Good Day All,
I have just completed a 17,500km trip using DMD2 on a T-865, a T-665 and a T9. So I thought I’d do a bit of a review of the app and hardware. In doing so I’ll also try to answer some questions I’ve seen come up a few times on the forums and Facebook. I hope this may help someone with their questions and/or decisions.
For ease of reading and context I’ve split this into 6 parts:
- Over view of how I am used DMD2 and the riding I was doing because context is King
- My response/Opinion/View on some common questions
Now before I get into this and because it will largely be a positive report, I declare I have no affiliation with DMD-2 or Thork Racing other than being a customer.
I have done a loop from Switzerland along the coast to Turkey and then in to Iran before returning. This has been a varied mix of back roads, dirt and the last week freeway. I would say I have not used DMD2 exactly as per the design intent. Specifically, I didn’t to predominantly off road running of pre-planned GPX tracks. Rather, because I was moving almost daily, I would make a decision in the morning on where I wanted to get that day. I then selected this on DMD2 and largely followed the route like a more traditional GPS device. But, I had things like the TET loaded as GPX tracks and would jump on and off as I came across sections working with my planned route.
Just a quick bit on my back ground / experience in a hope to demonstrate that I do have some. I have done a lot of riding and driving in places like India and Australia including places such as Leh/Ladakh, Cape York and, Sandover Hwy. I have also been GPS and other navigations systems since back when we had to deal with P-Code Errors.
On this trip I was riding an AJP PR7. For those that don’t know it, it is a 600cc single cylinder. For DMD2 hardware I used the T-865 as the primary device, a T-665 as a back up and a T9 for a period.
All 3 devices were powered off the bike along with my iPhone and a truck load of other electronics including heated vests. I mention this in terms of power demand on the bike. I have the DMD units configured to power on but not auto power off. These devices and the iPhone are on charge the whole time the engine is running. I had no issues with power demand.
The T-865 is connected to an ARN Pro controller and a vLinker F5 OBD Reader – I did also use the OBDLink LX but more about that latter.
I am also an Apple die hard. These are my first Android devices and a lot of the following pains me to say.
Initially I ran the Sygic nav app on my iPhone as the primary on road navigation source and DMD 2 as the back up. DMD 2 then became primary where I had a planned GPX route or was off road. However, it did not take long for me to move to DMD2 as the primary Navigation tool and just had the iPhone running as a back up.
In case anyone is wondering why I have 3 devices. I had jumped on early with the hardware purchases and initially I bought the T9. However, in the first run, there was an issue with the power lead. Due to customs issues, I couldn’t get a replacement in time for my departure so then had to get a T-865. At this time, I thought it would be smart to get the T-665 as a back up too. There is always risk with being an earlier adopter and although I don’t believe there were many issues with the devices, my number came up. I do need to say Thork Racing were excellent in their support and assistance and offered standby a unit. The decision to buy the T-865 and in fact keep the T9.
Here are my thoughts on these devices:
The T-865 is brilliant. I have it mounted on the OEM plastic bracket. I lock it to the bike and it stays on the bike all day, even when I walk away from the bike for whatever period. I do take it off at night but, mostly as I am using it to plan the next day’s route and, as we are beta testing there are regular updates. The weather in lower parts of Europe and into Iran was a tad warm, between mid 30’s to mid 40’s (C) almost everyday for 2 months. The unit was in the sun and heat about 8 hours a day. Other than returning through the alps where the sun was directly behind me at a low angle almost constantly all day, for the rest of the trip, there was only a small window in the afternoon where I find the screen difficult to read ( made worse when the screen was super dusty). However, this just needed me to move my head about. I do not typically run with the screen locked and other than in torrential rain I had no issues. In heavy rain though, I did need to lock the screen. I have had zero charging issues. However, on one occasion where it was particularly hot and I had left the unit on the bike stationary in the sun for some time, although the T865 worked, it did not charge. As it turns out this is a battery protection feature and fantastic (once you know it exists). Unlike my iPhone which regularly overheated and shut down I had no heat, vibration or technical issues with the T865. I did loose navigation once and will explain this shortly but it was not a software or hardware issue.
