July 19, 2006

New GPS: Garmin Zumo 550, GPS for Motorcycles


Garmin announced the debut of Zumo 550, designed from the ground-up to exceed the demands of motorcyclists. This will compete head to head with the TomTom Rider, as both have glove friendly controls, Bluetooth to helmet audio capability, and are waterproof. Garmin has loaded this up with some interesting features, and some nice touches. Fuel reminders with an easy route to gas stations, review your tracks on Google Earth when you get home, and swap trips and waypoints with other Zumo's.

“The Garmin Zumo is designed by motorcyclists for motorcyclists, so it naturally includes hardware and software features that make the device stand out from any other navigator on the market,” said Gary Kelley, Garmin’s vice president of marketing. “Garmin has long been known as a pioneer in satellite navigation in aircraft, boats, cars, so we’re proud to be able to offer a unit that stands up to the demands of motorcyclists and a motorcycle’s demanding environment.”

Zumo boasts a 3.5-inch (diagonal) high-bright, sunlight readable touchscreen display, encased in a waterproof (IEC 529 IPX-7 standards) housing made of plastics that resist damage from fuel splashes and UV light. In addition to the touchscreen, zūmo has four dedicated left-handed buttons for quick input. Zumo is equipped with a high-sensitivity GPS receiver, which acquires and maintains a GPS signal even in heavy foliage or “urban canyons” created by city skyscrapers. The navigator also features solid state memory, which mitigates the effects of vibration, shock, cold, heat – and displays and redraws maps faster. Zūmo is secured to the motorcycle with a locking mount that has waterproof power and data cable connections and is able to withstand the severe vibration environment commonly experienced in motorcycle riding. A rechargeable user-removable lithium-ion battery (three hour typical use) is integrated into Zumo for trip planning or use on foot. (I'll take it, but 3 hours isn't that much.)

Bluetooth capability makes it possible for riders to retrieve and dial numbers using a supported phone’s contact list or from the phone’s call history log. A user can also make calls from Zumo's huge points of interest database that includes hotels, restaurants, stores, and much more. In addition, the Bluetooth connectivity also gives motorcyclists the ability to receive and place phone calls as well as receive turn-by-turn voice prompts wirelessly to Bluetooth enabled headsets or helmets. More than 200 Bluetooth phones are supported.

Zumo features a 10-thousand point tracklog, allowing users to record even the longest of rides – and the included MapSource DVD even lets motorcyclists relive a memorable tour on their home computer through the 3-D Google Earth interface. Riders can also plan upcoming trips on their computer, and swap routes and waypoints with other zūmo owners via the unit’s SD card slot.

Users can also access zūmo’s trip computer page for trip information like speed, heading, and a customizable fuel gauge that allows users to define their motorcycle’s maximum fuel range. When Zumo calculates that the motorcycle is low on fuel, it automatically reminds the rider and suggests a route to a nearby gas station. Zumo even has a compass page and accepts electronic topo maps -- making it the ultimate off-road navigator. For those long trips, riders can stay entertained with zūmo’s built-in MP3 player.

Zumo comes pre-loaded with full North American data, and includes millions of points of interest – places like hotels, restaurants, gas stations, and attractions. Full and partial European map versions are also available. Zumo gives turn-by-turn directions via multiple language and gender voice guidance with spoken street names and either 3-D or 2-D maps. The map data is provided by NAVTEQ – a world leader in premium-quality mapping. The device also allows customers to load customized points of interest (POIs) such as safety cameras and school zones, and zumo is compatible with Garmin’s Tour Guide – a free utility that allows users to build and upload a database of POIs that are encoded with photos and MP3 files. For added versatility, zūmo is also compatible with Garmin Travel Guides, and SaversGuide.

Real-Time Traffic
Real-time traffic is an option through either an FM RDS-TMC (Traffic Message Channel) traffic receiver or XM NavTraffic (U.S. only) receiver. When the optional traffic service is activated, Zumo calculates routes that navigate around traffic. Accidents, road construction, or other incidents affecting traffic are graphically represented as icons on the navigation map. Information relating to a traffic incident is also available including the precise location, lanes affected, and the predicted duration. Customers selecting the XM NavTraffic receiver can also access XM’s weather forecasts, current conditions, and county warnings as well as over 170 channels of XM Radio.

Riders can personalize zūmo to match their particular bike’s color scheme and attitude with custom caps. Silver and black caps come standard with the unit, and others are available on the Garmin website. Owners can also customize Zumo opening splashscreen to depict a one-of-a-kind photo with the help of the unit’s jpeg picture viewer. And because even the most dedicated rider sometimes travels by car, Zumo comes with an automotive mount and speaker – making the unit ideal for virtually any type of road trip. Zūmo is also equipped with Garmin Lock™, an anti-theft system that disables the unit until the owner types in a specific 4-digit PIN or takes the unit to a predetermined secure location.

The Zumo 550 comes with pre-loaded City Navigator NT map data and companion DVD-ROM, a motorcycle mount and mounting hardware with 12/24 volt power cable, an automotive mount with 12v cigarette lighter power cable, carrying case, logo stickers, AC charging cable, dashboard adhesive disk, USB interface cable, owner’s manual on disc, and quick reference guide. Zumo 550 is expected to be available in October 2006. List price is around $999.

ReadMore on the Zumo 550 at the Garmin website.

Read More in: GPS News | Garmin GPS News | Motorcycle GPS

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Posted by Scott Martin at July 19, 2006 9:55 AM

Recent Comments

I've been using the Garmin Quest for a year now. It doesn't boost water proof. I have been in pouring rains for hours during a long trips. I never covered the unit and it never faltered. What's with the water proof for 30 minutes .... who's going to ride their bike in a lake? There are some new features in the newer models but are they worth another $800 .... I guess that is up to you.

Posted by: Robert A at December 11, 2006 9:52 AM

The only other direct competitor of the Zumo 550 is the TomTom Rider at this point. Both are designed exclusively for Motorcycle use, and both have similar prices. Now there are alternatives, but you sacrifice some key features, like waterproofness or a touchscreen, or Bluetooth capability.

Posted by: Scott Martin at August 27, 2006 9:03 AM

Rediculous price. Garmin makes a good product, but other models/manufactures offer more features for so much less. The Topo maps thing is great if you are into Off Roading. When I qualify for Baja, I'll spend the grand. but until then will keep $500 in my wallet.

And I'll use my cell phone when I am stopped.

Posted by: Bob at August 26, 2006 8:47 PM
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