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Has anyone used a Garmin Nuvi 550 or NUVI 500 GPS (same unit but come with different maps)?

I've been doing some research into GPS units and the Nuvi 550/500 looks like it would be a good unit for motorcycle use. The ZUMO's are nice but a little to expensive for my budget, the Nuvi 550/500 runs about $260 which is reasonalble.

I did find a nice review on VSRI but for the most part it seems like this unit is overlooked. Are there any reasons for that?
 

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I think the Nuvi 5x0 is overlooked because Garmin markets it as an auto unit, although they say it is 'motorcycle friendly.' I think it is a great lower cost option. Make sure you look at the total cost of ownership, including mounts and cables. The nice thing about the Zumo units is they come with enough to get them mounted and wired on most motorcycles. You'll need to buy the mount and cabling for the 500/550.

It's the only Nuvi unit that is waterproof/resistant, so you'll need to keep that in mind when comparing it to others.

Finally, if you join the AMA you get a pretty good discount direct from Garmin. My Zumo 660 was $640 from Garmin direct.
 

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Nuvi 550

I've had a 550 for about 3 months now. Have used it in the cars and on my Wee and KLR. Great features and easy to use. I have hardwired both bikes and use the 12V auto plug (cigarette lighter) in the cars. Very satisfied with the purchase.
 

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As I understand, the Nuvi 500.550 does not have a head phone jack or Bluetooth. So if you want audio instructions they come from the units speaker. I have not knowledge of how easy it is to hear it talk on a motorcycle without headphones. I would be intersted in hearing how well the unit works on a bike for audio turn by turn instructions. Can you hear it OK?
 

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nuvi

i used a nuvi 255w on a 4000+ mile ride on a c10 and it was perfect, had a waterproof case for it and never used it, slid a zip lock over it with rubber band when it rained, had a 250w for a spare, they are cheap enough and available used, i now have them set up with the bags connection tank bag mount which should have little vibration. given my experience if i upgraded i would go to the 500/550 myself. if i was mounting in a higher vibration area, handlebars etc. might look at a zumo. i like tank mounts with fuel as a vibration dampener.
 

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i used a nuvi 255w on a 4000+ mile ride on a c10 and it was perfect, had a waterproof case for it and never used it, slid a zip lock over it with rubber band when it rained, had a 250w for a spare, they are cheap enough and available used, i now have them set up with the bags connection tank bag mount which should have little vibration. given my experience if i upgraded i would go to the 500/550 myself. if i was mounting in a higher vibration area, handlebars etc. might look at a zumo. i like tank mounts with fuel as a vibration dampener.
Thanks...so is there a need for the audio/headphone jack or do you just rely on the visual screen?
 

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Will be my next motorcycle GPS.........
+1,

Remember: the nuvi 500 comes loaded with detailed street and topographic mapping for the lower 48 U.S. states, Hawaii and Puerto Rico...

while the nuvi 550 comes with comprehensive street maps for the U.S. and Canada (includes Alaska).
 

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Nuvi 550

I have used the 550 all this season. Mostly satisfied. Can't hear voice turn directions so turned that off. easy to use with gloves. have had difficulties loading Ibycus topos into it from a mac. Like the larger screen size. Mounted on left side of handle bar with a Ram mount. Easy to access. Not great for geocaching but adequate.
 

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ruax, question. Can you upload other maps into the 500? Topo would be nice, but I REALLY want Alaska and Canada!
I really don't know... guessing I think you may not have enough room to do both, but that is a guess.
 

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I really don't know... guessing I think you may not have enough room to do both, but that is a guess.
Yes, you can load the other map set if you purchase it seperately. However, you cannot do turn-by-turn navigation while the active mapset is topo.
 

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I have a 500 and just bought a motorcycle mount for it on Amazon.

Plus:
  • Has high-sensitivity receiver.
  • It autoroutes and displays the topo map with the road route.
  • It can save up to 10 routes so you can download custom routes from MapQuest or elsewhere.
  • It will support multiple waypoints in a route, and optimize them.
  • Screen visibility is decent.
  • Can be used in a car, on a bike, even in a Kayak and has good battery life and the battery is removable.
Cons
  • No AC charger included.
  • Motorcycle mount is extra cost.
  • No headphone jack
  • Does not speak street names
  • No MP3 player
Simply put, if you plan to go by visual instructions instead of wearing headphones, it's a pretty nice choice for an adventure bike since it displays topo and roads at the same time.
 

