Making a Garmin Nuvi 57LM into a motorcycle GPS

Discussion in 'Mapping & Navigation' started by fjmartin, Jun 2, 2017.

  1. fjmartin

    fjmartin Been here awhile

    Sep 26, 2016
    Redmond, WA.
    I've been trying and trying to use my iPhone as a GPS on the motorcycle. Works great for road rides but the screen size, brightness and decent apps for following GPS GPX tracks for mostly offroad have been really frustrating. I've tried all the high rated apps and none fit the bill. So, I decided to research Garmin GPS's for the bike and found the motorcycle specific ones are REALLY expensive. So then with some more research I found a cool solution that I'm now using. It goes like this:

    1 - I purchased a refurbished Garmin Nuvi 57LM off Amazon for $80.
    The Nuvi series are for cars you say...sure, but they don't have to be.

    2 - OpenStreetMaps is an open/free platform with awesome worldwide coverage for roads, topo and marine. They are even routable and have ton's of POI's(Points of Interest). There are a bunch of websites available and tools to get OSM on your Garmin.
    With these websites and their tools you can download just about any region in the world for road or topo that's routable in the IMG format the Garmin GPS's wants AND you can download the installer or build an installer to install the maps into MapSource and BaseCamp. MS and BC are Garmin free tools for creating waypoints, tracks, routes and adventures and put them on the GPS. It also allows you to control what maps are loaded on the GPS.

    3 - I stuck a 32GB Micro-SD card that I already had a bunch of from my gopro type cameras into the Garmin and then stuck on 20 different maps I wanted. I did this as the Nuvi 57LM does come with lifetime maps but only for North America and only for Roads. Now I have maps for the world and have road and topo maps. Nice thing about OpenStreetMaps is anyone can be a contributor so the maps are very up to date. This winter we just opened up a new mountain bike trail about 20 miles from where I live. OSM has the trail on the topo map in detail!!! And the maps are FREE!!!!

    4 - On the Nuvi you can have activate more than one map at a time so if you want roads and topo for an problem. The maps all looks really good on the screen.

    5 - Next though you'd say that the Nuvi isn't waterproof. True, but you can make it very water resistant very easily. First, I put some 3M tape over the speaker and Micro-SD port. I put some dialectic grease in the USB port. I can still hear it beep loudly through the tape but don't really care since on the moto I can't hear anything! Good news is the unit is positioned where it's very easy to see and not miss turns. Next is where most of the water penetration threat comes in. From the edges of the screen down into the frame. This is an easy fix I found on YouTube. I took some blue painters tape and covered the entire screen except I left a millimeter or so exposed right up against the frame of the unit. I then took come cardboard and made a spatula and worked clear silicone into the edges. I wiped off the excess with some paper towels and peeled off the painters tape and let it dry. Now the front won't let water in. Finally as you'll see in the pictures, the position I put the Garmin is both easy to see and keeps it mostly behind and under the windscreen

    6 - I mounted the Garmin using an angled RAM Mount base which is connected to one of the windscreen bolts (middle left) and a tie wrap to keep it from twisting...see the pictures. I then put on a medium 3" RAM arm and a Nuvi 5X series RAM Mount with the diamond base.

    7 - On the front of my bike I already had a dual USB port and a cig port. But, both USB ports are used for my iPhone and my Spot and the cig port is holding a temp/volt gauge so I added a 3rd USB port to the front. This time instead of running a wire all the way to the back of the bike and connecting into a switched set of pins on the big white block I plugged into the 12v switched port that is on the bike if you were to purchase the accessory plugs from CSC. It's the one on the left side of the bike. I dremeled down some spade clips to fit the narrow sockets and then used my hot melt glue gun to waterproof and hold them in place. The USB ports plug in is mounted to the metal plate at the base of the windscreen. You'll see it in the pictures. Of course your bike will be different than mine.

