Review

Trailtech Voyager Pro

Date: May 2020

The Impetus

Having ridden through Europe and Africa with two of these units, we feel we have a pretty decent understanding of these units and feel qualified to do provide our opinion.


What is this?

The Voyager Pro from Trailtech is a high-end GPS based Information Display unit.

It is primarily aimed at the off-road adventure vehicle market.


There is the standard Voyager unit and this one, the Voyager Pro.
Do not confuse the two.


The Crux

An amazing piece of kit with loads of features as well as potential... although not without some serious shortcomings.


The Damage: $600

This is a fair amount of money, so please do read this review prior to splashing out.


www.trailtech.net/voyagerpro

Pros:

Screen Quality is Exceptional
High Accuracy
Clear Basic Navigation - ATCF
Easy to Operate and Update
Easy Install and Removal



Cons:

No Simultaneous Nav and Buddy Tracking
Buddy Tracking Disabled in Europe
Cannot Charge Without Cradle
Cradle Design needs improvement
Expensive







Whats in the Box?

Now this does depend on which version you purchase, ensure you purchase the version that is applicable to your installation platform.
In our case, this is code: 922-123 for the KTM 690.


1. Instruction Manual


2. Voyager Pro Unit


3. Cradle


4. Buddy Antenna


5. Tachometer Cable


6. Power Cable


7. Handle Bar Mount


8. Ram Mount


9. Keyring


The Unit


The unit itself is very well built. The screen is hi-res and fantastic to view, the touchscreen is very responsive... even with gloves.

The unit is very well "proofed" from the elements. Buttons, SD card slot are internally accessed features which are protected by rubber barriers and the unit material is of heavy duty, quality plastic.

The lights on the unit are bright enough to alert you visually in most environments.

There are 4 buttons on the unit and they are logically located which translates to easy pressing with gloves on. You will understand the improvement if you have used any of the earlier Trailtech products such as the standard Voyager.

These buttons basically function as:
"Power / Select", "Back", "Up" and "Down".

Although not a shortcoming, you will need to find out what works best in terms of angle and wearing sunglasses as it can be extremely difficult to read the screen under certain conditions.

That being said, a ram mount generally solves that issue as you can swivel it accordingly when used in conjunction with a RAM extender arm.

The unit has a built in battery which lasts approximately 2 to 3 hours depending on the conditions and usage. There is an issue with this which you can read up on in the issues section towards the end of the review.

This unit is generally well designed and is of high-quality construction, not some Chinese quick copy, produce and dissapear style manufacturing.







Installation

Installation is simple, anyone can do this.
You get a power connector, buddy antenna and tacho sensor in this particular kit.

You do get other cables on other Trailtech units (such as the standard Voyager) but this one is simple due to speed etc being read from GPS, so no required wheel sensor installation etc.

The cable that does not fit correctly on the KTM 690 is the tachometer due to the twin spark adaptor the KTM has for the plugs.
I have not found a solution to that yet, even though i wrapped the sensor cable around the spark plug cables etc. as per instructions.. it does not work although maybe that is just me being silly.

I did not have an engine temp sensor available, so I do not know how well that functions.
You do have the option of installing a wheel sensor, and it may be more accurate but I dont really see the need for another cable if the GPS is very accurate and you have a dash speedo as redundancy.

The included RAM mount works for RAM arms and there are two bar mounts from Trailtech which mount directly onto the handle bar.
This package came with two handle bar mounts for two different diameter bars. The KTM used the large version.

I should note that I chose to install both the RAM arm extender and the standard Trailtech mount so that I had flexibility with my phone etc.
I ended up using the RAM mount option about 7 days into the trip with a long extender arm due to positioning issues with the sunlight.

The cradle installation is self-explanatory, the unit clips in and out allowing you to remove the unit from the bike when it is unattended. Issues with this are described later on.


Features and Functions


Navigation

So, we will start off with the main reason why you would acquire this particular unit, the navigation features.

The GPS navigation is basic, do not expect Google style navigation. In terms of adventure riding it is actually a good thing.
The navigation system works "as the crow flies" and it works reliably, so it is good for open areas and simple road layouts, i.e. vast areas and simple road complexity.

The maps are very detailed, and we identified a bug on the trip which would have made it difficult to navigate without a backup GPS (our phone).
In Casablanca (Morocco), as we zoomed into the city on the unit, it crashed the unit. Trailtech issued us with a custom fix in a couple of days, which hats off to them was outstanding service.

The method to navigate actually comes down to waypoints and using your brain. You get used to it.. but as mentioned.. in cities it becomes difficult, especially African cities where there is no logical layout and it is a free for all!

Did we mentioned the entire worlds maps are free?!! This we found to be a very pleasant surprise as this is where other Nav vendors really take you to the cleaners.

Loading maps is a time consuming process but luckily not a regular event, unless you moving across continents frequently.
As we said, maps are free, are large in size.. Gigabytes.. and take a while to load up.
We used a 128GB micro-SD card, loaded all the worlds maps onto it and then loaded up Europe and Africa as we went on the trip. (Only one continental map at a time).

Note: Maps can take quite a while to load when you are changing maps from the SD card.

Buddy Tracking

The other issue we looking forward to using was the use of the Buddy Tracking feature.
Now this feature allows you to see where other riders are on your units screen as well as signal your "Buddies" if you are in distress.
This would have been GOLD on our trip if it worked the way we expected it to.

