Installing Garmin Zumo 550

on a BMW ’04 R1150RT including Autocom

by Francois A. ‘Navman’ Dumas owner of


After 4 years of hesitating, mainly due to the high price of these things and the not-so-high level of our treasure chest, I finally convinced myself and Nina to buy a real Garmin. I have ‘made do’ with an iPaq PDA with TomTom on it, and it worked fine in the car but not on the bike (in the transparent top of the tank bag).

Now since I’m a cheapskate I decided to install the Zumo myself instead of paying another 75 Euros for installation. Being a bit (that’s an understatement) stretched for time, it is NOT the most elegant way possible. But it works for me, and who knows, if I retire and get more time, I may re-do it.

So with that in mind, you may or may not use my ‘method’. In any case I hope my little ‘installation instruction’ is of any use, perhaps even just to chuckle about.


Read this first

If you actually DO read this, and then I have a bonus for you! When you click on a picture, it will show you an enlarged copy in a new browser window. Also, I have made a pdf-version of this document that you can download at one of my web sites. Lastly, there is a link to the place where I found the 1150RT Repair and Maintenance manual.

Also to know: I have ‘verbose’ parts, explaining in more detail what I did or found. And I have short sentences, sort of bullet notes, depicting the actual ACTIONS to perform in sequence. I have collected the ‘actions’ in a short ‘to-do list’ at the end of the document. You may want to print it and keep handy perhaps.



Knowing that this ‘instruction’ might well be read in the US as well as in other places around the globe, I am adamant in stressing that the stuff you read here is a report of how I did the installation on my own bike, for my own benefit. I can not and will not take any responsibility for using this information by other parties (such as you) who might subsequently incur damage or get hurt by (intending) to follow my way of working.

In other words, if you lock up your brakes because you tie-wrapped your braking lever, mistakenly holding one of my instructional pictures upside down, then please don’t look at me. And if the bike happens to fall on top of you while pulling the isolation tape too hard, then I wasn’t here!

Heck, I am not even responsible if you burn your tongue by drinking too hot a cup of coffee at an inopportune time in the instructional sequence.

I am also not to be held responsible for typos, since my dedicated proof reader has gone AWOL. You’ll just have to guess if any sentence doesn’t make any sense. Besides, I can always claim that English is not my mother tongue.

Now lets get down to some SERIOUS business.


The bits and pieces

First of all, there’s the trusted 2004 model BMW R1150RT. Of course. And then there is my Autocom Active-7-Smart communication kit, with built-in speakers and mike (in the helmets) to communicate with each other. I haven’t used it for anything else. Then there is the newly acquired box with the Zumo550 and a ton of little bits and pieces. In addition I bought an ‘Autocom Part 1300‘ connector that goes between the Zumo mount and the Autocom box, so we can use the existing speakers (and mike!) to hear the Zumo. To make the Zumo sit in sight I also purchased a Migsel 1150RT mount to go just underneath the windshield (see pictures).

NOTE: Oh, on the Autocom unit please be aware there seem to be TWO types connecting the Zumo to the existing Autocom 7 (or whatever model you have). The difference is in the jacks. When I bought the Zumo, one of the sales people came out with me with TWO different ‘1300’s’ to see which one fitted. I was glad I did not just order it via mail.

And last but not least I discovered that my bluetooth enabled phone connects to the Zumo and I can now hear and speak through my helmet….. amazing.

Make sure you purchase/order everything you need.


Some preparations

The Zumo comes with a VERY tiny leaflet with instructions (and a CD on how to use it of course). So first thing I did was search and READ some forums, and collect some additional documents, specifically showing how to disassemble the BMW and make room for the new kit.



fig. 1. The default ‘manual’ that comes with the bike shows where the screws are to release the ‘tupperware’…… sort of…..


fig. 2. With help of on-line friends I found a better document, with larger and more detailed drawings of the same… and more.


