Sat nav worth it? General advice - BMW F800 Riders Forum & Registry



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  1. #1
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    Hi everyone. Picking up my 800GT on Thursday, first one , only passed my test last year , v excited . Apols if this has been covered but it comes with the sat nav prep, but no unit. Which unit would you guys and girls recommend and are they worth the price over and above simply listening to your phone sat nav? Cheers

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    Never used a phone sat nav so cannot comment on that. Had various Garmin’s for 12+ years & am a fan

    Check out cost of a compatible Bmw nav (Garmin) compared with standalone Garmin Zumo 300 series - I use a Zumo 390 & am happy with it
    Ajay

    F800GT 2018 

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    Be sure to look at the new Garmin Zumo XT. Best moto GPS ever!
    2010 F800ST 

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    Only you can answer if the GBP 300+ is worth it. Beware, motorcycle vibrations damage the camera in phones if they are handlebar mounted. And it’s not possible to use your phone with gloves.

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    Adam:

    What sort of Sat Nav Prep does the bike have? Is it a mount that is specific for the BMW Motorrad navigation systems - or some sort of generic mount?

    I have an old Zumo 500 that I have been using for years on my bikes and in my car - it is so old that Garmin is no longer providing support or update for it. It still works fine - but you have to accept that the arrival time is off by an hour.....evidently a programming glitch when the satellites reset the year code but no update is being provided by Garmin. I just keep this in my car now, and use it when I need to go somewhere that I need directions. My cell phone is far more accurate and easier to type in an address - but not while driving. Garmins seem to be pretty particular about how you type in an address and street name - and they are not nearly as good at finding a nearby business. My phone often has the business located by the time I get half the business name typed in.

    I also have a Nav VI from BMW. It is really fancy and is packed full of fun stuff like the ability to plan a circular route when you want a ride but don't really care where you go, and it also has a curvy road feature that picks a route with as many curves as possible!

    What do you use to navigate in you car? If you use your phone - you can still do that on your bike as long as you stop to set the destination. You can use earbuds to hear the route directions the phone gives. I have had some problems when using the phone for navigation when in remote areas without cell service. If I can set the destination while I have service I can still get route instructions along the way - but once the cell service is lost I cannot make any changes or set any new destinations.....until I get to an area that has cell service.

    If there is no discount from the dealer on a SatNav system - then I would suggest you wait and see if you want one. And as a new rider you really don't need something to distract you from the task of riding a motorcycle. It might be better to use your phone and some earbuds. I have not had any problems with vibration killing my cell phone when handlebar mounted - but I have likely ridden less than 10,000 miles with a phone on the handlebars. Currently I ride with my phone in my pocket.

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  9. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thumpin View Post
    Adam:

    What sort of Sat Nav Prep does the bike have? Is it a mount that is specific for the BMW Motorrad navigation systems - or some sort of generic mount?

    I have an old Zumo 500 that I have been using for years on my bikes and in my car - it is so old that Garmin is no longer providing support or update for it. It still works fine - but you have to accept that the arrival time is off by an hour.....evidently a programming glitch when the satellites reset the year code but no update is being provided by Garmin. I just keep this in my car now, and use it when I need to go somewhere that I need directions. My cell phone is far more accurate and easier to type in an address - but not while driving. Garmins seem to be pretty particular about how you type in an address and street name - and they are not nearly as good at finding a nearby business. My phone often has the business located by the time I get half the business name typed in.

    I also have a Nav VI from BMW. It is really fancy and is packed full of fun stuff like the ability to plan a circular route when you want a ride but don't really care where you go, and it also has a curvy road feature that picks a route with as many curves as possible!

    What do you use to navigate in you car? If you use your phone - you can still do that on your bike as long as you stop to set the destination. You can use earbuds to hear the route directions the phone gives. I have had some problems when using the phone for navigation when in remote areas without cell service. If I can set the destination while I have service I can still get route instructions along the way - but once the cell service is lost I cannot make any changes or set any new destinations.....until I get to an area that has cell service.

    If there is no discount from the dealer on a SatNav system - then I would suggest you wait and see if you want one. And as a new rider you really don't need something to distract you from the task of riding a motorcycle. It might be better to use your phone and some earbuds. I have not had any problems with vibration killing my cell phone when handlebar mounted - but I have likely ridden less than 10,000 miles with a phone on the handlebars. Currently I ride with my phone in my pocket.

