GPS for a Big Trip - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-13-2017, 06:56 AM Thread Starter
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GPS for a Big Trip

Hey everyone, we are doing some planning for a trip across Canada and the US, and one of the upgrades that we need for our bikes is a good GPS system. We will be travelling on completely different roads so the chance of use getting lost is really high (especially if Ken is leading) so we are looking to get something reliable, smart and rugged to attach onto the bikes. I have always liked Garmin in the past, where as Ken has gotten Tom Tom from work so we are both at a standstill about what to get. Any recommendation that you all can offer to this? Ideally we would want something that can connect to our phones or satellite radio so we can listen to something on those long roads, and if it could get weather and traffic updates like the GPS in my car that would be amazing. Another bonus would be the ability to take it off the bike and use of on trails, but we will have our phones with us in any case when we get off. Looking forward to what you all have to say, we are getting pretty excited for our trip!

So we went back and forth a lot on this one, and finally decided that we wanted to get a GPS as we are just not ready to make that leap in technology until we absolutely need to. We took a look online to try and find a bundle so we would each have a GPS, and found some good deals on http://www.used.forsale/garmin-zumo-550 so that we could both get a good GPS for the trip. Thanks for all the advice guys, it was good to have to think about this one instead of jumping right in.

Driving the flat lands

Last edited by SussyandKen; 09-19-2017 at 04:08 AM.
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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-13-2017, 08:39 AM
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This sub-forum of ADVrider.com contains a wealth of GPS navigation knowledge: GPS 101 - Which GPS For Me | Adventure Rider

2015 Versys 650 ABS
AMA, MSTA, Retreads

Nat'l Cycle "Sport-Touring" screen; Givi hand guards; BMW Sport Grips; Omni-Cruise throttle lock; Motowerk mirror extenders, side stand foot & highway pegs; Denali Mini Soundbomb horn; SW-Motech top rack, Quick-Lock Evo side racks, wide foot pegs & GPS shelf; Givi E-22 side cases & V-47 top case; RKA 13L Shiloh Road tank bag; Hyper-Lites; Sargent seat; Shoodaben ECU reflash; decalectomy.
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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-13-2017, 10:29 PM
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I have just returned from a trip (Houston to Anchorage) and used my smart phone for everything... google maps when I had a signal (most of the time) and a GPS App which had downloadable maps the rest of the time. Music was easy via spotify (again, playlists can be downloaded). I had a separate camera on a bit of string around my neck for "on the move" pics...

Worked well and all sent to my sena via blue tooth... the only cost was £9 for the spotify account after the free months trial ran out.
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-14-2017, 12:01 AM
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If you have an older phone I would consider upgrading to a waterproof LG-6 or Samsung Galaxy S8, or something similar, rather than spending money on an older technology, dedicated GPS unit, that will be worthless in a year or less. The smart phone has made the dedicated GPS units obsolete just as digitally stored music killed the CD player and digital streaming is now killing mp3s. If your smart phone is not waterproof just put an upside down zip lock bag over it in the rain.

One issue to be aware of when using a Canadian cell phone in the US is network usage rates are very expensive unless you upgrade your Canadian cell phone plan to include US roaming before leaving for your trip.

I have found cell phones I've owned have stood up better, and been more durable, than the Garmin GPS units I've also owned.

You'll also need a 12v power socket with 2.1Amp USB adapter or a 2.1Amp USB port to keep the phone from running down.

Free Co-Pilot GPS app works well although you'll want to pay the dollar upgrade for the voice prompt feature upgrade. Google Maps is excellent too, if not better, but requires you to pre download maps on a WIFI hotspot if you don't want to use mobile data or have your maps out of range of a network. The Co-Pilot app has it's own maps stored on the phone on your SD card and does not require a network connection.

