I am considering a GPS purchase in the very near future. I ride a 2004 R1150RT, and was probably going to go with what BMW in Canton stocks/recommends. Any comments or suggestions? (my riding is strickly on roadways and 80% paved).
John has excellent points on the data the maps have when you get off of “roads”. I’ve seen a lot of two tracks as roads on the GPS when we did past rides in the woods. One big thing to recognize is that most any Garmin unit will accept the latest maps. Some significantly older units do not accept the latest generation of maps, so that is an important point to be aware of if buying used or refurb. Heck I have a GPS V – built in 2000, one of Garmins earliest units, with 2008 maps loaded attached to my road bicycle.
With that said, with a little research you may find that a discontinued unit may have all the features and more than you would ever need. The Garmin 2820 has most of the features as a Zumo (and several benefit over the Zumo – like larger waypoint memory and tracklog memory), but it comes with a much smaller pricetag since the ones available are either New-Old-Stock or Refurbished, but all carry the full Garmin warranty. Right now a Refurb or NOS Garmin 2820 is selling fo $200-$250 on ebay.
Each garmin unit has it’s features and drawback, an no unit IMHO is perfect. There is no one GPS unit out there for me that does everything I want. But I’m happy with the 2820. It’s mostly a road going unit, touchscreen, bluetooth, Mp3, 2 Gb fixed memory (will hold all of US), pretty good processor, affordable, speaks road names, and a decent screen. But it lacks a battery which is not a huge problem on the bike, and does not take expandable memory for more maps or music. A lot of folks like the x76c units (276c, 376c etc.) because they have an excellent screen, plenty of processing power, they have buttons and not a touchscreen which is better for screen life (and some people prefer), and a decent battery life. But for me the drawbacks were that they take proprietary (expensive) garmin memory thaat won’t hold the whole US, no MP3, no Bluetooth. For me the Zumo Series GPS units seem like you pay more just for the convenient size and operation, but they dropped a lot of good features to make them easy to use, and upped the pricetag. There are a few nice features like being able to swapa route on an SD card, but overall it’s a lot less attractive than other units available.
So anyway, the answer is, look around a little and figure out what you want in a unit. Waterproof I believe is a requirement on a bike, and so is vibration resistant. Any hard drive unit (like the 2620) will get ruined on a bike very quickly form the vibration. Once you know what you want, then figure out what unit fits your need. You might just be able to pick up a discontinued unit for a fraction of the cost of a current model.