The latest motorcycle GPS systems will help you safely navigate busy city streets and guide you to new and exciting destinations through the thrilling, adventurous routes.
They’re designed to be tough enough for the road and full of intuitive features to make your riding experience more enjoyable.
A motorcycle GPS unit attaches to your handlebars with the help of a purpose-built mount for easy access while your riding. They are no doubt designed for navigating the roads, but the high-end devices can also be loaded with topographic maps for finding your way on any off-road adventures. For added value, they can even double as a car GPS
The best motorcycle GPS units will track where you’ve been and let you plan your rides beforehand. They will sync seamlessly with your smartphone and Bluetooth headset for hands-free calling, music playback, and voice prompts. But most importantly, a high-quality GPS will deliver up-to-date traffic information and accurate directions to get you to your destination safely and on time.
Below we have listed the top 8 GPS units, but if you’re in a rush, here’s the standout #1 rated GPS for motorcycle riders in 2017—the Garmin Zumo 595LM (click here to check the latest price on Amazon).
8 Best Motorcycle GPS Units in 2017
In this guide, we will firstly take you through the different features to consider before you purchase a GPS. We will then review the most popular units on the market today, to ultimately, help you find the best motorcycle sat nav according to your needs.
What to Look for When Shopping for a Motorcycle GPS
The GPS unit should be built with a sturdy construction to withstand the unforgiving vibrations and the general wear & tear that it will be subject to during your journeys on paved roads or dirt tracks.
It’s also more than possible that you could accidentally drop the device. Especially, if you’re frequently unclipping your GPS in between rides or rest stops. We’ve all experienced that dreaded feeling after dropping a smartphone—don't let it happen with your GPS as well! Choose a model that’s robust enough for you and your bike.
Motorcycle rides continue in a variety of weather conditions. So it’s important that your GPS won’t short-circuit during the first unexpected downpour. The unit must be weatherproof to survive any harsh conditions, including extreme temperatures, precipitation, the wind, direct sunlight and even dust.
Dedicated motorcycle navigation devices from manufacturers such as Garmin and TomTom are built to tolerate the elements. They’ve even been tested to meet the IPX7 waterproofing specifications—which means they can endure the incidental exposure to water at a maximum depth of 1 meter for up to 30 minutes.
At the end of the day, you’re purchasing a GPS to assist your riding—so it should be easy to use. Consider these ergonomic design features in your GPS:
- Screen Dimensions – A larger display will be easier to see out on a ride.
- Sunlight Visibility – The screen needs to be clearly viewable even when there is direct sunlight hitting it.
- Glove Friendly Screen – You shouldn’t have to take your riding gloves off to operate the touch screen.
- User Interface – The GPS itself must be easy to navigate.
- Mount Design – Can you take the GPS out of its mount and place it back with ease?
Navigation Features Designed for Motorcyclists
A high-quality motorcycle sat nav allows you to plan your route ahead of time so that when you set out with your friends, you’ll know exactly where you’re going and you can assume your position at the front of the pack.
You won’t always want the most direct route to your destination on a motorcycle ride; sometimes you’ll want to experience the winding scenic roads or stop off at important points of interest such as gas stations, hotels and restaurants. With the route-planning feature, it’s easy to make these adjustments to your trip.
When you are riding your bike, braving the elements, traffic, and distracted motorists; you are safest when you have both hands on the handlebars and your eyes on the road. So, when shopping for a motorbike GPS, consider units which offer voice guidance capabilities.
Voice guidance systems can be linked with your smartphone and Bluetooth headset to provide safe and reliable voice prompting to operate all the features of your GPS system. Units which also offer audio route directions are even better.
There is simply no such thing as too much information when it comes to motorcycle safety. The experienced motorcyclist will concern himself with rider alerts when shopping for a GPS unit. These may include tire pressure alerts, curvy road alerts, traffic congestion alerts, crash alerts, state helmet mandate alerts, known speed trap alerts, and even alerts concerning road construction and route closures. Wind speed/direction and temperature analysis can also be very reassuring.
Marking any location with its latitude and longitude (as opposed to a street address) is called establishing a waypoint. If you plan to use your new motorcycle navigation device for off-roading, you might consider one which marks and stores waypoints for later use. This feature is especially useful when visiting natural landmarks and other rural attractions which may not be located using conventional methods. Mark the spot with the motorcycle navigation unit and store it so that you may revisit the site without any confusion.