I initially had the T865 connect to a fox controller because I thought this maybe better. However, I found it difficult to use from an ergonomics perspective so I swapped it for the ARN Pro. It has worked fine and I am regular zooming in and out as I ride.
The AJP has almost zero electronics and the display is basic, really basic. It only shows speed, revs and fuel and I don’t trust the fuel gauge. So, initially I connected DMD2 with an OBDLink LX. When it worked it was good but I was forever having connection issues and my morning would typically start with having to re-pair the unit about 4 times. I would say 50% of the time when I turned the engine off I would then loose the connection again. I swapped to the vLinker F5 and it is significantly more stable. I know Thork have come out with their own unit and importantly control over the firmware. I will change to this I believe it is a very similar unit to the vLinker F5 but with the added benefit of firmware it should be more suitable and stable with DMD-2.
Running in the background, in addition to DMD2 the T-865, I have two GPS speed / camera apps and, music, hot spotting to the iPhone, blue toothed to the controller, my helmet comms and the OBD 2 reader. I do not run a SIM in any of the DMD2 devices, due to the issue of getting SIM cards in different countries. Rather I use a 500gB SD card in each device with all my paperwork, GPX files, music, manuals, etc.
The T-665 is mounted on the handle bar with a RAM mount and the OEM plastic bracket. I do not screw to the mount as this is a pain because I needed to bring it in at night to plan and update. As a result, when I walked away from the bike I did remove this along with my phone. I would do this least 4 or 5 times a day whenever riding. It runs in a dumb mode in so much as it is not Bluetooth connected to anything. I would typically run it at a larger map scale and/or with a different Nav option to the 865 so I can make quick route choices. It was purely there for back up. After 13,000 km of vibration and rough roads one of the plastic retaining pins on the T-665 broke. The unit still works but sometimes the charging pins don’t align. In terms of security not even for a moment even after a couple of drops has security of the device been a concern. I have ordered a new bracket with the metal clips but I would definitely say the failure was fair wear and tear. It wasn’t smooth easy kilometres. In addition, because this was a intended as a backup unit and I needed to mount it quickly, it not in the best spot and any vibration is exaggerated.
The T9 was put into the bag as a spare. I did run it for a period but …. What I like about the T9 is it has a bigger screen and it is much brighter. It also feels more robust. To be honest, I thought the 865 felt light weight and fragile when I first got it, particularly in comparison to the T9. This is purely subjective and proven not to be true. I have zero concern about the 865 and in reality I it is a better unit than the T9. Let me explain:
Ignoring the early adopter hardware charging issues, I have had no significant problems. However, what was very clear running all the devices in parallel is both the T-865 and 665 have a significantly more accurate GPS than the T9 and a LOT more accurate then the iPhone 14 pro max. Noting DMD-2 is really a navigation system, accuracy of the GPS is a tad important.
This is a software matter but, it is important to note that DMD uses a true GPS signal and not dead reckoning system. So if you go through a tunnel you loose connection. The T-865 and 665 reconnect extremely quickly, usually within meters of exiting a tunnel and I had no real issues in built up areas or where the sky is obstructed by mountains. The T9, however, was not as quick but for the period I used it, this was not slow enough to cause a problem. I have only had one issue with GPS on the DMD2 devices and as I mentioned this was not a hardware or software problem. In Turkey, in a reasonably major town, the government jammed the signal. Of course this happened about 2km from my destination and left me in the blind. Interestingly I was running the iPhone which continued to show progress but then quickly put me about 5 km from where I actually was. The beauty with the DMD2 devices was I new almost instantly I lost signal (only almost as I need to look at the indicator). This is probably the only time dead reckoning would have been handy but it is also the first time in 30 years + of using GPS I have experienced this problem. However, noting the iPhone was running sygic which is a very good nav app for the road, it was completely lost. I managed to get to the destination by panning the nav screen on the T-865 and doing a map to ground navigation run.
