Save Your GPS

Ok, up front, I know a lot of riders think having a GPS on a motorcycle is some sort of sacrilege.  After all, it's the ride, not the destination right?   

Have you ever been on a ride when the sun is going down, or the rain is coming down hard or you're in the middle of nowhere and running low on gas or you really just want to find a place to park and spend the night, find fuel or you're simply hungry?   A GPS can solve all of those problems with a push of a button.  They can find hotels and motels near you or just a simple campground, they can tell you where the nearest gas is or where the nearest restaurant (you get to choose the national origin of the food) might be and the fancy ones can even get you to those places turn by turn telling you exactly how far to your destination (important when the gas is running out) and time you should arrive based on current speed.

Or, you can just use the dang things to get from point "A" to point "B"

Actually this page isn't designed to sell anyone on the merits of having a GPS with you.  /files/includes/images/gps_tether_guts.jpg (59372 bytes)It's to help protect that investment should something go very very wrong.   You hit a bump or pothole, your GPS mounting cradle quakes and lets go.    Is this something you really need to see in the middle of the road?  Your $500 (give or take) electronic gizmo scattered, guts open to the wind lying dead in the middle of the road?   Nope.

So how do we prevent that from happening.  We create a tether or leash of some sort.  

The following is how I made mine, you might copy this or come up with something far more creative.  The objective is to keep the GPS with the bike no matter what happens, at least long enough so you can pull over and either re-connect it to the cradle (or however you have it mounted) or stash it in a saddlebag for a time when the road isn't quite so unforgiving.

What You'll Need

/files/includes/images/gps_tether_keyring.gif (23369 bytes)1 - Key ring that separates easily.  The one you'll see in the following photos came from The Home Depot key department (as did the cable)/files/includes/images/gps_tether_parts.jpg (43777 bytes) 

1 - Length of 1/16" cable. Length determined by where you mount the GPS and where you intend to attach the other end of the cable (bike end)  I'd suggest keeping it as short as possible so the GPS can't fall far but also isn't likely to swing and smash into something on the bike (or you).

4 - (or so) crimp type wire splices or just electrical crimp connectors.  Those little round split lead fishing weights would work too.  Just squeeze them together over the cable and if you want to make it extra secure, put a little heat on the weight to make the slotted part vanish.

1 - 1/16" drill bit


How To Do It

If you're lucky, your GPS will have a natural place to attach a cable.  If not you may /files/includes/images/gps_tether_front.jpg (44596 bytes)have to get a little creative but try to plan ahead.  Does the unit have to mount in a cradle on the bike then /files/includes/images/gps_tether_bottom.jpg (56581 bytes)another kind of holder in a car?  Make sure wherever you attach the GPS end of the cable doesn't interfere with either mounting solution.    In my case it's a Garmin 2610 with no little ears, no easy place to attach the cable so I drilled a 1/16" hole at the very front of the GPS base  as shown in the photo (right) and the underside of the mounting plate (left)


Notice the looped cable at the top of the photo above and at the end of the cable (inside the GPS mount in the same photo).  Those are the crimp connections you've liberated from the plastic insulation that normally surrounds them.  A Dremel cutting wheel makes short work of the plastic without damaging the metal connector, a hacksaw would probably be as simple.  I'd suggest keeping the GPS end of the cable as short as possible just so it's easier to store and carry and you can't inadvertently scratch the screen.

On the bike side you'll be doing the same thing.  Make a loop of cable,  secure it with a crimp connector (you don't have to use the whole tube, just half will get the job done) then pass the long end of the cable through a 1/16" hole or your choice of mounting point.   You could even use an electrical eyelet connector under an existing bolt and crimp the insulated portion over your cable.  

At this point you should have the GPS mounted in its normal position on the bike and the quick release key ring attached to both loops so you can determine how long your second piece of cable needs to be.  (make sure you have the side that's simpler to release facing toward the rider).

Crimp your second cable and you'll have something similar to this

/files/includes/images/gps_tether_mounted_front.jpg (60229 bytes) /files/includes/images/gps_tether_mounted_side.jpg (83166 bytes)

So, if something really bad happens the worst you'll see is this /files/includes/images/gps_tether_dangle.jpg (125871 bytes) Notice the GPS can not hit the tank or anything else hard and potentially damaging both to the GPS and the bike.   The key ring makes the disconnect a total no-brainer.

Maybe the best part can actually find all these parts at any old hardware store, even Lowes and Home Depot.