he grind gets you down, we get it. Who’d feel any different? The long days of filing papers and answering to someone having another bad day. You’re counting down the days to your next vacation or even to the weekend– anything, really. Suddenly, it’s like air changes around you. There’s this need to get on your motorcycle and just go. Where to? Only you and your Motorcycle GPS know.
You’ve waited for it and here it is. The low countryside, sunset, and endless stretches of road going only God knows where. You don’t care and that’s the point.
Eventually, though, you might start asking yourself if you have a destination in mind. Most say that “the point is just to go” or “the journey itself is the destination.” However, we all know they don’t mean it literally. The open-air may clear your head like nothing else.
If you’re looking to finally kick back after a long week, you need a place to rest and recharge. We get it!
What’s more annoying than heading somewhere new, being tired, and getting lost? Unfolding a map or pulling out your phone to consult Google Maps just isn’t going to cut it. To keep the mood up, the best thing to do is consult your solid motorcycle GPS.
It truly pays to know where you’re going, and even arrive on time in some cases. Maybe this is your first time shopping for one and you don’t know where to start. You may want to know what brands are out there, or if the big names are worth the money.
Maybe you want to know what kinds of specs that are good to be on the lookout for? Luckily for you, we’ve already done the research. Sit back, relax, and check out our motorcycle GPS reviews.
Why does every biker need a motorcycle GPS?
As men, asking for directions is an absolute no go obviously. Especially if you’re pulling up somewhere on your Harley and scare an elderly couple by simply asking directions. It’s not just about saving your pride: bikes are intimidating, and bikers sometimes doubly so. You owe it to yourself and the people around you to know what you’re doing.
Google Maps is pretty much its own GPS and guide these days. That said, why bother with a motorcycle GPS?
There are a number of reasons why a smartphone isn’t the best option. First, a good GPS is going to be packed with regular updates, making sure you know where you’re going and what roads actually exist. Google Maps may have a version of this, but it often takes longer to update.
It could take hours to inform you of issues even. A GPS uses a satellite to update incredibly fast, offering real-time updates all day/night long.
Plus, you keep your eyes on the road and not on your phone with this. Keeping you and others on the road safer. On top of not eating your phone battery for when you need it. Imagine the kind of biker who has to reach around to his butt pocket to grab an iPhone.
A good Motorcycle GPS system comes in handy a lot more than you might think. Consider too that you’re not going to be wasting your phone’s data, especially if you’re heading rather far from home. Who hasn’t paid attention to their data status, accidentally turned something on and then got a lovely bill in the mail back home?
GPSs have a number of different voices available. Who doesn’t want the choice of being guided by an invisible, ever-attentive Scottish, Australian, or even Canadian woman from time to time?
What are the main questions to consider when buying a motorcycle GPS?
Once you’ve come to the incredibly sane realization that you’re in need of a Motorcycle GPS, a common question comes to mind. How do I know what to look for when it comes to picking up the best motorcycle GPS? It might seem a bit overwhelming at first, but we’ve laid out a number of features that you’re going to want to be looking for.
Screen size is vastly important. For the frugal, no-frills kind of man, this might seem like a bit of a luxury. Does it really matter if there’s an extra inch or two of the screen? It’s not like your fingers are that much bigger, right? However, it really does make a difference.
If you’re like any other red-blooded, All-American biker, you’re a little addicted to speed. We cannot blame you, we are too! That rush you get when there’s no one on the road and you’re just going. You know the feeling, right? In times like that, a larger display can make all the difference
Maybe you’re wanting to go with a smaller screen to minimize distractions. This is a common thing to have among bikers, funny enough. Of course, you have to get to know yourself here and pick the options that work best for you.
You need to make quick decisions and get the right information fast and making sure all the options are under your fingertips are a big plus. Alerts of issues on the road are huge to have knowledge on. As mentioned, there are several options like maps or Mapquest online where you can print out instructions.
However, these do not account for issues on the road.
Google Maps may, in fact, have an aide to this as well as the simple Navigation systems on your smartphone. However, in our research, we saw response times that did not look great. To be fair, they have gotten quicker over the years, especially Google Maps. However, they are not fast enough to be better than a normal motorcycle GPS.
