For motorcycle riders who have experienced irritating moments of getting lost in unfamiliar locations, a GPS navigation device is a blessing. There’s a variety of GPS units that you can choose from in the market today.
The act of choosing and making decisions can be a bit complicated due to the sheer number of models available, but through sound reviews, you can narrow down your choices.
Top 3 of the Best Motorcycle GPS Systems
Garmin Zumo 595LM
The Zumo 595LM features a glove-friendly screen and is designed to endure the harshest of weather conditions. Bikers can get stuck through rain, stormy weather, snow, sleet and the summer sun thus they need something that’s ultra-tough to take on the elements. The Zumo 595LM model also features that important anti-glare touchscreen which enables users to see data clearly under bright lights.
This Garmin Zumo unit can be synched with smartphones, headset or helmets with Bluetootch technology. Users will be kept up-to-date with its live weather and traffic information through its Smartphone Link7. Music is not a problem with this unit too — riders will be able to stream their fave tunes through music services like Pandora and Spotify.
Rider Alerts keep things safe by providing notifications for aspects like speed changes, school zones, animal/railroad crossing and state helmet laws. The Garmin Zumo 595LM digital fuel gauge is able to estimate distances so you won’t run out of fuel while on the road. The Service History Log keeps you on track with regards to your ride’s mileage, maintenance and service dates to keep them operational.
Users will also get to use features like Garmin Real Directions for spoken turn-by-turn directions, lifetime map updates, navigation tools like 3D Terrain and TracBack plus it’s compatible with the Garmin’s Tire Pressure Monitor Sensor6, VIRB camera and Garmin Express.
Garmin Zumo 395LM
The Zumo 395LM was launched together with the Zumo 595LM. Both Zumo models were built to promote rider safety and convenience. The Zumo 395LM model has a wide range of features like rider alerts for secure rides; riders will be notified instantly of school zones, hazardous curves, railroad/animal crossings and changes in speed. It also features advantageous state helmet laws, which is a must for all bikers who like to explore new locations.
A digital fuel gauge alerts helps bikers assess the distances that they can cover before the fuel supply runs out. The Garmin Zumo 395LM fuel stop alerts encourage users of replenishing fuel supplies and it will even suggest of gas station locations within the vicinity of the biker. It also features a digital compass display and database of motorcycle-related points of interest in the form of repair services and the like.
The Garmin Zumo 395LM shares plenty of features with the 595LM, like the Service History Log, Real Directions, Direct Access and tools. The Direct Access for one lets bikers streamline their navigation to select complex locales like airports by providing inclusive location info once the biker reaches his or her destination’s entrance.
The Zumo 395LM is compatible with Garmin’s VIRB camera features, a bonus for riders who like documenting their travels. Riders can simply pair the device with Garmin’s VIRB action cameras (sold separately) and start snapping away highlights of their trip.
Get updated with maps and software, transfer important data from certain gadgets and install custom voices by way of this Garmin unit. More features? The Zumo unit also has a power cable and automotive mount so users can use the unit on rides other than their motorbikes.
TomTom Rider 5th Edition
TomTom has unveiled their 5th generation motorcycle GPS unit and it aims to provide bikers important information that they require in order to reach their destinations safe and sound. The TomTom Rider now features a bigger screen to accommodate readable screen buttons and is glove-friendly to boot.
The Rider unit provides easy, straightforward navigation. Less fuss, no additional problems. Its riding view offers lots of data and its winding roads routing feature in particular are capable of supplying options for bikers who want to avoid main roads. Furthermore, the feature can be fine-tuned through the use of a slider fixed between the major and minor road options.
One of the TomTom Rider 5th Edition’s most beneficial feature is its Bluetooth technology. This provides users options for spoken direction features and hands-free phone calls. The TomTom unit has a straightforward Bluetooth connection and its lane guidance with junction view proves to be an advantage in difficult circumstances like traffic jams.
The TomTom Rider GPS has a route file converter function which provides users the capability of converting GPX routes into ITN formats. This is another TomTom feature that is both versatile and beneficial.
The Motorcycle GPS Navigation Comparison
We are going to compare those above mentioned motorcycle GPS units side by side through major factors.
GPS units can be pricy, and models made for motorcycles are not safe from this aspect. However, so much work and technology goes to a unit so most models are justified when it comes to the price. The real question here is the usability and reliability of these gadgets.
As for the prices, the Rider 5th from TomTom is the most affordable. If you just need a motorcycle GPS with the basics minus all of them fancy newfangled features, then this model will fit you to a tee. Garmin’s Zumo 395LM comes second while the Zumo 595LM is the most expensive on the list.
Both the Zumo 595LM and the Zumo 395LM boasts of highly-advanced features, and these babies are indeed packed. You get your road/direction features, you get your musical entertainment, you get your live road condition and weather updates plus a bunch of other neat stuff, they’re all in here. All Garmin needs to create for the device is its own gas refilling station. Of course all three GPS units can easily connect to a motorcycle intercom system.
