One of my pet projects has been learning to ride a motorbike. I don’t want to buy a racing bike, but more of a cruising motorbike that has the possibility to go off-road if needed. Across the UK, hundreds of routes are too long to hike, but it would be good if you could cover a serious distance on a motorbike. Take the North Coast 500, its 500-Miles around Scotland. It would take too long to walk, but on a motorbike, it’s easily achievable over a long weekend. One problem I can foresee is getting lost, and this is where a motorcycle Sat-Nav, comes into its own.
Motorcycle Sat Nav
If you have a bike and like to ride, then a motorcycle sat nav should be on your to-get list. A sat-nav, short for “satellite navigation,” is a remote device that is basically a GPS for your motorcycle. With a sat nav, you can plan your rides and avoid things that might slow you down, like traffic and alternative paths.
Sat navs are the most useful if you like to take long trips on your bike that require planning. With a good sat nav, you will not get lost, and you won’t waste time trying to figure out where to go. We will talk about the best-sat navs and what you should look for in a motorcycle sat nav.
What to Look For
- Durability: Satnavs will spend most of their time outside exposed to the elements. As such, you need to make sure that you get one that is durable and can stand up to long use outside. That is why you should always get a sat nav that has a waterproof rating. It should also have a rugged design that can withstand being dropped or impacted.
- Screen: The average sat-nav screen is about 4″-5″ across the diagonal. That is about 1.75 times the size of a standard smartphone screen. In general, LCD screens are the best because they are more durable and draw lower power than LED screens. Most sat navs have low resolution, but a handful of models can get all the way up to 1280 x 720p resolutions.
- Screen Features: If the sat nav is a touchscreen, make sure that it has a screen sensitivity option, you can adjust it to make it easier to use with gloves. It also helps to make sure the screen has anti-glare properties so you can look at it from any angle.
- Bluetooth Compatibility: It is always a good idea to pick a sat nav that has Bluetooth compatibility. That way, you can sync it up to your phone for handsfree calling and listening to music. Some sat navs have built-in speakers, while others might come with a Bluetooth headset.
- Battery Power: Battery power is another important consideration as it determines how long you can continuously use your sat nav. You should try to find a sat nav with a battery life of up to 5 hours in general. Ideally, you find one that can go longer, but anything under 3 hours will not be of much use. All other things being equal, the larger and brighter the screen, the lower the battery life will be.
- Extra Features: Sat navs also have many extra features like helmet law notifications, 3D terrain display, fuel consumption estimates, customizable routes, and much more. It’s a good idea to search for features that fit your unique situation and needs. Other common features are law-enforcement notifications, traffic notifications, and automatic route updates depending on weather conditions.
The Best Motorcycle Sat Nav
What’s the best motorcycle sat nav? It’s a choice between three models, the TomTom Rider, The Garmin Zumo XT or the Garmin Overlander.
Personally, I think the Garmin Overlander is too big, it’s 7-Inches which is huge on a motorbike, and the TomTom has too many software bugs that drive me crazy. This leaves the Garmin Zumo, which I think is a great model, offering years of updates, maps routes, traffic and most importantly, fantastic maps both on-road and off-road driving. For me, the Garmin Zumo is firmly the favourite motorbike sat nav on the market today.
Garmin Zumo XT Motorcycle Sat Nav
The Garmin motorcycle navigator range comes in two models; the 5.5-Inch edge-to-edge designed Zumo XT and the Zumo 396LMT-S 4.3-Inch designed model. Other than screen size, both models are exactly the same, however I would recommend that you go for the larger model because it’s easier to use the touchscreen with gloves on.
The Zumo XT comes with a 5.5-inch screen that is neither too big nor too small. The edge-to-edge design also helps keep the screen brighter than previous models, helping you see maps and directions in both sun-light and pitch black. Maps are fantastic, allowing you to switch between road maps, topographic maps and even BirdsEye Satellite Imagery with just a tap of a button. Directions are also great on-road with step-by-step directions, but off-road, while the device does provide you with directions, they should be taken as guidance rather than fact.
Extra features include Garmin’s Adventurous routing that helps to turn straightforward rides into twisting adventures by selecting your road preferences or Bluetooth for handsfree calling or even driver alerts for things like sharp curves along your route.
Overall I really like it. The battery will around 7-hours if you use normal settings, however, it’s not very difficult to hardwire it into the battery for everlasting power. Personally, this is the model that I’m buying, and I would highly recommend that you do to.
TomTom Motorcycle Sat Nav Rider
If you really don’t like Garmin’s, then I would advise you to buy the TomTom Version, the TomTom Rider 550. This motorcycle sat nav is designed with efficiency and fast route planning in mind. The TomTom features a durable weatherproof build made out of a durable ABS plastic. The plastic casing is IPX7-certified waterproof, meaning that it can even be operated while submerged underwater. The TomTom is designed with a special sensitive screen that means you can use it easily with gloves.
When you buy the TomTom, you will get 3 months of traffic and service for free. These updates will let you stay on top of the state of the roads when planning your routes. The service also includes speed camera alerts, maps, speed limits, 3D terrain, altitude, and other live processes. The TomTom relies on a powerful QuadCore processor that can handle intelligent planning and increases planning speeds by almost 5 times over comparable models.
The TomTom also has a durable and intuitive mounting system for your motorcycle. The specialized RAM mount is easy to install and also includes special mount guards to absorb vibration and protect against impact from dropping. The TomTom does have a smaller screen than the Naval with a 4.3″ display, and it is orientation-sensitive that changes based on portrait and landscape modes instantly.
So if you are looking for an excellent sat-nav, then you can hardly do better than this one. The TomTom sat nav is one of the most well-known brands in Europe so you can rest assured that you are getting a quality product.
Naval Portable Bluetooth Sat Nav
Both the TomTom and the Garmin are expensive models. While I feel this is the price you have to pay for a quality device, I understand that its not for everyone. As a result, if you’re looking for a cheap motorcycle GPS unit, I would highly recommend that you look at the Naval Portable Sat Nav. The NavPal is a brand new and fully updated for driving in the UK and Europe, so it is packed with the latest and best maps for traveling. When you buy this device, you also get free map updates for life without a subscription. That means you get a lifetime of new maps for just a single-time purchase.
The Naval has an upgraded battery that lasts up to 4 hours on a single charge. That is twice as long as some of the most popular sat navs. This device also has an extremely sensitive touch screen that is pressure sensitive to a precise degree. You can use it with or without gloves and change the sensitivity to fit your needs. It also has anti-glare technology so you can look at the screen from any angle without losing visibility.
The Naval supports a wide number of navigation features, including postcodes, addresses, coordinates, and more. It also pushes driver alerts, speed camera detection, lane guidance, estimated fuel consumption, and estimated arrival times. The Naval also uses intelligent route planning that will automatically shift routes if it finds a better one. It is programmable in over 40 languages and has a native day/night mode switch. It can be used in more than just a motorcycle too, including car, truck, bike, or taxi.