    Sounds like very good advice thank you. Yes it’s the BMW specific ‘ blank plate’ if you know what I mean, so not sure Garmin is an issue.
    Think it may be best to have phone in pocket and just use audio sat nav thinking more about it, less distracting as you say.
    I was just curious as to what the benefits are as they seem so expensive

  10. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam77 View Post
    Sounds like very good advice thank you. Yes it’s the BMW specific ‘ blank plate’ if you know what I mean, so not sure Garmin is an issue.
    Think it may be best to have phone in pocket and just use audio sat nav thinking more about it, less distracting as you say.
    I was just curious as to what the benefits are as they seem so expensive
    They are expensive as they are ruggedised to deal with the Biking environment; vibrations, fluids (oils, petrols, solvents), waterproof, glove sensitive touch screen, bike specific software for routing preferences, etc etc. You can let it create a bike friendly route for you, tweaking parameters such as corners/inclines/avoiding major roads without having to sit down and plan your own route/roads. Although you can do this and transfer it over to the GPS.

    It (the satnav) will never not be useful and they are worth their weight in gold. Your phone is no use in an area with no phone signal, even if it has a standalone GPS sensor. You can't websearch for a petrol station with no signal..... it will also struggle to figure out directions/time/mileage etc. A dedicated satnav unit will find you anywhere outdoors and give you multiple route options to your destination.

    Also briefly looking at a screen is a better way of navigating than listening to directions, especially at busy junctions/roundabouts where there may be lots of junctions close together. I only use the visual navigation and switch off voice commands (although you could have this playing from the satnav).

    Finally, the Satnav on your bike is always on charge. So you never need worry about it dying halfway through a journey. Using satnav on a phone kills the battery quickly, and you'll need to have it on charge to stop it dying - especially if you are also using it for calls/music streaming whilst travelling too.

    I'll admit i don't use my satnav generally unless i'm on a trip away. But for those 6 times or so a year (where it is used all day, multiple days in a row) it is invaluable in getting me to my destination or home without me having to do much more than press a few buttons and follow the line.
    BMW F800ST, 2010, Black, Fuzeblock, Sat Nav, BMW Tank Bag, Givi Touring Screen, Denali Spotlights, Denali CANSmart, Wunderlich Crash Bars, 55K Miles & counting 

  11. #8
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    You won’t be able to hear phone audio in your pocket. You will need to buy an intercom system if you want to hear it. You can’t use headphones as you should be wearing ear plugs to protect your hearing.

    I’d recommend getting a few weeks of more experience before putting a screen in front of you if you have just got your licence.

    You can mount your phone on the bike but you MUST use a vibration damper mount or you will kill it.

    Bikes have great acceleration, which makes me paranoid about speed cameras. A properly mounted phone or GPS with audio will give you camera warnings.

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  13. #9
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    I have the BMW Navigator Street fitted on my GT. To be honest I have difficulty using it while riding. The screen is small and the OE mount position means you have to look down to see it. I still use a paper map to get me to roughly where I want to go. The satnav is then useful to get to the exact address but I usually stop the bike before looking hard at the screen. By contrast, my car satnav is mounted high, has a large screen and negates the need for a paper map. If you're a new rider I'd suggest getting in some bike time first before going the satnav route. Then buy one with the largest screen possible and preferably mount forward above the instruments so it's in your sightline (difficult to do on the GT).
    18 F800GT 

  14. #10
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    I have the integrated BMW Nav V on my RT but rarely ride with it. It’s easily pilfered and in the unlikely event that I get lost, I just pull over and look at a map. I’d rather not stare at a screen on the bike — too distracting!
    2012 BMW R1200R Classic | 2015 BMW R1200RT 

  15. #11
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    It appears that Garmin is the popular GPS brand in this group. In December 2020 I bought a TomTom Rider 550, which is specifically designed for motorcycles. It comes with a RAM handlebar clamp bracket. The 550 is Bluetooth capable, I have it paired with the N-Com (Sena) unit in my Nolan helmet. Lifetime updates are included and the 550 can be updated with either Wi-Fi or a USB cable. It responds to inputs from a gloved hand. Power is from a relay controlled fuse block; the unit turns on with the ignition switch. There is a place for a micro-SD card, so I put in a 64GB card. Probably an overkill, but these things are cheap.

