★★★★★ | Zumo 396 LMT-S Sat Nav
These days, most of the cars I drive have factory SatNav. If not, I’ll use my Google maps on my phone in a holder, simples.
On the bike, I have persevered for ages, trying to strap my phone to a holder or, if it looks like rain, stopping regularly to check google maps on my phone then carrying on for a bit.
On the bike, I had to say enough was enough. The phone doesn’t work in the sun, isn’t waterproof and just isn’t practical. Time for a dedicated SatNav.
Garmin came to the rescue with the devices a rugged unit, comes complete with bar mounts (and suction mount for the car) and it has a glove-friendly, sunlight-readable 4.3″ display; resistant to fuel vapours, UV rays and harsh weather.
It’s rammed with features like WiFi updating, adventurous routing (forget boring A road slogs), live traffic, speed cameras and weather, as well as on-screen notifications from your phone and hands-free calling if you connect it to your Bluetooth headset. You get free lifetime maps too.
This Garmin is a genuinely clever bit of kit. To really turbocharge it you need to connect it to an app on your phone (doesn’t use much data at all) and then you get live traffic updates and re-routing options, notifications for sharp curves, speed cameras, rail and animal crossings, schools and slower traffic and even Incident notification (to alert the contact of your choice in the event of a crash by sending them a link to your location). Now that’s clever.
The more I use it, the more features I discover, like the fatigue warning that flashes up after a couple of hours, offering you suggested stops nearby.
There’s a TripAdvisor app for ratings of nearby restaurants, hotels etc and a Foursquare app for a list of restaurants and things to do nearby, I don’t really use that much but it’s a pretty good feature.
You can mount the unit easily with the supplied bar mount and brackets.
It has a decent battery: A full charge seems to last for about an hour and a half, then dims to 40% brightness and it’s around 3 hours in total until it turns off. You can, however, either hardwire it with the kit supplied (direct to battery or ignition) or plug it into a USB type 12v charging socket. The satnav simply clips to a spring-loaded holder so it’s really easy to unclip it from the bike when you’re at your destination.
The sidebar is fully customisable. Smart notifications can include alerts of emails, missed calls, SMS, WhatsApp, social media and more. Even things like elevation, traffic and other items like fuel stops ahead, trip data, weather (it’ll show you the expected weather at three points along your planned route), phone and the media player.
You can select what categories of alerts are shown, or turn them off altogether vid the apps menu.
The Zumo 396 LMT-S has car, motorcycle and off-road profiles. These affect the default route planning, map view, tools displayed, avoidances and off-route recalculation modes.
Stopping to check my phone has been a massive pain in the arse. I have to keep taking a glove off to get the touch screen to work. One of my favourite things on the Garmin is the touch screen. It works with a gloved hand… bliss. I’m sure others have it but it’s such a relief.
The Garmin Zumo 369 LMT-S seems to be very well sealed from the weather, I haven’t had an issue yet and have been out in pretty heavy rain.
Navigation is really good. That’s what this is about after all. The top bar shows information about the upcoming turn and distance, that kind of thing. There’s a clear map which you can change to suit you, and as you approach your exit, a clear illustration of your motorway junctions makes it easy to understand which lane to be in. Positioning accuracy is great and it doesn’t seem to lag much at all.
I’ve been running the Garmin Zumo 369 LMT-S in my car next to Google maps on my phone as a comparison.
I think Google Maps is slightly better when suggesting the best route and rerouting around traffic or issues. Google just seems to have slightly better information. Only slightly though and that’s more than offset by the myriad of awesome features on the Zumo.
The other main benefit I find with Google Maps is the address search. I visit customers all week. That means I don’t always know their address. With Google, I search up the business name and usually just click ‘directions’, which ports that info into Maps. Most aftermarket SatNavs I’ve used, including this Zumo (unless I’m doing it wrong), don’t have a great business name or address directory function.
In my opinion, this is a great unit. It’s bike specific, waterproof, touch screen you can use with a gloved hand and can see it in daylight and all the other cool features.
I really like it. It’s made a massive difference to my riding.
Available from Amazon for under £60
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