Whether you’re cooking, exercising or simply relaxing on the couch, apps often rule our digital lives. In this age of smartphones, tablets, virtual reality and a myriad of other electronic gizmos, all of us use apps at some point during our day. Yes, that includes while on our precious motorcycles, too. Two wheels may be a form of escaping the digital world, but it would be a shame to ignore the different ways in which technology can enhance our riding experience. Here we’ve gathered 10 apps we believe would be useful to everyone on two wheels. From finding great riding roads to potentially saving your life, the 10 apps we’ve included here should appeal to the wide array of riders out there. Users on an iOS device are lucky in that almost all the apps listed here work on your device. Android users are also mostly covered. Sorry, but if you’re using a Windows phone or some other OS, you’re largely SOL. Read on to see our 10 featured apps.
10. Waze (Free. Available for Android, iOS and Windows)
Sure, riding motorcycles is all about the ride, the journey. But let’s get real; many times we use two wheels to get to a destination as quickly as possible. Helping you find the path of least resistance to your destination is the Waze app. Not just an ordinary GPS app, Waze calculates the quickest path to your destination by gathering speed information from all other Waze users in your area and those at your destination. With your smartphone paired to a Bluetooth communicator in your helmet, Waze’s helpful robotic spokesperson will speak to you, giving turn-by-turn directions. The app is constantly searching for the optimum route, too, so a beneficial change of course is entirely possible.
But that’s not all. You can also program it to search for the nearest or cheapest gas station. If you’re caravanning somewhere, all members in the group can connect with each other and see their progress, which is especially useful if you get separated from the group. Maybe the function that will appeal most to motorcyclists is the one that sends your route and arrival time to someone electronically so they can track your progress via the internet. Should you be running late, others can track down your location and see whether you’re simply stuck in traffic (on a motorcycle?!) or, worse, in an accident. Needless to say, this app is pretty handy whenever you’re on four wheels, too.
More about the app: Waze
9. Pirelli Diablo Superbiker (Free. Android, iOS)
This one is for the racers and trackday junkies out there looking for a free alternative to expensive data acquisition equipment. Using your smartphone’s GPS and accelerometers, the Pirelli Diablo Superbiker app tracks your laps, speed, lean angle and lap times, plotting different parameters on a graph so you can see what you’re doing and where you’re doing it. There’s even a map feature with outlines of the course so you visual learners can piece together portions of track with the data being thrown back at you. Sure, this may not be the be-all, end-all when it comes to bettering your riding through data, but the price is impossible to beat.
More about the app: Pirelli Diablo Superbiker
8. Road Trip ($4.99. iOS only)
This one is for the real number crunchers out there. With Road Trip, you can get comprehensive data on a crucial element of your bike’s performance: fuel mileage. While it’s meant for four wheels, there’s no reason the five-buck app can’t work for a motorcycle as well. Beyond tracking your fuel mileage, Road Trip also keeps service and repair logs and will send you a reminder when a service item is due. It can also track your expenses per trip and show you a cost per day, per mile and provide a moving average.
The sheer expanse of data sets Road Trip provides is mind boggling, and if you’re an iOS user, could very well be worth the $4.99 to try it. What’s more, the app can show you graphs for comparing MPG vs. fuel type, driving conditions, average speed, temperature, and much more. The data points can also be imported or exported as a .csv file for greater manipulation on a computer.
More about the app: Road Trip
7. Skymotion (Free. Android, iOS, Windows)
Nobody wants to ride in the rain if they can avoid it. With the free Skymotion app, you don’t have to. Boasting up-to-the-minute weather forecasts based on your GPS location, combined with user-submitted, ground level observations, the Skymotion app lets you decide whether it’s worth the risk. If you’re already in the middle of your ride, you can use the app to decide whether to seek shelter or zip on the waterproof gear and soldier on.