    List price for the Rider 550 is $399.99 USD. Mine came discounted from Best Buy for around $275 USD plus state sales tax. Not having experience with other brands, except for an ancient Magellan that was retired a couple decades ago, (there is a TomTom, which has been in the car for at least 15 years, and is still supported with free updates), I cannot comment on the 550 operation compared to other motorcycle specific GPS units. The 550 does have all sorts of bell and whistles, and of course it performs the primary task for which one buys these devices--a lady's voice that instructs one where to turn. Since those of us who are of the male gender are genetically programed to respond the instruction from a female voice, this method of direction is quite comfortable.

    The bracket allows for easy, one-handed removal when the bike is parked where the unit could be pilfered. The power connection is through the bracket, only two small brass pins on the back of the unit. In the screen image photograph, the screen is washed out; under normal circumstances, it is quite visible. Wunderlich has a clip-on visor surround to make the unit more visible under bright sunlight. I have one on order; it matches the Wunderlich visor on the instrument panel.

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    James Sadilek -- ccwatchmaker
    In the garage: 1972 BMW R60/5 - 1983 Yamaha XJ650 Maxim - 2014 F800 GT
     

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  17. #12
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    Another point: your phone GPS is more accurate that a regular GPS, whether it is built-into an auto/motorcycle dashboard or stuck to your windshield with a suction cup. Why? Because your phone's GPS receives input from its network and from any social media (FB, etc) which your phone may be receiving. Thus your phone's GPS is constantly being updated by the other traffic on the network; therefore any suggested route on your phone's GPS will be more accurate because it will show traffic delays, detours, and other such adjustments. Your GARMIN (or whatever brand you use) does not do this and only provides you with the routing suggestions in its own database. That is why, if you experiment with the two devices side-by-side, you will see different (sometimes very different) suggested routes. If you want the best accuracy, go with the phone's GPS. Plus, you don't have to pay to have the database of maps updated by your dealer.

    p.s. I do not like to use GPS of any ilk, so I do not use them, but my discovery of the above phenomenon was interesting to me.

    Good luck.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Biscuits View Post
    You won’t be able to hear phone audio in your pocket. You will need to buy an intercom system if you want to hear it. You can’t use headphones as you should be wearing ear plugs to protect your hearing.

    I’d recommend getting a few weeks of more experience before putting a screen in front of you if you have just got your licence.

    You can mount your phone on the bike but you MUST use a vibration damper mount or you will kill it.

    Bikes have great acceleration, which makes me paranoid about speed cameras. A properly mounted phone or GPS with audio will give you camera warnings.
    First off, all 4 pairs of my gloves work with a phone touchscreen. They've been making them that way for a decade now. Secondly, my Sena is crystal clear and plenty loud to hear my music, GPS directions, and take/make phone calls at freeway speed with earplugs in. It's actually much clearer with earplugs than without. Thirdly, I have been using a RAM mount for my phone for at least the last 6 years now (two different ones now) averaging over 7k miles a year and never had a problem with it.

    Should you look at it and type while driving? Of course not. But I can push one button on my Sena and tell Google to give me directions to the nearest gas station, text/call someone, or tell it to play my favorite song. This all-in-one marvel has changed motorcycling for the better. No more wires and only one device to carry. Utilize it!

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G891A using Tapatalk
    08' F800ST- side panniers & Shad SH45 top case, Russell Day Long seat, MRA Vario Windscreen, SW Motech crash bars, ZTechnik exhaust, PC-8 fuseblock, Stebel Nautilus horn, Throttlemeister throttle lock, SW Motech handlebar risers, LED fog lights, highway pegs 

  20. #14
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    I guess to each his own. I absolutely hate using a phone GPS. Way too many annoying problems. The dedicated GPS works much better for me.
    2010 F800ST 

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    Thanks everyone , all v useful. I’m going to ride for a while a take my time before I make a decision I think. Great forum , actual grown ups it seems!

