Looking for a good routable GPS

Discussion in 'GPS 101 - Which GPS For Me' started by 1-3-2-4, Mar 18, 2013.

  1. 1-3-2-4

    1-3-2-4 Adventurer

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    Like the title says...

    I have a 5,000 mile trip coming up next month and we have some good routes. However, my current GPS and phone will not accept the routes. I don't feel like spending the money on a moto-specific unit, so I'm looking for suggestions on used models I can pick up on eBay on the cheap.

    Recommendations?
    #1
  2. mrt10x

    mrt10x Dumba$s Jarhead

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    Go up to the "laying down track" subforum.....where this thread will be moved in 3.......2........1.....
    #2
  3. 1-3-2-4

    1-3-2-4 Adventurer

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    Thanks. I'm not 100% savvy on these fancy subforum names...
    #3
  4. mrt10x

    mrt10x Dumba$s Jarhead

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    Happens all the time.
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  5. StuartV

    StuartV Motorcyclist

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    Just remember, (most of the time) you get what you pay for.

    My Garmin Zumo 660 has been all over the U.S. and Europe with me over the last 5 years or so(?). Still works great. It comes along pretty much every time I get on one of my bikes. Or in my truck.

    They aren't cheap, but on a per-mile basis, mine feels like it was cheap, uhh, I mean, inexpensive, to me!
    #5
  6. 1-3-2-4

    1-3-2-4 Adventurer

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    I'm well aware of the 'you get what you pay for' adage. That said, educate me. What features (beyond being able to feed it routes) would I need. I don't need Bluetooth or MP3 since I have a phone for that. I typically use my phone for direct routing nav when I'm in my car. Screen size is unimportant so long as I can see it, it dims for night, and offers turn-by-turn...
    #6
  7. StuartV

    StuartV Motorcyclist

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    I have 5 (that I can think of right now) Garmin GPS, plus Google Nav on my phone, and the built in Nav in my (my g/f's) Jeep Grand Cherokee. I have never owned any other brand of GPS - just read about them over the years.

    I do not use any of the audio output functions of my GPS and never have - though my Zumo does have MP3 playback and Bluetooth handsfree cell phone operation - and XM radio, I think. I only use it by looking at the screen.

    I prefer Garmin in general and my Zumo 660 in particular for these reasons:

    - I've dealt with Garmin Tech Support numerous times over the years and they've always been great. I had to have the touch screen on my old StreetPilot 2610 replaced numerous times for going out of calibration and it never cost me a dime. My Zumo - so far - has never needed any kind of service work.

    - The Zumo line is all waterproof. The Garmin Nuvis (except for a couple of pretty old models) are not.

    - My 660 has a dedicated base that mounts to the bike and a similar base for my truck. So, to move it from one vehicle to another, I first have to install a mounting base in each vehicle where I want to use it. But, after that, I just push one button to release the GPS from the mount, and then snap it into place in the next vehicle. In contrast, I have a Nuvi for my second car. That has a clip that suctions to the windshield. But, to install the GPS, I have to find the end of the power cord and plug it into the back of the GPS, and then snap the GPS into the holder. The Zumo base is much more convenient (after the base is installed).

    - My 660 detects whether it's in a motorcycle base or car base and switches from Car mode to Bike mode automatically. All this really does is change from displaying a finger-friendly keyboard (in car mode) to a more glove-friendly keyboard (in bike mode).

    - The 660 will hold up to 20 custom routes, I think, and LOTS of waypoints. I generally do all my trip planning on my PC, ahead of time, and then download all the waypoints and custom routes that I want before I leave home. BUT, for some trips (like when I went to Spain last Spring with no set route in mind), that just doesn't work. In that case, the 660 does about as good a job as I think can be done for letting you plot out a nice, custom route directly through the GPS's interface. If you want to choose a few different destinations and let it plot the shortest route to hit them all, it will do that. Or, if you want to pick a destination (or many) and then tell it to take you there via certain roads, you can do that, too.

    That's what I did in Spain last year. Looked at the map and spied out the curvy roads and where they went. Then, for example, I would tell it to navigate me to Ronda (from Gibraltar). Of course, I didn't want to take the short and straight route to Ronda. So, once the basic route was calcuated, I could go in and add Via points by selecting spots on the map and telling the GPS to route me there along the way. Thus, I was able to get a fantastically windy and beautiful route from Gibraltar to Ronda.

    - That said, working out routes on the PC is MUCH nicer. And here, Garmin software excels as well. I still cling to Mapsource, but it has now been superceded by BaseCamp. They are both free packages that come with the Garmin GPS (or can be downloaded from their website). I think BaseCamp pretty much lets you do anything you can with Mapsource, so that's probably the best place to start nowadays. Anyway, my normal trip planning process is very similar to what I described above. I start a route by picking my starting point and my destination - like this weekend, starting from San Francisco and going up to the coast to Fort Bragg. The software then calculates a route - which says I should ride straight up Hwy 1. Pretty - but boring. And what would I do for the other 6 hours of good riding time available? Drink. And then I might not be able to ride until the next afternoon... So, the software makes it really easy for me to click on the calculated route and drag it around to tell it to take me via certain roads. And so, with just 6 or 7 mouse clicks, I'm able to build a route that takes me down Skaggs Springs Rd, over Mountain View Rd all the way to Ukiah, and down Fort Bragg-Willits Rd. Suddenly, I've got a super nice 250 mile ride laid out for the day. Sweet!

