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Our website is all about motorcycles, especially BMW cycles. We cover rides in the Southwest and Mexico, motorcycle modifications and review motorcycle products. 


Garmin Zumo 550 & 660 Motorcyle GPS Units

Ricardo Perez

Here's My Zumo 550 Home Screen Ready for Instructions

Zumo 550

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:  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.
Zumo Options
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.

Zumo Options
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. 
Ram Mounting Hardware Comes With Unit

The following was posted by tsp...
Garmin Zumo 660

I have the Zumo 660 mounted on a 2010 BMW R1200RT using Ram mounts attached to the handle bar mounts.  This is probably not the best method of mounting the GPS but it's easy and cheap.  I'm still thinking of mounting it above the gauges but for now I'm fine with this installation.

My view from the seat.
Looks better in real life than this picture shows.

The item on the left is an XM radio.  I also use the MP3 capability of the Zumo for music.

Side view of mounts

View thru windshield of Ram mounts
The type of Ram mount I used replaces one of the bolts holding the bar on the triple clamp and passes through a Ram ball.

I went with the 660 instead of the 665 mostly due to cost and the fact that I use the XM that you see in the photos in my house.  I really did not want to use a Zumo inside the house for radio function.  But if you have the money it does offer a clean solution for GPS, MP3, XM, and weather reporting.

The Zumo 660 is much better than my prior GPSs but those were more than 10 years old.  Not a fair comparison.  I also like the fact that the Zumo unit has batteries enabling you to take it with you wherever you go and plan or change travel routes. 

View with XM and GPS removed.
Perspective not correct.  Unit mounts do not block my view of anything .