  23. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Biscuits View Post
    You won’t be able to hear phone audio in your pocket. You will need to buy an intercom system if you want to hear it. You can’t use headphones as you should be wearing ear plugs to protect your hearing.
    Huh?? I've been wearing noise isolating ear buds for many years, and will continue to do so.
    I started with $$ Etymotic Research ER6i. But then discovered Comply (brand) isolation tips. They made low priced ear buds functional. Now, I've got a nice bluetooth receiver, with Comply Isolation tips.
    '08 F800ST Low 

  24. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Randyjaco View Post
    Be sure to look at the new Garmin Zumo XT. Best moto GPS ever!
    Thanks for the info! The features and reviews are VERY impressive.
    I just ordered one. Just kinda bummed that Cycle Gear is out of stock, so I can't get it with a 10% veteran discount.
    '08 F800ST Low 

  25. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam77 View Post
    Sounds like very good advice thank you. Yes it’s the BMW specific ‘ blank plate’ if you know what I mean, so not sure Garmin is an issue.
    Think it may be best to have phone in pocket and just use audio sat nav thinking more about it, less distracting as you say.
    I was just curious as to what the benefits are as they seem so expensive
    Can you use the provided "BMW specific ' blank plate' " or remove it so a different SAT/NAV can be mounted?

  26. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kukopia View Post
    Thanks for the info! The features and reviews are VERY impressive.
    I just ordered one. Just kinda bummed that Cycle Gear is out of stock, so I can't get it with a 10% veteran discount.
    Hmmm. I thought rev zilla were the specialists in "out of stock". Thank You for your Service!

  27. #20
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    I'm late to the party, I tried the TomTom Rider 550, had a bunch of connection problems. It's supposed to connect to your phone to give you alerts when you receive a text message or phone call. I returned it and got the Garmin Zumo 396, total upgrade. Connects to my phone with no issues, the menus are so much better and there is a feature I like a lot where you just tell the nav how much time you have to ride and it will plot a round trip course. There's an accompanying desktop app as well so you can plan your trips out with much more advanced control, picking roads, adding stops, etc. Many people complain about the desktop app being difficult to use, I watched a series of YT videos, maybe a total of an hour and I can do everything I want on there, it's like streets and trips for your motorcycle.

    A couple of things that might lean you more toward a dedicated Nav for the bike, as someone already mentioned, phone camera image stabilization servos have been messed up from the vibrations (though from what I understand this is only if you have the higher end phones with optical stabilization rather than digital, only optical uses servos which actually move the lens). Also, with the Nav you can choose how swervy or hilly you want your ride along with many other bike specific features, and you can avoid seasonal roads (though I will admit that feature is flawed).

    P.S. I can't speak to the "listening" to it as I don't have a headset, I just check it every now and then.

  28. #21
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    I too pondered the sat-nav route. Even asked my dealer for a quote to install the BMW original, (they never got back to me.) In the end, settled on the BMW SmartPhone Cradle.

    Genuine BMW, wireless QI charging and phone can be used through the protective cover (even with touch-screen gloves.) Plug and play with the bikes existing harness and accessory connector.

    Two plus years, thousands of miles and no issues with phone or camera.

    I did not buy it from Amazon, but this will give you an idea and place to start. https://www.amazon.com/BMW-MOTORRAD-.../dp/B07YR42BNB

    There are a couple of parts that are not shown, that must be purchased. A different "Clamping Pie," (I assume there was not enough spaces to spell out 'piece.' ) And new riser screws.

    I use Scenic for moto-nav. https://scenicapp.space

    With phone navigation I don't have to deal with two devices. Maps are always current. My phone is always charged. I can make and take calls on my headset and listen to music if I want. I could not justify purchasing another device, an expensive single-tasker.

    This has worked for me better than expected.

    Tried a couple of phone-mounts for bikes. They all failed.
    2015 BMW F800GT Montego Blue, Premium
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  29. #22
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    My 2c for wat its worth ...
    - modern waterproof phone in jacket pocket (stays with me if I have an off & need it/can use it, have emergency calling setup in Android)
    - google Maps with usual stomping areas (really most of the lower half of the Sth island of NZ ) saved as offline maps to SD card
    - Sena10c intercom/haedset/camera setup thru Bluetooth
    - local topo maps app also with cached offline maps in case I ever find I'm way off Maps or I need a second opinion (can also record tracks too, sometimes useful)
    - USB charger in topbox for either headset or phone if ever needed
    - Flare ISOLATE Mini earplugs
    - optional but highly recommended: Free Notification reader, to read out your SMS / email / notifications so you don't have to stop to check TXTs as important or not ...

    Gives me navigation & choice of route even offline; don't mind listening to the instructions as I find it better than trying to split attention off the riding. YMMV, especially depending on phone (does it get OK GPS fixes in your pocket? does the BT work consistently if you move about? ... both depend on the location of antennas in the phone body, and then their relation to a big blocker - your body! Also phone then handy for

    calls
    photos
    route revisions

    when I stop ... no hassles with special gloves either then.