Secondly I checked all the bits to see I wasn’t missing any (the Migsel mount was delivered a few days later).


fig. 3. The Zumo mount for the bike (it comes with a car mount too). MAKE SURE you line up the holes properly. The RAM mount (the thing with the ball) can be used for other products and has more holes than you need.


fig. 4. The long bolts are for the Zumo – RAM mount. The tiny screws are to secure the power cable in the Zumo mount.


fig. 5. The Migsel mount for the 1150RT, from (Waypoint). I bought an extra ‘ball’ (it takes 3!) for a future camera mount.


And thirdly I waited for some nice weather (not having a garage to work in). Working outside is healthier too, you get a tan and don’t have to lay around not doing anything (which I simply cannot do).


fig. 6. And the trusted BMW toolkit of course. You only need two of the keys. Actually I used my own tool, much quicker. Shown in later pictures.


Check you have all documents needed. Check you have all parts needed. Check you have all necessary tools.



The start

Being an old kit builder…. alright, scrap the ‘old’…. I like to make sure I don’t have to UNDO things after mounting them wrongly. Believe me, this comes out of many bad and annoying experiences. So the first thing I did was to take off the saddle, and place all the components in a way they should fit.

Then I made sure the cables were long enough to go where I wanted them to go, checked the Migsel mount’s fit underneath the dashboard, and did another count of all the parts needed.


fig. 7. First the Migsel mount. This is where it should go. Looks like it will fit.

fig. 8. Time to take the saddle off and figure out where things should go The Autocom has been there for 2 years and was dusty


fig. 9. The Autocom-7-Smart has a phone jack and a music jack still free. I used the phone jack for the Zumo.


fig. 10. That’s where I planned the extra bits (Part 1300) that will make the connection between the new Zumo 550 and the existing Autocom, adding the sound to our helmets.


Pre-fit all parts in intended locations

NOTE: here’s a point to be careful. If you misplace one of these boxes they could get caught underneath parts of the saddle….. and break! So make sure that they fit without touching anything. The placing on fig. 10. above works for me.


Installing the mount(s)

I started with installing the mounts. I like to do easy parts first, to get in the mood.

The Migsel mount is real easy. It uses the original two screws of the dashboard, just underneath your window (see fig. 11.). You just unscrew them (don’t worry, nothing fall out or off), put them through the holes of the mount and tighten them again, now with the mount in place. Easy peasy. A RAM ball (rubberized!) screws into the mount and will hold other RAM products… like the arm that comes with the Zumo.

NOTE: I did take out the plastic rings from the Migsel mount screw holes because the screws wouldn’t ‘grab’ with them, they are a tad short.


fig. 11. One of the two screws that you need to undo and use for fixing the Migsel mount.


fig. 12. Put them through the Migsel and fasten again. The Migsel mount fits snugly in place.


Install the Zumo mount (Migsel or other)

The next thing I did was to fit the RAM mount on the back of the Zumo holder. After fiddling a bit to get the proper position of the disc, so that all 4 holes were lined up (!!), I put the bolts through and started to screw the ‘stop nuts’ on them. (The nuts have a plastic ring inside to prevent them from coming loose again). Don’t tighten them until you have loosely screwed in all 4 of them. The first two went dandy….. The next two did not. For some reason the thread apparently wasn’t good. It resulted in having two bolts/nuts stuck, not moving forward OR backwards anymore. In the end I had to saw them off and add new ones.


fig. 13. The nuts on the two top bolts wouldn’t move further than this. NUTS! I had to saw them off and find new ones.

So you are lucky if you keep thousands of surplus bolts, nuts, screws, nails and other junk in your shed. This is also a good time to point that out to your dear wife who has wanted to throw it all away for the past 30 years.

Assemble and install the Zumo holder

The real job is next !


Disassembling the bike

Well, getting the plastic cover off to be precise. This should be easy….. and it is….. eventually.

Claims of doing it within 7 minutes may well be true, average seems to be 15 minutes….. I won’t tell you how long it took ME ! If this is going to be YOUR first time (like it was mine), you may want to read this part. If not, please skip…..

I used my manual and printed drawing to locate all the bolts. Or so I thought. I put a nice white sheet on the ground and placed every bolt I took out on it, in its proper place. There are TWO different sizes – of course – and you have to keep track of which goes where.

