Motorbike tours

The site for Motorbike touring with Garmin GPS Navigation

BaseCamp & GPS problems I have encountered.

BaseCamp to be discontinued!!

Don't panic though, just like the old MapSource software even though the development has stopped you will still be able to use the software and receive map change updates;  its just that Garmin has decided to stop producing any developmental updates. Apparently the future will be ''Explore", a new software but used now only with a few hiking GPS models produced by Garmin. Garmin will and does still sell new Zumo models with the BaseCamp software so dont worry it will be around for many years to come. Big question for all users is what will come next. As soon as I hear anything it will be on here with relevant links.

 ZUMO GPS units - advantages & disadvantages

Another vital piece of riding equipment I acquired early on when I started riding was a Garmin Zumo 550 GPS system.

Having mastered the art of designing routes via the MapSource software I have found that half the fun of riding these routes is actually in the design and planning process. Not only this but once you have ridden the route, downloading the tracks, checking the diversionary points which you were forced to take as a result of traffic problems or roadworks and then following the final version in google earth is all part of the fun.


I have now graduated onto the Zumo 590 LM TP............

I found that the 550 had become difficult to manage in terms of space to load the actual maps onto the GPS unit and besides after 5 years like all things electrical they are superseded by a "better" or later model with updates.

In this I will explain a little about the struggle I had trying to get to understand the BaseCamp software having mastered the MapSource package so well.  I must say after the struggles and hours spent ''google-ing'' the problems has proven that the new BaseCamp "package" actually delivers quite a punch if you get to know it be

ZUMO or BMW Navigator?

As a proud owner of a new BMW 1200 GS (2016) I spent a long time deliberating on the purchase of the BMW version of my ZUMO 590 - the Navigator V. A lot impressed me with this unit and in combination with the scroll wheel on the bike I was almost tempted to buy it. A couple of things initially held me back; the price for one - about EURO 200 more than the ZUMO but also the fact that the model seemed to be a bit outdated.

With hind sight I am actually grateful I desisted. The new Navigator VI has just been launched (March 2017) and indeed looks quite the part but there is a feature that BMW has not managed to incorporate but which the later ZUMO models have and that is the invaluable "Up Ahead" function. For some reason BMW have either not managed to convince Garmin to add this in or simply deem it to be irrelevant. However, from my point of view it is one of the biggest plus points that ZUMO have. For those not familiar, the Up Ahead function allows you to programme up to 3 icons that appear on the right side of your screen. The above picture shows this clearly. The picture (above left) shows in the top right the fuel icon and a number of 0.5. This basically tells you that on your route in 0.5 miles you will come across a petrol station. The next icon shows a knife and fork and the number 0.6.  This means that 0.6 miles ahead will be somewhere that you can eat.

In a nutshell the Up Ahead function allows you to set specific notifications which will tell you what is available on your route and how far it is to the next parameter you have specified.

Personally the fuel icon has saved my bacon a few times whilst recently travelling in Scotland. The GS has a rather nice computer on board with a lot of nice gadgets one of which is the fuel tank range. Whilst riding in the Borders last year twice I compared the fuel tank range to the ZUMO Up Ahead fuel or Petrol station mileage. This way I was able to plan my fuel stops better. To me the function is therefore invaluable and now the main reason that I will not buy the Navigator even with the convenience of the on bike scroll wheel built into the grip!  

Time to review the customers demands BMW?

Anyway, enough about the GPS and more onto the riding.

Like it or not I am one of these fair weather weekend riders; there's far too much chrome on the Cruiser and too many nooks and crannies for dirt to get into on the GS to spend hours cleaning after riding on muddy wet streets. Regrettably not all days are dry when you set out! Living in Holland does hoewever limit the days or weekends when I get to ride. I have explored most of the ''Randstad'' area of Holland with my GPS and have even started planning trips further afield. In the GPS Routes section you will find not only a large number of routes in and around this area of Holland but also other trips in England, Scotland and also into Germany. My favourite routes and indeed riding in general still remains in the UK. For me its the convenience of jumping on the ferry from Holland and arriving early next morning in a different world ready to ride.

As mentioned in the previous section I have gone through quite a learning curve with the purchase of my new ZUMO 590 unit. It has meant a switch not only of GPS unit but also from MapSource to Garmins BaseCamp software.

Garmin have ironed out a lot of the bugs it had in the beginning with BaseCamp but even then for many of us who were pretty ''au fait'' with the old MapSource software it was a bit of headache to get used to in the beginning. However having mastered BaseCamp now after considerable hours sat behind my PC  I must say I would not go back to MapSource. The advantage is that your old Mapsource files can be uploaded and stored in BaseCamp format and then uploaded onto your new GPS. Big disadvantage apparently,  and a clever trick by Garmin to get you to buy a new GPS unit, is that it does not work the other way around. Jury seems to still be out on that one so if anyone can claim this is a myth then let me know and I'll change this paragraph. According to my sources you cannot take BaseCamp files and convert them to MapSource nor can you upload BaseCamp files onto a GPS system which does not work with BaseCamp.

Anyway, irrespective the new 590LM is a good GPS unit. Its a little more temperamental than its forebearers the 550 and 500 because is so much more complex. Its designed to do more thinking for you than the older units. For the "Click and Go" GPS buffs this is surely the best thing but for those like me who still painstakingly like to design the routes on their PC and then upload to the unit its a little less user friendly than it was with the old 500 Series. Anyway I am being exceptionally critical and I must say the unit is first class. A couple of useful and interesting features on the 590 are the Smartphone Apps that link into the unit. There is an excellent weather App which shows an effective rain radar for the intended route; an App for traffic updates and also one for speed cameras. They need to be purchased through your iPhone subscription but you pay once and that's it,  no monthly updates or fees.