Not the case...

You cannot use the Buddy Tracking feature in Europe OR while using the Navigation feature. Highly annoying.
Buddy tracking can only be enabled in certain geographic locations AND this also done automatically on the unit by using its GPS location.
If you are in Europe, this feature is unavailable due to frequency restrictions. There is no "On/Off" for it, so you are at your locations mercy.

On our trip, we found that in Europe the buddy tracking feature was disabled and not displaying at all, initially we were confused as we expected to use this valuable multi-rider feature.
We thought is may be a firmware issue, so I went about messing about with that.
We gave up trying to figure it out until we hit Ceuta in North Africa.. where magically the feature suddenly appeared.

Once we saw this, we were excited...until we found Navigation and finding your buddy could not happen simultaneously.
With that shortcoming, we hardly used the buddy tracking feature on the entire trip... just once or twice.
I think this feature is more suited to set area trail or enduro riding with its current limitations.



Connectivity

The Bluetooth etc works well connected to the phone but didn’t really use anything on the trip like Bluetooth headphones etc.
We did not play media or perform calls through the system.

I did try the telephone calls and music when installing it and I think that would be beneficial in some instances but again, not something we would use on our trip for obvious reasons.

If you have a Cardo Freecom system or similar, it becomes a bit of a pointless feature, but you may find it useful if you have a rather basic Bluetooth speaker system or require physical controls.



Rider Information

The unit does have quite a bit of information on display.
Speed, average speed, distance covered, engine voltage, (Engine Temp if you have the sensor) etc. is available and in different viewing formats.

What I found useful is when requiring a different focus, the menu options allowed detail or overview style information display which I thought was great.

As stated in the installation section, the tachometer is something we did not end up using for reasons outlined, along with engine temp. This would have been fun to see but not critical to the operations.

What did help out on the trip was the engine voltage display. I had some fuel issues and found out initial symptoms via this unit.

The story is along the lines of fuel starvation rather than battery issues, but this did make me buy a new battery as my unit was reading my charging voltage at less and less during the trip.
So you are not short of information which may help you diagnose other faults.


The Cradle

This is a component I would like to focus on due to it being a show stopper.

The cradle which the unit plugs into is a great idea in theory and generally works if you don’t venture into significantly dusty or wet conditions often. Being detachable has its benefits, i.e. preventing the unit from being stolen.

The cable connectors are easy to plug the sensors and power into, so removing the cradle is not an annoying operation if you need to do so.
You will also find 2 external antenna connectors and a gold built-in GPS antenna on the back of the unit.
The two antenna connections are for the included Buddy Tracking antenna and an external GPS antenna option should you find issues with GPS signal reception using the built-in GPS antenna.
There is of course the wheel speed sensor and the tach sensor connectors as mentioned previously.

.. BUT..

BOTH our cradle units started having issues about 6000 miles in and then failed while we were in the middle of the Congo jungle.
Obviously this created some serious issues.

So you require the cradle to charge the unit... so no charge, no GPS. You cannot run this unit for long if your cradle fails.

I will say that Trailtech shipped replacement, for free, but by the time we received it, the trip was long over.

I attempted to fix the cradle unit as you can see in the photos and it worked for a short time and then failed again... permanently.
You will easily see the oxidation on the connectors over time, especially on the positive terminal.
The cradle unit is sealed, so you cannot fix the wiring internally, only try cleaning the pins as you will see in the photos.


















Problems and Issues

In short...There are significant issues...
We found some serious issues with the unit if you relied on it for critical data as well as some build issues.

I think the biggest issue is the charging of this unit should your cradle fail.

The concept of these pins is great, especially attaching and removing the unit.
What would be sensible is the addition of another manual charging connection as with the other Trailtech equipment.
That would avoid the charge issue should you experience what we did.

I would not have expressed my opinion so much on this issue if it was just myself whose cradle had failed, but the both of us travelling and generally relying on this GPS is a problem.
Yes, we did have our phones but if you are familiar with mobile phone navigation on a motorcycle.. you will know very well that your phone shuts down quickly due to the heat build-up and the phones safety system kicking in, it becomes useless.
The map issue previously stated was a more minor issue, especially so that Trailtech was on that issue like a lightning bolt.
Seriously, within days they had a custom firmware fix for our trip. It was like having VIP treatment in a sense.

Another issue which occurred once or twice was what may be called a software bug of sorts.. the display just crapped out.
As I always tell my parents, turn it off and on again. That did the trick. Annoying but not a show stopper, although annoying can also reduce your confidence in something of a high-tech nature like this.
We believe it was heat and humidity in some of the places we were riding in.

Summary

I will continue to use this unit as i am a big fan, even though it let us down.
What I would do is probably buy another 2 cradles. One I can install on my other bike and one as spare.

They are $50 so not extortionate, just delivery costs from the US to the UK are crazy, around $80 or so.

Cant stress how much of a show-stopper that cradle is. That no charge scenario is a complete killer.
I would suggest that they find a way of using the previous Trailtech Voyager etc. cables as a backup solution.

Trailtech support is great, I cannot fault them for this. The system has so much potential, so I would keep an eye on it if you are not sold on this already.

All in all, despite the high cost and issues, I am still a big fan of this system.


Video Review on the way ->