Route Planning: A Petition to Google

DCIM111GOPROIt’s January here in southwest Ohio where this time of year, the weather is “sketchy” to say the least. I usually use these dark days to brainstorm and plan events for the coming year. I have a couple major events in eastern Kentucky that I plan on attending this spring, which also includes leading several rides. As I’ve mentioned before, I have pretty old-school method of “route execution” with my list of turn-by-turn directions, but I’m looking to move into the 21st Century (if possible).

gps-route-planning-motoadvrI’ve recently got my hands on a Garmin Zumo, which has been quite convenient getting to and from certain destinations, but I have found it less than user-friendly if you’re searching for the twisty roads. Garmin also has “BaseCamp” that you can use to plan routes etc.; at first I found BaseCamp to be all but completely baffling, but I have slowly learned to navigate my way through it. I find that the map views are simply nowhere near as user-friendly or intuitive as the stock form of Google Maps, but I have finally figured out how to set up waypoints and lay out a repeatable route with the GPS. That said, I still haven’t ascertained if it’s faster for me to fuss with waypoints and labels, or just type up and print the directions old-school.

route-google-maps-motoadvrBack to my previous method, plotting out a route in Google Maps is super easy. I admit, being limited to ten or so waypoints is somewhat aggravating, but it’s certainly more efficient than zooming in and out to determine if that’s actually a road or just a random pin in space. I’ve been on the Android Operating System since the original Galaxy S1, so I’ve been exposed to the various flavors of google maps. Per my previous comments, the old google maps was great when I could download the map to the phone and assume that the phone GPS was remotely accurate enough to get me from “A” to “B”, whereas the most recent flavor is “data required”, which is obviously unavailable where the best riding is found.

I’ve searched elsewhere, apparently there’s a mobile GPS application called OsmAnd that permits several statewide map downloads. Admittedly I haven’t tooled around with it a whole lot, but it’s reminiscent of Basecamp enough that it makes me cringe. The search function is either very limited, or overly structured like the old GPS methods (Enter Street number, now street name, now city, now state, (insert frustrated expletive here). Rever has also been pushing their app quite a bit as of late. However for the extra route planning features it’s a paid subscription, and I can’t say I’m enamored with the free version of Rever. I’m not opposed to a paid subscription, however I would prefer to get a better feel for what I’m getting in return for my monthly payment, especially considering that “getting out” of those monthly payments is often a process where subscription services are concerned.  I have also used Waze in recent days for the purposes of avoiding traffic congestion (among other things), but then again, Waze doesn’t permit route modification beyond its handful of suggestions.

Ultimately I’m on the search for superior GPS software that permits me to run a route “data-less” and perform route planning where “The Road” is the destination, not just a series of stops or deliveries. Be it habit, opinion, or fact, from where I stand, I still find Google Maps to be the most all-encompassing solution where motorcycle route planning is concerned. Google maps has an incredible amount of data available to the user, on both mobile and desktop, and has what I find to be the most user-friendly interface. It’s merely the porting of that information over to a mobile that is currently the problem. As I’ve mentioned, there is other software out there, but there seems to be a disconnect between route planning, and route execution with most of that software, google included.

DCIM100GOPROObviously Garmin, Tom Tom, and so on have a corner on the “GPS Unit” market, meanwhile Google holds the beachhead in the Android mobile market. At this point, I think google has a 90% solution for the product I’m asking for, it’s merely that they haven’t closed the loop. I recognize that this is somewhat of a niche feature, but honestly I’m sure I’m not the only motorcycle junkie that is looking for a solution to this problem. I get that many others make the best of BaseCamp (et al), but I feel that with very little effort, Google could launch a product (even if it’s a cellular application) that will solve the problem and end the fussing with paper and antiquated software.

So, in closing, unless you, the readers, have found something I have missed, this is my petition to google: Give us moto-adventurers the motorcycle route planning/riding tool we’re asking for, and we will gladly pay the price.


Update 3/16/17

Perhaps there is a solution after all?

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13 Responses to Route Planning: A Petition to Google

  1. Dan Radigan says:

    NAVIGON? You can download the whole United States and plan routes completely off-line.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. steve ford says:

    I’m old school too. I like your set-up for the written directions. I usually just taped mine to the tank but it was hard to read and ride ! I’d sign the petition 👍🏼

    Liked by 1 person

    • MotoADVR says:

      After my printed directions came flying out of my tank bag on a ride, something had to be done! I wish I still had the dimensions laying around, I’d post them on the blog, but honestly it’s a really easy project (the plastic is the size of my cell phone for obvious reasons). I recognize that motorcyclists are a very small proportion of the automotive community, but I think the “map” people underestimate the need for this software, moreover underestimate the “premium” they could probably get for it.


  3. Experimental Ghost says:

    Strange, you’re the second person in recent times thats said you can’t download maps from Google.

    I have an S4 and it allows me to download any map I chose for offline viewing. In fact I used it extensively while trapsing around Tasmania.

    Maybe it’s a continent thing. Available in Australia and not in your neck of the woods?

    Liked by 1 person

    • MotoADVR says:

      Very likely. It was a standard feature at one time, but no longer. Why that has happened I have no idea, but I do know that it’s particularly frustrating. When I ride in the better parts of Kentucky cell service is almost non-existent, so that’s a Google deal-breaker. I don’t imagine google is going to find this blog post anytime soon, but here’s hoping!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. curvyroads says:

    I too hate Basecamp so much. Ugh. I have a Zumone that is motorcycle specific and has a curvy roads setting (how appropriate is that?) But you still have to give it a destination. I do believe I can download from Google maps to view offline but will have to verify that. Hmmm.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. curvyroads says:

    OK I checked. I do not have the option to save a Google maps route to view offline. But I did have the option to “share directions”. It gave me a list of apps and I chose “save to clipboard” then I pasted it into a Memo. It gave me the turn by turn directions. At least that would save you the typing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • MotoADVR says:

      Agreed, Basecamp is “less than ideal”. I have used the Google Maps export a few times. As you can imagine, the problem is that when you’re on a “fun” ride, those side streets aren’t marked well, and you’ll have to reset your trip odometer at each turn. I should probably publish some of my routes just to demonstrate the complexity. Thanks for commenting! Let me know if you find a better solution!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. curvyroads says:

    I agree, definitely not ideal, and I fully support your petition to Google!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Rever, Ural Motorcycles, and the #WinterBeDamned Challenge | Moto Adventurer

  8. Pingback: Trip Planning: A Rever How-To | Moto Adventurer

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