Beeline GPS review

There are an endless number of GPS app’s for motorcyclists these days, all claiming to be the best but, often they fall short. Beeline GPS is one such example that is being pushed heavily on social media at the moment.

Beeline consists of an app/device combo that can be purchased for around £145 for the cheapest plastic cased model. The interesting thing is that you can actually use the free Beeline App on its own without purchasing the somewhat expensive little remote display screen that mounts on your handlebar.

Beeline App as shown in the iOS app store

Installing the app was simple enough as was the account creation process. Once installed I played around with it to see what functionality it had before heading out on the Tenere 700 to put it to the test.

I entered a destination of “Winston Green” into the Beeline app, a small green in the lovely little village of Winston about 10 miles from home and headed off.

Now in my head I knew that Winston is north westerly from home but the compass was pointing me to head westerly/west-south-westerly so I went along with it. I did notice that under acceleration and braking the compass pointer would often swing round a full 360 degrees once or twice which I decided to ignore. After sometime it was obvious to me that I was heading too far west and that I was way too far south to be anywhere near Winston, but I carried on following the directions as given on the display.

Eventually the compass pointer swung round and told me to head north, which I obediently did and found myself on the somewhat tedious A140 heading towards Norwich. I carried on North for some time hoping that it would tell me to head east at some point.

A little while later much further up the A140 the compass pointer swung round to the east and so I took the next available turning and headed east. At this point I knew I was now north of the village of Winston and that I would have to turn south at some point to get there however, the Beeline app had other ideas!

The Beeline app Compass display showing direction of travel required

Soon after taking the turning towards the east the compass pointer turned north again, now I knew this was wrong and that Winston was to the south east of my location but I went along for the jolly! I eventually ended up in the village of Rishangles and the app was telling me to head further north, which is the opposite direction to the destination I’d set.

At this point I decided to enter Winston into my trusty Garmin Zumo 350LM GPS to get an accurate route to the destination and sure enough, I needed to go in completely the opposite direction.

So with the Beeline app compass pointer still telling me to head north I ignored it and followed the route that my Garmin had worked out only to arrive in Winston a little time later.

Once in Winston the Beeline app compass pointer got completely confused and just started going round and round! It clearly wasn’t having a good day.

The wild goose chase that the Beeline App took me on

As you can see from the Beeline app map above, it took me on a bit of a wild goose chase where I did more than treble the miles necessary to get to the destination. Needless to say I rated its routing capabilities with a “One Star” as it was by far the worst GPS app I’ve ever used!

Something else I noted whilst testing the app is that often the compass pointer would be pointing in the direction you are travelling which means you are heading towards your destination but, the distance will increase and not decrease. This happened multiple times and is very confusing. As I headed north up the A140 the distance to destination would often start increasing even though I was still south of the destination village and heading towards it.

So to summarise, don’t waste your money purchasing the little remote display that fits on your handle bars as you have all the same functionality directly on your phone via the app. Since the phone needs to be on to use the remote display you might as well not bother with the remote handle bar display and just use your phone! (And save yourself £145)

If you are serious about route planning and using a GPS app then don’t use the Beeline app, there are plenty of really good app’s out there that do a much better job than Beeline and will get you to your destination.

If you just want some fun and fancy ending up in some random place nowhere near where you wanted to go then this is the app for you!

Thanks to my Garmin Zumo 350LM I got to Winston!

Insta360 Camera Purchase.

I recently purchased the Insta360 One R Twin Edition camera to try out on the bike and use whilst out and about. The hope is that by the time I’m able to go on the trip to Mongolia and back I’ll be proficient in the making of short videos.

Having spent many hours over the last few months trawling the market place trying to get my head around the difference between the many cameras available I found myself lost in the minefield of the 360 camera world. Eventually I decided the only way I was going to be able to make a decision and purchase was to decide what it was I wanted from the camera and then narrow down which models had those facilities and options. Once I did this I found it was actually fairly easy to choose and decided that the Insta360 One R Twin Edition gave the best bang per buck.

