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Best Motorcycle GPS: Get Lost Without Losing Your Way

Stay on route, whether you’re making your way to the next city over or venturing on a cross-country road trip.

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BYRobert Bacon/ LAST UPDATED ON August 9, 2022

For many motorcyclists, a cell phone’s navigation system and a motorcycle mount will suffice in helping them get from A to B. But the more adventurous types will need something that'll keep them informed of the road ahead, even when cell reception is a distant memory. Whether you're tackling a fire road or riding so high the air is becoming thin, a motorcycle GPS will keep you informed of the path ahead. These devices can be large, making them much easier to see than your phone. You can also find models that'll act as an emergency locator and be small enough to fit in your jacket pocket.

Best Overall

Garmin Zumo XT Motorcycle GPS

Summary
A unit with a large HD screen that features customizable on-road routes and preloaded off-road trails.
Pros
  • 5.5-inch ultrabright HD touchscreen
  • Preloaded off-road routes
  • Customizable on-road routes
  • Compatible with inReach satellite communicator
Cons
  • Slightly pricey
  • InReach satellite features sold separately
Best Value

Garmin Zumo 396 LTM-S

Summary
If you keep your tires firmly planted on asphalt, this should give you all the features you need.
Pros
  • Good value for money
  • Customizable on-road routes
  • Glove-friendly 4.3-inch screen
  • Garmin's Adventurous Routing feature
Cons
  • No off-road routes
  • Poor battery life
  • Not IPX7 rated
Honorable Mention

TomTom Rider 550 Motorcycle GPS

Summary
A durable motorcycle GPS unit that does all you need on the road. All it lacks are off-road routes.
Pros
  • Sunlight-readable 4.3-inch touchscreen
  • Siri and Google voice controls
  • Works with a specialized RAM mount
  • IPX7 rated
  • Customizable routes based on your preferences
Cons
  • No off-road routes
  • Not a very intuitive user interface
Best Motorcycle GPS: Get Lost Without Losing Your Way

Our Methodology

To choose the best motorcycle GPS on the market, I employed The Drive’s comprehensive research methodology and evaluated dozens of GPS units before choosing the top contenders. Although I haven’t personally tested these products, my selection is informed by consumer testimonials, expert reviews, discussions on relevant online forums, and my institutional knowledge of the motorcycle industry. I also visited the motorcycles subreddit to get a more informed opinion of what motorcyclists felt about the GPS units on the market.

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

Learn more

Best Motorcycle GPS Reviews & Recommendations

Best Emergency GPS: Garmin inReach Mini 2

Best Off-Road GPS: Garmin Montana 750i

Specs

  • Make: Garmin
  • Model: Zumo XT
  • Off-road routes: Yes

Pros

  • 5.5-inch ultrabright HD touchscreen
  • Preloaded off-road routes
  • Customizable on-road routes
  • Compatible with inReach satellite communicator

Cons

  • Slightly pricey
  • InReach satellite features sold separately

The Garmin Zumo XT features a large 5.5-inch HD display that’s ultrabright, glove-friendly, and has an IPX7 rating. You can go anywhere with this GPS regardless of what the weather has in store, and it passed the MIL-STD-810F drop test, so it's as durable as they come. You won’t need a subscription to have turn-by-turn directions while on the road, and BirdsEye satellite imagery works with preloaded off-road routes to keep you pointed in the right direction when you get adventurous. You can customize your on-road routes to suit the type of riding that you like, so you won't have to worry about wracking up boring highway miles. You can also pair this model with a compatible inReach satellite communicator (sold separately) and use two-way messaging, location sharing, and SOS features.

This model will prepare you for the unexpected, as it alerts you to railroad crossings and sharp turns. When fully charged, the battery lasts for 3.5 hours at 100 percent brightness and up to six hours on lower settings. Should you decide to hardwire it to your bike, you won't have to worry about it running out of juice. The downside of this GPS is that its user interface takes some time to get used to, and it's a bit pricey.

Specs

  • Make: Garmin
  • Model: Zumo 396 LTM-S
  • Off-road routes: No

Pros

  • Good value for money
  • Customizable on-road routes
  • Glove-friendly 4.3-inch screen
  • Garmin's Adventurous Routing feature

Cons

  • No off-road routes
  • Poor battery life
  • Not IPX7 rated

The Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S doesn't have as many features as other units on this list, but it fulfills the fundamentals of a motorcycle GPS device for a relatively low price. It has a glove-friendly 4.3-inch screen that's easily readable in sunlight and resistant to harsh weather conditions and fuel vapors. If you want to turn a boring trip into a fun one, you can use Garmin's Adventurous Routing feature, which finds curvy roads and limits time spent on highways. Using an app and your smartphone, you can share live status updates and good routes you’ve discovered with friends and other riders.