    HTH

    Max

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  31. #23
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    I personally find it absolutely ridiculous to spend $400-$500 on a dedicated motorcycle GPS that is absolutely limited. Garmin and Tom Tom routing software is also terrible. To not have the vibrations kill my day to day phone, I bought a used iPhone 7 for $100 and it runs Google Maps and Scenic App for all my navigating routing need. Google Maps is free and the maps are constantly updated on a regular basis (feels like daily) and the Scenic App is $10 for the year and it has downloadable maps for an additional small minor cost if you're worried about not getting data. My iPhone 7 doesn't have a data plan. It just hot spots to my regular phone. And since it's not my primary phone, I don't care if the vibration kills the camera, which it doesn't. I've used a iPhone 7 to go cross country for 10,000 miles back in 2017 thru downpours, desert sand, dusts and everything from the elements and it performed flawlessly. That's my method. I would never spend that much money on a motorcycle GPS unit.

  32. #24
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    Poll on UKGSER : What GPS do you use? Voters 187.

    Garmin Bike Specific Unit 70.05%
    TomTom Bike Specific Unit 12.30%
    Other Bike Specific Unit 1.07%
    Car Sat Nav 1.60%
    Smartphone with Sat Nav App 14.97%
    Ajay

    F800GT 2018 

  33. #25
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    My setup closely matches Max's.

    • Phone in waterproof jacket pocket.
    • For long days, a battery in the same pocket
    • Google maps, including offline downloads
    • Bluetooth to speakers in helmet. (I do use ear plugs too)




    The goals I was trying to achieve:

    • Not taking my eyes off the road
    • No cables
    • Further reduce single task items to carry
    Concrete remains undefeated. 

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    My second hand bike came with a Navigator V. I like it and use it as a speedometer most of the time. The maps work well when needed although a little clunky when entering destinations. It’s connected to my phone and Cardo Packtalk. Would I pay the money for a new one? Probably not but if you have the mount and can pick up a used unit for a reasonable price I would consider it.

  35. #27
    Womble's Avatar
    Points: 6,044, Level: 53

    Real Name
    Adrian
    Location
    Broadchurch/Casterbridge
    Joined
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    Motorcycle
    '14 F800 GT
    Quote Originally Posted by Thumpin View Post
    Adam:

    ....

    I have an old Zumo 500 that I have been using for years on my bikes and in my car - it is so old that Garmin is no longer providing support or update for it. It still works fine - but you have to accept that the arrival time is off by an hour.....evidently a programming glitch when the satellites reset the year code but no update is being provided by Garmin. I just keep this in my car now, and use it when I need to go somewhere that I need directions. My cell phone is far more accurate and easier to type in an address - but not while driving. Garmins seem to be pretty particular about how you type in an address and street name - and they are not nearly as good at finding a nearby business. My phone often has the business located by the time I get half the business name typed in.....
    Thumpin - you can upload OpenStreetMaps to your Garmin, I've done this with several old units now (2610 and Quest), can also be done with your Zumo, Garmin really just provide the box and software/firmware, upload whatever maps you want.

    When touring I tend to be belt and braces... Garmin, phone in pocket (music and calls through Sena) and of course A4 sized maps in tankbag

  36. #28
    Points: 5,265, Level: 49

    Location
    Reading - Great Britain
    Joined
    Aug 2014
    Online
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    Motorcycle
    '20 R1250RT LE
    Motorcycle
    '14 F800 GT
    If your GT is already "BMW prepared" for SatNav I would definitively go with a BMW branded Garmin Nav V or Nav VI.

    Secondhand units are getting very cheap now and are remain more than capable, just make sure it has "maps for life" included. I have the Nav V and cannot justify upgrading to a Nav VI, but in your position if the VI is not that much more than a V, I would go for the later unit.

    I still have my old BMW Zumo and mounting kit, it is also a good unit and still fine. But I only hardly use it now as I have two Nav Vs.

    Yes a map is better, but GPS is a great additional aid and one that can used on the move (more safely than a map in a map-case).
    2020 R1250 RT LE,
    2010 L322 Range Rover AB (333k miles so far!),
    1960 SII Land Rover 88" SW. 

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