    8 - Next I needed to figure out how to use the Garmin. First was its basic functions of street use and that took about 5 minutes to figure out. Next I had to figure out how to load GPX routes on it and have them work how I'd want. MapSource and BaseCamp can be used but I generally use a free account on RideWithGPS to build routes and add waypoints for things like gas stations and such and then export them. I could get them then loaded into BaseCamp and could tell them to load onto the Garmin by converting the tracks to a route. The big thing I had to figure out beyond these basics was to have these routes set as "direct" routing rather than using intelligence for routing. Direct means that the Garmin will point you along the way of the GPX tracks rather than just trying to route you from waypoint to waypoint which won't work for most offroad rides.

    I'm really happy with how this turned out and also how my dash cluster looks like the controls for the star ship Enterprise!

    Total cost for the project was;
    $80 - GPS
    USB port - $11
    RAM Arm - $10
    Nuvi Mount - $13
    RAM Diamond Base - $7
    Hard case for storing the GPS - $10
    32GB Micro SD which I already had but would cost $13
    I already had the angled base on the bike but they are $12

    Here are some pictures, please let me know if you have any questions as I'm happy to help others with this. Nuvi 57LM

    Take care!

    turbodieseli4i6, JR356 and PTJCAL like this.
  2. JHGR

    JHGR Adventurer

    Aug 5, 2007
    Bogota, COLOMBIA
    Thanks for the write up!

    I have been into GPSs and Smartphones for a while and still haven't found some App (Android) that does exactly what a Garmin GPS does. Some of them are nice, but still not convinced.

    Will try this method which seems very promising.

  3. Andi_Archer

    Andi_Archer Been here awhile

    Apr 8, 2016
    Manchester UK
    I have used "Car" Navman ICN520 GPSs running TomTom software many years ago after fiinding a tutorial online on how to unlock the unit which worked great for a while.I did try using a waterproof housing but the flexible screen kept reacting with the GPS screen as if it were being touched .The other main disadvantage is the lack of bluetooth conectivity though my early wired bike system could use the audio out jack as an input.
    Just be aware the screen may start to delaminate if it soaks up too much water and touch sensitivity will be afftected by water droplets on the screen.
    fjmartin likes this.
  4. divotdm

    divotdm Been here awhile

    Jun 18, 2009
    Kewaskum, WI
    Does it save your tracks? If so, how many and can they be downloaded. It looks like they are calling it "Where I've been"

  5. fjmartin

    fjmartin Been here awhile

    Sep 26, 2016
    Redmond, WA.
    Yes it does. As you said, it's called where I've been. You can see them on the map while riding and they are saved to the device as a GPX. I can see them in BaseCamp and can move them onto my computer. Since I have my USB port switched, every time I stop the bike it saves the current set of tracks so at the end of the day you may have a bunch from your ride but with BaseCamp it's easy to highlight a group of them and ask them to stitch them together into a single track. Has been working great for me.
  6. turbodieseli4i6

    turbodieseli4i6 Been here awhile

    Jun 19, 2006
    SW Missouri
    I just ordered a Nuvi 57LMT for motorcycle use. I tried a 7'' Garmin before, but like the 5'' better for my needs. Thanks for the thread, it reminded me to order the accessories.
    fjmartin likes this.
  7. Yinzer Moto

    Yinzer Moto aka: trailer Rails

    Jun 13, 2008
    Pittsburgh PA
    Here is my write up about the Nuvi:

    The downfall has been the USB interface on the back of the units. I would suggest keeping a spare Nuvi around on longer trips. I don't have an exact timeline on how long they survive, maybe 60 days of riding.

    Recently I picked up a different Nuvi that the cord is permanently wired into the back, this may hold up longer.
    turbodieseli4i6 likes this.
  8. abruzzi

    abruzzi Long timer

    May 17, 2007
    The New Mexico Desert
    I agree with this. I've used a Garmin Colorado as my MC GPS for several years and the USB connector has become a bit flaky. I can't for the life of me understand why Garmin still uses the USB mini-B connector on all their devices instead of micro-USB. The mini-B connector was deprecated in 2007 because it its mechanical reliability was pretty darn low. The original design was rated to 1000 insertions, they tried to improve it by changing sloped sides with stepped sides to get it up to 5000 insertions, but I've had devices that don't come close to that. Micro-USB is rated to 10,000 insertions, and is a much more reliable plug:

    Yinzer Moto likes this.