Topo Map Support
Regardless of whether you prefer to ride in the city or the wide open roads, topographical map capability is a function that you should consider when shopping for a GPS for your bike. Knowing the lay of the land is critical in route and destination planning. If you are an off-road motorcycle enthusiast, your GPS navigation unit simply must have topographical map capabilities.
Adventurous Routing for Thrilling Rides
GPS units which provide specialized route selection allow you to experience a higher level of enjoyment. The most scenic routes, routes which do not include interstates, and routes which provide the most challenging riding conditions are just a few of the specialized guidance options which you will find in most top-tier GPS navigation units for motorcycles.
When considering the cost of a GPS, map updating should be a factor. If these updates are not free; how much do they cost and how often will the unit need to be updated? Fortunately, our top GPS recommendations include free lifetime map updates.
The ideal motorbike GPS may be transferable from your street bike to your dirt bike; then to your car or truck. This may require different mounts and (in most cases) separate styles of electrical connectors. When shopping for the perfect GPS unit for your bike, make sure that it suited to your needs as they pertain to versatility.
Despite the capacity of the GPS device to connect to your bike or vehicle, there will usually be a time when you will have to rely on battery power. Off-roading and hunting from a four-wheeler or motorcycle usually involves extended periods of time away from the vehicle and the GPS can prove very useful when you are on foot (always check state and local laws before hunting with a navigation device). Consider how long the battery will remain functional with each charge before making your motorcycle navigation system purchase.
GPS devices which are Bluetooth compatible allow you to access your smartphone while riding. You can listen to your favorite music, answer calls, talk on the phone, initiate GPS voice commands, explore changing weather conditions, and be aware of variations in your route—without ever removing your hands from the grips. To take advantage of these features you will need a compatible Bluetooth headset.
We recommend the Sena 20S Motorcycle Bluetooth Communication System.
A high-quality GPS unit that is paired with a Bluetooth headset will let you control the playback of your favorite tunes or audiobooks from the screen. You can listen to your media through Spotify, Pandora, or your MP3 player for those extended adventures.
Make sure that your GPS navigation system of choice is compatible with your current media device or smartphone and get ready to enjoy motorcycling at a whole new and exciting level.
Of course, there is no way to ignore the price but be careful when making your final choice. Lower priced units may not include universal mounting devices, free lifetime map updates, or Bluetooth compatibility. These are all factors to consider when calculating the overall cost of the system and the value for your money.
Can I Use My Mobile Phone as a Motorcycle GPS?
Mobile phones are not designed to be attached to the handlebars of a moving motorcycle. The level of vibration alone is more than your average smartphone can withstand. As the engine revs higher, the vibrations and shock can only increase. Combined with your bike encountering those little imperfections on the road—it’s enough to rattle the average smartphone into malfunctioning. Only a specially designed motorbike GPS is built to take on the rigors of motorcycling.
Aside from vibration and shock; most mobile phones are not built to withstand moisture and sun exposure. Just one rainstorm could render your phone worthless, and you are stuck with no navigation device and no personal communication device. A dedicated motorcycle GPS is the only solution to combat the weather hazards on the road. A waterproof cover could be used to protect your smartphone, but this is an added expense and risk you’ll have to endure.
Hopefully, this never happens to you, but if you are forced to separate from your motorcycle inadvertently, and your mobile phone is damaged, how will you call for help? Mobile phones that are clamped to the handlebars of a motorbike that is laid down are usually destroyed. The best place for your mobile phone is tucked away inside your jacket pocket, saddle bag, or backpack so that it can be kept safe and dry for easy access in case of an emergency.
Choose a GPS that is compatible with your smartphone and Bluetooth helmet. Many will allow you to operate your mobile phone, entertainment, and navigation devices using voice commands so that your mobile phone can remain safely tucked away from the elements.
We haven't found a single app for our mobile phones that could reproduce all the features that a motorcycle GPS combines in one purpose-built device. If you're spending enough time on the road—investing in a specially designed motorcycle navigation unit will be worth the convenience and reliability. That’s why so many experienced riders still use a motorcycle GPS.
Can I Use a Car GPS on My Motorcycle?
You don’t want to use your car GPS for many of the same reasons that you don’t want to use your mobile phone.
