Best Motorcycle GPS of 2020
Exploring adventures without the best motorcycle GPS brings challenges of getting lost along the way with complex trails especially when riding on off-road terrains. Using smartphones for navigation, unfortunately, have proved to be inconvenient and incompetent. They do not match the functionality, rugged design and convenience of the best motorcycle GPS.
The choice of the best motorcycle GPS can be overwhelming if you have no idea of what features to look for. It is also different from the choice of vehicle motorcycle GPS due to certain environmental factors. To make your shopping an absolute breeze and save you money, I have made this list of the top 5 GPS navigators for motorcycles.
I have a wealth of experience in motorcycles and their accessories, and so I guarantee you quality GPS navigators chosen for you. I wrap up the review with a comprehensive buyer’s guide where I help you make informed purchases.
Top Motorcycle GPSs Comparison
This is yet another Garmin Zumo flagship but a budget-friendly model. With the 4.3-inch display and superior functionality, Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S takes motorcycle navigation to a new level at affordable prices.
But it is not the most affordable as it is the same price as 395LM. The screen is resistant to UV rays, fuel vapors, and other outdoor harsh elements.
Unique to this motorcycle GPS navigator is the Smartphone Link App which gives you access to live services such as weather and traffic info. If you connect the smartphone to the device then you will no longer get distracted by phone calls or texts notifications.
Everything can be seen on your GPS screen thanks to the advanced Bluetooth technology. Share GPX files, configure settings and manage playlists from the device.
The integrated Wi-Fi technology makes it a cinch to update the device every time you get connected to Wi-Fi network. Your software and the map will forever be up to date making sure you never trail on an outdated path.
Also worth noting are the rider alerts whenever riding on curvy roads, approaching speed cameras or animal crossing signs. The Smartphone Link App can also help with automatic incident notification.
Moreover, the built-in digital fuel gauge can save you the hassle of running on empty gasoline tank. It will alert you when it’s time to replenish your fuel.
Other features include the digital compass display and the points of interests such as service centers for your motorbike. There is still more that include the break alerts and speed limit indicator on the GPS navigator
Lest we forget, the device’s exterior design is also worth mentioning. It is rugged and weatherproof to withstand the rough off-trail terrains. No amount of rainfall can damage your device. The screen is also UV resistant so you can still be able to see navigations in bright sunlight.
Like all other Garmin flagships, the touchscreen is glove-friendly. This feature is important because motorcyclists are always wearing gloves, and so taking it off just to control the device is not an option.
Anyway thanks to the Bluetooth technology that a hands-free operation has become standard. If you have enough money you may also consider the Bluetooth-compatible helmet for a complete and optimized riding experience.
This motorcycle GPS navigator is a must-have for avid motorcyclists. It has all great features you would expect and even add the Smartphone Link App to make configuration an absolute breeze.
The navigator performs beyond the functionality of navigation. It’s one of the motorcycle accessories I would recommend to my best friend.
As promised here’s the Garmin flagship. Zumo 395LM can make your motorcycle ride a cinch without getting lost no matter where you are.
It helps you discover new routes in unfamiliar locations while also helping you avoid the boring highways. Instead, find complex roads and enjoy climbing hills.
Along your way, you’ll be enjoying music streaming from a compatible smartphone or MP3 Player. Also, you will have the privilege to command the GPS navigator hands-free with the built-in Bluetooth feature.
There’s no need to get your hands off the handles. Even if you do for any additional configurations, the touchscreen is glove-friendly, and so you don’t have to take off the gloves when controlling the device.
Stay safe with the rider alerts feature that helps you spot animal crossings, sharp curves, and speed cameras to avoid the wrath of the law. All these are visible on the 4.3-inch display screen.
In fact, you can do more with the device beyond road navigation.
Also worth noting is its rugged and weatherproof design which makes it a best-buy for motorcycle riding on rough terrains. It is also UV and rain resistant meaning you can use without worrying about damaging the touchscreen.
This Garmin model is portable and convenient. It is a feature-rich GPS navigator for motorcyclists I would recommend to anyone.
Although it might seem as though it is expensive, any enthusiast may find it worth the investment if you want to enjoy riding in unfamiliar locations. For a better-optimized experience, I recommend pairing it with a Bluetooth-compatible helmet.
