Those who wander may not always be lost, but this popular saying also implies that those wandering around are, in fact, lost. However, there’s an easy way to ensure you stay on course – a motorcycle GPS unit.
A motorcycle-specific GPS is more than just a navigation device; it can also open your eyes to routes and waypoints you didn’t know about before.
From a hardware point of view, a GPS built with motorcycles in mind tends to be tougher, more robust, and better able to manage dirt and dust than the average GPS you’ll see in cars.
Another benefit of motorcycle GPS units is the constant updating of software, including route maps, that will better allow you to map a future ride right there on the unit.
Now, as adventure riding is gaining popularity, off-road routes and trails are being incorporated into some GPS software. This is going to b the topic of today’s post – GPS navigators for adventure riders.
Top 5 Motorcycle GPS Navigation Systems for Adventure Motorcyclists
Magellan has been a trusted name in navigation for a long time, and the TRX7 further bolsters its reputation as it has features adventure riders will appreciate.
Here are some of its highlights:
- Featuring a large 7-inch touchscreen, finding your way and navigating the different menus is very simple. It’s also easily readable in direct sunlight.
- Includes a built-in 5MP camera with a LED flash – perfect for capturing pictures of waypoints or tricky sections worth sharing with other users.
- Turn-by-turn navigation is not only offered for paved roads but for dirt paths as well.
- More than 160,000 OHV routes are preloaded into the unit.
- Each route can be viewed in 2D topographical or 3D maps.
- Satellite view is also available (fees apply).
- With Magellan’s community database, if you discover a route Magellan hasn’t, users can share tracks and trails and discover new waypoints together.
- An especially useful tool for adventure riders, users also have the ability to set off-grid and trail waypoints.
- The GPS is accurate enough to alert you if you’re straying from your intended trail.
- Includes a dual mount from Ram Mounts with a quick-release charging cradle.
- For more visit Magellan.
Garmin Zümo XT
- The Garmin Zümo XT is compact, weighing just 9.2oz.
- Featuring a 5.5-inch TFT touchscreen, it works with gloved hands and is readable in direct sunlight.
- An IPX7 rating for water resistance and MIL-STD-810 certification for drop and impact testing means it’s up to the task of living on your adventure bike and guiding you in harsh terrain.
- If your travels keep you on pavement, the Zümo can provide live traffic reports and has a database of preloaded attractions and local sites, as recommended by Tripadvisor.
- Turn-by-turn directions can be spoken to you.
- It can play music from your smartphone (assuming it’s paired) or you can preload music onto the Zümo and play it directly.
- You can control the GPS unit via voice commands.
- Off-road riders will appreciate the satellite views, campground network list, and on- and off-road topographical maps.
- This smart device also features a crash detection system that can alert a predetermined party once a crash is detected and you fail to respond to the unit.
- For more visit Garmin.
Trail Tech Voyager Pro
- The Trail Tech Voyager Pro is practically built with adventure riders in mind.
- It comes pre-loaded with 2D maps, topographical maps, and hill-shading maps for North America. Other regions can be downloaded for free.
- The 4-inch display isn’t the biggest here, but it works with gloved hands and is easily readable in harsh sunlight.
- If you like to see data from your motorcycle, the Trail Tech can be connected via sensors to capture engine speed, coolant temp, battery voltage, speed, distance, and more.
- Bluetooth connectivity allows you to pair with your phone and other media.
- The Trail Tech Buddy Tracking feature allows you and 20 other friends to keep tabs on each other on a map in real time.
- There’s a distress button to call for help if you need it.
- Comes with a one-year factory warranty.
- For more, visit Trail Tech.
Garmin Montana 750i
- One of the best GPS units for off-road and adventure riders, it comes packed with features.
- A 5-inch screen is also glove friendly.
- There’s a built-in 8MP camera that can be used either as a dash cam or action cam. It automatically geotags pictures so you can reference their locations later.
- It has access to all three satellite networks – GPS, GLONASS, and GALILEO – for not just accurate navigation, but also to send comms.
- Two-way messaging is enabled through the global Iridium satellite network as well as multi-GNSS reception.
- It has the ability to store multiple map sets simultaneously. Switch from a topo map to a 2D map with ease.
- The battery features a super long run time of 330 hours when in expedition mode and up to 18 hours in GPS mode.
- Opt for Garmin’s separate satellite subscription and you can use the inReach SOS technology to call for help, even if you’re outside of cell service.
- The 750i also has features for spot tracking, customizable watch faces, live weather reports, and public land boundary maps, making it a feature-rich navigation device.
- For more, visit Garmin.
TomTom Rider 550
- When a manufacturer has been in the navigation business long enough OEMs partner with them to make navigation devices, they must be doing something right. That company, of course, is TomTom.
- The Rider 550 comes with map, traffic, and safety camera alerts for the lifetime of the unit.
- Bluetooth connectivity allows you to pair the unit with your smartphone to accept calls and messages. It’ also compatible with Siri and Google.
- Thanks to its Quad-Core processor, the Rider 550 can use a wifi connection to receive updates to its firmware.
- The 4.3-inch color display isn’t large in this group, but it’s still easy to read and operable with gloves. You can even adjust the sensitivity depending on how thick or thin your gloves are.
- Internal memory is large at 16GB, and comes with preloaded maps of North America (other regions are also available).
- The feature adventure riders may enjoy most is the ability to search and select routes based on the specific terrain – whether it’s hilly, windy, or the level of difficulty.
- Visit TomTom.
There’s still one more GPS device we haven’t covered – your smartphone. Yes, the point of this post was to highlight dedicated GPS devices, but the fact remains that you have a powerful GPS tool right in your pocket.
And depending on your needs or your ride, it may be good enough for the job. There are several good apps to tailor your phone into an adventure GPS, too.
The biggest downside to using your phone is the potential to damage it should you fall, or the phone somehow dislodges itself from the motorcycle.
It’s also impossible for an app to provide all the features some of the dedicated GPS units offer – most notably, the ability to send an SOS over satellite should you be out of cell range.
Otherwise, all of the units here will serve the purpose well. So what it comes down to is your wants, needs, use case, and ultimately your budget. But seeing as how a GPS unit can literally be a lifesaver, this is one of those times we’d suggest not skimping on price.