However both gadgets lacked the route file converting features of the Rider 5th. As explained earlier, the device is capable of changing GPX routes into ITN formats, which is pretty nifty for a motorcycle GPS device and a huge help. Both Garmin Zumo models are actually a good step up from their previous models, the Zumo 390LM and Zumo 590LM.
Thus those Garmin Zumo models are for the fussy traveler who needs all the info he or she can get within reach while the TomTom model is for the utilitarian, simple rider who needs nothing but the most important, usable data among the bunch.
Ease of Use
All motorcycle GPS models were easy to use and even TomTom has upgraded the 5th Edition Rider with a bigger screen for easier viewing. All of them are glove-friendly as well. All GPS units were durable, users who purchased the products were satisfied with the devices’ resilience in the face of extreme weather conditions.
Those who like to travel by day will be glad to know that all devices withstood the test of glaring, vicious sunlight thanks to their anti-glare properties. Your data are now decipherable, thanks to modern technology and the tireless efforts of these gadgets’ creators.
All in all, these motorcycle GPS navigation units sound promising and if we are to take individual comments on those units, people were satisfied with them in general. Thus the decision-making is all up to you. You have to purchase that one GPS device that hopefully fits your needs and will become your best friend during long, lonely hours on the road.
If you prefer technology and a good number of features, you are better off with either Garmin Zumo model. That is, if you don’t mind the steep prices. If you’re after a simple gadget that will only bring you the data you need, the TomTom Rider 5th will suit you best.
Technology and prices are the most significant factors involved in all reviewed gadgets. Since all units were deemed as hard-wearing from users who have purchased them, it is up to you to decide whether you need the offerings that the Garmin Zumo 395LM and Garmin Zumo 595LM provides. For the budget-conscious, there is a solution in the face of the TomTom Rider 5th edition; its price undoubtedly reflects its sparse features but the device makes up for it by being tough and providing data that is needed by all bikers.
What you need to consider
A model that works is something that is capable of recognizing user input even when the user is wearing his or her gloves. A great unit is something that is easy to use and work on without resorting to guessing technical details just to comprehend the unit’s functions and features.
Because motorcycle GPS devices are designed for outdoor use, it is crucial that the unit is capable of being read under harsh sunlight. It is also good if the GPS has easy readability at night i.e. the screen must be sufficiently bright enough.
You are going to mount the unit on the motorcycle’s clutch bracket or brake, which is the standard way of positioning it. A good model features lengthier bolts and U-bolt clamps. However, you can buy third-party mounts as well for a unit that does not have any mounting features.
Then again, the unit is meant for outdoor use thus it has to withstand the elements. One of the first factors you need to prioritize is a model’s resilience. This is an aspect that you should look into because the unit will be out there in the cold with you, in the heat of the summer, on all weather extremes.
A unit designed for motorcycle use is unlike a unit made for a car. Motorcycle GPS units are tougher because riders have to use them outside, unlike those from vehicles which are mounted safely inside the car.
Selecting One That Suits Your Lifestyle
It is obvious that after automobile GPS units, motorcycle riders will also gain the advantage of owning one for their beloved bikes. Technology is often progressing thus units for motorbikes were soon developed and it became an instant hit with most bikers because of their helpful features and functions.
Nowadays, this nifty device has become a go-to tool for most bikers because it has proven to be beneficial in lots of drastic situations.
Units are becoming more sophisticated each day; companies are always on the hunt for the next innovation. Thus it can be confusing as to what sort of GPS you should purchase. As mentioned earlier, factors like usability, hardiness and mountability are crucial considerations that every consumer has to think of. Furthermore, you have to actually find one that will complement and benefit your lifestyle.
A great GPS also includes a vibration-separated mount to maintain its stability and functionality while on the road. Riders will often encounter craggy, rocky roads thus a vibration-repelling component is a must to keep things readable and operational. The screen of the unit should have sun-resistant properties as well; an anti-glare screen will make viewing data simpler and effortless.
A long-lasting battery is a must for frequent travelers. One of the worst thing that can turn up in a well-traveled biker’s life is a unit that stops functioning in the middle of nowhere because of a dead battery. Make sure that you have a model that includes built-in rechargeable batteries so the device won’t run out of juice.
Motorcycle riders who frequent woodland areas will benefit from a model which features a SiRF Star III chip set. This is an energy-efficient function and will prove to be helpful when you are cruising throughout forested terrain.
Additional Factors to Consider
Majority of GPS units feature a standard range of accuracy that’s around 6-8 meters. The Wide Area Augmentation System or WAAS satellite is thought of as a progression because of its ability to acquire or sense GPS signals that are within 3-4 meters.
When a unit is making use of that system, it will be marked as a WAAS-friendly receiver. However, this whole setup will only work in places like the US.
The unit’s map data should be updated on the regular because weather conditions and road situations vary every so often. Prior to a purchase, be certain that the unit features convenient access to those required updates. These map information are typically acquired by means of a software or they can be downloaded with the help of the unit’s company website.