nnew to GPS

Flying banana

Registered user
Dec 14, 2003
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Not really sure
Gentlmen, and Ladeez, I am thinking of getting a GPS unit in teh future, if I cann persuade SWMBO to let me havve one fer me 40th, that is!!!!

However, I am new to it all. Gis a clue as to what works, and wot doesn't, whats good and whats not.
I take it they can be hardwired into the bike (1150GS)?
And the most important questions, are they worthwhile?

Cheers chaps

Flying Banana
Flying banana said:
I take it they can be hardwired into the bike (1150GS)?
And the most important questions, are they worthwhile?

Flying Banana
Yes and Yes
John:D :D
Buy one and tell the Mrs after,
Garmin Sreetpilot 111, If your after door to door guided navigation in colour screen and voice(female) commands, then this it. or if you want the latest version then the Garmin streepilot 2610 is for you, but it costs more. Or if you want smaller but no colour screen then the Garmin GPS V is cheaper.
New to GPS myself, and have recently purchased a V, getting to grips with it far better than I expected and use it all the time, in the car and on the GS.
Would recommend one.
:D :D :D

Why do you want a GPS? Do you:
  • want a great toy that you can play with for hours and never get bored?
  • want to know where you are when otherwise you'd be lost?
  • want to be able to do the above when you're out walking/climbing/fishing etc?
  • want to have the unit display road-maps?
  • want to have the unit display local landmarks/gas stations/hotels/theme parks etc?
  • want the unit to be able to give you turn-by-turn directions to a specified point?
  • want to use it outside the UK?
  • go on long tours?
  • want a unit that you can also use in a car?
  • have loads of money?

Start to nail down answers to the above and then look at the
Garmin website to determine which unit meets your needs the best.

If you answered 'yes' to all/most of the above, you're probably looking for a 2610 or StreetPilot III. But there are other units which work just as well but offer less functionality and a lower price!


As others have said, take the time to peruse through the forums here, and you will find lots of information. Once you have done this, the decision-making tree for selecting what type of GPS you should by goes more or less like this:

1) Do you want your GPSR to be able to "autoroute" you to your destination, or simply show you where you are at present?

Autorouting is great if you plan to tour mostly on public roads in areas that you might not be totally familiar with. If you plan to spend all your time in an off-road environment, autorouting is not that big an advantage.

2) If you choose autorouting, there are four Garmin models that support this (I'm not familiar with other manufacturer's products). These are the GPS V, SP III, and SP 2610 or 2650.

a. The GPS V is inexpensive, small, has batteries in it for handheld use, has a black and white screen, and can hold a limited number of maps - 21 megs worth (about what you need to hold the City of London).

b. The SP III is a little bit more money, bigger, has batteries in it but really is not suitable for hand-held use because of its weight and short battery life (caused by the colour screen), and can hold up to 128 megabytes of maps (pretty much all of the British Isles on one load).

c. The SP 2610 is the newest model, much faster calculations than the SP III (think Pentium 3 compared to 486), colour, does not have batteries (which means it is only useful in a car or moto, where you have 12 volt power), and can hold up to 2 gigabytes of maps, which is sufficient to hold all of North America or all of Europe at one time.

d. The SP 2650 is the same as the 2610, but it has internal electronic gyros that enable it to continue to accurately track the position of the automobile (not motorcycle) when the satellite constellation is blocked from view by buildings, trees, tunnels, etc. It's really meant for use in "urban canyons" - downtown in big cities.

Personally, I think a decision on an autorouting model should be made between a GPS V or a SP 2610. The SP III is kind of "old technology". If, however, your budget is limited, you could consider getting a USED SP III - there are some good bargains to be had on eBay. Just make sure you buy a unit with a European basemap, and the eBay seller includes the European map CD with all regions unlocked and the appropriate unlock codes to use the CD with the GPSR.

If you're over 40 years of age, the GPS V is not really the best product to get, because the display is pretty small and you need razor-sharp near vision to interpret it. Past 40, we don't change focus from infinity to 50cm so fast anymore - so the bigger display and addition of colour on the SP III and SP 26xx is a big help.

3) If you don't need autorouting, there are many very small and inexpensive GPS models that will show you where you are, and show major roads and highways. Go shopping for these at any big electronics store.

If you need help/advice about an eBay purchase, just post a link to the auction here, there are lots of folks on this BB who are very knowledgeable about GPS who can look over the auction goods and tell you if there is anything missing or anything to be concerned about.

