Sunday, July 29, 2007

Garmin Zumo 550 GPS

I have a Nolan N102 helmet with the N-COM bluetooth headset. At first, I only tried it with my iPod nano, plugged in to the wire and it worked fine. I wanted to eliminate the wires completely though. This was Thursday, and I was leaving for my trip on Saturday morning, so I wanted this done before then. I put in an order for a Garmin Zumo 550 and a locking Touratech MVG cradle (to replace my Garmin GPSMap 378), with overnight shipping , so I'd have enough time to install and test it. I would just have Friday night to get it to work, music and all, and to wire the cradle to my BMW R1200 GS.

As luck would have it, UPS messed up and I didn't get my Zumo until Saturday morning. So I put off my departure date until the next day (Sunday). I got the cradle mounted and wired for power, and I got the Zumo talking to my Nolan and my Blackberry 8700. When connecting the Zumo to the Nolan, make sure you put the Nolan into the handsfree (HF) pairing mode, not the HS. To put the Nolan into HF pairing, turn it off, then hold the on button for 9 seconds. After the first 3 the unit turns on, keep holding the button. After another 3 seconds it goes into HS pairing mode, and starts flashing the LED's - keep holding the button. After another 3 seconds it goes into HF pairing mode, and starts flashing the LED's real fast. Now let go of the power button and pair to your Zumo. The passcode for it is 0000 .

The Zumo to phone integration is pretty nice. I haven't tried talking on the phone yet, but I've called various voicemails. You can dial right on the Zumo, you get your whole addressbook on the Zumo too. You can find some hotel or something on the map, and then call it, all right from the Zumo. I don't know how good the phone sound quality is going to be yet.

Another thing to note for MP3s. I copied all my MP3s to an 8GB SD card and put it in - Zumo can't see anything on it. A 4GB card works. I guess it doesn't support more than 4GB right now. Come on Garmin, it's just a firmware fix - do it.

Overall I was happy with it so far, but I'd test it on an actual road trip over the following week. One thing I wish I could do, is connect my radar detector's audio out to the Garmin and have it transmit the sound to the Nolan. Eventually I'll probably try to connect the radar output to the microphone input on the Garmin cradle. I have no idea if that will work, because that mic input is designed for a wired helmet - but I'll try that later.


I spent a week on the road with this setup, and it works well. There are some minor issues that I may just have to get used to. If you power off the Zumo, and then power it back on and hit "View Map", it takes a good minute before it shows the map, and it doesn't say "Drawing" or anything while it's stuck doing nothing. Not a problem, just an annoyance. I've also had the helmet speakers cut out sometimes when I close the flip shield. Maybe a bad connection somewhere? I still need to figure out how, if at all, you can feed a radar detector into this setup.