Originally Posted by twowheeladdict
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.
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.