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[*]Does not speak street names
I think if you go to Gamin's website, there is an update to get text to speech. A fellow at ADVrider emailed me a file that's supposed to just make a loud noise instead of the voice when "British" is selected. I haven't tried it yet, but it might be useful as a warning when riding- not so much in the car.
There is also an update to the 2010 maps available, so a free upgrade is possible within 60 days of purchase. This will also get you Mapsource which was NOT included (no cd at all) with my Nuvi 500.
Also, to hardwire the Nuvi, get the Garmin kit, the holder is much better than the ram version as it allows you to plug the GPS in and then slide it into the mount. It also comes with the 12v to 5v converter. I found it for only $20 at west marine http://www.westmarine.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/producte/10001/-1/10001/364233/377 710/0/nuvi 500/Primary Search/mode matchallpartial/0/0?N=377 710&Ne=0&Ntt=nuvi 500&Ntk=Primary Search&Ntx=mode matchallpartial&Nao=0&Ns=0&keyword=nuvi 500&isLTokenURL=true&storeNum=5003&subdeptNum=3&classNum=10880
 

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Also, to hardwire the Nuvi, get the Garmin kit, the holder is much better than the ram version as it allows you to plug the GPS in and then slide it into the mount. It also comes with the 12v to 5v converter. I found it for only $20 at west marine http://www.westmarine.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/producte/10001/-1/10001/364233/377 710/0/nuvi 500/Primary Search/mode matchallpartial/0/0?N=377 710&Ne=0&Ntt=nuvi 500&Ntk=Primary Search&Ntx=mode matchallpartial&Nao=0&Ns=0&keyword=nuvi 500&isLTokenURL=true&storeNum=5003&subdeptNum=3&classNum=10880
As a former owner of a KLR, I will point out that shipping will raise the total price to a hair under $30 from that vendor. At Amazon, the cradle is $27 and change thus making it eligible for free shipping.

Just an FYI for the truly frugal among us. :D
 

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Got it & love it

The Nuvi 550 is my first road GPS and I love it. I've used it on my wee, hiking, and most recently on our vacation: walking and tubing about London England and driving all over northern Italy. I can't compare it to the Zumo but I can highly recommend it on its own merits. My previous experience is with basic (non-mapping) gps and aviation gps.

My hesitation in buying it was the smaller screen size, but once I used it I found it was plenty big. I picked up the "Univeral mounting kit" for C$22 which icludes the harwired 12v power supply and cradle. The other thing to add was the RAM arm for another C$19. If I recall, the Zumo was much more of a cost increase than that.

I've had it in the pouring rain & it still works. I imagine that the maps are the same for any Garmin unit. Not sure if the Zumo supports the "off road" features that the 550 does... not important to all but I like it. We chose the female voice with the Australian accent (Karen I think) since we found her the most natural and easy to understand.

BTW the funniest thing was when it was reading off the Italian road names: some of the names are so long that we had made the turn before the unit had finished reading off the name... plus the Italian names with an Australian accent was entertaining in itself. It was perfect with roundabouts and ramps but got a bit confused on the switch-backs on mountain roads. One regret was that we left the gps in the car when we were in Venice - that place is hard to get around. Another regret - I didn't have a bike on those most amazing mountain roads like the Great Dolomite Highway - they make our best twisties look like a quarter mile drag strip... but I digress.
 

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I just bought a Nuvi 550. There is nothing in the box that tells you this but Garmin provides a free one-time map update when you registert he product on-line. It installs Mapsource on your PC and updates the Nuvi to city navigator 2010 which includes Cont US, Canada, Hawaii, Alaska, Bahamas, PR.

I also found legal free Topo maps for all of Canada at http://www.ibycus.com/ibycustopo/
Very good Tops and they automatically install to Mapsource on the PC. I loaded them onto a microSD card via mapsource. I found the Topo maps while browsing DualsportBC.com
http://www.dualsportbc.com/forums/view_topic.php?id=5295&forum_id=66

The Garmin Nuvi 550 cradle and bare wire kit for wiring it to the bike is cheap from West Marine at $19.95. My cradle is being picked up from West Marine in Bellingham today by my son on his way back from a Seattle trip. No shipping or duty that way. Here is the cradle link.
http://www.westmarine.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/producte/10001/-1/10001/364233/377 710/0/nuvi 550/Primary Search/mode matchallpartial/0/0?N=377 710&Ne=0&Ntt=nuvi 550&Ntk=Primary Search&Ntx=mode matchallpartial&Nao=0&Ns=0&keyword=nuvi 550&isLTokenURL=true&storeNum=5003&subdeptNum=3&classNum=10880
 
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