UPDATE Aug 2, 2016
My new app Scenic was released in the App Store just last week. It has full turn-by-turn and voice guidance, you can make any GPX navigable, create your own routes and track and documents your rides. Feedback of users has been awesome so far. Give it a try if you want. It’s free to download. https://itunes.apple.com/app/id1089668246 and here is a video of the app in action: https://youtu.be/rKavcXRm4P0
In the last year a lot of new GPS Motorcycle Apps for Navigation and Tracking surfaced for the iPhone. In this article I’m reviewing the most wel known and, arguably, best motorcycle apps, including MotoMapppers’ own app MotoMap.
The focus is on Motorcycle Apps providing features around Routes, Ride Tracking and Navigation so no general motorcycle apps here. If you think an app is missing add a comment below, but only if it fits the category. So no speedometer, motominder, speedtrap or motorcycle games for example.
I do not claim to be totally objective as MotoMappers’ own app MotoMap is in the list, but I’m trying to be. I want you, motorcycle rider with an iPhone, to get an overview of all the best gps motorcycle apps for navigation and tracking out there, so you can make an informed decision on what’s the best app for you. Feel free to comment if you have a different opinion on something I’m saying.
Some of these apps require you to see the screen, while others you can use in your pocket. If you need (or want) to see the screen you’ll probably need a weatherproof case and mount. I’ve always been very happy with my lifeproof cases and mounts, but there are other options out there.
Best GPS Motorcycle Apps for Navigation and Tracking
The Apps Reviewed
- Best Biking Roads (BBR)
- Diablo Super Biker
- EatSleepRIDE (ESR)
I’m focussing on the features below, although I will discuss other features if they stand out:
- UI Intuitiveness
- Creating Routes
- Importing Routes
- Navigating Routes
- Easily Finding Good Routes
- Ride Tracking
- Offline Maps
Best Biking Roads (BBR)
BBR was probably one of the first Motorcycle Centered websites focussing on Routes specifically for Motorcycle Riding. They started with their website and later added the App. They have about 30k users, 8k routes and 12k route reviews. Routes have a detailed description, some of them with pictures. They can be created on the website or can be uploaded to the website through GPX upload. The website route creator is pretty basic. It lets you drop pins and that’s about it. You can’t undo or add intermediate points so if you make a mistake you’ll have to start over. The upload works well, although I did get an error message after uploading, but when I went back the route was uploaded successfully.
The App lets you search routes in their database by location, rating, country and some more options. At first you’ll get a list of the routes you searched for including rating, length and distance from current location. You also have the option to show them on a map.
The app won’t let you export or navigate the route, but it does provide a link to the route on their website where you than can export it as a GPX file. It’s a bit tricky to download the GPX though. With Safari on Mac I wasn’t able to get it working. You’re supposed to hover over the “GPX” link and then click the Download GPX callout bubble that appears, but I was not able to click it as the callout disappeared as soon as I hovered away from the link. I was able to do it with Firefox and Chrome by right-clicking on the link.
The app also has a Route Creation feature which is better than the one on the website as if offers an undo feature.
The main plus point for Best Biking Roads is the active community which ensures a large number of high quality routes and route reviews. I have no doubt that you’ll always be able to find a route to your liking with BBR. Although it doesn’t navigate It’s earned its place in this list of Best Motorcycle Apps!
In App Purchases: No
Diablo Super Biker
Diablo Super Biker is an App specialized in measuring your performance during riding. It not only can measure your performance on the road, but also has a special track option that measures your lap performance when riding on a race track. It’s a pure Tracking App. It doesn’t offer routes or navigation.
What’s very nice about the app it that it records your lean angle during the ride and shows this in a nice graph over the duration of your ride. And, of course it’s very nice that it’s free 🙂 It’s not available in all countries though.
In App Purchases: No
ESR is a good looking app and packs a lot of features. Because it’s so packed with features it takes a while to get used to the user interface and realize just how much it can do.
