Do folks out there use GPS units made for cars (for example Garmin Nuvi 50) on their motorcycles? Obviously it looks like you would have to install an accessory outlet on the bike and a special gps mounting bracket.
The specifically designed motorcycle GPS units seem much more expensive than the ones made for cars.
Am I being crazy here to try to McGyver one of these things to save money?
i use the google nav on my phone and run a single earbud up into my helmet and make sure the audio is on. i get turn by turn directions right into my ear
Smart phone, gps app head phones. Done.
Cheap easy and you already own most of what you would need.
Something to bear in mind is, the units intended for cars are not waterproof.
When it comes to riding I myself just use old school maps, or the droid when needed.
I use RAM Mount products http://www.rammount.com/products/motorcycles.htm to attach GPS and iphone to my handlebars.
I have an older TomTom 130 car model that I use, and RAM Mount has a mount specific to it. It gets the job done. But it cannot get wet, probably isn't going to deal with dust very well either, and does not have a very glare-friendly screen. It is a pressure sensitive screen, but to do anything besides tapping the big "home" button, it would be impossible to use with gloves. Though that is usually all I need. Go get lost for fun, Punch HOME and I'm instantly unlost. If I'm going somewhere I need directions, I program it before I put the gloves on.
I also keep my iphone next to it occasionally. It faces the same problems. I use it for several reasons. I hate keeping the phone in my pocket while riding, it acts as a clock, and if I need google maps, I can pull over and use it easily without digging it out of my bag/pocket.
Basically, you can do it. Especially if you're cheap. But it will not function as well. I also find that 'watching' the GPS is a lotttt harder on a bike than it is in a car. A car, I can almost glance at it from the corner of my vision. On the bike, looking at it completely takes my focus off the road, so I have to make any effort to be sure it is safe to take a glance, and I'm usually only looking for the Direction Arrow and a distance, forget checking the map. This may have a lot to do with its position relative to my head.
I use a Garmin 2450LM auto unit. Why? Because it was $160 shipped with all the brackets I needed and has lifetime maps. It does tracks, routes, and all the other crap I wanted. Even knows the speed limit in most areas. It is epic for situation awareness.
No, it is not waterproof. I unplug it and throw it in my side case when it starts to rain. I also head for the nearest place to wait out the rain.
Mine works perfectly with every pair of riding gloves I have except the overstuffed thinsulate lined winter gloves I have. Pretty sure those wouldn't work with the MC units either.
RAM has all you need to get these things very firmly mounted. It works great.
I think the designated MC sets work a little better than mine. But for the price, I am perfectly happy.
I have a Garmin Nuvi auto GPS that I use on the bike. Yesterday I rode 250 miles home from Waterbury VT to CT with the GPS on the entire time. A plastic bag over top and some electrical tape kept it dry. I can pretty easily make inputs to the GPS with gloves on. The whole thing is mounted to a RAM system and I use a battery tender SAE lead that sticks out under my fairing to power the unit.
I have a Laguna tank bag with integral GPS pocket. Works well with an auto GPS, but it is a large bag which contacts the bars at lock.
Sorry I shouldn't have simplified it that much. It is a battery tender SAE lead that comes from my battery, which I connect a battery tender 12v outlet.
I cut that batter tender outlet down to about 1', then plug my GPS into that so that I have the correct power supply that the Garmin came with. Sounds worse than it is since everything is zip tied together and it only take a minute to plug it in. When I'm off the bike I disconnect the SAE cables to totally remove any power from the GPS so I don't drain my battery.
After I typed that I searched for an SAE to USB cable but more or less they don't exist since most small electronics need their voltage regulated down to 5v, which is what the big packs on our GPS units do.
Last edited by 01xj; 07-16-12 at 06:41 PM.
I have a Garmin Nuvi 550 ( waterproof ) and a Nuvi 30 ( not waterproof ). Use both on my bikes and mostly do not ride in the rain but if I need to, a ziplock bag over the gps & then snap it into the cradle. You will need a Powerlet on your bike but its no big deal, straight to the battery. don't waste your $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ on a Zumo unless your really hardcore into route mapping & uploading.