TomTom 550 is a navigator that is made for those motorcycle riders who go for long rides. It is a very useful device. It helps the rider to reach its destination in the shortest time. It provides the usual sat-nav ability. There are features that help you choose more challenging routes.
The device is packed very nicely and neatly. It comes in a box. The box is very tightly packed. The fitting kit is also good. It can be easily put together. The kit is very strong. The bolt is U-shaped. It can be fixed in the handlebar. The bolt is fixed in the clamp for a permanent fixing. The box also has anti-theft solution and protective carry case.
The latest feature of this navigator is that the settings can be accessed very quickly. You have to tap the menu bar to get access to all the settings. You can also receive messages through the navigator. This feature can also be switches off. Another new feature is the access to Siri through the navigator.
The TomTom 500 provides information about the traffic changes. The navigator uses postcodes and map codes to show you locations. Postcodes help to reduce the number of search results.
The navigator saves location you go every day. Later it suggests places that are related to those places. There is a feature where you can plan the route with the help of the navigation. The routes can be planed using a map or using online searches.
It records things like the hours of travelling and kilometres travelled. It also records things like average and maximum speed and record data. It can later be shared through TomTom’s website. It can also be connected to many different headsets. It is very easy to connect with any type of headset.
Like the aforementioned Garmin Zumo model, Koolertron Motorcycle GPS Navigation System comes with the 4.3-inch display which is wide enough to see many details about your road. It is, however, an affordable device if you don’t want to break your bank.
The first impression of the navigator is its user-friendly interface which makes it easy to navigate or configure settings. With the included cables you connect it to the motorcycle battery when you want to recharge the Li-polymer battery.
Data can be stored directly in the 4GB internal memory with the possibility to expand it by 16GB microSD card (sold separately). If you ride in areas frequented with rainfalls you are safe with the waterproof rating of IPX7.This rating can let you immerse the GPS navigator in water for about 30 minutes without it getting damaged. So any rainfall or snow cannot be a match to it.
Thanks to the Bluetooth connectivity that you can enjoy hands-free calls or control media with a portable smartphone. Also important is the echo-cancellation feature the device has.
While this device is compatible with most of the GPS software, Garmin software is an exception as it is hardware-specific. Note that Koolertron is a hardware company so they guarantee the quality of the hardware, not the software you install in this navigator.
Because the software installation can be complicated, I recommend contacting a professional to do for you.
This is a cool motorcycle GPS navigation system with great features. It is cheap.
However, if you have the Garmin software then it will not work on this device. Note that the company disclaims warranty on any software you install.
Make sure you install reputable GPS software.
If you have all the cash available this Garmin Zumo 595LM model can be the best investment for you. It costs about twice the Garmin Zumo 395LM, but that is reasonable considering its broad range of features including the Live Track.
Live Track enables your friends to track your current location. It makes it easy to find you if they are lost. The navigator comes with the hardshell case for ease of storage. It also comes with the 16GB microSD and an SD adapter.
Improve clarity on the 5-inch touchscreen with the screen cleaner included. All these are the features rarely found in other standard GPS navigators hence this one is so costly. Well, if you’re prepared to break the bank I will say go for it! It is worth the price.
The other noteworthy feature is the dual orientation of the display screen which makes it convenient to see your navigation details. The unique features seen in the previous model still manifest in this high-end model.
You get to maneuver the navigation while wearing gloves because the screen is glove-friendly. The overall design is sturdy and rugged to survive whichever abuse often subjected to when riding motorcycles.
The waterproof rating of IPX7 makes it possible to immerse this device in water, which is a great feature to survive rainfalls.
The navigator will help you to stay on the good side of the law. It alerts you about the speed changes on the road, animal crossings, state helmet laws, sharp curves, and many more alerts.
That is the best companion you wouldn’t want to overlook for an adventurous riding in off-trail situations.
Let’s not forget the performance of the Bluetooth technology which contributes to your safety on the road. Gone will be the need to get your hands off the handles just to answer calls or change music tracks.
The hands-free command is worth-considering in this GPS navigator. All it needs is a compatible smartphone or MP3 Player to get going.
Furthermore, the device lets you travel with real-time traffic information and lifetime updated maps. This prevents you from outdated maps in unfamiliar locations.
Whichever terrain you decide to take, the 595LM Garmin model could be your best companion. Because motorcycles are often exposed to aggressive rough terrains, you need a rugged design which I think this navigator goes unmatched hence the price tag.
