Bluetooth Headsets for a Garmin Zumo GPS

Bluetooth Headsets and Garmin Zumo Motorcycle GPS DevicesNot all motorcycle GPS devices support Bluetooth headsets.  If a motorcycle rider has any hope of hearing GPS directions, a Bluetooth headset or enabled helmet is necessary.  While I suppose you can wire the audio output into an external speaker, I just can’t see how the directions can be heard when riding on a highway.  It’s safer and makes sense to use a Bluetooth headset.

Fortunately, all Garmin Zumo motorcycle GPS units made over the past several years support directions and calls through Bluetooth.

Since Garmin is the largest GPS manufacturer, Bluetooth helmet and headset manufacturers try to ensure their products integrate well with the Garmin Zumo.  By sticking with the mainstream brands, you can be sure that everything will work properly.  Generally speaking, as long as the Bluetooth headset supports the hands-free profile and has a Bluetooth version of 1.1 or higher, everything should be fine.  However, just to play it safe, be sure the headset is returnable if it doesn’t work out.

As I mentioned, sticking with the mainstream motorcycle Bluetooth manufacturers helps to ensure no problems.  Cardo, Sena and Interphone are three mainstream brands known to support the Garmin Zumo line of devices.  I think if you stick with these brands, everything should work well.

Basic Garmin Zumo Bluetooth integration includes the ability to hear directions from the GPS and receive phone calls.  You can only connect one phone at a time to a Garmin Zumo.

If more than one friendly device is within range of your Garmin GPS, the GPS connects to the phone with which it was most recently connected.

Not surprisingly, as technology advances, so does the Bluetooth integration abilities.  Unequally surprising is the more expensive Garmin Zumo devices, currently the Garmin Zumo 590LM and Garmin Zumo 595LM support some extra features.  These extra features include support of two Bluetooth headsets.  Why two?  Well, one for the driver, one for the passenger.  One Bluetooth is the master and can do everything from hear navigation prompts and phone calls as well as hear music.  The secondary Bluetooth connection can only hear music but not navigation prompts and directions.  I guess entertainment is important for the passenger.  Leave the driving to the person in the front.

So which headset should you use?  There are several good ones.

The Sena SMH10-10 Motorcycle Bluetooth Headset / Intercom is an example of one that works with almost any GPS.  It’s known to work with the Garmin Zumo 390LM, 395LM, 590LM and 595LM.  That’s all the Garmin Zumo models made over the past several years.  This Bluetooth headset offers up to 12 hours of talk time and 10 days of stand-by on a single charge.  That’s going to last an entire day without a problem.  The Sena SMH10-10 has a clamp included that will fit onto most helmets.  If the helmet is not standard, Sena makes different attachments that can be purchased.  This Sena Bluetooth headset can optionally be purchased as a dual configuration so that you can stay in communication with a passenger and, if you have a Garmin Zumo 595LM, can let them hear the music from the GPS.

A step up is the Sena 20S-01 Motorcycle Bluetooth 4.1 Communication System.  Compared to the SMH10 series, this adds eight-way intercom with a longer reach.  The 20S also adds a remote control and a static microphone.   The Sena 20S runs Bluetooth 4.1 versus 3.0.  Bluetooth 4.1 uses the a protocol that can be used with many non-Sena Bluetooth headsets on the market.  The more current Bluetooth level only works on the Garmin Zumo 395LM and 595LM.

Sena has been around a long time and specializes in motorcycle Bluetooth headsets.

These are just two good Bluetooth headsets that works with all of the latest Garmin Zumo models.  There are several others that are documented on the Garmin Zumo 590LM and 595LM Bluetooth FAQ Page.