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#1020203 - 10/03/18 05:29 PM Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S  
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It's a gps newby's perspective. I've used my phone (Google Maps) before, of course, a lot. This is my first moto gps. Sharon had a Zumo 550. It was nothing but trouble. After she retired it we went without for several years. Finally, I decided we needed something because the phone isn't waterproof, isn't mounted and powered by bike (yes, it could be), doesn't work with a gloved hand, doesn't have an installed map set (needs data connection), and doesn't have an app that allows detailed routing on the phone or from a pc and transfer to phone. Here are a few thoughts and observations 4000 miles into the Garmin experience:

It's easy to get mired in the oddities and flaws and lose sight of what the system does well. Let's start with that.

Great screen was readable in all conditions and with sunglasses.

Responsive and accurate gps. I was surprised to see how accurate elevation was. GPS is not known for accurate elevation, but this was typically within 30-70 feet on signed mountain passes. As far as horizontal precision, it knows pretty quick if you are off your route or on a feeder road or such. Must be within 10-20'.

WiFi updates are nice... I remember Sharon struggling with the 550 updates. No more of that.

Easy to install, simple cradle, easy to pocket when off the bike. Mounted the cradle on the handle bar with a ram ball mount in the mirror hole. Wired to existing gps plug on bike. Sharon had the matching plug half. I soldered that to the supplied cable and mounted it. There is a boxy part of the cable that probably has a power supply unit in it (12 v to 5v step-down?). We put it in the area behind the right side panel. Plenty of room in there. Powering on and off worked perfectly.

The device pairs with a smart phone by Bluetooth for traffic and weather alerts. It can play audio streaming from the phone (PowerAmp app in my case) and gives alerts when you get a text, messenger or email. It could handle phone calls, but I don't have a microphone in my helmet. This system works well when you have a data connection on your phone.

The device pairs with a Bluetooth Headset to provide audible directions, other prompts and alerts, play music, handle phone calls, etc. I picked up an inexpensive Bluetooth receiver to use with my wired S-Plugs.

The device hooks up to a pc by usb cable. Transfer of routes is quick and easy.

The device purchase includes lifetime maps and traffic/weather alerts.

The device takes a micro SD card. Mounting was simple and required no tools.

Screens are customizable.

One should download and install Basecamp and GarminExpress to pc. GE is likely only needed to validate and install maps to the pc, since the device updates by wifi. Be sure to install the map to the default location. I have an ssd boot drive and installed the map to a larger hdd.... trouble ensued. had to delete all Garmin software and reinstall.

....and now for the rest of the story....

The device has no 3.5mm jack and communication is by Bluetooth. The Bluetooth connection to the smart phone is two-way communication, but it can not output it's audio to you via the smartphone. You will need a separate Bluetooth receiver or headset. Maintaining the Bluetooth connections is a PITA. Some fussing is generally required after each stop to reestablish functions. How much varies. A few times I was not able to get reconnected with the Bluetooth receiver at all, and rode without gps audio. Mostly it works, however. I only had one disconnect while riding. When the system connects, it turns off any audio streaming from the phone. This means the phone must be kept accessible and you have to remove a glove to restart music streaming from the phone. I have found that on start-up it seems to be best to boot the gps, then the Bluetooth receiver, and finally activate Bluetooth on the phone and start music streaming last.

Usually, the device figures out that I am not configured for phone calls. Once it did not, and the phone rang while riding. This interrupted the music streaming and it did not restart automatically after that. Much fussing to reestablish. However, the rest of the time the interrupts worked well and seamlessly.

The device is supposed to be able to play music (mp3 only) from the micro SD card. So far, this is not happening. Working with Zumo forums to see if it can be resolved. There appears to be some Voodoo involving non-published file structure requirements, file naming limitation, and possibly limits on the number of files... Probably best to just continue to stream from phone.

The device has wifi.... it asks you if it can report your travel info back home. I said no. Then later it asks if it can report anonymous data... ok. But why do I need a cable to transfer data from pc? Wifi appears to be only for communication to the mother ship.

The device is a gps, but to get traffic and weather alerts I must turn on "location" in my phone. Why can't it send coordinates via Bluetooth? I have to run two GPS, use up phone battery, and let Google track me. Silly.

Traffic alerts are inaccurate and incomplete. Once it told me I-70 was closed and rerouted me off the highway. Not seeing any signs of an issue in meat space, I ignored it. I-70 was fine. Often it doesn't know about construction or delays... You might think it would download construction when you start a route, but it appears to download it as you approach... if you have a data signal... or maybe some construction sites are not in it's database, or both... Don't count on it to let you know about delays. I would guess this implementation would work better for commuters or going through cities. For rural or remote riding not so much.

The current North America map is very inaccurate with respect to dirt and paved roads, and also with respect to speed limits. The dirt road issue means that routing is best done in another program, Google Maps for example, then set up in BaseCamp and transferred to the device. It is then necessary to carefully review the route on the device.... except that the review doesn't seem to match what it actually has you do... still SMH. Per Ed Conde and the New England Rider's Manual, turn off all avoidances and routing features on the device and in BaseCamp. For example, the map shows a 400' foot dirt section on our fully paved road. With avoid dirt roads turned on, both BC and the device will route you about 10 miles out the way on rough back roads, several miles on an actual dirt road over private property, and through a closed and locked gate. Best to just use Google maps. LOL

When hooking to a pc, it takes about 2 minutes to be ready for use.

