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.
Best Motorcycle GPS of 2018
TomTom – Best Motorcycle GPS Tracking Device
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.
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.
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.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNeTs8Me7Sg?rel=0&w=800&h=450]
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.
Garmin – Best Motorcycle GPS System
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.
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.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GnreT97nT98?rel=0&w=800&h=450]
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.
Koolertron – Best Motorcycle GPS Tracker
It is, however, an affordable device if you don’t want to break your bank.
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.
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.
Garmin – Best Motorcycle GPS for the Money
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.
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.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFfwvvLIK60?rel=0&w=900&h=450]
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.
Garmin – Best Motorcycle GPS for Off Road
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.
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.
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.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZFrfCuTukI?rel=0&w=800&h=450]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I will discuss these features below:
A Trusted Brand Name
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.
Outdoor 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.
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.
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.
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.
Glove-friendly GPS Units
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.
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.
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.
Can I Choose the Best Motorcycle GPS Unit Based on Price?
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.