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12 January 2015


Split-Screen, showing a moving video of your upcoming turn.

Split-Screen, showing a moving video of your upcoming turn.


For 2015, all Spyder models with GPS will be offered with the all-new Garmin Zumo 590LM GPS, a quantum leap forward in GPS technology for motorsports. Quite frankly, the number of features and functions of this new unit are so extensive that I won’t even try to cover them all here—but let’s at least talk about the newest and most important ones.

First and foremost, to someone like me at least, is an optional routing function. You know how all previous GPS units, when asked to go to a certain destination, offered you either the shortest route or the fastest route, depending on how you had previously configured the units settings? Well now, when you choose a destination you can either tap “Go” and like previous models it will automatically route you according to your preferred settings, or you can tap “Routes” and the 590 will show you maps, distances and times for “Shortest,” “Fastest,” and (are you ready for this?) “Curvy Roads.” That’s right, with its much larger and faster processing unit, the 590LM can find you alternative curvy and scenic routes to your destination, and even tell you the difference in distance in time from your normal routing. To me, that function alone makes the new Zumo worth its weight in gold.


The split-screen “Up Ahead” function is terrific. Just choose which items you want included, like gas stations, rest stops, food, etc, and when you touch the bottom right corner of the screen, the Zumo lists what’s available on your route, and how soon. Touch any individual category, and it will give you a list of the next five coming up.

In the more mundane but still-important categories, here’s a quick list:

  1. A larger (5.0”) screen, with a new “sunlight-readable” technology and a more sensitive “glove-friendly” touchscreen. No more squinting through the sun glare.

    Even in the harshest direct sunlight, you can still read the new screen

    Even in the harshest direct sunlight, you can still read the new screen

  2. A “dual-orientation” mode that allows you to turn the unit on its end for a longer view of what’s ahead. Sort of like the way your smartphone adjusts when you turn it on its side. And yes, the mount is configured to do this.
  3. Free lifetime map upgrades.
  4. Optional real-time traffic alerts (subscription required).
  5. Smartphone Link. By pairing the GPS with your I-phone or Android phone, the GPS receives and displays almost anything your phone can access, like weather reports, real-time Doppler radar, internet radio, etc.
  6. Optional Tire Pressure Monitor. You will need to buy the $69.95 remote tire pressure sensors, but then the GPS can actually display your tire pressures.
  7. Split-Screen with “Active Lane Guidance.” Previous Zumos would switch back-and-forth from the map to a photo of an upcoming highway exit, but with the larger screen on the 590 it can now split into two active screens, one showing the map overview and the other showing not just a photo but a video of the upcoming exit and lane needed.
  8. A “Service History Log,” into which you can input complete service records for your bike and keep track of when maintenance needs to be done. I use the heck out of this, and love it!
  9. Optional remote-controlled video and still camera (more on that in a bit).
  10. “Round Trip.” A special built-in program that allows you to plan a scenic route by distance, duration, or to and from a specific location, and back home again within your allotted time frame. Very cool.
  11. “Instant-On.” Unlike all previous units, when the bike’s ignition is shut off the 590 goes into a standby mode, rather than fully-off. Then, when you get back on the bike and switch

    I love the Service History App for keeping track of my next oil change, filters, drive belt, etc.

    on the ignition, the Zumo 590 boots up into full-function mode within about two seconds. If you want to totally shut off the unit, you can do so by holding the on/off button down manually for about three seconds, but believe me, there’s no need. I have left my unit on standby for as much as 10 days straight without depleting the battery by even one-third. The standby mode uses almost no power at all.

  12. “Up Ahead.” This is another of my favorites. While navigating a pre-programmed route, you can simply touch the bottom right corner of the screen to bring up a one-third split-screen on the right (without disturbing your normal route map), that lists up to five different categories, (pre-chosen by you) of things that are “up ahead” on your route. For example, you might have yours set for “food,” “gas,” and “lodging.” The “Up Ahead” function will list the nearest of each of these on your route, and the time and distance away for each. Touch one category, like “gas,” and it will list the five nearest gas stations on your route, with mileage and time to each. How great is that?
  13. And of course all the usual little extras we’ve come to expect from Garmin are all built in, like a compass, a media player, a trip planner and full Bluetooth phone and headset compatibility.

Now for the tough questions: What does it cost and can I retrofit it to my current Spyder? Well, the unit isn’t quite as costly as I would have imagined, considering that years ago I spent nearly $1,000 for one of the original Zumo models. The new 590LM retails for $899.00 and I found at least two places on the internet selling it for $799.00. Not too bad for what you get. And as for fitting it onto your current Spyder, the answer is “Yes, you can. But it isn’t easy.” Unfortunately the mount and wiring harness are not the same as the previous 660 Zumo units put on Spyders, so to change over you have to install an all-new mount and wiring harness. For me, unwilling to try it myself, that meant about three hours of shop time.

cf-lgGarmin Virb

One of the extremely cool options for the new Zumo 590LM is the Garmin Virb Elite Camera. This compact, shock- and water-resistant video/still camera mounts almost anywhere on your Spyder or helmet and is operated either manually or through a wireless connection with your GPS. The camera has its own 1.4-inch full-color display and a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that lasts about three hours on a single charge. With an optional micro-SD card installed, it will hold up to five hours of high-definition video. The camera can be set to film in a variety of formats, definitions and speeds, including 120 fps for high-def slow-motion, zoom and ultra-zoom, or wide angle. It has image stabilization, an altimeter, accelerometer and even its own built-in GPS! Quite frankly, it is the most sophisticated micro-video system I’ve ever seen. The still photo function can be set to shoot in 8, 12, or 16MP resolution, and you can even choose a “burst mode” that will shoot any number of photos in a row, at whatever interval you choose. For example, I have mine set so that when I touch the “shoot” button (on the screen of my GPS), it takes four high-def photos in the span of three seconds, so I don’t miss that great shot of a bike going by. And here’s the most incredible part—it will shoot the still photos while you are already recording video, without interrupting the video! And all of this is done through a wireless interface with the Zumo 50LM GPS, simply by touching the screen. Amazing.

I chose to mount the Virb on my dash, but you could put it just about anywhere, since it is wireless.

I chose to mount the Virb on my dash, but you could put it just about anywhere, since it is wireless.


The large sliding switch on the side allows you to manually and immediately start a video recording. Just slide it forward and it turns on the unit and starts recording.

And finally, the Virb comes with a computer editing program through which you cannot only edit the main video, but add in the GPS, accelerometer and altimeter data that is recorded along with the video. That means you can add inset screens into your video that show a moving GPS map of exactly where the bike is during the video, with a dashboard showing your speed, engine RPM, altitude, and even the G-force as you’re going through a turn! And one last thing, if you have a Bluetooth headset, you can link to the camera and record real-time commentary into your video as you are riding.

The Virb Elite sells for about $275.00, but I have found it discounted on the internet for around $245.00. Believe it or not, I have barely touched the surface of what this GPS and camera together are capable of, which is why I offer this one small warning for both units: The complexity is such, and the new programming so different from previous units that it will take you quite a while to learn how to make everything work. Personally, I have had both units for two months now, and I figure I am proficient with about 75% of the functions. But it’s been great fun learning and experimenting!

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