The insta360 One R is a modular type 360 camera giving far greater flexibility than most all other 360 cameras on the market. The Twin Edition comes with both a normal 4K lens module and a twin lens 360 module that can be interchanged in seconds. There are two battery options that also just clip on with ease, the standard and optional long life battery.

For those that want extremely high resolution video and photos there is an optional 1in sensor that has been made in conjunction with Leica which delivers exceptional quality for those that need it. More info on all the models available can be found on the Insta360 website.

Finding the right place to mount the camera hasn’t been easy. At the moment all I have is a mount on top of the front brake reservoir on the handlebars and a selfie stick which I have attached to the pannier frame at the rear of the bike.

I’ve been looking for a way to mount the camera on top of my Nolan N70-2 X helmet however, due to its design there is nowhere on the top to place one of the sticky mounts necessary to attach the camera. Ideally I need to get the camera up above my head level so that I can obtain a complete 360 view whilst riding. Resolving this is ongoing.

Not wanting to be held back I attached the camera to the two mounts that I’ve now got on the bike, headed out and made a couple of short videos.

One of the really nice features of the 360 camera is the ability to have picture-in-picture videos, this allows you to have the view from both lenses on the 360 module displayed at the same time. Handy for showing what’s in front and behind at the same time or, as shown below front view and rider.

Short video snippet showing picture-in-picture capability (shot in 5.7k 30fps)

The quality of the videos is extremely good as are the colours. The insta360 app that I use on my iPad Pro to do all the post editing on is extremely good. it’s fairly easy to use once you get used to the terminology and has some really good tutorials built in to help the beginner like me!

The insta360 app also has a number of built in effects that help you to apply special effects to your video shots. This can really bring the videos alive and is something I need to spend more time on to get the most from the camera.

30sec 1080p snippet showing some of the effects that can be applied to videos

There is so much functionality available in the app for the insta360 range of cameras that it’s going to take some time to learn how to use them all and apply them to my own footage. Once the weather improves and summer eventually arrives I’m hoping to get out and record some footage and start producing some video content for the TOTU channel.

The insta360 One R camera is also capable of taking 4K flat and 5.7k 360 degree photos. Once again you can apply many effects to the photos and even create photo slide shows with stunning visuals and audio all from within the iPad app.

Once I’ve created the video snippets using the insta360 app I then import the footage to iMovie on my iPad Pro and stitch it all together to create the final video for upload. It’s a fairly long process but, it’s a lot of fun if you can cope with the steep learning curve.

Having a bit of fun with the shopping!

The video above has attracted the most comments on social media and yet it was actually the simplest to create. All I did was put my crash helmet in the shopping trolly and attached the camera to the side of it, switched it and and grabbed a few groceries. Once back home I ran the footage through the app and applied the 32 x speed increase, some background music and a 360 degree barrel role effect to the end of the footage as I was leaving the store, imported it to iMovie to add the #TOTU ending and then exported it in a Youtube acceptable format. It really was very simple to do and yet the overall effect is quite good.

I’m off to Wales with Ben and Sean in the next few weeks and then I’ll be heading to the ABR Festival so, I’m hoping to grab a load of footage and hopefully create some content for the site. It will be interesting to see how it all comes out!

That’s it for the moment, more soon …

Fitting the Tutoro Automatic Chain Oiler

I’ve used Tutoro chain oilers for a number of years now. The great thing about them is the simplicity. They have no requirement for 12v power or vacuum from the inlet manifold like many other oilers do, they just use the natural up and down motion of the bike to control the oil flow.

The Tutoro oilers come with most of the fittings that you’d normally require however, none of them really worked on the Tenere 700 and it was soon obvious that I was going to have to make a mounting bracket for it.

The basic Tutoro Oiler kit as supplied

Heading off to the workshop with nothing but a rough idea of what I needed, I grabbed some sheet metal and started making the mounting bracket. I used a piece of 4mm sheet metal as I wanted it to be a really solid mount so that it could handle the rigours of trail riding.