Lets begin by recognising and fully understanding we are in beta and that means there will be bugs and regular updates. Being in the beta program, I t is our job to real world test the software and find the bugs. That said, I don’t think anyone can complain at the speed with which the DMD-2 Team address bugs and release updates. I only had one occasion where a bug caused by an update caused me a problem. This was a couple of months back and it effectively meant the route navigation function broken. Ironically this was a day when I started on a GPX route and switched to a navigation route. I discovered the bug, came up with a work around and within an hour there was a fix released. I hadn’t even had time to raise the issue and I actually did the updated while riding.
Most of the things I could sit here and say about the software are more wishes and are already on the “to do” list.
That said for the last month I have almost exclusively used DMD2 in a route navigation mode and I have continued to run Sygic on my iPhone. I am only doing this for two reasons only:
- Sygic displays the next 3 to 4 fuel stops on the route, and,
- Sygic’s ETA is more accurate as it uses the current average rather than the trip average.
Regarding the fuel, now João has explained to us how to convert a navigation route to a GPX file (which was fairly obvious once shown) it is good. I still use both as there is an issue with either the fuel station being open and how far off the route DMD2 is taking fuel stations into account. I could fix the eta on DMD-2 but I don’t want to clear the trip meter. When the dual or multi trip option roles come out this will be sorted so I just need to wait.
Given my experience I can no reason why you DMD-2 couldn’t be used for road touring. It is a probably overkill in terms of features and you need to be aware of you select road fun, you may get dirty tyres but with the controller it is easy to scroll out and find an alternate route. I now the DMD2 team have themselves said it’s not really designed to be used in cities but I managed without issue to use it Istanbul, Athens and a couple of large Iranian cities without issue. I actually found the ability to zoom in and out on the map really useful and made navigation in reality tight crowded environments much easier then if I was following Sygic.
DMD-2 is now my primary navigation tool. I do ignore the ETA and as I said I do run Sygic in parallel to get a better overall fuel picture but I need both DMD2 and Sygic to get this. The maps are very accurate and in places like Iran it has been accurate then Sygic. It is also significantly more stable in constrained environments.
It terms of issues, there are none that stop me or cause me to move away from the system on this trip. Most of my wishes are being worked on. My biggest “complaint”, and I hope this puts things into perspective, is the navigation instructions are to soft and hard to hear.
The only other thing to mention is map downloads and updates. These work but if you have a rubbish internet connection, which was a real issue throughout Iran it can take a VERY long time to get things downloaded. If you don’t plan this well it can be an issue and I learnt to only attempt map downloads one at a time in these situations. Where you have good connectivity, even via 4G I had no issues downloading multiple maps in a short period of time. For perspective though I had equal problems trying to download Sygic maps on the iPhone. So it’s a connectivity issue not a software/ hardware problem but important to take into consideration with your planning.
My wish list for the T-865 would be the same quality and functionality but with a screen size and brightness the same as a T9.
For the T-665 my wish would be a simple locking mechanism like on the T-865.
For all units, including the T9, the ability to use eSiM is a significant wish more so then the others I’ve mentioned, I would put this as priority 1. This is for international travel as almost every country I can get data access via eSIM but I can’t always hot spot. Having this capability would mean I could run connected all the time without hot spotting or the challenges of buying SIM cards in different countries.
My wishes for the software, excluding what’s already on the development list would be Increased volume for navigation.
I need to check with the DMD2 on the fuel display. I know it shows the next two POI’s which is ok and I could deal with this but I need to understand if I can change how wide from the route it looks. If this isn’t a user option, it may be something I would like to be able to do. So if I am in situation where I need to run a defined route and don’t have the luxury of coming off it (eg I need to do a freeway run to be somewhere at a septic time) I can narrow the width if the search (eg <100m from the route). I have not raised this with DMD-2 so it may already be in the works and again, the system isn’t really designed as a road navigation device.
Having the ability of cancel or stop / pause a map download once it commences would be nice. I am not sure if this is already possible and I haven’t asked but if not it could be useful for when you are in areas of poor connectivity.
The only other wish I would have at the moment would be the ability to incorporate tyre pressure monitoring into DMD2. This needs both hardware and software and would challenge screen real estate but would be great for me as a one stop shop by incorporating different display information into one screen (I don’t have OEM TPMS on the AJP so use an aftermarket solution).
