How to Plan the Perfect Motorcycle Trip

From coast to coast, from pavement to gravel, from KTM to Honda — the rugged Garmin zūmo XT all-terrain motorcycle navigator is the secret tool for the perfect ride, no matter where you’re headed.

The perfect motorcycle trip looks different for different people. Maybe for you it’s racing the wind along a curvy, coastal highway, listening as the thunder of the ocean competes with the sound of your engine revving. Or maybe it’s grabbing your daredevil friends and hitting miles and miles of treacherous dirt tracks, stopping only when you’re confident your jumps were higher than everyone else’s. Whatever your ideal escape from reality happens to be, the importance of thorough preparation remains the same. You’ve heard the saying — an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. By following these six simple steps before heading out, you’re bound to have the trip of a lifetime — and save yourself a lot of headaches along the way.  

  1. Tune up your bike. Before embarking on any motorcycle adventure, you’ve got to be sure your bike is going to get you from point A to point B (wherever those two points may be). Check your tires, change your oil, clean out your saddlebags — anything you’ve been putting off as your bike collects dust in the garage. Consider how far you might be going and what sort of maintenance may be due soon, because it’s better to knock this out preemptively rather than to realize you’re stranded 500 miles away from home — and from all your friends with trailers.
  2. Choose a destination. Whether you’re looking to be on or off the beaten path, you’ll have to determine where you want to go before you can choose the most adventurous route to get there. Consider time of year, weather, the type of trip your bike is built for and how much time you have to kill — and then let your imagination run wild.
  3. Map your route. Paper maps are not particularly convenient when speeding down the highway, and you’ll learn very quickly that most smartphones aren’t built to withstand the elements — or to safely maneuver while you’re trying to drive. GPS for motorbikes is essential, and that’s where Garmin zūmo® XT comes in. With a rugged build, an ultrabright display and lasting power, zūmo XT comes equipped with preloaded on-road and off-road maps, plus a Garmin Adventurous Routing™ feature so you can always find the most scenic route. A quick tap will allow you to switch between on-road maps, topographic maps and BirdsEye Satellite Imagery, depending on your preference.
  4. Plan your stops. For some a motorcycle trip is all about the thrill of the open road and the endless possibilities. Others like to plan out all pit stops ahead of time. Whichever camp you fall into, zūmo XT includes a HISTORY® database of notable sites, iOverlander™ POIs, Ultimate Public Campgrounds and a U.S. national parks directory and millions of popular places, thanks to Foursquare®. It also features Tripadvisor®, so you can check on traveler ratings for hotels, restaurants and other attractions.
  5. Grab your friends. If you’re planning a group ride, it’s critical that you all have a way to communicate — sometimes hand signals at 70 miles per hour don’t quite cut it. Pair your zūmo XT with a Group Ride Radio, and you’ll get built-in voice communication using the push-to-talk fist mic. If you prefer, you can also pair zūmo XT with your helmet or headset (not included) enabled with BLUETOOTH® technology for hands-free communication with your group. You’ll also want to pair your device with the Garmin Drive™ app on your phone for hands-free calling, smart notifications right to your zūmo XT display and the ability to share your favorite rides via GPX files sent to your fellow riders using the Garmin Drive app1.
  6. Or go it alone. If a solo ride is more your speed, then staying connected in the event of an emergency is even more important. If an incident occurs, your zūmo XT will send a text message with your location information to your predetermined emergency contacts. If you pair it with a compatible inReach® satellite communicator (sold separately), you can even use your zūmo XT for two-way messaging, location sharing and SOS capabilities.

Ready to hit the open road? (Or mountain, or desert or tundra —all terrains are applicable here.) Get zūmo XT set up on your bike today, and you’ll be ready to ride in no time.

1When paired with a compatible smartphone. For safety and tracking features requirements and limitations, see

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