Garmin and TomTom are the most prominent GPS players. It’s been that way for many years. Garmin has a larger presence in the US and TomTom is larger in Europe. However, both are worldwide brands with a good presence in North America, Europe and Australia. What’s the difference? We look at a Garmin Zumo versus TomTom Rider motorcycle GPS devices.
Both companies have been making GPS devices for motorcycles for over ten years. Plenty of time to get their acts straight. For the most part, both have done a splendid job of giving riders what’s needed to see where you’re going. This article discusses a few important points that may help determine which is the better device for your needs.
I have maintained for a while that you need to have a 5″ display to clearly see the maps. The Garmin 595Lm has a 5″ screen where the TomTom Rider 400 checks in with a 4.3″ screen. It’s kind of baffling as TomTom makes a bunch of car GPS units that feature a 5″ or larger display. I suppose this was a conscientious decision but I wish it was larger.
From a durability perspective, both are made to tolerate the vibrations and ruggedness needed for motorcycle use. The Garmin Zumo and TomTom Rider voth carry a rating of IPX7 which means it withstands incidental exposure to water of up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes. This makes both good for light to moderate rain.
TomTom and Garmin offer Bluetooth capabilities with their motorcycle GPS devices so you can hear commands through an enabled helmet.
The battery life, as stated by the manufacturer, is longer on the TomTom Rider 400 and I suspect the display size might have something to do with that. Most motorcycle GPS owners hardwire their devices to their battery, so this may not be an important advantage.
The Garmin Zumo 595LM has the ability to check your tire pressure using the optional TPMS accessory. This is an additional accessory that can be added which is basically a smart air valve cap that speaks to the GPS. This is a very useful feature that makes the Garmin Zumo line of GPS units somewhat unique.
Garmin Zumo versus TomTom Rider Winner: Garmin Zumo
TomTom and Garmin both provide lifetime map updates.
Both allow you to establish preferences for routes. If you like a lot of hills and turns, program into your route.
The TomTom software seems to be more intuitive and easier to use. That’s my opinion. Some may differ with me. TomTom also provides a subscription to TomTom Traffic via smartphone and speed camera alerts. No extra cost for these subscriptions. Nice.
A curious absence is the ability to play MP3 files on the TomTom Rider 400. The Garmin Zumo has been able to do that for a long time. I suppose most stream music off their phones using BLue tooth so this may not matter. However, if you like to play MP3 files off your GPS, you can’t do that with a TomTom Rider.
In general, the Garmin maps appear to be more detailed.
Garmin provides some very nice software features including a new feature called photoReal Junction View. I like this feature a lot. It provides a view of the approaching junction with lane guidance. A brightly colored arrow on the GPS display, along with voice prompts, will indicate the proper lane position needed for your next turn or exit.
The Garmin Zumo 595LM has a trip gauge to help plan gas consumption. This works better than the one that’s included in my new Nissan Murano. There’s also a nicely integrated service log history so you can track when it’s time to do routine maintenance such as change the tires or air filter.
This category is a tough one to call but I’ll call it TomTom because the user interface is more intuitive.
Garmin Zumo versus TomTom Rider Winner: TomTom Rider
Ironically both companies include the same mount with their current line of motorcycle GPS devices. Both have smartly left to RAM to provide their mounts. Good call as their mounts are excellent for motorcycle use.
Garmin Zumo versus TomTom Rider Winner: Tie
Accessories and Parts
Over the many years that I have been involved in this area, this is a big differentiator. Garmin sells parts for what seems like forever. You can still purchase replacement parts for their oldest Garmin Zumo 550. Try to find parts, especially in the US, for an old TomTom Rider. You can’t. Sometimes you get lucky and find a UK dealer that carries them. However, TomTom has a finite amount of time they will make parts available.
I suppose if you plan to replace your GPS as often as a smartphone, then it doesn’t matter very much. However, most hold on to their GPS for a long time. These powered cradles and hardwire cables don’t last forever. They are likely to give out before you are ready to buy a new GPS. Keep this in mind when selecting your next GPS.
Garmin Zumo versus TomTom Rider Winner: Garmin (and by a large margin)
Garmin support comes out of the USA and are very knowledgeable. TomTom support is in India. I don’t know if they are TomTom employees or outsourced. TomTom support has been somewhat limited by the accessories and parts comments I just made.
Garmin Zumo versus TomTom Rider Winner: Garmin
Generally speaking, you are going to pay more for the top of the line Garmin Zumo versus TomTom Rider. At least that’s what I have seen in the US.
Garmin Zumo versus TomTom Rider Winner: TomTom
Sop when it comes to Garmin Zumo versus TomTom Rider, it’s a close call. Simply based upon the winner and loser equation, the Garmin Zumo wins the battle of motorcycle GPS manufacturers.
Both are good manufacturers and make excellent GPS devices.
If cost is a major concern, the TomTom Rider 400 will normally cost less. Keep in mind the points made when it comes to longevity of part availability though. I have also found support to be somewhat better with Garmin however if you don’t think you will ever need support, it probably doesn’t matter.
Price not being an issue, the Garmin Zumo represents the better way to go, especially for the longer term owner.
I’m Mike, the author of all of the articles on this site. MotorcycleGPSHub is written from many years of experience outfitting motorcycles with GPS devices and mounting configurations. I’ve had a chance to use not just the old school Garmin Zumo, but more contemporary GPS apps like Waze and Google Maps. To each their own. There’s a good market for a traditional motorcycle GPS as well as those that want to keep it basic with a smartphone app.