Motorcycle Handlebar Clamp Ball Mount (ball mount needed to fit Versys or other bikes using a handle bar clamp)
Part# RAM-B-367U
http://www.gpscity.com/ram-mount-mot...amp-ram-b-367u

X-Grip with extension and windshield mount (X-Grip and extension is required for bike use, included windshield mount in kit allows it to be used in car as well)
Part# RAM-B-166-UN7U
http://www.gpscity.com/ram-mount-uni...tion-cup-mount

Last edited by twowheels; 09-14-2017 at 03:32 AM.
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-14-2017, 03:50 AM Thread Starter
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Neither of us are very technically inclined so we were unaware that GPS were so outdated! Now we know

Maybe we will take this money and upgrade our phones instead. Are there any of those waterproof phones we could get used perhaps? I don't know how much getting two brand new phones would cost compared to GPS, but I assume there is a difference. I will take a look at the models mentioned though, thank you all for the advice.

Driving the flat lands
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-14-2017, 06:34 AM
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I use a Garmin Zumo 660 GPS on my bikes. They can be bought for around $300 with mounting hardware for the bike. They are waterproof, can sync the phone, Bluetooth headset, etc.
You can make custom routes on your computer with the supplied software and export it to the GPS so you can take the roads you want to take instead of the roads Google maps wants you to take.
It also has a slot for a micro SD card so you can load MP3s directly on the unit and play them from there.

My Smart Phone doesn't even get a signal at my house in Tennessee. It definitely isn't going to be useful on the scenic roads I like to ride.
You might want to check, but last time I looked a waterproof smartphone was like $600 and I'm not sure if it is rated for the vibration that a bike is going to transmit to it.

Oh, and I have put over 100,000 miles on my GPS with no issues.

My Versys Travels:


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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-14-2017, 07:47 AM
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I use a Garmin Zumo 660 GPS on my bikes. They can be bought for around $300 with mounting hardware for the bike. They are waterproof, can sync the phone, Bluetooth headset, etc.
You can make custom routes on your computer with the supplied software and export it to the GPS so you can take the roads you want to take instead of the roads Google maps wants you to take.
It also has a slot for a micro SD card so you can load MP3s directly on the unit and play them from there. Even if you do not have data it is easy to find a WIFI hotspot at a stop to say browse and book a campground.

My Smart Phone doesn't even get a signal at my house in Tennessee. It definitely isn't going to be useful on the scenic roads I like to ride.
You might want to check, but last time I looked a waterproof smartphone was like $600 and I'm not sure if it is rated for the vibration that a bike is going to transmit to it.

Oh, and I have put over 100,000 miles on my GPS with no issues.
Almost all GPS smart phone apps (Co-Pilot, Home, etc..) store the maps and points of interest in data files on your phone. All give you the choice of using the phone memory or an SD card on your phone to store the map data. There is no need for your phone to have a signal from a cell tower or use data. Google maps now has a feature that allows you to download the map data for a selected 200 x 200 mile square, eliminating the need for a connection. If you don't do this however Google Maps will try to download the map data as you need it.

Most GPS apps like Google Maps and Co-Pilot allow you download routes to your phone as well. Google Maps makes it simple and effortless. You plan your route on My Maps on a computer, tablet or phone then hit the send to my phone button.

https://support.google.com/maps/answer/6291838
http://lmgtfy.com/?q=Google+maps+route+planner

There are also numerous other motorcycle related apps that will do everything from track lean angles, to lap times to routes traveled. There is basically no functionality of a dedicated GPS that you cannot replicate with a phone app these days however this was not always the case. They will import routes, find gas stations, hotels, campgrounds and restaurants and shopping, track routes, etc..

As for price phones are generally subsidized by the service provider, at least in Canada, and come with a two year contract. I recently got a LG6 from Koodo (cell phone service provider owned by Telus) (purchased from Wow, a cell phone sales company with mall kiosks across Canada, owned by Rogers and Telus) with incentives ($50 credit for old phone plus $50 promotional gift card they included) which amounted to no money down and a monthly tab of $15CDN/month on top of my $40/month cell phone bill for 2 years. This comes out to $360 over two years which is less than the cost of the phone.

