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Choosing a GPS for motorcycles

I have a Garmin eMap and I love it. They discontinued it about 4 years ago but I have not found one that I like better so I am staying with it. Here is what you need to look for in a motorcycle GPS:

Buttons. Make sure you can operate the thing with gloves on. That means the buttons are sufficiently far enough away from other ones so you don't fat finger the thing.

Sunlight. I prefer black and white readouts for motorcycle GPSs because it is easier to read in direct sunlight. If they let you, take it out at about 2:30pm and stand with the sun beating down on it over your shoulder and see if you can read it.

Power. The color ones use up batteries fast so make sure you either get one with a longer battery life or you can plug into the bike. They all come with this option but look at the connector. Make sure it is durable enough to handle staying connected at 75+ mph. Some of the designs are idiotic.

Nightime. Make sure it has a backlight if B&W or is sufficiently bright for nightime use. Make sure it is not too bright because it will cut down on your nightime vision. A nice glow is what you want after 12 hours on the road and nigh in front of you. Mine allows me to adjust the brightness.

Mounting. I suggest getting a RAM mount and while they have mounts for every GPS they can be expensive. Look at the base and see if it has a standard tripod mount. Mine doesn't but I wish it did. This will do two things, it will allow you to get a mount for cheaper, and when not using the GPS you can mount your camera.

Weather. Waterproof is best but there are shells to cover it if you really need to. It is going to get hit by rocks and bugs and while mine has been bulletproof so far, don't go buying the most expensive one and cry when a flying pebble smashes it.

Upsell. They are going to try to get you to buy the extra maps. Sometimes the unit costs extra because it can hold more maps. Don't pay for it! I have yet to need more than the base map and I go to some pretty out of the way places, that includes the wilderness of Montana, the middle of Nevada, the Panamanian jungle, Europe, and New Zealand. It knows where I am and tells me where the main road is. I can also tell you how to enter street addresses in Google Maps and get the Lat/Long out of it and put it in your GPS.

Less is more. Make sure you can put it in your pocket. The first reason is to make sure no one steals it when you park your bike. The other reason, at least for me, is I use it when backpacking, sailing, even in the car. A portable unit will be used more than a brick sized unit.


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