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Author Topic: Why Garmin motorcycle GPS's are so expensive?  (Read 2583 times)
RaananC
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« on: February 11, 2013, 05:24:54 PM »
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Does it really cost that much to make a GPS to be waterproof?
« Last Edit: February 11, 2013, 10:07:02 PM by RaananC » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2013, 05:36:39 PM »
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Probably not. I bought a Garmin that was made for auto use...a Nuvi 1490.  I think it cost $140.  That's on my G650GS.  I figured that it was a throw-away if worse came to worst.  Sure enough, I got caught in a frog strangler for two days and the cheap Nuvi started to take on water.  I did the baggie with rice trick and now it's OK but can't trust it in the rain again.  As a side note, the Nuvi did not do well when out on the really rural roads on TN.  About 1/3 of the time I was on roads that did not show up on the Nuvi...in any form at all.  I could not load topo maps.  This might be the penalty I paid for a bargain basement unit.  At any rate, my experiment did not work out well when I was trying to follow the Trans America Trail.  I have a matching unit for the car and it seems to be OK since I do not take the car out into the boondocks.  After this experiment I went with a motorcycle specific GPS on the NTX and have no regrets (now that I have forgotten what I paid for it).

Bottom line, the waterproof part is important but I think you also get more useful functions on the cycle specific unit.

Peter Y.
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« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2013, 05:55:33 PM »
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And I believe they are ruggedized to take more vibration. Been using my Z550 since January '08. It was pricey but I figure I have gotten my worth. It has worked well for nearly 5 years now.

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« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2013, 05:58:26 PM »
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Probably not. I bought a Garmin that was made for auto use...a Nuvi 1490.  I think it cost $140.  That's on my G650GS.  I figured that it was a throw-away if worse came to worst.  Sure enough, I got caught in a frog strangler for two days and the cheap Nuvi started to take on water.  I did the baggie with rice trick and now it's OK but can't trust it in the rain again.  As a side note, the Nuvi did not do well when out on the really rural roads on TN.  About 1/3 of the time I was on roads that did not show up on the Nuvi...in any form at all.  I could not load topo maps.  This might be the penalty I paid for a bargain basement unit.  At any rate, my experiment did not work out well when I was trying to follow the Trans America Trail.  I have a matching unit for the car and it seems to be OK since I do not take the car out into the boondocks.  After this experiment I went with a motorcycle specific GPS on the NTX and have no regrets (now that I have forgotten what I paid for it).

Bottom line, the waterproof part is important but I think you also get more useful functions on the cycle specific unit.

Peter Y.

What m/c-specific GPS do you use now that loads topo maps?

I have an early 550 and it suffers from the well-known ever-shrinking number of maps it can accept.  I much prefer topos, too, but have not seen one.

Thanks.

Bill
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« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2013, 07:22:07 PM »
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My new z550 ate it's the negative power pin on the mount and the unit. Replacement has just done the same after less than 2 years and 20,000 miles. Have not contacted Garmin again for another refurbished unit.
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« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2013, 08:37:13 PM »
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Smartphone loaded with any form of offline (and online) maps. Traffic reports. Weather reports.
Waterproof handlebar mount for $5. I haven't used my Garmin for a LONG time.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/160867148386?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649
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« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2013, 08:59:49 PM »
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What Wayne said. Save your money on a motorcycle specific GPS and either use a smartphone or a $100 automotive GPS. The cheap automotive units are water resistant enough with a simple zip lock bag. The case Wayne showed the link to for a smartphone is an excellent route to take. Save your money on the MC GPS for another set of tires.

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« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2013, 10:00:30 PM »
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Smartphone loaded with any form of offline (and online) maps. Traffic reports. Weather reports.
Waterproof handlebar mount for $5. I haven't used my Garmin for a LONG time.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/160867148386?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649

Thanks Wayne, that is a great solution. And don't worry Mark I wasn't going to spend around $700 on an MC GPS, I have better use for it like a 4 into 1 exhaust for my GS750, I was just wondering why those MC GPS are so expensive?
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« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2013, 10:35:20 PM »
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 Wink   


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« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2013, 11:24:12 PM »
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I was just wondering why those MC GPS are so expensive?

