12 days on the road with MRA and Zumo XT

  • Hey folks, I purchased the Garmin and signed up for a lifetime MRA membership to prepare for an annual motorcycle trip with my wife. We visited some old familiar places, and found many that we'd like to return to another time. I'll be posting some suggestions regarding the MRA routing features once I get a bit of time.

    Overall, everything worked almost exactly as I had hoped. I spent a lot of time reading posts on this forum, the Garmin forum hosted in the UK, Basecamp forums, and ADVrider. The combination of the Zumo XT and MRA definitely made this trip easier, more enjoyable, and safer.

    We pre-plan to a degree, but like to allow a certain amount of freedom once on the road. I had the first two days and last day configured in MyRoute-App. On several occasions we spent two nights in a scenic area, and used the Round Tour feature of MRA with great results. We did tweak the auto-generated route, but it found some really nice roads for us.

    The work flow was like this. I used my desktop PC with dual monitors and paper maps to look at the areas of interest. I set my default map in MRA to 'Here', which I believe is important when exporting to the Garmin. I did accidentally create some off-route shaping point, which created some confusion on the road, but the Garmin gracefully recovered. Once I had a route created and properly named (this became important when we started departing from the schedule), I closed the MRA website on the PC. When traveling we used a Samsung tablet to generate or modify the routes. I used the ability to create folder and sub-folders to organize the routes.

    Once created, I would turn on the GPS, which generally started the Garmin Drive app on my Android phone, as it was already linked to the phone for real-time weather and traffic updates. I would re-open the route on my mobile using the MRA Android app, then 'Save As' GPX 1.1. The mobile would download the file. Touching 'Open' would bring up Garmin Drive, and give me the option of sending the file to the Zumo XT. A few minutes later the GPS would report new files received. This sounds complex, but really only took a couple of minutes, far less than the route planning.

    On the Garmin, I would open 'apps' then 'Trip Planner', then 'Saved Trips'. It took a bit to figure out how to tell the Garmin we were at (or reasonably close) to the start, we ended up with strait line routes a couple of mornings. Once settled on the route, the Garmin faithfully kept us on the route (plenty of shaping points) we had created in MRA.

    One important note is to turn off 'Off Route Recalculation', in the Settings / Navigation menu. I set it to 'Prompted' which let me know we were off the expected route. The route remains outlined as a magenta line, and whenever we returned to it the GPS picked up from the point of re-entry. This was a big concern for me, I was very afraid we would lose the route entirely and have to revert to the paper map or GPS determined routing. The Garmin handled 'figure of 8' routes perfectly, we had one day where we crossed our path twice, a double eight.

    So this was a big win! The Zumo and mounting hardware, along with the lifetime MRA Gold membership set us back a bit of cash. But we had many less missed turns, U-turns, and stops to trace our position on a paper map. We were able to execute complex routes that I would not have attempted without the GPS, due to the amount of navigation needed. And getting turn by turn directions to the hotel through city traffic at the end of a long day is nearly priceless.

    I'll post my suggestions, and share some of the routes. Basically it was a counterclockwise circle tour from SE Michigan north through the Upper Peninsula, Wisconsin, Minnestota, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Tennesee, Indiana, Ohio and back home. Lots of crossings of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. We're getting excited about next year, when my wife is retired!

  • Thanks for the review. I am considering the Garmin Zumo XT and I appreciated your detailed insights. Have a safe ride!

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