I use a Zumo 550 that I bought new for big bucks shortly after they came out. They've been discontinued so remaining stocks are comparatively cheap for a waterproof, fuel-resistant, gloves-on, left-hand operable, fast and feature-laden piece of kit. I have it's mount hard-wired directly to the battery, leaving my OE power port open for use with heated gear or other stuff. The only thing I need to do with mine now is replace the funky PITA little "security screw" with a knurled screw as I never leave it in the mount if my bike is out of my line-of-sight.
I've been in torrential downpours and temps as low as 17ºF with it, never had a problem. Say what you want about the cost, it was worth it to me. My new custom-machined-by-me stem has it located off my handlebars and in the same focus plane as my bike's instruments. It's in the way of nothing, and is truly a joy to have.
If anyone would like to have something like that made up, just ping me and we'll meet up to see if I can fabricate a custom solution for a very reasonable price.
Great solution Ken. I wish mine was as clutter/ wire free and simple as that.
That turned mount is awesome. Any issues with vibration? I've heard RAM mounts can sometimes result in the GPS shaking quite a bit and being difficult to read.
Mine is mounted using the bottom (cheaper) half of a Touratech mount that the PO left on the bike. He obviously took the locking cradle, but left the bottom portion above the instrument cluster. I "fab'ed" a bracket out of some fuel line clamps and a bit of aluminum bar. It works.
This is an old 2x0w auto GPS. I do not recommend this unit. Ultimately I replaced it as it does not do routing or tracks and therefore isn't nearly as useful for motorcycle use. But it was free. (I use it in the car now.)
PO was also nice enough to leave a garmin/USB harness installed for me. Although I felt compelled to rewire it through a fuse block.
One comment for those mounting GPSes: Try to mount it such that it is roughly the same distance from your eye as your gauges. Mine is quite a bit closer than my gauges and partially blocks some of the indicator lights along the top of the cluster. This is distracting. The GPS has a (much more accurate) speedometer, so I effectively barely use the gauges with this guy on anyway.
This also means I often ride for miles with my indicator flashing.
Last edited by nhbubba; 07-17-12 at 07:02 AM.
I once used a Garmin 2610 Streetpilot which was waterproof and worked with gloves, but the mount from Garmin broke within a few weeks from the vibration. I then used a Ram mount which worked very well but the vibration caused the Auto style GPS to fail, it was not made for all of that abuse.
I now use a Zumo 550 which will take that abuse, the motorcycle mount that came with it is some what ok of a design except for that pesky security screw. Also dont get the connectors wet, I have heard alot of people have been having problems after a dousing, replacement for that mount is $90.00 from Amazon. I don't understand why they split up the earphone & microphone jacks, it should have been combined into one jack only.
I like the Bluetooth capability as I link my Zumo 550 to my Droid phone & the phone to my Bluetooth earbud. This gives me hands free voice menu calling plus GPS voice directions with street names and also MP3 monaural music from my 4 Gig GPS flash card.
One thing, the car mounting that came with it sucks! They use the suction cup, which lasts about a year then your GPS falls to the floor. I found replacements for $.98 cents each but the S/H is $4.95 each but it works! No directions on how to remove the old one & replace it in the package. With a lot of searching I found a manual for the auto mount that explained how to remove it & replace. If interested let me know & I'll put up the link to it.
Last edited by ptk-napalm; 07-17-12 at 07:40 AM.
The mount I made and use does NOT vibrate at all. It's perfect, if I do say so myself.
While I never had any issues with the (supplied) motorcycle mount, beyond the security screw, the car mount had to be replaced once. The car mount came apart at the proprietary port where the power cord enters. I know it was because of the strain I put on it by using the GPS unit on the left side of the windshield. I did replace that car mount and am more careful with the cord now. I've never had any problem with the suction cup. I keep the two surfaces quite clean, and am careful with how I apply it to and remove it from the windshield.
I used to use a Garmin 2720 mounted on the handlebar with RAM mounts. It was made for motorcycles so it could take the vibration but it never vibrated. I bought it discontinued refurbished 5 years ago and paid $300 when it was $1200 new. I still use it on occasion for work or when traveling.
Are the motorcycle branded Garmin's glass screens like the auto units?
