In today’s tech-driven world, there are GPS devices for practically anything. So it’s only natural that brands that make a car GPS would get around to making motorcycle GPS units as well. These devices do wonders for maintaining reliable, precise GPS data for motorbikes, and Garmin’s line of motorbike GPS devices is a true standout. But what exactly is a Garmin motorbike GPS?
Garmin’s line of best motorbike GPS devices feature the Zumo XT, Zumo 595LM and the Zumo 395LM. All Garmin GPS units are custom-made with superb touchscreen functionality – perfect for gloves – as well as innovative data points related to all things motorbike inside of precise and reliable GPS accuracy.
These units can alert you of pertinent information regarding road hazards, rural roadblocks, such as logging roads, as well as useful navigation for motorbiking in urban settings as well.
Unlike a standard vehicle, motorbikes need much more advanced GPS to track a wide range of topographic maps, road hazards, and specific riding dynamics that differ greatly from vehicles. Garmin has certainly earned its reputation as one of the best motorcycle GPS manufacturers on the market.
In this guide, we will review some of the best Garmin products in this field including:
And explore a range of useful frequently asked questions on motorbike GPS. Read on to find out more.
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About Garmin motorcycle GPS devices
Whether you are in Western Europe and need Western Europe maps, or North America, and need a wide range of North American maps, Garmin motorcycle GPS has some of the best mapping technology of any brand.
The great thing about Garmin’s motorbike line is that these devices alleviate the pain of possibly losing your phone when riding on a motorbike – or worse, having an accident while trying to handle your phone.
Navigation is one of the most overlooked and challenging skill sets for adventurous riders to master. We don’t have to worry about printed maps we keep in our pockets anymore, but GPS units are not all created equally, and this is especially true for motorbikes.
Even the best motorcycle sat nav will have issues with maps – be it Google maps or practically any kind of mapping system. So much of what is designed is prioritized for vehicles, which is why a quality sat nav for motorbikes is crucial.
There are great models out there, such as the Tomtom Rider and other brands, but Garmin has a knack for creating innovative products that are perfectly contoured for their designated use.
Their sat nav devices for motorbikes are no exception. Whether you need a speed camera or a device that features multiple maps for backroads and major highways, Garmin delivers all of this.
Garmin manages to combine the best features of a smartphone and sync all of this inside of a GPS device, which is a bit old in terms of tech. In short, you get the best of both technologies all in one mounted device.
Motorcycle sat nav devices are different from car sat navs in that you need to have good touchscreen technology and mounting capabilities for motorbiking travel.
The Garmin Zumo line has certainly mastered these facts, and the XT model is their latest, and in many ways, their greatest motorcycle sat nav.
Let’s take an in-depth look at this model.
One of the standout details about the Garmin Zumo XT is that this is a motorbike GPS that is perfect for those who have previously shied away from this type of unit. Some people feel like navigating with their phone is more than enough or, some riders may still swear by printed road maps – there are many different types of motorbike enthusiasts.
But going with an actual, dedicated GPS system that is mounted onto your bike is a matter of convenience that cannot be topped.
The screen is very bright, and you can hold it horizontally or vertically – either way works well thanks to the 5.5-inch touchscreen technology.
The Zumo XT is also versatile, which means you can figure the device however you want.
The actual case is rated IPX 7, which means it is waterproof up to 30 meters for one meter of water, so you do not have to worry about rainfall at all.
With a roughly $500 price point, this makes the Zumo XT a middle-of-the-road GPS device, which means the price is borderline average when compared to all the other units, such as the Tomtom Rider.
The Zumo XT comes equipped with several features.
The birds-eye satellite imagery view feature is very beneficial as it gives you roughly a one-mile aerial view of all your surroundings.
This provides a crystal clear picture of what is going to be in front of you, behind you, and around you at all intervals. So if you are using this device off-road, you can see clearly all of the terrains you can expect to traverse through.
There is also a feature for when you are selecting directions that allows you to tap into Garmin adventurous routing, and this is available on both European maps as well as North America.
For example, if you are riding from Maine to California, and you want to take all back roads, you can position the slider to “more adventurous routing” and you can traverse the entire route on backroads, which is perfect for capturing scenery.
