Gear: Garmin zumo 390LM Motorcycle Navigation System

Gear -



Garmin’s new zumo 390LM has been developed to meet the specific needs of motorcyclists. In the past few weeks I’ve taken it all over the state of California. Here’s how it held up.

The zumo 390LM is the newest addition to Garmin’s motorcycle-specific line of GPS units. It’s mounted on the handlebars via a RAM mount, and also comes with an extra attachment that allows you to stick it to the windshield of a car.

The zumo 390LM was designed to be exposed to the elements and operated while wearing safety equipment. It is waterproof and Garmin even claims that it is fuel resistant. The touchscreen is operable with or without gloves, and the buttons are large enough to take into account glove-covered fingers.

The 390LM is the first Garmin to add compatibility with a tire pressure monitoring system, however it requires separately-purchased monitors for the wheels that retail for $69.99 each and you’ll need one for each tire.

It is Bluetooth compatible, allowing the voice commands to be delivered through any Bluetooth headset.

A feature for road trip pleasure dubbed the ‘curvy roads’ setting, is also included. It aims to help you to find the most entertaining route on any given ride.

The Garmin zumo 390LM motorcycle navigation system retails for $699.99 out of the box, before adding the extra Tire Pressure Monitoring System.

Garmin zumo 390LM motorcycle navigation system

The Good
The 390LM interface is intuitive and the search functions and settings are all extremely easy to operate and navigate between. Connecting the Bluetooth was also quite seamless, and my personal choice was to silence the turn-by-turn navigation audio as the map was easily visible while riding.

The screen is nice and bright, and both night and day modes are easy to see. The screen has good contrast no matter what color mode you place it on, making information easy to gather with just a quick glance. This Garmin also has a variety of screen information options allowing minimalist to info-centric layouts, giving my busy mind plenty of numbers to crunch along the ride.

It worked as expected and got me where I needed to go.

The Bad
The curvy roads feature is a really cool idea, but I wish it just provided a list of possible options for you to hit on your route. On the way back from Big Sur, I wanted to take the San Marcos Pass to my burger spot in Carpentaria instead of sitting on the 101 and assumed hitting the curvy road setting would find it. Turns out, it finds a way to string every curvy road together with a sort of “all or nothing” process. Not what I expected or wanted.

Entering a specific address can be a little time consuming as Garmin choose to spread the letters across three pages to allow for large “glove sensitive” buttons. Personally, I’d rather just take off my gloves when entering the address and then get going when my route is set.

The Garmin zumo 390LM worked flawlessly through a myriad of weather conditions. It is an excellent addition to any trip, whether you’re worried about getting lost, like to keep records of your routes and adventures, or are just a data geek.

If they improve the logic of the curvy road feature and allow for easier address entry, it would be just about perfect.

Additional Product Information: View Garmin zumo 390LM Interface Screens

Related Links:
News: Garmin Zumo 390LM: New GPS Navigator for Motorcyclists
News: TomTom Rider: GPS for Bikers
Comparison Test: 2013 Suzuki V-Strom 650 Adventure vs 2013 Honda CB500X

  • Guzzto

    Does it have a burger search function for you Sean?

    • sean macdonald

      Oh man, I wish. Had to settle for Red Robin on the way home from Yosemite yesterday. I need to find the butler maps of burgers.

      • Clint Keener


        • Jesse

          I would go back to the monthly subscription fee for that.

  • BryonCLewis

    Hard to justify $700 for a GPS unless you are riding hardcore off the beaten path. I find my phone in a otterbox case on a mount with cached offline google maps to work perfectly well most of the time. A lot of riding I do is through the Adirondacks with little to no cell coverage except in the larger Hamlets.

    • Phil Mills

      Let me edit that for you: “Hard to justify $700 for a GPS.”
      Period. End of sentence.

      I can’t justify that cost on a toy. That’s something like 3 sets of tires, steel-braid brake line upgrades plus a new jacket, or a reallllly nice upgraded rear shock for my bike.

