Product Review - The Garmin zumo 660
Thursday, July 14, 2011

Product Review - The Garmin zumo 660

The Garmin zumo 660 is made specifically for motorcycle riders and their unique needs.

The days of maps are long gone. And thank goodness, because we all know how inconvenient it was to try and carry one of those around. Now we've all got gadgets that let us keep track of every minute of our trips turn by turn. And long gone are the fears of going off the map and getting lost. So when companies such as Garmin started producing GPS systems that are meant specifically for motorcycle riders and our unique needs (the added size of fingers when gloves are on and the inability to hear turn by turn voice navigation through the air whipping past our head) we needed to take one of them out for a spin. We managed to get our hands on a Garmin zumo 660 and this is what we found.


Before even taking off to use the GPS on the road, we found that the first perk was how easy it was to install on our bike. Garmin shipped us some great universal hardware with the unit that makes the zumo 660 compatible with any motorcycle. Plus the clutch bracket and the u-bolt and clap allow for some freedom in where it can be placed. The actual mount for the GPS unit was also very easy to use and made it extremely convenient to detach the unit when it's not in use in order to safely store it and then reattach it with ease when you're ready to go again.

The different mounting hardwares make it easy to install the Garmin zumo 660 on any bike; anywhere you would like to place it.   With Bluetooth and voice comand capabilities, the Garmin zumo 660 is a totally hands-free unit that you can stock up with your favorite music and destinations.
The different mounting hardwares make it easy to install the Garmin zumo 660 on any bike; anywhere you would like to place it.   With Bluetooth and voice comand capabilities, the Garmin zumo 660 is a totally hands-free unit that you can stock up with your favorite music and destinations.

The actual system itself is also extremely easy to set up and can be immediately used with preloaded maps, points of interest and destinations. This little travel companion will never let you go wondering where the next gas station, restaurant or ATM is located. But if you do want to get even crazier with it, the zumo 660 can be hooked up to a computer to allow you to upload custom trails and trips as well as music or even audio books.

Surprised? We were! The Garmin zumo 660 features Bluetooth technology that can be synched up with any Bluetooth capable headset or helmet so that you can actually hear the voice commands or any music you do upload it to. Plus, this little guy can be connected to your cell phone in order to allow you to receive or make calls.

One of our favorite features of the Garmin zumo 660 was what you can even do after the ride. Each of your rides can be saved to an SD card and/or uploaded online. This makes it so easy to share our favorite rides with our family and friends. We want to see what crazy rides you come up with so use this feature to send your favorite summer rides to see them featured in our new community section! Email your rides to


We only found one con with the Garmin zumo 660. The screen didn't seem to recognize our gloved fingers when we tried to make some route adjustments mid-ride. Then again, I guess we shouldn't have been trying to mess with the GPS system while on the road. But what we did end up finding was that the Bluetooth system allows the Garmin zumo 660 to be controlled through voice commands. In other words, no hands needed. Maybe the fact that it doesn't recognize our gloved fingers is actually a good thing to help us keep our focus on the road and to just use the voice command system instead.

Would we buy it?

You bet we would! This little gizmo is perfect for riders who need the extra help to stay on track. Plus it's got tons of ways to help you stay entertained on long rides. We even found that the Garmin zumo 660 was great for around town, especially if you're directionally challenged like we are. Since it's so easy to snap on for use and snap off for safe storage, you'll have no problem using it every time you ride, no matter how long the ride is. We love that this gadget isn't one where you need to weigh the pro's and con's of putting it on. There's no, "Is this trip long enough for it to be worth trying to get that thing on my bike?" Instead, just snap on and go without every worrying about getting lost.

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      Tuesday, July 26, 2011 9:30:17 PM
      Jeffrey Goelz said:

Grrrr.... I have a love/hate relationship with my 660. As a pure motorcycle navigation system, it's aces. I thought I would miss the tactile buttons from the Zumo 450/550 line, but other than hitting the extreme edge of the screen with my bulky gloved fingertips, I haven't had a problem navigating, even while rolling. The complaints: However, this is marketed as a navigation system with entertainment properties, a way to integrate your MP3's, Audible books and GPS (and XM radio on the 665) into one device. It is this claim that bothers me. The MP3 code used in the device is OLD, and often far too picky with ID3 tags and album artwork. Mismatched id3v1 and v2 tags may cause it to not even see a song, I never did find out why certain artwork did not show (I do embed manually artwork for every album, so it isn't an iTunes artwork issue). The Bluetooth code is also flakey. A common issue with listening to the MP3's that do work over BT is that playback will at some point stop, pausing-and-playing will get you one second of music then silence again, and the Zumo needs to be rebooted. This does not happen over the wired connection, just during BT playback, and seems to be a result of having a direction notification interrupt the music. The mounting system is not solid enough for a $650 GPS device. There is a tab on the top that has far too soft a feel to give you confidence it is strapped in. It is easy to have the unit in place, and powered by the bike, but not latched firmly. One slow-speed ejection put this unit safely in my crotch until I pulled over, and stowed it. There is not even a tab to hook a leash around as on their handheld models. I found a retailer selling a locking mount for it and it has safely stayed in place since, and I am also given the added security of leaving the device on the bike while I run in somewhere and use the restroom. Minor complaint if you are a Mac user: The supporting software for the PC is boring, old and frustrating. The Mac software sure is pretty in comparison, but the functionality is limited. No Waypoint Categories, or any support for them. The 'Find' feature is awful, it's hard to keep organized as everytime you load data into it, it imports it into your library - having multiple revisions of a route is a NIGHTMARE this way. On a machine of the same specs, Mapsource is MUCH quicker with a heavy waypoint laden route (500+). Yes, the unit is a GPS, but it is advertised with the music abilities as an entertainment platform. At the price you spend, it's a bit disappointing that those features work worse than an MP3 player from 2002. At the price of the unit, I don't expect it to be perfect, for those features to work somewhat correctly. There is no other options for motorcyclists, and as a GPS, this is a good bet, albeit with some asterisks. If these issues don't bother you, purchase away!


      Thursday, July 21, 2011 11:17:57 AM
      Richard Thibedeau said:

I have a earlier version Garmin zumo 550 that has a smaller screen and requires a external antennae for xm radio and road/weather info. Does the 660 have a built in antennae for this purpose? Is it worth the "big bucks" to upgrade?


      Thursday, July 21, 2011 12:17:57 AM
      BikeBandit said:

Hi Richard; thanks so much for your question. The Garmin zumo 660 does not have any kind of radio. However, the Garmin zumo 665 does come with Garmin's GXM 40 XM antenna that can receive 170 digital XM Radio channels. It gets anything from music to news to sports no matter what part of the US you are in. And since it's XM Radio, you'd never have to worry about being in an area that doesn't get any radio reception. If you're looking to upgrade, there are a ton of new features on both the Garmin zumo 660 and the Garmin zumo 665 that definitely make them worth their price. Check out their product pages to find out more about them.



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