The Garmin zūmo XT All-Terrain motorcycle GPS is the most recent offering from Garmin and replaces the Garmin zūmo 595LM as Garmin’s flagship motorcycle GPS. Drawing on their proven track record and extensive motorcycle GPS manufacturing experience, Garmin introduces some significant improvements with the zūmo XT and it is an exciting addition to this popular series of motorcycle navigators.
The 5.5″ HD display is, without doubt, the most noteworthy feature of this model but there’s plenty else besides to recommend it. The quad-core processor delivers excellent performance including faster boot up times, less lag and an overall smoother and more streamlined user experience. The improved performance also extends to satellite acquisition which is now faster than ever and includes the Galileo system for greater accuracy.
The device incorporates several smartphone-like features including Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, a large 5.5″, HD display and built-in apps. As with other models in the zūmo range, the XT has a rugged, drop tested and waterproof case, built to withstand all weather conditions and temperature extremes as well as vibration and UV light. In fact, the zūmo XT meets the demanding MIL-STD-810 military grade standard for environmental testing. Furthermore, the glove friendly touchscreen display is designed for optimal readability in all light conditions.
The zūmo XT is marketed as an “All-Terrain” device meaning it is as much at home navigating city streets as it is on remote 4 x 4 roads. As such, the unit ships with both on-road maps and off-road topographic maps of North America. Off-road bikers will also appreciate the BirdsEye satellite imagery which is available subscription free. This feature enables users to download satellite imagery direct to their device for a bird’s eye view of their surroundings. Switching between the different maps and satellite imagery is made easy and can be done with the tap of a button.
We now turn to a more in-depth look at a few of the zūmo XT’s features.
The large, class-leading, 5.5″ HD display is the stand out feature of the zūmo XT. It is advertised by Garmin as “ultrabright” making it readable in any light. Given the issues some owners had with previous models in terms of the clarity of the display in certain light conditions such as direct sunlight, it seems this is something Garmin have worked hard at improving. The display can be viewed in either landscape or portrait mode and changing the orientation is as simple as loosening the glove friendly wing nut located on the mount, and then retightening it again after rotating the unit to the desired position.
The generous size of the screen allows for the display of a range of information besides your current route, which saves you from having to switch between screens to access it. It also means that same information can be displayed in a larger, easier to read format without having to compromise as much on the amount of information shown.
The only drawbacks of the display are the added drain on battery power resulting from its size and brightness and the fact that fingerprints tend to leave conspicuous marks on the screen. Having said that, even on 100% brightness the battery lasts 3.5 hours on a full charge, and most people will opt to hard-wire their device for constant power regardless.
This popular feature has been around for a while but the way in which routes are calculated has been improved with the XT. Use the on-screen slider to select the level of adventure you desire from the most direct route to one taking full advantage of whatever hilly and/or winding roads are to be found between you and your destination.
The Track Recorder app is pretty self-explanatory. When activated this feature records your route and saves it to your device. This opens up new opportunities for sharing routes with friends, and the wider motorcycling community, via the Drive app on your phone.
Points of Interest and Trip Advisor Ratings
These two features are especially useful for sightseeing trips and long distance touring. The zūmo XT comes preloaded with millions of points of interest, including those supplied by the iOverlander and Foursquare services. It also includes a database of travel information from Ultimate Public Campgrounds and a U.S. national parks directory. The Tripadvisor ratings are another useful feature which, together with those outlined above, help broaden the appeal of the device and create a more complete package.
Garmin zūmo XT vs. Garmin zūmo 595LM
The zūmo XT has a bigger, brighter and easier to read display. It is built tougher and engineered to a higher standard with respect to its ability to withstand a wide range of environmental conditions.
It also has built-in WiFi connectivity for easier updating of maps and software, a track recorder, iOverlander and Foursquare points of interest, Trip Advisor ratings, satellite imagery, an external speaker for using the GPS when walking or hiking, and is compatible with Garmin’s Explore App. All the aforementioned features are unavailable on the zūmo 595LM.
The battery life of the zūmo XT is up to 6 hours (3.5 hours with the backlight on full) whereas the zūmo 595LM has a battery life of up to 4 hours.
On the plus side for the zūmo 595LM, however, it has Pandora and Spotify music players, a tire pressure monitoring system, and a VIRB camera app, all of which the XT lacks. The XT does, however, provide ample opportunity for listening to music whether stored on the GPS itself or streamed via a Bluetooth linked smartphone.
Garmin zūmo XT vs. Garmin zūmo 396 LMT-S
As both the zūmo 396 LMT-S and 595LM share many of the same features, most of the comparisons made with respect to the 595LM above also apply to the 396 LMT-S. Some notable exceptions include the size of the display which is even smaller than the zūmo 595LM at just 4.3″ and the tire pressure monitoring system which is not included in the list of features available on the 396 LMT-S.
Some features shared by both the XT and 396 LMT-S but unavailable on the 595LM include WiFi connectivity, group route sharing, automatic incident detection and TripAdvisor ratings for travel POIs.
Garmin zūmo XT vs. TomTom Rider 550
As TomTom’s flagship motorcycle GPS model, the Rider 550 is a direct competitor of the zūmo XT. Due to the rivalry between the two manufacturers for market share, the zūmo XT is, to some extent at least, a response to the challenge posed by the Tomtom Rider 550, released in 2018.
In a similar fashion to the loyalty engendered among Mac and PC users, Garmin and TomTom products have likewise divided opinions among motorcyclists, and GPS users in general, with many expressing a strong preference for one or the other. The degree to which this is a matter of personal taste or based on the objectively considered merits of whatever devices are being compared is, of course, debatable.
It could be argued, however, that whereas previously the Rider 550 had an edge over the zūmo 595, the release of the zūmo XT has seen the pendulum swing slightly in favor of Garmin. This probably has a lot to do with the simple fact that the TomTom Rider predates the zūmo XT by two years, giving the XT the advantage of being a more up to date device.
In spite of this advantage, the two devices are still very evenly matched, even in terms of price. The main point of difference is the display and this is where the zūmo XT really shines.
As we have seen already, the XT has the largest screen in its class at 5.5″, compared to the 4.3″ display of the Rider 550, and given that the display forms the interface between you and your device, it’s not an insignificant point of different.
That said, if you already have a preference for TomTom over Garmin, it still might not be enough to sway you in favor of the XT. If you plan on doing any off-road riding, however, the choice becomes more clear cut. The XT is the clear winner in this department, with it’s preloaded off-road maps, satellite imagery and highly ruggedized case. If you enjoy listening to music while riding, the XT comes out on top here too with its integrated music player.
The Garmin zūmo XT All-Terrain motorcycle GPS is a highly practical, user-friendly navigator in a rugged, waterproof and glove-friendly package. For current users of previous zūmo models, the XT is well worth upgrading to, while also impossible to overlook for anyone else in the market for a new GPS. For those who, until now at least, had doubts about whether or not a dedicated motorcycle GPS was a worthwhile investment and tended to view them as expensive and complicated gadgets, the zūmo XT might just be the device to change your mind.