      If they can sell non-motorcycle models for <$200 with Bluetooth, I just don't see how adding the equivalent of an Otterbox case (and vibration-resisting upgrades, etc.) tacks $500 onto the price of this thing.

      I paid around $200 for a refurbished Streetpilot 2700-series (precursor to the Zumo) a few years back and considered that a reasonable price. When it finally dies I can guarantee you that a $700 Zumo is NOT going to be sitting in my cart at Amazon waiting for that moment.

    • DavidyArica Freire

      How do you cache off line maps?

  • Justin McClintock

    I’ll stick with my 5 year old Garmin Nuvi 500. It works well and it’s waterproof. And it cost $300 when it was new.

  • Braden

    I would love a dedicated GPS like this but the price is still utterly baffling. When I think ruggedized GPS my guess would be about half of what it is. I was hoping that the one thing it can do that my phone can’t would be worth it (the curvy roads routing), but it sounds like it doesn’t even do that well.

  • Benjamin Reynolds

    Seems like a great gadget if not a bit expensive. When I remind myself that Garmin charged me $500 for my bicycle GPS I realize that $700 for a motorcycle one doesn’t seem too bad.

  • the antagonist

    Why is this thing so expensive? The car based equivalents go for less than $200 and can often be found on sale for much less. I know we have to pay more for the mounting system, moto-specific touchscreen, and ruggedization required for exposure to the elements and vibration. But $500 more?

    I think if Garmin could make it cost few hundred less, they could sell a whole lot more. But at this price, I’ll just keep taking my chances with my phone in a plastic bag. Even if it breaks, replacing will still be a fraction of what this thing costs.

    Alternatively, you could buy a cheap car based GPS and put it in a water resistant mount like this:

    • Benjamin Reynolds

      I’m not sure why it’s so expensive, but look at the price of their cycling units. They don’t seem to have any problem moving those. Everyone I ride with has one. Also this unit doesn’t cost any more than car manufacture charge for GPS.

  • runnermatt

    It would be nice if there was a mount that would connect to the top of the triple clamp of sport bikes. It would work great for GPS, phones, camera’s etc.

    • Benjamin Reynolds

      Check out Rokform, not sure that it works for GPS but it works for phones.

      • sean macdonald

        Rokform stuff is really cool, we’re hoping to get one in soon.

        The new Yamaha FZ-09 has a GPS accessory available to secure just as you suggest, straight from Yamaha.

        Keep asking, they’re starting to listen :)

  • Kr Tong

    makes more sense to just hold onto your old smartphone if you ever decide to upgrade. My iPhone 4 works just fine without a simcard.

    • Clint Keener

      The phone won’t work in the middle of nowhere. Although it should be fine on the east coast.

      • Kr Tong

        you’re not using cell service. you’re using an old phone (or your current phone, but it’s nice having a dedicated gps device) with a gps chip.

        • Justin McClintock

          The cell phones still navigate based on their location relative to the towers. They’re not getting a satellite signal. So if you have no cell service, you have no GPS either.

          • Phil Mills

            Nope. GPS location is totally independent of cell service (though many phones also use the tower location data as a supplement while the GPS signal is locking in). I can use Google Maps at my in-laws’ place where I have no cell service but can load maps over their wi-fi. The GPS receiver in the phone can nail down my location to within a couple of feet.

            You may be confusing “GPS” and “map data” – most mapping programs (esp. Google Maps) don’t store the maps on the phone, but download them as needed. A phone with Google Maps and no data connection isn’t super useful. Companies like TomTom have navigation apps that DO have an entire map stored locally on the phone, so if you’ve got one of THOSE and no data connection you still have a useful GPS even if you can’t do a Foursquare checkin at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

  • engageit

    Does the device take any commands by voice over bluetooth? Like address entry being the one I care about? “Navigate to the nearest gas station” etc.?

  • SnarkyRichard

    Got an 85 dollar reconditioned Nuvi 265 with a cheapo Akron handlebar mount waterproof container and a Glarestomper velcro attached visor to shield the sun off the screen . All for a little under 120 bucks from Amazon and it works just fine !