Reviews : Using my Garmin Nuvi 40

While riding in Thailand I just follow my front wheel, and that is fine. But then I have to ride back home and then it seems that Thailand is lacking direction signs or I lack the ability to read the signs. And sometimes the road leads you into a village or small city and no signs whatsoever to get out of it. Really no joking it took me sometimes about 20 min to get out of a small city and out in the right direction that is.

So GPS navigation is the answer to all your problems. As that can actually be very easy done with your smartphone the problem would be solved, right? Well not really. There are actually 2 new problems. The first one is, what application will you be using on you smartphone? An application like Google Maps needs internet connection to read the maps. And of course just when you are in the middle of nowhere there is no internet connection or it is very slow. Other option is to buy an application that has build-in maps so you do not need internet connection (like Tom Tom, Garmin, Route 66).

But another problem of using your smartphone on your motorbike is dirt, vibration and heat. Mounted on your handle-bar it in full exposure of dirt (dust) and vibration. And in your tank-bag it is in full exposure of heat. Think of it .... the phone is charging, display is on, GPS is working, sun is shining on your tank-bag and the phone is in a closed green-house. So with dirt, dust and vibration I killed my HTC Touch HD and my Iphone switched off due to heat in my tank-bag. So what other options are there? A dedicated GPS device with an mounting system for your handle-bar. In Thailand there are basically 2 options and that are Garmin or TomTom. Due to import-tax both expensive to buy in Thailand.

My first consideration was the Garmin Zumo 220. Comes as a full set ready to be installed on your motorbike. But with a little bit reading I almost bought an Garmin Montana 600. But then thinking about the price of about 21.000 thb and how much I really needed it I always stalled buying it.

Then I was reading a discussion about the cheaper Garmin models to be used on a motorbike. And as there were actually not much bad experiences with it I just bought the cheapest Garmin model ... the Nuvi 40. For only 3990 thb. Actually I wanted to buy the Garmin 2465 but I could not buy a RAM-holder for it.

Of course it is a car device, so it comes with an car-mount and an charger cable for in the car (that could be used on your motorbike also). But no mounting set for the motorbike. As I had already a RAM mounting I bought also a RAM-holder for the Nuvi 40 (RAM-HOL-GA49U) that did costs almost 500 thb. To be able to connect this holder you need a RAM-ball-head and some more. What will cost about 1500 thb.

So then you have your GPS device mounted on your bike, but the battery will work for about 2hrs so you need to charge it will riding. If your motorbike has an 12v-outlet then you can use the car-charger that came with your Nuvi 40, otherwise you will have to buy an 12v-charging-USB-cable that connects straight to the 12v. This will cost about 1800 thb. So in the end it is not as cheap as I first thought, but about 8.000 thb is still much cheaper as 21.000t hb.

And now ... does it work?
Yes, and very well actually. The Garmin map of Thailand is good and it has an lot of POI's. The touch-screen works with gloves. And after about using it for more as 3000 km riding now in slightly rain, dust and bad roads it is still working.

To protect the Nuvi 40 against dust I did put some tape over the speaker opening in the RAM-holder. And I did put some tape over the SD-card-slot on the Nuvi 40. The only con on the Nuvi 40 is that it has no Bluetooth to connect to your head-set and that every time you take it of your bike you have to take off the usb-charging cable first. Garmin GPS devices are for sale in Thailand at PowerBuy, Tesco/Lotus and some bookstores. For RAM products have a look at : GPS 4 You or Gadgetrend BKK. The Nuvi 40 has an SD-card slot so you can use other maps like the map for Laos

Update (April 2014)
Well actually on the long run the USB connection will fail contact and you can not charge your GPS anymore. So when I was in Europe I bought a Garmin Zumo 340, special for motorbikes. See Garmin Zumo 340

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