For anyone looking for a high-end motorcycle GPS, this one takes the crown. Although it is expensive, I will recommend it, again and again, any time of the day to anyone prepared to spend that much.
It comes with advanced features such as Live Track not found in the majority of GPS devices. Your riding will surely be great and enjoyable.
TomTom rider 2nd edition is an update of the 1st navigation system. The changes in this device are noticeable. The biggest change is the mounting system. The system is very quick and easy. The whole process is written in the manual. The company has teamed up with Ram Mount to create this mounting system.
The first thing that has to be done is setting the memory card. After that, if we press the ON/OFF button for 20 seconds the device starts. Starting and handling the device is very easy. The device first asks a few questions so that the rider can manage the setting accordingly.
The device can be connected to many headsets. The device comes with a Bluetooth headset. The headset has a windproof microphone which is a great advantage for the rider. With the help of the headset, we can hear the directions properly. The calls are very clear. While using the headset for calls there is no outside noise heard.
The device supports 34 different languages. The interface can support 21 different languages. The rider has its own privacy feature. The person can set a password so that only they can use it. The home has to be downloaded to set the password.
Another new feature is the arrival time. It shows you when you will arrive. The time is constantly recalculated during the trip. There are different symbols to locate different locations. There is a button to add your favourite spot. There are options where we can select recent destinations and latitude and longitude.
The device helps the rider to plan the trip in advance. The starting point and the ending point can be selected beforehand. In the option there sub-options where we can choose between the fastest and the shortest route. We can also select between walking and bicycle route.
The driving view in this device shows the rider information about their current location. This option shows the name of the street and the information about the trip. Many options are hidden at first. Those options are not used frequently. Those options can be accessed through the preference menu.
The lithium-ion battery lasts for 5 hours. If the battery is in standby mode it can last for a whole week. The battery has to be attached to a cable. The cable then has to be attached to the mounting bracket. This installation is helpful for long road trips. The map-view mode is displayed whenever the on-bike ride mode is used.
The latest update of this device is ‘help me’ which gives the rider access to emergency services. The map has also been updated. The rider can correct the mistakes instantly that they have made in the map.
TomTom Rider 400 is not a new device on the market. It has always been a fierce competitor of Garmin Zumo series from head-to-head with great features.I must say it’s hard to choose the best between the two because they are all superb in performance. Have a look at Garmin Zumo series later in the review.
This TomTom Rider 400 motorcycle navigator is fully-equipped to turn your ordinary riding into an enjoyable and adventurous riding. You’ll enjoy navigating the roads to reach your destination with a weatherproof device and a rugged design to withstand harsh climates.
If you have planned to navigate off-trail terrains in high mountains, this could be your best bet.It helps you discover new routes and reach your destination safely. The device can mount effortlessly on your bike and can be viewed in landscape or portrait view.
No amount of sunlight can hinder the finer road details on this high-resolution display screen.The Bluetooth feature keeps you focused on the road while making voice commands. It helps to get a Bluetooth-compatible helmet
TomTom’s navigation system provides you with up-to-date traffic information to make sure you stay abreast with the recent naming of landmarks. It is compatible with smartphones, PCs, and tablet where you can share real-time traffic or planned routes to the navigator.
That’s not all… You can make your ride even more enjoyable with the tracks which can be uploaded using a computer or using the microSD card (sold separately).
Choose the road you want to explore and those you want to avoid at a touch of a button. Also, a hands-free calling is enabled to avoid any distraction while traveling at higher speeds.
With TomTom Rider, you can enjoy riding on off-trails while discovering new routes and at the same time playing music. It updates traffic and maps automatically, so that’s a device worth having.
I recommend for any motorcyclist planning an adventurous riding anywhere. Its Bluetooth compatibility makes it easy for hands-free commands and calls.
The downside I have seen is the condensation on the screen which can be a pain when drying in snowy conditions. You might have to wipe it with your gloves.
Now let’s go through some important features you have to consider when making purchases. Motorcycle GPS are expensive, and finding the best motorcycle GPS can be overwhelming if you do not know the important features to consider. I have discussed important features in this buyer’s guide.
What is a Motorcycle GPS?
A motorcycle GPS is a device dedicated for use by motorcycles to navigate the road using the global positioning system.
