Navigation on a motorcycle can be difficult because it’s difficult for the rider to read a map whilst on the move, so handlebar-mounted GPS satellite navigation systems can be very useful. GPS systems for motorcycles need to be more rugged than those for cars, since they are exposed to the elements, and the controls have to be easy to operate for somebody wearing gloves.
Motorcyclists also need anti-glare screens, since they don’t have a roof to shield their navigation system from bright sunshine. Another point to consider is that, unlike cars, motorcycles do not have a power socket to connect a GPS unit to, so battery life is an important issue – although some satnav units are supplied with adapters that can be wired into the bike’s electrics.
Both of the leading manufacturers offer GPS navigation systems designed especially for the needs of motorcycle and scooter riders:
Garmin Zumo 550
The Zumo 550 offers all of the features you would expect from any GPS navigation system, along with some handy extras designed with motorcyclists in mind. The touch screen and controls are easy to use with your gloves on, and can be operated with your left hand, which means you can keep your right hand covering the front brake at all times.
The 3.5 inch screen can be read in bright sunlight and is UV resistant to prevent it from fading over time. The unit also keeps track of your distance travelled between refuels, and can warn you when the bike is running low on gas. It weighs 10.6 ounces and is reasonably compact, so it’s easy enough to carry around when you get off the bike.
The GPS unit features a speaker to provide voice directions, and also has built-in Bluetooth, allowing you to use it with a headset and your mobile phone, making it possible to answer calls while you’re on the move.
For the style-conscious, Garmin supplies caps in a variety of colors to match your motorcycle’s paint scheme. A universal mounting bracket is supplied, so you should be able to attach the device to any motorcycle, and a car-mount is also supplied.
Price: $650 (approx)
TomTom Rider 2
In addition to a 3.5 inch anti-glare screen, this motorcycle GPS navigation system also features a sun visor built into the casing, to make it even easier to read in bright sunlight. The Rider 2 comes supplied with a Bluetooth headset, allowing motorcycle riders to listen to the spoken navigation instructions even when they’re wearing a crash helmet.
The device is waterproof and designed to be easily operated whilst wearing gloves. A universal motorcycle mounting kit is supplied, but a car mount is only available as an optional extra.
The TomTom Share feature allows you to modify the maps with your own points of interest and to share with your friends, so you can share information about your favourite roads with other riders. Another handy optional extra feature will let you know where to find the cheapest fuel near to your current location.
Garmin Zumo 665
If you want the very latest in motorcycle GPS navigation units, the Garmin Zumo 665 is for you. The Zumo 665’s unique features include advanced 3D navigation, a large 4.3 inch screen, and a built in MP3 player allowing you to listen to music or e-books through the supplied Bluetooth headset. Alternatively, you can connect a headset through the standard headphone jack.
The device also offers a lane-assist feature, guiding you into the most appropriate lane as you approach a junction, and also provides you with a lifelike image of the approaching junction so that you can be better prepared for it.
Optional extras include an XM antenna, which will enable you to receive traffic and weather updates as well as XM Radio® with 170 ad-free music channels. The Zumo 665 features a built in MicroSD slot and allows you to share ride data with your friends – you can even review your rides on Google Earth when you get home.