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Versys X 300
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm new to this forum but not new to motorcycles. I was an early adopter with GPS navigation. My first gps device, a Magellan, was purchased in 2003. Since then, I've owned several units, Garmins, TomTom and Magellan. A few years ago, I took the dive into smart phone navigation apps. In my opinion, this is the way to go. Anyway, I'm posting here to hopefully give back to the forum members. Before you purchase a dedicated gps, let's discuss your requirements here. We can discuss what is out there and how to save you time and money.

My current go-to combination is a unlocked Kyocera DuraForce PRO running Locus. I do not use this unit as my cell phone AND I have a backup unit I purchased for $40 used on eBay. This combination provides offline navigation, i.e. no cell service required, in addition to online navigation. Below is the phone I use. It supports wireless charging and is totally waterproof. I have less than $100 into this set-up, a little more if you include the ram wireless charging mount. You can also charge the traditional way with a USB port. The learning curve is steeper on this than some other apps but so is the performance ceiling. In addition, there is a large user community that loves to help others.

Product Font Screenshot Rectangle Communication Device
 

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2017 Kawasaki Versys-x 300 (non ABS)
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I typically use my phone and Google maps ... will watch this to see what I can learn.

So far, I haven't really felt like I need more, but I often don't know what I "need" until I see it 馃槈 (after seeing recent posts about deals on XT Garmin, I wonder a bit what I am missing 馃)

Thanks for putting this option out there 馃憤馃徎
 

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Versys X 300
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I typically use my phone and Google maps ... will watch this to see what I can learn.

So far, I haven't really felt like I need more, but I often don't know what I "need" until I see it 馃槈 (after seeing recent posts about deals on XT Garmin, I wonder a bit what I am missing 馃)

Thanks for putting this option out there 馃憤馃徎
Many of the areas I've ridden did not have cell service 100% of the time. For example, we just rode the Smokey Mountains 500 and cell service was spotty. There are several smartphone apps that support offline navigation, which is what Garmin provides for, in my opinion, a premium. Some of my riding partners mount their primary phone on the handlebars and use it for navigation. There are many reports of damaged smartphone cameras because of vibrations.

Here are some [Android] apps for offline navigation.
  1. Locus Maps
  2. Osmand
  3. Gaia GPS
  4. Sygic
As mentioned my favorite is Locus. As a disclaimer I should state that I am a Computer Science Professor. The learning curve on Locus is steep and a few of my friends gave up on it. I can't blame them.

The first question you need to ask yourself is, will I ever need to navigate on a track? A track is different than a route. A route uses turn-by-turn directions and requires street routing software. A track is simply a series of lines on a map. Tracks are followed manually. The big difference is that tracks can be off-road, in areas where there are no official roads. More than half of my navigation is done with tracks.
 

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Thanks for sharing your info on this topic. I've seen many threads on many forums discussing this topic. My takeaway (as a casual observer) is the cell phone approach is comparable to a dedicated GPS with the caveat the phone used as the GPS is NOT your primary means of communication (as you describe).

For me, I've chosen to use the GPS just because it was engineered for this purpose.

There is a feature in Garmin's Basecamp that I really like, that is you can manually plot the route step by step. This allows me to hit specific places and avoid others. Is there a similar feature in the apps that run on the phone that can do something similar? Many of the PC based apps I've seen plot the route for you but may then allow it to be edited. I'm definitely no expert in this area so I'm sure I'm missing lots.
 

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Versys X 300
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for sharing your info on this topic. I've seen many threads on many forums discussing this topic. My takeaway (as a casual observer) is the cell phone approach is comparable to a dedicated GPS with the caveat the phone used as the GPS is NOT your primary means of communication (as you describe).

For me, I've chosen to use the GPS just because it was engineered for this purpose.

There is a feature in Garmin's Basecamp that I really like, that is you can manually plot the route step by step. This allows me to hit specific places and avoid others. Is there a similar feature in the apps that run on the phone that can do something similar? Many of the PC based apps I've seen plot the route for you but may then allow it to be edited. I'm definitely no expert in this area so I'm sure I'm missing lots.
Yes, some have that functionality. I was a Garmin guy and I too liked Basecamp. In fact, you can still plan routes in Basecamp and import them into smartphone apps using GPX. I did this many times when learning Locus and Osmand. Now, I build routes in Locus but I use my Android tablet because the large screen makes it easier.
 