Needless to say a sudden gust of wind lifted the sheet while I was working on the bike, messing up my carefully placed lay-out system. NOTE: make sure your ‘lay-out system’ is wind-proof, wife-proof and self-proof.


fig. 14. My brilliant ‘bolt lay-out system’. Just one thing missing: something to prevent the wind from taking it all away! Also note the ‘tool’ I used to undo the bolts.


First, take off the mirror. It is just being held in place by three ‘clamps’ on three retaining knobs. Hold it with one hand at the forward part. Then whack it with the other on the outside, just next to the actual mirror. It should pop off the two retaining knobs at the back and the one knob at the front (where your holding hand is).

The turn signal lamp is hidden in the mirror housing. Just turn it a little to get it out and store it as shown on the picture below. Before re-assembling things you COULD attach a safety wire between the bike frame and the mirror housing as some people do. It will prevent the mirror from accidentally coming off and breaking in the fall (or losing it altogether).


fig. 15. Showing the three retainer knobs (greased) that hold the mirror housing. And the hole of the hidden screw underneath them. Hit the plastic mirror housing from the rightmost two points towards the one at the bottom forward, and it will pop off .


Take off the mirror housing


There are indeed NINETEEN bolts (on the 1150RT, not sure on the 1100).

I started with the ones along the tank, on the top.

Then went down to take out those three (over the foot rest).

Took out the FOUR bolts holding the bottom bit of plastic (on TWO sides!). And took that part down (It connects the two bits of tupperware on either side of the bike).

‘Found’ the one in the nose (see fig. 16.) and the one at the base of the tank, covered by the saddle.

Finally I took out the screw behind the mirror.


fig. 16. A sneaky bolt is found inside the air scoop in the nose. This one takes the longest to get out, and back in.


So with all the bolts removed……. *cough*, I didn’t count them of course. Shazba !………..

I started to rock the plastic cover gently to try and take it off. NOTHING moved. It was stuck somewhere. It took me quite a while, I must shamefully admit, to discover the two LAST bolts placed just above the cylinder head UNDERNEATH the plastic. Sneaky !! Doh!


fig. 17. Showing the two last – sneaky – bolts just forward and above the cylinder. Also showing the interchangeable screwdriver I used that made loosening and tightening the bolts much quicker.

With those last two offending bolts removed the plastic indeed started to move. But you CANNOT ‘just’ lift it off. No Sirree….. !

I lifted it on one side….. it got stuck underneath the dashboard. Tried on the other end…… it was still stuck underneath the front cover (there’s a hidden bit of plastic there). Tried yet another move and it was stuck somewhere else.


I even took yet another bolt out of the bottom of the dashboard to allow for more room there, but that wasn’t necessary (as it turned out in the end).

The ‘trick’ is shown in figure 18. You have to LIFT and then TURN the entire part gently forward a little, and it will come off ! There are many places where it can get stuck, see pictures.


fig. 18. Gently LIFT and then TURN the entire plastic cover in the direction of the arrows. That should free the forward notch and lift it over the glove/radio compartment.


BEFORE I figured that out, I had problems in the places shown below:


fig. 19. You have to LIFT it to get it out of the ledge along the tank cover.


fig. 20. I took out an extra bolt to ‘free’ the dashboard a little, but that wasn’t really necessary in the end.


fig. 21. There’s a stub, notch, whatever you call it THERE.


fig. 22. And I got things stuck on top of the radio compartment and underneath the dashboard plastic. Just pulling is not an option!


fig. 23. You KNOW you have successfully removed the tupperware when things look like this…… and you are properly sweating! Phew !


Take out ALL tupperware bolts Mark bolts and their respective place for re-assembling Take down the bottom (engine) cover Remove the plastic side cover

Installing the wires

So, we have finally removed the covers and are staring at a really UGLY bit of motorcycle. Doesn’t look much like the sleek shiny RT we are used to, does it? Time for a cup of coffee ! (Hey, this is Holland!).

