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GPS Navigation System Off Road - Off-Road Notes

Posted in Features on December 1, 2005 Comment (0)
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Simplify is a word that, as you can see, has been around a long time in one form or another. There has never been a better time to think about, and maybe implement, that word into our everyday lives.

Think about it - plain, simple things look (and many times are) more expensive and work better than their gaudy, overdone counterparts. Take a look at Architectural Digest. The expensive, well-designed homes are almost always a minimalist design. In fact, the more "stuff" in, on, or around the house, the cheesier it looks. Ask someone who sews - it's easier to cover up mistakes in a dress that has ruffles and other frills than it is in a simple, elegant black evening dress.

One of the things we could simplify is our off-road vehicle, no matter what it might be. From overall concept to finishing details, gaudy and complicated features look silly and are often the first things to fail. Take, for example, the suspension. When four-link systems became popular, all kinds of pieces were devised to make them work better - or, in some cases, at all. Complicated bracketry, antisway bars, antisway bar disconnects, adjustable Panhard rods, and even ATV winches to keep the front and rear of the vehicles down when ascending or descending were used. Today, while some are still trying all kinds of contraptions to cover up flaws in their suspension system, most manufacturers, large and small, have figured out the correct geometry needed to make their suspensions work simply and well without a lot of added junk.

Now, think about the best truck you've ever seen, either off-road or at a show. Wasn't that truck clean? I bet it had an engine bay that was spotless, with wiring in looms and no unneeded garbage bolted on. Wasn't the paint simple, well done, and tasteful? The interior was probably simple and clean, too. I even like off-road vehicles that are pretty beat-up, but are still clean, simple, and, most of all, work.

While some of us don't care too much about electronics in the vehicle, some of us do. I like to listen to music in the backcountry and, of course, use GPS for getting coordinates to use in the features we write. The first GPS units were very simple and easy to use. The ones today are more complicated. It's amazing how prices have come down and features have gone up in modern GPS units, but it sure would be nice if someone built a simple, easy-to-use unit that just about anyone could pick up and enjoy, without a degree in instruction-manual reading. The receivers we can buy today are equally mind-boggling. Complicated with unneeded features to the point that there is no way you can operate them while driving - with knobs and buttons too small for anyone but my 7-year old daughter to operate - it's a wonder that the aftermarket audio companies sell any. Why can't one, just one, of these companies make a user-friendly, simple unit, with great specs and easier-to-use controls? The OEM radios are laid out fairly well, although some of them are getting too complicated these days, too. The trouble with OE radios is their specifications are pretty bad and components used, such as speakers, leave much to be desired.

Finally, I'd like to talk about my motorcycle days. I started riding in 1967 on a Yamaha Trailmaster 80. I stripped it down and had a blast on that bike. Over the years, I've owned many bikes, both street and dirt. Some, like the Harley Road King I owned, were really expensive. Others, like the Husky 640 that was my last big-bore dirt bike, worked superbly. But, and it's a big but, not one of these bike afforded me any more fun than my simple, cheap Yamaha did! So, let's simplify our lives. I bet we'll have more fun with less hassle than we have had in a long, long time.

Note to everyone: This editorial is really subjective. All opinions expressed are, of course, mine. Yours may vary.

sim.pli.fy - to make simple or simpler; make plainer or easier. [< French, Old French simplifier, adaptation of Medieval Latin simplificari < Late Latin simplus, variant of Latin simplex, -icis simple + facere to make

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