Hey all you tech GPS heads...

I've had my GPS III+ for about one and a half years. So far I've sent it back to Garmin twice for warrantee work. I've never mounted it on my motorcycle handlbars because I don't trust the effect of the vibration. This weekend I did mount it on my bars using the Ram mount I bought from CycoActive. It worked OK but kept shutting off. I read on this forum and CycoActives website that this is a known problem with the GPS III+ and is due to the batteries loosing contact while riding. I can spend the time and money to hard wire it to my bike but this is getting old and I'm still not sure it won't crap out again anyway.

I see that the Garmin Etrix Vista has a handlebar mount and has TONS more memory for downloading maps and data.

Has anyone on this forum used the Etrix Vista on a motorcycle with a handlebar mount? Can this unit withstand the rigors of offroad motorcycle riding (unlike my GPS III+)? Can you download the Mapsource topo data to the Vista like you can the GPS III+?


Great post.......I'll be very interested if there is an answer. I too have a Garmin III+ - but have not had a lick of trouble with it.


You talkin to me??? (I guess I'm a tech GPS head.)

If you haven't already, check out this link: www2.garmin.com/outdoor/compare.jsp to compare the features. The eTrex Vista definitely has some plusses-larger display, lighter, more memory, barometric altimeter, magnetic compass, etc.

BUT, there also seems to be drawbacks to that model that apply specifically to motorcycles. The controls are on the side of the unit--great if you're holding it in your hand, but bad if you want to mount it on the handlebars and use it while moving. The screen can't be oriented horizontally. The voltage is only 2.5V. That would make it very difficult to use external power. With the battery life of only 12 hours, compared to 36 for the III+ (2 AA vs 4 AA is 6 hrs/batt vs 9 hrs/batt, respectively) it would be more expensive to run. They also cost more than the III+.

Finally, I'm on my third GPS (Lowrance Globalnav 12), which I have mounted to my handlebars using a RAM mount. My first 2 vibrated themselves into oblivion while still under warranty. The one I'm using now somehow lasted past the warranty period, so I opened it up and used hot glue to "harden" it. Aloop sells vibration-hardened GPS III+ units for $329. If you already have one, the hardening costs $44. Since I hardened mine, it hasn't had any problems. I know several people who use a hardened GPS III+ and haven't had any problems.

All in all, I'd stick with the III+ if I were you. And take the time to hard wire it to your bike. It's well worth the effort!

Just getting into GPS navigation on a dirt bike myself...These people have been very helpful. www.bajagpsguide.com

Just bought the GPSIII+ from Aloop and was pre-"hardened".

Aloop told me the main difference between the GPS III+ and the EMAP was that the GPS III+ could be dismantled and hardened and the EMAP was welded shut. Also, the III+ is waterproof and the EMAP is not. III+ has a horizontal layout and can be changed to vertical layout. EMAP is only vertical and won't fit the "cockpit" of a bike as well.

I went with the III+ on major recommendation from Aloop. I hope it was a good call!

Bryan, I've had my Garmin III+ for a couple of years now and had the same problems of it shutting off from vibration. Since I have not hard wired the unit yet, here's what I've done to help the situation. Buy the best batteries you can get like Duracell Ultra or good rechargable batteries. Then I take electrical tape and make one round on the two outside batteries and also clean the contact points on the unit. With the duracell Ultra batteries and using the tape to help on the vibration the unit has worked flawlessly at the Pine Ridge Enduro and two good day's riding in the Black Hills SD(fairly rocky and rough), all on this one set of batteries, where before I was lucky to get one day. Give it a try until you get it wired.......TW


99 WR400




Bryan, This is a very common problem, TW is on the right track, my Garmin 12 use to shut itself off just after I got the bike started from the vibration. I use drinking straws to take up the slack in the battery compartment, all you have to do is cut the straw long ways and open up the straw so it will fit around the batteries, you should be able to slide it in between the batteries and the compartment. Tape would work also but since my unit is a battery hog I think I would spend too much time wrapping the batteries than riding. Rechargable's havnt worked that great for me also, by the time you get to your destination you'll have to charge'em up and who wants to carry the charger around, I usually ride to casino's in Nevada and most of them have gift shops full of batteries, cigars and Coors lights...

Good luck buddy!



Ive had my GPS III hard wired to my Polaris Sport 400 , AKA (The Recovery and support Vehicle) for a couple of years. I ride the 4 wheeler just as hard as my WR and have had no problems.

Hey Bryan,

I have over 3000 miles on my Garmin GPS III+ mounted on my WR 400. You have to wire the unit for external power to get around the vibrating battery problem. External power cables are available from a company called Blue Hills Innovations. You can find a link on the best GPS site on the web. http://joe.mehaffey.com/

The most useful advice about GPS and bikes I got was from Victor Johnson. His home page is



Old guy and GPS geek

I am really impressed with the etrex vista! I have one on order and should be here next week. I ordered the handlebar mount.

I started doing research after my trip to Michigan and getting lost a few times, then some guy rode up with a GPS and showed me the route out.

Except for an external antenae hookup (which you wouldn't use on the dirt bike anyway) the vista has tons of features that would be useful for me.

-Built-in compass


-Trip Computer (check against my topeak in an enduro)

-Downloadable maps

-Both tracks and routes

-Higher accuracy


-24 MB ram

-backlit display

-no external antenae to break-off

While the GPSIII+ is marketed for mobile usage, I am not sure they had dirt bikes in mind. The Vista is for outdoor use and specifically list motorcycles and ATV's as applications.

To wrap this up.....the Vista does take maps, the Topo from the III+ and others. As far as the buttons on the sides comment...true but, there is actually a mini joy stick on the top face of the Vista that can perform all of the functions that the side buttons do. It is very slick.

Finally, you have a pretty good unit already...I'm not sure I would upgrade unless yours craps out or you sell it to someone else.

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