GPS has become so ubiquitous that it’s available in all of our phones, but that doesn’t mean that dedicated GPS devices have gone the way of the dodo. That’s especially true if you’re a motorcycle driver. You can’t reasonably just plug your smartphone in and expect it to provide you with the navigation you need. While the open road can get lonely, the best motorcycle GPS systems serve as your dedicated navigator.
They offer a safer way to get to where you’re trying to go, and many of them contain features specific to the demands of motorcycle riders. We’ve carefully parsed out the 10 best motorcycle GPS devices and provided you with a quick and concise review for each. And our guide can help you understand the important specs.
TD;LR - 10 Best Motorcycle GPS:
- Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S Motorcycle GPS
- New BMW Motorrad Navigator VI W/Cradle
- Garmin Drive 51 USA LM GPS Navigator
- Motorcycle GPS TomTom Rider 550
- Garmin Zumo 390LM 4.3″ Motorcycle GPS
- TomTom VIA 1525SE 5″ GPS Navigator
- Garmin Nuvi 67LM GPS Navigator
- TomTom START 45M 4.3″ GPS Navigator
- Garmin Nuvi 40LM GPS Navigation
- TomTom GO 600 Portable Vehicle GPS
1. Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S Motorcycle GPS
Garmin is best known for the superbly high level of quality in their GPS tracking maps, but they've also shown an exceptional talent for being able to deliver secondary features and a great interface, two things that can transform a basic GPS navigation system into a top shelf one. The Zumo 396 is in the upper mid-range of their models and covers just about everything you could possible want on the open road.
The real time travel and weather information ensures that you'll always be miles ahead of the other riders on the road, while the Garmin Adventurous Routing feature specifically helps you chart courses that are hilly and scenic while minimizing your time on major highways. And the Bluetooth compatibility allows you to safely make calls hands free without endangering yourself or anyone else.
2. New BMW Motorrad Navigator VI W/Cradle
The quality of BMW engineered aren't just restricted to their tightly crafted German cars. That's proven by the Motorrad Navigator VI. This is a motorcycle GPS with a level of polish that's rarely seen, and that earns it a spot as one of the best GPS motorcycle options. In large part, they managed this through a partnership with Garmin. That means that you get the GPS systems that Garmin are known for as well as the tough waterproofing and resistance to vibration and exhaust that's found in the Garmin Zumo series.
This BMW navigator be a thousand dollar GPS system, but it's the only one you'll ever need for your motorcycle. The display reads well even in the brightest sunlight, and the full North America maps come with free updates for life. It may not be the best value around, but it's easily a contender for best feature set.
3. Garmin Drive 51 USA LM GPS Navigator
Need something a little budget conscious? The Garmin Drive 51 offers all of the basics you could want out of a motorcycle GPS without cutting any corners in the fundamentals, and it manages to provide all that for under a hundred bucks. The Drive 51 makes use of a dual map system that shows you both an overhead and up close view to prevent you from missing any turns, and utilizes both TripAdvisor and Foursquare to provide more detailed information on nearby businesses.
You will want to keep in mind that this isn't specifically made for motorcycles, so it offers no water resistance or proofing. While we largely regard that as a necessity for motorcycles, you can get around it by investing in a waterproofed case. Even with the cost of one of these accessories, it will still come out cheaper than comparable models on the market.
4. Motorcycle GPS TomTom Rider 550
Garmin's biggest competitor has brought their own entry into the market of motorcycle GPS units with the TomTom Rider 550. This motorcycle GPS device is pretty well tuned in terms of understanding the sorts of smart key features motorcycle riders need. Almost everything in this motorcycle GPS can be handled hands free due to the Bluetooth capabilities. You don't just get hands free calling but also voice activated navigation and directions, so you can mostly forego the touch screen entirely as long as you have your smartphone with you.
And whatever orientation you prefer, you can achieve it with the TomTom Rider 550. It can swivel from portrait to landscape mode seamlessly, and it sports one of the best battery lives around, making it great if you decide to get off of your motorcycle and explore your destinations on foot.