First and foremost it’s because a GPS navigation unit that is built for use in a car is not made to withstand rain and the sun. Sooner or later, every active motorcyclist will be caught in a rainstorm. If your automobile GPS is mounted to your handlebars and gets wet, it will be ruined. Only a purpose-built motorbike GPS unit is designed to resist rain and other elements.
Most automobile GPS devices are built to be mounted to the dash, plugged in, and left alone. When you exit the car, you lock the doors and leave the device where it is. Unfortunately, when you leave your motorcycle, you must often carry your GPS system with you. This subjects the navigation system to all kinds of hazards, from disconnecting and reconnecting the unit to dropping it.
Motorcycle GPS units are specially designed to withstand the process of plugging it in and unplugging it regularly. Heavier charging cords and plugs, along with reinforced power/charging portals, provide a level of durability that automotive GPS units cannot.
Motorcycle navigation devices are also built to withstand levels of shock and vibration that automobile GPS units cannot. Face it, the possibility of a motorbike GPS hitting the ground is virtually guaranteed. When is the last time you dropped your automobile GPS on the ground from handlebar height? It’s not recommended, but motorcycle navigation apparatuses are built to endure some level of shock and vibration.
Sure, motorcycle GPS units may cost a little more than the automobile version, but the high-end models can even double as a car GPS with the on-screen options to switch from motorcycle to car mode. Combine that with the fact that the longevity of an automobile GPS device on a motorcycle is drastically reduced—choosing a motorcycle GPS is the only way to go.
What Is the Best Off-Road GPS for Motorcycles?
If you plan to use your GPS unit primarily for off-roading, hunting, or fishing, you will want to make sure that it has GPS and GLONASS, waypoint capability, and topographical maps.
The abbreviations GPS and GLONASS represent two separate networks of tracking satellites. While both satellite networks are global, one is operationally based in the U.S. and the other in Russia. The positions of these individual satellites (in relation to a particular navigation device) serve to dictate how seamlessly the signal is transmitted and the navigation device is tracked. Since GPS and GLONASS satellites are positioned at different points in orbit, choosing an off-road motorcycle navigation unit that has a GPS+GLONASS module is critical for faster fixes and more seamless operation in urban and rural environments.
Waypoints are used primarily to mark a particular spot on the globe so that the location can be revisited more easily. They can also be shared with others who wish to map your travels or track your progress for a wide variety of reasons. Waypoints are not marked with street addresses but are logged with geographic coordinates (degrees of longitude and latitude) making it an important feature for off-road use.
While many of your top-tier off-road motorcycle navigation units are preloaded with a variety of topographical maps, virtually all of them have the capacity to additional maps if required. The topographical map will show you the lay of the land so that you can avoid dangerous elevation changes that may cut off your route.
One of the most well rounded off-road GPS units is the Garmin Montana 680t. It not only has all of the features listed above but also includes a digital camera that automatically tags your photos with geographic coordinates allowing you to navigate to the exact location in the future.
The Garmin Montana 680t can also be mounted on your ATV, boat, car or it can even be used as a handheld. If you spend most of your time riding off-road, we highly recommend the Montana 680t.
Best Motorcycle Sat Nav Reviews in 2017
After careful hands-on testing and consideration of hundreds of rider reviews, we have compiled this list of the top sat nav units for motorcycles in 2017. Despite the initial cost, the Garmin Zumo 595LM is the absolute best-of-the-best with a lengthy list of motorcycle specific features, free lifetime map updates, and a superior display in all light levels. The best value for money option is the TomTom Rider 400. TomTom has managed to pack in all of the important features and provide free lifetime map updates inside this affordable motorbike sat nav unit. Read our motorcycle GPS reviews below for more information.
1. Garmin Zumo 595LM Review (Overall Winner)
The Garmin Zumo 595LM receives our recommendation as the best motorcycle GPS on the market. The glove-friendly, 5-inch, dual-orientation touchscreen display makes it suited for motorcycling on the street or off-road.
This latest model from Garmin is designed to withstand harsh weather, including rain and freezing and hot temperatures. An impermeability code of IPX7 has been given to this device; meaning that it can withstand up to 1-meter of water for up to 30-minutes.
Bluetooth compatibility will enable you to sync the 595LM to your Bluetooth Helmet or headset for hands-free, voice initiated operation and media playback. All of your smartphone calling/texting and app functions will appear right on the distinctive Zumo screen, allowing you to carry out these tasks via voice command without the necessity to remove your hands from the handlebars.
