Go Off The Grid With Garmin’s zūmo 395LM | Motorcycle Cruiser
Andrew Cherney

Go Off The Grid With Garmin’s zūmo 395LM

Adventurous Routing makes Garmin’s motorcycle-friendly zūmo 395 GPS the perfect riding buddy for your next road trip

I've had the Garmin zūmo 395 for over a year now, but because I’ve been using it on most long trips it's become something of an afterthought. I just take it for granted now. Before this little magic box came along I’d just stick the iPhone on the handlebar and default to Google Maps, which usually worked okay—until it rained. Three trips to the Apple store later I decided to take the plunge for something that was burlier than a smartphone and had some semblance of weather resistance. When the zūmo 395LM came out last year (the smaller, more basic cousin to the 595LM), I was down. It had lots of what I was looking for: compact size and weight (9.5 oz.), rugged, knock-proof build quality, good battery life (up to 7 hours), able to handle the occasional shower (an IPX7 waterproof rating) and lifetime map support included.

It’s a snap to mount or disconnect from the sturdy cradle, and this 4.3-inch zūmo is small enough to stash away in your pocket when off-duty. The trade-off is you won’t get all the bells and whistles of its larger 595LM cousin, but then I’m not riding a big-ass adventure tourer around the globe and I’d rather have the 395’s simplicity and smaller form factor for my Bonneville anyway.

Garmin’s zūmo 395LM

Garmin’s zūmo 395LM Settings

Andrew Cherney

Wiring and mounting is a no-brainer, with all the necessary plugs and Ram mounting components included in the box, although I will point out that the U-bolt for the Ram mount doesn't fit 1-inch handlebars. A single cable plugs into a weather-protected connector at the back for on-bike power and the 395’s TFT screen is pretty bright, and easy to see in motion.

The GPS itself works as expected. Once I uploaded waypoints and routes generated in Basecamp (Garmin’s proprietary, sometimes glitchy route-planning software) the unit navigated without complaints. Over the last few months, the motorcycle-specific nav tools have come in super-handy (Speed Camera Alert), and I’ve dug the hands-free Bluetooth for my phone. Garmin Real Directions on the zūmo is a step up from the norm too, because it doesn’t just speak street names, it also uses recognizable landmarks, buildings and street features (e.g., “make a left after the pizza joint”). And zūmo is preloaded with millions of popular locations, so you get detailed location information—for, say, a store within a mall—once you reach the recommended entrance when using the Direct Access feature.

Another goodie is the Dynamic Fuel Stops alert, which is just what it sounds like. The zūmo’s built-in trip computer has a digital gauge that guesses the number of miles you can ride before having to get more juice. There’s even a service history log that’ll track your bike’s maintenance records.

zumo cradle

Zumo motorcycle mount

Andrew Cherney

Of course not everything is rosy with the zūmo: Though the 4.3-inch touchscreen display is readable in sunlight and claims to be ‘glove-friendly,’ it doesn’t always respond immediately when you poke it. I initially liked the zūmo 395LM’s compact size, but the smaller screen does also make it challenging for thicker gloves, so your best bet is to set it up pre-ride with bare fingers before you hit the road. That form factor also means a few elements on the display are smaller, so it can be a struggle for some riders (especially older ones, ahem) to read, especially the speed and distance to the next turn readouts. Yea, it’d be nice to have a text size option.

Garmin’s zūmo 395LM

Garmin’s zūmo 395LM Navigation screen

Andrew Cherney

Despite those nitpicks, I became a real fan of the 395LM’s Garmin Adventurous Routing system, which helps you pick out the best riding route between points A and B—as in more curves or hills and fewer stretches of freeway. Choose the type of route you want and the unit will show you where you can find the right twisties while also getting rider alerts of upcoming hazards like animal crossings and nearby red light cameras. Use that info with the Roundtrip routing feature to plot out your trip based on desired time, distance, or location. I use it for almost all my weekend rides and have had a blast traveling some unexpectedly awesome and empty backroads. As a bonus, the Trip tracker keeps track of your routes, so you can save the ones you like to ride them again.

In sum, I’d have to grudgingly recommend the Garmin zūmo 395LM. It doesn’t have all the latest and greatest features, but those it has are pretty dialed-in for the average curious rider, plus it’s significantly more affordable and is a very good choice for a basic bike GPS. Lots of folks bitched about the 395’s exceedingly steep price ($599) when it first came out (and rightfully so) but it’s come down to a far more reasonable $300 tag in 2018. That’s still a good chunk of cash, but I think pretty fair for all the features you get. Just stick it on your handlebar, stash your phone and go find some new roads.

You can find more info at Garmin’s website.