Motorcyclists have different needs when it comes to selecting a sat nav. For example, many motorcyclists wear gloves, and touch screens still need to be responsive to finger movements. Furthermore, routing considerations are unique to motorbike drivers because they may prefer to take a particular route and there are sat navs that accommodate this need. In this best motorcycle sat nav guide, we will discuss the buying criteria you should assess and list out four excellent recommendations.

Buying Criteria

Glove Touch – Motorbike drivers wear gloves. There are two types of touch screens; capacitive and resistive. Capacitive touch screens are sensitive to the slightest finger movement whereas resistive touchscreens require more of a ‘press down.’ Usually, the resistive touch screen is better suited to motorcycle drivers because gloves block out much of the sensory stimuli present on our fingertips.

Weatherproof – Motorcyclists are exposed to the elements. Therefore, they need a sat nav that is built sturdy and can handle rain, hail, snow, wind, etc.

Anti-Glare Screen – Because there is very little if any shade present when driving a motorcycle, you need a screen that will work in direct sunlight. Having anti-glare technology configured into the sat nav is the way to determine if it is a suitable one.

Screen Size: Screen size is important because too small and you’ll have a hard time reading the directions but too large and it may not mount onto your motorcycle.

Mount-ability: The sat nav must be able to accommodate being affixed to the motorcycle. If a separate mount is required, we will note it; if it is included with purchase, we will also point that out.

Bluetooth Connectivity: In the modern era you want a navigation system that will enable you to make the most of your technology, and this includes your smartphone. Having Bluetooth connectivity will let you make hands-free calls.

Processor Speed: The type of processor present inside the sat nav determines how fast routing directions are calculated. A small processor may be too underpowered, so if this is the case, we will mention it also.

Battery Life: Battery life is essential, you need at least 3-4 hours. The bigger the screen or more vibrant the resolution, the quicker the battery will drain.

Free Lifetime map and software updates: This is an essential feature because you need to have current maps in the event locations, street signs, or intersections have changed. Most sat navs also include speed camera notifications and real-time traffic updates.

TomTom Rider vs Garmin Zumo


3 Best Motorcycle Sat-Navs

Here is a vetted and tested list of our 3 best motorcycle sat navs.



Accounts

Free Trial

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Storage

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Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S 

4.3" Multi-touch Screen

Traffic Updates via Phone

European Maps - Free Updates

Lifetime Speed Camera Updates

Hands Free Calling

Integrated WiFi For Updates

Voice Control  

Glove Friendly Screen

Best Value

TomTom Rider 550 

4.3" Multi-touch Screen

TomTom Traffic via Phone

European Maps - Free Updates

Lifetime Speed Camera Updates

Hands Free Calling

Voice Control

Glove Friendly Screen

Integrated WiFi For Updates

Our Favourite

Garmin Zumo 595LM 

4.3" Multi-touch Screen

 Includes Car Mount

European  Maps - Free Updates

Lifetime Speed Camera Updates

Hands Free Calling

Glove Friendly Screen

Voice Control

Integrated WiFi For Updates

Top of Range

 

1. TomTom Rider 550

TomTom Rider 500 vs 550 Header

The TomTom Motorcycle Rider 550 is a 4.3-inch size sat nav. It accommodates glove touch and even has a setting which lets you toggle between light and heavy glove mode to suit the device according to the thickness of the material you are wearing. It is also weatherproof and has a rugged design to match. The sat nav has passed the IPX7 standard for weatherproof and drop proof. Trickles of rain will not prevent you from making changes on the sat nav and will not affect the operation in any way. One thing to note, however, is that it does not have a particular anti-glare screen so there is no guarantee it will be 100 percent visible when the glare of sunlight is in the way of your vision.

Furthermore, this RIDER 550 model is an excellent choice for thrill-seekers because it has routing capabilities that let you customize your route according to windiness and hilly terrain. There are three levels from which you can choose winding and hilly roads from which include low, medium, and high. As a result, you can pursue adrenaline-filled rides. This sat nav uses a quad-core processor, so it is up to 4 times faster than the RIDER 420 version. TomTom traffic and speed camera updates are free for the duration of a lifetime. You can update via Wi-Fi, and there is also the feature to configure and use Siri or Google Now. Moreover, Bluetooth connectivity enables you to make calls without the interference of your hands or send messages straight from your smartphone.

 


TomTom Rider Models Compared

There’s a fair few variations of the TomTom Rider models out there, and whilst all offer the same basic functionality (and design), there are some key differences. An overview of the different features is shown in our table below. For an explanation of the features, see the bottom of this page.