Sometimes when you ignore it, rerouting gets a little frazzled... At one point after a gas stop I was surprised to find I was suddenly 8214 miles and 170 and some hours from my day's destination. LOL. I had to "stop" the navigation and restart it. Usually, however, this works fine.

When you shape a route in Basecamp it creates points and it gives them names... often incomprehensible names. When you are traveling it treats these as destinations. If you should stop and restart the route after having passed one of these points you will need to tell the device to skip it. Given the strange naming it can be difficult to know which one to start at. You can make these silent in Basecamp.... Only tried that once so far and didn't need to stop and restart that route... so not sure of the consequences there.

In Basecamp, always zoom into your shaping points and make sure they are really on your route. If not, strange behavior can result when you pass them by without going to them. Usually, but not always, the device will offer to skip the point.

Often the device will route you on strange little shortcuts off a numbered highway.... Once I was smart enough to skip it when it tried to route us through a garbage dump operation in a deep hole... The other time I went about 5 miles up a sketchy road before it turned to dirt and we had to back track. Just stay on the highway, and review routes carefully against your route on Google Maps.

On the whole, I'd say typical Garmin... can't live with them, can't live without them.... Most likely I will learn how to work with it better as time goes on.


Jan

Sand Beige 2007 R1200RT "Flyer"



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#1020205 - 10/03/18 06:06 PM Re: Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S [Re: Twisties]  
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Although I set it to never power off so as to avoid Bluetooth connection issues, it still powers off automatically. It does this mostly when the bike is powered off and it goes on battery. It waits about 2 minutes, then offers you a brief window in which to cancel the shut off. PITA. I've also tried removing it from the cradle and putting it in my pocket. Eventually, during a gas stop it powered off anyway. Possibly the power button was inadvertently pushed in my pocket? IDK.


Jan

Sand Beige 2007 R1200RT "Flyer"



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#1020229 - 10/04/18 03:34 AM Re: Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S [Re: Twisties]  
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For the reasons you've stated, I avoid using "shaping point" in BaseCamp, and just set visible waypoints to force the route to use the roads I want. I've done this with my Navigator II (Garmin 2610 clone, IIRC), Zumo 660, and now Nav VI. I seem to recall that the units have a tendency to ignore shaping points when recalculating a route (if, say, you miss a turn, or make a stop that's not on your route). They do better with waypoints (or "favorites", in the current generation of Garminese, which seems to change with every generation of devices). The Bluetooth connection from my Nav VI to my Sena 20S seems pretty solid. Once in a while, I have to cycle power on the Sena after starting the bike, but not often.


Northern San Diego County ("North County" to locals)
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'12 Kawasaki KLX250S
'04 R1150RT (gone)
'02 Suzuki V-Strom (gone)
#1020230 - 10/04/18 04:13 AM Re: Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S [Re: Twisties]  
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I should also point out that the unit has a lot of advertising features.... Every Shell station is highlighted as you ride, and every so often it starts suggesting restaurants and other stops. I will look into the Zumo forums to see if there is a way to turn off this stuff.

I think it can be set up to suggest gas stops, but I have not enabled that feature.


Jan

Sand Beige 2007 R1200RT "Flyer"



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#1020268 - 10/04/18 08:00 PM Re: Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S [Re: Twisties]  
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Quote
The device is supposed to be able to play music (mp3 only) from the micro SD card. So far, this is not happening. Working with Zumo forums to see if it can be resolved. There appears to be some Voodoo involving non-published file structure requirements, file naming limitation, and possibly limits on the number of files... Probably best to just continue to stream from phone.


This is now resolved. The micro SD card requires the following structure, including unused folders:

Garmin
---GPX
__SQL
__userdata
JPEG
Music
userdata

With all of that in place, the unit will find the mp3 files in the music folder. Crazy.


Jan

Sand Beige 2007 R1200RT "Flyer"



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#1020398 - 10/07/18 10:58 AM Re: Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S [Re: Twisties]  
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IMHO, Garmin went to hell with the Nuvi style routing model..... Also with Basecamp... Just got my old Mapsource program up and running again. Now I am happy...
Only works for older style map sets, but at least my old 376C can take a route and pick it up any point you start at....
I know, living in the past is not good and you must assimilate at some point, but I am resisting with every fiber of my being.....


2018 700i LE UXV (Yeah I know its not a bike)
2007 R1200GS
2004 DR200se (RIP for now...)
#1020409 - 10/07/18 02:58 PM Re: Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S [Re: Twisties]  
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A question for you, does the 396 map set include Canada?


"I've received many honors but I've already received the highest award I'll ever receive, and that has been the privilege and honor of serving proudly in the United States Navy." RADM Grace Hopper

#1020435 - 10/07/18 11:30 PM Re: Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S [Re: Twisties]  
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Yes, all of North America, so that includes Canada and Mexico.


Jan

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#1023007 - 11/26/18 01:07 PM Re: Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S [Re: Twisties]  
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Jan, now that you have a couple of months of use on the 396 what are your observations?


"I've received many honors but I've already received the highest award I'll ever receive, and that has been the privilege and honor of serving proudly in the United States Navy." RADM Grace Hopper

#1023209 - 11/30/18 03:08 AM Re: Garmin Zumo 396 LMT-S [Re: ltljohn]  
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Originally Posted by ltljohn
Jan, now that you have a couple of months of use on the 396 what are your observations?


I haven't used it since I wrote that review.


Jan

Sand Beige 2007 R1200RT "Flyer"



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