For those with older less fancy bikes there is an additional option to have the "TP" additional package with the 590. TP meaning Typre Pressure. This is 2 special tyre caps which have pressure gauges built in and link to your GPS unit. This way you can see what the tyre pressure is in your tyres and also set a minimum pressure so you know when they need to be adjusted. A nice gadget for those that like that sort of thing.

Finally, I did find a quite useful link from another website which gives quite a detailed Basecamp tutorial. I am sure here are many out there but I found this one quite useful as it has been written by bikers for bikers. This one has a US flavor but the principles are the same. Maybe you will find it as useful as I did. Click on the following link to read. Basecamp Tutorial

Some basic Tricks which I found useful: 

There are a couple of nuances which are really quite annoying with the 590 GPS unit compared to its predecessor, the 550.

I hope the following tips will help you overcome these just like it did for me.


1.     What I did find as being a pain is when I had constructed the route I wished to ride with the BaseCamp software on my PC, when I transferred this to my 590 GPS unit the distances were different implying immediately that the route was also different. I would then follow the route on my GPS simulation option  trying to find where the differences were. What I did notice that helped solve part of this issue was ensuring that the GPS settings were aligned with those you have on your Basecamp Software. This caused the routes to transfer almost 100%. Problem solved!


2.     Another issue which I found irritating was that if I had too many waypoints on a specific route that I had made on my PC using BaseCamp, when I transferred this to the GPS unit the unit would cut the route into 2 or more parts claiming that the route I had made exceeded the maximum number of waypoints for the GPS unit to handle.  I never had this problem with the 550 unit. What I did learn was that in order to eliminate this issue you need to change the waypoint characteristics in Basecamp to ‘’Shaping points’’. So what does this mean exactly and how is it done? Well basically the new Trip Planning software in the 590 and in BaseCamp assumes that the distance in between each way point is in fact a short journey in itself. This also causes the audio announcement to assume the same and advise you of same. So if your route is full of waypoints your GPS unit (if linked to an audio source) will announce arrival at each waypoint you have on your route. If you like listening to music along the way this will interrupt you listening enjoyment and after a few minutes will drive you mad!.....So what you need to do is to change waypoints into ‘’shaping points’’ . So how do you do this?


a.     Double click on the coloured route you have made in Basecamp. This brings up the route properties box.

b.     Right click on ALL of the unimportant waypoints and change the settings to “shaping point”. Make sure you don’t do this for the first or last point of your route!. Also if you have chosen a stop – lunch or petrol as a waypoint, leave this in as a normal waypoint. Your GPS will take this being a normal waypoint and will guide you to this in the normal way.


By doing this,  effectively you are telling your GPS unit to acknowledge that this set of (now Shaping) Points is guiding the way the route has to go but also stating that the route between these points are not to be seen as individual trips.  They are considered as ‘’non-alerting’’ waypoints and do just that – your GPS will not ‘’alert’’ you each time you approach one whilst riding your route. Finally a point worth noting is that you may have 125 of these non-alerting waypoints between each normal waypoint. So basically if your GPS unit has a maximum of 30 waypoints that the unit can hold before splitting the route into more than one section,  you can have effectively 125 x 30 total waypoints taking the above into consideration on one route!

Problem solved!


3.     Finally and probably the most irritating for me was that once all waypoints have been loaded onto the 590 GPS unit and the route cut into 2 sections, if I diverted even slightly from the original planned route for road works or whatever, the 590 GPS had this annoying habit of wanting to take me back to the waypoint I had missed. Even if I had reached the next waypoint, the 590 would still try to divert me to the one I had missed first time. The old 550 GPS unit did not do this but assumed I had missed the waypoint and picked up the next one and would guide me onto that one. The 590 does not do this – or so I thought. However a couple of things did help me solve this problem too:


a.     If you use the same principles as above in point 2. The problem is solved – why – well the unit will only consider normal waypoints as those to be important or relevant.  It will always guide you back to the one you have missed. If you design the route only with “shaping points” the 590 GPS will use these to help form your route but if you miss one it will not guide you back to the one you have just missed.


b.     HOWEVER….. you cannot only have shaping points in your route and you might also have a couple of actual waypoints you wish to have for stopovers, fuel, lunch etc. Say you are diverted due to road works purely by chance around exactly the normal waypoint you have set up as a fuel stop.  Your GPS will automatically try to take you back to it. Say then that you decide that you won’t use that stop for fuel but will find something else along the way; as this waypoint is NOT a shaping point your GPS will continue to try to get you to ride back to this waypoint you have missed. How can you solve this one? You can also manually override this on your 590 GPS unit. By tapping the 3 bar icon in the bottom right of your screen whilst riding you then need to tap the icon which shows an arrow going around a map pin. This is the ‘’skip waypoint’’ function and will tell the GPS that you want to skip the waypoint you missed and carry on with riding your route. If this icon is not in the screen, go to the set up menu and add it in.   Again problem solved.


The more I learn about my 590 the more complex it seems but also the more logical in many ways. The learning curve is very steep but there are many features that really are excellent and make total sense. Only thing, is you need to find out how they work. The designers have indeed taken the software and hardware to a totally new level. The only thing is they forget the 500 page user manual that is probably needed for people to really learn how to use it to its full extent!

Experience shows that the only way around this is to try and work around and through the various issues and use google if you come across any difficulties.

Good luck!