Sisters' Ride News

Finding Your Way with GPS

By Posted in - Ride FAQ & Ride News & Routes on May 13th, 2016 0 Comments

Words and Photos by Diane Ortiz.

May 13, 2016 I had been searching awhile for the ultimate GPS system on my BMW when I was asked to become a rider leader for the Sisters’ Ride.

I like simple, but the articles I’ve seen lately about how to map routes and use your GPS on your bike looked anything but. They were filled with charts, download instructions, apps and map upgrades that made my head spin. I started with a Google search (doesn’t everyone these days?). It came up primarily with Garmin or TomTom units. I remembered using a Garmin Zumo 550 for a review in 2007 and thought I’d start looking at those.

garmin zumo

I made a list of all my requirements:

  • sturdy
  • big screen
  • easy to use
  • Bluetooth capable
  • waterproof
  • long battery life
  • easily removable and programmable
  • local and national maps
  • local traffic info (like my phone)
  • a way to find important places quickly like nearby hospitals, gas stations, Dunkin’ Donuts shops, motorcycle dealers, etc.

I also needed to be able to download files that others made or that are available from other sources. Many motorcycle magazines publish travel articles that include GPS maps and I wanted to be able to make use of them with whatever GPS I purchased.

Also, and most importantly, I didn’t want something so complicated that it would take me weeks or months to master. After looking extensively at many comparisons I narrowed it down to either the Zumo 395LM or the Zumo 595LM. I found a comprehensive comparison table that listed all the features of units I chose.

GPS comparisons,

These units are expensive and this was going to be a major purchase, but I wanted to decide and order quickly in order to receive and install the GPS on my bike and have time to learn how to use it before the Sisters’ Ride across the country! Using the side-by-side chart helped me choose – it was more important to me to have the bigger screen with better screen resolution and sacrifice battery life. I also liked two other options a lot – the Smart Notifications/Smart Track option and the “Adventurous Routing” which I thought would be fun outside of the ride.

With the decision made to get the Zumo 595LM, I called a few places and found one that would give me a MSF RiderCoach discount and it came in one day! I installed it on the left side of the handlebar, with guidance from my husband especially for the electrical battery connection, and it looks great!  Tomorrow I’m off to give it a test ride on my bike. It was easy to download the app to my Garmin Smartphone Link app (I use Android, but iPhone is also available) which will allow my Facebook and other friends to see my route online in real time.


See you on the road!


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