An accident on the road and a way around it are automatically going to be present the moment the satellite picks up a problem or a slowdown.
Warnings about changing speed limits are important to know about. No one wants to be caught on the wrong side of the law, so this alert can keep you from earning a ticket. You might be distracted by any number of things, and having an alert when the limit changes can be just the thing that brings you back to Earth. Be sure to keep that volume up, however.
Another factor to think about is the countries covered. We don’t want to tell you how many times we’ve heard stories about would-be adventurers getting lost. Not just anywhere, but in far-flung locales like Thailand, Montenegro or even Kazakhstan.
These crazy Wahoo McDaniels’ spend a small fortune getting their bikes to another continent. Then they discover that, outside the capital, there’s no coverage at all. It all depends on what it is you’re looking for. Some Motorcycle GPS options will be updated to help you out regardless of the continent.
However, some places simply are not possible to assist.
If you’re the kind to go to Africa and assume in the Sahara Desert that your GPS is going to work. Perhaps you’re the type to go into the Amazin in South America and assume this. To this we say, you’ve lost your mind. Clearly, there are options for these areas too.
Yet a motorcycle GPS is often not one of them.
Comprehensive packages including the countryside is another thing you’ll be paying for. If that’s what you need, then look for options that include it. You’ll also want to check to make sure if there are automatic map updates here. Usually, there are, but it can be an issue the more “rural” you get.
Downloading a patch in your hotel room is much easier than trying to find a spot in the middle of some wonderfully isolated village.
What are common mistakes made when buying a motorcycle GPS system?
There are a ton of mistakes people make when attempting to buy a motorcycle GPS for their bike.
Probably the biggest is thinking that a regular car GPS is going to suit a biker just fine. Rookie move, sluggers. Motorcycle GPS systems are specifically designed for this vehicle, others are more suited for regular cars, trucks, etc. Plus, they do not fit on your bike.
Be sure the GPS is the right build for your bike model. Yes, size does matter here, gentlemen. If you’re not sure about what kind of mounting system you’re going to need, take out a measuring tape and actually record the dimensions.
Usually, the GPS goes right in the middle around the handlebars.
Sit down on your bike and think about what kind of angle is comfortable for you to be looking down. You’ll need to be doing it a lot, so it’ll help to know the ways you can see the device without strain.
Another huge mistake is avoiding the features you might need. This is often done to save money, assuming you do not need certain stuff. Taking a minute to ask detailed questions and compare different models can make all the difference. We listed above some of the useful features, and some do not have them all.
Also, it’s not just about you – think just as much about your bike. It’s your steel horse and making sure that everything is compatible before you make the buy is going to save you the hassle of a return.
One more note about the law – in different states there are different laws when it comes to GPS placement on the bike as well as mounting issues in general. Be sure to research the certain laws in your state before purchase.
What are the key differences between a motorcycle GPS system and a standard car GPS system?
Needing to get a specific kind of GPS for motorcycle trips is sure to make you think of one question. Are they really all that different from GPSs built for cars?
In one word: yes.
There are a number of features that a motorcycle GPS has that make them optimized for low riding wherever you are. They are very different from a car GPS system. They are so different, in fact, that often times they work poorly when attempted for motorcycle use.
This is why we have specific ones. You may need more clarification, we don’t blame you on that. We are here to serve.
What are the differences, truly, between a car and motorcycle GPS?
A Motorcycle GPS Is Much Smaller Than A Car GPS:
While you can certainly get them in as compact a set of dimensions as their car counterparts, a GPS for motorbiking is going to be offered in a lot more sizes. Obviously, a biker has to make sure it is big enough for their needs. Thus making it visible for them.
For someone as potentially distractible as a bike driver (you know who you are), this can be a big deal.
The sizes play a huge role not just in your need for properly seeing. Rather, they have to fit on your bike perfectly to avoid slipping off while you’re on the road. Imagine paying a good portion for a nice car GPS you might use for your wife’s minivan on a family vacation.
You take it with you on the road with your motorcycle only for it to fall off and shatter into a million pieces. Yeah, just don’t don’t do this!
A Motorcycle GPS Has To Be Concerned About Mountability:
To that point, you want something that can be a proper mountable GPS for your bike. This is vastly important for your motorcycle and the GPS you use with it. You’re not going to be able to stick a GPS to your bike frame using those weak little suction cups.
