Best Adventure Motorcycle GPS: Garmin Zumo XT vs Zumo XT2

Best Adventure Motorcycle GPS: Garmin Zumo XT vs Zumo XT2

If you’ve ever used a GPS, you’ve probably heard of Garmin. So it’s no surprise that they have a longstanding history of producing quality GPS for motorcycles. Two of their most popular options are the Zumo XT and Zumo XT2. But which is the best adventure motorcycle GPS? Keep reading to get our take. 

In this post, we'll cover:

The classic: Garmin Zumo XT 

From the moment you open the Garmin Zumo XT, everything is easy.

The device guides you through each step, from downloading the essential Garmin Drive mobile app for traffic and weather information, to connecting to Wi-Fi and updating maps and firmware. When it comes to mounting the device, the only minor challenge lies in neatly routing the power cable. You can also use a BikePenR mount to make things even easier. 

The device's core functions are intuitive, allowing for easy routing to specific addresses or finding pre-loaded points of interest. Additionally, you have the freedom to choose between a direct routing path or opt for the more adventurous option. 

While the Adventurous Routing feature tends to favor enjoyable paved routes, it generally avoids gravel or dirt paths. For off-road enthusiasts and those with pre-planned routes, the Zumo XT is compatible with GPX files, which can be used as turn-by-turn directions ("Routes") or displayed as lines on the map ("Tracks"). 

Our customers that have used the Zumo XT report that the Route function works best when relying on the device's route suggestions, while Tracks are ideal for meticulously planned trips. Tracks also prove advantageous when including a trail that the device would otherwise avoid. 

Thanks to the optimized display and precise zooming based on speed, following routes on the Zumo XT is notably easier compared to using smartphone apps. The crystal-clear 5.5-inch touch screen works seamlessly even in varying lighting conditions and responds well to touch input, even with gloves on.

The Zumo XT also allows you to control music, handle calls, and receive notifications from your phone, ensuring your focus remains on the road. While the phone controls are adequate for keeping your device securely stowed, they may not entirely eliminate the need to pull over when changing playlists or responding to text messages. 

The device's track recording functionality works flawlessly, and the accompanying Garmin Drive app facilitates effortless exporting of GPX files, which can be shared with fellow riders. The only aspect that could benefit from improvement is the trip planning interface, which can feel somewhat clunky. 


Buy the Zumo XT


Is the Zumo XT worth it?

Overall, the Garmin Zumo XT stands as a solid navigation solution for those seeking a device specifically optimized for motorcycle use, allowing them to keep their phones out of sight. With reliable performance both on and off pavement, complemented by a display and touch screen built for the task, the Zumo XT truly enhances the overall riding experience. 

One other common question we receive is: does the Zumo XT require a subscription? The answer is no. You also get free lifetime traffic and weather updates via the app. Its built-in WiFi makes getting these updates to the device easy. 

The contender: Garmin Zumo XT2

Garmin recently introduced the highly anticipated Zumo XT2 GPS for 2023.

One of the significant improvements in the XT2 is the inclusion of on-device route planning. Unlike its predecessor, which relied on Garmin's smartphone app for visual route planning, the XT2 now allows users to conveniently plan routes directly on the device's screen. 

Alternatively, you can utilize Garmin's Tread app on your phone to visually map out your desired route.

The XT2 also introduces a clever feature for group rides—rider-to-rider connectivity. With this functionality, the XT2 not only displays your own location but also tracks the positions of your connected riding companions. This proves invaluable during group rides, enabling you to keep tabs on the whereabouts of your fellow riders and potentially catch up if you get separated. 

This feature relies on a cell connection for data transfer and necessitates the use of Garmin's Tread app. However, in areas without cell coverage, riders have the option to add the Group Ride Radio accessory (though it should be noted that it comes with a hefty price tag). Additionally, riders can connect to the outside world using Garmin's inReach satellite communication units.

The XT2 is IPX7 weather-proofed, ensuring it can withstand various weather conditions. It comes equipped with a built-in lithium-ion battery that offers up to 6 hours of usage. The device includes 32 GB of internal storage, expandable up to 256 GB through an SD card. GPS, Galileo, and 10 Hz multi-GNSS positioning sensors are standard features. 

Depending on your region, the XT2 will come preloaded with maps, and riders can also add satellite imagery through downloads. Updates can be performed via Wi-Fi. Bluetooth compatibility is built-in, allowing riders to receive turn-by-turn instructions through their helmet intercom systems.


Buy the Garmin Zumo XT2


What is the difference between Zumo XT and Zumo XT2?

The biggest difference between the Zumo XT and XT2 is the aforementioned visual route planner. Being able to see popular moto paths and ride summaries gives you almost endless resources for planning your next trip.

Here’s our comparison:

On-device Route Planning: The Zumo XT2 offers the convenience of on-device route planning, allowing users to visually plan routes directly on the device's screen. In contrast, the Zumo XT requires connecting to Garmin's smartphone app for visual route planning.

Display Size: The Zumo XT2 features an enlarged 6-inch touchscreen display, which is 15% larger than the display on the Zumo XT. The increased size provides improved visibility and usability.

Rider-to-rider Connectivity: Both the Garmin Zumo XT2 and Zumo XT support rider-to-rider connectivity. However, the Zumo XT2 enhances this feature by displaying the positions of connected riding companions on the device. This enables riders to keep track of their group during rides, while the Zumo XT required the use of Garmin's Tread app for this functionality.

Group Ride Radio: In areas without cell coverage, the Zumo XT2 offers the option to add the Group Ride Radio accessory to maintain rider-to-rider connectivity. The Zumo XT has group ride radio as well but it requires a separate mount and a software update.

Pricing: The Garmin Zumo XT2 has a suggested retail price of $599 in the United States for 2023. The pricing for the Garmin Zumo XT is $499.

Other Specifications: Both devices have IPX7 weatherproofing, ensuring resistance to various weather conditions. They also offer built-in lithium-ion batteries, internal storage (32 GB for the Zumo XT2), expandable storage (up to 256 GB with an SD card), and GPS, Galileo, and multi-GNSS positioning sensors. Additionally, both devices support software and map updates, as well as Bluetooth compatibility for integration with helmet intercom systems.

Which Garmin Zumo is best?

The Garmin Zumo XT2 stands out as the more advanced and feature-rich option compared to the Garmin Zumo XT. With on-device route planning, a larger display size, and the ability to display the positions of connected riding companions, the Zumo XT2 offers significant enhancements. These improvements make the Zumo XT2 the preferred choice for users seeking a GPS system with added convenience and functionality. 

However, individual preferences and specific needs should always be taken into account, so it is advisable to thoroughly research and assess all features, specifications, and user feedback before making a final decision. 

Ultimately, whether you opt for the Garmin Zumo XT or the Garmin Zumo XT2, both devices will significantly improve your adventure motorcycle experience. They both provide reliable navigation, robust features, and rugged designs that can withstand the demands of off-road and on-road adventures. Choosing the right one comes down to your specific needs, preferences, and budget, ensuring that you have a reliable companion to guide you on your exciting motorcycle journeys.

Got questions about which one you should choose? Feel free to contact us.

Want more Moto content? Sign up for our newsletter for the latest updates, new products, sales, and much more.


If you enjoyed this content, you may also like: