Help with GPS purchase

I was going to purchase a gps for general purpose plus to use when I trail ride in unfamiliar areas and was wondering if anybody uses one, what kind and why. It would be a great help so I don't buy one that has more info. than I need or one that is not enough....thanks

My buddy just got one for Xmas and doesn't know how the hell he will use it. Said it had a two inch thick instruction book. This is the same guy that won't change the oil in his XR400 "cause it's a Honda, it's bulletproot". In other words, he is lazy. I seriously doubt he will ever use it.

I think once you learn how to use it, it would be invaluable. I know this isn't what you asked but Illinois is getting their butts kicked, my wife is in bed and I'm bored :)

I use a Garmin E-Trex. It's small, v. rugged, spray resistant, bright coloured and you can get a good quality bar mount for it too (for extra bucks). It was $250 Australian, should be like half that for real money.

It's got max speed, av. speed, all the usual things, plus it keeps a track of your progress that you can zoom in/out with, save tracks waypoints, and they say it's got 23hr battery life (2 x AA) though I've had it run out in 10 once.

Main thing it doesn't have is map a facility, your track is made on blank background... And it's just black & white not colour, but that doesn't really matter.

Weak point with the bar mount is it mounts via the battery cover, so after a couple of rough get-offs the cover clip actually broke, but replaced that under warranty and the second one seems stronger.

You'll always still need a map though :)


There are so many models to choose from now. I personally have a Garmin GPS12. It is excellent and reasonable in cost.($130.00ish). I use it while hunting mostly and have taken it with on long mountain trail rides to mark altitude and distances. I do not run it all day but turn it on when we stop and then turn it off again. Batteries will last 24 hours continuous. It can store 500 points and you can do routes and tracks and "track back" if you leave it on. Very cool feature in the dark or fog. You should also get a cheap compass too. Unless you are moving, it will not know which way is North. :)

I use a Garmin Etrex Venture, works very well when wanting to know which way the truck is.

Use the garmin handlebar mount between the bar mounts underneath the crossbar. Seems to keep it pretty well protected.

I would buy another one!


Good question. I've been messing around with GPS on a motorcycle for a few years now, mostly for mapping trails, but it does come in handy on the rare instance when you get lost. :)

After trying many makes and models of GPS receivers and have come to the conclusion that the Garmin e-Trex Vista best suits my needs. It's small, accurate, rugged, has lots of memory, includes a electronic compass (no moving required), and is easy to use. Mine lives in a hard shell case made by Accucase that is designed for the e-Trex. It goes in the backpack out of harms way and is on all the time while riding. It still receives a strong signal in the case that is in the backpack.

The best part about this unit is the way it works with the optional MapSource software offered by Garmin. I have the "Roads & Recreation" and "Topo" versions and can upload various levels of map detail, as well as waypoints & tracks, right onto the e-Trex. (Don?t was your money on the Topo version, get Roads & Rec). The mapping software covers all of north America, and all fire roads as well as most trails are included. Pretty cool stuff. After gathering tracks (riding), you can download the tracks & waypoints onto your computer and see where you've been.

Regardless what receiver you choose, check out geocaching (link below). Bryan, TT's founder, turned my on to this. It is great fun for kids and it teaches them about GPS. I do it to polish my GPS skills & have become addicted. At first it sounds stupid, but you would be surprised at the fun to be had for the whole family.

Helpful Links-

e-Trex Vista:

MapSource Software:



I am a GPS systems engineer, been working

it for 12 years for the navy/Marines.

Any garmin or Trimble is

gonna work for you. find em in a store

and see what feels best for you.

Also there is a bunch of systems @

they are the ones who run our professional

conferences and have a bunch of stuff for

sale on their site. read up and then

you may find a better price elsewhere but lots

of info there.

Howdy, I have the Garmin 12. I like it because it's cheap and pretty simple. Also with the GPS12 all of the buttons are on top for easy access when you are riding. I found a site that sells GPS's. They are pretty cool little devices.

Thanks Ron for the link to geocaching that looks pretty cool, My kids and I will try it out as soon as I get a GPS. I'm probably going with the garmin legend...

I run a Garmin GPS3 plus and it works great.

It has already payed for itself when I got lost in the bush. Without it I proberbly would still be lost.

Check out

I have the Garmin III+ and have been happy with it. I like the map features and being able to download maps. The unit has held up to alot of abuse on my bike, vibration shut off has been the only problem, but there are ways to cure this. The unit also saved my but when I got lost driving in Los Angeles a few days ago, hats off to all you southern cal drivers who put up with that daily :) .

I have over 6000 miles on my Garmin GPS III plus.

I never ride my bike without it attached unless I'm on a motocross track.

The GPS is my odometer, speedometer and map.

The Garmin GPS II through GPS V are better suited for handle bar mounting than the E-Trex unit. The compass feature on the E-Trex is a nice. You have to decide which is more important to you.

The best web source for info on GPS is

A good sources for GPS and motorcycle info is

Cycoactive and A-Loop carry Garmin GPS products and will 'harden' a Garmin GPS for motorycycle use. This will help keep the guts from shaking apart.

If you plan a handlebar mounting the GPS be sure to get an external power cable. The Garmin GPS II through V series will shut itself off because engine vibration causes the batteries bounce off the contacts.

I got involved in GPS because of my impared sense of direction. This is a major handicap for dual sport riding and the GPS has saved me from spending a night in the woods more than once.

Dan, My dad tells me that you are the GPS man!!!!! My group of friends are just getting into it. We've mapped out some great rides all over Nevada. I've been on 1000 mile rides using the garmin for direction. It's amazing how the little device can save you time and safety. I can remember a couple of years ago getting back to the trucks in total darkness from a ride in Nevada and the GPS took us back with no guessing at all.

Your statement about the batteries loosing contact is accurate!! I just cut plastic straws in half and down the middle then stuff them into the GPS and that seems to fix it no problem. Hard wiring works too. And the Rechargable Nimh's don't hold a charge at all.. (IMHO)

See ya, Dan

-Jetting hack

-GPS hack (but I follow really good). :)

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