Intial rough cut of the bracket

The best place to mount the oil reservoir was on the rear of the Outback Motortek pannier rack. At the point where the rear support crossbar is bolted to the left side tube there are two convenient long bolts that lend themselves perfectly to being used to mount the bracket. Spacing is tight but, with a little tinkering it fits perfectly. I had to make a couple of plastic spacers to get the position of the reservoir correct such that the flow adjuster knob didn’t stick out to far to ensure clearance when the pannier is fitted. I made the spacers from a piece of plastic rod I had on the shelf in the workshop, cut to size and then drilled the centres out so that the bolts could slide through them.

Once the final shape was reached, I cleaned the bracket up and gave it a quick spray with some black plasticoat paint to protect it from rust and then hung it on the washing line in the sun to dry.

Whilst the bracket was drying I started running the oil feed hose around the frame. I’d already worked out the route and decided that the Acerbis chain guide provided the perfect mount point for the oil delivery nozzle.

Oil delivery nozzle perfectly positioned on the rear sprocket

Running the oil delivery tube around the frame and swing arm was an easy task using a mix of cable ties and heavy duty stick on clips. I’ve fitted the tube on my other bikes using the same technique and have never had any issues even when riding off-road.

Having the Acerbis chain guide fitted was a real bonus as it provides the perfect secure route right up to the rear sprocket. Needing just two small cable ties the tube was fed through the upper part of the chain guide and then down by the side of the sprocket. This not only provides a secure fixing but, also protects the feed nozzle from flying debris.

Routing the oil delivery tube through the Acerbis chain guide

Once the tube was in place and the new bracket was dry I got it all mounted and bled the oil through the tube to the delivery nozzle.

The Tutoro supplied brackets usually mount to just a single point on the reservoir but, since there are two mount holes on the base of the unit I decided to use both to get a much more solid fixing. Knowing what the trails are going to be like in Mongolia and Siberia I wanted to ensure the fixing was as solid as possible.

With another fun little project complete I’ll be moving onto the next one very soon.

Stay tuned!

Tall seats and short legs!

One of the issues I’ve had with the Tenere 700 Rally Edition is the height of the seat. Being somewhat under-tall and constantly reminded of it by the guys I ride with, it’s really affected my ability to handle the bike confidently when foot down, especially on anything other than smooth tarmac.

The standard Tenere 700 Rally Edition seat

The standard Rally Edition seat looks great and allows the rider to move pretty much right up to the tank for off-road riding however, it raises the seat height considerably compared to the OEM standard two part seat and the optional low seat. Along with being high it’s also incredibly uncomfortable. From the bottom of the seat to the top, the seat gradually gets narrower meaning that the bit you actually get to sit on is far too narrow for anything more than a 30min jaunt. Any more than 30mins and it starts to hurt, after an hour you just have to get off.

I don’t know what it is with motorcycle manufacturers today, seats are made purely for looks and not comfort. Years ago back when I was young and foolish motorcycle seats were comfortable, you could ride all day without any issue at all. The last bike I had with a great seat was my lovely Suzuki GSX1400, what a great seat that was! I could ride that bike all day without an issue, no bum ache whatsoever, a joy to sit on. Since then pretty much all my bikes have had horrendously uncomfortable seats.

OEM two part low seat

After much measuring and calculating I decided to replace the Rally Edition seat with the Yamaha OEM optional low seat. This reduces the seat height by 4cm which, when you’ve only got a 73cm inside leg like me, makes a fair difference. Of course, there’s two parts to this story, the first is the price and the second is that it comes in two parts.

Manufacturers today milk you for every penny they can get, so why make the low seat a one piece unit like the original when you can split it in two and charge double the price!

The low seat option (which is just the front 3/4 of the whole seat) has an RRP of £160.00 + shipping. You then need to get the rear 1/4 of the seat which for some reason has an RRP of £179.00, yes the smallest bit costs more than the biggest bit.

The only good thing about this arrangement is that you can choose between a passenger seat for the rear or the optional luggage rack.

Since my wife no longer rides and definitely won’t want to sit on the tiny uncomfortable passenger seat for more than 5 seconds I opted for the luggage rack.