More about the app: Skymotion
6. MotoGP Live Experience ($16.10. Android, iOS)
If you’re a MotoGP junkie, you don’t want to miss a single moment of the action. However, life doesn’t always allow you to sit by your TV or computer once the races come on. With the MotoGP Live Experience, as long as you have an Android or iOS device, you can take the MotoGP circus with you wherever you go. Watch every second of practice, qualifying and all three races, complete with live timing and commentary. Not only that, the app also gives you access to exclusive interviews with riders, team members and other personnel you won’t find anywhere else. You can even watch archived footage of past races.
At $16.10, this is the most expensive app on the list, but it’s cheaper than buying a cable TV subscription or any other subscription direct from the MotoGP website. So, when you look at it that way, it’s a bargain!
More about the app: MotoGP Live Experience
5. Camp Where ($4.99, Android, iOS)
This one is for the adventurers who like going off the beaten path. The ones who prefer campgrounds to hotels, and pack tents on the back of their adventure bikes. The Camp Where app gives detailed information on “over 11,500 public campgrounds in the United States and Canada.” These include national parks, national forests, state parks, state forests, Canadian provincial parks, and county and city campgrounds, all accessible by car or motorcycle. What’s more, much of the information on the app is accessible without the need for an internet connection.
Coordinate information is available for each campground, allowing you to input exact directions into a GPS device. Camp Where even provides information like phone numbers, reservation info, RV hookups, and weather information so you can make an informed decision on which campground to ride to. While the app is optimized for iOS devices, the link below will also take Android users to a less-optimal, but equally informative version.
More about the app: Camp Where
4. Best Biking Roads ($3.99. Android, iOS)
The name is pretty self-explanatory. With the Best Biking Roads app, Android or iOS users can look for awesome riding roads, or input their own. Whether you’re looking for a road near your current location, or searching for one in a specific area, there are more than 3,500 user-generated routes worldwide for you to scroll through. To date, approximately 2,300 of those routes are accompanied by pictures and 100 of them even have video. We could keep going, but why don’t you watch the video below to learn more.
More about the app: Best Biking Roads
3. Yelp (Free. Android, iOS, Windows)
If you’re reading this and you don’t know about the Yelp app by now, just what exactly do you do online?! While many of us use it to find the perfect burrito or happy hour near our home or office, we sometimes forget that Yelp makes a great companion during, or after, a long journey to find anything from a great meal to a reputable motorcycle shop, should you need to fix something on the road. Yes, you have to be wary with sites like Yelp, which sometimes bump favorable reviews to the top and negative ones to the bottom, but overall it is a great resource on or off the motorcycle.
More about the app: Yelp
2. EatSleepRide ($2.99. iOS, Android in development)
In many ways the EatSleepRide app is a lot like some of the other apps on this list. You can track your ride and share it with others, and you can also discover a multitude of possible routes. Want to track speed, lean angle and elevation? Yep, it does that too. But to stop there doesn’t do ESR justice. The app also lets you setup a private ride group, allowing members to chart each other’s progress on a map. EatSleepRide also allows you to see other users in your vicinity also using the app, allowing multiple parties to connect, if so desired. But perhaps the best feature of EatSleepRide is the Crashlight option.
For $6.99 on top of the $2.99 purchase price, Crashlight auto detects a motorcycle crash (using the gyrometers and accelerometers within your phone), and gives the rider three minutes to deactivate the alarm in their phone. Failure to do so sends an emergency notice with your GPS coordinates to pre-selected contacts within the app, alerting them to send help immediately. For 10 bucks, that’s cheap insurance and peace of mind for you and your loved ones. At press time the app is only available for iOS devices, but an Android version is said to be coming soon.
More about the app: EatSleepRide
1. Put the phone away and just ride!
After all this talk about using apps to better your motorcycling experience, sometimes it’s best to put all that technology away and just ride. Despite all the amazing ways electronics can enhance our experience, motorcycles will always be about man and machine, discovering the open road together. Riders survived for ages without smartphones (or dumb phones for that matter). You can do the same. Apps only get in the way if you let them. There’s a saying that goes, “You can never be lost if you don’t have a destination in mind.” Subscribe to that, then get out there and ride. Technology will still be there when you get back.