Phone apps that enhance your riding experience


MXEditor

Many motorcyclists gravitate towards newer technologies, especially in the realm of engines and suspensions and more recently in terms of applications and technologies that can further enhance the riding experience. 

When we first discussed this aspect of our sport with our older peers, many simply said "I don’t use any kind of new technology when I ride" and we did find that a majority of vet riders and racers could care less about their smart phones when on the track or trail…but even a quick look at their bikes shows that they can't escape the grasp of progress.

But we also found many new (read younger) riders and racers who embrace these new applications and technologies...and are among the first adopters, providing valuable beta testing and feedback to the creators. 

As we looked at what was available, it was initially evident that the majority of motorcycle based apps look like ExciteBike and were game-based!! We didn't want that.

We were looking for smart phone apps that had the potential to add some benefit to the riding experience, and were suited for off-road motorcycles (or at least ADV based) and we didn't find a lot but the ones we’ve noted here are applicable to most motorcyclists except competition (on track) based.

Many are familiar with some of the larger, more popular motorcycle applications such as Rever or Waze, but what about the some of the lesser known apps that aren't geared specifically towards street bikes? We didn't find hundreds of apps there really, just a few that we thought our readers may want to know about.

Obviously this is a smaller, newer market and not a lot of developers have hooked into it yet, but as more and more riders have access to technology platforms like smart phones, smart helmets and even smarter motorcycles, we expect the market and selections to expand greatly. 

The first app that we found that we liked was CRADAR. 

CRADAR stands for CRash Detection And Response and is an application that uses the accelerometer in your phone to detect a fall and sends a text message alert to a specified emergency contact, using the GPS to include a link to a map with your exact location! Obviously good for riding alone or when you get split up from a group. This feature is very important when riding alone and because it is automatic, the rider doesn't have to get involved with the process.

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We spoke with Jay O'Leary who developed CRADAR and asked him some basics about it:

TT: What's the unique feature of CRADAR? 

CRADAR senses when you fall, waits 30-120 seconds (whatever you set it for), and if it doesn't see you move at least 8 feet, sends a text message to your emergency contacts telling them you might be hurt. This gives your contact a chance to call you to see if you're OK. 

In the text message is a link to Google Maps with your GPS coordinates. If they don't get an answer, they know exactly where you are, and have the GPS coordinates so other people can find you too.

TT: Is it specific to motorcycles?  

CRADAR was developed for motorcyclists who might not always keep the rubber side down, but has been adapted for several other sports. Anyone who might go down hard, in a place where they might not be found quickly, can make good use of CRADAR.

TT: What platforms does it run on?  

Android only 

TT: What does it cost?  

Free - no ads

TT: Where can we get it? 

CRADAR can be downloaded here: Google Play Store
 

Next up we looked at BEST BIKING ROADS. 

Best Biking Roads is a smart phone application that helps motorcyclists find different roads, trails, routes, etc. This information populates a database so other users can quickly access and contribute as they find new routes. 

We found out that this app has a LOT of user data and that makes it really good. Many motorcyclists before you will have been down the same roads and can share the experiences as well as add tip and tricks to help you get the most out of your journey, and the app has a large library of photos and video of motorcycling routes as well which you can contribute to.

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TT: What's the unique feature of this application?  

BBR is used primarily to look up roads and routes in new areas for trip planning or weekend motorcycle rides. There is a lot of usable data - there are currently over 9,500 motorcycle routes logged from a community of around 34,000 motorcyclists.

TT: Is it specific to motorcycles?  

Yes, this project is only for motorcyclists, no one else need apply. 

TT: What platforms does it run on?  

iOS, Android and Internet Browser 

TT: What does it cost?  

It’s free, and a premium version is available for $3.99.  Users are encouraged to make donations by becoming a 'sponsor' to help support the project and keep it growing. Users can also volunteer to help the project in many other ways.   

TT: Where can we get it? 

BBR can be downloaded here: App Store, Google Play and online at www.BestBikingRoads.com 
 

Then we talked to the folks at WOLFPACK (great name!). 

WolfPack is an application that is designed to be used as a group...or "pack" - hence the name - and addresses the key issues related to traveling in groups: staying together, planning experiences together, staying in sync, and communicating safely while out on the road, forest, trail system, desert, mountains, you name it.

When hitting the road, it takes you and your "pack" on a shared navigation experience (everyone follows the same route). While riding, it offers you the ability to send each other preset (but configurable) messages with a couple taps of your finger. 

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TT: What's the unique feature of this application? 

Most unique in WolfPack is our radar - on top of your map you see where the other riders in your group are in relation to you. 
 
TT: Is it specific to motorcycles?  

No - the technology works great for any group travel situation - motorcycle, bicycle, car, on foot, or even while skiing. 
  
TT: What platforms does it run on?  

WolfPack has apps for both Android and iOS.

TT: What does it cost?  

