the other satnavs. The other is the "POI Alerts" (which are confusingly in the "Safety Alerts & Warnings" menu); you choose a series of POI categories and a range, and a little icon appears on the map display when a matching POI is in range and on- or near-route. You can tap on the icon to scroll-through them, and there' s a button on each to set it as the next waypoint on the current route. As to downsides, the traffic service is largely useless (though the display is good) and the 'cloud backup' doesn't work. I think it's about £35 to get CoPilot premium and the UK maps. You get a few days free as a trial, during which there's no voices for navigation (but still icons on the screen) and no automatic recalculation - you have to hit a button on the screen. (CoPilot removed the Routing Profiles feature in ~Dec 2018)
  • Here Maps, is excellent as a take-me-to-a-postcode app; it's now my default for simple routes. It can't do multiple-waypoint routing, but it much simpler and clearer than TomTom, with decent traffic estimates (when you've got data on) and speed camera warnings, and it's all free. You can download the maps or use them online, and it's completely free in either case.
  • Locus Maps somewhat uniquely can do turn-by-turn GPS off-road and over an Ordnance Survey Map, because it can use OpenCycleMap mapping (which does mean you need to be careful about your routing, to make sure you're not automatically-routed down bridleways or other routes bicycles may go down but motorbikes may not). It's got a very capable GPX viewer/editor and is pretty good for categorising routes and POIs (even if you just export them to other things). I'm not sure which features are in the pay-for app but not the free one because I was rather hasty with buying it.
  • OSMAnd really is map first and satnav second; it can do turn-by-turn navigation, but it really feels like an afterthought. What it's *really* good for is storing and managing loads of points of interest of your own. Using an online map it's also fantastic for 'normal' points of interest. It's largely replaced Google Maps for me now for the "Where can I get breakfast nearby?" type of problem. It did take several goes at turn-by-turn for me to get the settings 'right' for me.
  • The TomTom app's fine; it's like the modern TomToms (not the Rider V1/2, but the 300 series); the UI is really modern feeling, but a bit surprising and oddly lacking in features. I've not yet managed to plan the route I actually want to do in it, and while it's got this neat 'timeline' down the right hand side of the screen to tell you where on your route any roadworks and petrol stations are it doesn't give you any information about them (like how far away they are). It does have a really handy thing that keeps track of your average speed in average speed camera zones, though. It feels polished rather than finished, really. It's £30/year, but you get 50miles per month indefinitely as a free trial (maps are free). Aside from the average-speed zone handling and familiarity with the TomTom interface there's no great reason to get this over Here, to my mind.
  • Navmii's completely free, but the user interface is pretty surprising. I know people who've got used to it, though, and now don't mind it. You get one country's map free with the install and it's actually pretty good at points of interest, but it doesn't do anything exceptionally well - I can't think of a reason to use it over Here Maps.
  • Navigon is Garmin's app. It's long been famed for being atrocious, I'm amazed it's still on the play store.
  • Waze is now a Google product, but it's actually good :) For a long time its main feature was the community - it's all about showing you user-reported cameras, accidents, and traffic. Surprisingly, it still works for that, and despite being Google underneath it seems a pretty reasonable satnav, though I've not used it for a couple of years.

Standalone units

Weirdly, when this argument comes up on forums and suchlike, the people arguing in favour of standalone satnavs seem to generally cite features that are commonly available in all the apps (like offline mapping) as if they're comparing with a quick glance they took at Google Maps. The things that make standalone satnavs better are those that come from the 'standalone' bit, and they're almost all to do with the hardware.

If you were to design a standalone satnav for a motorbike, you'd have a bracket you can clip the satnav in with one hand, and make it such that as the satnav's put in some sort of robust, waterproof power connection is engaged so that the thing is always charging. You'd use a screen with something to prevent glare, which works well with gloved hands (perhaps resistive, and a UI that doesn't demand multitouch?)  and you'd probably have a series of hardware buttons in addition to whatever's on the screen.

When using a phone, you'll generally use a pouch or a Ram X-Grip which is only complicatedly one-handed and often obscures buttons or bits of the screen, and you'll need separately to plug in your relatively fragile, not-waterproof USB micro lead (which has until now just been dangling about) as a second step to just mounting the device. Android's glove mode doesn't really work and "touch-screen compatible " gloves rarely are and that really bright and vivid screen that's great for looking at photos (and maps) isn't great for glare (and a case is only going to compound that). Iphones only have one physical button, and of Android's three, one's famously unpredictable.

I don't know many people who have started using a dedicated satnav in the past four or five years. I know lots of people who last used one four or five years ago (in the days of the Rider 2 and the Zumo 550) and have been put off them for life (I'm in that camp). Everyone I know who uses one now, though, used one back then.

It's really hard to get a decent go on a dedicated satnav, though - none of the people selling them seem to think that offering test rides is particularly worthwhile - so I don't really know much about the options hardware-wise any more, and I've been told that extrapolating anything from my use of a Rider v2 and a Zumo 550 would be incredibly unfair.

What I do

I don't think what I do is necessarily universally right, but it works for me. I almost exclusively use my phone as a satnav - I've a Cat S60 and a Ram X-Grip. I also now have a Garmin Zumo 349 which I'm trying to force myself to use more, but I tend to default to my phones.

If I'm doing any off road riding I use Viewranger to check the OS maps and plan the route (because I happen to have bought the whole of the UK in that now), and Locus Maps for navigating. If I'm doing all-road I'll just use CoPilot for planned routes or Here Maps if I just want to get to an address.