5. Garmin Zumo 390LM 4.3″ Motorcycle GPS
The second Garmin Zumo we've submitted for review is a somewhat more affordable option, but it still has plenty to love. This motorcycle GPS unit rocks a glove friendly display that's also bright and easy to read, and the split display provides a very savvy view of the road at large and your more immediate objectives so you never lose sight of where you're going. Safety is a top concern as indicated by the fact that this motorcycle GPS device can connect with Garmin tire pressure accessories to keep you up to date on maintenance.
This model is tough built with an IPX71 rating that protects not just against rain but also against UV rays and fuel spills. Other features include hands free calling and the ability to give directions with your voice without needing to make use of the touch display at all.
6. TomTom VIA 1525SE 5″ GPS Navigator
TomTom's VIA 1525SE may be one of the most simple Bluetooth motorcycle devices you'll find, but sometimes that's all you'll need, and simple doesn't necessarily mean lacking in this case. While it doesn't come with some of the luxury bells and whistles that its more expensive contemporaries offer, it's still a well built model that includes both a responsive and bright touchscreen and dependable map modeling from the TomTom satnav network.
An investment of roughly $150 gets you free map updates for life as well as traffic information, and the touch screen has been designed explicitly for navigating it while wearing gloves. And the lane guidance feature is something that's all too rarely seen on motorcycle GPS units. Voice navigation rounds out the package. It may be TomTom's entry level model, but it still bring a lot of utility to the table.
7. Garmin Nuvi 67LM GPS Navigator
If you're looking for an entry level motorcycle GPS deices, the Garmin Nuvi 67LM is one of the best models at your disposal. It draws from arguably the best satnav network in the world, but it also comes with some smart features that can make getting from Point A to Point B that much easier. Direct Access mode will find the quickest route to your destination, while Garmin Real Directions will use relevant points of interest to help you get where you need to go even if you can't read the road signs.
Free lifetime updates come standard, and Foursquare integration means that you can get the relevant information about potential pitstops along the way too. It also offers compatibility with Garmin's wireless backup camera so you can read the camera display directly on the bright GPS navigation display.
8. TomTom START 45M 4.3″ GPS Navigator
Motorcyclists who regularly find themselves out of their comfort zone will find a whole lot to love about the TomTom START 45M, and the fact that it's one of the cheapest motorcycle GPS units on our review list is just icing on the cake. Lifetime map updates are extended not just to United States but to Canada as well, so it's well suited to international road trips.
But there are a ton of other cool travel features in here as well. This motorcycle GPS will automatically find you the best gas prices in a given area, and you can even subscribe to roadside assistance if you ever find yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere. There's also advanced lane guidance to help prevent you from veering out of your lane and causing an accident.
9. Garmin Nuvi 40LM GPS Navigation
The Nuvi series isn't about providing you with the most up to date features possible. Instead, this entry level model from Garmin is about getting your to your destination as quickly and safely as possible. And while its $30 price tag would make it an absurdly great deal even if it was just a barely functional GPS, it's actually spruced up with some nice features from Garmin that defy its low price point.
You'll find lane assistance features, junction view, and speed limit warnings built in. These may be pretty basic features, but they're really nice to see in such a bare bones model. This GPS isn't going to turn any heads, but it's perfect if you want something cheap that builds off the solid framework of the Garmin infrastructure.
10. TomTom GO 600 Portable Vehicle GPS
We wrap up our list with another reasonably priced model from TomTom, but it comes with one surprising feature that sets itself apart distinctly from its contemporaries. The 3D maps provide a more in-depth diorama of the world around you and can help you more easily navigate your environment, particularly in dense urban environments where it can be easy to get lost among the buildings. All the maps are interactive too, so it's never too hard to chart out your course and set on the road with confidence.
This is also a great drive if you use your motorcycle for day to day activities. The TomTom Go 600 lets you specify important places so you can plug them into your map with little to no effort, and this GPS device connects seamlessly with your phone via Bluetooth to provide more reliable results all the time.
Best Motorcycle GPS Buying Guide
So what makes the best motorcycle GPS? There’s a lot of factors to consider when looking for a GPS motorcycle device. Below, we outline the important factors that we took into consideration when evaluating the features for each motorcycle GPS review. But they can be helpful for more than just understanding our process. There isn’t a single best motorcycle GPS that ticks every single box, so you can use these key features as a cheat sheet when trying to find the one that best matches your demands.