I was always under the impression from Garmin, they they have a LOT of $$ tied up in the maps.
Garmin has to spread the cost of maps over 1 million people. Google has them spread over 500 million people.
But with time the map costs even for Garmin should have gotten much cheaper, but they still hold the devices at a pretty hefty cost.

Also note that many smart phones now have GPS and Glonass chip sets. So your location is determined much faster and more accurately then GPS. The chip sets are cheap. I haven't seen Garmin advertising enhancements like that.
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« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2013, 06:19:05 AM »
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What m/c-specific GPS do you use now that loads topo maps?

I have an early 550 and it suffers from the well-known ever-shrinking number of maps it can accept.  I much prefer topos, too, but have not seen one.

Thanks.

Bill

Bill, you can load the maps on the SD card. I have been doing that for a couple of years now. Furthermore, Garmin had shrunk the base map and lost info pop ups for XM weather data. I have reloaded the large base map and gotten all that back. Also, replaced the touch screen for less than 20 bucks. I have the complete detailed map on the SD card, US, Canada, Mexico.

Zoom Zoom,
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« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2013, 06:34:44 AM »
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Bill, you can load the maps on the SD card. I have been doing that for a couple of years now. Furthermore, Garmin had shrunk the base map and lost info pop ups for XM weather data. I have reloaded the large base map and gotten all that back. Also, replaced the touch screen for less than 20 bucks. I have the complete detailed map on the SD card, US, Canada, Mexico.

Zoom Zoom,
John Henry

John.....I've never used an SD car in my Z550 and have been wanting to get one. What type/size do you use??
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« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2013, 06:46:00 AM »
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It's been in there for some time. I can't recall if it is 12 or 16 gig. (Much larger than they claim it will support BTW, although I recall there was a firmware update many moons ago that let you take it to an advertised 2 gig. After that was when I put the bigger card in.) Tha complete map is now about 2.2 gig. I have the loaded more of the card with music, with space to spare.

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« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2013, 07:34:42 AM »
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What m/c-specific GPS do you use now that loads topo maps?


Bill, I have a Zumo 350 on the NTX but have not loaded any topo maps yet.  When Leafman60 led me off the beaten path in NC last fall it would have been helpful to have the topo maps but I have been too lazy to explore the issue more.  I see that Garmin sells the topo maps but they ain't cheap.  Surely there is an aftermarket source that is more reasonable.

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« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2013, 10:16:09 AM »
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I use CoPilot GPS software on my smartphone (and tablet).  The maps are downloaded.  Cost is $29.95

I have a RAM weatherproof box for it as well as a universal 'clip' mount from RAM (doesn't rain much out here Smiley ).  I have also slipped a plastic bag over it in an emergency.

I tried a separate GPS for a while (car unit) but it didn't really add anything and was a separate 'thing' that had to be mounted and powered.  The only thing left to do is sew some of that conductive material into the fingertips of my gloves Smiley
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« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2013, 04:44:25 PM »
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I use the Garmin made for cars but I put the plastic bag on BEFORE the rainstorm. Or, if rain's on the way put it in the saddlebag and go the low tech old fasioned way w/o GPS.
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« Reply #16 on: February 12, 2013, 07:54:17 PM »
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One of the drawbacks of an inexpensive GPS is they will not accept custom routes. You can download custom routes to both the 550 and 660 Garmin units. You can build routes on Google maps and Mapquest, but the one that works best is Garmin's Base Camp. That is why I got a 660. Well that and the fact that it is water and vibration resistant.
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« Reply #17 on: February 12, 2013, 10:12:38 PM »
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I have an old Garmin 2720 that is waterproof and I have had it since 2005.  It works great and I bought lifetime maps which they still support.  I don't know how much longer they will support the 2720 but it has been excellent.  I noticed that on the last update of North America it didn't do Mexico.  I called Garmin and asked them why and they told me that the 2720 doesn't have enough memory to do Mexico anymore.