The 595LM also allows you to control the playback of your music and media from your MP3 player or smartphone. You can even listen to your favorite playlists from the Pandora and Spotify streaming services.
Use the Garmin Adventurous Routing option to customize your route to suit your individual desires and riding style. Rider Alerts keep you informed of steep curves, road construction, road closures, heavy traffic, and even known speed traps.
The GPS comes packaged with the necessary power cable and mount for your bike, and you’ll also receive an automotive mount and the matching cable for extra versatility among your vehicles.
Something else that makes this GPS our first choice (and great value) are free lifetime maps and traffic updates.
If you want the best GPS for your motorcycle, the Garmin Zumo 595LM is the top of the line option.
2. TomTom Rider 400 Review (Best Value)
As our best value pick in the motorcycle GPS line-up, the TomTom Rider 400 provides many top-tier features at a discount price. The bright and colorful 4.3-inch touchscreen provides a glove-friendly gateway into route and destination information, free lifetime traffic and map updates, and a pair of colorful display options. The conventional GPS view offers a no-frills display while Portrait View lets you see more of the curves and hills ahead.
One-touch specialized route buttons allow the rider to choose between three levels of curvy roads and three levels of hilly roads; depending upon the level of riding expertise and style. Discover new routes by simply touching the spot on the screen representing the area in which you wish to travel. This will provide automatic round-trip planning.
High contrast mode yields precise visibility even in the brightest sunlight. MyDrive allows you to use your smartphone, tablet, or PC to review real-time traffic updates, plan routes, and sync up with the Rider 400 to download the information.
The Rider’s weatherproof design means that you won’t be scrambling for a map just because of an unexpected rainstorm and audio directions provide you with driving directions and alerts that will never divert your attention away from the road.
With a lengthy list of staple features built into a Bluetooth compatible device, the TomTom Rider 400 is our pick for motorcyclists on a budget.
3. Garmin Montana 680t Review (Best Off-Road GPS)
The Garmin Montana 680t is geared towards the off-road rider, hunter, fisherman, and outdoors-man. The 680t has a vivid, 4-inch, sunlight-readable, glove-friendly touchscreen. It’s easy to access format means that you will spend less time in set-up and more time exploring your favorite outdoor destinations.
Garmin’s free BaseCamp software allows you to view and organize waypoints, maps, routes, and tracks. BaseCamp displays topographic map data on your computer monitor in 2D or 3D so you can create unique outdoor adventures and share them with your family and friends. It also has a digital camera that automatically geotags your pictures with coordinates so that you can always find your way back to the exact location with no hassle.
A one-year BirdsEye satellite imaging subscription is included with the Montana. A 3-axis compass, barometric altimeter, and access to GLONASS satellites provide faster calculations when you’re on an adventure. The high-sensitivity GPS holds your position in even the deepest cover. On your journey, you can share your waypoints, tracks, routes, and geocaches wirelessly with other compatible Garmin GPS users.
Wind, rain and dust are no match for the Montana which is weatherproof rated IPX7.
4. Garmin Zumo 395LM Review
The Garmin Zumo 395LM is the baby brother of our overall number one—the Zumo 595LM. It offers many of the same features in a more compact package that is popular for use on smaller or sportier motorcycles. It has a 4.3-inch color touchscreen display that is resistant to fuel vapors, ultraviolet rays, extreme temperatures, dust, sand, the wind, and rain. It is also designed for operation without having to remove your gloves.
Hands-free operation, via your Bluetooth headset or helmet, provides access to the latest rider alerts, phone calls, texting, and route directions through audio and voice commands. Hands-free is widely recognized as the safest method for navigation and entertainment devices while riding a motorcycle.
Your favorite music and media apps are accessible through Bluetooth and your smartphone. I especially like the rider alerts which make you aware of route closures, heavy traffic, sharp curves, steep hills, and even known speed traps.
The smaller, sleeker design of the 395LM makes it perfect for riders who are positioned a little closer to the handlebars. Sportbike riders, in particular, may appreciate this GPS because it may be a more aerodynamic device than larger options. It can tuck neatly in behind the fairing, yet the display is bright and colorful enough to provide excellent visibility.
5. TomTom Rider Review
The TomTom Rider is the older version of the Rider 400. It offers many of the basic features at a price that is easy on the budget. It is an all-weather GPS with a 4.3-inch, glove-friendly, color touchscreen.
