Garmin Zūmo 550

Garmin Zumo
	  550 on R1200GS

One of the best things about riding a motorcycle is that just going somewhere can be the best part of the trip. It is really great to ride on the roads that are outside the interstate system and find the back roads that were once commonly used by everyone. I have found that using these back roads does not always lead to a significant increase in the travel time. In fact, if you are looking to ride, a longer route is often better. The main problem with this is that I do not recognize all the back roads, and I must spend a large amount of time learning the detailed maps in order to go to a particular location.

Memorizing maps is not always a fun way to prepare for a good ride. I have recently installed a Garmin Zumo 550 on my motorcycle. It came with all the mounting brackets and wiring for both my car and motorcycle. I spent a little time removing the body panels from my R1200GS and fishing the wires through to attach to the battery. The U-bolt used to attach the GPS to the bar behind the instrument cluster seemed a bit on the large side, so I put a piece of weather stripping between the clamp and motorcycle.

Mounting Garmin 
	  Zumo on my R1200GS

Before the Zumo 550, I carried a Garmin eTex Vista C. I put this smaller GPS in the map pouch of a tank bag, but I found that this one was too hard for me to see. The tank bag is a real nice Marsee bag that attaches using the ring of fasteners surrounding the fuel tank cap. The bag is easily removed by rotating it 90°. The problem with this approach is that I do not like carrying a bag, so I usually put this in my rear luggage compartment. This is not an efficient way to pack a motorcycle since I am putting a smaller bag inside a larger one. In addition, I usually put my helmet in this carrying case when my motorcycle is parked.

I use these GPS units to create the maps on my other pages. The Garmin units are really easy to use. In the case of the Zumo 550, just enter the address or cross streets of your destination. Using the preferences you can set things like fastest or shortest route. Another great feature is you can tell Zumo to avoid highways, U-turns, or heavy traffic. As an additional feature, the Zumo 550 can receive real time traffic reports using either XM or FM traffic updates. The XM requires a subscription and an additional antenna. I have not gotten the XM antenna, so I have not tried the real time traffic updates. It sure does sound like a cool feature.

I have had a lot fun with the GPS. I just tell it where I want to go and look at it when I feel like it. It updates the route based on my preferences. With a brief look at either the screen or a map before the ride, I can decide on a general route and follow any road that looks good along the way.