Latest TomTom Rider Models – Rider 500, 550 and 550 Premium

TomTom Rider Compared

TomTom Route Planner

 


2. Garmin ZUMO 595LM

Garmin Zumo 346 vs 396

The top-of-the-range Garmin Zumo 595LM tends to be slightly more expensive than the TomTom Rider or the other Garmin models we’ve listed, but if you are looking for every feature,  then this is your best choice. It has a screen size of 5 inches suitable for larger motorbikes such as a Harley Davidson. Its screen is glove friendly, and the anti-glare technology means you get a trans-reflective visual, free from sunlight interference. You can choose between lifetime map updates between Full Europe or stick to Western Europe including the UK and Ireland. There are lots of useful technologies present on this sat nav such as rider alerts that notify you of sharp curves, animal crossings, or nearby speed cameras.

Furthermore, lane assist helps you stay in the correct lane when arriving at complex junctions or during highway exits. You should have to make sure you are looking at the right side of the screen because the left side won’t help you much regarding correct lane position. Garmin Real Directions incorporates landmarks into its guidance by stating thing such as “Turn right at 152ST after the red building”. Thrill seekers can adjust their routing by choosing to opt for twisty, hilly, or terrain hugging areas. Lastly, you get a Bluetooth hands-free calling connectivity capability which also allows you to listen to music via a Bluetooth headset or a helmet that has Bluetooth speaker incorporated into it. The battery life is up to 4 hours and runs on rechargeable lithium ion. It also has the IPX7 weatherproof standard certification.

In regard to affixing it to your motorcycle, an automotive mount is included.

 


3. Garmin Zumo 346LMT-S

This is an affordable option that has all the necessary buying criteria that we outlined earlier. It is glove friendly. It is also readable in sunlight, so glare is not a concern. The screen size is 4.3 inches which we find is the sweet spot for most motorbikes. There is a RAM mount included with the Garmin Zumo 346LMT-S. You get Bluetooth connectivity, and it is Wi-Fi enabled, so map and software updates are seamless. Map updates are free for a lifetime for Full Europe or Western Europe depending on which version you buy. A built-in trip computer has a digital fuel gauge that estimates how much mileage you can incur before needing to refuel. There are also a host of navigation tools and free live traffic updates. Lastly, you get lane assist, Garmin real directions, speed limit indicator, and adventurous routing.

 


Garmin Zumo Models Compared

The latest Garmin Zumo range includes the 346, 396 & 595, but there are still some discontinued models that you might see around. An overview of the different features is shown in our table below. For an explanation of the features, see the bottom of this page.

Latest Garmin Zumo 346, 396 & 595LM

Garmin Zumo Comparison


Conclusion

In conclusion, if you don’t need MP3 connectivity, we recommend you take a harder look at the Garmin Zumo 346LMT-S or the TomTom Rider 500. If you want the “full-service” experience, then the Garmin ZUMO 595LM is an excellent choice. If you need further help or a personalised recommendation for the best motorcycle sat nav for you, feel free to leave us a comment, and we will respond within a timely manner.


Glossary

Glove Friendly
One of the big benefits of a dedicated motorcycle sat nav is that the screen can be used with gloves.

Screen Size
Either 4.3″ or 5″ on the Zumo. It’s purely a preference thing, although if you intend to use features such as music streaming, we’d say bigger is better.

Memory
Bigger is better of course. This should only be a consideration if you intend to add maps/POIs in the future, or you want to store lots of routes etc.

Traffic
All these motorcycle sat navs give traffic alerts via your smartphone (connected via bluetooth). So you’ll need a decent data connection. Which could be a problem if your somewhere remote, but then again if you’re somewhere remote then traffic alerts aren’t going to be an issue!

Winding Roads / Adventurous Routes
As it says really, find routes based on the curvyness and excitement level of the roads.

Offline Routes
Nearby hotels, restaurants etc are normally found using data via your phone over bluetooth. Some models can store these offline, so you can find these POI’s even when you don’t have a data connection.

Preinstalled Routes
The sat nav comes with a number of ‘great rides’ preinstalled. Discover new rides recommended by others.

Ride Challenge Level
Rather than just pick your destination, you can pick the route you want based on challenge and experience.

Speed Limit Indicator
Warns of speed limits on certain major roads.

Bluetooth
A bluetooth connection allows handsfree calling (via a connected headset), and also uses a data connection for some features.

Speed Camera Alerts
TomTom gets speed camera alerts by syncing with your smartphone. Garmin has the locations preinstalled on the device.

Black Sport Warnings / Rider Alerts
Alerts you when you’re approaching a blackspot area, and also gives info on how far back traffic is queuing when approaching a jam.

Music Streaming
Stream Spotify and other music services from your sat nav into your helmet via a bluetooth headset

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