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Thread: GPS - I never thought I would ask.

  1. #1

    GPS - I never thought I would ask.

    OK, I have stated publicly that I don't need a GPS unit on my bike. But after much bugging by my wife and friends, I am finally considering it. They think that after all those miles on a bike, I am starting to loose my mind. I don't miss it one bit.

    So, I am asking for some advice from all you GPS Techno Gurus. What is available that I can easily use on my bike? I ride a 1981 R100RT. I can fabricate a mount of some sort if I have to. I don't want to leave it on all the time. I doubt that voice stuff would really be all that useful to me as I don't like earphones while riding. I don't need to have full weather capability as I have no problem putting a plastic bag over it or even just putting it in my pocket for protection. I imagine a fairly basic unit for around $200Cdn or less should suffice. But there are lot of different ones to choose from. What should I look for? Does it have to be motorcycle specific? Does it have to be hard wired or can it run fine on rechargable batteries?

    I figure that if I get an inexpensive one to start with, and find that I like the idea, then maybe get a better one later on and give the less expensive one to one of the kids or whatever.

    Any good info would be most appreciative, and will help my wife's frame of mind. So what if I don't find my way back from the garage some days. She knows where I am and can always send one of the dogs to come and get me.


  2. #2
    Rally Rat Roc-Roc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004

    Look on ebay the Garmin 2720 is going for less than $120us. A good unit to start off with.


  3. #3
    Debbie's Servant Lee's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    SW Iowa
    Another unit that looks to be a good buy is the Garmin Nuvi 550. Amazon has it for $200. It has a replaceable 8 hour battery if you do not want to hard wire it, and the unit is waterproof.
    2016 R1200RS
    MOA # 30878
    Past BMW Bikes: 2011 K1300S, 2003 K1200RS, 1991 K75S, 1987 K75T, 1984 R100RT

  4. #4
    Rally Rat
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Lancaster County, PA
    Quote Originally Posted by shire2000 View Post
    OK, I have stated publicly that I don't need a GPS unit on my bike. But after much bugging by my wife...........

    Sorry, that just got me laughing! My wife was the one who kept telling me I didn't need one, I have a map, afterall..........but then she got one for me for Christmas. I have a Garmin Nuvi 265w, which wasn't the cheapest, but not even 1/2 the cost of motorcycle specific units. I keep it in the map pocket of my tank bag, not so easy to see, but I rarely need it. It's more to get me home when I lose track of time and am not on a familiar road (lost). This model is Bluetooth, but will not connect to headset devices (Scala Rider) so I thought I'd be able to hear the voice instructions but can not. I do like the "Points of interest" feature for finding gas and food. Let us know what you end up with.

  5. #5
    Registered User stkmkt1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Tremont, IL
    I'm not going to recommend any specific GPS unit to you, but I will share a little of what I have done with mine so far. Mine is a Zumo 550 so it may have capabilities that other do not. But I think it is kinda cool.

    First thing I did was put a POI (point of Interest) file on the 8 gig SD card I have installed i it. This file does two things. First, it give me all of the BMW shops in the US, including Alaska. SO if I need one, I can find it. Since the Zumo is bluetoothed to my Blackberry, I can also just touch the screen on the Zumo and call the nearest dealer once I locate him, or of course just have the GPS "take" me to the shop. But it also is set up to alert me whenever I become within about 5 miles of a BMW shop. So I might not be looking for one, but hey, why not just stop by and check it out.

    I have also done the same thing with Shell gas stations. As I am a fan of Vpower, I prefer to put that in my bikes. So if I am out riding somewhere and pass within about 3 miles of a shell station, my GPS will ring a bell and alert me to that fact. I can then just touch the screen and get teh directions to the station.

    The Zumo also has a built-in MP3 player and XM radio capability. So on those days of long riding when you get tired of listening to your mind ramble, you just plug in some earphones and listen away to your favorite entertainment.

    Another cool thing with theZumo is it can keep track of your fuel. If you set it up with the approximate MPG of your bike and the size of your tank, it will give you a warning when you are getting close to needing fuel. You have the option of telling it how close you want to get before it warns you. So when you are out riding and it thinks you are running low on fuel, it will warn you. If you then touch the fuel icon that appears on your screen, it will give you directions to the nearest gas station in its database. And with over 6 million POI's built in it from the factory, your sure to find one before you run out of fuel.

    When I am not on my motorbikes, I have the Zumo mounted in my Avalanche. I have found it to be quite useful as it automatically connects to my Blackberry when I turn the Zumo on. I use it for hands-free calling in the truck. My entire phonebook comes up at a touch of the screen on the Zumo and it works great vs the bluetooth earpiece I used to wear while driving.

    I'm sure others will tell you you will use the GPS more often than you think. As others have said, I even use it as a speedometer instead of the the ones on my bikes and Avalanche. So get one and have some fun. They work great. I would not travel without one.
    '09 BMW 1200 GSA, 2013 BMW 700GS, 2000 Goldwing SE, '09' V Star 950, '09 Honda Rebel,
    '77 Honda 750A. Holding at six til I get new garage built - need more room for more bikes!

  6. #6


    I bought the garmin 2720, it is a motorcycle specific unit. (Just over 100.00) on Geek Deal. Got the ram mount and like it very much. Does most of what the Zumo Does, no bluetooth.

