The Best Motorcycle GPS' Of 2018

You don't need to be one of the 1 million people making the pilgrimage to Sturgis to need a GPS unit. Having a motorcycle GPS can help you ride across the country or find new roads in your hometown.

The best GPS for motorcycles assist riders without being a distraction. We've evaluated motorcycle GPS units and determined which ones are the best.

Keep reading for a breakdown of what to look for and which GPS units offer the most features.

Why Do You Need a Motorcycle GPS?

Most motorcycles do not come with built-in GPS navigation systems. Riders may find that they don't like the GPS system that came with their bike.

When riding a motorcycle, knowing where to go is crucial. Having a GPS system lets the rider focus on riding instead of looking where to go.

A GPS system can also recommend new roads to take. Part of the joy of riding is being able to get out into the countryside and discover a new curvy backroad.

Relying on a cell phone app can leave the rider lacking up to date map information. Cell phones also lack the durability that a dedicated GPS unit has.

The Tops Brands

TomTom used to be the go-to brand when it came to motorcycle GPS systems. in recent years Garmin has caught up.

Garmin now offers a wider product line with more advanced technology. Traffic conditions and weather now feature on Garmin's units.

Garmin designed, manufactured, and tested the Zumo line with people who ride motorcycles. This resulted in GPS units that are what motorcycle riders actually want and need.

Features like glove-friendly touchscreens and readability in the sun are included. Finally, Garmin supports their customers with the highest level of customer service.

How to Choose a Motorcycle GPS

Look for a unit that fits the needs of the type of riding intended. The unit needs to be weatherproof, durable, long battery life, and detailed maps.

Features to Look For

The most important feature is to have quality navigation and map capabilities. The best GPS system has extra features such as traffic alerts and lane assist.

Ride Planning

The map feature should let you plan your trip out and choose the roads you want to take. There should be customization abilities for a unique riding experience.

Voice Commands

Voice commands are vital for motorcycle GPS units. The audible commands keep the rider's eyes on the road.

Look for a unit that lets riders customize the voice commands. This lets riders adjust how early the directional prompt sounds.

Pairing to Your Headset

This is usually done through Bluetooth technology. Be aware that not all headsets and GPS units use Bluetooth.

Before purchasing, check to ensure that the GPS will pair with other equipment. This pairing will let a rider hear the voice commands more clearly through their headset and not through the unit's speaker system.

Weatherproofing

Riding a motorcycle means that riders are out in the elements. A GPS unit needs to be able to withstand hours of sun exposer.

It needs to be weatherproof in case of a rainstorm. If the unit isn't waterproof, consider purchasing a waterproof tank bag to protect the unit.

Construction

Motorcycle GPS units experience exposure to rougher treatment than car GPS units. The construction needs to be durable to regular mounting and dismounting.

The construction needs to stand up to constant vibration. Motorcycle vibration dislodges delicate parts if they not built with solid construction and connections.

Glove Friendly

Nothing is more annoying than having to constantly remove gloves to be able to use a screen. Look for a unit that has a glove-friendly screen.

These units usually have larger screens. The display icons will be larger. The screen will be designed to respond to a gloved finger touch.

Mounting Options

There are two common methods of mounting a GPS for motorcycles. Most GPS units are mounted on the handlebars. For some motorcycles, this is not possible, so these owners opt for tank mounting.

Bar Mounted

Bar mounted units will always be in the same place perspective wise to the rider. When the rider looks and turns left, the GPS goes left too on the handlebars.

This mounting option is usually more secure. The clamp that attaches to the unit will wrap all the way around the handlebar. Screws will lock the clamp in place.

Tank Mounted

The major downside to a tank mounted unit is that the rider will have to look directly down to see it. This is dangerous as it takes the rider's eyes off the road for an extended period of time.

Always attached the tether strap for the mounting unit. This will save your GPS in case it comes loose from the tank while riding.

Garmin Zumo 590LM

This GPS unit is from Garmin's former release. It's great for riders who are planning to ride on and off the road.

Rugged Casing

The mounting tools required come with the unit. Garmin designed rugged and long-lasting construction.

The outside casing is resistant to wind, rain, snow, UV rays, and vibration. This makes it ideal for the rider who is going to put their GPS through a beating.

Ride Customization

If finding the curvy roads is a priority, there is a function that finds the most challenging roads. Download the 3D terrain view for a topographical map.

Bluetooth

An integrated music player lets riders sync smartphone apps. Pandora, Audiobooks, iTunes, and Spotify can all play while listening to directions.

With the downloadable app, real-time updates are possible. Accurate updates include speed limits, traffic, and weather.

Size

At 3.8 x 5.9 x 1.3 inches it is small enough to fit on the handlebars. The screen is 5 inches.

The screen is big enough to be glove friendly. Even in the brightest sunlight, the screen is still legible.

