Garmin Zumo 590LM Product Spotlight

Garmin has been making a GPS specific to the motorcycle market for roughly ten years.  Their latest entry is the Garmin Zumo 590LM.  It is their first GPS with a screen size greater than 4.3 inches and naturally includes a lot of new features unavailable in their older Zumo generations.

A good question to address is if you need a motorcycle GPS or can one that’s made for car use be sufficient.  As you will see from the remainder of this article, the Zumo 590LM offers features that are specific to a motorcycle ride that is not available in one made for the car.  The Zumo is also constructed with a more rugged design versus a car GPS and should hold up better to motorcycle vibrations.  The unit is resistant to road sprays and harsh weather.  To no surprise, it comes at a cost.  We wrote a detailed article on the topic of using a car GPS on a motorcycle, take a few moments to read it if you are on the fence in your decision.

As already mentioned the Garmin Zumo 590LM features a 5” diagonally measured screen.  This is one of the few GPS units I have seen that allows use in portrait or landscape mode.  Unlike a car GPS, the display is sunlight-readable and this means you should not require a glare shield.  The display is glove-friendly versus other GPS units that require a bare hand to operate the unit.  These are all features that are unique to the Zumo 590LM and aren’t readily available in most of the other GPS units that are out there.

One of the problems with a GPS is that the maps could potentially go out of date a few months after purchase.  Notice the letters “LM” as part of the model?  That is an acronym for Lifetime Maps.  A USB cable is included with this unit to allow attachment to a PC and the ability to download map updates free of charge.  This is a lifetime map subscription so you are guaranteed updates for the life of the GPS.  Not bad.

Bluetooth is an integral feature if you have any hope of hearing GPS commands.  The Zumo 590LM has a Bluetooth interface to your phone or enabled helmet.  You can use this feature to hear the directions and street names.  The feature also supports interfacing with your smartphone.  You can also use the Bluetooth feature to ask for points of interest, like gas or food.

An interesting and unique feature of the Zumo 590LM is that it includes an MP3 player and is compatible with iPod, iPhone and Pandora.  This allows you to control the music through the Zumo display.  I don’t recommend doing it while actively driving, but it’s a nice feature to use when stopped.

The included mounts are quality accessories.  The motorcycle mount is a RAM handlebar and clutch attachment and made of metal.  It will attach to the custom Zumo cradle using included nuts and bolts.  A hardwire cable is included to attach to your motorcycle battery.   Garmin even includes a car suction cup mount and car charger for auto use as there is no reason you couldn’t use this in the car as well as the bike.

The Zumo 590LM can also provide tire pressure through the GPS display.  This feature is enabled by adding the optional Garmin Tire Pressure Sensor.  This accessory uses ANT technology to interface wirelessly to the GPS.  You can set custom pressure thresholds, for example, you might want to tolerate lower tire pressure caused by the cold.  If the tire pressure exceeds your threshold, you get an alert. You can even monitor tire pressure trends over time so that you can potentially catch a slow leak.

There are a few other nice features that are worth mentioning.  The included maps not only include the roads, there is a built-in trip computer with compass and speed limit display. There is a digital fuel gauge that will let the rider know when it’s approaching the time to fuel up.  Lastly, there is a feature called Smarphone link that interfaces with your phone to provide weather and traffic alerts (this is the only feature that isn’t free with the GPS, there is a subscription fee for Smartphone link).

The Garmin Zumo 590LM is the most feature rich GPS I have seen for motorcycle use.  I can’t think of other features that you could possible need on a motorcycle GPS.