P.S.  I grew up on the Texas border and still live within about 200 miles of Mexico and you have to be an idiot to go down there now anyway.  Progesso which is across from Weslaco, Texas in the Rio Grande Valley is wide open.  No police, no Federales. 

I met a guy at the GP race in Austin a few months back and he is a Mexican Citizens from Monterrey.  He now lives in Austin.  He owns a company that makes a product that goes down the oil well while drilling.  He told me that he had his own private planes and they flew down there every week or two unannounced checked over their businesses and left unannounced the same day.  He owns two airplanes and flies himself in a Mitsubishi MU2 and a pressurized Cessna 210. 

Another friend of mine in McAllen, Texas who is in the insurance business who use to insure my car business stops by once in a while and we have lunch.  His neighbor is Mexican citizen who owns a business that makes the airbag that goes in new cars..  I think it is the cloth part.  My friend told me that he does the same thing as the guy above except that he has an American pilot and a small Cessna CJ jet.

I use to have a small business that got it product made in Toluca Mexico near Mexico City.  The man, a Mexican citizen, who was making the products called me and told me he was leaving Mexico because it was to dangerous.  He is an engineer with an engineering degree from the University of Wisconsin and he moved his entire family to Calgary, Canada.

So, you guys can read about these people on their motorycles in Mexico.  I think they are stupid!  A few years ago a local Victoria man drove his pickup into Mexico.  They searched his truck and found one (1) round of ammunition in the truck; no gun; and he was in jail down there for months.  It cost his family thousands of $$$ to get him released.

I have another friend who did a real estate deal down there in Mexico and it went sour.  He was the only Gringo.  He spent 5 years in prisonl down there.  His ex-wife came back into the picture and finally got him out.  Lots of  $$$.  Sorry for getting off track...
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« Reply #18 on: February 13, 2013, 06:39:40 AM »
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Bill, you can load the maps on the SD card. I have been doing that for a couple of years now. Furthermore, Garmin had shrunk the base map and lost info pop ups for XM weather data. I have reloaded the large base map and gotten all that back. Also, replaced the touch screen for less than 20 bucks. I have the complete detailed map on the SD card, US, Canada, Mexico.                               Zoom Zoom, John Henry 

I've had this sort of set up on my Z550 for a few years.  A 2 gig SD Card has the maps/POI's and my MP3 music is loaded into the unit's storage.  IMO, the large increase in data base is mostly for the increase in POI's, not for any significant increase in the number of roads.

John Henry -- where did you get the new touch screen?  Mine is getting a bit stiff and could use a replacement, particularly if one is available for that price.
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« Reply #19 on: February 13, 2013, 06:48:42 AM »
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Does the 2720 accept an SD card? If so you may be able to go the route some of us have. It takes a moment longer to load the map on startup but runs just fine the entire time.  

On the Z550, it got to the point where you can only get 50% of the continental US in the gps. I too have subscribed to lifetime updates. With those, the GPS, and lockable Touratech mounts so I can easily move it between bikes, I plan to milk this baby out until I can't use it anymore. Gladly, it is still going strong.

For the 550 owners: Somewhere along the line, Garmin reduced the size of the basemap in an effort to free up internal memory. Some basic detail was lost along with the pop up text that aaccompanied weather alerts (for those with XM traffic/weather). I have the original basemap if anybody needs or wants it. If someone decides to use it, it will probably be necessary to move the detailed map onto the SD card. The original base map is 13.9K. The trimmed down map is 6.?K. IIRC the fie is bmapgmap.gdb or something like that. bmap being the basemap.

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« Reply #20 on: February 13, 2013, 06:56:05 AM »
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Chuch, I found it on e-bay as a buy it now. It came from China but was free shipping. I actually bought two so I would have a spare. As I recall, there were two sizes. You want the larger one which has the adhesive around the edges. You also need a very small Torx wrench to open up the unit. Takes about a half hour to do the job.

I was a little hesitant, but many on the Zumo Forum has purchased from them. It took about a month but I got it. You want the 79X64.5mm. NOT the 76X63mm.

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_trksid=p5197.m570.l1313&_nkw=Zumo+550+digitizer&_sacat=0&_from=R40

Zoom Zoom,
John Henry

edit: You only need the digitizer, not the LCD screen. I see there are options from the USA now too.
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« Reply #21 on: February 13, 2013, 07:08:05 AM »
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... That is why I got a 660. Well that and the fact that it is water and vibration resistant. 

Pete,

It looks like the only differences between the 660 and 665 are the Satellite Radio/Weather info on the 665, at an additional cost.  Am I missing something?  Are there other differences that I should know about?
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« Reply #22 on: February 13, 2013, 10:09:20 AM »
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Being kind of frugal,  Roll Eyes  I refused to buy a "motorcycle" GPS and went with a basic model Nuvi. ($149.00) It works well but it is not waterproof. I figured I would put a bag over it when it rained or just remove it.  One problem It has developed as of late is intermittent shut down. I think this is due to the vibration of having it on my Buell.  Grin Anyway, it still works for the car and if it craps out entirely, I'll just buy another.

However, I just found a great deal on a Nuvi 500 that says it is waterproof. Once again, with the price so low on that unit, if it craps out...
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« Reply #23 on: February 14, 2013, 01:11:16 AM »
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I've been looking at Garmins for my NTX recently, going back and forth between a cheaper Nuvi or the Zumo.  I visited a bike shop here in North Texas that specializes in dual sport riding equipment.  The owner doesn't sell GPS but he has RAM brackets, etc.  Anyway, he rides with a Garmin Montana.  I believe they come in two or three iterations - one with a built-in camera.  It's a combination road/hiking/boating GPS with removable recharging battery, or if you get stuck in the boonies, it accepts 3-AA batteries.  The screen is about as big as an iphone 4 screen and it's very rugged.  He said he took a spill on his Super Tenere' and only had a few scuffs on the case.

The only difference I can see between the Montana and the Zumo is the Montana doesn't have Bluetooth so it won't talk to your helmet comm system.  It does have an audio out plug.  The price is a $100 or so cheaper depending on the model you buy.

http://www.thegpsstore.com/Garmin-Montana-650-Touchscreen-Handheld-GPS-with-4-Screen-P2749.aspx

I'm not shilling for Garmin.  I think, like a lot of things, their GPS units are expensive considering some of the stories I've read about them being totally useless when you need them the most.  I rode Texas hill country back roads with some guys, last year, that had nice GPS gear on their bikes and at one point we had to resort to my iphone to find out exactly where we were!  So, buy anything at your own peril.
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« Reply #24 on: February 14, 2013, 01:47:31 AM »
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I've been thinking about picking up a Garmin eTrex Vista HCx.

They're obsolete, but good for hiking, or driving.  AA batteries.

Cheap!

Would like to have one for this summer's riding.  We'll see...
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« Reply #25 on: February 14, 2013, 02:12:12 AM »
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Pete,

It looks like the only differences between the 660 and 665 are the Satellite Radio/Weather info on the 665, at an additional cost.  Am I missing something?  Are there other differences that I should know about?

I believe that you are correct. I didn't really look at the 665 that closely. I had a problem with the price of the 660. When I found one for $100 off plus free shipping, I pulled the trigger. Garmin has a couple of new Zumo models out now. Also the 660 and ,l think, 665 now come with lifetime maps
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« Reply #26 on: February 14, 2013, 02:47:22 AM »
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I guess they simply take an advantage that they are the only reliable player now.
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« Reply #27 on: February 14, 2013, 06:44:25 AM »
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Not only are they extremely expensive, they do have other annoying issues. Last year I bought the 665 it was roughly $1K in Canada at the time. After 1 month, I returned it and now I just use my phone. My thoughts are capture in this thread:

http://wildguzzi.com/forum/index.php?topic=54630.msg826911#msg826911
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« Reply #28 on: February 14, 2013, 01:39:52 PM »
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Eh?  Only reliable player?  What happened to TomTom & Magellan?  I have had so many frustrations with Garmin logic I'll stick with paper maps rather than put money into one for recreational use!