This system involves a network of 30 satellites that orbit the planet Earth at an altitude of about 20 000km.
The rest of how this works is left to technical knowledge, and I hyperlinked the source to follow if you want to learn more about GPS.
An ideal device has a rugged design with weatherproof capabilities to withstand the outdoor elements often exposed to motorcyclists. There are plenty of features beyond simple road navigation that these GPS navigators come with.
Manufacturers have taken into account the simplicity, functionality, and durability of these devices. The glove-friendly feature has become standard all other devices because motorcyclists wear gloves and so taking off the glove is not an option.
Can I Use a Car GPS Device for My Motorcycle?
That is not a good option at all. To start with, car GPS devices are not as rugged as motorcycle ones.
It’s all because they are not exposed to harsh climatic conditions. Car owners put them on their dashboards and then get going to navigate the road.
With the best motorcycle GPS, you have to consider the possible downpour and snowy conditions as they can damage the screen. Most of these devices come with a waterproof rating of IPX7 which makes it possible to immerse them in water for about 30 minutes up to a meter deeper.
If you’d taken the car GPS navigator, it may suffer a shorter lifespan due to an exposure to treacherous weather conditions. Imagine the rainfall, UV rays and the intense vibrations that off-trail motorcycles go through.
All these combined disqualifies an ordinary car GPS device.
Can I Use The Smartphone Instead of the Dedicated Motorcycle GPS?
I discourage motorcyclists from resorting to this option. Why? Because smartphones are not built to withstand the harsh elements that motorcycle GPS are built for.
And cost-wise, you may incur exorbitant costs to fix the damaged smartphone due to vibrations or ubiquitous rainfalls in the wilderness.
The touchscreens of smartphones are generally not glove-friendly. Again, most are made of aluminum designs and plastics which may crack if you ride the bike on rough terrains in the mountains.
A dedicated motorcycle GPS device is made to withstand any sort of abuse. And repairing the device is not as expensive as repairing your iPhone or Android smartphone.
What are Important Features to Consider When Buying Motorcycle GPS?
There are a plethora of features that motorcycle GPS navigators come with. This wide variety of features confuses many enthusiasts because they struggle to pick without knowledge.
Generally, you need the best GPS navigator from a trusted brand, a rugged design, waterproof and weatherproof, user-friendly interface, display size, Bluetooth compatibility, live-stream of traffic, lifetime map updates, glove-friendly, customization, voice control, and mounting options. The list is non-exhaustive.
I will discuss these features below:
A Trusted Brand Name
While there are numerous brands of motorcycle GPS navigators, there are the well-known and reputable brands such as Garmin and TomTom. These brands compete with each other head-to-head with their flagships.
Other brands such as the ones I have reviewed in my reviews are also reputable and have a great footprint in GPS navigation systems.
Buying from a trusted brand name gives you the satisfaction that your GPS is backed by warranty should it experience factory faults. Also, an impeccable customer service is worth considering with trusted brands.
A Rugged, Weatherproof and Waterproof Design
Motorcycle GPS are not like car GPS devices. I have already touched on this aspect above detailing the differences.
For a motorcycle, you need a rugged design that can last long while surviving the damaging vibrations exposed to when riding on rough terrains. The main purpose of the GPS is to discover new routes and chances are you will be riding on off-trails bumping onto rocks.
A weak design may be prone to damage in a short period of time hence you need a rugged designOutdoor weather can be damaging too. There is no cover as in car’s interior space.
And so the snow or strong winds can affect the device. One minute you will be seeing a cracked touchscreen if it was not designed to be weatherproof.
This includes waterproof features. Most of my products come with the waterproof rating of IPX7 which is great to withstand heavy downpours.
To test it, you can immerse the device in water for a period of 30 minutes up to 1 meter deep.
A complicated user interface can make it difficult to understand the on-screen prompts and even struggle to enter your navigation commands. Make sure you understand the device before making any purchase.
I know buying online comes with challenges because you don’t get to see the sample or test it. I must, however, assure you that the products I have reviewed have the best user-friendly interface since they made it to my list.
Touchscreen Display Size
The size of the display is also important. If you pick a larger display over 5 inches it may be hard to fit, and if you pick a small size it may be hard to read the details.