No, you need to have something a little bit tougher. Actually, it’s going to need to be a lot tougher.
A motorcycle GPS system comes with a mounting system that makes it easier not only to mount but to look at while riding. Additionally, the car GPS for most are powered up by battery or a USB charger. Their motorcycle counterparts often get their juice right from the bike’s battery.
Keep in mind, your bike battery is by no means as large and powerful as a regular car battery. Unless you’ve been fixing it up big time. To those men, we’re going to want to see this.
To the rest of you, it’s clear that a car GPS simply cannot work on the mounting side of things. It clearly cannot work for a bike due to the way its made and the juice it takes from your bike. What else is a concern?
A Motorcycle GPS Is Weather-Proof:
Your motorcycle GPS is not going to be sitting luxuriously inside your car the whole time. This means you have to be thinking about the elements. Think about yourself for a second when considering your GPD. Are you’re not going to be wearing the same thing on your bike that you would be inside a car? Likely not.
Plus, how many of us besides Carl from accounting wear a helmet inside their car?
Luckily, a motorcycle GPS is built to last out the storm. Most are very waterproof. This isn’t just good in a rain shower either. Depending on where you live, you may need your GPS to handle a fair share of snow. Then you have to think about the kinds of terrain you’ll be going on.
Of course, this will all depend on how adventurous you are. That said, there might be mud or stray pebbles kicking up and into your GPS’s screen. You’ll be grateful for not having picked a regular GPS then, trust us.
A Motorcycle GPS Has Outdoor Technology:
A motorcycle GPS is built making sure a biker is comfortable using it. This means all the technology used in them have to be on the up and up. If they do not work right, especially for a biker, there is no point in putting it on the market.
One big difference between a car GPS and one made for a motorcycle is that the screens are put together with an anti-glare system.
This makes sure you can always see where you’re going, no matter how bright it gets outside. The volume needs to be different – a lot louder than inside a car when there’s the roaring of your chopper to contend with.
A sexy voice barking orders at you on the steering wheel might be a bit unnerving. However, it’ll be the only kind of volume that will get through to you when you’re on the open road. Don’t settle for a navigator built for a car. You’ll thank us later for that.
What are the main brands of motorbike GPS systems?
The GPS industry, no matter if it’s for mounting in a car or on a motorcycle, is one that has a couple of clear-cut giants. Garmin is one name that stands tall, with a history of providing GPS services since 1989. Originally based in Kansas, the company’s since moved to Switzerland.
Garmin has their fingers in a number of different pies, ranging from aviation and marine all the way to land GPS services. That’s on top of current ventures into wearable trackers and devices for personal use.
TomTom came onto the scene a bit later, in 1991. Originally hailing from the Netherlands, they’ve been Garmin’s chief competitors in the GPS market. They are toe to toe in terms of quality and features. They’ve proven to be just as innovative and long-standing, with products that any respectable biker would be proud to mount on their motorcycle.
BMW, a German company known Stateside for their Beetles, hasn’t been a slouch when it comes to providing navigation systems. While their On-Star-like service BMW Assist might be enough for some, they’ve also launched their own brand of GPS motorcycle enthusiasts can use.
Below we’ll be taking a look at entries from all three companies, so keep reading our motorcycle GPS review for everything you need to know!
1) TomTom Rider 550
What is it that’s so great about heading out onto the open road? It’s that you’re not just sitting in front of a TV and watching cool things on a screen. On your bike you’re not a passive spectator – you’re a rider! And TomTom’s Rider 550 was built with you in mind.
One of the great features of this TomTom motorcycle GPS is its ability to make sure you’ll never have a boring road trip. Too often people take the easy, direct route – this GPS has a feature that identifies windy roads and gives you a notice about heading there instead.
Think uphill through rolling landscapes, or dramatic drops on mountain roads, or coastal roads that live up to the name ‘scenic route.’
Add to that the ease of connectivity with your different devices. Are you the type that can’t live without Siri? Don’t worry, you can hook her up to your new TomTom for full integration. What about Google? Absolutely. You can even set your system up so that messages from your smartphone get routed through the GPS and into your headset.
