by W. Jeff Bertrand
Reprinted with permission from the December 2001 issue of Motorcycle Consumer News, an
independent publication that accepts no advertising. Neither the publication or the author have been
compensated for the use of this article, nor do they have any other interest in Escort Inc. or the
Passport 8500. For information on Motorcycle Consumer News, see www.mcnews.com.
As the longtime top-rated detector, the Valentine V-1 has been able to name its price. After all,
next to the cost of a citation and a big hike in your insurance rates for years to come, even the
$399 can be a bargain. But, now there's a less expensive alternative, the Passport 8500, and ample
independent, sophisticated third party test data (1,2) indicates it's a serious contender. It also
comes with an important motorcyclist-friendly feature: an earphone jack. In order to rig a Valentine
1 for earphone use, you need a separate $49 remote adapter and room to mount two boxes instead of
We've been using our Passport 8500 for about six months and have come to appreciate its
easy-to-use programming and display features. We set up our 8500 for the "loud" alert and
changed the display to the "ExpertMeter" mode. In this mode, you can see up to eight radar
signals, as well as their individual bands and strengths simultaneously - very useful. (The factory
default shows only one signal at a time.) In addition to X-, K- and Ka- bands, the 8500 detects
laser and can also decode and display numerous highway safety text messages. Plus, the display
brightness settings include a "dark mode" for stealth use.
To install, we simply tied the 8500 into our helmet speakers using a common
universal stereo mini-plug patch cord, mounted the unit with the supplied suction cups to the
windshield and wired the unit directly to a switched power circuit, using Escort's optional direct
wiring harness ($29.95), but you could use a standard modular cord for next to nothing.
The distinctive tones associated with each type of signal were easy to learn and
interpret, and the volume is quite loud, even at supra-legal speeds with earplugs; grabbing your
attention immediately. That's a good thing, because the unit's graphic display can wash out in
In use, the few false alerts are usually X-band. The California Highway Patrol has
abandoned the X-band in favor of Ka and a few K-band units. Ka sensitivity seems excellent, but
don't let your guard down. At first we thought we were receiving excess Ka falsing, but after a few
days we realized that a patrol unit would nearly always appear after we'd quit looking for it! If
you know that X-band isn't used in your riding area, its possible to program the unit to ignore this
band; all but eliminating falsing.
A smart cord with a remote display integrated into the lighter plug is standard,
but not too useful on a motorcycle. However, in your 4-wheeler, with the main display on the 8500
set to dark mode and this remote display plugged in below window height, it is quite convenient and
discreet to use.
The Passport 8500 can be had for a reasonable $309.95 direct from Escort. And,
unlike the V-1, can also be found at some electronics dealers.