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Motorcycle Touring Tips - GPS

Buy a proper one.

The handheld or mobile phone ones are okay but not easy to install on your bike. The GPS unit needs to be in your line of sight. Best choice is TomTom or Garmin, but there are others..


Make sure Digital Maps are included in the purchase price. This alone converts a cheap purchase into an expensive one. Maps eat memory so use a 2Gb memory card if you are travelling Europe. Check processor – 256k is too slow but 512k will refresh quickly enough through junctions and roundabouts.


RTFM. You will struggle without the manual. You’ll need to learn how to pre-program a complicated route on your PC by creating WAYPOINTS. Click on the road leaving the town, rather than the town itself, otherwise your map will look like purple spaghetti. Make sure you click on the RIGHT side of the road for dual carriageways abroad (common mistake).

Which To Buy?

Second hand TomTom units are cheap because they fall out of the cradle and/or the electrics do not connect up properly into the unit on your bike. Some also have only 50 waypoints maximum (not enough...). Map display and voiceover is arguably better than Garmin. Garmin Streetpilot 2610 and 2620 are good if they have a bigger upgrade card BUT the hard wire can short when you disconnect the unit. They have no batteries so tricky to run indoors. I still use a 2620 with a 2Mb card and some extra Mapsource software. Amazing piece of kit. Best by far is the Garmin Zumo because it is a dedicated unit for bikes. Controls are on the left (right hand = throttle hand – yes?) and it even has an MP3 player and bluetooth built in. Bit chunky (it has batteries) but display is clear although the system takes a bit of getting used to after a StreetPilot.

What Are The Benefits?

Normal benefits: you are never, ever lost. You will no longer fight with your pillion about the route to take – it’s all done for you. You will always find the Hotel at the end of a day’s ride. If you take a wrong turn your GPS will put you back on the right route without going miles out of your way. Unexpected benefits: Your GPS will find fuel stations for you when you are running out of gas. It talks to you if you have comms on your bike. The Zumo can even take telephone calls and fire them up into your
bluetooth helmet – amazing!

How Does It Fit On A Bike?

Best way to connect to your bike is by a customised RAM Mount. Visit – Bob does an amazing range of very neat mounts for most bikes. Note that the length of the mounting arm is variable – if riding with a tank bag a longer arm is advisable. Also, hard wire the unit try to connect in such a way that
the unit is off when the ignition is turned off and make sure you use a fused connection. Bye-bye soggy maps – hello GPS! If you are worried about touring on your own then ride with MCi tours Escorted tours from only £399 - let us do the work for you or, go MCi Tours SelfGuided and try out your GPS! Visit