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I've used Google maps for years now and it fills most of my needs and is recently improving with more features.
I download maps before when going to an area with "iffy" cell service.
My biking phone is an old ZTE Axon 7 with a community sourced ROM and a 64GB microSD card, a good phone mortally wounded by political dealings.
To tell you the truth though I typically only refer to a map if I'm unsure and have to get somewhere, mostly the ride is just the ride and I have enough screens in my life already.

My other cell phone has Kawasaki Rideology on it, but I am yet to really look at it.

I am a bit of a tech geek and enjoy reading of various alternatives, so thanks for posting this @nj-bill.
 

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Stull no Versys but: Suzuki V-Strom 1000, Vespa P200E, Vespa PK50 XL Automatica, Vespa Sfera
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Always use my good old Garmin Zumo 350 LM on my bikes. It's rough and solid, has a good mounting and charging bracket. A phone is always in need of good connection, battery with loos usb cables.. so for me a no go.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Always use my good old Garmin Zumo 350 LM on my bikes. It's rough and solid, has a good mounting and charging bracket. A phone is always in need of good connection, battery with loos usb cables.. so for me a no go.
Good point. What I've found with "waterproof" phones is that they are not really waterproof when charged with a cable. The charging port needs to be covered in the rain.

For the reasons above, I chose a hardened smartphone that supports wireless charging.
 

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Using an abandoned cell phone and Google maps has worked pretty good for me. You can connect to the internet using wi-fi, then make sure you select a destination and 'download' the maps so you won't need an internet connection on the road. I will generally map out a route at home and then 'send it to my email', so it's saved and readily available. But if you happen to need that route and don't have wi-fi, you'll need to set up a hot-spot on your main phone so your "gps phone" can bring up the email (this can be a real problem if you have no cell service for the hot-spot).
 

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2020 Gen3 650
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I use MAPS.ME for iOS on my iPhone. Great downloadeble maps (based off OpenStreetMaps, so it includes roads, forest roads, hiking trails, biking trails, etc) and has navigation.

You can set the app up to be COMPLETELY offline, only requiring an internet connection to download additional map zones. Once those are downloaded, though, it's completely offline. I was able to navigate the Blue Ridge Mountains easily with it, even though the mountains have very spotty reception.
 

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2013 v650
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I use a Garmin Zumo as my primary navigation and run an older phone Samsung s8 with Maps.Me, north up 20 mile range. It is there to show how far I am from the nearest town and to have as a backup. I put the phone in airplane mode so it is not looking for wi-fi or a cellular signal. Not that a dedicated gps is that much less expensive. I just have a hard time mounting my $1000.00 hand held computer to the vibrating handlebars of my bike.

If you do want to use your phone have a look at MyRoute-app mobile. There is a computer version also. I have only played around with it a little bit. It is redundant with the Garmin, I do keep it loaded on the old phone along with google maps.
 

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I generally prefer to pre-plan on my desktop, and use paper maps while traveling. I am not a fan of following a GPS while actually riding (or driving a car), but prefer to just remember the next one or two turns and then reference the paper map when stopped as needed.

I have used a few handheld units but find the screens too small to use while riding/driving.

The biggest complaint is figuring out how to use the darn things. The app or website for planning have, at best, cryptic instructions using tons of jargon which is frequently unique to that platform. The units themselves have the thinnest of information. Things such as syncing to a stored route, or uploading real-time position so that my wife can see where I am, are stupidly difficult to figure out. Too few buttons on the device, with too many nested menus with tiny non-intuitive symbols.

Hey, I flew airliners for decades. My degree is in electrical engineering and I worked on the Space Shuttle computers. Yet getting the stupid GPS to do what I want is an exercise in random button presses accompanied by four letter words.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The biggest complaint is figuring out how to use the darn things. The app or website for planning have, at best, cryptic instructions using tons of jargon which is frequently unique to that platform.

Hey, I flew airliners for decades. My degree is in electrical engineering and I worked on the Space Shuttle computers. Yet getting the stupid GPS to do what I want is an exercise in random button presses accompanied by four letter words.
Yeah, I get it. That's a good point. I can't complain about the lack of documentation programmers provide with their apps. I've trained a few of them - at least one that I know of. He works for Trimble Maps on their CoPilot app. I'm a computer science professor. :cool:
 

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Yeah, I get it. That's a good point. I can't complain about the lack of documentation programmers provide with their apps. I've trained a few of them - at least one that I know of. He works for Trimble Maps on their CoPilot app. I'm a computer science professor. :cool:
My theory is that almost all of the people involved are under about age 35 and grew up playing games and having cell phones. For them, it is a fun game to explore and test every button and option. They enjoy poking around trying to find how to get it to do a particular task. Easter eggs make them giggle. The jargon is normal language for those in the industry, and even worse within any particular company where they have their own unique jargon in order to not be the same as their competition.

