Garmin Zūmo XT2 Review [Motorcycle GPS Navigator]

The new Garmin Zūmo XT2 adds screen size, brightness, and enhanced functionality to the highly regarded Zūmo XT. With a $100 MSRP uptick from the XT model, the $600 Zūmo XT2 has a 15 percent larger screen and is noticeably brighter than its predecessor. The new Tread smartphone app for the XT2, which is not backward compatible with the XT, adds functionality; it is a significant update. I mounted the XT and the XT2 side-by-side on the Ultimate Motorcycling Yamaha Ténéré 700 Project Bike to get a live, visual comparison while riding.

Garmin Zumo XT2 Review - Motorcycle GPS Unit: For Sale

I have plenty of experience with Garmin GPS products for automobiles and motorcycles. I started with the Garmin eTrex 20 years ago on my dirt bike for navigating 200-mile off-road rides through the Mojave Desert. I mounted a Garmin Nüvi on my Honda Spirit 1100 and kept a sandwich bag in my pocket to cover it when it rained. In 2020, I got the Zūmo XT. It has led me on tours far and wide, never letting me down. The XT2 makes planning, sharing, and group riding a real connected experience.

Before the Garmin Zūmo XT2, I had two choices when my riding buddy asked me to share our next ride’s waypoints. I could map it out on Garmin Basecamp, export it to my hard drive, and then email it to him, or go to an online map program, key in all the waypoints, and then export them in KML format, convert them to GPX points, and then email them to my friend.

Now, using the new Tread app on my iPhone (Android is also available), I can map out our route and save it. From inside the Tread app, I can initiate an email or text of the GPX file to my friend, skipping many steps—and it automatically syncs to the XT2. If I create the route on the XT2 and save it, it will automatically sync to the Tread app, and then I can email or text the GPX file to my friend.

Garmin Zumo XT2 Review - Motorcycle GPS Unit: Tread App

Both the Tread app and the XT2 allow me to set a start point, add stops and shaping points, find gas stations, food, places to sleep, and points of interest, and easily create a route segment or the whole route for our ride.

Garmin calls the new Zūmo XT2’s on-screen ride creator a “visual route planner”. Creating whole routes on both the Tread app and the XT2 is intuitive. This feature makes it very easy to change your route due to weather, or when discovering a new point of interest. You save the route on your phone and share it wirelessly. When outside of cell service coverage, you can save to a microSD card in your XT2 and hand it to your riding partners to upload the old-fashion way.

The Garmin Zūmo XT2 retail box holds the 12-ounce GPS unit, a USB-C cable, a universal motorcycle handlebar mount kit, and a power cord that connects directly to your battery with included crimp-on ring terminals. Garmin phone supports confirms that the XT2 mount draws one milliamp when connected to the battery directly, even without the GPS in the cradle.

Garmin Zūmo XT2 Review: Compared to XT
Left: Garmin Zūmo XT. Right: Bigger and brighter Garmin Zūmo XT2.

I secured the provided U-clamp and RAM mount riser to the crossbar above the Ténéré 700 speedo, next to my XT mount. For power, I connected to an accessory power connection that is live only when the key is on. The XT and the XT2 cannot be powered for navigation by their USB-C ports. Also, the XT2 fits into the XT cradle, but the XT does not fit into the XT2 cradle.

Before I opened the box, I downloaded and experimented with the Tread app on my iPhone 14, creating a few future rides to get to know the app. I then opened the XT2 box and went through its easy setup procedure. I clicked around on the various screens and saw that all the waypoints and routes I had in the Garmin Explore app from my previous XT planning and use were already on the XT2. The new routes I had created, just getting to know the Tread app, were already synced to my new XT2!

If you and your riding partner or group are in a cell service area, you can activate the new Group Ride feature of the Tread app and the Zūmo XT2. It uses cellular system connectivity of your phones to give everyone on the Group Ride a visual location reference on their Tread app map. If the group gets separated, everyone can see where everyone else is, and re-establish the ride when everyone gets back together.

An unexpected feature of the Tread app location visualization is that a non-riding person, such as a nervous significant other who stayed home, can see where you and your Garmin Zūmo XT2 are via the Tread app. To monitor the ride, the other person needs the Tread app and a personal Garmin account, though not a Garmin GPS unit. A six-character Group Ride code created by your XT2 provides access, and can be delivered via email, text, or QR code.

If you will be out of cell range, Garmin has a Group Ride Radio accessory ($400 MSRP) that attaches to the XT or XT. Everyone running the Group Ride Radio will have a connection up to two miles for map location and voice communication.

We didn’t test the Garman Group Ride Radio, but this is how it works: If your group is in an area where the Tread app has no cell connectivity and low visibility between riders—due to tight turns, trees, hills, or other obstacles—someone might miss a turn and lose the pack. With the riders having a Group Ride Radio attached to their own XT or XT2, the group can see each rider, and each rider can see the group. In addition, you can speak over the Group Ride Radio via the unit’s physical hand-held microphone or through your connected Bluetooth helmet communications unit. Also, you can talk when out of normal helmet comms range. However, the interface is a bit clunky—you must press a push-to-talk button on your GPS screen.

The Zūmo XT2 is water-resistant, rated at IPX7, which means I don’t have to put a sandwich bag over it when it rains, but I don’t take it scuba diving looking for a shipwreck either. The screen is bright and clear, even with the sun shining directly on it; I never had an issue seeing it. I have used it with winter gloves, summer gloves, and in the rain—the screen is always responsive. The live traffic feature, fed through the Tread app, helps avoid slowdowns or unexpected route closures.

The TracBack feature reverses the course you are on and directs you out the way you came in. I forgot it was there and created a crumb line of waypoints on a ride when I was concerned that I might be unable to find my way out of an unfamiliar forest. TracBack is much more convenient to use. When the unit is connected to Wi-Fi, you can update maps and keep its software current.

Garmin Zumo XT2 Review - Motorcycle GPS Unit: MSRP

Using the new XT2 and the older XT side-by-side for a 470-mile day, they were totally in sync. They simultaneously showed the same speed, action, turn indication, and alerts. However, despite the pair being on an even plane at eye level, I found myself checking the XT2 more often because the larger screen was easier on my eyes.

Creating routes on the Tread app and on the Zūmo XT2 is easy. The visual imagery of interchanges depicted beside the route is beneficial in congested areas. The XT2 has easy on-screen route planning, a large brightly lit screen, and long battery life. The Tread app provides you with connectivity and functionality. Put this all together, and the Garmin Zūmo XT2 is a significant upgrade over the XT for planning functionality, screen brightness, and display size (though not resolution), making it well worth the $100 additional asking price.

Garmin Zūmo XT2 Fast Facts

  • GPS: 10 Hz Multi-GNSS Positioning
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 6.15” x 3.5” x 1.0”
  • Weight: 12 ounces
    Display type: TFT touchscreen
  • Display resolution: 1280 x 720 pixels (six-inch diagonal)
  • Battery type: Rechargeable lithium-ion
  • Battery life: Up to 7 hours (5 hours when 100 percent backlit)
  • Internal storage: 32 GB, plus microSD card slot (up to 256 GB)
    Bluetooth connectivity: Standard
  • Wi-Fi connectivity: For software and map updates

Garmin Zūmo XT2 Price: $600 MSRP