Taking roads less traveled is what adventures are all about, but moving on unknown paths relying solely on phone GPS is not a wise choice. Your cell phone’s GPS only works in areas where there are signals. You are on your own if it stops halfway through the trip. This is where motorcycle GPS systems come in. A compact device with preloaded maps to guide you on the right route.
But how do you find the right product? Well, we have done all the hard work for you instead. After extensive research on the internet and feedback from previous customers, we have curated a list of the top five motorcycle GPS systems. We have chosen them on the basis of features, pricing, and durability. Read on to know more about them.
Top 5 Motorcycle GPS Navigator Reviewed
A motorcycle GPS system can make your trip both easy and fun. Whether it is choosing a hilly or curvy route or streaming your favorite tunes on the go, they have a variety of features you can count on. This, however, is only possible if you select the right one. The options we have are already familiar to you. Let us now go over them in greater detail.
#1. Garmin zumo 396 LMT-S
The Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S GPS navigator gives you access to free live services for traffic and weather using the Smartphone Link app. It will alert you on traffic conditions ahead to prepare accordingly and take the less congested routes. It is a rugged, glove-friendly device that makes your adventure as smooth as possible.
It has a 4.3-inch display with a compass and a speed limit indicator, all thanks to its built-in trip computer. It also prompts you when it’s time to refuel. The touchscreen is quite responsive which is readable even in bright sunlight.
The device can be easily paired with a smartphone via Bluetooth for hands-free calling. You don’t have to stop talking on the phone or use earphones, which could be dangerous. It also displays phone calls, texts, and notifications alerts, so you don’t miss anything important. You can send the GPX file from your phone to Zumo or share it with your travel companions so you can all take the same route. You can also track them in real-time if they get lost mid-way.
What’s an adventure if there are no hilly roads and curves? The Garmin Zumo 396 finds the hilliest routes for you and limits the overcrowded highways. It has built-in Wi-Fi for easy maps and software updates. Not only this, it alerts the rider of the upcoming curves and speed camera, so they reduce the speed and avoid getting a ticket.
It is resistant to fuel vapors, UV rays, and harsh weather conditions. The weather app tells you if it is safe to travel ahead or if you should stop at a nearby hotel/homestay, with recommendations available on the device itself through TripAdvisor. The GPS navigator is simple to set up and can be mounted on your handlebars.
- Intuitive touch screen
- Offers real-time traffic and weather updates
- Has a built-in Wi-Fi
- Compatible with smartphones
- Easy to install
- Some people faced issues with the software
#2. Garmin Zumo XT
Launched in 2020, the Garmin Zumo XT has a 5.5 inch HD display with both landscape and portrait mode. It is glove-friendly and rain-resistant. The product is rugged and has passed the military standard 810 drop test. It can withstand rough terrains and all kinds of weather. It has preloaded on-road and off-road maps of North and Central America that offer adventurous riding routes and experience.
With an active connection enabled via Wi-Fi wireless technology, you’ll have access to BirdEye satellite imagery. You can quickly switch between on-road maps, topographic maps, and BirdEye satellite imagery with ease. The battery lasts 3.5 hours if the brightness is at 100% and 6 hours with normal settings.
The Garmin Drive App can be used to access live weather and traffic updates, phone notifications, and share the routes. The voice GPS feature eliminates the need for the rider to look down at the screen from time to time. You can talk to people on the phone without having to stop the ride.
Pair it with a compatible inReach satellite communicator for interactive SOS, two-way messaging, and location sharing. It will allow you to keep in touch with your travel buddies along the way. However, you’ll have to buy it separately.
The device can record the route using the track recorder for you to use for your future trips.
You can also stream music to vibe on while riding. Simply connect the Zumo XT to a smartphone or listen to the MP3 file stored on the device. The rider has all the options available on the screen. Some customers felt the user interface was confusing and hard to use.
- 5.5-inch display
- Long-lasting battery
- Rugged and sturdy
- Has a voice GPS
- Supports BirdEye satellite imagery
- Confusing user interface
#3. TomTom Rider 550
The TomTom Rider 550 has a 4.5-inch display with both portrait and landscape modes. It’s easily readable in the sunlight with brightness at maximum. The capacitive touch screen allows you to use the GPS system even with your gloves on. The built-in Wi-Fi allows you access to new software, the latest maps, and routes. It will notify the user about the new updates and install them at their convenience.
