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GPS – Which Device And Software?

Beeline GPS

I’ve written numerous articles related to GPS and mapping software, the most detailed being Which Maps Do You Use? from November 2022.

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Back then, I concluded that Beeline GPS  was my preferred device. However, I simply couldn’t get used to tiny arrows instead of a digital map in front of me, so I sold it and reverted back to my Garmin Nuvi 67, but that’s when the problems began.

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Garmin Nuvi GPS

At nearly 10 years old, the Nuvi 67 is showing its age. Sure, the navigation is excellent, but it isn’t designed for motorcycles, isn’t waterproof, and powering it when riding creates its own problems. I had to find a case large enough to fit, then ‘ghetto mod’ it to allow the USB cable to connect. The mounting system was a Chinese universal mount that in the end I had to superglue to keep it in place. Furthermore, the case itself began to disintegrate, requiring duct tape to keep it all together. garmin-nuvi-67-case

Powering the Nuvi 67 has been my biggest problem because Garmin, for reasons of proprietary cable device compatibility, presumably built the device with some kind of chip to detect whether an attached cable was original.

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If it wasn’t, a message would appear every 10 seconds stating that the attached cable was incompatible and could not charge the device.

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This even happened with Garmin’s original cables, rendering the device useless. I even travelled vast distances to source original cables, but the message kept coming back whether it was connected to the bike’s USB or 12V sockets. Many suggest that I strap my phone to the bike and use Waze or Google Maps, but exposing a $1000 phone to the risk of having it grabbed by a passing thief is not a good idea and the vibrations would probably kill the phone in the end.

 

Enter The Garmin Zumo XT GPS

garmin-zumo-xt-joinedAs luck would have it, a friend who lives in the US stays in Buenos Aires for an extended visit once a year, and having researched Garmin’s Zumo range, I bought a Zumo XT on Amazon and she brought it over for me. I would have bought the Zumo XT2, but since it was $100 more expensive for a slightly bigger screen (6″) and some other features that I may never use, I decided on the Zumo XT. Besides, I also needed to buy the South American map, so the cost would have mounted up.

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Clearly, the Zumo XT is designed for motorcycles (a car kit is also available), so the mounting kit and charging cables are designed with bikes in mind. The RAM mount is top quality, infinitely adjustable, and very tough.

The power cable is designed to be connected directly to the motorcycle battery and the inline converter converts 12v to 5v. I started by wiring a cigar lighter attachment, but eventually wired the cable to the ignition circuit in order to avoid any parasitic drain on the battery. The Zumo fires up as soon as I turn on the ignition and powers it as I ride along.

The Garmin Zumo XT In Daily Use

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This device is leaps ahead of the Garmin Nuvi 67 and is up to the standards of a mobile phone in terms of the screen, quality, and connectivity, having Bluetooth for pairing with the Garmin Drive app and WiFi for updates and online route planning.

These are the standout features:

  • Ultra Bright 5.5″ screen
  • Weatherproof to IPX7
  • Glove-friendly
  • Much faster and more responsive than previous models
  • Numerous route planner apps including Garmin Explore, BaseCamp, and Garmin Drive
  • Will receive phone notifications, and messages, connect to communication headsets, and music players

In short, the Garmin XT has removed all the problems I previously experienced, added numerous quality improvements, and takes me everywhere I need to go, both as a motorcycle courier and adventurer.

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