I used to use a dedicated GPS unit on the bike but know use the phone. The main advantages of the phone is that it can give voice prompts through a helmet headset, something most basic dedicated GPS units won't do. It is also more rugged (in it's case with screen protector) and has withstood may drops never failed me unlike the two GPS units I owned that both had issues with a flaky micro USB power connector. It also offers additional functionality with the other apps it will run.

Last edited by twowheels; 09-14-2017 at 08:04 AM.
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-14-2017, 11:58 AM
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I'm using a Kyocera Duraforce cell phone for mapping/navigating. It was $75 on eBay, used but in perfect condition. It's waterproof and shock/vibration proof WITHOUT a case, and is semi glove-friendly. I use it off-line only (i.e. no account, no carrier, no SIM card, no cost -- a cell phone's GPS doesn't need any of that to work) for navigating. There are various off-line mapping/nav apps on the market; I use OSMand+. If I'm off the bike, and can get wifi, the phone can do anything that smart phones usually do except make calls over a cell network (but it can Skype or FaceTime instead). I do always carry my iPhone in the tankbag, too.

2015 Versys 650 ABS
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Nat'l Cycle "Sport-Touring" screen; Givi hand guards; BMW Sport Grips; Omni-Cruise throttle lock; Motowerk mirror extenders, side stand foot & highway pegs; Denali Mini Soundbomb horn; SW-Motech top rack, Quick-Lock Evo side racks, wide foot pegs & GPS shelf; Givi E-22 side cases & V-47 top case; RKA 13L Shiloh Road tank bag; Hyper-Lites; Sargent seat; Shoodaben ECU reflash; decalectomy.
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-14-2017, 02:45 PM
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I'm using a Kyocera Duraforce cell phone for mapping/navigating. It was $75 on eBay, used but in perfect condition. It's waterproof and shock/vibration proof WITHOUT a case, and is semi glove-friendly. I use it off-line only (i.e. no account, no carrier, no SIM card, no cost -- a cell phone's GPS doesn't need any of that to work) for navigating. There are various off-line mapping/nav apps on the market; I use OSMand+. If I'm off the bike, and can get wifi, the phone can do anything that smart phones usually do except make calls over a cell network (but it can Skype or FaceTime instead). I do always carry my iPhone in the tankbag, too.
So, it's a small tablet instead of a smart phone.

My smart phone is work provided so it doesn't cost me anything. The caveat though is that I can only download apps from a list of approved apps. Anything else found on the phone and it gets wiped.

I have thought about getting FOBO TPMS for my bikes but it requires the app on the phone. A small tablet might just be the ticket. I have a 7" tablet, but don't really want to mount that on the bike.

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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-14-2017, 03:40 PM
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I feel so embarrassed!!! 6 years & 35,000 miles of use from my poor Garmin Zumo.
It gets updated for free (well prolly built into purchase price) every quarter, so maps are usually good. I DO wish my bike gps hooked up to the DOT like my car for traffic/construction warnings. On the whole I would feel naked without my unit. It does tend to interrupt my Ipod when set for a route, and no....I won't have a "smart" phone until the boss supplies it. In case of an emergency I have my crappy flip phone with it's excellent call quality (why do I have a phone?) or the tablet in my back pack that Verizon gave me for "free".
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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-15-2017, 08:18 AM
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So, it's a small tablet instead of a smart phone.
"Phablet" I believe they're called now.
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2015 Versys 650 ABS
AMA, MSTA, Retreads