  7. #7
    Alps Adventurer GlobalRider's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Canada and the Alps
    Quote Originally Posted by shire2000 View Post
    What should I look for? Does it have to be motorcycle specific?



    Have a look at the Garmin 60 Cx which so many motorcyclists are using. I liked mine so much that I bought another new one as a case my first one fails.

    What to look for? With all the models and features, thats a tough one to someone new to GPSes, so I used the process of "whats important to me".

    Having come from a Garmin eMap...
    • I knew I didn't want any thing proprietary, either memory or batteries. I also didn't want a unit that didn't take batteries I could buy at a corner store.
    • I knew it had to be waterprooof.
    • I knew it had to run well over 10 hours on a set of AA batteries and that it had to take various types of power...up to 36V DC, two AA (I use NiMH rechargeables), USB.
    • And although I practically never use my GPS for navigation, so AutoRouting wasn't at the top of my list, but it does that.
    • I also didn't need AutoRouting voice prompts. It beeps (selectable sounds) instead.
    • I knew it had to be portable and once again, run for several hours on it own. It had to be a unit I can use on my motorcycle, in my car or while hiking or meandering through foreign cities.
    • I knew it had to have a color screen that was readable in direct sunlight.

    I didn't want or need sat radio or weather (like I was going to detour 300 miles to miss some rain) .

  8. #8
    Another GPS-rookie question: which GPSs work with on-line mapping tools, such as Mapquest, so you can design your ride on a big screen and download it the GPS?

  9. #9
    Registered User TOMRUNNING's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Greenville, Wisconsin

    Talking Listening

    The benefit of being able to listen to the routing prompts in your helmet are a real safety thing. I never liked trying to look at my tankbag map pocket because of having to take my eyes off the road. I know have helmet speakers connected to my GPS and when I have a specific destination programmed I listen to the prompts instead of looking down. For me that is the #1 benefit of using a GPS. Anything you can do to make riding a motorcycle safer should be looked into.
    Tom Running, 51141 Greenville, WI
    "Love is when you like something as much as your motorcylce." Sonny Barger in Hells Angels
    by Hunter S. Thompson 1966

  10. #10
    not so retired henzilla's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Quote Originally Posted by Manfred View Post
    Another GPS-rookie question: which GPSs work with on-line mapping tools, such as Mapquest, so you can design your ride on a big screen and download it the GPS?
    I have had a Garmin Quest II and now a Zumo...both came with MapSource software that I can plan routes on and transfer to the unit. Some of my buds use the Microsoft maps to do the same thing. Took a few times to figure all the mapping tools out, but a nice option for navigating. The Quest would reverse a route on the unit, the Zumo you have to do on the PC and load it as a diff route, it does leave a trail on the screen of where you came from instead.
    I use the route planner if its a major multi turn route and I am leading!

    I do use maps as well, the GPS just helps me keep up with where I am on the map in an instant and not take my eyes off the road while I scan the map...especially in congested urban jungles
    Steve Henson
    SABMWRA MOA Club#62's Flat Fixer/ current forum moderator
    It's not the breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away-D.Dillon/G. Strait

  11. #11


    I firmly resisted a GPS until I realized how useful it can be. I went the inexpensive route; portable between car and bike. I fashioned my own motorcyle mount that looks and works just fine. I don't have realtime traffic and cheapest gas or other whistles.
    Speaking the name of the street is not necessary (can't hear it anyway on the bike).
    For $150 I have the GPS, car charger, USB charger, RAM mount, and (custom) made motorcycle mount. I can easily unplug and remove the GPS and put it in a pocket or bag.
    I'm quite happy with my setup.

  12. 04-07-2009, 02:30 PM

  13. #12
    A bozo on the bus deilenberger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Spring Lake NJ, USA
    My only advice is: I know people who bought a Garmin, and I know people who wish they bought a Garmin. (I've made the mistake myself - and hope to not repeat it.)

    The ones Garmin makes for moto use are excellent.
    Don Eilenberger
    Spring Lk Heights NJ NJ Shore BMW Riders
    '12 R1200R - I love this bike!

  14. #13
    I know that Garmin has been in the GPS industry for a very long time and has a good reputation. Does anybody have any information on the Magellan brand of GPS units?

  15. #14
    Bona fide evildoer BexBmr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Menomonee Falls, WI
    Quote Originally Posted by pdogger View Post
    I bought the garmin 2720, it is a motorcycle specific unit. (Just over 100.00) on Geek Deal. Got the ram mount and like it very much. Does most of what the Zumo Does, no bluetooth.
    I did some research on the 2720. I see that they have been discontinued by Garmin. I'm assuming that it was replaced by the Zumo? Since it was discontinued is there a chance that it will be obsolete due to new technology? I'm not a techie so I'm not sure if there is a drawback to the older models....
    Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy. - Eskimo proverb

  16. #15
    My first GPS I used on the bike was a Magellan waterproof handheld type. Now I have a Zumo. Although I like the Garmin I really miss the ability to touch the screen to browse ahead on the map without it reverting to a 'north up' position. With the Magellan I could scroll ahead on the map and look for roads or interesting towns while keeping the map in the same direction I was traveling in. I don't know why Garmin does not incorporate that feature into their units. Now I need to bring a paper map with me on long distance rides to have a better bearing of where the hell I am.

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