Riding season is here (if it will stop raining) and I will be heading on my first weekend trip coming up here in April. It has only been about two years since I have embraced using GPS for my motorcycle rides. I was initially very resistant to the idea, wanting to just enjoy the wandering of the ride, but I have come to appreciate the GPS not only for planning rides, but also for tracking where I have been,
So let's talk about what I have used over the past couple of years.
BMW Navigator Street (aka. Garmin Zumo 390)
The BMW Navigator Street is my go to device right now. It is a dedicated GPS device rebranded to BMW. I am a big fan of dedicated devices, espcially when it comes to rugged gear. A couple of years ago I planned a trip to Canada and I wanted to make sure I had a device that could reliably provide GPS maps in an area where I might not have a cell signal.
The Navigator Street is basically a Garmin Zumo 390, with two basic tweaks. First, it does have a database built in for BMW Motorrad dealerships. Second, it has a dedicated cradle that connects to an accessory plug on BMW motorcycles.
Overall I have had some good luck with the device. It gets the job done and does an excellent job of tracking my GPS routes as well. My only major qualm with it is that "curvy roads" setting does stay to highways a bit more than I would normally want it to. I really have to force to to reroute to get me to some real of the path places.
So one of the great and sometimes awful things about the Garmin is a companion desktop application called Basecamp. Basecamp is meant to be a trip planning software. It is a really finicky piece of software and sometimes it is really confusing on how it wants to operate.
Once you get your head around it though, the trip routing component is pretty nice. You can set waypoints, including gas stops right from the app. You can even distinguish what type of road you would like to ride on in between waypoints, such as a "curvy road" or just a highway.
Bringing your trip routes back into the app after your trip is also very handy.
While I do the trip routing in Basecamp, I do most of the actual trip planning in RoadTrippers. This site has become one of my favorite for any sort of road trip planning. Not only cane you plan your actual route in it, but it has an amazing database to find all of those quirky roadside attractions and oddities that you would expect for a road trip. I used this to plan a couple of road trips now and it is great for finding odd restaurants, road side stops and even the occasional inn or camping site.
The recently changed the website and they now charge $30 if you want more than 7 waypoints in your trip. For road trip planning I think it would be worth it.
They also have excellent guides for a lot of famous places around the US, which are a great place to start for a Roadtrippers as well. They also have an excellent iPhone app.
Finally on my list is a website call Rever.co. I honestly haven't used this one very much since it is very app focused.Great if you want to use your phone for trip planning and GPS routing. Both the app and website have a very slick interface. The one really nice thing that they have going on for them though is the social features. In a lot of ways, this app is the motorcycle equivalent to Strava from the bicycling world.
The social features allow you to setup groups where you can manage group rides, share data with friends, etc. I first got into this app because they seemed to have a partnership going with BMW Motorrad a year or two back. The web interface for planning routes is also very well done and I used it a little but a few years ago when planning some twist roads through the Adirondacks.