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Backroads USA Product Review

Backroads USA

Backroads USAProduct Review:
Passport 8500 Radar Detector

by Brian Rathjen
January 2002

For those of you who have been with us for any real amount of time you know how much we detest "Revenuers." For sure we all respect the hard job law enforcement was originally created to do, but in so many cities, town and counties, the job of the police, ie: catching criminals has been steadily degraded to forcing an officer to sit behind a billboard, being very bored himself, and trying to hand Joe Public a speeding ticket; just so to fill the "nonexistent" quota. You know most law enforcement don't particularly like this duty either.

These days you have to be prepared with the very latest gadgetry to save your cash and your license. Enter the new Passport 8500 Radar Detector.

Made by Escort, the folks who have been one of the most prominent names in the field for years, the new Passport 8500 is a huge leap over their previous models.

Awhile back we did a radar detector comparison of a few different detectors, with the heaviest competition coming between the then Passport 4500 and the venerated Valentine One, or V1 as it is called. Although the Passport worked far easier for motorcycle applications (more on that later), it fell far short of the sensitivity of the V1.

Not so with the new 8500.

We have been running these two radar detectors together, on separate motorcycles for most of last season, and we have found that the new Passport 8500 is every bit as sensitive, and seems to work every bit as good as the Valentine One. In some cases even better, depending upon conditions.

During many of these trips and tours, when either Shira or I heard an alarm of an approaching wallet-grabber, we would immediately tell the other. Sometimes the V1 was first, sometimes the Passport 8500.

In the real world they are virtually neck and neck.

But there are some real differences that you should be aware of.

First off, the Passport easily plugs into any switched-hot wire you can find. Plus, to run a headphone or into a sound system such as a J&M system, you simply plug it into the very convenient audio-out plug on the side. With the V1 you need three separate pieces, including the detector to make the whole system work. If you are tight on space ... too bad. The Passport also dealt better with wet weather than the V1. Not that you want it to get soaked, but a light mist didn't send it into a tizzy!

The Passport 8500 has a number of settings, and although confusing at first you soon get used to how they work. After a few weeks we would simply leave it on Auto, or switch to the ExpertMeter, which tells you how many signals, up to 8, the 8500 is picking up and what bands they are on; 2 Ka-band, 2 K-band and 4 X-band signals. This baby can even tell you what frequency is being used. If you feel the need, punch it into "Dark Mode" and turn off the LED's for the ability to fly like a Stealth Bomber over Kabul during nighttime operations. This might seem like way too much information to be useful, but it does work, and in these days of confiscatory local governments you need every advantage you can get.

The Escort Passport 8500 lists for $309.95 and for more information contact Escort, 5440 West Chester Road, West Chester, OH 45069 or call them at (800) 433-3487. Their website is