Best Motorcycle Sat Nav - Top 5 reviewed & compared!

Best Motorcycle Sat Nav – Top 5 reviewed & compared!

Considering buying a motorcycle sat nav? Not sure which one is best for you- or even if you need one? Here’s everything you need to know to help you choose the best motorbike GPS option for you, including the specs, pros and cons of the best on the market right now.

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Why buy a motorcycle sat nav?

I’m all for jumping on your motorbike and seeing where the road takes you (let’s be honest, it’s usually to a cafe for a cup of tea and some chips). But what about where you want to go somewhere specific- and you don’t know how to get there?

In my opinion, if you’re going to be motorcycle touring or exploring roads you don’t know well, it’s useful to have a sat nav or map on your motorbike. Although it is possible to pull over and check on your phone, it’s dangerous to go into a junction without knowing where you’re going- ESPECIALLY on a motorcycle. You’ve got enough to worry about with idiot drivers and cars flying at you without realising you’re lost or in the wrong lane.

So, yes, I think all motorcycles should be able to have some sort of sat nav, especially for longer trips.


Which is the best Motorcycle Sat Nav?

Short on time? Here are our recommendations for the best motorcycle sat navs for all options:

Need more information or options? No problem. Read on, and you’ll see reviews and comparisons of the best sat navs for motorcycles on the market- and how to choose the best one for you


Do you really need a dedicated motorcycle GPS navigation?

Motorcycle sat navs are expensive. Crazily expensive in some cases (although we do have some great budget options for you below.) So do you even need one?

WHY are motorcycle sat navs so expensive?

Motorcycle sat navs are more expensive than their car brethren for several reasons- the most important being demand. There just isn’t the same number of users for bike sat navs as there are for cars- which means cost per unit is higher to manufacture.

Also, they need to be much more rugged than car units. They need to be dustproof, waterproof and be able to withstand the shocks and bumps felt on a bike, as well as being able to be wired into the bike for power.

PLUS they need to be bluetooth enabled (so you can hear them in your helmet) AND be able to be used with thick gloves on.

Complicated, huh? On the plus side, you can always add one to a Christmas or Birthday list- they make great gifts for motorbikers!

Can I use a car GPS on a motorcycle?

The short answer to this is yes… but.

After all, if you can get down the street in a car, you can get down it on a motorbike.

BUT…

For starters, most car sat navs aren’t designed to be outdoors. They don’t have the same level of waterproofing. They also don’t have the same shock absorbing build- meaning the vibrations from the bike could cause all sorts of damage.

Also, the mounts on a car sat nav usually rely on a sucker to a windscreen, or a dashboard vent- neither of which you have on a motorcycle. Now sure, you can fashion a mockup, but that still leaves you with the waterproof and shock problem. And the fact that it won’t work with gloves. And probably doesn’t have an anti-glare screen. Oh, and it will probably just show you the fastest route, rather than the ‘most fun on a motorbike’ route…

Is a dedicated motorbike sat nav better than a phone?

This is a tough one and there’s no ‘right’ answer BUT here’s what swayed us. When we’re doing long trips around the UK or Europe, using the map on our phone for that long drains the battery almost to nothing.

Some motorcycles have the option to plug a phone in- but that stops the case being waterproof. Which means you run the risk of killing your phone in the rain. Or ending up with a dead phone. Neither of which are good options.

Worse, there are so many stories of riders forgetting to pick up their phone from their bike at a stop and leaving it there… and it being stolen.

And, again, a dedicated motorcycle sat nav will work with gloves AND is built to withstand the shocks and vibrations of your bike. Unlike your poor phone.

So yes, I think a dedicated sat nav, with proper waterproofing and power is best. That way you always have your phone as a backup if you need it.


How to choose a motorcycle sat nav

Just like car sat navs, not all units are created equal. They can vary greatly based on budget, brand and usage and it’s important to know what you’re looking for when choosing the sat nav for you.

Things to look for:

There are lists and lists of amazing ‘features’ which you can get but, to be honest, there are only a few things which are really important on your GPS- the rest are just ‘nice to haves’. Here’s what to look for when choosing your best option:

  • Waterproof/ Dustproof
  • Rugged design- shock absorbing
  • Bluetooth capability- so you can hear it in your helmet if you choose
  • Works with gloves- check sensitivity settings
  • Anti-glare screen
  • Maps- does it show where you want to go?
  • Finds best motorcycling roads- unlike a car sat nav which will usually find the fastest route
  • Power- does it connect to the bike or is it on battery?
  • Mount- how is it fixed to your bike?

What is the best GPS for a motorbike?

Surprisingly, there are only a few companies producing motorcycle sat navs/ GPS units. And of those, only a couple are really worth mentioning- Garmin and TomTom.

So, let’s dive into each company and help you choose which GPS is best for you

Tomtom Motorcycle Sat Nav

There are two current TomTom GPS units designed for motorcycles:

Older/ discontinued model (still widely available)

TomTom Rider 500 and 550- differences

The biggest difference between the 500 and the 550 are the maps- the 500 has European maps built in, whilst the 550 has world maps.

NOTE: You CAN add the World maps onto this unit at a later date. So if, like us, you’re planning a USA road trip in the distant future, just buy the 500 and add them in when you need them.

The other big difference is the 500 doesn’t have the PoIs pre-loaded, which can be a deal breaker.