We’ll also get into the important accessories to consider when shopping for a motorcycle GPS and look at the best all around options from the top manufacturers. Keep reading to expand your knowledge of motorcycle GPS units and shop more confidently for them.
Motorcycle GPS vs. Traditional GPS
Our list includes both devices that are designed specifically for motorcycles and those that are more generic GPS devices for your car. So what distinguishes the two?
Most important to a motorcycle GPS is going to be waterproofing and other protections that can help it survive the wear and tear of the road. But while most generic GPS devices don’t offer this, you can typically get around that with some sort of casing. It’s not an insurmountable obstacle but definitely one you want to keep in mind. Apart from that, a typical GPS device will work just fine on a motorcycle, although we recommend looking at models that offer voice activation so you can have a more safe hands free experience while on your bike.
A motorcycle GPS touch screen is the main point of interaction you’ll have with it, so it’s integral to make sure that it’s suited to your needs. In terms of pure visibility, you’re going to want to be careful to invest in a GPS model for your motorcycle that includes both a large enough screen to be read at a glance and one that offers brightness levels and anti-glare protection that can be seen clearly through your helmet.
Also keep an eye on the interface of the map itself. The best displays are those that you don’t have trouble reading, but that can vary from person to person. Many like dual navigation systems because they allow you to get both a big picture and a close up view of where you’re going with little more than a glance and without having to manipulate the screen.
Also important to keep in mind is how easy it is to operate with your fingers. While normal GPS devices are responsive to the touch of your bare fingers, many of them aren’t made for interaction when you’re all suited up in your helmet and leathers. Specific motorcycle models are often designed to be glove friendly, and they can save you a lot of hassle in the long run. Of course, a motorcycle GPS that can be activated almost entirely by voice mitigates many of the concerns, but keep in mind that Bluetooth connections can sometimes be finicky.
Roads never stay the same. They’re a constant organism changing with every passing week and year, and the last thing you want is to invest in a motorcycle GPS unit that’s not going to keep you up to date. We’ve focused exclusively on Garmin and TomTom devices just because of the reliability of their legacy nature. Both companies offer free map updates for life with all of their motorcycle GPS units, and they both offer quality satellite navigation results, but if you’re considering other brands, it’s definitely worth your time to consider whether they’re still going to be around a few years down the road.
But free map updates aren’t the only recurring quality of life feature to consider when thinking about what makes the best GPS device. Many but not all Garmin and TomTom devices come with reliable traffic and weather updates in the moment and promise to continue supporting that for life. If you’re trying to reach your destination without getting stuck in a pileup, that’s a useful feature to consider for the long term. Also keep in mind that many Garmin devices offer updates from Foursquare and TripAdvisor for life, and that can be especially useful if you regularly using your motorcycle for long trips out into the unknown.
Most motorcycle riders would never get on the road without a helmet. You should hold your GPS device to the same standards. Any GPS made specifically for the needs of motorcycles are going to come with some level of protection from dust and water. It’s a simple necessity if you’re going to be out on the open road with no covering. You want to keep an eye out for models that offer at least an IPX7 rating. Those are strong enough to resist even heavy rainfall. If your GPS device doesn’t offer waterproofing, look for a case with at least that level of protection.
Of course, that’s the bare minimum of what you should look for. A motorcycle GPS can sustain a lot of wear and tear even if you never get into an accident, so it’s important to make sure it can withstand the pressure you put it through. What you need will depend on your own habits, but if you’re looking for the best GPS for off-road use, higher levels of durability should absolutely be one of your highest concerns.
How important is the battery life for a motorcycle GPS? That really depends. Most of the models you’ll find can be charged using a simple microUSB cord, and while that’s generally a practical choice, it can be frustrating to have to keep your GPS plugged into your motorcycle all the time if you go on long trips. That could mean having to regularly switch between your phone and your GPS to keep everything charged. A longer battery life is always going to be better, but how important that is for you will really depend on how long you tend to travel on your bike.