In my reviews, Garmin Zumo 595LM is the largest with 5-inch while others commonly have the 4.3-inch display. Ideally, the screen size should range from 4 inches to 5 inches
Bluetooth technology has become an indispensable feature for all the high-end motorcycle GPS navigators for many reasons.
If you want audio commands of your directions, the GPS has to connect to the Bluetooth-compatible helmet or ear-phone to listen to navigations using Bluetooth.
This makes it easy to stop diverting your attention to the screen for clear directions.
Moreover, by connecting your GPS navigator to the portable and compatible smartphones, you can answer calls with ease or even receive notifications as you would on the smartphone.
Again, this negates the need to pop in a hand in a pocket to check the notifications thus bringing your ride to a standstill or distracting yourself.
An MP3 Player, tablet or smartphone can also be connected to play music directly from the GPS. Thanks to the powers of the Bluetooth technology. I can’t imagine any hands-free operation of these GPS without Bluetooth
Real-time Traffic and Updated Maps
When riding, you will want to know about traffic information so you can drive with caution. Therefore, you need a GPS device that gives you real-time information to stay alert.
In addition to this, there are rider alerts that alert you in case you approach a speed limit camera or cross animal signs. All these bring the convenience of riding with the best motorcycle GPS.
Again, landmarks are likely to change and so you might get lost if you follow the old maps. With that in mind, you need to choose the GPS unit that constantly updates the maps for the lifespan of the unit.
Most devices come with Wi-Fi feature so you can update them whenever connecting to the Wi-Fi network. There’s no need to connect the unit to the computer for updates.
Glove-friendly GPS Units
Because motorcyclists are often wearing gloves for their safety on the road, it is important to choose the GPS unit that responds well when handled with the glove. This bears the main difference between the car GPS unit and that of the motorcycle.
While riding comfortably on your adventurous road the least thing you would expect is to take off the glove and browse your device. If it responds to the gloves, then that is great.
It feels great navigating on a customizable GPS unit. This helps you discover new routes, ignore the boring high ways, and do a lot more of configurations to suit your interests.
Look for such features when choosing the best unit.
One of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents is the distraction while riding. These could be in the form of getting off your hands from the handle to select a new route on your GPS unit or answer a call.
Voice navigation is the best to avoid such ordeals. It helps you stay focused on the road while listening to navigation prompts on your headphone or Bluetooth-compatible helmet.
These voice prompts also help when answering calls and doing a lot more functions on your GPS unit. Voice navigation is increasingly becoming standard on high-end motorcycle GPS units.
Also important is to check the compatibility of your GPS unit with whichever headset unit you have. Oftentimes this is done with the Bluetooth technology.
Voice navigation is dependent on a perfect pairing of the GPS device to the available headset, and so you need to ascertain this when making a purchase.
Mounting a GPS unit can become the most frustrating experience for a beginner. Ideally, there are two mounting options, viz. tank and bar.
The usual position is the bar handles because they enhance the visibility and accessibility of the unit. Also, the handles help in securing your unit so it does not fall when riding on rough off-trail terrains.
Tank mounts, on the other hand, are inconveniently placed below the handles meaning you will have to bend your neck to read the GPS details. This could distract you from focusing on the road.
Again, the GPS mounted on the tank is not properly secured and so you might need additional straps to fasten it. But adapters can make these mounts a little more convenient.
I would personally recommend the bar-mounted GPS units.
Can I Choose the Best Motorcycle GPS Unit Based on Price?
That is not always a case that high-end units are the best. There are budget-friendly units that perform very well
When comparing the Garmin Zumo 395LM and 595LM, the main difference is the Live Track found in the 595LM, but then the 595LM is almost twice the price of the 395LM. This, however, does not imply that 395LM is inferior in performance.
It goes back to your personal preference. Some luxurious features are not really indispensable, so you can compromise and choose the affordable device.
I have come to the end of the most comprehensive guide of the best motorcycle GPS unit. Wherever you go, the GPS unit can be your best companion to make sure you do not get lost.
It’s no surprise that my list is dominated by Garmin Zumo products because this brand is popular and has a broad range of GPS units. TomTom comes closer to its competition.
In my buyer’s guide, I have highlighted the most important features to consider when purchasing these units. Whichever GPS you choose, make sure it is compatible with your available mounts.
Again, ensure that your best motorcycle GPS is compatible with your headsets for Bluetooth pairing options.