March 2 2012 by Jason Fogelson
I'm getting ready for my next motorcycle trip. When I'm planning a trip, I'm generally a paper map kind of guy. I like the maps from MadMaps when I can get them; they're great for discovering motorcycle roads. I've installed the Harley-Davidson MadMaps App on my iPhone, and that's great, too. But I have found that having a good handheld GPS unit with me on my ride is a great safety net.
A smartphone with a GPS application can work fine, but it's not a dedicated GPS unit. Dedicated GPS units generally have bigger screens, more useful integrated functions and quicker response times.
So, I've been shopping for a new handheld GPS unit. I'll figure out how to mount it to my bike once I settle on features and price.
Price is very important to me, because I'm cheap. I admit it. I won't hesitate spending the bucks on technology that really works, but it has to work really well for me to part with my hard-earned dollars.
Here are the features that I'm looking for:
I want a clean, clear touchscreen in a unit that is compact and lightweight. Big controls that will operate while wearing gloves would be a bonus.
I want Bluetooth connectivity, and a dedicated 3.5 mm jack audio output. That way, I can use the GPS as the hub of my in-helmet sound system. I'll connect my iPhone or iPod to the GPS via Bluetooth, then connect the GPS to my in-helmet speakers via the mini jack.
The unit has to be fairly weather-resistant. I don't expect it to work in the rain, but I don't want it to fail if a mist falls.
I need multiple mounting options. I can always default to the old duct tape solution, but it would be nice to find an elegant way to mount the GPS unit on my handlebars while I ride.
I'm an Apple user -- so it would be nice if my GPS played well with my Macintosh. That way, I can plan routes on my computer, and download them to my GPS.
Here are the current candidates:
Garmin Zumo 220: A waterproof motorcycle-friendly GPS unit with Bluetooth and Windows XP/Mac OS X 10.4 or newer compatibility. List price $399.99.
Magellan RoadMate 2055: Not waterproof, but water resistant. Bluetooth and Windows compatible; not Mac. So why is it in consideration? List price $149.99. Hey, I'm cheap.
TomTom GO LIVE 2535 M: Water resistant with Bluetooth, Windows and Mac compatibility. Comes with TomTom HD Traffic Service, local search with Google, fuel price service and weather service, and a cool magnetic "Easy Click" mount. List price $299.95.
I'll let you know which one I decide on -- hopefully soon, before my next road trip.