Getting lost on a motorcycle is part of the fun when you're out in the middle of Wyoming, but it's not so much fun when you're in the middle of beautiful downtown colonial Guanajuato, Mexico trying to find your way out of town or you're out in the middle of nowhere and your fuel gauge lights up warning you that you're on reserve. That's when a reliable GPS unit can save the day and perhaps keep you from getting into serious trouble.
I have the Garmin Zumo 550 and my brother has the Garmin 660 which he'll cover in another post.
|Zumo Map View|
The Garmin Zumo 550 built like a tank and as my brother says, it looks like it can roll off your bike at 70 miles an hour and still keep working. In reality it can take just about any type of abuse short of my brother's opinion. Its waterproof, offers XM Radio, Hands Free Telephone Calling, Bluetooth with glove-friendly touchscreen with left-handed controls, and sunlight-readable UV-resistant display. It was a birthday gift from my wife in 2008, what a gal! It has a smaller screen than the 665 models, but it's still just right for my needs and my motorcycle riding. I have the optional XM Radio with the XM antenna bud under my fairing attached to the radio housing. That option is rather expensive as I recall and it requires the XM subscription fee. So you can save a couple of hundred dollars doing without the XM by downloading your MP3 music to the Zumo unit.
The major differences between the Zumo 550 and the 600 series is that the screen is smaller than the 600 series and it does not have the street level 3D view which I can do without, but is nice to have in big city congestion.
I have used my Zumo in freezing weather, in days well over 100 degrees, and in frog-choking downpours and in total, I think it has "reset" itself or just gone "off" several times due to extreme conditions.
When I first got my Zumo I could load just about the entire North America Maps on it, but recently I've had to restrict myself to the lower 48 Southwestern United States Maps due to the limited memory on the 550. I also have the lifetime map upgrades option through the garmin website: www.garmin.com
I have the Mexico and Italy MicroSD Cards and being on the border and formerly doing much riding in Mexico I leave the Mexico Card plugged in at all times. The SD card slot and USB port are under the Zumo's bottom cover which flips open. I have my XM wired to it at all times and rarely have my bluetooth connection to my phone since I'm not too keen on taking phone calls while I'm riding.
I also have some scenic Texas routes loaded on it as well as all Harley dealerships in the nation and Best Western Hotels. There a slew of other POIs (Points of Interest) you can load on to it as well.
When I need gas it's a breeze to get the nearest gas station or any other amenity including hotels, restaurants categorized by types of food, state parks, banks, museums, and just about any other POI you might want to look for. I almost exclusively rely on the speedometer reading which is much more accurate than the Harley speedometer for setting my speed. Other neat features include information such as elevation, time of day, miles to destination, distance to next turn, and of course, the map which zooms in and out to your liking for a view of what's up ahead over that next hill. It automatically switches background color at sunset and provides a nice purple night light viewing.
It comes with some outstanding RAM mounting hardware which lets you mount the Zumo at just about any location you choose. I have mine on the handlebar, right hand side, but can easily operate it with either right or left hand. I have it on that side since it's easier for me to input information when the bike is off and on the side stand and also best when on a long lonely highway when the bike is on cruise control. It has its own battery so you can keep the GPS on when you turn your bike off and, of course, the programming allows you to use your system in a variety of different modes with different voices (male, female, british, spanish, etc.) It also comes with suction cups for mounting on your vehicle window, has a built-in speaker and a neat rubber cushioned carrying case. Plus AC charger, vehicle power cable, motorcycle power cable, custom caps to change its appearance, USB cable, owner's manual on disk, security screwdriver, and Garmin stickers.
In my opinion the Garmin is the best unit out there and if I upgrade it'll have to be another Garmin since I've been very pleased with this product. I'm waiting for a reason to upgrade to the 600 series, but my Zumo has been so reliable that it looks like I may as well wait for the 700 series which is sure to come within the next year or so.