Smartphone Apps vs. Motorcycle GPS Units
Most people today are used to using a smartphone app like Waze or Google Maps while driving. However, these apps don’t have some of the features and functionality that can make your time on the motorcycle far more fun. For example, if you’re looking for the route with the most curves, there’s no option for that of the aforementioned apps. That is where motorcycle GPS navigators come in. To help you land on the top choice, we’ve rounded up 5 of the best motorcycle GPS units on the market in 2023.
“I started buying ROKFORM cases for my motorcycle, but over the years I found that these are handy for all day, every day use. I recommend them to everyone I know.”
Why Do I Need a Motorcycle GPS Unit?
While you might be used to relying on Google Maps for navigation, dedicated GPS units for motorcycle rides can take your ride to the next level. Using your mobile phone as your GPS device and securely mounting it on your motorcycle with a ROKFORM motorcycle phone mount is definitely an option, however, during your off-road adventures, a motorcycle GPS unit has specific features for motorcyclists that Google Maps or other mobile phone GPS navigation systems can't provide.
What’s the Difference Smartphone GPS and a Motorcycle GPS Unit?
While Google Maps may be enough to take you from Point A to Point B, it doesn’t have all the cool features that a motorcyclist like you may desire when going on adventure trips. Here are some reasons why you might choose to have a dedicated motorcycle GPS unit, instead of relying on your smartphone’s GPS.
Using Your Smartphone for GPS vs Motorcycle GPS Unit
|Smartphone||Motorcycle GPS Unit|
|Cue variety of route combos||No||Yes|
|Option to use different types of maps||No||Yes|
|Can handle extreme weather conditions||No||Yes|
In 2023, there are numerous motorcycle GPS units on the market to suit every rider’s needs, whether you’re into long trips, a group ride, or off-road adventures. The units we cover here are either specific motorcycle GPS units, or at the very least, have exceptional features for motorcyclists.
What is the Best Motorcycle GPS Unit in 2023?
Here at ROKFORM, we have compiled our list of the Top 5 best motorcycle GPS units in 2023. While it’s important to compare the features of the units themselves, there are two key elements to maximizing the benefit of your motorcycle GPS units – the mapping products available and the computer or mobile device user interface.
Choosing a motorcycle GPS with the type of maps you want, and the ability to plan a route are key considerations before making the investment. It’s key to find a GPS unit that allows you to plan your next ride on your mobile device or computer, explore with Google Earth, and download tracks for editing and recording as you ride. Without further ado, here are the top 5 best motorcycle GPS units in 2023!
1. Garmin zūmo® 396 LMT-S
Garmin’s Zumo 396 LMT-S is a smaller and slightly less feature-rich version of their 595LM. Though best suited for street bike use, it’s a solid contender for mild adventure riding as well. The unit relies on Garmin’s collection of proprietary mapping products for both domestic and international coverage.
At this price point, the Zumo 396 LMT-S boasts a ton of features which include:
- A 4.3-inch screen that’s glove-friendly and easy to read in the sunlight
- Resistance to motorcycle fluids, UV exposure, and harsh weather
- The ability to connect your smartphone via the Garmin app, enabling hands-free calling, smart notifications, and music controls
- Live weather and traffic information when connected to your smartphone
For adventure riders, Garmin’s Adventurous Routing makes it easy to find the best roads. Adjustable ride filters include hills, curves, and avoiding freeways. Automatic reporting provides riders with helpful alerts about upcoming curves, animal crossings, and real-time traffic incidents. Maps are updated easily via Wi-Fi, and there’s even a built-in service log that gives you notifications for things like brake pads, air filters, and tire tread depth.
2. Garmin zūmo® 595LM
Garmin’s Zumo 595LM is their top-of-the-line motorcycle GPS unit with the same features as the 396 LMT-S, but with a larger 5-inch screen. There’s also the ability to use Garmin’s Bluetooth tire pressure monitoring valve caps. If you prefer the largest screen possible and are focused on tire pressures, the 595LM could be worth the premium over the 396 LMT-S.
3. Garmin Montana 700I
The Garmin Montana is marketed toward hiking, but it’s been a favorite motorcycle GPS unit amongst off-road and adventure riders for years now. Plenty of riders swear by these for off-road and adventure because of features like:
- Topographic maps
- A large, well-lit, five-inch touchscreen
- A large memory to store routes for a trip around the world
- The ability to store multiple map sets simultaneously, whether topos or city streets
If you bump up to the 750i in the Montana series, you’ll get an eight-megapixel rear-facing camera that can automatically geotags pictures to remember points of interest along the route. You can link your smartphone for live weather updates, and for the ultimate peace of mind, you can purchase a satellite subscription to access Garmin’s inReach SOS feature. This system enables you to send messages via satellite when you’re far from normal cell service.
4. TomTom Rider 550
Many people have been using a TomTom in their cars since way back, but the company has also been making solid GPS units for motorcycles for a long time. They’ve even been partners with several OEMs for original equipment on premium street bikes over the years. Great features of the Rider 550 include:
- Access to TomTom’s maps and traffic
- Safety camera alerts for the life of the GPS unit
- Bluetooth smartphone connectivity for calling and messaging
- Google Now and Siri voice control for riders with a connected headset
The TomTom Rider 550 also delivers elevation and curve level filters when mapping routes. You can even share your route through social media, email, or by GPX file. Wi-Fi map updates and touchscreen sensitivity settings for different glove thicknesses round out this quality offering from TomTom.
5. Garmin zūmo® XT2
Engineered for motorcyclists, the Garmin zūmo® XT2 is a top choice for finding the best motorcycle route. This motorcycle navigator supports your ride in every aspect, making it easy to track the other members of your group ride and create custom routes with a visual route planner. If you are looking into this device, you can expect the following features:
- An ultra-bright 6-inch display
- Rugged design to withstand dust, weather, and vibration
- BirdsEye Direct Satellite Imagery that can be downloaded directly
- Group Ride Mobile feature (via the Tread app) that connects to your smartphone or XT2 device
- The ability to switch between maps during your ride
You can stream music from your compatible smartphone through the device by pairing it with your phone with Bluetooth and GPS technology and running the Tread app. Make sure that your smartphone is protected on your journey by using a ROKFORM rugged phone case. Whether you have the latest iPhone 15 or the latest Samsung Galaxy, ROKFORM has got you covered!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best phone case to use when riding my motorcycle?
How can I protect my phone from the vibrations created by my motorcycle?
ROKFORM's Motorcycle Mount Vibration Dampener dampens vibration and protects your phone's internal components. There is no need to worry about your phone, even if you ride at high speeds, as the shock-absorbant, durable aluminum and reinforced polymer construction, reduces vibration force and speed.
What is the best motorcycle phone mount?
ROKFORM's motorcycle phone mounts feature our patented twist-lock retention system and strong magnets, which means that it will stay put during your adventures! When paired with a ROKFORM phone case, your smartphone will not only be protected, but locked in place throughout your entire ride.
Check out the Motorcycle Handlebar Phone Mount below!
ROKFORM: The Motorcycle Rider’s Go-To for Mobile Accessories
When preparing for your next ride, consider purchasing motorcycle GPS units to enhance your experience. This doesn't mean that you need to ditch your phone completely. In fact, you can keep your phone on hand as well and pair it with your dedicated navigation unit. Don't forget to protect your phone with a rugged phone case, motorcycle phone mount, and vibration dampener!
Have questions about how to pair your motorcycle phone accessories with your motorcycle GPS unit? We are available for online chat or in-person at our Irvine, California showroom. Call us toll-free at 855-765-3676, or email us at email@example.com, or visit us at www.rokform.com