Here Are Five Essential Mobile Apps for Motorcyclists

03/17/2014 @ 2:58 pm, by Jensen Beeler24 COMMENTS

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Chances are that if you are a regular Asphalt & Rubber reader, that means you are a pretty tech savvy person. So first of all, congratulations on your choice to get your motorcycle news and opinions in digital form, rather than waiting three months for the print guys to get their act together. Huzzah!

Of course, this also means that you have had to suffer through the endless onslaught of “Top 5″ lists that have inundated motorcycle “journalism” the past year or so. I’m pretty sure that in a few years, we will look back at the whole BuzzFeedification of news as the second worst idea to hit motorcycle journalism, right behind the idea of a content paywall — but I digress.

That being said, I did want to share with our A&R readers five apps that I use on my iPhone everyday, that maybe you haven’t stumbled upon. So in the interest of  better living through technology and all that jazz, I’ve created my own little Top 5 list — Yes, I’ve died a little bit on the inside because of this article.

Hopefully though there are couple apps on my list that you haven’t heard of, which will cause the overlap of your Venn diagram of “motorcycles” and “technology” to grow just a little bit more, and those make my personal ethical sacrifice worthwhile.

I realize in advance that this list leans towards iOS users. I’m hoping commenters will leave a few apps in the comments section that I might have missed (especially on other platforms), so we can spread the love around.

Waze – Free – iPhoneAndroid, & Windows

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First up is Waze (pronounced “ways”), a social map app. You might think that Google and Apple’s offerings get the job done just fine (and for the most part they do), but Waze incorporates some social network features that cater pretty well to the two-wheeled lifestyle.

Beyond allowing users to flag cheap gas prices, speed traps, and traffic slowdowns in real-time, Waze has a clever feature where you can send your route to a friend, who then can track your progress.

As someone who riders without a bluetooth headset in his helmet, this is a great remedy for that “call when you get close” situation. You can keep your phone in your pocket while you ride, and your destination can check on your progress via a web browser.

Powerusers will enjoy this feature for group rides, as you can quickly share a ride’s route publicly, and then use the “Share ETA” links to keep tabs on each other if you get separated.

Dark Sky – $3.99 – iPhone & iPad Only

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When a friend recommended Dark Sky to me, I was skeptical. As nice as the UI was, did I really need another weather app? You’re probably asking yourself the same thing.

But there have been a few times when Dark Sky has saved me and my motorcycle a cold ride home in the rain, and if you forgot to pack your Gortex that day, $4 is a small price to pay for dryness.

Dark Sky’s power comes from its ability to show you the future weather, at your exact location, in a beautiful interface. You can setup alerts for rain and snow, and beyond a dopplar radar map, Dark Sky makes it easy to see when the cold and wet stuff will be falling from to terra firma at your location.

In my use, I’ve found it more accurate than anything else out there, though that’s not to say it’s been spot-on perfect.

What would really get my motor running would be the ability to integrate a route into its weather database, so one could know when on a ride (and where), the weather was going to hit. The big downside is this app is Apple only. Sorry Android users.

TapaTalk – Free – iPhone, iPad, Android, & Windows

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I have a love/hate relationship with forums. They are absolutely a great place to gain knowledge and ask questions on a particular model of motorcycle (you own a 2001 Suzuki TL1000R you say?), they are also great for organizing local riding communities (you live in the SF Bay Area you say?), but one should always beware the forum trolls and post count egos. That being said, for the forum junkies out there, TapaTalk is a must.

I keep this app on my phone for the simple reason that when I’m elbow-deep working on a bike, and have a question, I can search the forums, make posts, and read responses, all from my pocket. For forum powerusers, who waste hours a day on the boards (you know who you are), TapaTalk is just the easiest way to keep up-t0-date.

The one caveat is that a forum needs to have the TapaTalk software installed in order for the app to work, which means you’ll have to talk your forum admin into installing it, if he or she hasn’t already.

A fairly well-adopted app in the forum space (it hooks into vBulletin very easily), it shouldn’t be too tough of a pitch to make. Unless your forum goes with a branded app, TapaTalk is free to everyone involved. Booyah!

Eat, Sleep, Ride – $2.99* – iPhone

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I don’t quite “get” the whole model behind Eat, Sleep, Ride. The Canadian team behind the social network website have some work to do on their web property, if I’m being honest; but their iPhone app is probably one of the best I have ever seen.

The Canadian government helped fund its development, and it shows. Besides letting you interface with your ESR account, it has powerful features like route discovery, ride recording, and crash notification — wrapped up in a professional looking package.

Because it’s socially driven, the route discovery is a bit hit or miss…you’re really only as good here as the people using your service, and when I compare the results in San Francisco to “The Greatest Road” (our next app), I’m left wanting.

The ride recording mode is pretty fun though, for those of you who are metrically driven, but the real power comes from the CrashLight™ feature. Another product of ESR‘s government funding, for $7.99/year CrashLight will alert three designated contacts in the event you crash your motorcycle.

The app uses your iPhone’s movement measurements, and when it detects that you’ve hit the tarmac, it give you a three-minute timer to cancel CrashLight email/texting/phone call to your designated parties, complete with GPS co-ordinates.

It’s a pretty nominal fee, for when you consider the safety potential being offered here by CrashLight, and easily makes the overall cost of the ESR app worthwhile.

Truly a brilliant idea, I can think of a couple riding buddies who could have benefited from this app already, though I have yet to actually test it myself in the wild yet (knock on wood). I do believe the ESR team will expand this app into other mobile platforms, so hang tight Android and Windows users.

