Garmin zumo 390LM GPS Review

Trying to stay ahead of do-it-all smartphones, less than a year after Editor Tuttle’s evaluation of the zumo 350LM GPS (Rider, February 2013) Garmin has released a new model to replace it. The zumo 390LM has all of the features of the 350LM, plus three new ones—Bluetooth connectivity for mobile phones, “Curvy Roads” navigation and tire-pressure monitoring—for the same retail price ($699.95).

Garmin zumo 390LM's Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Garmin zumo 390LM’s Tire Pressure Monitoring System

Like the 350LM, the 390LM has a rugged hard rubber case that is fuel- and UV-resistant and can be submersed in water up to 1 meter deep (botched river crossing?). It has a 4.3-inch color touchscreen that is glove friendly, and on the back there’s a micro SD card slot and connections for an external headset and mini USB cable, all protected by rubber covers, as well as two small contacts to draw power from the cradle when the DC cable is connected to the motorcycle’s battery. The 390LM is preloaded with maps for North America, and it comes with everything you need to mount the GPS to your motorcycle or in your car, plus an accessory charger and a USB cable. Connect the 390LM to a computer to download updates for the firmware and lifetime maps (that’s what “LM” stands for), or upload routes from Garmin’s free BaseCamp trip-planning software.

Tire pressure sensors are sold separately ($69.99 each).
Tire pressure sensors are sold separately ($69.99 each).

Pairing the 390LM via Bluetooth with my iPhone and Cardo scala rider Q3 headset allowed me to listen to turn-by-turn directions through my helmet’s speakers (the 390LM also has a built-in speaker) as well as use the GPS touchscreen to search the unit’s database of businesses or my phone’s contacts, and to initiate or receive phone calls.

Curvy Roads is a new option in the Calculation Mode portion of the navigation menu, in addition to Faster Time, Shorter Distance and Off Road. After entering a desired destination, the routing algorithm calculates one or more possible routes that maximize the number of curves along the way. Combining it with the “Avoid Highways” function all but guarantees a backroad route, but the algorithm limits how far out of the way it will send you in pursuit of curves. Curvy Roads is helpful but limited. It does not identify the best or curviest sections of the route, nor does it allow you to simply navigate to the nearest twisty road. I’d love to see Garmin include a database of scenic routes/byways as well as famous and lesser-known motorcycle roads.

The optional tire pressure sensors are compatible with metal valve stems only.
The optional tire pressure sensors are compatible with metal valve stems only.

The new Tire Pressure Monitor System (TPMS) requires two sensors, which are sold separately ($69.99 each) and are compatible with metal valve stems only. After pairing the sensors with the 390LM and installing them on the valve stems, you set the recommended tire pressure and desired low-pressure threshold. If pressure in either tire falls below the threshold, a warning message is displayed on the screen. Claimed battery life for the sensors is 300 hours, and they switch to sleep mode after the 390LM is turned off; wheel movement reactivates them. Easy to use and undeniably useful.

With the zumo 390LM, Garmin has improved upon what was already a feature-rich, user-friendly motorcycle GPS. The cost of $839.93 including the accessory TPM sensors isn’t cheap, but if your style of touring includes long distances to remote places, it’s a worthy investment.

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  1. Buyer Beware: The Zumo 390Lm has a great screen and the exceptional Garmin features. However, the programers forgot to add the TOOL to Adjust the Volume applications to the device on the Volume Screen. Though listed in both the Garmin Quick Reference & Owners Manuals this feature was left off the 390LM. What does this mean. Your Zumo 390LM will beep every time you press it unless you place it on Mute. If you use the Bluetooth feature this will interupt all other attached Bluetooth devices again unless the device is muted. The Navigation Voice Blares out at you even on the lowest volume settings. Very Rider unfriendly device.
    Per Garmin Automotive Support they have no intention of updating this device & plan to change the Manuals.

    • Here is a note back from a Garmin product engineer:
      This behavior is as expected for the 390 if they don’t have a phone connected. The slider menu icon on the volume page only shows when you have a phone paired with the 390 (or have initiated pairing).
      If by chance he actually has a 350, the 350 never shows the slider menu, since it does not support pairing with phones (only BT headsets, which have on board volume controls).

  2. Well I have the Zumo 390LM and it is a very nice unit but the statement of being sunlight readable isn’t exactly true, it’s not as bad as some other GPS’s but if you want to see a truely sunlight readable look at a old Garmin Quest2 now that screen is truely a sunlight readable. I had one for years and finally upgraded to the Zumo 390LM but sure do miss the smaller Quest2’s readability.

  3. Hello,
    For music and GPS I use my iPhone 5 paired via BT with my BMW system 6 helmet.

    I’m thinking on buying the zumo 390 for GPS.
    Has anyone tried this combo – BMW helmet BT – iPhone – 390?

    Can I have both iPhone and 390 paired with my helmet?
    Can I listen to music from the iPhone and also get directions from the 390?


  4. Great review of the 390LM and especially like the tire pressure option. Unfortunately that’s costing quite a bit of money (you need 2 x sensor = $140) but still worth it.
    Recently Garmin started with selling the 590LM. I’ve seen that nav (a friend has it) and it’s even better. Bigger screen, quicker recalculating and reacting but battery life is shorter but most riders are using a power cable anyway.

  5. I have a Garmin Zumo 350 LM sat nav and a message has appeared on screen saying LOW BATTERY WARNING, how do I renew or charge the battery, there was no battery charger in the box when I bought the unit, many thanks Karl

  6. Hi I have a Garmin Zumo 390LM and on the second day of use I now am in GPS Simulator mode. When I try to unselect the tick in the menu it will not action my request. When I select the map page it tells me at the top of the screen GPS is Off how can I turn it back on


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