You’ll find intelligent routes to your destination, thanks to real-time traffic updates. You can avoid congestion by taking the shortest route available. It notifies you about an approaching speed camera and about the speed limit. Unlike its competitors, the TomTom Rider 550 includes maps of the entire world, not just North America. Your trip can be tailored with a hilly, scenic view or along the coast to make it full of adventures and a thrilling experience.
It has GPS’ quad-core processor, which increases the processing speed and takes less time to get the GPS started. The weatherproof design protects the device against harsh weather conditions. It has a rugged build, adding to its durability.
The system can be connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth to access messages, hands-free calling, music, etc. You can use it via Siri or Google Now. This makes your ride smoother and ensures you don’t miss out on anything important. The device is easy to install on your motorcycle using a specialized RAM mount.
- 4.5-inch display
- 5x faster GPS quad processor
- Sturdy build
- Weatherproof design
- Easy to install
- Wi-Fi updates are slow
#4. Garmin Zumo 595LM
Another Garmin GPS system, this one has a 5-inch display screen with dual orientation i.e. portrait and landscape mode. It has a sturdy design and can easily withstand harsh weather conditions. The touch screen is glove-friendly, and you can easily read the screen even with the sun over your head. Just keep the brightness to maximum. However, it does have an impact on the system’s battery life.
Like other Gramin models, it can be connected to a smartphone via Bluetooth, allowing the rider to enjoy hands-free calling and receive important notifications directly on the tracker. You can listen to your favorite music on Spotify, Apple Music, or Pandora.
You can create a fun route for yourself full of scenic views. It limits the major highways and allows you to reach your destination without any delay. The GPS sends you alerts about the speed limits, state helmet laws, animal crossings, sharp curves, red lights, etc. This allows you to prepare yourself for the upcoming situation, stay safe, and not come back home to traffic tickets in your mailbox.
The device has a built-in GPS tracker for your friends to track your real-time location. This feature comes in handy in case you get separated from the group.
This one is also impervious to UV rays and fuel vapors. You don’t have to worry about any damage or whatsoever.
- 5-inch display screen
- Rugged build
- GPS tracker feature
- Weather and fuel vapor resistant
- Compatible with smartphones
- Scratchy Bluetooth audio
- Battery life is not very long
#5. TrailTech Voyager Pro
The TrailTech Voyager Pro is an off-road GPS. It features a colored 4-inch display screen which is also anti-glare. It has an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance. However, because the screen is so small, some customers found it difficult to read while riding. The screen is glove-friendly, so you won’t have to take the gloves off to use the GPS. It contains topography maps with support tracks, routes, and waypoints.
The best part about this GPS is that you can change the color of the route you are taking to not get confused and have a smooth riding experience. The device has buttons on both sides, making it even easier to use. It tracks the motorcycle speed and displays it on the screen, along with engine temperature, distance, elevation, and voltage. Use the Buddy Tracking feature to track the real-time location of up to 20 members of your traveling group, so you help out in case anyone gets lost.
The TrailTech Voyager Pro already comes loaded with North America’s map, and you can easily download maps of other continents as well. Connect your smartphone with the GPS system via Bluetooth and get access to your messages, notifications, and hands-free calling. You no longer have to stop mid-way to check on your important work and get started again. Not only this, you can connect two phones and two headsets with the device at once.
The GPS system is easy to install, but you’ll have to run wiring which may take around two hours. If you don’t wish to get into the whole process, just get it installed by a professional.
- Preloaded and easy to download maps
- Buddy tracking feature
- Can connect two phones and headsets at once
- The screen size is small, difficult to read
Motorcycle GPS: Buyer’s Guide
A GPS navigator can be a faithful travel companion, but let’s face it, the device is not cheap. So, before you buy one, do some research on the best options available. This is why we’ve put together a mini-buying guide to help you understand everything you need to consider:
The GPS unit usually comes with a map of North America preloaded. However, if you intend to ride to a different continent, purchase a unit that is compatible with the world map so that you can easily download it. It is also preferable to choose a device that is regularly updated by the manufacturer for more accurate and up-to-date routes. You can download them as soon as you find a Wi-Fi connection.
You need a device with reliable battery life, especially if you are going on a long adventure. There are devices available with a battery life ranging from 2 to 16 hours. We recommend that you get at least a mid-range one that will last 6-8 hours maximum. Also, keep a couple of spare batteries on hand if they will work with your GPS unit.