The unit will alert you to hazards and driving laws, such as sharp curves ahead and changes in helmet laws as you cross state lines. This isn't the option for riders who want to discover new off-road adventures, as the device doesn't have any preloaded trails. Another thing to be aware of is this GPS unit doesn't have a long battery life, but you can hardwire it to your bike.

Specs

  • Make: TomTom
  • Model: Rider 550
  • Off-road routes: No

Pros

  • Sunlight-readable 4.3-inch touchscreen
  • Siri and Google voice controls
  • Works with a specialized RAM mount
  • IPX7 rated
  • Customizable routes based on your preferences

Cons

  • No off-road routes
  • Not a very intuitive user interface

As long as you like staying on asphalt, the TomTom Rider 550 Motorcycle GPS should give you all you need. The GPS device gets maps and software updates via Wi-Fi, so you'll never be out of the loop. It's compatible with Siri and Google voice controls and syncs with your smartphone so, if you have a headset, you can use it to control this unit. You won't have a problem seeing the 4.3-inch touchscreen while riding as it’s sunlight-readable, and you can adjust its sensitivity to make it work better with thick or thin gloves. This model doesn't offer a birds-eye view which, combined with the lack of pre-loaded off-road routes, means it misses out on being my top pick.

You can personalize trips to find more twisty roads and avoid highways, and then share your adventures with friends via social media, email, or a GPX file. The Rider 550's robust design and IPX7 rating mean it'll handle any weather conditions with ease. One of the downsides to this model is that it’s not very intuitive when you’re first getting to grips with it, so give yourself a few practice runs before tackling any major trips. The unit works with a specialized RAM mount and switches smoothly between portrait and landscape mode.

Specs

  • Make: Garmin
  • Model: inReach Mini 2
  • Off-road routes: Yes

Pros

  • Emergency SOS beacon
  • GPS and Iridium network
  • Uses GALILEO, QZSS, and Beidou satellites
  • Up to 30-day battery life

Cons

  • Small display
  • Subscription required
  • Doesn’t show directions like a conventional GPS

The Garmin inReach Mini 2 serves more as an emergency SOS beacon than a conventional GPS unit. This device works with an Iridium network to provide 100 percent global satellite coverage and features two-way messaging and a two-way global SOS feature (active satellite subscription required). As well as GPS, the inReach Mini 2 also uses GALILEO, QZSS, and Beidou satellites for tracking. It uses the same battery as its predecessor, but thanks to an improved processor, it lasts for up to 30 days when tracking your position every 30 minutes. The Mini 2 now features a USB-C port and charges much faster when compared to the previous model.

You won't have a large screen to display detailed directions, but this model works with the Garmin Explore app on your smartphone to give you better topographical views, directions, weather alerts, and more. It connects to your phone via Bluetooth 5.0, which is a leap forward when compared to the previous model’s Bluetooth 2.1. This unit features a trackback function, which allows you to find your way back to where you started, almost like leaving bread crumbs along the way. It is IPX7 water and MIL-STD-810F impact rated, so you won’t need to worry about it if it's hanging off a loop on your backpack.

Specs

  • Make: Garmin
  • Model: Montana 750i
  • Off-road routes: Yes

Pros

  • Preloaded topographical U.S. and Canadian maps
  • City Navigator street mapping
  • Global Iridium Satellite network
  • 8 megapixel camera and geotagging
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • Subscription required for satellite network
  • Expensive
  • Non motorcycle-specific design

The Garmin Montana 750i ticks almost all the boxes for adventure enthusiasts. If it wasn't for its high price and non-motorcycle-specific design, it'd be a contender for the best overall pick. For some people, particularly off-roaders, its price is justified. The sturdy 5-inch device is built to last and meets MIL-STD 810 for thermal, shock, water, and vibration resistance. So it'll be more than capable of tackling its preloaded topographical routes of the U.S. and Canada. You can seamlessly transition from dirt to the asphalt with its City Navigator street mapping feature.