After finishing the coffee and washing hands (boy, things DO get dirty underneath those covers!) it is time for the wiring stuff. First I looked at the existing Autocom and noticed that for some reason the little ground cable had almost worn through. So I detached it from underneath the bolt, cleared the end anew and prepared to put it together with the new ground wire from the Zumo.

I studied the frame a bit to see where the ‘other’ wires were going, and decided I did NOT want to take the tank off (doh!), NOR take the front plastic and dashboard off. I guess I could have taken the wires further forward and somehow (drill a hole?) make them appear underneath the windscreen TRHOUGH the black plastic. But I didn’t have that much time.

So my plan of attack was to lead the wires along the left side of the frame (don’t ask me why I decided to do everything on the left side, because I don’t really know), behind the radio box, and up along a part of the frame that had other wires strung to it already.

I tried the cables first on the OUTSIDE for measurement and all were easily long enough.

Next thing I did was to decide which fuse to use for the Zumo. (It DOES have its own fuse integrated in the lead), It needs its power from some place, after all. I decided on fuse #7, which also powers (and secures) the heated grips (not much used). It has a 4 Amp fuse, and the Zumo itself has a 2 Amp fuse. The already mounted Autocom is on fuse #3 (15 Amp) that also powers the windscreen, power sockets, radio etc.

fig. 24. Fuse #7 pulled out, ready to take the Zumo power lead. Just clean the end of the lead, ‘fold’ it around the FORWARD pin of the fuse, and push the fuse and wire back in.

Alright, I know there is a school of thought that says to connect it to an ‘always-on’ power lead, so you can use the Zumo even when turning the ignition key. And I admit that has certain advantages, maybe. But I have had empty batteries on my cars before, and the BMW battery is MUCH smaller than a car battery, so I decided to not take the risk of draining my battery through my Zumo, and just put it over the ignition.

Fuse lay-out is in your user manual, and also on page 61.6 of the R1150RTG-Repair Manual I referred to earlier (link to it at the end of this document).

Oh, and if you’ve never done this before (getting out a fuse, I mean) and are wondering which fingernails you can do without: there IS a fuse puller stored inside the fuse box for you to use (see fig. 25).


fig. 25. The ‘fuse puller’, the ‘ground’ connection I selected (and it works), and the lay-out of the equipment and the connection cable between the Autocom parts.

Decide on power source to use (fuse #7 in my case)

Alright, for those of you who do NOT have an Autocom installed (and are not planning either) some of this is not interesting. You will only want to read the part of the Zumo connection. Please bear this in mind in case I forget to mention the Autocom specifically (I am only human).

Fig. 25 also shows the lay-out I planned for the various bits and pieces and the ground contact (there are 4 such bolts to choose from, take your pick). For the non-Autocom readers: you only have to worry about ONE ground lead from the Zumo wires, and one power lead (the one with the embedded fuse). All the other cables are not relevant for you.


fig. 26. I put the ground wires underneath that bolt. You can take either of 4. Make sure there is some bare metal underneath it (ideally).

Attach the ground wire to solid ground

First thing to do now is pull the cables along the frame and make them connect with the Zumo holder that we have now firmly attached atop the dashboard.

NOTE: A few things to be mindful of: hot parts, sharp parts, turning parts.

In my case I took the wires along the left frame, underneath the air intake, then up and forward to the shocks area. You can reach your arm behind the radio/glove compartment and pick up the wires there. There’s a part of the frame going vertical (you’ll see it, there are other wires attached to it already) that I used for my wires.


fig. 27. Wires go along the frame (to be attached to later), underneath the air duct.



fig. 28. Then up. I found they would rest nicely on that attachment there.



fig. 29. To end up underneath the dashboard. Use the vertical part of the frame as a ‘riser’ to attach the cables to (more detail to follow).


fig. 30. Finally they should emerge somewhere here and go up to the Zumo holder. My final attachment has them nicely out of the way of the tacho.

Run wires along the frame from source to Zumo holder Attach power lead to positive pole (forward end of fuse #7)

Okay….. STOP !