Get an early start on your riding excitement with Tyre. Tyre allows you to pre-plan your trips using your smartphone, PC, or tablet.
Even with its reasonable sales price, the Rider comes with free lifetime map updates. Choose an added adrenaline rush with Rider’s Winding Road Routes button. It automatically searches out the most challenging route between any two points so that you can get your fill of steep hills and sharp curves.
The Points of Interest feature marks your route with places which are of particular interest to motorcyclists. You can even add your own so that you never miss a stop on life’s highway. Selecting the Added Sunlight Visibility feature means that you will never have to strain to see the display—even in direct sunlight.
Get hands-free; audio route directions delivered straight to your Bluetooth helmet or headset for the utmost in safety. With audio route directions delivered to your ear, your attention can stay where it needs to be—on the road.
6. Garmin Zumo 590LM Review
Designed to be used on the street and off-road, the Zumo 590LM has a 5-inch, glove-friendly touchscreen display that is visible in all lighting conditions (including direct sunlight). Its durable construction is suitable for cruising as well as aggressive off-roading. It is resistant to the wind, rain, fuel spills, UV rays, sand, and vibration.
The integrated Music/Media Player lets you use your MP3 player or sync up with your smartphone to access apps like Pandora, Spotify, and Audiobooks. Traffic avoidance and weather updates are possible when the 590LM is linked to your Android or iPhone device.
Use the Curvy Roads feature to take the curviest and most challenging route to your destination or download and view 3D terrain detail with the topographical map feature. The topographical map feature is particularly useful when off-roading, hunting, fishing, or any other activity that takes you off the beaten path.
Stow your mobile phone safely away in a saddle bag and link the 590LM to your Bluetooth helmet for hands-free access to your smartphone and get audio route directions to keep your attention focused on riding. Rider alerts keep you abreast of route changes, speed limit changes, and weather changes. Garmin also offers a tire pressure monitor alert that is sold separately.
7. Garmin Zumo 390LM Review
Slightly smaller than the 590LM, the Zumo 390LM is constructed with a 4.3-inch color touchscreen display. It is weather resistant (IPX7) and includes free lifetime map updates.
The optional Tire Pressure Monitor system means that you will never have to check your tire pressure manually again. The specially designed touchscreen of the 390LM offers excellent visibility, even when the sun is at its brightest, and the glove-friendly interface doesn’t require removal of your gloves before use.
Connect to your smartphone and Bluetooth helmet for hands-free audio route directions and use voice commands to access all your favorite music and media. Rider alerts, including route changes, speed limit changes, weather updates, and traffic updates can also be heard inside your Bluetooth helmet.
The Curvy Roads function lets you take the windiest route possible to your destination, and roadside attractions can be stored according to your personal interests. Mobile phone and text functions appear right on the display screen when the 390LM is synced with your smartphone for voice controlled and hands-free operation.
8. Garmin Zumo 660LM Review
The Zumo 660LM is the predecessor to the 590LM. It features advanced 3D navigation (including elevation changes and buildings) as well as realistic junction images on the display so that you can be more aware of your surroundings. It has a high-resolution, 4.3-inch, color touchscreen, that is glove-friendly and resistant to fuel spray and the weather. Lifetime map updates are also included.
Bluetooth wireless technology enables hands-free use of your mobile phone and playback of your favorite media content with audio route directions and voice controls.
Whether you are riding in bright sunlight or the darkest night, the 660LM yields a high visibility display and an easy to access format that will help you to get to your destination safe and sound.
The 660LM is preloaded with street maps and millions of points of interest that include fuel stations, lodging, cash machines, and more. All you need to do is pick your destination and ride.
Hopefully, you have found this GPS buying guide helpful. Choosing the right device to meet your particular riding needs will undoubtedly make your future motorcycling experiences safer and more enjoyable. Remember to check out the Garmin Zumo 595LM for the absolute latest and best that motorcycle GPS navigation devices have to offer.
Overall Winner: Garmin Zumo 595LM
Motorcycle GPS Reviews
After reviewing all of the GPS units on the market today, we have concluded that the Garmin Zumo 595LM is the most reliable and feature-packed unit—making it suitable for all motorcycle riders. The detailed mapping and advanced Bluetooth integration with smartphones will make your riding experience safer and more enjoyable.