Pan European a message

Pan European,

Just of interest have you seen the new Magellan roadmate 700
has an interesting spec inc a !!hard drive!!. Not sure wether it's suitable for 2 wheel use though. details on their web site.
You could try a mono Streetpilot off ebay for starters. Nice big display, easy to use, nice and cheap, around £150. Use that for a year and see how you feel about it.

PanEuropean’s advise on asking here about an eBay purchase is a sound idea
I beg to differ on the GPS V screen;
I am over 40 and very short sighted (over 7.0!) and have no problems viewing the screen or switching my focus between the road and the unit.

The GPS V has a much better screen resolution than most units.

Now if only Garmin had put 64MB of memory into the GPS V.....
Hi Burnie:

Interesting comment (about vision). I don't need corrective lenses at all for near vision, and only have a very small correction for distance (-1.5 diopters), but I have encountered increasing difficulty in the last few years (I'm 49 now) switching focus rapidly between infinity and close range. I have one pair of bifocals that are optomized for use with the GPS on the motorcycle (see this link for more details: Bifocals for the motorcycle, and another pair that are optomized for use with the aircraft (slightly greater distance from my eyepoint to the instrument panel).

I think that the SP III and SP 2650, with their colour screens, make it a lot easier to quickly extract information from the screen, because the colour helps you sort and prioritize. For example, the track line is always magenta, topographical detail is usually blue, road detail black, etc.

However, as you point out, it is very much an individual preference. Maybe I should have said that riders over 40 might find it a good idea to borrow a GPS for a day, and try using it in the car, just to see how easily they can extract the visual information from it.

My glasses are bi-focal but most of the time I wear mono-focal contact lenses.

I have been wearing contacts for about 15 years and I have just got used to 'pulling the focus'.

I work in IT and have no problems with screens which seems to surprise my optometrist.

I agree that colour screens make detail easier to pick out but they still have issues in bright sunlight (altho they are getting better) that monochrome does not.

Maybe this is not an issue in Europe :)

Burnie M
Sydney, Oz

thanks chaps, mucho info to digest. Just a couple of points, I note that there is talk about base maps. Does this mean that there is a general map on the unit memory, and then you can upload further info, pertinent to a particular area? I see that the Garmin V has a relatively small memory. Can someone clarify this pls?

Re: gps

Flying banana said:
thanks chaps, mucho info to digest. Just a couple of points, I note that there is talk about base maps. Does this mean that there is a general map on the unit memory, and then you can upload further info, pertinent to a particular area? I see that the Garmin V has a relatively small memory. Can someone clarify this pls?

Yes there is a Base map , and for "European " operation it is best to have a European Base Map, be very wary of units sold with a USA map i.e sometimes Ebay, so check before buying .

Yes you can load further details

Yes Garmin V does have a small memory, but it's Base Map covers most of the roads you'll need unless you like plugging up lanes in Poland..........;) or if you need to get to street level in say London :confused:

The GPS V was designed to be a "jack of all trades" type of GPS - good for automotive use, but not intended for people who travel long distances. It has enough memory to store cartography (maps) for a region with a population of about 7 million people, more or less (using a rough guideline of 3 megs per million population).

So, if you don't plan to do extensive cross country or cross continent travel, the GPS V is a good unit to choose.

If you do plan to do extensive travel (long trips) and don't anticipate bringing a laptop computer with you (to reload your GPS) then you should be looking at either the SP III or the SP 2650.

What are the options if you want to cover East and Western Europe?
thesanguine said:
What are the options if you want to cover East and Western Europe?

Unfortunately the coverage in Eastern Europe is rather poor, no matter which GPS you use . It depends on how much detail you need. Normally the GPS's built in basemap will cover most major towns & cities, so in combination with a paper map, you should be O.K ( In an unknown area, I would never rely on just using a GPS )

A way around this lack of coverage is to use software & scan your own mapping data. Not all GPS models can support this method, so make sure the GPS you are interested in can use NMEA data I/O.

Try these sites for some extra info on scanning maps:-



The "Atlantic" basemap that is in the European versions of the Garmin products is pretty good - it covers the major highways and important secondary roads in most Central and Eastern European countries. I've ridden through Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Hungary, and a bit of Romania - no complaints about the basemap coverage so far as inter-city and inter-town riding goes. Usually the basemap will have the 'ring roads' around the major towns, and the main arteries through big towns, but that's about it.

The basemap is quite similar to Garmin's "WorldMap" product - the major difference being that the basemap will provide auto-routing on the GPS V, SP III and SP 26xx. You can have a look at the WorldMap product free if you go to the map viewer page at Garmin's website: Garmin Map Viewer

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