TomTom Rider 400

Turn the "winding road" feature on for an adventure. The screen is bright and easily seen on sunny days.

Ride Customization

Riders have the ability to plan their route with multiple stops along the way. Use the "My Drive" feature to plan your route on your smartphone or PC.

There are three levels of curvy roads to choose from. There are also three levels of hilly roads to choose from.

Bluetooth

Connect the GPS via Bluetooth to headphones for directions through a headset or helmet speakers. This keeps the riders eyes on the road and not on the map.

Battery Life

The battery life is respectable for the large HD screen. Rides that last for hours are no problem for this unit.

Size

The dimensions are 5.4 x 1.2 x 3.5 inches. The screen is smaller though at 4.3 inches.

BMW Motorrad Navigator

BMW has preloaded the local and entire country data for customers who live in the United States. The unit comes with 8 GB of memory.

A lifetime of Free Updates

Owners also have access to lifetime updates for free. The initial sale price may seem steep but well worth it for the upgrades and updates.

Memory

Riders can use Micro SD cards of up to 64 GB with the unit. This is perfect for riders who prefer to map their rides out ahead of time. All the extra storage means riders will always have their maps at their fingertips.

Size

The screen has 800 x 480 pixels resolution with 65,000 color TFT display. There is no need to take gloves off as the screen is very sensitive.

The size of the unit is 10.1 x 8.5 x 3.3 inches with a five-inch screen. It is heavier than some of the other units at one pound.

Magellan TRX7 Explorist

For riders that enjoy getting off the grid an on the trail, the Magellan is the GPS unit of choice. It comes with over 115,000 trails preloaded with topographic maps.

The detailed maps are 3D terrain and 2D topographic base maps. This lets riders determine the detailed land features around them.

Two Different Models

When shopping for this unit, be sure to buy the TRX7 model and not the TR7 model. They are the same unit, except the TRX7 model has a rugged and waterproof casing.

Even if you are planning on riding on the road, the TRX7 is going to withstand the natural elements. It will also be sturdier to handle the vibration and banging around.

Memory

There is a built-in breadcrumb feature. This lets riders save waypoints along the ride.

One touch and the GPS will show the path taken in reverse to lead back to the beginning point. With everything being preloaded into the unit, no connectivity is required for this unit to be useful.

For those who do have connectivity while on the trail, the unit has social sharing abilities. This lets riders share their location and progress with family and friends.

Size

The dimensions of the unit are 10.6 x 4.8 x 3.6 inches. It weighs 2.8 pounds making it heavier than the standard GPS unit.

Garmin Zumo 395LM

For riders who don't want all the extra features the Garmin 590 has, the 395 is a great option. It still has the quality accuracy Garmin has a reputation for delivering.

Alerts

This unit will alert riders to upcoming sharp turns. It will also alert to more permanent road conditions like speed cameras.

Bluetooth

This unit can pair with a smartphone. This lets riders control their music through the unit.

Ride Customization

Limited ride customization is available. Riders can choose to avoid highways and favor twisty roads. The GPS will then choose the best route.

Waterproof

The rugged construction makes the unit waterproof. This is the same construction as the 590 unit.

What You Don't Get

The difference between this unit and the 590 is that it lacks the Live Track system capability. It also doesn't have 3D terrain.

Size

This GPS is 1.17 x 5.13 x 3.68 inches with a 4.3-inch screen. Because this GPS is smaller it weighs a light .6 pounds.

Koolertron All Terrain Motorcycle GPS Navigation System

The Koolerton offers riders multiple mounting options. This is a unique feature that motorcycle riders can't find in other GPS units.

Waterproof

The outer construction is durable, another unique feature. This makes it durable in any sort of weather.

Riders can feel secure riding in rain with this unit. The construction is watertight in 1 meter of water for up to thirty minutes.

Power and Memory

For owners who have a vehicle and a motorcycle, this unit works in both. Two power cables come with the unit.

One cable works with the cigarette lighter, the other connects to a motorcycle battery. Continuing with the technological benefits, 4 GB of maps can be stored in the unit.

If this isn't enough, a Micro SD slot can increase the memory to 16GB. The technology is user-friendly, perfect for those who are not tech savvy.

Size

The dimensions are 6.7 x 5.9 x 5.9 inches with a 4.3-inch screen. It is one of the heaviest units on this list at 1.81 pounds.

Which GPS Is Right for You?

The best thing to do is to determine which motorcycle GPS unit works best with the needs of the rider. The screen should be bright with high contrast so that it can be seen in bright light.

The Garmin motorcycle GPS units and TomTom both offer the ability to choose the twisty roads. The BMW unit offers free lifetime updates.

The Koolertron unit is perfect for those who want a unit they can bring with them from the motorcycle to the car. It is perfect for riders who want to store a lot of different rides.

Read more reviews on technology devices on our blog.

Leave a Comment