OEM optional low seat and luggage rack

The one big advantage of the luggage rack is that it mounts where the passenger would normally sit. This brings the weight directly over the rear wheel, probably the best place it could be. If you look at most aftermarket luggage racks they normally stick out the back of the bike which means once loaded, the leverage of the weight behind the rear wheel tends to lift the front wheel making the steering vague at best and terrifying at worst.

Prodding the low seat it felt hard to say the least and had me worried at first but, after a 4 hour ride I found it to be very comfortable. It’s also worth noting that it is some 4cm wider at the top than the original Rally Seat, this small difference actually makes a big difference as it gives much more support to the hips, so no more aching hips after long rides.

Tenere 700 OEM optional low seat and luggage rack with Outback Motortek pannier frame

One disadvantage of the low seat is that you cannot move forward as far as you can on the Rally Edition seat due to it’s deeper curve at the front, a small trade off for being more comfortable and able to reach the ground better.

With the original seat I could just get one foot down on tiptoes, no chance of getting the other foot anywhere near the ground but, now with the low seat I can get one foot planted flat on the ground and two feet down tiptoe if the need arises, a big improvement for me.

Total cost?
Well after having a hunt around I found that getting the parts from Yamaha dealers on Ebay was actually the cheapest route (They would only do full RRP on the phone!), so I ended up getting the front section for £141.95 including postage and the rear rack for £149.99 including postage, total cost £291.94. A saving of £47.06 over RRP.

I’m now almost £300.00 lighter but, can confidently reach the ground making the bike much more enjoyable to ride. There’s nothing worse then having to make sure you stop somewhere where you can always get a foot down, especially when on the trails. At least now I can just stop without having to worry whether I’ll be able to reach the ground or not.

More soon …

Ride outs, new parts and an Armchair Festival

Since the easing of the COVID19 lockdown here in the U.K. I’ve been making the most of the freedom and putting a few miles on the bike.

End of the road, Orford Suffolk

Since my last blog article I’ve put almost 1000 miles on the Tenere 700. It’s been great to get back on the bike after 4 months of lockdowns and to finally start to get to grips with it. There’s still a few things I’m not happy with but, over the next few weeks/months I’m hoping to get things sorted.

Logging in Rendlesham Forest

The biggest problem I have with the T7 is the seat height, it’s just too tall for my little legs! Having just a 29in inside leg the Rally Edition seat stretches me to the absolute limit. Only being able to get one foot down on tiptoes really isn’t good for trail riding especially if there are river crossings involved where ideally I’d like to get both feet firmly planted.

I’ve been looking into getting the seat re-profiled and made lower but, the cost of doing this is almost as much as buying an OEM low seat and rear rack unit instead of the passenger seat. So after much deliberation I’ve ordered and OEM low seat and the rack to fit in place of the passenger seat. This will hopefully lower me enough so that I have more chance of making contact with terra-firma. This will enable me to keep the original Rally Edition seat so that if I ever decide sell the bike I can put it back to original configuration. The new seat parts should arrive in the next week or so, I’ll let you know how it goes.

Horsey Wind Pump, Norfolk

I’ve also purchased a pair of Oxford Hot Hands over grip electric warmers for the bike. Having had grip warmers on many of my previous bikes I’ve realised that I really don’t like having cold hands!

I decided to go with the over grip warmers as they make the hand grips slightly bigger in diameter. This makes quite a difference on long trips especially for arthritis sufferers like me. Increasing the diameter of the grips makes it a lot easier to keep the throttle open on long trips and helps reduce hand fatigue, the warmth also helps with the pain when it gets cold.

Amazon have them at a bargain price at the moment, I got them for £38.37 reduced from £69.99, bargain!

I’ll need to get the appropriate connector to attach the hand warmers to the wiring harness, but these are easily available from Eastern Beaver.