You won’t have to miss out because of being on the road ever again!
This GPS tracking device for motorcycle users wouldn’t be complete without a set of maps, and this TomTom is optimized for North American users. With included lifetime map and traffic updates across the US and Canada, you won’t have to be thinking about downloading new content yourself.
While not having other zones included might come across as a minus, European, Asian and other maps are an easy click away.
2) Garmin nüvi 2597LMT
When looking at Garmin motorcycle GPS options, the nüvi 2597LMT is not to be missed! The “LMT” at the end of the model number stands for ‘lifetime map and traffic’ updates. Meaning that if you’re going to be scooting through North America, you’re going to be covered by this GPS.
Not only are the maps kept up-to-date, but you’ll be notified about any POIs (points of interest) in the area. All while adding extra value to your next big road trip. Updates happen four times a year with no extra fees.
Making sure you’re not distracted on the road is a major task, and the nüvi’s effective data presentation goes a long way to help. Alerts appear on the sidebar, and all messages are spoken so you’ll never have to take your eyes off the roadmap.
While the touchscreen is always an option, the nüvi understands spoken commands. Meaning you can keep your hands on the handlebars where they’re supposed to be.
Have you ever heard “turn on 4th street” and then started craning your head to see the signs? With Garmin’s Real Directions program you can opt to get direction alerts based on easy-to-see landmarks, traffic lights, or buildings.
What’s a device without connectivity? With Bluetooth, you can hook up your phone so that you can take and receive calls hands-free and with ease. You’ll be able to keep your phone stowed where it’s safe while never having to miss a message again.
The Android connectivity allows for your GPS to share your data plan as well as other important information. Think points of interest or where you parked your bike. With everything streamlined, you’ll be able to pay full attention to the road.
3) Garmin Zumo 390LM
Another entry from Garmin, the Zumo 390LM provides GPS navigation for motorcycle users with ease and convenience. While it might seem a tad undersized at first glance, it certainly is a hardy little thing. Not only does it provide glare-resistance, but the screen itself resists UV rays as well.
It’s certainly built to last. This device is waterproof and will survive a splash of fuel as well as other liquids. For the kind of man looking to take in a rugged expedition, there might be no better guide.
Connectivity is also key here, with Bluetooth linkups to the Headset 2 nestled comfortably in your helmet. With your very own Headset 2, you’ll be able to keep up with all your GPS’s directions without having to worry about the wind or weather blocking out all sound.
One of the biggest draws to biking life is the freedom that’s right there for the taking. Using hands-free tech here gives you even more freedom to be enjoying the view. As is your right.
It comes packed with maps that are guaranteed for the devices lifetime. This includes anywhere in North America, which is more than enough of a sandbox for you to explore. With the Curvy Road guide, you’ll even get a heads up when there’s a more adventurous path to be had.
Why take the boring route when there’s something new to see and do?
In addition to connecting to the Headset 2 via Bluetooth, ANT tech allows you to set up your Garmin with a separately-installed Tire Pressure Monitor System. This can keep track of two-four separate tires while you’re on your way. This offers peace of mind that you’re driving with optimal tire pressure.
Why stop for checks when you can keep on driving?
4) TomTom Rider 400
When it comes to finding the best GPS for motorcycle users, TomTom has just as much to offer as its rivals. The Rider 400 is a lightweight entry that can still very much satisfy even the most discerning of bikers. Its slim shape can nestle between any set of handlebars.
Did you want to see further up the road? The display can twist back and forth from landscape to portrait view to give you that little extra bit of sight up ahead.
Connectivity to your PC will unlock all the Rider 400’s features, including prior route planning even before you get on your bike. With a built-in guidance system that remembers where you were wanting to go, so you just have to drive. Combine that with the Windy Roads and Hilly Roads detectors.
This will allow you to find the best roads for your journey.
Then you can activate the MyDrive features. These link the GPS to traffic-monitoring apps on your computer, smartphone, or tablet. While you’re at it, you can easily share different points of interest between your devices. This way, when you’re on the road, you’re headed right to adventure.
If you’re biking with friends then it’s easier for everybody to be on the same page too.
Its weatherproof design makes sure that you’re able to go where you need to go without worrying about the conditions. The sunlight visibility features allow you to adjust to any level of light. Worried about glare? No problem – just adjust the screen and everything stays visible.
