BMW’s motorcycle arm, known as BMW Motorrad, in tandem with GPS icon Garmin, has coughed up a new GPS unit called the Navigator V. Judging from the official press release, it’s clearly a highly capable machine chock full of useful features and I’m sure it will find a home on many a GS handlebar despite it’s laughable cost. Really? $800? Okay, so it’s actually $799. I rounded up for shipping. Oh, a cradle mount adds on $100. So $899 complete. Yowza.
The Navigator V features a five-inch, 800×480 screen and there’s a handy docking unit so you can move it to your car when the bike is parked after that epic ride. It has internal battery power for four hours of continuous use and can of course run off bike and car voltage as well.
BMW says new features include more contextual directions (“turn left at the white church” instead of “turn left at Maple Street”) and directions by photo for those times when signage might not be very reliable, in the Ugandan bush for instance. For the price, you get lifetime map updating from Garmin and the ability to set over 3,700 reference points for your journey. I’ll bet Ted Simon could have used that. The rest of us, probably not so much.
I understand who the Navigator V is aimed at. BMW GS dualsport owners who plunked down well over $20 grand for their world-tour rides (or, just BMW owners in general) prefer to keep their kit brand-loyal if possible and likely won’t balk at the price (even though they should). The Navigator V will plug into a late-model BMW motorcycle’s neural net, allowing control of the device from a handgrip pod. Cool stuff, no doubt.
As for in-car use, unless you’ve held onto that vintage 2002 or old 318i, most BMWs – and pretty much any mid-level luxury car on up – features nav in-dash so I don’t see the Navigator V getting a lot of play time there. It’s nice that it can do double duty, though. But again, isn’t that what your phone is for? Why carry two tech toys around?
As an ADV (ADVenture) rider myself, I used handlebar-mounted GPS units for years (most of which cost a fraction of $800/$900) before simplifying things and getting a worthy bar-mounted case for my smartphone. My phone, unlike a dedicated nav features about half a dozen GPS apps along with, you know, a phone, music player, movie player, flashlight, weather apps, Bluetooth, and other essentials I might need while exploring a remote dirt road or snugged down in a tent somewhere in the hinterlands.
Additionally, the screen res on my phone is way, way higher than that of the Navigator V and I can pick and choose from different nav apps that will do either all or 95 percent of the things that the Navigator V will do. Additionally, those apps regularly update (usually for free), adding refinement and functionality. In two year’s time, the Navigator V will likely be a $900 child’s plaything compared to the rapid update pace of phones, apps, and other bike-worthy GPS machines that do nearly everything the Navigator 5 does and are available everywhere for half the cost.
So unless you’re with Ewan and Charley going the long way to wherever, I can’t see enough perks in the $800 Navigator V to make me forsake my Bluetooth helmet-connected phone for GPS directions and my tiny, low-cost, bar-mountable Garmin nuvi tucked in my fenderpack as backup. I could outfit my trusty dualsport with a whole suite of more-useful farkles for the cost of this decidedly over-priced premium-brand GPS unit.
At least it comes with a nice case.