Tom-Tom Version 1 and Version 2 V Garmin Zumo 550

I am an all year round rider and I have now had three motorcycle satellite navigation systems. The first was the Tom-Tom version 1, which packed up after less than a year. The software was brilliant, the mapping was excellent. Unfortunately the build quality was rubbish, and I gave up on this. I gave it to one of my colleagues, who paid to have it fitted, and after a while it packed up for her as well. Perhaps rather stupidly I replaced the V1 with the V2 when it came out. Again, the mapping was brilliant, the speed camera warnings were loud, the Scala rider headset was pretty good, but again it packed up in less than a year.

I then finally did what I should have done from day one which was get a Garmin Zumo 550. The display on the Garmin, I think, is not as good as the Tom-Tom . The speed is a little bit slower, and sometimes the Garmin doesn’t know exactly where it is ( but I’m talking about being out by 20 or 30 metres). However, it always works.

The only problem that I have found with it is if I am riding in absolute torrential rain the Zumo will work absolutely fine until I stop, the mount powers it down and then when I come to restart my bike, the Zumo will not come back on again. After checking out various websites this is apparently a common problem but is easily enough solved by taking the battery pack out with a small allen key, giving it a wipe if there is water in it, popping it back in again and Bingo, everything is working again.

To have music on the SD memory card is brilliant. Depending on where I’m riding, whether I need to take phone calls and such like, I have different headsets. Most of the time I have head phones only through an Autocom, because I don’t really like taking phone calls while I’m riding. This works really well. The music cuts out, the directions come in, all the speed camera warnings cut in. the volume is loud without being painful, and I can hear it clearly through ear plugs at motorway speeds. Without ear plugs I can’t go fast enough on my R1200 GS to drown out the sound. I also use it with a Scala headset, but I only do this when I need to take phone calls when I’m out an about.

The Zumo works perfectly well with the Scala headset, but the Scala headsets are nowhere near as loud as the Autocom headsets and I wouldn’t recommend the use of Scala headsets if you prefer riding with earplugs. They can get through the earplugs but not at much more than 50mph.

If you’re thinking about buying a motorcycle navigation system, no matter how impressive the Tom Tom looks, the Garmin’s robust built quality (I’ve dropped the thing about 4 times) better battery life and the fact that its got a 3.5mm jack in socket so that you can wire it straight into a Autocom system means that the money I spent on Tom-Toms was really wasted and the money spent on the Garmin was money well spent.

Andrew Dalton

Posted by Andrew Prendergast. Posted on: February 13, 2009 at 12:00 am

Andrew has been riding motorcycles since he was 10 years old and currently rides a GSX1400 as his daily commuter whether it is sunny or snowing. In addition, he is currently restoring an old Honda CB750 K1. Andrew practices across all areas of motorcycle law, with his practice involving both civil claims and motoring defence work.