Most GPS systems come with built-in maps and traffic for North America. However, the Rider 400 includes maps that cover most of Europe too.
Thinking about renting a car in Paris? Bring along your Rider and you’re unlikely to get lost.
5) Garmin Zumo 595LM
Garmin kills it with their Zumo 595LM GPS device. It’s built with convenience in mind. Its bright touchscreen is glove-ready and weather-resistant. When you go off on an adventure, you want to be making sure your attention is focused on the things that matter. This is good for you and others.
Speaking of adventure, this GPS comes with “Garmin’s Adventurous Routing” program built-in. Are you heading north and are looking for the best scenery? Normally go on the same path going to and from a major city? Adventurous Routing forsakes the regular highways and gives you suggestions for gorgeous roads you might not have known about otherwise.
Why choose anything other than the interesting or the awesome? Make sure that, every time you go out, every time is amazing.
It may not be the cheapest motorcycle GPS on the market, but it’s packed full of features that make it well worth your hard-earned buck. When you check out the road ahead on the touchscreen, you’ll be surprised by how real the 3D terrain display makes things out to be.
With the opportunity to turn the GPS monitor to portrait mode, you’ll be able to look ahead and see all the twists and turns awaiting you.
It will also help you stay connected with all your devices. Along with other listings in the Garmin catalog, the 595LM supports smartphone connectivity. This means you can keep track of what’s going on in your social and work life even while on the road.
Make sure no message is left behind!
With the exclusive Smartphone Link app, you’ll be able to share your location with your friends so they know exactly when you’ll arrive. It also keeps up with state-specific law alerts, speed, and sharp turn updates too.
6) BMW Motorrad Navigator VI
If you’re looking for luxury and convenience all in one go, it’s hard to go wrong with BMW. While you’ll be paying a pretty penny for this one, the Motorrad Navigator VI is one of the best motorcycle GPS devices on the market.
Their “Avoid Major Road” tech can supplement traditional Windy Road suggestions to create the most unique and unforgettable trips. No matter if you’re in Wisconsin or breezing down the Adriatic coast. With the device’s built-in European and North American maps, you’re already set for your next big international road trip.
Add to that a comprehensive set of round trip and route planning apps. They can link up to your computer or devices, and you have a golden opportunity to maximize your trip through this. While you’re at it, make sure that you’ve filled up your phone’s music banks or Spotify account.
You’ll be able to stream music into your headset right from your smartphone. Set your playlists on either Android or iOS and you’ll be ready to go.
The device is also packed with a lot of its own memory. It boasts a huge 16 GB of space for whatever it is that you need. If for any reason you need even more memory, there’s a microSD slot you can use. It offers an extra massive 64 GB of space.
Other features include water-and-fuel proof surfaces and a brighter screen. It even offers smartphone updates for both traffic and weather changes, as well as lane suggestions and photo-realistic depictions of upcoming intersections.
With all this and more, BMW has proved to be a hefty player in the GPS market.
Over And Out!
Any biker worth their rubber knows that when you’re finally out there on the road all that matters is the scenic landscape and how much gas is left in the tank. Freedom is more than about time off or a weekend away – it’s a lifestyle. Making sure that your mind is free to enjoy the ride is one of the best gifts any man can give himself.
With this, you want to make sure your tech is up to speed. It is just one more aid in making sure you can really, truly get into the zone.
You need a proper route guide or the kind of GPS speedometer motorcycle enthusiasts need. That’s an all-in-one GPS device is the thing every aspiring adventurer needs.
Wondering if you’re actually traveling down the most interesting path? Features showing you the best scenic spots will get you there. Haven’t done your research ahead of time? Dots signifying points of interest will direct you to the very best sites.
More than anything else, a good GPS system encourages true bikers to never settle. To never plan something mediocre when something awesome is right there around the corner. With a little help, you’ll always know when there’s something new to try.
Reading motorcycle navigation reviews like the ones above are going to give you an edge over other consumers. This helps prompt you to remember what it is you need and what else is just extra. That extra inch of decisiveness is going to help you save time.
Regardless of where you go, a motorcycle GPS will be your perfect guide.