The basic tier is free. Advanced features are part of WolfPack Premium, which is $1.99/mo. or $19.99/yr. 

Where can we get it? 

WolfPack can be downloaded here: Google Play and Apple App stores.
 

Here are a few more apps that we liked but haven't tested extensively: 

EAT SLEEP RIDE

ESR is a popular motorcycle application that enables you to explore, track and share your motorcycle rides and discover routes and riders nearby. ESR features CRASHLIGHT which automatically detects a crash and notify pre-set contacts with your location.

ESR can analyze your speed and distance on every turn and you can potentially meet other riders using the application. Another cool feature is you can share your recorded ride, trimming the start and end points to maintain privacy as well as a “Live Tracking” feature to share your location with family and friends in real-time.

RAIN ALARM

This weather app alerts you when rain is approaching. The alerts are a reliable short-term forecast based on near real-time data and it has DIY alerts to every type of precipitation, whether rain, snow or hail. 

How many times have we all misjudged the weather and either got caught out in the rain or maybe cancelled a ride and it actually never rained? This app can really help there.

FIRST AID

This application is published by The American Red Cross and is pretty comprehensive; with simple step-by-step instructions guide you through everyday first aid scenarios, fully integrated with 9-1-1 so you can call EMS from the app at any time.

One thing we really liked was the preloaded content, which means you have instant access to all safety information at anytime, even without reception or an Internet connection.
 

In conclusion, technology is becoming more and more prevalent and you just can’t escape it. Whether you’re actively using it with an app like WolfPack or passively with a recording app like Best Biking Roads, it’s working its way into our sport.

We’re still in somewhat the beginning stage when it comes to off-road motorcycling, but many are using what tools we have to make our riding better, and there is a lot more of this stuff coming, from active drones with AI to follow you and report back on your technique and training progress, to engine tuning tools that respond to voice commands in real time and so much more, the future is now.

Q: What apps are you using that contribute to a better riding experience and what do you like most about it? Hit us up in the comments section below! :cheers:
 

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User Feedback


social media is neat for planning a ride, but once it's underway, it's resource heavy and feature short.

I use mapping supplications that work OFFLINE and consume very few resources like oruxmaps and locus. 

yes, they can track users in real time also, but I've found that to be more of a gimmick than anything. if there is a large group, just split into smaller groups so it's more enjoyable and safer with traffic. 

off road, the applications mentioned work awesome, without needed a constant internet connection to do so.

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what's a good used phone with decent screen size and gps to use without a plan?  I'm using Avenza on my good phone but hate taking it on brutal rides.

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Avenza

http://www.avenza.com/

I use the app with with National Geographic trail maps, ( I buy the paper maps, and download the same map to Avenza)  Best mapping system ever!  You don't have to have to have reception, just turn the GPS on, and it will work.

 

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On 8/5/2017 at 9:53 PM, highmarker said:

what's a good used phone with decent screen size and gps to use without a plan?  I'm using Avenza on my good phone but hate taking it on brutal rides.

 

Walmart has Kyocera hydro shore for $38

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CRADAR..... I can just see stopping for a beer or rest on the trail, forgetting to turn it off and it alerting everybody and their mother. Probably why it's free. 

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I've been watching for this article, and am happy to see it.

Well done, Mr. MXEditor!   I'll book mark this one.  :thumbsup:

Edited by Wudsracer

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Great topic and article, I'm sure this industry will continue to evolve. The Avenza app used to be called PDF Maps, then it changed names and costs for certain functions. I was able to keep the old PDF Maps which was free with unlimited maps. It is a great app for loading Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs) from the US Forest Service, BLM, etc. The maps are geo-rectified so your GPS shows where you are on the map. The only problem is the MVUM maps don't stitch together, so if you go off a map, you have to figure out which map is adjacent and have downloaded it. Another great new app/website in Colorado is COTREX - it puts jeep, moto, bicycle, hiking, etc. trails all on one map, stitched together, even the MVUMs.  For now, PDF Maps (aka Avenza) seems to be the best for trial riding.

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Radar is a nice idea, but limited by coverage. There are a lot of places where you have coverage on the road and no coverage 10 feet over the edge. Nearly all dirt biking locations have limited cell phone coverage. Much better to get a good personal locator Beacon with satellite connectivity.

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Another problem with cell phones is sunlight. In good bright sunlight the screen is pretty much useless.

A dedicated GPS like a Garmin will have both color screen and reflective BW for direct sunlight.

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On 14/08/2017 at 0:54 PM, Fango said:

Another problem with cell phones is sunlight. In good bright sunlight the screen is pretty much useless.

A dedicated GPS like a Garmin will have both color screen and reflective BW for direct sunlight.

I found the same problem on my Sony, so ebay to the rescue, I found a matt finish protective film for the screen that improved viability significantly, also used a specific app to automatically crank screen brightness to max, I use Back Country navigator for all my off road travels, works fantastic.

..

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