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Discussion Starter #1
I am looking at purchasing a GPS but there is an avalanche of types, styles and pricing out there that I am now more confused than ever.

I would like something hand held/bar mount, good accuracy, water proof (of course), that includes a compass, expandable memory and altimiter and relatively inexpensive.

What is every one using and why (your likes and dislikes)?

Good Warranties

Thanks,

Turbod98
 

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Turbod98 -

There are motorcycle-friendly designs like the Garmin Zumo 550. These are designed for motorycle use with features like oversize touch screen buttons so they work nicely with gloves on. At $700 they are way too rich for my blood.

I'm just gonna tell you about my stuff and what I've considered. And, I’m a Garmin user, having had them exclusively since about 1994. The devil you know…

I have been using a 10 year old Garmin emap. It's a hand-held unit that does mapping, records tracks, and can have routes uploaded to it. It has a monochrome display. It’s been perfect for backpacking, cross-desert four-wheeling, motorcycling and so on, but it doesn’t do auto routing, and the routes that I can upload to it are pretty crude, as it doesn’t support turn-by-turn routing.

I’m looking to replace it for a more modern unit.

Here’s what I think you need in a GPS:

Ability to upload routes, at least 10, with turn-by-turn support
Ability to add maps
Ability to add waypoints
Ability to record and save tracks
Ability to see GPS data, which usually will tell you elevation
A good trip computer
A compass
Good battery life (in case you go on walk-about)

These are things that not all GPS units have; I’m not listing all the stuff that most units do have.

I like a handheld, too, and looked at the eTrex H series – Legend, Summit, Venture. These range in price from $150 to $250 (MSRP), with the eTrex Legend H being the bargain. It’s downside is that it has a monochrome display.

At the high end is the eTrex Legend HCx. It’s plus is that it has auto-routing capability, and the down side is that it has no compass. Also no barometric altimeter, but you can usually get that from a GPS data screen.

In the middle, the eTrex Summit HC has a compass and altimiter.

What I wound up buying, though, was a Garmin Nuvi 750, ‘cuz I got a smoking hot deal on it, my wife and daughter have Nuvis and we like them. If you go the Nuvi route, you need to get at least the 7xx series to be able to upload routes, which for me is really important. It also does auto routing and has frou-frou stuff like picture display and an MP3 player. The down side to it is that it has touch screen buttons which may be cumbersome with gloves on, and whether or not it will be rugged enough for motorcycle use remains to be seen (that’s what warranties are for).

Whatever route you go, check to see that RAM makes a mount for the unit you get. A RAM mount for a unit, complete, usually runs about $35. Ram is the way to go – don’t ever think of using whatever the manufacturer provides for amount – your GPS will wind up on the side of the road somewhere.

Tom
 

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I use a Garmin 2610, which is waterproof and was the standard for motorcycle GPS. It's been discountinued, and now sells for less than $200, where it used to sell for $700..

Good points are that it's waterproof and a very solid unit.. Bad points are that it's bigger than the new units, and it doesn't have an internal battery.. Run it off the bike or look at a blank screen..

I have the same mount and wire harness on all three bikes, and I just swap it to each bike as needed.. Takes seconds..


 

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Let me add that the handheld units usually do not have touch screens - they have buttons. This is a plus for motorcycling, because once you get used to Garmins arcane OS, you can run the thing by feel without taking your eyes off the road.

And the 2610 is a nice unit... on my last long trip I ran into a threesome from Switzerland who come to the states every year and take a two week Harley ride. They had one that they brought from home. They said they wouldn't trade it for any other.

Tom
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Wow! Tom,
That's a lot of very useful considerations, thanks to both for the response.

My personal preferrence is a unit that runs on AA batteries so that I do not need a charger unit in/on everything or when in hand held or hiking & hunting.

Had not really considered the gloves on or off issue for operation, but, and I'm guessing here, that most of my use would be gloves off.

One key here that I had not considered at all is the ability to record and save tracks and the trip computer function, which after consideration, I think I would definitely like to have.

As much as I would like to stay under $250.00, I suspect I may be needing to budget higher for this.

A little less confused and a little more educated ...:)

Turbod98
 

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Really, I'm a little more confused and educated. :)
 

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turbod98 -

The Summit might be a contender for you.

I might suggest that you go to the Garmin website and download the user manuals for some of the ones you're interested in - they are avialable and only about a megabyte in size.

That way you can be sure of what you're getting - the spec sheets at Garmin are pretty high level.

tom
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Tom,

Will do later tonight, can't spend all day on the computer at work (o.k. maybe I can...) but to much to do at the moment :50:.

Thanks again for the suggestions.

Turbod98
 

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Just my .02 I have a Zumo 550 that I got for "free" through a promotion when I bought the KTM. It's nice, water / vibration resistant, easy to use, all that. Would I go out and pay a premium for one? No way. It aint THAT good. When using it I find myself looking at the darned thing more than the scenery. A good part of my riding is wanting to get lost, finding new places to ride, the hard way. I can see how it would be useful if you were picking your way along the TAT or CDR. For me and just normal riding around I find the GPS a distraction.
 

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I have a Garmin zumo 550 for my motorcycles and it becomes handy. You will like it more if you ever get around to using the voice direstions, music, and phone.
 

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I've got the Garmin 2820 which is bluetooth and I listen to it wirelessly with my chatterbox xbi2 on my Arai xd3 helmet.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
A brief bit of history here, because from an off-road riding point of view I agree with "flash's" comments;

Last Sunday out for a ride with a small group that had met at the local coffee shop (I have never met the other 4 riders before, but a great group). One fellow had a GPS and was doing most of the leading during our exploring. None of us had been in the area before so all was new to us.

After riding for an hour to hour and a half past our agreed finish time (3 of us had early evening commitments), it became evident that our lead bike did not really know where we were. After determining our position by my map, the GPS equipped bike had us 42 miles off. Turns out the owner had only had the unit for a week and did not really know how to use it, and did not have the manual with him, or know if the system set-up & mapping was correct.

After agreeing to go by map (and agressive riding :)) we did make it back close to our agreed time. We did all have a good chuckle, at the gps owners expense of course, and agreed to do it again with-out an end time as soon as the weather permits.

I personally do not plan on using/looking at the unit while riding, but rather for confirming my map points and tracking routes for others (novice riders not comfortable with the idea of not knowing where the road ends, getting lost or much bush experiance).

Some of my best rides have been the unexpected over-nighters or "no-one has a clue where we are trips :ashamed0001:".

Sorry, didn't mean for this to be so long,

Turbod98
 

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I have, due to the usual screw-ups that I'm well known for, gotten my self way behind schedule on trips out to the desert. Several times I've arrived after dark on overcast or moonless nights. The truck goes into 4 wheel low and I drive to where I have to be by following the GPS track I laid down the last time I was there. Very useful when all you can see is a few hundred feet in front of the truck and there are no landmarks and you're not on anything more than a jeep trail.

On a recent 1200 mile trip I created a dozen routes in MapSource and uploaded them to the old emap (the emap has limited routing capability, so you have to break down long routes into many smaller ones). We were going from one small road to the next, trying to get in as much backroad riding as possible. For three days it kept us knowing where the next major turn was and roughly how far away it was.

GPS have their uses, and they have their off switches.

Being completely familiar with the unit is really important, too, and relying on them completely ain't a good idea. The GPS will always know where it is in terms of latitude and longitude, but if the base map is bad then it's going to tell you you're somewhere where you're not. That's happened to me, too.

Tom
 
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