Nat'l Cycle "Sport-Touring" screen; Givi hand guards; BMW Sport Grips; Omni-Cruise throttle lock; Motowerk mirror extenders, side stand foot & highway pegs; Denali Mini Soundbomb horn; SW-Motech top rack, Quick-Lock Evo side racks, wide foot pegs & GPS shelf; Givi E-22 side cases & V-47 top case; RKA 13L Shiloh Road tank bag; Hyper-Lites; Sargent seat; Shoodaben ECU reflash; decalectomy.
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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-15-2017, 11:28 AM
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I have a Zumo 550 which is still serving me well. I have the Sena headset, and the Zumo and my phone can connect to the Sena so I can hear the directions.
I found the best option for planning routes and loading them into your GPS is myrouteapp.com, which is the online version of Tyre.
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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-15-2017, 03:34 PM
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Got my Zumo 550 in 2010. Its on its 3rd bike. Been through 2 wrecks the first one the only thing that kept it from flying to god knows where was the power cable screwed to it. Power button fell off close to 2 years ago. Just taped over the hole and connected the power cable to a switched line so it comes on when the ignition is turned on and turns off 30 seconds after the power is turned off unless you press the button on the screen to let it continue on battery power. I to have a flip phone and refuse to get a smart phone until i absolutely have to.
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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-15-2017, 04:06 PM
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Per the suggestions re using a smart phone, they do a great job, have Bluetooth with voice command capabilities, plus you have your phone at your fingertips. You can get an older model, say an IPhone 6 or 7, and buy a waterproof case. However, I strongly suggest that you do NOT get one that connects directly to the handlebars. While it is very secure, and may have a safety lanyard, it projects into the area above the tank just enough to limit the ability to completely turn the handle bars when having on a tank bag. This can be overcome, but then the screen is at a poor viewing level. Get one of the x-grip with extension or "ball" mount systems so you can have the phone away from the bar so you can get the most ideal viewing angle. When you stop, just remember to flip it out of the holding system and put it in your pocket.

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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-16-2017, 07:37 AM
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I have a secure phone mount to use when I ride my little Z125, as the Garmin is only hardwired into my Versys. Freaks me out to use it, afraid of losing my phone, which has all my contacts, calendar, etc, etc. Plus, the phone isn't waterproof, and I'm not sure it was made to handle the bouncing/vibrations it will get mounted to handlebars. Same reason the Zumo line is better than a regular Garmin...waterproof, and tough as nails. Like Weljo said, it sustained crashes. No worries about dropping it, etc. Thing is built tough.
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post #16 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-16-2017, 08:13 AM
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I have a secure phone mount to use when I ride my little Z125, as the Garmin is only hardwired into my Versys. Freaks me out to use it, afraid of losing my phone, which has all my contacts, calendar, etc, etc. Plus, the phone isn't waterproof, and I'm not sure it was made to handle the bouncing/vibrations it will get mounted to handlebars. Same reason the Zumo line is better than a regular Garmin...waterproof, and tough as nails. Like Weljo said, it sustained crashes. No worries about dropping it, etc. Thing is built tough.
I don't know how much you paid for the "secure phone mount" but you can get another Zumo mount and wire it into the Z125. I move my GPS between the Road King and the FZ-07.

I have a 32GB micro SD card in the Zumo and have my collection of MP3s installed. My SENA is connected to the GPS and the Phone. The only calls I will answer is my wife or my parents, and I will only do that if I am not in traffic.

I ride many areas where cell reception is limited or non-existent. What do you do with your smart phone when it becomes dumb? When you download the maps for offline use, can you now calculate a new destination without connecting to a network? Or are you stuck with the original destination you put in? My routes usually have me in seemingly remote areas where I don't see a gas station, but there may be one 10 miles perpendicular to my route. My GPS allows me to search for nearby fuel stops and routes me to them without having to touch a cell network. Can the phone GPS units do that?
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post #17 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-16-2017, 08:57 AM
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I don't know how much you paid for the "secure phone mount" but you can get another Zumo mount and wire it into the Z125. I move my GPS between the Road King and the FZ-07.

I have a 32GB micro SD card in the Zumo and have my collection of MP3s installed. My SENA is connected to the GPS and the Phone. The only calls I will answer is my wife or my parents, and I will only do that if I am not in traffic.