Response to Some Common Questions
DMD T-865 versus DMD T-665 – In reality both work the same for DMD2 but I prefer the T-865 because it is a larger screen which makes it easier to use. DMD-2 is basically replacing my dash, so the real estate particularly when trying to navigate around things or look for different routes is much easier on the larger screen. The 665 for me is a perfect back up devices or, if I were to travel somewhere and rent a bike. Both are very robust, waterproof and have been hassle free. Lets be clear, they’ve been on a bike outside in high temperatures, dust, vibrations, rain and drops For nearly 18000 km have had zero issues. Out of interest the AJP bike comes standard with a tablet. The first time it rained this flooded.
I have seen some comments about being able to zoom out to see a fuel station 300km away. I think we need to be a little realistic about what we want from DMD2? Yes there are big distances between fuel in some locations and I would suggest 300km isn’t actually that big even in Australia as you can find distances well beyond that. However, DMD2 is a global solution, and probably 90% of the world does not have this problem. Even in Australia the majority of riders don’t encounter this issue unless they’re planning an outback trip. Additionally, it’s highly unlikely you find yourself “accidentally” out their, low on fuel and not having a reasonable understanding of how far away or where the next fuel is? I’d be surprised if the planned route wasn’t actually built around fueling points? Maybe, along the lines of my wanting to customise how wide the POI search was on a GPX track, extending the look ahead distance would address this (also recognizing the speed implications this may have on the software)? But scrolling out would make the system unusable in most situations? Ignoring the potential clutter for a moment, in those rare situations where you were 300km from a fuel point, scrolling out would give you barley more information then the cardinal direction you need (let’s also ignore the fact that there are probably not more than 2 roads to take to get there and you are probably on one of them). Maybe having the ability when you do a POI search to show where it is on the map when you select it, before you choose to route to it (I think DMD2 does this now though?).
To finish up, in nearly 18,000km of use very little to no pre route planning, where most planning was done on a day to day perspective and with quite dramatic changes to the original idea, DMD2 worked perfectly. I really can’t say anything negative about it without getting super petty. In fact, by comparison I could list a heap of issues with my iPhone and Sygic, which has been my global go to solution for years. Even with it in beta I would not change it for anything else or go back to traditional gps systems like garmin. DMD2 has honestly made the trip a lot easier and I would be very concerned if I lost access for any reason (in the interest of global warming I don’t carry paper maps).
For those who are on the side lines considering DMD2. For adventure and off road I think it is prefect, after all it’s what it was built for. For road only users, although it has not been designed as a road navigation system it does work very well for this too. So if you are more a road user, DMD2 provides a lot more functionality then more traditional units particularly when you factor in the ability to incorporate apps and connectivity. In addition to trips like the one I’ve just completed which can best be described as a mix of all riding conditions, I do use it for my day to day commuting. If you are strictly only staying on black top and predominantly do day trips, it will work but it is probably over kill. But, if you want to travel back roads and explore then DMD2 is really worth a serious look. Its extremely accurate, proven (at least for me) to be reliable and better by comparison to other navigation products. On top of that, there are more and more features coming out which will make it even better. The only thing to be aware of if you don’t want to get off the black top, depending on the route planning mode you use, you may get surprise dirt sections at times. But with accuracy of the maps you have the ability to quickly and simply manually get yourself around obstacles. For example, in the back areas of Turkey I was following a road / track that had not been used for a long time. It turned out the road just ended and although the remains were visible it meant crossing private property to try follow it. So I had to find another route with absolutely zero knowledge of where I was, the roads in the area or the ability to talk to anyone. I’d never been to this area before and was literally transiting through to my end destination for the day. Finding, an alternate route was relatively easy and I didn’t loose much time. Yes I could have done this with paper maps or other apps but not as quick or without any complications or without even having to turn off my bike. Doing this in the one application meant it was just a minor glitch.
I hope this information is of use to someone, particularly for anyone who is not a current user. I am happy to answer questions or provide more detail if anyone wants and safe riding all.