The focus of ESR is more towards the social aspect of riding. It has kinda like a small Facebook for Motorcyclists integrated if you will. You can post stories, places, pictures, reviews, routes, events etc. to the ESR news stream and those posts can also be shared to the main social channels like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and even WhatsApp.
It can also track your rides and help you organize group rides with fellow ESR users. The tracker not only tracks your location, distance, speed and duration, but also elevation and, similar to Diablo Super Biker, lean angle. And of course you can share those rides in the same way as mentioned above.
Next to that ESR offers CRASHLIGHT (in app purchase), which is a security feature that sends your info and location to three of your closest contacts if your phone detects that you crashed. (You have the option to cancel this within three minutes in case you didn’t crash but just dropped your phone or something.)
Needless to say that ESR is one of the most feature packed apps in this list. Only thing that would make it even more complete is the ability to create or import and follow routes.
In App Purchases: CRASHLIGHT $9.99/year
Greatest Road is probably the most well known Motorcycle App out there, perhaps together with Best Biking Roads. It nearly always shows up in the “Best Motorcycle Apps” lists that are already out there. The basics are actually quite similar to BBR, however it has more features and in my opinion it’s more advanced. It doesn’t have a website like BBR does though.
The route finding feature is very similar to MotoMap’s. It lets you search for routes by selecting a map area and then it will load all the tracks for that area and show them on the map. By tapping on a route it will show you more details about it and you can open a new screen showing you even more details, including a description and ratings.
Greatest Road doesn’t do ride tracking and can’t navigate you along routes, but it does offer a very interesting feature. It will let you open the selected route in a third party navigation app. For example, I know that it supports opening a route in Navigon (for details on how Navigon than deals with this look at my other blog post here). I don’t know of any other apps it supports as it only shows the Navigon option if you have Navigon installed, so if you know of another supported app please leave a comment below. Alternatively, if you don’t have Navigon installed, it can open Google Maps for you and Google Maps will guide you to the route start point. Unfortunately Google Maps doesn’t support multi point routes at the moment so once you arrive at the route start point you’re on your own. If that still doesn’t work for you the app can also send out an email with a link to the GPX file of the route.
About a year back Greatest Road also integrated Yelp into the App, which lets you find restaurants, hotels and other amenities along the route or in a certain area. A nice feature if you’re looking for a place to stay or a restaurant for a lunch break during your rides.
With Greatest Road you can create routes quite nicely. It shows a crosshair center screen and you then postion the map so that the location you want to add is in the crosshair. You then tap “start”, “waypoint” or “end” and it will drop a corresponding pin there. If you made a mistake you can just tap on a pin and you’ll be able to delete it from the route.
Advertising: Shows one fullscreen Ad at each startup
In App Purchases: No
MotoEye has a very intuitive user interface. It’s mainly a Ride Tracker but has some nice additional features. Similar to MotoMap you can take pictures during your ride and they will be added to your ride in the activities log. Unlike MotoMap you can also record videos and add them to your ride. Looking at the app’s background story this is one of the reasons that MotoEye came to be. To make video recordings while riding and record your route at the same time.
Another nice feature is that it has a weather report included. It shows the current weather, the weather in 2 hours and tomorrow. Nice if you’re not sure to bring your rain overall. Further you can add the bikes you have (no pictures) to your “garage” and, very nice, it has Offline Maps, for free!!
In App Purchases: No
Than, there’s MotoMap, MotoMappers’ own app. With MotoMap you can find routes in a similar way as Greatest Road. In addition, if you can’t find the route you like, you can import a GPX file of your own. Different than the apps mentioned so far, you can select a route in MotoMap and start navigating it inside the app. While you are being navigated your ride is tracked and you can take pictures during your ride, similar to MotoEye.