    - My Zumo lets me do some types of searches that other nav systems don't. For example, if I'm en route somewhere, I can do a search for places to eat "near my current route". Very handy when you start getting hungry and don't really know the area you are going to be driving through. It also lets me search for places "near my current destination". So, if I'm on the road and I've decided I'm going to keep going until I get to, let's say, Fort Bragg for the night. But, I don't know anything about Fort Bragg. I can set my GPS to navigate me to Fort Bragg. Then I can do a search for Lodging "near my destination" to get a list of hotels/motels in Fort Bragg. I can look at them on the map. And I can see their addresses and phone numbers, so I can go ahead and call ahead to find a room to reserve for the night. These things are where the Garmin really kicks butt on nav systems like the ones built into most cars.

    - Also, the StreetPilot 2610 was the King of On Screen Info (and customization). But, the Zumo 660 still does almost as good a job. When I'm en route, there is a list of data I want to be able to see at a glance:
    • map showing where I am and my current route
    • current speed
    • distance to next turn
    • distance to destination
    • estimated arrival time at destination
    • current time
    • road name of next turn
    • road name of road I'm on
    • current speed limit of road I'm on
    The SP2610 would let you see almost all of that on the screen, at the same time. Nothing else since then has been AS capable in that area. I would still be using that 2610 if Garmin had not stopped producing maps for it. But, the Zumo 660 will show most of that at once, which I really like. And you can customize a couple of the areas of the screen as to which pieces of data it shows. E.g. if I set it to show me my current speed, it will also display the current speed limit next to my speed. But, if I want to see distance to destination, I have to change that particular field and then I can't see my current speed any more - well, unless I look at my actual speedometer. Lame! :wink:

    - Finally, my experience with non-Garmin navigation is limited to Google Nav, and some in-car systems (mostly the 2012 Jeep nav). And, in my opinion, Garmin is clearly the best. The UI is the easiest to use. And the routing is accurate more of the time (none of them are perfect!). I have also read detailed reviews of bike GPS's by Tom Tom, Lowrance, and Magellan over the years. It's been a while since I last read up on those - since it's been a while since I needed a new GPS. But, I've never read anything that says any of those has yet become equal to the Garmin motorcycle GPS's for accuracy, and ease of use. I note that, supposedly, Apple's Maps fiasco with the last iPhone OS update (iOS 6) was the result of their partnership with Tom Tom.
    #7
  8. mcnut

    mcnut Long timer

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    Handholds (trail & some marine units) can usually be powered well via internal batteries, most can be hardwired fairly easily. The car type and MC type have a battery but only powers the unit for several hours so you must hardwire the power.

    There in lies the rub.... many are powered by mini USB and that has proven to be a less then reliable power source over the long haul.

    Used you can't go wrong with a Garmin 60Cx or 76Cx, 78 handholds, you will need a mount and map and the screen tends to be a little small. Next up is the ZUMO 550 and 6XX which have a bigger screen and come with a mount but cost more.

    You might want to learn more about "routes" before you commit as most routes are modified when loaded to the GPS.

    Bruce
    #8
  9. StuartV

    StuartV Motorcyclist

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    I should have mentioned I also have a 60CSx. I don't consider the screen big enough for on road use, so I have no real input on how it compares to the 660. I just have mine for dirtbike and handheld use when hiking.
    #9
  10. 1-3-2-4

    1-3-2-4 Adventurer

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    Firstly, thanks for the very detailed posts. Very informative!

    At this point, I'll say the mount is less critical. I have a RAM mount I use for my phone that works well with my existing Tom Tom GPS. For what it is, the Tom Tom I have works well enough under most circumstances. However, the lack of customs routes really limits its functionality on the bike. I can technically add via points through the GPS interface, but that is too time consuming.

    Further, when I say custom routes, I'm talking about exporting the points from either Google Maps or something like Group Rider. One of my riding buddies has an old Garmin car unit that works well enough, but obviously, it is NOT waterproof. I don't want to spend an arm and a leg on a motorcycle unit at this time because I'm not sure how often it will get used outside of my long distance touring. Most of my riding is done to/from work or in/around roads I know. Or of course, getting lost on purpose. But for this big trip next month, we want to ride our preselected routes without futzing with maps...or taping directions to our tanks. I'd like to think those days are mostly behind me.
    #10
  11. StuartV

    StuartV Motorcyclist

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    Firstly, :wink: you're welcome!

    Second, I think (just think, mind you) that the Garmin software can import custom routes - at least from Google Maps.

    Last, you might want to just keep a sharp eye on the Classifieds subforum to buy a used Zumo. If you get one there for a decent price, worst case would be that you should be able to sell it when you get back from your trip for approximately what you paid for it.

    Also, just FYI, I think the BMW Navigator IV (?) is the same, more or less, as the Zumo 660 or 665.
    #11
  12. 1-3-2-4

    1-3-2-4 Adventurer

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    All very good comments. I didn't know that all Garmins could (allegedly) import routes. I'll have to dig a little deeper.

    I'm definitely going to keep my eyes on the classifieds. Selling afterwards might be a good option if I'm not smitten.
    #12
  13. StuartV

    StuartV Motorcyclist

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    And I don't know whether that's true or not. So, if you inferred that from something I said, please unfer it. :D All I know for sure is the StreetPilot series and the Zumo 550, 660, and 665 can.
    #13
  14. 1-3-2-4

    1-3-2-4 Adventurer

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    Word. I appreciate your help. Let the shopping commence!
    #14
  15. Davidc83

    Davidc83 Been here awhile

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    The Garmin 13xx series cannot import any routes period. I have the 1390 and it does not import anything
    #15
  16. 1-3-2-4

    1-3-2-4 Adventurer

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    I just picked up a used Garmin Nuvi 765T. It was cheap and seems to fit the bill. I'll post a review of my $70 buy when I get a chance...hopefully soon.
    #16