Have you ever been lost in an unfamiliar countryside? Or maybe it was the endless maze of streets in the big cities that gave you nightmares? Sure, we have physical maps, but stopping your ride for a quick look at a map just to see where should you go next is kind of a buzz killer that seriously interrupts the flow of your ride. Plus, maps tend to get unusable when it’s raining outside and the next shelter is so many miles away.
If you’re sick and tired of getting lost or just want to find the quickest way, you may want to consider investing in a GPS device for your motorcycle. Compared to maps they are fairly easy to use due to an intuitive 3D first person view.
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Since they’re small and lightweight , GPS devices occupy an insignificant amount of space on your bike thus making your ride enjoyable with an instant feedback on where to go next. Some of them even behave as your personal travel planners and assistants, planning your routes based on your desires and expectations.
Others update you with new information through their voice assist program that completely eliminates the need to look at the device in question. We are here to help you decide what might be the best motorcycle GPS device.
This review will rank five products based on their performance. We will try to keep it as objective as possible but since they are top 5 best, it will be hard to decide between these models.
Global Positioning System (GPS) started out as a combination of various military technologies that have their origins in radio navigation systems developed by the British Royal Navy in the early 1940’s. Those early devices weren’t very precise and had a short range since they were based on the Earth’s surface.
After WW2 the US Army takes the lead in navigation systems development. Throughout the entire Cold War and especially during the Space Race in the 1960’s, the US Army had perfected satellite enabled navigation that was initially used for tracking submarines.
What started out as a “small” project of six interlinked satellites that orbited the poles in the search of enemy vessels grew to an impressive 27 satellites by 1993. That year is considered the beginning of GPS era.
Today, although officially owned by the US Government, GPS is free for public use, as long as you have an appropriate device that is linked with the satellites maintained by the US Air Force.
How it works
The satellites in question make up the whole GPS system. Each of those 27 satellites makes two full rotations per day. The satellites are positioned in such a way that every single spot on the face of the earth is visible to 4 satellites at any given time. Your device links with them and then calculates the distance to all 4 of them.
This process is called Trilateration and it even involves some heavy duty physics concerning the General Relativity Theory. You must admit that it’s pretty cool riding with Einstein for a guide!
Why should you invest in them?
- Size matters: It is physically impossible to carry all the maps that you need with you. And even if it was, it would take you years to sort through them, especially in the middle of a rainstorm. GPS devices can instantly show you the correct way to your destination, wherever you may be on this planet, as they rely on a precise electronic system.
- Time matters too. If you are an urban biker, GPS can help you navigate those excruciating morning rush hours that can sometimes easily consume a big chunk of your day. Awareness of alternate routes can make your life so much easier and take your time back right where it belongs – in your hands. On the other side, if you are visiting an unfamiliar city, finding your way through the busy streets of a big city can be a painful experience.
- Instant and understandable navigation. GPS devices operate in real time with an easy-to-use interface. While the device collects data on the road ahead, you are guided by a 3D representation of the map of the terrain. The interface is intuitive and simple which makes getting lost almost impossible to achieve. The exchange of information between your device and the satellites is almost instantaneous, which makes the map accurate and updated in every single moment. With GPS, navigating the terrain is like playing a video game.
- Money, money and again money. Imagine having to spend a fortune for all the maps that you will need for your travels. We are talking about sheets and sheets of paper, some of which, you will probably use once or twice in your lifetime. One GPS device can substitute all of those maps and makes them available and easily accessible on the tip of your finger. Whether it is rural Asia, bustling metropolises such as New York City or desolate spaces like Antarctica, you will always know your way
- They’re not a luxury anymore. GPS devices are fairly affordable and buying one is a sound investment that more and more bikers around the world choose. Sometimes, the road you take is much more important than the destination.
Things to consider before purchasing
First and foremost, see what kind of a biker are you. If you are an off-road type, choose a product that is most durable both in the terms of battery life and sturdiness. If you are an urban type, a GPS device can make you better acquainted with your city.
For those who enjoy long cruises and sunsets on the horizon, there are roads less traveled that you may never find about if you don’t have a GPS device. Some of them are pricier while others are more affordable. It is of utmost importance to choose the one that meets your needs.
Don’t rush into buying. Take your time and choose wisely.
The best motorcycle GPS device reviews: Top 5
Since there are a lot of products out there in the market, it can be painful and tedious trying to figure out the best one. The market is often flooded with devices of low quality which makes it hard to pinpoint ones that are good.
That’s why we made this list that contains top 5 motorcycle GPS devices. We did all the legwork for you, so just sit back and try to decide which one is best suited for your needs.