Lastly, some shops sell the 550 with a premium pack. If you want to use your sat nav in your car, then this is worth getting- it comes with everything you need to use the sat nav in both places and change easily between them.

  • 4.3″ Smart screen with sunlight-readable display. Can be mounted portrait or landscape.
  • Hilly Road finder- making the journey more fun on a motorbike
  • Weather-proof build- IPX7-certified weatherproof design
  • Touchscreen usable with gloves
  • European Maps, traffic, speed camera alerts and other live service updates
  • Mounting system with easy to install RAM mount, protecting against drops and vibration.

TomTom Rider 50

  • 4.3″ Smart screen with sunlight-readable display. Can be mounted portrait or landscape.
  • Hilly Road finder- making the journey more fun on a motorbike
  • Weather-proof build- IPX7-certified weatherproof design
  • Touchscreen usable with gloves
  • Western European Maps, 3 months free traffic, speed camera alerts and other live service updates
  • Mounting system with easy to install RAM mount, protecting against drops and vibration.

Comparison of the three TomTom Rider Motorcycle GPS units

It’s important to realise that they are all pretty much the same unit, with just a few features different.

Rider 500Rider 550Rider 50
Screen size (diagonally)4.3″4.3″4.3″
Battery Life6 hours6 hours6 hours
Maps includedEuropeWorldW. Europe
Touchscreen with glovesYesYesYes
Voice commandYesYesYes
BluetoothYesYesYes
Show windy/ hilly roadsYesYesYes
Points of interestYesYesNo
Live Traffic warningYesLifetime3 months free
WeatherproofYesYesYes
Mounting kit for all bikesYesYesYes
Speed CamerasEuropeWorld3 months free
Wi-Fi updatesYesYesYes

So, basically, the only difference between the TomTom Rider 500 and the 550 is that one has maps of Europe, and the other has maps of the world. Choose whichever is best for you.


Garmin Motorcycle Sat Nav

There are several Garmin GPS units designed for motorcycles and they’re all part of the Zumo range. Trying to find reviews on them can be frustrating, but the important thing to know is this:

Current models promoted by Garmin:

Older/ discontinued models (still widely available on Amazon and other stores)

  • Zumo 595LM
  • Zumo 395LM
  • Zumo 390LM
  • Zumo 345LM

Garmin Zumo XT All Terrain Motorcycle Sat Nav

  • 5.5″, glove-friendly screen with crisp HD resolution
  • Can be mounted in landscape or portrait mode; rain-resistant (IPX7) and built to military standard 810G for thermal and shock resistance
  • Easily change between spoken directions, topographic maps (for Europe) and global BirdsEye Satellite Imagery; map updates included
  • Includes Garmin Adventurous Routing – find curvy roads for a fun route
  • Easily review routes, tracks and waypoints using the Garmin Explore ecosystem

Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S Motorcycle Sat Nav

Don’t forget, the 396LMT-S and the 346LMT-S are the same device- just with or without full European mapping

  • Glove-friendly, sunlight-readable 4.3” display; rugged build & resistant to UV rays and harsh weather
  • Hands-free calling, smart notifications and GPX file sharing for group rides
  • Free live traffic and weather updates (requires Smartphone Link app)
  • Garmin Adventurous Routing- find curvy roads & limits major highways.
  • Rider alerts for upcoming sharp curves, speed cameras and more — plus Automatic Incident Notifications
  • Easily access music from your smartphone, with convenient control from the zūmo display
  • Built-in Wi-Fi for easy map and software updates without a computer


Comparison of the main Garmin Zumo Motorcycle GPS units

It’s important to realise that they are all pretty much the same unit, with just a few features different.

Zumo XTZumo 396Zumo 346
Screen size (diagonally)5.5″4.3″4.3″
Battery Life6 hours4 hours4 hours
Weight262g241g241g
Drop proofYesNoNo
Maps includedEuropeEuropeW. Europe
3D Terrain and map viewYesNoNo
Touchscreen with glovesYesYesYes
Voice commandYesYesYes
BluetoothYesYesYes
Show windy/ hilly roadsYesYesYes
Points of interest/ fuelYesYesYes
Live Traffic warningYes (with app)Yes (app)Yes (app)
WeatherproofYesYesYes
Mounting kit for all bikesYesYesYes
Speed CamerasYesYesYes
Wi-Fi for updatesYesYesYes

One thing not clear on the table is the ‘extras’ the XT has. It includes useful things such as sharp bend warnings, school zones, speed camera warnings and full 3D mapping of the terrain.

Controversially, I don’t actually think the XT Terrain is worth the crazy price. My money is on the 396- all the best features, with full European mapping, without un-necessary extras and a smaller screen.


Best Waterproof Motorcycle Sat Navs

All of the modern motorbike GPS units are waterproof- even in heavy rain. So you can confidently fix any of them to your bike and, providing you’ve followed the setup instructions carefully, you can leave it out in the rain without needing a clear bag to cover it with.

Best budget Motorcycle Sat Nav

As you’ve seen, none of the motorcycle sat nav options are particularly cheap. If you’re looking for the cheapest motorcycle GPS, go for the TomTom Rider 50. It has all the basics you need without any of the extras which drive up the price.


So, which motorcycle sat nav are you choosing? Do you already own one? Let me know what you think of it below.

You might also find these posts useful:

motorcycle sat nav- motorbike GPS reviews- which is best?
motorcycle sat nav- motorbike GPS reviews- which is best?

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