Also consider your practical needs off your bike. Most GPS devices built for motorcycles are relatively small in size, and that means they can be carried in your hand. If you’re on your bike hitting up national parks, there’s a lot of value that can come from being able to take your device off of its GPS mount and carry it with you as you go and explore on foot.
GPS isn’t the only wireless standard that motorcycle GPS gadgets make use of. Bluetooth is incredibly common in all but the most entry level models, and some even come with Wi-Fi connectivity. So what do these two connection options allow you to do?
Bluetooth works within 33 feet, and it lets you tether your GPS device directly to your phone. What you can actually accomplish with this can vary widely, so you should look to the specific model to determine whether GPS is worth your time. Hands free calls are one of the most common and effective choices as are voice activation for the device. But you’ll also find GPS devices that allow you to receive notification alerts from your smartphone delivered directly to your screen. Another common feature is the ability to stream music directly from your phone through the device.
Wi-Fi is a little more limited in what it can offer, but it does offer some quality of life improvements. A Wi-Fi GPS device can automatically connect to the internet when you’re in range of a wireless network, simplifying the process of updating maps, traffic, and other information.
Accurate maps are easily the most important characteristic a motorcycle GPS needs to possess, but the journey is every bit as important as the destination. Before you purchase a GPS, put on your helmet, and hit the road, consider what kind of rider you are. Traffic and weather updates are a pretty standard feature on most GPS models, but there are models from both Garmin and TomTom that allow you to find the most scenic paths. They achieve this through a combination of traffic and road curves, helping isolate the most breathtaking and isolated vistas wherever you happen to go.
That’s great if you’re just a weekend warrior, but this is a situation where more options are always better. Some smarter and newer GPS models provide you with navigation based not just on streets but on landmarks, an ideal choice if you find yourself behind your helmet in the middle of the night or in poorly marked stretches of countryside. If you use your motorcycle for your daily driving, you may want to keep an eye out for GPS devices that help you find the quickest route using updated traffic data.
When we write about gadgets at HotRate, we like to emphasize the fact that even the best products we highlight often come with hidden fees. Getting a device working exactly the way you want it to often means investing in accessories. And while there are some things to consider when looking at a motorcycle GPS unit, they fortunately aren’t enough to break the bank.
The one absolute necessity here is a mount. Without a proper way to mount the GPS to your motorcycle’s handles, it’s not going to do you much good. While some GPS units come with a GPS mount included, not all of them do. If you find yourself needing to shop for a new mount, consider both how well it will fit on your bike as well as whether you prefer your phone to be aligned horizontally or vertically.
If you’re looking at GPS units that don’t have waterproofing, one thing you’ll absolutely want is some sort of protective case. Otherwise, going out in the rain will mean riding blind. Apart from these accessories, all you really need to worry about is charging cords. Most GPS systems can be charged with a simple microUSB cord, but you’ll want to check the specifications for your model to see how easy it will be to charge while you’re on the road.
The Best Garmin Zumo
The Zumo is a line of Garmin GPS devices devoted exclusively to the needs of motorcycle owners, and that makes all of the members of the Garmin Zumo collection strong contenders for the best motorcycle GPS available today. But the collection is pretty expansive, and it can be hard to pick a best option due to the fact that they’re all targeted to specific price points and user needs.
But if you were looking for the best in terms of overall balance, the Garmin Zumo 396 LMT would probably take the cake. It falls on the high end of the price point, but it comes fully packed with all the features you could expect out of a modern motorcycle GPS. While the Garmin BMW navigator comes in at a thousand bucks, you’re mainly investing in the BMW name and the slick design functions that come with it. In terms of sheer functionality and value for your dollar, the Garmin Zumo 396 LMT is undoubtedly the name to beat.
Motorcycle GPS units may seem like a niche product, but Garmin and TomTom have proven that there’s a diverse enough market to support a ton of different models. While we picked 10 of the best, that doesn’t mean that they’re the only options out there. We hope you find a review here that suits you, but if not, please check out our more generic guide to the best GPS devices.If you liked our article on motorcycle gps, please share and comment below what your favorite product is.