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Archive for October 20th, 2010

Greatest Road - iPhone App

Paper maps are essentially unmanageable on a motorcycle.  As a result many motorcyclists venture toward stand-alone handlebar-mounted GPS units that are easy to read and manipulate.  Then there are those who prefer to leverage their smart phone and Google maps.  Of course there is the debate about distracted riding of ALL kinds and whether anyone should be using GPS etc. while driving a motorcycle.

Then there are old skool riders who just hit the road and want to wander.  They wonder where they are and wander around looking for it.  To each their own because it’s about the adventure and freedom on a motorcycle.

Earlier this week I was contacted by the founder and CEO of Greatest Road Software who remarked about a couple of map/navigation apps I mention on this blog.  He suggested that I give their app a try.  I did and decided to blog about the results.

This post does not answer the question… which iPhone app is the best for use on a motorcycle?

Road Stretch Details

That is complicated.  Some riders are looking for a point A to point B mapping solution where others are looking to be part of a larger community with the intent to share route information and to rate the trip with comments and tips.  If you are in that last category then I think you’ll like “Greatest Road” as it was built to help bikers worldwide find, rate, share and comment on cool roads.   Essentially the app was designed to make the best motorcycle roads easy to find and provide routes with detailed information from other riders along with a map.

I tried the application on an Apple iPhone 3GS running iOS 4.1.

To be clear, I’m not a GPS nut or a certifyable map-aholic.  Sure I’ve used my iPhone to avoid rain and find my way, but it was to point me in a general direction.  Not for turn-by-turn instructions.

So, after downloading the small ~8MB app I open it.  Users choose a location on a map, and zoom in or out. Each road stretch has a user-generated star rating system telling you how enjoyable, twisty and scenic it is as well as what shape the surface is in.

Road Stretches - Map View

My first impressions: works well with northwest roads.  It’s easy to use and not confusing on how to set-up routes.  The user can move and zoom the map to an area you’re interested in, and the app shows road stretches nearby. You can save a complicated route in about 30 seconds and can view all other routes in your desired area… again with comments that others have uploaded.  What makes this application most interesting is the share-ability of the information, all your routes and comments are all in the same “folder” as other people have uploaded as well, for the location that you are interested in, all in the same easy digestible format.  Users can email directions to other bikers with iPhones, or send a GPX file to yourself or others to install the route on a dedicated GPS device.  Open-ended comments mean riders can share highlights or report on a hazard. In fact, most content – contributions, ratings and comments – are supplied by fellow motorcyclists.

The app is priced at $4.99 on Apple iTunes.  If that is too pricey for a full purchase commitment then I suggest the “try before you buy” section.

Look, I’m no lawyer.  I just like motorcycles and good roads to ride.  Here comes the disclaimer:  Use at your own risk as I’m not liable for the accuracy or how well the application works when you use it.

Photos courtesy of Greatest Road Software.

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