The Greatest Road – Free – iPhone

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We have actually mentioned The Greatest Road app before on Asphalt & Rubber, and while the iPhone-optimized app hasn’t changed much, it remains as one of the best ways to discover local rides and routes. As I said above, I prefer The Greatest Road over Eat, Sleep, Ride for social route discovery, the userbase has just done a better job of mapping rides in my area.

It probably helps that The Greatest Road team is here in San Francisco, but we used this app a bit during our “Broventure” trip to Moab, Utah. It could still stand to have some curation, and you will find the occasional newb who has made his route to the grocery store on here, but The Greatest Road is good for that 95% overview of an area.

Don’t expected The Greatest Road to out Butler Maps out of business anytime soon, but until that paper and DVD selling business model gets with the 21st century, this is as good as it gets.

Did we miss listing an app? Or do you have an alternative app for another platform? Let us know in the comments!

Comment:

  1. Deeds says:

    A lot of App developers would have my money if they wrote their app for Android as well as iOS. Any recommendations for a good weather app for Android?

  2. emptybee says:

    Deeds: I’ve tried several weather apps on my Android, and I like WeatherBug the best.

  3. johnc says:

    hey jensen,

    “Hopefully though there are couple apps on my list that you haven’t heard of, which will cause the overlap of your Venn diagram of “motorcycles” and “technology” to grow just a little bit more, and those make my personal ethical sacrifice worthwhile.”

    you have personal ethics to sacrifice? really?

    i thought you use to be a lawyer, which would make you void of ethics of any kind, right? ;-)

  4. Horkn says:

    What’s a suzuki TL1000R?

  5. justafriendlydude says:

    Hey, Jensen. Nice site!

    Speaking of motorcycle related websites, did you hear your old pal Wes Siler is splitsville with the whole RideApart/HFL/Shameless Dealer Lead Generator website? He’s no longer listed in the about section and his linked in account says he’s “freelancing,” which we all know is hipster code for jobless.

    Maybe he could freelance an article called “Top 5 Ways to Alienate Your Loyal Reader Base”?

  6. paulus says:

    To track off-road routes, I use RunKeeper (free version).
    It is primarily a runner, cyclist route tracker, but it has the ability to export to other map and GPS applications.
    Great for tracking routes that don’t officially exist and routes can be shared with your social network friends.

  7. arkangel says:

    Are APPS like DARK SKY available for maps outside the USA – like Africa?

    thx

  8. Dark Sky uses Forecast for its weather engine (http://forecast.io), which appears to do weather at a global level.

  9. Nick G says:

    Check out these two:

    Dual Sport Maps: cachable map tiles, directions, and GPS routes for android–based on Open Street Maps. http://dualsportmaps.com/

    Blitzer.de: iOS and Android GPS-based mobile and speed camera detector. http://www.blitzer.de/

    When you’re done with that, Trials Extreme 3. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.x3m.tx3

  10. smiler says:

    Are these worldwide or US apps?

  11. Mountainrider says:

    TrackAddict is cool road or track logs your ride road or track on a map view. It shows your location and speed

  12. JM says:

    You forgot RealRider! Pretty much the ONLY app a motorcyclist needs…..

  13. Bucks Miaggi says:

    @justafriendlydude
    He will be back in a few days, I guess. Probably just a hipster credibility enhancement exercise.

  14. Cawrestlingfan says:

    For a motorcycle website to post mainly I-phone apps it shows a disconnect from the true motorcycle community. Everyone knows Androids have been a M/C riders best friend. Having multitasking, turn by turn directions stock (not having to buy another app because the Apple update blows)
    Get it together people and give me some great Android apps.

  15. Aleks says:

    And one of these days the A&R site will be responsive so I can read it while on my iPhone. *sigh*

  16. singletrack says:

    I have to admit, I do like to analyse the ‘metrics’ of my ride, such as watching GoPro video, or GPS traces when I’m offroad, but eventually it all just becomes too much information.

    It’s still hard to beat a large scale regional map. Look for the 3 digit squiggly lines next to rivers, and you’re pretty much guaranteed a good ride. And the paper never runs out of battery power at inopportune moments.

    Serendipity is often missing from life today.

    Motorcycling has always been about getting away from it all, being alone and in the moment. Your whole world now follows your every move. Is that what you really want? Really?

  17. Tim says:

    @Deeds, check out 1weather….

  18. Keith says:

    Try Weatherzone love it Android and works well

  19. Adrian says:

    Check out Soviet Military Maps for Android if you like adventure
    Best Biking Routes is another good one

  20. Jack says:

    I’ve been using Road Trip on IOS for a few years. All it does is track expenses (fuel, repairs, etc.) and provide graphs. It does this very well and allows you to input your tire sizes and change them according to season. It logs the GPS location at each fuel stop and will plot those on a map to give a rough idea of the span of your trip. Sadly, this app is only available on IOS and is the ONLY reason I haven’t ditched IOS for Android.

  21. michael says:

    Motorcycle weather for android

  22. @deeds says:

    SkyMotion for android also predicts the weather down to the minute. Pretty amazing.

  23. Doug says:

    CRADAR does crash reporting via text messages and is free. Android only.

    http://actionxl.com/CRADAR.html

  24. Jake says:

    I was expexting all you guys to be using Pirelli Superbiker!
    Amazing app for tracking, even measures your lean angle!