I ride many areas where cell reception is limited or non-existent. What do you do with your smart phone when it becomes dumb? When you download the maps for offline use, can you now calculate a new destination without connecting to a network? Or are you stuck with the original destination you put in? My routes usually have me in seemingly remote areas where I don't see a gas station, but there may be one 10 miles perpendicular to my route. My GPS allows me to search for nearby fuel stops and routes me to them without having to touch a cell network. Can the phone GPS units do that?
I could get another mount and hardwire it to the Z, for sure! I just don't do much long distance on it where I need the GPS very often.
Agreed about loss of cell service, another reason I prefer a GPS over a phone for maps, because I think your assumption is correct, loss of cell signal = no rerouting, etc!!

PS, that FZ07 is a blast! I had the opportunity to use one to coach at a track school last week. What a fun bike!! Also got to watch Josh Herrin wailing around the track on one. Very capable bike! But you know that!

Last edited by HondaGalToo; 09-16-2017 at 09:00 AM.
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post #18 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-16-2017, 09:39 AM
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Just got done with a 6000 mile trip on my 15' Versys, from Illinois, to Arches National Park in Utah, to Yosemite in California, and up to Yellowstone in Wyoming. I used my samsung galaxy s7 active the entire time, and with google maps downloaded, after making my trip online ( you can add in each destination for your trip, choose whether you want tolls, choose whether you'd like to ride highways, and change the roads google maps for you in general). I also used the Waze app to check for traffic, and police. Smartphone connects bluetooth to my SENA and gives me maps, spotify, and I talk to my roommate. I use a cheap 25$ X mount off amazon, with a 2A charger built in, rode through what were basically monsoons in Utah with the phone on the mount, as well as rode offroad for portions of the trip and had absolutely no issues. Even when cell service dropped, google maps stayed true, and with the downloaded maps I could search for other routes/stops. Just couldn't see myself sinking 300-600 dollars on a GPS when technology is advancing so fast, and waterproof smartphones are going to be the new standard, and I have to buy a phone anyways. S7 Active is a year or two old and you might be able to get it for a good price since the s8 just came out last week.
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post #19 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-17-2017, 02:08 AM Thread Starter
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I use a Garmin Zumo 660 GPS on my bikes. They can be bought for around $300 with mounting hardware for the bike. They are waterproof, can sync the phone, Bluetooth headset, etc.
You can make custom routes on your computer with the supplied software and export it to the GPS so you can take the roads you want to take instead of the roads Google maps wants you to take.
It also has a slot for a micro SD card so you can load MP3s directly on the unit and play them from there.

My Smart Phone doesn't even get a signal at my house in Tennessee. It definitely isn't going to be useful on the scenic roads I like to ride.
You might want to check, but last time I looked a waterproof smartphone was like $600 and I'm not sure if it is rated for the vibration that a bike is going to transmit to it.

Oh, and I have put over 100,000 miles on my GPS with no issues.
That brings up something we haven't even considered with phones; if we get some newer phones to use for a GPS in the States we will either have to get SIM cards and account in the States or pay exuberant roaming fees. Looks like the GPS is edging out against the phones...

Driving the flat lands
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post #20 of 26 (permalink) Old 09-17-2017, 07:28 AM
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That brings up something we haven't even considered with phones; if we get some newer phones to use for a GPS in the States we will either have to get SIM cards and account in the States or pay exuberant roaming fees. Looks like the GPS is edging out against the phones...
A free app like HERE will provide basic and simple to use GPS functionality on a smart phone just like the cheap (<$100) auto GPS units and will not require the phone have a signal or use any cellular services. It will however not allow importing of GPX files (pre planned route files) like the more expensive motorcycle GPS units. For that you need to resort to more complex measures on a smart phone or use Google Maps which has the unique disadvantage that it requires you manually pre download maps, a small area at a time, or use cellular data.

https://here.com/en/products-service.../here-wego-app

http://www.gpscity.ca/search/q=zumo+395lm
http://www.gpscity.ca/search/q=zumo+...wly+overhauled

Most cell phone providers offer a plan option, usually $10/month that allows no addtional cost roaming in the US. Just make sure you cancel this feature when you return to canada.

Google Play, an app that is standard on all Android phones will allow you to download and install HERE and other free and pay apps.

Last edited by twowheels; 09-17-2017 at 08:15 AM.
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