The navigation is “Follow the line”, so not turn by turn or voice instructed. You’ll have to see your screen to navigate. The route is drawn on the map and your current location remains centered while the map zooms in and out depending on your speed. You do see important ride information while riding on the “dashboard”. It shows current speed, max speed, avg speed, ride distance and ride duration. MotoMap can also guide you from your current position to the selected route. By default it guides you to the route startpoint, but you can also select another route point to be guided to. If you have your iPhone in your pocket during riding you won’t be able to use MotoMap for navigation as it doesn’t have voice instructions, but your ride will still be tracked, even if MotoMap is in the background.
You also have the option to add friends that also have MotoMap. By doing so you can see your friends statistics, their motorcycles and also the rides they did in the past, including the route, pictures, max speed, etc.
A nice feature in MotoMap is the option to select a music playlist to play during riding. You can choose to start the music automatically when you start moving and stop it when you stop moving. Also the volume will become louder if you go faster (if you selected so in settings). Not a must-have feature, but nice that it’s possible.
In App Purchases: No
REALRIDER is an App mainly intended for users in the UK as it is integrated with the NHS Control Room Network. It has a similar function as ESR’s CRASHLIGHT called REALSafe, but it doesn’t contact 3 of your closest contacts, it directly contacts the Ambulance Service (also here you have a small amount of time to cancel this if you didn’t crash).
Next to this specific feature it also is a Ride Tracker and it has a database of Points of Interests. You can also add your own POI’s if you want to.
Does this app belong in the Best GPS Motorcycle Navigation App list? For the REALSafe feature I would say definitely so. But, if you feel differently, leave a comment.
In App Purchases: No, but you do need a £25 / year subscription for REALSafe (only available in UK)
The most stand-out feature for Rever is that they’ve integrated Butler Motorcycle Maps into the app (in app purchase). For those unfamiliar with Butler: their Motorcycle Routes are of high quality and are scouted by a team of “scouts” riding around. They have routes for a lot of US States, unfortunately not outside of the US, yet?
Next to that you can create your own routes on their website, after which they will show up in the app under the “Rides” tab. In the app, you then just select a route to follow it. The route following is similar to MotoMap’s. They draw the route on the map and you just “Follow the line” while your ride is being tracked. So, like MotoMap, not turn by turn and voice instructions.
A bit strange is the difference between Butler routes and the routes made by you or other riders. The butler routes show up as marked roads on the map (with 4 separate colors indicating “coolness” of the road). This is pretty handy when you’re riding around. See a yellow marked road, TAKE IT. I haven’t found a way in the app to get more info on those roads like a description or pictures though. Perhaps I missed something. Please let me know if I did.
The routes you created or others created don’t show up on the map, so you can’t find them by viewing a map area. You’ll have to select them from the list of rides and select them specifically before starting your ride. After selecting a specific route that route will show on the map and you can start following it.
You can also become friends with other Rever users and friends can share routes amongst each other. Another nice feature is that you can “Ride with Friends”. It’s a bit similar to Apple’s Find my Friends, but specifically tuned to Other Rever users. You’ll see their position along the route on the map. If you don’t want that you can turn that feature off.
With Rever you don’t need an internet connection when you’re going out for a ride. Just select a ride from the rides tab and tap “Offline”. Rever will download the map data for that route and you’re good to go. Again, this only goes for your own routes or public/friend’s routes. Not the butler roads. My guess is that the idea behind this is that you can plan a route yourself (on the rever website) which can include a butler road, because the map planner also can show the butler roads, similar to the app.
In App Purchases: Butler Roads displayed on Map ($5.99/month or 59.99/year)
*** UPDATE July 17, 2015 ***
I received feedback from users that the turn by turn and voice instructions are delayed, making you miss turns. I adjusted the Navigation Rating for TourStart accordingly.
TourStart is, at the moment of writing, the only motorcycle app I know of that offers turn by turn and voice instructions for routes (in app purchase). This makes it quite unique in this list. It’s a Route Creator, Route finder and Route Navigator first and foremost. It won’t track your rides as such, but it saves your rides as tours so you can ride the same route again. Specific info like avg speed or max speed of a ride is not stored.