Test things first

Don’t ‘fix’ anything else yet….. it is FIRST time to make some connections and TEST our plans.

I fixed the ground wires first. Then pulled the fuse out, cleaned a little more of the power cable and put it underneath the fuse #7. Now, lets turn on the Zumo…… darn, IT WORKS! I dash back into the house to find my helmet, run back out again, plug it in and try and make ‘Truus’ speak to me. Truus, by the way, is a Dutch name for girls and many navigator owners call their artificial female navigator something like Truus, Miep, Katrien or other assorted ‘simple’ names. So ours is Truus.

Back to business…… there is NO SOUND from the Garmin. Darn! What can be wrong. Fiddled with a few settings. Checked the wiring once more, meanwhile getting very hot in the burning sun with the silly and heavy helmet on my head ! Hang on….. is the Zumo running from the BMW battery or from its own battery? There’s a thought. It will ONLY produce sound WHEN POWERED, I read somewhere.

Where are the keys? I ran into the house again, after having picked myself up from the floor. Forgot to detach the helmet from the bike….. uuurgghs ! After getting settled again, cable plugged in, key in the contact and turned, I try again. And lo and behold, Truus has a voice! A Belgian one at that, so I need to change the settings. But the important thing is that the connections are a-okay! The only thing I cannot test is the microphone. Truus wouldn’t listen anyway. I call Nina, we need to test BOTH the helmets. And that works too! Hurraaay ! Success.

Alright, after all this excitement it is time for a cup of coffee again. Hey, this is Holland !


Test the Zumo installation (you should have sound!)


Fixing the stuff

It works, the intended path of the wires seems good and there is no more coffee in the pot. Time to get things cleaned up!

The first thing to do is to ‘glue’ the Autocom Part 1300 in place (skip this if you don’t have one….. doh!). Ever since I discovered I could buy Velcro tape I am in love with the stuff. Must also be my old modelers experience… I like to be able to take things OFF again and put them elsewhere if needed. The Autocom sits there for over 2 years already, and now his little sister gets ‘velcroed on’ as well.


fig. 31. I affix things using Velcro tape. It holds well and assures parts are not going to live a life of their own in places you don’t want them to.


Attach Autocom box (if applicable)

Then I put some isolation tape around the Zumo power cable. I also LOVE isolation tape and you can find it everywhere around our house. In fact without it the house most likely would collapse. Since the thin cable just runs between the edge of the fuse box and its plastic lid, which is relatively sharp, I use the tape to protect it from wearing through. I check it from wear from time to time ! I thought of cutting a little part out of the side of the fuse box, but decided not to, yet.


fig. 32. The lid will just go on top, there is enough room for the wires.


fig. 33. Now with the lid on the fuse box in place.

Arrange power wires and close fuse box lid

Next comes the ‘strapping’. I made sure there is enough room at the ‘Zumo end’ of all the wires. Any slack can be taken up underneath the saddle where it is not in the way. As it turns out, there is very little slack in the end. To affix the wires I use, what else, more TAPE. And another of my favorite fixing methods: wire straps. (I have included a picture of my box with wire straps in case I do not have the proper English term for them… so you can at least see what I mean).


fig. 34. My jolly box with wire straps !


One word of caution with the wire straps. Do NOT pull them too sharply and too tight. They have sharp edges and can easily damage your wires, or even cut through the isolation right from the start! Gently pull them tight, and not tighter than necessary (looking inside my BMW I notice that this is not necessarily the way of thinking of some of the BMW engineers!!!).


Okay, lets start fixing things then. I work my way backwards, starting at the Zumo holder !

First the tricky part…. finding a reasonable way to fix the wires at the dashboard (accepting that they are ‘loose’ the last bit of the way). This calls for, YES, more tape !!!! I find that all three cables (only ONE if you only have the Zumo itself) fit in between the plastic dashboard and the plate holding the gauges. It NEEDS some protection of course, hence the tape.


fig. 35. Putting on some more tape…. yummy !


fig. 36. And here you can see why! The edge of the dashboard is sharp-ish.



fig. 37. And this is how it looks in the end.

