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Real Riders Don't Ask for Directions

By Arv Voss, February 25th, 2012

It's a well-known fact that real men -- especially bikers -- don't stop to ask for directions. Some female riders fall into this category, too. I subscribe to the philosophy that I'm never really lost, since I always know where I am. I just don't always know how to get there.

If your pride won't allow you to ask for directions, then the ideal solution for motorcyclists can be found from the folks at Garmin International, Inc. They've developed a motorcycle rider-friendly GPS receiver that allows the rider to select the shortest, fastest or off-road routes available. The Garmin Zumo 665 Motorcycle Navigator comes complete with "avoidance" capability for bypassing toll roads, highways, traffic congestion, U-turns scenarios, and also provides voice instruction guides with on-screen assistance.

The unit is on the costly side -- it sells for about $800 -- but when one considers everything it can do in acting as a guide or personal assistant and navigator, the price seems quite reasonable indeed. It's appropriate to think of the Garmin Motorcycle Navigator as the ultimate co-pilot that possesses a complete geographical knowledge of all roads, streets, and addresses and is able to personally guide you to your chosen destination with on-screen and voice prompt instructions. A concierge service that is capable of finding virtually anything else that you might need to reach is also available including: restaurants, gas stations, banks, lodging, shopping malls, parks not only in the U.S., but for all developed countries globally.

A lot of GPS navigation systems perform the same basic functions, but the Garmin Zumo 665 goes further in that it is motorcycle specific. It was designed by bikers for bikers, featuring multiple handlebar mount solutions.

The 4.3-inch (diagonally measured) nav touch-screen is waterproof, impervious to fuel spray and UV sun rays, is legible in sunlight and may be operated easily while wearing gloves. If your bike doesn't have a fuel gauge, then the Garmin Zumo 665 features a gauge that may be calibrated for the bike's tank capacity and average mileage range, including a warning alert for low fuel. Selectable moving screen icons include a motorcycle and either a male or female rider.

Three different view orientations are available when in navigation mode: North up; track up with the icon headed upwards; as well as a 3D view. Alternate screen displays are also available that display elevation, trip time, trip mileage, compass direction, sunrise, sunset and other data related to your travel. Up to four of the items may also be selected to appear in panels on the screen along with your selected route.

Establishing a route or selecting your destination is really easy by simply typing in the destination address and pressing, "GO." The Zumo 665 calculates the route and provides both verbal and digital image directions enroute. The process is the same for finding major sites or locations already included in the system's information bank. Once a route has been selected, it's stored automatically in a "Recently Found" directory, or you may place it into a "Favorites" file.

I've attached my personal test unit from Garmin on the handlebars of my modified 2005 Harley-Davidson Softail Springer Classic. A clutch-housing mount was also included along with an automobile mount. The bar-mount seemed to provide a more protected positioning, and since I'm no electrician, I'm having my H-D dealer complete the wiring connection to avoid damage to the unit and to avoid possible battery drain when not in use.

The only negative issue I find with the Garmin 665 is that the receiver doesn't lock into the mount and must be removed for security when parking the bike unattended. I can't make excuses anymore for not being able to find where I need to be, and even though it's not inexpensive, you couldn't hire a reliable navigator as capable and as knowledgeable as the Garmin Zumo 665 Motorcycle Navigator.

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