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Motorcycle GPS Navigation – Why is it so difficult?

By 22.07.2014September 5th, 2016No Comments

This article attempts to explain the concepts behind Motorcycle GPS Navigation and explain why it is so difficult for navigation systems and regular navigation apps to guide us along the best motorcycle roads.

What do Motorcycle Riders actually want from their GPS?

Motorcycle GPS NavigationWell, that’s a good question. I’ve been in this “scene” for quite a while and I think I have a pretty good idea on what we want when it comes to Motorcycle GPS Navigation. Having said that, it depends a lot on the situation and the kind of Ride you want to do. In this context you could distinguish 4 (or actually 5) kind of rides:

  • Quick ride to clear your mind
  • Traveling to a destination
  • One day Rides
  • Road trips & Adventures
  • Combination of the above

Each kind of ride asks something a bit different from a Motorcycle GPS Navigation device or app.

Motorcycle GPS Navigation when going on a quick ride

Mostly, when going on a quick ride you just want to get on your bike as quickly as possible and just GO! Accelerate fast, sharp curves and winding roads to feel a bit of adrenaline, taking your mind of the  everyday stress. Mostly these kind of rides will be in your neighborhood. You probably know all the nice motorcycle roads around and just choose one and hit the road. No Motorcycle GPS Navigation required. That’s just distracting on these kind of rides.

Motorcycle GPS Navigation when traveling to a destination

Nothing nicer to take you bike when you need to go somewhere, the weather is good and you don’t need to carry a whole lot of stuff. If you’re going somewhere familiar, obviously, you don’t need GPS. You probably know a nice route to bring you to your destination. But when you are going somewhere you didn’t go before Motorcycle GPS Navigation might come in handy. You don’t want to spend hours planning your route, you just want to go and let the Motorcycle GPS Navigation guide you along the nicest motorcycle roads. Normal (car) GPS Navigation won’t really do that. Some do it a bit (see my article “GPS Motorcycle Navigation Apps for iPhone – 13 of the best apps reviewed“), but most of them just route you the fastest or shortest way to your destination. A real Motorcycle GPS Navigation would know which are great motorcycle roads and guide you along those roads as much as possible without too much of a detour. This turns out to be quite difficult. More on this later.

Motorcycle GPS Navigation for one day rides

Imagine you finally have some time in the weekend or otherwise to go for a ride, you even managed to get some motorcycle friends together and you’re going for a ride. Probably taking a whole day or a good part of it. Where are you going to go? Good question. Is a normal GPS Navigation app or device going to help you in this? Not really. You don’t really care where you are going as long as you can follow nice winding roads, enjoyable scenery and perhaps some nice points to take a break along the way. This is where it would be nice if you could just find a nice motorcycle track, be guided to it and start following it. Normal GPS devices or applications won’t really help you with that. They don’t know what are nice motorcycle roads. This is one of the biggest “frustrations” we at MotoMappers had and therefore we decided to develop MotoMap. I won’t get into the details on MotoMap here. You can check it out in the app store or on our main site.

Motorcycle GPS Navigation for Road trips & Adventures

Of course these kind of rides are the nicest to do for us motorcycle riders. We spend quite some time planning our trips, our routes, where we want to go, where we want to stop etc. A normal GPS device or app will also not really help you with that. GPS devices have the possibilities to import predefined routes or tracks which you then can follow. Most likely you use a desktop or web application to create your route and then you link your GPS device up to the USB port and import the route. It’s quite some work but hey…it’s worth it for this road trip. MotoMap makes this easy. In our database you can find motorcycle tracks which are shared and rated by fellow MotoMappers. You can just select one in the area you want to go and follow it with MotoMap. No need for a 3rd party navigation app.

Why is Motorcycle GPS Navigation so difficult?

So…motorcycle GPS Navigation is difficult because it has many separate and different functions to fulfill, depending on the kind of ride you are going to do. Next to this, different from sitting in a car, as a motorcycle rider you can’t touch the screen as easily, the place to mount your device is limited and mostly a bit out of sight, sound is less easy, weather protection is something you need to consider…and more. For more on this see my article “iPhone as Motorcycle GPS – 8 things to consider“. It’s tailored to the iPhone as gps, but most things also apply to other devices. Then, from a functionality perspective, in order to guide you along the best motorcycle roads, the maps in your device should be different than normal maps. Normal maps and calculation models give higher preference to some roads above others (like highways) and with that calculate the fastest route. A Motorcycle GPS Navigation app should give higher preference to the best motorcycle roads. And…here’s the big problem. A device can’t really tell what a good motorcycle road is just by analyzing the map. You need user experience of (local) riders who actually know the best motorcycle roads around. Until this moment there is no navigation app or navigation device that has integrated user experience in their road map and calculation models.

MotoMap is going to solve it, but we need your help!

Motorcycle GPS NavigationMotoMap is a good start and a very nice app for the motorcycle rider that wants to explore and share nice roads and log & photograph their rides and get statistics on them. However we are not at the point where we can calculate the best route from A to B along nice motorcycle roads. We are not there YET. This is our ultimate target, but WE NEED YOUR HELP. Download MotoMap and ride, import and rate as much motorcycle roads as you can. The more tracks in our database the better and easier it will be to calculate a route from A to B along these roads! Comments are more than welcome!



Independent Developer of ScenicApp

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