Protect all danger areas by wrapping wires with isolation tape

Alright, next step is to lead the wires DOWN into the front wheel area. Preferably in such a way that they can’t hook up to anything that we may want to move….. such as the front fork or handle bars ! Safest bet is to just follow the OTHER wires that are already there. Oh, the reason I used YELLOW wire straps is so you can see which ones are MINE ! Now, is that customer-friendly or what !!??

(P.S. the RED straps you may notice on some of the pictures are from the previous Autocom installation).


fig. 38. Keeping existing wiring company, safe bet.


Next we strap it to two more places along the frame, just to make sure it doesn’t hang out somewhere.


fig. 39. One more yellow guy just next to the forward seat holder.


fig. 40. and the last one at the base of the fuse box, to make sure it doesn’t move ‘up’ underneath the saddle somewhere.


fig. 41. Yet another place where the cables might rub off the isolation. So I put some tape around the wires there too.

Attach all wires to frame using tie-wraps


fig. 42. The handy little magnetic strip makes the rubber protection lid fold backwards underneath the Zumo and stay there.


Now that wasn’t too bad in the end, now was it!?

The fun thing is that I didn’t even realize I could use the mobile phone, connected with the bluetooth, on the Zumo. I knew it, but forgot. Not that I’ll use it much, and only if stopped alongside the road somewhere.

Similar with the MP3 music…. I had read about it, but since I hardly ever listen to my car radio or other music these days, I didn’t pay much attention. Surprise surprise when pushing a few touch screen ‘buttons’ there was music in our helmets.

It might be a nice option after all, on tediously long rides maybe…… The downside is that Nina will now fall even faster asleep while riding pillion! Uhoh !

What I ALSO discovered only later and by accident, is the nifty little magnetic strip in the contacts cover on the Zumo holder. I had already mumbled something about the flopping rubber cover underneath the holder. Seemed a bit out of place on an otherwise very tidy instrument. Then a strong wind gust blew it out of sight and it stayed out of sight….. thanks to that magnet. Miraculous!


fig. 43. The final assembly.


We’re done !

Eeeerrrmmm.. hang on….. there’s still all that plastic laying in the grass!! Oooops! Well, we’re experienced tinkerers now, so just reversing the disassembly list should get us everything looking like it did when we started, right!? Right. I’m sure you can manage on your own now.

As you can see the wires are clearly visible, but sitting ON the bike they are not in the way and run just alongside the tacho. I may consider to drill a hole in the dashboard one day yet, but for now I am happy and the setup leaves room for changes if need be.

One such change might be moving the Zumo to the right and add a camera on the leftmost RAM mount (ball not mounted in the picture).


I sure hope this short article was of any assistance to you, or at least amusing enough to wrestle through.

If you have any remarks, improvements, questions, then please don’t hesitate to contact me:

Francois A. ‘Navman’ Dumas


Shortlist of Actions

  • Make sure you purchase/order everything you need
  • Check you have all documents needed
  • Check you have all parts needed
  • Pre-fit all parts in intended locations
  • Check you have all necessary tools
  • Install the Zumo mount (Migsel or other)
  • Assemble and install the Zumo holder
  • Take off the mirror housing
  • Take out ALL tupperware bolts
  • Mark bolts and their respective place for re-assembling
  • Take down the bottom (engine) cover
  • Remove the plastic side cover
  • Decide on power source to use (fuse #7 in my case)
  • Attach the ground wire to solid ground
  • Run wires along the frame from source to Zumo holder
  • Attach power lead to positive pole (forward end of fuse #7)
  • Test the Zumo installation (you should have sound!)
  • Attach Autocom box (if applicable)
  • Arrange power wires and close fuse box lid
  • Protect all danger areas by wrapping wires with isolation tape
  • Attach all wires to frame using tie-wraps
  • Re-assemble the whole thing again in reverse order


Other resources

Some of the manuals and illustrations I used when working on my bike came from the source listed below. I donwloaded them but am not going to host them here, so you’ll have to get them yourself.



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