I also need to install the second 12v socket to the bike and wire it into the 10A feed that is available from the wiring harness. The OEM fitted 12v socket is fused at 2A and won’t drive much more than my iPhone. I may even rewire it to the 2nd 10A feed on the bike so that I have two 12v sockets capable of charging many devices at the same time. I’ll put together a separate article on this when I get to it.

Sean, Ben and I have all booked places for the Armchair Festival down in Cornwall in September. This is a new adventure festival and it’ll be interesting to see how it turns out. If you’re also coming to the event be sure to give us a shout as we’ll be camping for the weekend.

Well that’s it for the moment, more soon!

Walcott Beach, Norfolk

End of lockdown ride out

The end of the 4 month COVID19 lockdown has finally arrived with 29th March 2021 being the first official day that we can get out on the bikes legally!

Needless to say I took advantage of this and got out on my new Yamaha Tenere 700 that’s spent most of it’s first 6 months of life in the garage.

Obligatory selfie – Ben Jackson sporting his lockdown hair and me with hardly any hair as always!

I arranged to meet up with Ben Jackson who I met back in 2018 at the HUBB event over in a very wet and soggy Wales. This was only the second time we’d met although we’ve been chatting on Signal for some time now.

The ride down to Danbury in Essex was without event although I did note that the A12 is still one of the worst roads in Britain!

Ben with his new Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sport

Ben had got his new Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sport the day before and was dying to stretch its legs so, the timing was perfect. After a brew and a chat at the “Tea on the Green” tea rooms we got mounted up and headed out.

We rode around Danbury and Maldon for a while but, there wasn’t much to see and so headed up towards Clacton and the coast.

After a quick blast up the A12 and then cross country we finally arrived in Clacton around lunch time.

Parked up at Clacton Pier for a brew and some rather nice chips!

Clacton was heaving, hardly surprising since it’s a Bank Holiday weekend in the U.K. We snuck the bikes into a cool little spot right on the pier and grabbed some lovely chips and a brew. The two bikes got a fair amount of attention from passers by including a couple of bikers who stopped for ice cream!

On leaving Clacton we found a neat little nature reserve that was in an old quarry in Fingringhoe and spent a little time taking photos and playing with slo-mo video on our phones. It didn’t take long to realise neither of us were particularly good with video and would need some practice before we did any trips!

Mike checking the lean angle in Fingringhoe, Essex.
My attempt to capture Ben in action in slow motion …
Baby Blue Eyes and Momma Africa parked up at the Nature Reserve Gate.

Sadly Ben’s attempt to take a slo-mo video of me came out as a bunch of photos with just a part of me in the frame as I went by, so I won’t embarrass him and post them here 🥴

It wasn’t long and it was time for us both to head off home, Ben back to Kent and me back to Suffolk. Getting home I found I’d done 193 miles over the day, not bad for a first rideout. Ben had hit the magic 200 miles!

Hopefully we’ll get more rides together planned and maybe even some weekends away camping.

More soon …

Time flies whilst the world stands still

It’s been quite a few months since my last blog entry as I’ve had nothing to write about. Having been in COVID lockdowns of various varieties since November 2020, we’re now half way through March 2021 and still in lockdown, unable to leave our homes yet alone travel.

For months now I’ve been watching other peoples travels on YouTube, Netflix and Amazon Prime to help keep my sanity. I think I have now watched just about every travel video there is to see.

Today I came across a video on Youtube that peaked my interest, not the normal kind of thing that attracts my attention as it doesn’t involve motorcycles, but very interesting none the less.

This video was all about a couple of chaps who dared to travel across the Sahara Desert on an Iron Ore train. Not the most comfortable method of transport as it involves sitting in an open ballast wagon for 20 hours or more whilst the train trundles across the desert.

Now I’m not a train spotter or have any interest in trains however, this trip really interests me and I’m now looking into how feasible it would be to try the same trip once we’re allowed out again.

Take look at the video and see if it appeals to you!

History of the Ténéré

I thought I’d post this video from Urge to Ride here as it’s the most informative Ténéré video I’ve seen to date!

The video goes through pretty much most of the history of the Ténéré from the very beginning to current day, well worth a watch!