Ease of use
The GPS unit should be user-friendly as more often than not you’ll be using it while riding. The touch screen should be intuitive, and the device should be fast enough for easy navigation. You can check out the customer reviews to see if it’s what you’re looking for.
The GPS device is exposed to harsh weather conditions, UV rays, and even fuel vapors. This can damage the system, but only if you invest in a cheap and flimsy model. The unit housing should be tough, sturdy, and weatherproof. Because you’ll be traveling on rough terrain, it should be shock-resistant to withstand any shaking and disturbance.
Most GPS systems include mounting hardware, making it easier to install even at home. The units with universal mounting systems can fit any type of bike. This feature is useful if you want to transfer the system from one motorcycle to another. Then, there are devices that are mounted on handlebars or even on gas tanks. Make sure they are compatible with bikes and are securely attached.
A small GPS unit may be difficult to read, while a large unit may be too bulky and get in your way. Before you buy a navigator, make sure it will fit perfectly on your handlebars or wherever you want to install the device. For this, use a measuring tape and compare it to the product description. Also, check if it is compatible with your motorcycle model.
The device should be waterproof or at least weatherproof to withstand sudden changes in weather conditions. It should easily handle rain, moisture, dirt, dust, extreme sunlight, etc. However, please note that there is a difference between weatherproof and waterproof. Weatherproof means that the device can withstand light rain but will get damaged if left in the rain for long. Therefore, choose carefully.
Gloves are an essential piece of riding gear. You wouldn’t want to remove your gloves every time you need to use the GPS, especially when it’s bitterly cold outside. As a result, make sure you purchase a glove-friendly device. Many manufacturers claim that their products are so, but read the customer reviews to be on the safer side.
The Bluetooth connectivity feature can be a lifesaver for those who can’t stay away from their phones and have important texts/calls coming. You can easily connect your smartphone and enjoy hands-free calling, as well as streaming your favorite music if your GPS system supports it. So, purchase a Bluetooth-enabled device that can communicate with your cell phone.
Motorcycle GPS can be a huge investment, and you might go overboard with your budget, given the number of features they have. This is why it is critical to conduct thorough research, set a budget in advance, and stick to it. Make sure the price you are paying is worth it.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Can I use car GPS on a motorcycle?
Yes, a car GPS can be used on a motorcycle, but it is not recommended. This is because a motorcycle GPS is designed in a way to withstand harsh conditions. They are mostly weatherproof and even waterproof, which may not be the case with a car GPS. Also, they can easily withstand vibrations and impact.
Q. What is a good budget for a motorcycle GPS?
A motorcycle GPS system is not as cheap. You can find some inexpensive and reliable models for under $300. However, they might not have the premium features that may be essential for a ride. The best ones are usually above $300 and have extra features like intuitive user interface, GPS tracker, map sharing, Bluetooth connectivity, etc.
Q. How do you mount a GPS on a motorcycle?
The GPS system can be installed in various ways depending on the type of unit you buy. Here’s how it can be mounted on a handlebar:
- Once you buy a GPS unit with hardware included, decide where on the handlebar you want to install it.
- Using an Allen key, unscrew the handlebar mount. Adjust the mount with the width of your handlebars and make sure it fits properly.
- Now, as you place the mount on the handlebars, tighten it with the Allen key so that it doesn’t move.
- Attach the holder using a screwdriver and put all the screws in. Place the GPS on the holder.
- Connect the battery cable to the motorcycle GPS. One end will be plugged into the GPS unit, while the other will be connected to the 12-volt power supply on your motorcycle.
- Finally, switch on the unit and start using it.
Q. How do I maintain my motorcycle GPS?
To maintain the GPS for a longer period of time, try not to overwork it. When not in use, remove the GPS and keep it someplace safe to protect it from theft and sudden rain and weather changes. Cover the GPS with a screen protector to save it from UV rays or when your hands are oily/dirty. Try to be gentle with the screen and avoid putting too much pressure on it. Clean and wipe it regularly.
To sum it up, let us tell you about the GPS model that won our hearts. We would recommend you the Garmin Zumo XT. The display is considerably large, and the long battery life of the system is a huge plus. It is user-friendly, weather-resistant, and has a voice GPS feature.
Our second favorite is the TomTom Rider 550. This adventure motorcycle GPS is easy to use, has a 5x faster GPS quadcore processor, and is built to last. You can, however, select the device that best meets your requirements and preferences.