Need advice regarding the mount for Garmin Zumo 396

Discussion in 'GPS 101 - Which GPS For Me' started by Photowriter, Jun 9, 2018.

  1. Photowriter

    Photowriter Been here awhile

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    I am presently, as a journalist, reviewing Zumo 396. Have been trying to get some answers from Garmin’s support but got no response.

    Hoping that an owner of 396 can help me to clarify this:

    The Zumo 396 has a special connector for connection of external voltage. And it MUST have external power if the screen is to give its full strength! Just running on the inbuilt battery shows a very light screen, impossible to see in even modest sunlight.

    There is a USB socket for connection to computer and for charging but it cannot be used when 396 is in the mounting bracket, then the USB input is blocked. The power cable for the fixed mounting must be connected to 12 volt and then there is a voltage converter (lump) on the cable that reduces the voltage to 5 volts.
    The external voltage connection plug must be attached to the mount before the "RAM ball" plate is screwed on, and then it is stuck there. You cannot take the mount and cable to another bike, it must always be there. Not very safe to leave your bike parked with the Garmin Mount attached!

    So, Zumo owners, appreciate your advice, is the above correct or?
    #1
  2. lkraus

    lkraus Long timer

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    I don't know of any dedicated motorcycle GPS mount that is designed to be portable. Typically you need a second mount for a second bike. I also have not heard of anyone stealing an empty mount.

    My BMW happens to have a dedicated GPS power connector, and I added a matching plug to the mount wiring of my Zümo 590LM, so I can remove the mount without tools, but I've never done so.

    If it's important to you, you can easily add matching connectors to the mount wiring and your bike(s).
    #2
  3. vsteel

    vsteel Adventurer

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    The above is correct other than you can take it to another bike, just have to unscrew it so it is a semi-permanent mount. To me it does seem to give full power on the screen but it does say that it is only rated for about 4 hours on the battery. It's use case is made for being plugged in. I have never or even heard of anyone messing with an empty mount.

    The USB is blocked when in the mount, there are two little metal bumps which connect with connectors on the back of the 396 to give power when inserted. You do need a voltage converter (little square box) to change the 12v to 5v, which is included. My biggest complaints are you need to find some room for the little box which depending on the bike can take some creative thinking. The other complaint is the feeds that you connect to the battery are so small. I had to strip off extra and double up the wire to solder it to the leads I was using on my connection to the battery. I connected an SAE style connector like they use for heated gear since I had a pig tail already on the battery.

    Didn't you get a zumo 396 to test? It should have come with the mount and power wire.
    #3
  4. Photowriter

    Photowriter Been here awhile

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    Hi, and thank you for the information!

    I have a 396 for the review and it does not give full power to the screen when running from the battery (which is also stated in the manual).

    Sadly I lost all the RAM-mounts on my bike when it was parked outside a hotel in Prague a few years back. So maybe I am overly sensitive about leaving anything on the bike that easily can be stolen.

    Have also noticed that the wires are very short, definitely not long enough to reach the battery. So for the review I first started using a 12 volt power bank connected to the Zumo mount. But the voltage converter was in the way so I switched to a RAM X-grip and connected a 5 volt power bank with a USB-cable (not driving in rain of course) .

    In order to move 396 to another bike you either have to buy an extra power cable or fit a connector to a wire leading to the batteries of both bikes. And unscrew the four screws holding the bracket with the RAM ball. As it is impossible to just attach the Garmin power connector without the cradle.

    Tomtom Rider has a far better mount, you just disconnect the power cable and can then move the mount to another bike. Also, the Rider mount can switch between vertical and horizontal screen with just a twist of the hand.
    #4
  5. vsteel

    vsteel Adventurer

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    Mine came with the mounts, I thought that was part of the package on all of them. When I ordered mine I didn't order the mounts separate they were in the box.

    You are probably correct on the screen, 99% of the time I am operating it on full power so it isn't not something I focused on.

