• Welcome, Guest! We hope you enjoy the excellent technical knowledge, event information and discussions that the BMW MOA forum provides. Some forum content will be hidden from you if you remain logged out. If you want to view all content, please click the 'Log in' button above and enter your BMW MOA username and password.

    If you are not an MOA member, why not take the time to join the club, so you can enjoy posting on the forum, the BMW Owners News magazine, and all of the discounts and benefits the BMW MOA offers?

Satellite Navigator


Active member
After decades or riding road bikes, I am now the owner of a 2003 F650 Dakar. It is well outfitted for travel, on or off road and I have explored dirt roads in the Cascade range and the Siskiyous in southern Oregon. I have gotten into spectacular country, and made some wrong turns. Logging roads and Forest Service roads weave and intersect in dizzying knots and I need to get a Garmin or some electronic map to help keep me from getting lost.

I know nothing about these products. What is needed to hook them up, how much they cost, how they are used...nothing. I still have a land line phone and have not embraced technology much.

Advice is appreciated

Oh boy. I have had at least 9 different GPS models going back to 1998 and my wife Voni has had a few other models. But I am far from up to date on the most recent models. I still have trouble answering your question.

Some models are really good on-road but lack any map detail on trails or minor roads. Some models have good topographic maps but lack detailed road maps.

Over the years some of the most popular models have been "dumbed down" compared to earlier models. Where the earlier models provided a lot of different data displays and map flexibility some of the new ones have one or two ways of seeing things and that is it.

The other issue is that many units are "car" units and a few models are tailored for motorcycle use. The two keys to motorcycle units are screen brightness and water proofness. As in most things, motorcycle units are expensive compared to car units for both of these reasons.

The "best" unit to do what you want to do is in my opinion the Garmin Montana. BUT, and this is a very big BUT: It is a complicated unit with lots of options and customization available which may make it a bad choice for a person's first GPS. That is the good news-bad news situation.

Any simple unit that can leave a bread crumb display (showing where you have just ridden) can get you unlost by backtracking the way you just came. That may be where you want to start.

If I were in your position I would look on eBay and try to get a decent GPS for $50 and learn how to use it. Once you are comfortable with GPS and understand how they work and what they can show you can then pick a better, more versatile model. For the first one I would not worry about it being waterproof because that will be expensive. Get a plastic bag to carry in case you do need it in the rain.

Adventure guys: You have a lot more off pavement and backroad / trail experience than I do. Help out here with this question.

Last edited:
You need to carry topographic maps and a compass with you, and know how to navigate by terrain association. The Garmin Montana is a good back country GPS to use as an adjunct to maps, compass and skill.
Last edited:
You need to carry topographic maps and a compass with you, and know how to navigate by terrain association. The Garmin Montana is a good back country, tool map GPS to use as an adjunct to maps, compass and skill.

I don't disagree Kevin, but what about guys who were never taught that for years in the Army? Are you aware of any good orienteering schools?
I don't disagree Kevin, but what about guys who were never taught that for years in the Army? Are you aware of any good orienteering schools?

The Boy Scouts.... ummm, nope that’s not an option anymore. I’m sure there are commercial places that offer that sort of training but I don’t know any. A community college may have a course on basic land navigation, or a 4 year school that has an ROTC program. Most programs offer courses that are open to anyone.
If you have an REI outfitter store nearby, they have regular orienteering classes.
I think the OP just wants a recommendation for a GPS assist.

Any other specific models besides the Montana?
I'm still waiting for the adventure riding, trans america trail riding guys to help the OP out here. And I too would like to hear what their experienced recommendations are.
Last edited:
I don't disagree Kevin, but what about guys who were never taught that for years in the Army? Are you aware of any good orienteering schools?

Search and Rescue orgs teach land nav and orientating [ for members ]. OP might look for such an org in his AO and ask for some help. I'd think any org would be happy to help with this recommending a few members who would step up.
I second the Montana. I was getting lost all the time on my ATV and I mounted the Montana on the bars and it was the best thing I ever did. I have since bought the mounting hardware to carry in on my 310. It's amazing.

I personally found it very easy to use. :thumb
I have a Montana 650T and it works well. I don't plan routes, waypoints, mapping and all the uses that "other" GPS threads here on the forum get into.

The Montana series has an easy to mount cradle device that is sorta lockable......meaning there is a supplied tool that can be used to (more) secure it to the cradle.

Here is the 650T- now discontinued....but newer versions are available.


Here is the cradle that can be used for mounting-


Being topographic is pretty good if you are familiar with how Topo lines relate to the area you are in. In general, you can drop a "pin" (marker) at your start point and with the "track logger" on, will have a complete history of where you have been until the "track logs" are erased. This makes it easy to find your way around- or back. A simple push of a button will give you your LAT/LONG if you need it.

I would suggest doing some searching for a service/vendor in your area that has "mapped" out your area and offers a SD (memory) card which is inserted into the GPS and offers a more detailed overview of your riding area.

Here in the Northeast we have Backwoods GPS Trails- https://backwoodsgpstrails.com/wp3/ Rick covers the 1000 or so miles in the New Hampshire area open for ATV and snowmobile riding along with the rest of Northern New England.

I also like to have looked at a Delorme Map- before I head into uncharted territory.... https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/575993


Anyway, this and of course a Lensatic Compass-



will have a good chance of keeping you in good shape when you are in the wild.

These units will do much more than I need or will ever use.....This is an example of the way I do it.


All Garmin handheld devices allow you to download maps. Either the topo maps from Garmin or, free maps from:


To install the OSM Topo map select the detailed map you want, download it and copy the extracted *.gmap folder to your PC's C:\Program Data\Garmin\Maps\ folder. Next use the Garmin MapInstall program or 'Install maps' in Basecamp to install the map on your device's SD card.

There are holders from RAM-Mount for all Garmin handheld devices to mount the device on the handlebar. Devices with push buttons or glove friendly touch screen work with your gloves on. Find a Garmin device based on your preferences: price, display size, size of the device, etc.

I use Garmin handhelds for ~20 years on my bikes. Right now I have a GPSMAP 64st. A friend of mine who rides a lot on back roads allover the Southwest - has a Montana and we agreed that the Montana is a top GPS device. The Montana is excellent in rendering maps down to the finest details of dirt roads.

Last edited:
The Montana certainly looks like an outstanding unit for off-roading.

Some questions for those who have used the Montana: Is the on-road navigation feature acceptable? Is it missing any features that are desirable for motorcycles? Does this unit have blue-tooth, so it can announce turn-by-turn directions to helmet speakers?

Most of the reviews I’ve read are by outdoorsmen/women and hunters. I’m trying to get a better feel for how well this unit would work for general motorcycling (on- and off-road), and whether it is missing important features found on the dedicated motorcycle units?