Like ESR the user interface is not standard iOS, it takes some getting used to. The start screen is actually quite nice and gives an overview of what the app can do. You can Plan a Route, Find tours uploaded by others, Plan or find an event and put it’s location on the map and navigate routes. It’s a bit confusing that the same screens are accessible in multiple ways, so you might lose where you are in the screen hierarchy.
The route planner is more or less similar to the route planner of Greatest Roads, so good and easy to use. Finding routes is also done by a map view, like MotoMap and Greatest Road. On higher zoom levels it shows one marker with a number in it, indicating the number of routes and/or POIs in that area. When you zoom in further the one marker becomes more markers, indicating a route start point or a POI. Two things that could be improved in my opinion is (1) showing the full route on the map in stead of only the start point so you won’t have to go to the detailed screen for every marker to find the route you like and (2) You won’t know if you’re dealing with a POI or a route startpoint until you tap a marker. If you’re lucky it’s clear from the description in the callout bubble that it’s a POI and not a Route, if it’s not clear or you’re not sure you’ll have to tap the callout to see more details. That will bring up either the POI description with an optional picture or, if it was a route, the route map, a list of waypoints and optionally a description and pictures for the route.
As for the turn by turn and voice instructions, I’ve not had a chance to test it out extensively, but from my first tests on short routes I would say it is good. If you have experiences with TourStart’s Navigation feature I would love to hear about it. Please leave a comment below. All and all, TourStart is a very complete and well thought through app once you get used to the UI.
I’m not sure why TourStart is not mentioned a lot in the existing “Best Motorcycle Apps” lists. Please share your experiences with this app in the comments and help me understand!
In App Purchase: Navigation ($14.99 / year)
WeRide, not to be confused with the skating app WeRide, is a nice Motorcycle App that’s been out there a couple of years now. It’s used a lot in the Spanish speaking countries which I guess is logical because it’s developed in Spain. It’s also available in English and a couple of other languages though.
WeRide’s user interface is basic/simple, but in a good way. Due to it’s simplicity it’s very intuitive to use. That’s not to say that the app is simple, it’s actually extensive and hides a lot of good and well thought through features. I’ve had this app for quite a while and over time it’s gotten better and recently a couple of nice features were added.
WeRide’s main focus I would say is social. You can become friends with other users, but that’s not all. You can create or join groups and post things to the “wall” of the group or socialize on the group forum. Besides that WeRide also has a chat function to chat directly with your WeRide friends. There are quite a lot of groups. You can find them on the map (they have a location) but also by searching by country/city and/or riding type (Road/Trail/Offroad).
Similar to BBR you can find routes nearby or by country and filter by riding type and distance. Unfortunately it’s not possible to find routes on the map, so you’ll have to go into the details of a route to see the map.
The Route Creation in WeRide is pretty similar to the one in Greatest Road and Tourstart, so again,
good and easy to use. Once you’ve choses or created a route you can also navigate it. The navigation is “Follow the Line” like MotoMap’s and Rever’s and while you navigate your ride is being tracked too. Similar to TourStart your ride is not being saved as a ride as such, it’s saved as another Route and like Rever, the information saved with it is pretty basic: distance, time, description, type and a picture. No information that’s specific to you for that ride, like avg speed, max speed, pictures along the way.
They also have a WeRide shop where you can purchase motorcycle gear, however when I tried this I got an “unexpected error”. Maybe that’s due to my location (Mexico)? I don’t know.
So there you have it, the best GPS motorcycle navigation apps out there at the moment. In the table below I’ve compared all the apps against the reviewed criteria. The overall rating is the average of all detailed ratings, where N.A. has been set to a zero rating as the app is missing an important feature that I’m reviewing. If you’re not interested in an App that has all those features you can disregard the overall rating and only look at the detailed ratings.
I highly recommend reading the complete review above as some apps have other features that are not listed here, but might be of interest to you.