5. 4.3″ 8GB IPX7 Waterproof Motorcycle GPS Navigation
Made by Decree, the IPX7 model represents a perfect solution for a casual biker who wants a decent, yet affordable GPS device. It runs on a Windows OS with 128 MB DDR2. It can store up to 8 GB worth of maps plus additional storage of 8 GB external flash memory.
IPX7 is powered by a 1900mA rechargeable. It can even play a wide range of audio and video formats: AVI, WMV, ASF, MP4, DIVX, XVID for the video and MP3 and WMA for the audio. As for the map software, IPX7 supports IGO8 IGOPRO GARMIN PAPAGO R66 TOMTOM, PolNav, and Navitel.
If you accidentally drop it in a puddle, don’t worry: it can withstand 30 minutes of exposure to water up to 1 meter of depth. It comes preloaded with video games, an E-book reader, calculator and a photo viewer which supports BMP/JPG formats. The processor that runs it is MSB2531 ARM Cortex A7 32bir 800MHZ. Apart from the device, the package includes one USB cable, charger, car adapter, suction mount, mounting bracket and user manual
What is characteristic for this device is that it is one of the cheaper among devices here reviewed, which of course doesn’t mean it can’t compare by quality with other entries on this list. IPX7 is more than capable to lead the way for a casual biker.
Another peculiarity is its weight. This is also officially the lightest device in this entry and that makes it perfect for a biker that doesn’t want too much stress on his vehicle.
- Extremely light weight
- The most affordable one
- Software that supports multiple languages.
- Value for money
4. Excelvan 4.3” 256MB DDR3 8GB Flash GPS
Excelvan takes their GPS devices to another level. With 8 GB of internal memory plus 32 GB of external memory support, it can guarantee you storage of all maps needed for your trip. The LCD touch screen is enforced and the whole product has some raw kind of quality that you can rarely find among similar ones.
It packs 256 MB DDR3. As for the processor, it runs on an MStar MSB2531, ARM Cortex-A7 CPU, 800MHz. The shell is made out of ABS and plastic, so it’ll be pretty much sensitive to falls. It has a built-in MP3 player that supports MP3 and WMA as well as a video player that can play MP4,MPGE,MPG and AVI formats.
Although a headset is always recommended, this device has a 1 W speaker, which may not be enough for the busy and loud traffic situations. In the package, you can expect holders both for car and motorcycles, a bracket, USB cable, car charging cable, motorcycle charging cable, 4 extra screws and a user manual.
Excelvan boasts a 1-year guarantee for your product and plus has a friendly and always available customer support that has your back in any situation, which you must admit comes in handy if you experience any problems with your device while on the road.
Price is also one of Excelvan’s nicer points since this is by far the cheapest product on this list. Don’t let that fool you, this one can give others a run for their money although it seems low-quality.
- Low price
- Screen brightness
- Resistive multi-touch screen
- Resistant to all natural elements including earthquakes
- 256 MB processor
- Battery life
3. Garmin Zumo 390LM 4.3-Inch Motorcycle GPS Navigator
Garmin made a really tough product this time. Zumo offers compatibility with all kinds of vehicles including sports motorbikes, cruiser motorbikes, and even snowmobiles. Cut the long story short, you can mount it on anything as long as it even resembles a motorcycle.
Zumo is also compatible with Tire Pressure Monitor System3 which lets you know if your tires are in need of service. It sports 4.3 inches WGVQA TFT glove-friendly touchscreen that has a white backlight. There is one piece of interesting software included and it’s called Curvy roads which automatically finds the longest detour route to your destination for those times when you simply want to enjoy the ride, not caring about the destination.
What stands out is it’s no joke attitude when it comes to dealing with weather. Zumo is so tough it is even resistant to fuel spills and UV rays.
You can also use it with your riding gloves as it has a sensitive touchpad. It also connects to your headset through the bluetooth signal and provides you with spoken directions. This basically means that you don’t have to even look which comes in handy on hard and complicated roads.
- Voice directions
- Headset connection
- The visible screen even in the brightest daylight
- Battery life
- Although it boasts the Tire Pressure System3, it is sold separately
2. TomTom RIDER Motorcycle GPS Navigator
TomTom’s RIDER can really take you for a ride. It comes equipped with a feature called Winding Roads Routes that can take you to those roads that you have never been before. The device practically makes an adventure for you.
Free lifetime map updates make this device much less demanding and precise. There is also an option for preprogramming your routes and customizing your ride. A range of features such as this can interest both the adventure types and the ones that prefer a routine in their ride.
