Garmin Zūmo XT Review: Motorcycle-Specific GPS Navigation

The new Garmin Zūmo XT GPS is a full functionality, motorcycle-specific GPS. It has fast response, a big and bright daylight screen, and gives you glove-compatible duplication of many of your smartphone features.

The Garmin Zūmo XT boots in seconds, connects to the global satellite network quickly, and its North American maps are preloaded. Not only does it have millions of points of interest at your fingertips, but it also gives you built-in TripAdvisor ratings. The Zūmo XT creates routing almost as fast as your smartphone and has pre-installed apps and connected programs that expand its usefulness far beyond point-to-point navigation.

Garmin Zūmo XT GPS Review: Motorcycle Travel

When you open the box, the first thing you see is a big sticker: “Welcome! This product is ready to use”—and it is. You won’t need to read the manual if you want to hop on your bike and go from A to B. Just type in the address on the glove-friendly keyboard and go. If you want to find the twistiest way to get from A to B, it will show you via an on-screen slide switch the most adventurous route.

To get the full value from the features of the Zūmo XT, you need to do some connectivity. You will want to register it on Garmin’s website, pair it with the Garmin Drive app on your smartphone, and with your helmet Bluetooth. For additional ride planning, download Garmin Basecamp to your desktop or laptop computer. For some of us, these are all standard components of setting up a new internet-connected device; for those less technical, Garmin makes it all easy and intuitive.

The Garmin Zūmo XT comes with a full handlebar RAM mount and a power cord to your battery. If you want to use the really cool feature of suggesting gas stops, then you have to be hardwired to the battery. Otherwise, you can use the included Mini-USB cable or get up to six hours on the battery alone. The thoughtful folks at Garmin provide four zip ties to help with the routing of the power cord.

Garmin Zūmo XT GPS Review: Motorcycle Touring

The Zūmo XT RAM mount is a clip-in holder that appears to be secure, though I suggest you confirm that it is actually clicked in before heading off on a ride. The mount holds the Zūmo XT in either landscape or portrait orientation. If you decide to change orientation, you will need to stop, loosen the glove-friendly wing nut, swivel the GPS, and then re-tighten the mount. I don’t think this is an issue—after the first few rides, you will know which orientation you prefer.

There are many ways to get to know all the features of the Zūmo XT. The easy-to-follow manual is actually viewable on the unit, taking up just a bit of the 32 GB internal data storage space. Don’t be afraid to tap on the icons and see what they do. If you just want a large screen, fast response, rugged, waterproof (IPX 7) GPS for navigation, and don’t want all the awesome features I will be describing later, then you will still want the Garmin Zūmo XT on your handlebars.

The Garmin Zūmo XT has Wi-Fi connectivity, so you don’t need to access a computer to get free lifetime software and map updates. The 5.5-inch 720p screen has room for all kinds of route and travel info, in addition to the map navigation.

Visually, you see lane information, your speed, and junction signs, plus alerts for sharp curves, school zones, exceeding the posted speed limit, and more. You can see the current time on the screen—not all competitive GPS do that—or 23 other bits of selectable info in place of the time, such as when the sun will set, time to destination, time to next stop, your elevation or fuel range.

Garmin Zūmo XT GPS Review: Price

For those of us who want more than just quick, easy to follow, read aloud navigation instructions from our GPS, Garmin has built the kitchen sink in, too. Although my iPhone is mounted directly in front of me on my Yamaha Venture, there is no way to access it without taking a glove off. When you connect to your smartphone and choose to, the Zūmo XT glove-compatible screen allows you to see and hear popups of all your smartphone text messages and notifications.

Your phone’s music library is at your glove tips, too. You can see current weather radar within a 250-mile radius, see your current location’s temperature, six-day forecast, and road conditions, as well as answer or reject phone calls.

Traffic conditions display on the map screen, and the GPS offers rerouting suggestions with time to destination changes. If you own a Garmin inReach satellite communicator, you can seamlessly connect, control, and communicate with it through the large Zūmo XT screen and keyboard.

I am going to be doing an off-road ride soon, and I searched the web for GPS tracks for a fun adventure route near me. The Garmin Basecamp program made importing the GPX (GPS eXchange format) routes I found on the web easy and stress-free.

Garmin Zūmo XT GPS Review: MSRP

I used the Garmin Basecamp program to plan my next trip to Sturgis and to average eight hours of saddle time per day. I know from experience that keeping it moving, but not hustling, on all interstates, I average about 55 miles per hour for the day.

The Basecamp program asks you how many days you want to take and how many hours you will be in the seat each day. It calculates where your nightly stops should be, based upon travel hours. Travel hours don’t take into account stopping for breakfast, lunch, scenic rest stops, extra bathroom breaks, and several fuel stops. If you want to pull in to the motel at 4 p.m. instead of 6 p.m., I suggest you tell Basecamp an hour or two less than your actual desired day-length.

There are many more features to discover when you get your Garmin Zūmo XT. The Track Recorder, Where I’ve Been, a Service History log, the Round Trip creator, and more, all add to the value of this newest Garmin motorcycle-specific GPS. This is the right GPS for any type of rider or riding style, on- or off-road.

Priced at $500 with a one-year warranty, the Garmin Zūmo XT is a feature-packed computer navigation system that can also be a glove-friendly mirror of your smartphone. If you are using your smartphone as your GPS and music player, and you are frustrated with its limitations, then get yourself a Garmin Zūmo XT and let the adventure begin.

Garmin Zūmo XT Specs

  • Height: 3.5 inches
  • Width: 5.8 inches
  • Depth: 1.0 inch
  • Weight: 9.2 ounces
  • Waterproofing rating: IPX7
  • Drop rating: MIL-STD-810
  • Display size: 4.8 x 2.7 inches (5.5 inches diagonally)
  • Display resolution: 1280 x 720 pixel
  • Battery: Rechargeable lithium-ion
  • Battery life: 3.5 hours at 100-percent backlight

Garmin Zūmo XT Price: $500 MSRP