Best Dual Sport GPS

Best dual sport GPS
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Best Dual Sport GPS

Selecting the best dual sport GPS is like selecting the best dual sport. The result will vary depending on your needs. Some elements, however, will remain constant. Water proofing is a great option, but not necessarily the only way forward. The ability to load up topographic map sets means a lot given you may find yourself in areas where road coverage on the map is spotty. Likewise having the ability to multi-task with your GPS may hold high value for you.

The best dual sport GPS should be one you always want to use and that meets your needs. I personally use a Garmin GPSMAP60CSx ($399 USD at 2010 prices). It's great when riding around town and is waterproof and accepts added memory cards. I love the options to see speed, distance, direction and elevation data at a glance, too. The screen is a bit small, I feel, but given I bought it on sale for less than $300, I'm completely pleased with it. It's been out in the dense downpours without missing a beat and remains easy to work left-handed. Topographic maps render well and the ability to zoom in and out makes it as easy as possible to read.

This combo is probably the best dual sport GPS option for most folks. With the ability to dismount the GPS and walk around with it and use it as designed, the newest 60-series Garmin GPSMAP 62st is the top of the line rugged walk around GPS unit from Garmin.

Garmin GPSMAP 62st

Garmin GPSMAP 62st - best dual sport gps

Garmin GPSMAP 62st screens and functions for dual sportting
(images are much clearer than rendered here)

The GPSMAP 62st comes preloaded with topographic maps, includes barometric altimeter, a 3-axis electronic compass and is enabled for wireless data sharing. The high-sensitivity GPS receiver ensures not only quick pickup of the satellite signal, but also continued coverage under dense foliage. The bright color display and microSD card slot enhance the package nicely. At $549.00 USD (2010 prices), it's certainly not cheap, but it's versatility easily makes it so practical that the cost is more reasonable. This unit will get you down the highway, over the mountain trail and down the gully to your favorite fishing hole while shrugging off dust, water and mud like few others.

Prior to the GPSMAP 60CSx, I used a Garmin 255s for months, rain or shine. It's not a waterproof model, but it also didn't cost $900. A small Ziploc bag and an elastic took care of rain easily and never failed me once. Now, this is an OK set up for on road use, but off-road, where tree branches might swipe by your regularly, a Ziploc bag could easily become shredded or lost. Which leads us back to the dedicated waterproof units for most folks. Keep in mind, though, you can easily find waterproof cases for more common, less costly, GPS units, so research total costs carefully while factoring in things like handlebar mounting options, your typical usage, your budget and can you afford to replace the GPS unit should it get damaged.

Some might argue the best dual sport GPS is the one you have with you, so check the sizing, and as mentioned above, mounting options carefully. Nothing sucks more than shelling out uber-bucks on a top-line GPS only to learn that on your favorite single track, the unit hangs out like a sail and grabs every branch as you drive through the woods.

Here are some common, dual sport friendly GPS options:

Garmin Motorcycle Options

Garmin Zumo 220

Garmin Zumo 220 dual sport GPSGarmin Zumo 220 data screen

The least expensive waterproof motorcycle specific option from Garmin, the Zumo 220 has Bluetooth headset compatibility, lane assist and photo navigation so it performs as you would expect. The "Where am I?" option is useful when on road. The unit speaks street names and can handle optional FM traffic alerts. The Zumo 220 comes preloaded with street maps for North America, is waterproof and is rechargeable. It's also light, compact and sadly, due to its street oriented focus, less useful off-road. This is mostly due to the availability of maps covering off road areas, so depending on the maps you can source from Garmin, it might still meet your needs. At $499 USD it's not the cheapest option, however is the bottom end of their "motorcycle" range.

Garmin Zumo 665

Garmin Zumo 665 GPS
Garmin Zumo 665 GPS weather screen
Garmin Zumo 665 GPS navigation screen Garmin Zumo 665 GPS data screen

Now this is the unit to grab if cost is no object. Shattering your wallet at $999.99 (2010 price), this unit is sleek and has a big screen, making at-a-glance viewing very easy. With access to XM Satellite radio, the widescreen, lane assist, 3-D building view and photo navigation, this unit offers a lot of features. Again the "Where am I?" functionality, Bluetooth® wireless, and the ability to speak street names appear. With optional FM traffic alerts, preloaded street maps for North America and its inherent waterproofness, this is the high end of dual sport GPS units. It's also on heck of a hit to your wallet, expensive to replace if broken up off-road and who wouldn't cry if you forgot this on your handlebar while fueling up and came back to find it missing?

While Garmin is featured prominently here, Magellan and TomTom also offer options that will cover your needs in many cases. TomTom is very in-car oriented, so don't expect to find a lot of waterproof options. Magellan offers a decent range of waterproof products making them a solid alternative to Garmin's offerings.

Dual Sport GPS buying checklist:

  • Waterproof
  • Rugged
  • Size
  • Features that you need
  • Available topographic maps
  • Cost of maps
  • Mounting options
  • Overall costs
  • Battery options (regular batteries are easily replaced in the field)

Best Dual Sport GPS Mounting options:

I won't lie to you and say Ram Mounts are the only option to mount your dual sport GPS, but they do offer some of the best options available. They offer a wide range of specific and generic options and should be able to cover almost all situations, often quite economically.

TouraTech offers a great range of brand & model specific mounting options also. Touratech is noted for outfitting many globetrotters and the gear they supply has been tested in the real world over many thousands of miles. While their range of options is mostly limited to the brands and models they have listed, their options cover most popular bikes. Generic options exist as well, though you'll need to look around the site a bit more to find them.