TomTom stopped developing their Rider model for motorcycles and stick with cars. Magellan never had (as far as I know) an MC GPS.
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« Reply #29 on: February 17, 2013, 05:06:35 PM »
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Somewhat off topic, and probably nitpicky, but I got a Garmin 62s last year--a $350+ handheld unit.  When I unpacked it, I couldn't find the hand strap.  Turns out they don't supply one with the unit!  Not wanting to buy one of the Garmin overpriced straps, I naturally got an aftermarket one. 

I can't imagine the strap would cost more than a dollar or two with the quantity of handheld GSPs Garmin sells, and so I found it quite annoying that they didn't include one.

I think the GPS on the samsung smartphone I recently got is as good as or better than the Garmin Nuvi.

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« Reply #30 on: February 17, 2013, 05:16:38 PM »
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Does it really cost that much to make a GPS to be waterproof?
Answer to second question, undoubtably not.

Answer to first thread title question, so BMW GS riders can brag about how much they spent on it.
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« Reply #31 on: February 17, 2013, 06:57:21 PM »
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Answer to second question, undoubtably not.

Answer to first thread title question, so BMW GS riders can brag about how much they spent on it.

 

That explains why why some people believe the photons from a $350 LED light are better than a $25 LED light that has more output.
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« Reply #32 on: February 17, 2013, 08:02:30 PM »
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The main awswer to your original questions is, no, it cost next to nothing to produce a 'motorcycle specific' GPS. The added costs are 99.9% the result of marketing.

All the best,

Mark
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« Reply #33 on: February 19, 2013, 03:25:00 PM »
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One of the drawbacks of an inexpensive GPS is they will not accept custom routes. You can download custom routes to both the 550 and 660 Garmin units. You can build routes on Google maps and Mapquest, but the one that works best is Garmin's Base Camp. That is why I got a 660. Well that and the fact that it is water and vibration resistant.

This.

The cheaper Nuvi's don't have the software or memory to run Garmin's Mapsource software which allows you to create custom routes.  I have the Zumo 550 and was happy with it until I tried downloading my friend's offroad trail tracks from his CS to mine. It will store the waypoints but won't allow you to zoom and navigate with them, making the expensive 550 unit pretty much worthless for off road use.
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« Reply #34 on: February 19, 2013, 05:56:13 PM »
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Ok, I've got the dumb question.
Can a GPS watch measure Speed high enough to use it as a speedometer on a motorcycle

Go ahead laugh now Tongue

But please answer, Thanks
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« Reply #35 on: February 19, 2013, 07:26:23 PM »
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That explains why why some people believe the photons from a $350 LED light are better than a $25 LED light that has more output.


WHAT! Shocked You mean they don't refine those expensive photons to a finer level? Grin Wink

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« Reply #36 on: February 19, 2013, 07:29:50 PM »
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Ok, I've got the dumb question.
Can a GPS watch measure Speed high enough to use it as a speedometer on a motorcycle

Go ahead laugh now Tongue

But please answer, Thanks

Anecdotally, yes. In my case, the 665 was bang on with respects to speed.
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« Reply #37 on: February 20, 2013, 04:12:06 PM »
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Ok, I've got the dumb question.
Can a GPS watch measure Speed high enough to use it as a speedometer on a motorcycle

Go ahead laugh now Tongue

But please answer, Thanks

Usually GPS units are accurate and quick enough. But my max speed on my GPS was reading 485 mph at one point. So they are not always accurate.
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« Reply #38 on: February 21, 2013, 05:49:53 AM »
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 - which is one good reason besides many more, to buy a TomTom Rider.
They are cheaper. Wink
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« Reply #39 on: February 21, 2013, 06:34:33 AM »
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Ok, I've got the dumb question.
Can a GPS watch measure Speed high enough to use it as a speedometer on a motorcycle

Go ahead laugh now Tongue

But please answer, Thanks


That's not what Stephen is asking.

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