If so, be careful with those screens. They are fookin' easy as hell to break when you put them in your saddle bags wrong. Ask me how I know....
Any GPS beats no GPS: they're really, really remarkable devices.
I've had just about all of them: StreetPilot 2620, 2720, 2820, Zumo 550 and 665, and Nuvi 265-765 including a Nuvi 500 (which has topo maps) and a number of hand-helds as well.
Comparing the prices of most of the motorcycle units to car units is apples and oranges. The top-of-the-line motorcycle units are waterproof, come with motorcycle and car mounts, a 110v charger, MP3 player, Bluetooth support, an earphone jack, and a map disk so you can plot and save your own routes on your PC's (I know you can do that other ways, but the Garmin stuff is fast and easy). Some of the low-end Nuvis don't allow multi-point routing - you can add one via point to the end point, but that's it. The Nuvi 500/550 is waterproof and motorcycle mounts and power cords are readily available: but it doesn't have an earphone jack or MP3 player!
It really depends on your budget, how much you are going to use it, and what you are going to use it for. You can buy soft or hard waterproof boxes at a bike shop for $20 to $80. There are plenty of RAM options and wiring something to the battery is straightforward.
I thought the Zumo 550 was a good unit, but I like the 660/665 even better, especially the configurable data fields on the front screen.
Nuvi 500 and 765W with Zumo 550.
Zumo 550 on the V-Strom.
Zumo 665 on the V-strom.
665 vs 550
It's not the default view so some users (and reviewers) don't realize the option is there, but f you select "more data view" the 660/665 will display four data fields, which can each be configured.
Last edited by Garandman; 07-20-12 at 09:11 AM.
With the new version of Basecamp, you can route on your PC using the maps loaded on the GPS if you plug it in via USB.
Many of the cheapo auto ones with lifetime maps mean you can download with the 'PC and device' option, which pulls down both maps... even if it does take forever.
Lastly, my auto device will display the data fields on the map view like that too. It does the your speed/speed limit combo in the bottom right. Which I think is neat as hell. (And way more useful than the incorrect speedo on the bike.)
My 2450's screen is completely destroyed. I am going to have to look into their repair service.
Last edited by nhbubba; 07-20-12 at 06:04 PM.
I truly appreciate the input about the 665. I've been thinking about moving to that one, though I'm not likely to want to configure screens.
What I'd like to know is detail about the loss of the buttons on the Zumo 550, the ones along the left side. I really like those for controlling the choice of the 4 views and volume. I can easily do that while riding.
How clumsy is the 665 for using touch controls to do the same functions? Have you ever tried doing it while underway?
BTW, I've never had any "incidents" with my Zumo 550. The glass (if that's what it is) seems sturdy, but I always stow the unit in the nice padded case that came with it. It's got a couple of odometers, and I've never reset the main, overall mileage one. Between the times I've used it in the car (left side corner of windshield, perfect location and better than center IMO) and on the motorcycle, it shows some 96,000 miles of being powered up. There's been perhaps 3 or 4 times it froze on me (only in the car) in all the time I've used it, so not a bad track record. I just want to know what I'd gain with the 665 over the 550, other than being thinner, wider, and having stereo Bluetooth.
I have a 665 but have never used the satellite unit. Unless you're riding long trips the 660 is fine.
Had the same concern about the hard buttons and they've proven unfounded. The touch screen on the 660 is not a capacitance screen - you can use any gloves. I like that it's larger, flatter, stereo Bluetooth, etc. The mount is also more compact.
Some people keep old models but I sell off mine every couple of years and get the latest model. Used Zumo 550's still sell for good $$$, so the actual cost of the latest model once you are "in" is less than trying to modify something else not made for motorcycle use.
But any GPS is much better than no GPS and there are lots of bargains out there - and many tank bags, bike mounts, etc can hold them.
Along with fuel injection, hi-viz textile all-weather clothing, ABS, and EZPass it's another of the big conveniences of riding compared to when I first started in 1980 and a map on top of your tank bag was as good as it gets.
I'm currently reduced to pulling over, killing the ignition (need the key), twisting around to the side case, opening it, pulling out the map, trying to figure out where I am, where I want to go, and committing the next couple turns to my pea brain.
Any GPS is better than no GPS indeed.