While on your adventures, you'll be connected to the 100 percent global Iridium satellite network (inReach subscription required), so you can send messages, your location, and have an SOS beacon. A stand-out feature of this model is its 8-megapixel camera and geotagging capabilities, meaning you can capture any special areas you find and revisit them. The rechargeable lithium-ion battery can last up to 18 hours in GPS mode and 330 hours in expedition mode. The downsides of this device are that it’s heavy, costs more than any other model on the list, and it's not specifically for motorcycles. So it lacks some of the route-specific features that are nice for riders who like finding the twistiest road between A and B.

Our Verdict

The Garmin Zumo XT passes all the durability tests you could hope for, has a fantastic screen, and offers motorcycle-specific routes, so you’ll be covered wherever your next adventure takes you. If you're on a tight budget, then check out the Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S, which is well-suited to motorcyclists that only intend to ride on asphalt.

Consider Secondhand

When we start shopping for tools and products, we never overlook the secondhand market. In fact, it’s usually the first place I look. Whether you’re scrolling through Amazon’s Renewed section, eBay for car parts or tools, or flipping through the pages of Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, you have hundreds of thousands of used tools, parts, and gear ready to be shipped to your doorstep. Refurbished to like-new status, they’ll be willing to give you many more years of faithful service all while saving you money. 

Secondhand Tips

To make your secondhand search easier, here are two tips to finding the best deals and making sure your new-to-you stuff wasn’t destroyed by the previous owner. 

  • If you plan to run the device off its battery, you’ll need to test it for a while to ensure that the battery is in good condition. 
  • Use every area of the touchscreen with your gloves to ensure that it’s working properly. Check that the device has been updated with the latest software and maps.

What to Consider When a Buying Motorcycle GPS

Screen

Most motorcycle GPS units have glove-friendly touchscreens, meaning you can change settings on the move, but some work better than others. Look out for models that have a sensitivity control feature, which allows you to make the screen's sensitivity better suited to thick or thin gloves. Bigger isn't always better, but when it comes to using a GPS on the move with thick gloves, it certainly helps to have a large screen. Lastly, you'll want to make sure you get a screen that's bright and clear enough to be seen in direct sunlight.

Durability

Since your GPS needs to endure whatever your bike does, it needs to be durable. Look for models that have an IPX7 water rating, so you won't need to worry about them if the heavens open up. Another rating to look out for is the MIL-STD 810, which is the military standard test for thermal, shock, water, and vibration resistance. The MIL-STD 810 rating is essentially a must for anyone who intends on using their GPS off-road.

Preloaded Maps and Moto-Specific Routes

Most GPS units on the market come with preloaded road maps for the United States, Canada, and sometimes Mexico. If you're planning on going further afield, you might need to download extra maps. Some units will come with preloaded off-road trails and give you a bird's-eye view of the topography, making them better suited for adventure riders. A good motorcycle-specific GPS will let you enter your preferences in terms of routes, meaning you can skip the highways and hit all the twisties or have a healthy dose of both.

Safety Features

Some GPS units double as safety beacons, sending live updates to your friends while you're on the move. If you regularly ride in areas where you don't get any cell reception, one of these devices could be a lifesaver. Normally, these units work via a satellite and require a subscription to use all their features. Many models will also warn you when you're approaching hazards like a sharp turn or railroad crossing. Some units also give you live weather and traffic updates.

Pricing 

You can get a basic motorcycle GPS unit that'll serve as a good on-road companion for less than $300 but probably won't have many off-road maps or features. For between $300 to $500, you'll find models that'll allow you to customize your trip, meaning you can ride the types of roads and trails you want. If you spend more than $500, you'll get a unit that works equally as well on an off-road trail as it does through a city and will usually have an SOS beacon feature.

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: How does a motorcycle GPS work?

A: Both car and motorcycle GPS units use Earth-orbiting global positioning satellites to transmit your location and route. The satellites share data to pinpoint your position.

Q: Can I use my smartphone instead of a motorcycle GPS?

A: Yes, but there are some caveats. Unless your smartphone is weatherproof and has a 100 percent waterproof case, it could get damaged by the elements. Also, if it falls at a high speed, it'll cost you. You need a signal from a cell tower for your phone's navigation system to work, which is the main advantage GPS units have over mounted smartphones.

Q: Does a motorcycle GPS charge while I’m riding?

A: That’s up to you. If you connect your GPS unit directly to your bike’s power source, then it'll stay charged while you ride. But if you don't hardwire it, it won't charge.

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