You could also toggle for more middle-of-the-road routing to take in a mixture between the two types. You can fine-tune the route that works best for you.
What makes the Zumo XT one of the best motorcycle sat nav GPS units is that you can toggle between different variations.
For example, the device can easily find dirt roads, fire roads, and backroads, and the device will route you through them as long as it is listed as official roads. Again, these variations are true for European maps as well as North America.
Like most Garmin devices, the Zumo XT hooks up with the Garmin Connect app.
When you sync this device to your phone, it will give you real-time, live traffic reports, turn-by-turn directions, updates for winding roads, speed camera alerts, weather updates, the fastest route, twisty routes, worldwide maps, and the ability to download and control music through Bluetooth connectivity on a Bluetooth headset.
From a mounting point of view, one of the things that have changed is the lack of a car mount, which makes motorbike windscreen mounting difficult, a feature not seen with something like the Tomtom Rider or other motorcycle sat nav models.
But the ram mounts make for easy handlebar mounting, which means you can run it vertically or horizontally, and all it takes is the touch of a finger to loosen or tighten the mount.
This is a motorbike GPS with innovative features inside of a simplistic and easy-to-use design.
- Perfect for wearing gloves
- Easy to navigate, manage, and review a wide variety of routes
- Feature packed
- When paired with the smartphone app, smart notifications, voice commands, and hands-free calling are all included
- No dust protection, which means dusty riding conditions in arid climates could be challenging
- Weak power charge and battery life on longer rides
- Low storage capacity, but sim card compatible
Is Garmin Zumo XT worth it?
If you have never used a GPS device for motorbikes before or, if you have stayed away from these devices, the Garmin Zumo makes it very simple for you to transition into motorbike GPS.
Whether you are using this device for detail-by-detail directions across major highways, or you are downloading complex route-based data for winding roads, sharp curves on roads with a rugged design, or more, this device is set up perfectly for route planning.
The Garmin Zumo model XT is certainly one of the best motorcycle sat nav devices and the best GPS device for motorbikes currently on the market for those new to the technology.
Some of the older models of Garmin motorcycle sat navs certainly win high marks in any sat nav review.
The only difference in many of these models from the newest models are updates to various technologies.
Let’s take a look at two of the best older models of motorcycle sat navs by Garmin.
The Zumo 595 LM is both an innovative and rugged sat nav and still holds up well today since its release in the mid-2010s.
Although you will likely find more overall use from your smartphone, the mounting customization of this unit combined with the useful navigation features is certainly worth the price.
For motorbikes, Garmin wins high points for consistently modifying their GPS devices to align with the experience of riding a motorbike in every conceivable mode and region.
The 595 LM is fully customizable based on what navigations and directions you need for virtually all sites and map points on a route.
Symbols on the interface easily let you know if upcoming destinations are on your chosen route or, if turns and detours will be needed to reach certain destinations.
The expedition mode interface is glove-friendly, and the anti-glare screen certainly helps when viewing rider alerts.
Although nothing can compete with the birds-eye satellite imagery of the XT, this device is great if you do not require much navigation innovation.
There are convenient voice commands that speak out pertinent information while riding, and this particularly comes in handy when you need quick information for the fastest route without having to look down.
Overall, the 595 LM is a bit outdated in the 2020s but is still a viable, useful, and perfectly adequate sat nav for those who only need basic features and GPS information while riding.
While it does lack some of the more innovative adventure riding features of the newest models in the same line, it still manages to get the job done.
- Calculates routes for a wide variety of terrain and small and busy highways
- Comes with red light cameras and speed cameras for safe driving
- Glove-friendly for light or thick gloves and comes with a convenient screen size
- Ability to stream and download music
- 4-hour battery life is not very convenient for those who need longer battery life for extended trips
- A bit expensive for an older model
The Garmin 395 LM is a bit small, but it still holds up well.
This unit has free lifetime map updates, which is always welcome, and like the previous models mentioned, it also includes adventurous route selections and is Bluetooth compatible.
What I particularly love about this model is that it tracks all of your maintenance, which means you can keep a maintenance log and know when air filters, fuel, and modifications to your cycle need renewals or service requests.
