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Best GPS option for an Enduro Dirt Bike

First, I am so new to GPS you may find humor in some of my comments that may or may not make any sense. :)

Back Story:
We love to take out our Dirt Bikes, but HATE how much time we waste trying to find the location on paper maps where we are going or where we are supposed to be. Our last trip to Green River UT was 4 hours riding and 4 hours looking at maps... I have seen some gps devices that will work for some of the more modern/electrical bikes, but those of us who have older more basic bikes suffer from lack of support. Examples are the Trail Tech Voyager GPS/Computers.

I looked at buying a Garmin Montana that was recomended to me, and while looking at the Montana 600T I LOVED how big the screen was. What I didn't like was that the basic TOPO map was Almost useless. Literally had not turn by turn, and everything was manual. I may just be new, and there may be some ppl laughing, but why buy the T version when the regular 600 has city and streets already loaded? Also, as big as the screen was, the handle bar mount positioned it in a way that required me to contantly look down to far. I would have to get a RAM mount to lift it up and place it at a better angle. And the brightness.... UGH... all the dust and glare made it almost impossible to see the screen with our tinted goggles. Suggestions here?

So i looked at Base Camp and I was able to "pen" out a route, but that took forever... Most of the trail was already registered as Unpaved roads.

So... Here is what I am looking for with advice...

1) What is the best GPS device recomended for both riding dirt trails and road (bike is street legal) and please add they why you think so.

2) What other items are needed to be purchased in addition to the GPS its self to make it possible to function correctly. I am quickly finding that there is no one magic ALL IN ONE.

Things I have been looking at:
As mentioned above, Garmin Montana
Garmin Rhino. Why it has a built in radio. Keep the wifes or base camp from worrying. Down side, no maps and small screen
Garmin Zumo. More street driven.

Thx all for your help with these questions.


  • Boyd 1999 Points
    edited June 2015
    The Montana 600t includes Garmin's US Topo 100k map. As you learned, this map is not routable. In order to provide turn by turn directions, a map must contain special data about all the streets and trails. The 100k topo does not have this data, so it cannot give you turn by turn directions.

    Why buy the t version? I don't know. ;) I wouldn't buy it, unless it was on sale for a really good price. It does have more internal memory than the regular 600 series (to accomodate the map).

    You assumption about the Montana 600 is not correct. It does not include any "usable" map. It has a basemap, which is really inaccurate and crude, not useful for any practical purposes.

    You need to buy the map separately. If routing is important to you, then Garmin's 24k topo series may be the best choice. These maps typically only cover a couple states and are pretty expensive. But the roads and trails are routable and can provide turn by turn directions from you starting point to your destination. The road data in the 24k topos is basically the same as Garmin's City Navigator map (found on the Nuvi series). Of course, a road needs to be on the map in order to use it in a route. If you are using little trails and unpaved roads, that might be a problem.

    The Montana is capable of using advanced track navigation however. So if you can find a track (.gpx file) from a friend or the internet, the Montana can give you turn by turn directions to follow it. This is not the same as a routable map though, you are limited to only navigating the pre-recorded track.

    Trying to "pen out a route" in basecamp is not a very practical solution for a trip of any length. You would have to trace each road exactly. And there are a limited number of points in route that can be sent to the GPS.

    The Zumo will include the City Navigator map, but you could add the 24k topo if you like. Considering the cost, this is an expensive way to go.

    There are a variety of apps for both iOS and Android that might work - I like Galileo on iOS and Oruxmaps on Android. This gets complicated and is really too much to cover here in one post. Routing is frankly not a strength of these apps. They are mostly used with non-routable maps.
  • Interesting, that does not make it any easier.
    You mentioned .gpx files, I have heard about these but not familiar with them. Suggestions on where I can learn more about this?
    I was also told I can do a google map overlay. Again no directions, but gives a good satellite view. Does it help? Is it worth it?

    While at a store, I saw two different maps to purchase:
    Hunting TOPO 24k
    TREX 24k

    Good vs bad?
  • Boyd 1999 Points
    edited June 2015
    Not familiar with those maps. I was talking about the 24k topo series

    .gpx is a universal format for exchanging tracks, waypoints and routes. It is used by all Garmin devices and software such as Basecamp. There are websites such as where you can download other peoples' tracks. They might be filled with errors of course, and may include wandering around off the trails. Personally I don't use these. Garmin also has something called "adventures" that you can upload/download. I don't know anything about them however.

    Newer devices like the Montana can use something Garmin calls "custom maps", which are .kmz files. Here's an example of how to make a simple one. This is only useful for very small maps. The image can be no larger than 1024x1024 pixels.

    There's other software such as g-raster and mapc2mapc that can make larger, more complex maps of this type. But it is still a very limited format. If you used a satellite image at the resolution of 1 foot per pixel, you could only cover an area about 4 miles x 5 miles.

    If you want satellite imagery, a better solution is Garmin Birdseye. $30 subscription allows unlimited downloads for a year. And no real size limits, except what will fit on a memory card.

    Of course, there is no routing on such a map by itself. But you coul also enable a map like City Navigator and the roads would be shown on top of the satellite image. I think the $30 subscription is very reasonable, and I have a Montana that I like a lot. The screen is big and bright, but satellite imagery looks very dull on it for some reason, much worse that it would look on a phone or tablet. I guess this is the compromise they made in using a transreflective screen (one that can be seen with the backlight turned off).
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