Best Laptops for Bikers

Here's the question, what is the best laptop (brand, model) for lugging around on a motorcycle? I make my living on the Internet, and d...

Here's the question, what is the best laptop (brand, model) for lugging around on a motorcycle?

I make my living on the Internet, and do all my work through a laptop. When I'm tired of sitting here at home, I put the laptop into the tour pak of my Ultra Classic, and head off somewhere with Wi-Fi access. It's usually a Starbucks!

I've never owned one of those "rugged" laptops, supposedly designed to withstand a drop of 12 inches (when shut off completely), and still run fine when turned back on. Of course, a fall of 12 inches ain't much of a fall, and who knows what could happen to it if you dropped your bike.

Last year when I went to the Redwood Run, I brought my laptop. But I took my Road Star instead of the Ultra Classic. So, I didn't have a tour pak. Instead I sandwiched it between layers of clothing in my T-Bag. Held up just fine.

I've always bought laptops from Dell and Sony. I like the Sony VAIO line because they feel very solid, and I've always abused my Sonys and they always held up. I've had Sonys that got rained on (because I left the window open in my office), and they've gotten bumped around quite a bit. But they always held up well. My putting my vote for Sonys as a great laptop for motorcycle travelling.

One tip: Always power off your laptop when travelling with it on a motorcycle. It's not enough to just close the lid, or "log out of Windows". What ruins a laptop more than anything else is hard drive failure. If the hard drive is still running, it's doesn't take too much of a bump to crash it.

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  1. I have a Vaio too. My last one lasted 7 years and even though it is slow, it is still running strong. I retired it and bought a new one just before Christmas. These are bulletproof but I take a precaution and carry it in a Zero Halliburton computer case. It is an aluminum shell with firm padding on the inside.

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  2. I am in the exact same boat as you. I am a programmer who works out of a home office, and while I opt for one of the many pubs in my neighborhood that have WiFi, I came across this same dilema.

    I bought one of the Bikers Friend roll bags to attach to the back of my H-D Street Bob. Inside it *very snuggly* holds an Apple 15" MacBook Pro. It is the exact width and I just put my portable in a sleeve to protect its aluminum case.

    One a side note to your comment, the hard drive in my Mac automatically locks when acceleration is thrust upon it (like dropping it or riding on a motorcycle).

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  3. The MacBook Pro 15 is superb, as is the standard MacBook. If using windows use Parallels or Bootcamp. Strange, a Mac is IMO the best Windows laptop around !! Those protective sleeves are good (Gimp?). Very small and sturdy machines the Macs. http://stevechol.livejournal.com

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  4. The main thing that will kill your laptop on a motorcycle (or any vehicle I suppose) is the vibration. The vibration may shake some parts loose inside and cause a loss of connection to those devices which will then "stop working". The main reason the hard drives fail so readily is because of the moving parts associated with a hard drive. All modern hard drives have 2 or more platters (thin discs) stacked on top of each other with an arm that moves between\around them. The distances between the arm heads and the platters is measured in thousandths of an inch down to microns. When you take that spinning disc and change the orientation of it's rotation abruptly, you risk collision between the arm and the spinning platters. If they get scratched at all, you will see anything from not being able to use that area of that platter(s) to complete hard drive failure. This would be why it is important to turn your laptop off while riding. That way if the heads do touch the platters they have a greatly DEcreased chance of scratching them. With that in mind, any laptop sufficiently insulated from all vibration should be fine. You dropping your bike on it at 70mph is a different story. =-)

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