Although this unit is smaller than the 595 LM, it really is not all that much smaller, possibly an inch or so to be honest.
On the settings tab, the design is fashioned to make navigation of the features simple.
You can select your media player, adjust the screen brightness, access all of your trip data based on what you want to be recorded, the ability to change map preferences at will, and numerous apps that come with the device as well as the ability to add more.
A particularly useful feature is the helmet guide, which will go state-by-state and region by region to let you know which regions require helmet use and which do not.
Bit for bit, it can be hard to tell any noticeable differences between the 395 Lm and the 595 LM, but the battery life on this model is a bit better than the battery life of the 595.
As an older model, the price point is also a bit lower than newer models.
All in all, this is a perfectly capable sat nav, but a bit too out-of-date to be classed as one of the best motorcycle sat navs.
- Free updates on topographical maps for life
- Useful fuel stop feature to provide you alerts for refuelling
- Hands-free calls and music capabilities
- Comes with speed cameras
- One of the older sat navs for bikes on the market
- Smartphone capabilities are limited
- Lack of advanced trail tech
Which Garmin Zumo is best?
Hands down, the XT Zumo will win high marks on any sat nav review for motorbikes. It certainly competes with the Tomtom Rider in my opinion.
Both Tomtom and Garmin are the top two brands in this field, but the XT within the Zumo line from Garmin is like having a perfectly modified, waterproof smartphone mounted on your handlebars.
Its speed cameras, sat nav innovation, useful maintenance features such as tire pressure monitoring, screen size, voice command protocols, live traffic updates, ability to block UV rays, route planning, and so much more are all top of the line.
Using a sat nav made for a car on a motorbike is not advisable.
The speed cameras and more will not accurately reflect all of the data you will need for a motorcycle.
But in the grand scheme of things, and if you are only going to use the car sat nav for maps and routes, you could feasibly get the information you need in this regard.
But at the end of the day, it goes a long way to actually use a sat nav that is made exclusively for a motorbike, since all of the reflected data will be generated with a bike in mind.
For years now, nearly all GPS-mounted devices have been a bit pricey, and the reason behind this is both the design of the devices being created to mount to motorbikes, as well as all the technology that is placed into the devices in terms of navigation, mapping, as well as smart features.
This is likely why using a smartphone on a motorbike is undeniably the most popular mechanism for motorbike navigation since no additional purchase will be needed.
But using a smartphone while riding comes with its own set of limitations and distractions.
Therefore, it is convenient and safer to have a specially-designed motorbike sat nav.
Is a motorcycle GPS worth it?
A GPS device for a motorcycle is certainly worth the cost and investment. Some of the complaints with the devices almost always involve their mounting capabilities as well as the price tag.
But some of the best features of these Garmin devices are the free lifetime updates available for maps.
And with a product like the XT Zumo, the adventure routes are perfect for those who like to ride their bikes on backroads and through rural areas.
You will always know where you are and where you are going.
Garmin or Tomtom Rider: which is best?
The Rider model by Tomtom is truly a great sat nav for motorbikes, but it is virtually tied with the Garmin XT in the Zumo line.
Any sat nav review, granted it is a motorbike sat nav review, will almost always compare these two models.
The differences between the two models would truly come down to user tastes since both have a level of innovation that is useful for motorcycle riders.
The Garmin Zumo XT wins this argument in my opinion thanks to the numerous features found within adventurous routing, which is perfect for adventurous riders.
When it comes to mounting a sat nav on a motorbike, you will mostly be limited to the design specifics of the individual model.
Most sat navs for motorbikes are designed to be mounted on the handlebars, and this truly does provide the best front-facing view to read all of the displayed information.
All of the Garmin models mentioned in this guide come with instructions that walk you through mounting the devices on the handlebars.
All you need to do is screw the GPS device into the mount and then attach the clamps onto the handlebars of your motorbike.
In summary, all of the Garmin sat navs for motorbikes covered in this review guide are going to provide some kind of benefit to their users.
Whether you want the latest model which includes a wide array of settings and features for adventurous routing or a smaller model from the past that includes, at the minimum, a wide array of simple and essential features for an optimal navigation, any of these listed models will be sure to meet the needs you require from a motorbike sat nav.
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