As the end user, I just want to simply get the thing to do a particular task, and I don't want it to change with every software update!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
My theory is that almost all of the people involved are under about age 35 and grew up playing games and having cell phones. For them, it is a fun game to explore and test every button and option. They enjoy poking around trying to find how to get it to do a particular task. Easter eggs make them giggle. The jargon is normal language for those in the industry, and even worse within any particular company where they have their own unique jargon in order to not be the same as their competition.

As the end user, I just want to simply get the thing to do a particular task, and I don't want it to change with every software update!
The learning curve for Locus is steep but there are significant resources online. Once a user understands the basic layout of Locus they discover so much more functionality than a dedicated Garmin unit. However, many users don't want or need the additional functionality. That's just my take on the app versus Garmin debate. Options are good
 

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I'm new to this forum but not new to motorcycles. I was an early adopter with GPS navigation. My first gps device, a Magellan, was purchased in 2003. Since then, I've owned several units, Garmins, TomTom and Magellan. A few years ago, I took the dive into smart phone navigation apps. In my opinion, this is the way to go. Anyway, I'm posting here to hopefully give back to the forum members. Before you purchase a dedicated gps, let's discuss your requirements here. We can discuss what is out there and how to save you time and money.
Nice option for those on a budget.

My Garmin Zumo 660 is 10 years old and still functional. I can't by additional mounts anymore so just picked up a Zumo XT for my adventure bike. $400 for everything I need to mount and connect with the bike.

I like making custom routes to ride new and interesting roads. One of the ways I do that is put in a destination and then ignore the route so it has to keep recalculate to eventually get me to the destination. Another way is to keep dropping bias until it creates a route I am interested in riding. The final way is to build the route waypoint by waypoint until I have a route I am satisfied with.

I also like that the software tracks where I rode and I can download that track for future reference.

I can also create custom avoidances for roads or sections of roads I never want to ride on when it is routing to my destination.

I also like the large font showing me upcoming roads so I don't have to watch for street signs when I am out riding aimlessly.

Does you app do all that?
 

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Vx300 14/43: Urban Assault Vehicle
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I鈥檝e considered mounting a compass.
I鈥檝e been running into unanticipated freeway closures that dump me into sketchy neighborhoods late Friday nights. Stopping to fiddle with electronics is asking for trouble. Running into more construction and road closures after exiting freeway has turned me around a few times in places I just want to get the eff out of. If I can just maintain bearing, I鈥檓 good though. Haven鈥檛 found a suitable one yet
 

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I generally prefer to pre-plan on my desktop, and use paper maps while traveling. I am not a fan of following a GPS while actually riding (or driving a car), but prefer to just remember the next one or two turns and then reference the paper map when stopped as needed.

I have used a few handheld units but find the screens too small to use while riding/driving.

The biggest complaint is figuring out how to use the darn things. The app or website for planning have, at best, cryptic instructions using tons of jargon which is frequently unique to that platform. The units themselves have the thinnest of information. Things such as syncing to a stored route, or uploading real-time position so that my wife can see where I am, are stupidly difficult to figure out. Too few buttons on the device, with too many nested menus with tiny non-intuitive symbols.

Hey, I flew airliners for decades. My degree is in electrical engineering and I worked on the Space Shuttle computers. Yet getting the stupid GPS to do what I want is an exercise in random button presses accompanied by four letter words.
Yeah, I agree. The "Old Fashion Method" always works. Paper maps, slide rules, compasses, etc.
 

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Yeah, I agree. The "Old Fashion Method" always works. Paper maps, slide rules, compasses, etc.
Yup! I always take a compass when hiking, and prefer a good old fashioned topo map.

I still have several slide rules, including one round aviation specific model. I used that in the regional jet for years to keep proficient in case the GPS or FMS crapped out. There were some days we'd be back to "green needles" terrestrial nav and manual fuel calculations. Back in the day the military jammed GPS regularly. The era of dual GPS feeding dual FMS upped reliability substantially!

They went to the moon using a sextant and slide rule. I can get to my next camp site without GPS leading me by the nose.
 
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