Bike and motorcycle GPS systems are pretty horrendous. They’re cheap LCD rectangles that resemble some defunct 1980s handheld gaming system—and if you ever want to check the screen while in motion, you’ve got to take your eyes off the road to look down at your handle bars.
But now TomTom—a company you probably haven’t thought much about since you replaced your car’s GPS with your iPhone—has created an elegant way to track directions on a scooter (and from what we can tell, a bike, too). It’s called the Vio ($200, available now), and it’s a tiny round screen that mounts to your sideview mirror, displaying your directions right below where you’re glancing at the traffic behind you.
As pointed out by Gizmodo, it’s technically a SatNav rather than a GPS, though for all intents and purposes, it’s the same thing. Basically, the device already has the maps pre-loaded so you’re not constantly downloading them, while the Vio connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth to get your actual GPS coordinates.
To keep things ergonomic on two wheels, you can operate the Vio’s touch screen with gloves on, and if you don’t want to look at the screen, it also sends spoken directions to your headphones. (Its display will preview calls coming in, too—but seriously, don’t talk on the phone while driving, especially something as exposed as a moped.)
All of this said, my favorite bit about the Vio is that you can get one of six colored cases—which means you can match it to your bike. I’m guessing that doesn’t work as well in practice as it does in these press photos. Even still, it’s encouraging to see TomTom considering its industrial design based upon the Vio’s context—attempting to match it in form, placement, and color to what you already own—rather than slapping another rectangle on your bike and calling it a day. The Vio is the first GPS I’ve ever seen that feels like it belongs where it’s been stuck. Given that these things have been popular for at least a decade now, that’s a pretty depressing point.
[All Photos: courtesy TomTom]