Are motorbike satnavs a waste of space?

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It’s the issue that divides households and stirs the passions. No, not Brexit, but satnavs; are they the greatest contributor to a quality ride since John Loudon McAdam or a brain-shrinking device that switches off our internal compasses forever?


Nowhere is the debate bubbling more vigorously than among MCN’s #ride5000miles members; the mile-crunching community that knows a thing or two about how to get max satisfaction from a ride.

“No GPS here,” says on and off-road loving Lee Rider. “I’ll take the occasional peek at Google Maps, but the best roads and trails I’ve been on I found while I was lost.”

R5k wise owl Kev Raymond agrees: “I use satnav for finding addresses in unfamiliar towns. The rest of the time it’s just basic directions scribbled on an old cornflakes box.

“I did a trip through France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Italy and back through France again a few years ago. The only time I turned the satnav on was to try to find a hotel in Ljubljana. Only to discover it didn’t contain a map of Slovenia!”

A list of directions taped to your tank won't run out of battery

“None of my bikes have a satnav,” says Barry Thompson. “I’ll only use the phone to find a location if it’s time critical. I’ll often go down roads I don’t know in order to get lost.”

Alexander Thorpe speaks for many when he says: “Satnav ruins the very things I love about biking. I much prefer heading in a general direction and getting there sometime.”

“It would be a good idea to also go back to solid tyres, external oiling systems and drum brakes,” counters Charles Philip Gildersleve. “What’s wrong with progress?”


“It would be a good idea to also go back to solid tyres, external oiling systems and drum brakes.” – Charles Philip Gildersleve


According to Emma Miller, nothing. “After a lifetime of getting lost and only this year learning how to use a satnav, I am a total convert. I’ve enjoyed trips that would have been impossible before. Now I go where I want, when I want, I know what time to leave if I am meeting someone, or I can select a bendy route and please myself.

“If I fancy a different turning to see where it goes, I do, but it’s great to know the voice in my ear will put me right if I want it to. I’m not giving mine up for anyone.”

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