My search for the perfect GPS had a few stipulations. I wanted something that was durable, waterproof, could run on batteries and had street auto navigation maps. With these criteria I set out looking for the perfect unit.
My first choice with a GPS is usually a Garmin. Their units seem to be the most user friendly and easy to find the points of interest you’re looking for. Garmin has a couple lines of units, offroad, Nuvi and Zumo. The motorcycle specific units fall into the Zumo line. Starting at $599 for the entry level Zumo these units have everything you could ask for like Bluetooth, music, traffic, and more. With a price tag starting at $600 I could not find it in the budget. Looking at the other lines Garmin had I was sure I could make a non-motorcycle unit work well.
I finally settled on a Garmin GPSMAP 78. The 78 is a marine specific handheld unit. This unit seems to fit the bill by being both waterproof and durable. The 78 can handle both routes, tracks and has waypoint navigation built in. With 1.7 gb of internal storage and a micro sd card slot the unit is expandable.
The 78 was $176.00 on amazon but did not include street maps. Trying to stay on budget I decided that the Garmin City Navigator map card at nearly $80 was a little out of my reach. On eBay I found a the newest version of City Navigator North America and I was able to get it on a micro SD card for $14 shipped. City Navigator is also available using this link.
To mount the unit to the motorcycle there really is only one company I trust. RAM Mounts makes one of the toughest systems for mounting nearly anything on a motorcycle. My personal solution was to get a Ram Mount cradle specifically for the GPSMAP 78 mounted to a RAM short double socket arm that is attached to the handlebar clamps with RAM’s handlebar bolt kit. This mounting style works well for me and has no extra bolts or pieces to get loose. The total cost of the mount was $37.74 Each piece of the mounting kit is linked below.
I was excited to test this GPS out, but with a steep learning curve my first stop was Google. I found a website with a great tutorial on how to set up your 78. The folks at Dual Sport West have it broken down into various models with detailed instructions.
Once I had the GPS set up it was simple to drop in the new SD card and start navigating. I found that the GPS was easy to swap back and forth between direct point navigation like with tracks to on road turn by turn directions with routes. Also marking a waypoint was simple by holding down the enter key to mark your location. This GPS is perfect for my requirements.
Garmin gpsmap 78 $176.00
Garmin City Navigator $14
What Was Missing?
I feel that this GPS is great, especially for under $230. but there are some features that I found myself not needing, but wanting. I thought it would be nice to have Bluetooth built into the GPS to communicate with my helmet headset so I could hear its warnings. Also, when using the GPS in the car it would have been nice to have spoken street names. Both of these things are not requirements for my application, but would have been nice.
This GPS is perfect for me. I like things simple and durable. This unit should work well for many years and is not going to fail in the first splash or drop. Garmin units are easy to use and have a well thought out user interface. I highly recommend this unit to anyone that may ride in adverse conditions.