A GPS is the best device an outdoor enthusiast can own. The Global Positioning System can keep you safe, secure and on the right track. And some GPS devices are made for motorcycles, thanks to clever mounting brackets and rugged durability. They let you track and plan your route, while offering convenient features such as weather and traffic updates. They can also be compatible with Bluetooth headsets and Wi-Fi.
The best motorcycle GPS is the Garmin Zumo 396, because it includes all the convenient features you need, including a glove-friendly touch screen and customizable navigation.
The main reason you’ll want a GPS on your bike is to easily navigate on the roads. Through satellite technology and road mapping, these devices are highly accurate and customizable. Having a reliable and precise GPS will help keep you safe. You can choose whether you want curvy, scenic roads or a quicker route through a highway. They’ll also help keep you away from traffic jams or road closures.
One difference between a motorcycle journey and a car road trip is that you’re exposing yourself to the elements. Therefore, your equipment needs to be ready to take on any type of weather. GPS devices are often made with waterproof seals and cases, so if a sudden rainstorm hits, you won’t have to worry about finding the nearest rest stop. Some also have transflective surfaces that get brighter and more readable as sunlight hits them, or are shockproof so the screen won’t crack if you get hit with hail.
If you don’t want to worry about syncing your GPS with a smartphone or computer, look for one with a built-in processor. This means it will act as its own small handheld computer, with storage space and the ability to connect to Wi-Fi — convenient for spontaneously updating your route and sharing that information with fellow riders. It also lets you quickly turn the GPS on instead of waiting for it to boot up. Less time waiting for devices means more time on the road.
Motorcyclists wear gloves to protect their hands, stay comfortable, control their acceleration and reduce fatigue. That’s why many motorcycle GPS devices are glove-friendly, using sensitive screens that let you easily navigate the controls while wearing your gloves. They can also have larger controls for the extra size the gloves add to your fingertips. The app icons should be big enough to see without squinting and easy enough to press without trying multiple times.
Quality GPS devices let you connect via Bluetooth headsets, giving you directions in a clear voice, without wind or traffic noise. The wireless connection is a step up from having a cable run through your jacket.
Many motorcycle riders choose to take more scenic routes, and highways can pose safety issues due to high speeds and lane-switching. It’s important to find a GPS with route customization so you can choose how you want to travel. Some have built-in options, while others require you to use desktop software or a smartphone app to design your route. You can avoid highways, stick to curvy roads or even pick unpaved roads for the most rugged adventure.
Some GPS devices are limited to the region you purchase them in, often having preloaded maps of North America only. This saves on processing power and storage. However, if you plan to travel the world, you’ll need one with the option to update a global map. Some companies send out map updates regularly, so when a new route is added, you can download it. Updates often have new information for existing routes, too, such as road closures or safety issues.
Motorcycle GPS costs $210-$400.
A. The most common type of connection is USB. This makes it easy to plug into your cellphone’s wall charger or a wall outlet for a quick charge.
A. Some devices such as the Garmin Zumo have a built-in system for tracking fuel consumption. You can also set up brake-pad and air-filter schedules.
What you need to know: This GPS will stand up to the elements and offers expert adventure guidance systems.
What you’ll love: With a bright 4-inch touchscreen, the Zumo can be easily seen from a motorcycle dash. Its convenient features include hands-free calling, smart notifications and file sharing for group rides. The Adventure Routing feature lets you choose windy, curvy roads over crowded highways. And you can sync it with a Bluetooth-enabled headset or helmet.
What you should consider: Some users said the compatible desktop software is unintuitive.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: This GPS is for the minimalist who just wants a simple, well-designed smart device to guide them.
What you’ll love: It’s Bluetooth-compatible and uses a smartphone app to map your route, alongside a 2-inch circle screen that guides you with a single arrow. It fully charges in one hour and stays that way through 30 hours of use. The screen is waterproof, shockproof and transflective.
What you should consider: The GPS isn’t as accurate in cities, where there are more intersections.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: No need for a computer — the Rider 550 uses a live service to operate its features and update your routes.
What you’ll love: There’s a quad-core processor inside the device that runs its programs for traffic, speed cams, directions and Siri compatibility. It has a 4.3-inch screen and 16 gigabytes of internal storage, and it uses Bluetooth. You also have an option to purchase a protective case.
What you should consider: The unpaved-roads settings aren’t always accurate.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Jordan Beliles writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.