    My wires were long enough but I didn't have a lot of extra slack. I don't know the exact length but I would say 5 feet or so from the gps connector to the box and about a foot after the box to the bare wires you connect to the power supply.
    #5
  6. vsteel

    vsteel Adventurer

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    Something you can add to your article about the 396. If you build your maps in Basecamp and have it set to car so you don't get it trying to route into subdivisions all of the time, it will flag for an "incident" almost non stop on the tiniest little bumps. You need to set it to motorcycle so it won't continuously flag.
    #6
  7. Photowriter

    Photowriter Been here awhile

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    Thank you vsteel!

    I have published a first report, a very short video, in which I am looking at the differences between Rider 550 and Zumo 396. Just in order to reach my readers before the start of "the big vacation period" that starts here after Midsummer (this coming Friday). It is in Swedish though,
    #7
  8. BigKev72

    BigKev72 ANZAC

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    For my 10c worth attach a base to each bike you want to use and just move a ram mount from one to the other. Ram makes a security screw to lock the unit in place.

    https://www.rammount.com/part/RAM-B-201-SU

    Using this you can securely move one to the other. They also have a locking mechanism for the GPS part.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #8
  9. BigKev72

    BigKev72 ANZAC

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    And of course make sure you let everyone know what a crap company Garmin is in your article. Couldn’t even be bothered to get back with you on mounting questions.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #9
  10. Photowriter

    Photowriter Been here awhile

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    Thank you all!

    I have concluded the review and here is my conclusion:

    Tomtom Rider 550 and Garmin Zumo 396 have just about the same price.
    A comparison shows that Rider 550 has some advantages that make it a better GPS-navigator. It lacks Zumo´s MP3 player feature though, so if an MP3 player in a navigator is very essential for you choose the 396.

    Rider 550 is the better MC GPS-navigator because it has:

    Better, rotatable, mounting bracket, very useful to be able to see what´s far ahead when in portrait orientation
    Longer battery life, about 6 hours (Zumo 396 gives full battery power to the screen for just 1 hour, after that just 40 % screen power for 3 hours which means that the screen is unreadable in daylight)
    Easier to connect to 12 V (Zumo´s power connection is locked to the mount on the bike, Rider can be easily disconnected and moved)
    Free World Maps (Zumo ,in its base configuration, is delivered with Western European Maps only)
    Better screen presentation/layout
    Easier to read from the screen

    And please you diehard Garmin fans, I already have had problems with very "unfriendly" emails from you. This is my view as a journalist that have been reviewing
    MC GPS-navigator since the very first one. And it is a comparison between Rider 550 and Zumo 396 only.
    #10
    Jarlaxle and BigKev72 like this.
  11. Yogi1974

    Yogi1974 Adventurer

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    Some good points although in reviews posted on other sites of the Rider, people complain about dropped Bluetooth connectivity. Did you experience this vs the Zumo? Just curious as I am currently shopping for a new GPS. The screen on my Zumo 550 is going and I need something reliable :-(
    #11
  12. Photowriter

    Photowriter Been here awhile

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    No problems with Bluetooth connectivity. And the Rider 550 has been used frequently this summer with several types of Intercoms and phones.
    #12
  13. Yogi1974

    Yogi1974 Adventurer

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    purchased the 550 and it arrived today. Mounted it to my bike and so far, so good!
    #13
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  14. NJDualsporter

    NJDualsporter Been here awhile

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    Very interested in your review
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  15. mxz

    mxz Been here awhile

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    Zumo 396 is a great little unit, apart from the slightly limited and non flexible mounting system. Why did they have to block the USB port with the RAM plate? Why did they need to put the port there at all? I am happy to use the thing on it’s bike mount hooked up to the battery, but every time I need to take it off to use on a different (a rental, for example) bike, having to use ONLY 12v battery leads is stupid. Oh well, at least the X-grip holder works. Not very stable, tends to vibrate a lot and make it harder to read, but at least you can use the USB to power it.
    #15