Packaging includes the device preloaded with daily updated maps of USA and Canada, charging motorcycle mount, USB 2.0 cable, USB port and documentation, such as warranty and user manual. Since the device is updated daily, it can effectively show you which roads have become throttled overnight, thus saving you time and nerves.
You can mount a headset if you have to pay close attention to roads. Some points of interest like gas stations or rest stops come preloaded but, of course, you have total liberty to change them or add some new ones.
RIDER has a unique feature that enables you to preprogram your routes, find the easiest and quickest way to your destination. There is also an option called Winding routes that can take you through curviest roads if you are sick and tired of those boring straight lines.
Another interactive feature is Tyre, an application that can help you preplan your itinerary, upload it to your device from your PC and share it with others via the Internet.
- Customized routes
- Preplanned itineraries
- Lifetime map updates
1. Garmin Zumo 660LM GPS Motorcycle Navigator
This Garmin’s model is somewhat more serious than the other one on this best motorcycle GPS list. Zumo 660LM has an option for 3D display of buildings making the navigation far easier and more convenient. It even points out if it is necessary to change lanes, and has photo-realistic pictures of upcoming junctions that await you around the corner.
If you are riding for long and need some adequate music for your trip, Zumo 660LM comes with an MP3 player and Bluetooth headset connection as well as a jack for a headset. Apart from an MP3 player, you can read books with an E –book reader while you are resting or store pictures on it.
You can also mount your telephone and pair it up with your device. This makes making and receiving phone calls without jeopardizing your concentration that should be exclusively focused on the road ahead of you.
Designed by bikers it boasts a display that has all the information placed on the screen in the most convenient way. Just like its cousin the 390LM model it is super resistant to weather fuel and UV rays.
Garmin supports an online community of riders where you can share your itineraries, detours and riding tips with other fellow bikers. You can also coordinate your ride with your friends that are traveling with you.
If you have to leave the bike in the garage and take the car, you can mount your Zumo 660LM on your car and enjoy two navigators for the price of one. That means that you don’t have to be on a bike to enjoy all the nice features that Garmin offers.
Zumo 660LM comes preloaded with interest points on your route such as motels, gas stations, hospitals and much more. Let’s sum this one up with a pros n’ cons rundown, shall we?
- Lifetime map updates
- Saves your chosen routes for every trip
- Runs on a heavy-duty rechargeable Li-ion battery
- Connection to a computer for map updates required
GPS devices have come a long way from their humble ground-based origins and military background to our bikes and cars. The technology itself has revolutionized road-trips, making them easy and comprehensible while making drivers more relaxed and less stressed out about finding the right way. Simply speaking, maps are things of a past.
Choosing the right GPS device is a very hard process that can’t be done easily. As stated above, if you decide to purchase one, try taking all the pros, cons and specifications into consideration and see what fits best in your riding habits. First identify yourself: see what you enjoy the most. If you don’t have much use for multiple options and just need to get from point A to point B, any affordable model can do the trick
Most people purchase a product believing that all GPS devices are the same and that there is no difference. Our position is : if you are already investing, invest wisely. If you are an off-road type try something that ca satisfy your wanderlust while being tough and durable.
Garmin Zumo 390LM is ideal for those who like adventure and finding new roads. If on the other hand, you like your gadgets to be as precise as possible you should better try Garmin Zumo 660LM. With its precise graphics, it makes riding in a confusing place, such as the city center, more acceptable and comprehensible.
Unfortunately, Garmin’s devices are among the pricier on this list, but judging by the high sales and good user experience, they completely justify their price. However, if you don’t care about flashy options and just want to enjoy the biker subculture and to connect to your fellow bikers, then TomTom Rider can offer you the most. With its network of users that help each other and share their best road secrets, owning this device feel more like you are a part of a community of like-minded individuals that are there for each other.
It’s pretty much clear that the age of huge and endlessly foldable maps is behind us. GPS navigators often convenience beyond imaginable. Having a voice assisted road orientation is like having your own riding assistant. You can just relax and quit worrying yourself with complicated decisions on which road to take next because you can easily rely on your trustworthy GPS navigator. You can easily recharge them via adapter on the next stop.
This review was made to help you find the best motorcycle GPS. We hope that it was useful and informative enough. We also hope that you will consider dumping all those useless maps that have been gathering dust somewhere in your house or in your bike compartment.
Join the ever increasing number of satisfied bikers who have tried this new and exciting technology and made it a part of their passion and that is riding. Remember: it’s not a question of having any GPS device but having the best motorcycle GPS device. We hope you enjoyed the ride and above all – ride safely!