When it comes to exploring the open road, a motorcycle GPS is a biker’s best friend. With one of these handy devices, you will always know exactly where you are and where you are going—and you can track everywhere you’ve been. Many motorcycle GPS units also include entertainment and communication features so you can listen to music or chat with your buddies on the road.
Not sure where to start in your quest for the perfect motorcycle GPS device? Below you can compare prices and features on highly-rated motorcycle GPS models.
|Garmin Zumo 590LM|
|Garmin Zumo 350LM|
|Garmin Zumo 595LM|
|BMW Navigator V|
|BMW Motorrad Navigator V|
|TomTom Rider 400|
Still not ready to pick the best motorcycle GPS device? Read on to learn more about questions to ask yourself while shopping and features to look for.
- 1 What is a Motorcycle GPS?
- 2 How Does a Motorcycle GPS Work?
- 3 Questions to Ask When Shopping for a Motorcycle GPS
- 4 Features and Add-Ons to Look For When Shopping for a Motorcycle GPS
- 5 Garmin Zumo 595LM: Offers Awesome Smartphone Interconnectivity
- 6 TomTom Rider 400: a Daredevil Friendly Motorcycle GPS Unit
What is a Motorcycle GPS?
A motorcycle GPS attaches to your handlebars so that you can see the map right in front of you while you are riding. You can use it to pinpoint your precise location, plan routes, and track waypoints. Motorcycle GPS devices can even recommend exciting winding or scenic roads. With the right GPS on your side, your destination is always adventure!
How Does a Motorcycle GPS Work?
Like other GPS devices, a motorcycle GPS receiver communicates with the Global Positioning System satellites in orbit around the earth. By checking in with several different satellites and comparing the data they transmit on time and position, the device is able to extrapolate your precise position on earth.
Questions to Ask When Shopping for a Motorcycle GPS
Will the unit fit your bike?
Most motorcycle GPS units are designed with universal kits so that they can be easily mounted on the vast majority of bikes. Still, you should always make sure that a specific model will fit on your motorcycle. You may also want to make sure it is easy to attach and detach on a regular basis if you will be moving it around a lot (i.e. using it on different bikes).
What types of maps do you need?
A motorcycle GPS may use proprietary maps or it may allow you to load in third party map data. Figure out what types of maps you need and how you want them to display. Some devices can even display 3D buildings on the map to help increase your awareness of your environment and how it corresponds to the map.
Are you willing to pay subscription fees on maps?
Some GPS companies will charge you fees if you want to update your maps over the years. But other motorcycle GPS companies will allow you to download updates throughout the year without paying any additional fees.
What other devices do you use on your motorcycle?
Many motorcycle GPS models can talk to other devices through Bluetooth. If you will be using a separate cell phone, MP3 player, headset, or so on, make sure that you can connect them with your new GPS device. That way you can enjoy the combined functionality of all of your electronics on the road.
Features and Add-Ons to Look For When Shopping for a Motorcycle GPS
Water-resistance is an important feature in a motorcycle GPS, because while you are on the road, you are probably going to be exposed to all kinds of weather conditions. You do not want your GPS to short out during the first unexpected rainstorm. Obviously if you are going to be spending a lot of time riding in a rainy climate, this is even more vital. While you are at it, also look for a GPS which is going to resist dust and UV rays.
Screen Dimensions and Quality
The easier it is to see your display, the better. Make sure that the screen does not have a lot of glare, and that it is equally clear on bright sunny days and moonless nights. A larger screen may also be easier on the eyes—and easier to use in terms of touchpad functionality.
Many motorcycle GPS units also include Bluetooth integration. With Bluetooth, you can chat with your buddies on the road without taking off your helmet or removing your gloves. You do need a Bluetooth-enabled headset to do this, but if you have one, you can link the two devices along with your cell phone. You also can receive verbal instructions from your GPS through your headset. This helps you to keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the handlebars.
You can purchase a motorcycle GPS which includes an MP3 player built right in. Hook it up with a headset and you will be able to enjoy music while you are on the road. You also have the option of listening to audiobooks. If you take regular long trips, entertainment features like these are indispensable.
Route Planning Features
A motorcycle GPS is not just for finding out where you are; it is also for helping you to plan where you are going.
The route planning features on a motorcycle GPS are far more comprehensive and specific than those you would find on another GPS device. On a bike, you do not always just want the quickest route to a destination; sometimes you want the most beautiful route or the road which is going to be the most fun with lots of winding curves. Some motorcycle GPS devices will actually help you to find these fun winding roads.
Points of Interest may also be included on your maps so that you can find restaurants, gas stations and hotels. You also may have the option of adding your own Points of Interest and saving routes you have enjoyed so you can return to them on future trips.
You now know the important features to shop for in a motorcycle GPS. Scroll back up to the top of the page to take a closer look at our comparison chart. There you can view features and prices for top-selling, highly rated motorcycle GPS devices at a glance!
Garmin Zumo 595LM: Offers Awesome Smartphone Interconnectivity
The more information you have when you ride a motorcycle, the better. The Zumo 595LM helps you stay informed by sending you weather notifications, fatigue alerts, text messages and more.
- View text messages. The Garmin Zumo 595LM is one of the only motorcycle GPS units that will allow you to receive text message notifications from your phone.
- Get useful notifications as you ride. Stay aware of helmet law changes, curves, speed limit changes and other important info.
- Fatigue alerts. After you’ve been riding for a certain amount of time, the Zumo 595LM urges you to take a break.
- Weather notifications. Find out if a storm is about to roll through before the raindrops hit the ground.
- Adaptive screen. The Zumo 595LM’s screen looks great during the day and night
- Plot out fuel stops in advance.
- Finds curvy roads for you.
- You have to pay a small monthly subscription fee to use the weather radar feature.
- The Garmin Zummo 595LM is expensive compared to other motorcycle GPS units.
TomTom Rider 400: a Daredevil Friendly Motorcycle GPS Unit
If curves turn you on, this is the GPS unit for you. Motorcyclists with an adventurous streak love the Rider 400 because with “winding road” mode on, they’re always able to embark on twisty adventures.
- Ultra bright display. Even when in direct sunlight, it’s easy to see the screen.
- Batteries last all day. The Rider 400 will never crap out on you in the middle of a ride.
- Get traffic info in advance. This GPS unit does a pretty good job of helping to avoid traffic clogs.
- Easy to install. Downloading map updates is a simple, easy and painless process.
- Glove-friendly touch screen. The Rider 400’s screen was obviously built with motorcycle riders in mind.
- Great for daredevils. When it comes to finding interesting twisty roads to try out, the Rider 400 really shines.
- Multi-stop routes. Easily program your own multi-stop route in advance with the Rider 400’s intuitive route planner system.
- This isn’t the best motorcycle GPS unit for foul weather. Rain won’t destroy this device, but it will interferes with operation.
- Some people who bought the Rider 400 complained that its screen is not as big as it should be.