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Backroads USA Product Review

Backroads USA

Backroads USAProduct Review:
Escort's Passport 8500 X50

by Brian Rathjen
November 2004

What do you do when you have on of the finest radar detectors on th planet already in your lineup? Well, if you're the Valentine company you basically do nothing for years. It reminds me of some motorcycle manufacturers.

Why change anything if you get top dollar for your product and sales are strong?

But, if you are the Escort company you take it upon yourself to raise your own standards and set the bar for all the rest.

Thus we recently got hold of Escort's all-new Passport 8500 X50 Radar Detector for a little try out.

Now a few years back we did a little comparo with the original Passport 8500 against the Valentine One Radar Detector. We found that, other then the V-1's ability to show you the direction from where the radar was coming, both detectors were virtually tied as far as detection range and sensitivity were concerned.

But, now Escort has come out with something new and we really thought it would be a good idea to give the X50 a real-life run around.

Not a setup laboratory sort of test, but a real-world, in the belly of the beast, mid-Atlantic mountain ride, including the dreaded state of Virginia. Here radar detectors are ILLEGAL, and they like to tell you that, over and over and over....

First off, we're motorcyclists. This means that we have different needs than your average car driver looking for radar protection.

Our plan? Simple. We'd hard wire the new Escort 8500 X50 into a new Honda VFR and then run the detector through an Autocom unit. This would allow us to hear the X50 when activated and not have to rely on the display.

We also would be able to compare sensitivity and range with the venerable Valentine One, giving us a true "on the road" teat. But, more on that later.

First off let me tell you that the new Escort 8500 X50 packs a wallop. A full 50% more detection capabilities that the original 8500 with greatly improved range and sensitivity. And, this is from a detector that was already close to or equal to the V-1.

Using what they call V-Tuned radar receiving technology, the new X50 provides excellent counter-capabilities to all police radars, including POP mode, X-Band and the greatly used K and Ka-Bands. Escort's Digital Signal Processing provides maximum range, with minimum false alarms.

The 8500 X50 has 360-degree radar and laser protection, [and] allows for instant on-the-fly customization. The meter is made from 280 separate LEDs and has three high-resolution modes and a dark mode. The X50 is also completely immune to radar detector - detectors, or what the Police call the VG-2 system. Yep, with most detectors cops know you have one operating on your bike. Most law enforcement aren't too keen on this.

It seems that the Passport's anti-radar detector - detector(?) system works very well as I sat at multiple stop lights in Virginia with a State Trooper Cruiser right next to me and all he did was nod and smile hello to me.

Nice man, that Trooper.

While traveling down on our Backroads Fall Fiesta we had another rider, Rocco Savage, who was sporting a V-1 on his BMW. Both of us also had bike-to-bike communications and Rocco has the admirable habit of calling out a radar signal as soon as it's detected.

Not once did he call out a radar signal that I and the X50 had not been aware of seconds before. At one point I caught one local Sheriff nearly two miles away, on a twisty, cliff-lined roadway in West Virginia. Rocco was silent on that one.

But, here is something else the Passport has in it's favor. And it's a big one.

It's simple.

Oh, yeah, I'm sure it's one of the most complicated gizmos we have, but it's simple to use; and that's key to us riders out there.

Unlike the Valentine One that has... let's see - a power module, a signal module, a few phone lines and the unit itself - all of which have to be mounted carefully onto your machine; the Passport simply has a power wire and the audio jack plugs directly into the unit. Nothing else to buy or, more importantly, to break.

Also, and I know this from personal experience. Passports do better in the rain that any other detector we have tried.

You don't want to get it soaked, but you don't have to pack it away simply because it got a little damp. As a rider I really appreciate that.

A little side note - The Passport 8500 X50 is available with either red or blue displays. We got the blue 'cause I thought it looked a little different and cool. Don't wear "Blue-Blocker" sunglasses; you won't be able to see the display. I thought I broke it in the first 10 miles until I realized it was my sunglasses.

Duh! if you wear these type of sunglasses consider sticking with red.

The bottom line -

It's a war out there kids, and results like this prove to me that having something like the Passport 8500 X50 in your arsenal against the local revenuers is an absolute must!

With more sensitivity and range than Brand V, and with far less bite on your wallet, the Passport 8500 X50 is the only way to go.

The Passport 8500 X50 can be gotten at finer automotive stores and will run you $299 in red and $339 in blue. for more info log onto:

Escort Inc.
5440 West Chester Road
West Chester, Ohio 45069