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    • What are the best tools for planning motorcycle routes for afternoon or day trips?

      I live in San Jose, CA and with the smoke slowly clearing out I'm looking to get back into riding on weekends. I used to ride more often with folks who picked amazing routes but group rides are less frequent these days. I've found the South Bay Riders forum has a compendium of Nor Cal motorcycle riding roads and I'm thinking about how to plan routes which I can follow on my phone mounted to my handlebars.

      I've tried a few apps on the App Store but they don't seem to be great fits. Motorcycle GPS units seem made for this but I'm hoping to get by with an iPhone which can provide turn-by-turn guidance during the roundtrip.

    • I like old fashioned paper maps. Spread one out and study the area surrounding your home. Look for thinly populated areas and squiggly lines. Avoid freeways. Look for border areas between states or countys, winding rivers or mountain ridges. Search out the hinterlands. At this point you may settle on a general area to explore today, or not. Then, before heading out, check the current surface wind speed and direction and the forecast for the rest of the day. (Windy is a good app for wind and weather information.)

      At the end of your driveway, turn right or left; depending on your whim of the moment. If undecided at this point, turn into the wind. (I prefer to ride without a windshield, "naked" as it's called, because I prefer clean, quiet, non-turbulent air around my helmet; riding into the wind is a bit more fatiguing than riding with a tailwind so if the windspeed is signifcant I like to spend the first part of the ride with a headwind so I can savor a sweet tailwind on the homeward leg.)

      As you proceed away from your driveway, make a point of looking around; savor the moment, settle into the environment, embrace the day. When you come to an intersection, slow down and consider the possibilities it offers; should I turn right, left, or proceed? Well, what feels right at this moment? Follow your instinct. Where does that road go? What is the likelihood of encountering traffic at this hour? Which road will lead me to the experience I'm seeking today? If none of the possibilities presents a clear answer I choose to head into the wind.

      Early in the ride, close to home, I know where all the roads go and the riding experience they offer. As I get farther afield I may encounter intersections that offer roads as yet unridden. Does that road look appealing? Wonder where it goes? Is this the day to find out? Yes or no, flip a mental coin, ride on. If unable to decide, recall the wind forecast; generally, if convenient and somewhat reasonable, meander upwind.

      When more or less half the time alloted for this ride has elapsed, I begin to gently turn crosswind for a bit and eventually downwind. If this has been a good ride I may actually not be too sure at this point exactly "where" I am but usually at least know the general direction of home, so I begin to head that way. If it has been an exceptionally good day and I have obtained the nirvana state of being "lost", I may consult my phone for directions to a gas station or to a road that I know will take me home. An app like Maps with Me with downloaded maps works when out of cell range, so even way back in the hills it will suggest a general direction to head.

      As I journey towards home, relishing the tailwind, I check the hour, mentally compute the approximate time enroute and adjust my routing so as to arrive in time for dinner with my patient partner. Works for me; YMMV.

    • Get one of these books. I couldn’t tell you if there’s an electronic version of some kind. If not - you know how to make some money having fun.

    • There really is only one solution, it’s called maps-terbation..

      Spread them, study them, look for the twistiest small roads, comit them to memory, or put them in a GPS/phone or scribble a few turns on a strip of masking tape stick it to your tank, then fold the maps and pack them with your toothbrush and credit card and go.

      Most times you will have the best adventure never overthink it.

      We only get to go around once make the most of the short time we have, ride more, plan less.

    • Thanks for the thoughtful — and a bit outrageous — responses. The common thread in all of these posts has been the importance of studying maps and to just try roads out.

      I found a few interesting nearby roads on the SBR maps I posted earlier and wanted to plot something out which would be easy to follow. I’m not sure how to create my own fancy GPX routes nor how to display them on my phone. (I believe folks use Google My Maps or something? But no way to do it on a phone.)

      Most folks I know who do group rides either print out or write down waypoints and tape them to the tank. Or they just memorize it. I wanted something a bit less involved to just get out and go explore.

      I’m preparing to participate in DGR and noticed Beeline as a sponsor. I downloaded the Beeline iOS app which lets you do what I always wanted on my phone: simply tap and drag to set and adjust several waypoints. This is way less tedious than using Google Maps to create “stops“ which don’t make sense.

      Beeline is a fancy moto nav device, but the app also presents a virtual device with the same simple direction system. I used this app on a ride this morning and had a blast. The Beeline interface is a bit confusing but it led to some interesting side roads. My route to New Almaden and Hicks Road took me past Mount Umunhum and so I took a detour up there to survey the new summit road. Nice to see other motos up there enjoying the great view.

      Glad to be back exploring. The weather today in the South Bay was so wonderful. Thanks for the encouragement here.

    • My post was intended to be about road routes; however, I’m dipping my toes into off-roading and I’ll keep these routes in mind as I build up skills. Thanks for sharing them!

      I have a Street Twin for roads and a BMW G650 Xchallenge for off-road. My buddy (with his own G650 Xchallenge) who was my gateway into off-road riding moved away just as I finished up the repairs to my G650, so I never got into off-roading much. I tried Trail 1 at Metcalf a few weeks back with zero off-road experience but I believe it’ll be good to enroll in an off-road school to learn and practice a bit more before taking on these kinds of trips.

    • Ride more and plan less — yes!

      I believe what I got to do today was “just enough” planning... I didn’t even review the entire route and I got to take an amazing detour. Win all around.

    • I have a Beeline device.

      Been using it for about 6 months.

      The device itself is good - but I find the phone app rather frustrating and very easy to send myself off course. I've sworn at it vehemently on a number of rides.

    • Oh, yes. I was so angry at my phone today.

      I’m really glad to hear the device itself is good. I was hoping the app would be a preview of the device but it was very bad.

      It’s kind of expensive but if it works well I’m interested in it. I like the simplicity and keeping my phone off the bars.

    • keeping my phone off the bars.

      'Zactly why I bought it. I'm not exposing my expensive phone to that sort punishment.

      The device is funky and the minimalist interface works pretty well. Some of the details are a bit hard to see in poor light, particularly motorway exits and junctions, but overall it's pretty easy to follow.

      The app's main shortcoming compared to Google maps is that it doesn't give a choice of several routes from A to B. Which is a real pain.

      It does have the ability to import a .GPX file. So maybe the answer is to plan on G-maps on desktop - import and go. I will try that next.

    • It's a long way around (pun intended) but this seems to work.

      Plan a route in Google maps. (I just did home to the pub to see if it works)

      Click share map and copy the link.

      Paste the link into

      Export the .gpx

      Mail the gpx to phone.

      Save the gpx to Beeline app from within the mail app.

      Opens in Beeline.

      BUT - you can't change it. As per the red warning.

      It would save a lot of 'drama' on a complicated route however.

    • DD --

      I've been looking for someone with realistic feedback on the Beeline Moto. I've been using the device since backing it on Kickstarter, and I've really tried to put it through its paces. The software has improved quite a bit since launch, thankfully.

      That said, I have a pretty major complaint about how routes are planned and waypoints are handled. For instance, the routes are generally planned with a start point and an endpoint -- with Beeline choosing the fastest route there. In my experience, that's rarely what a motorcyclist wants. Since you can't drag the route with your finger, you have to use waypoints to force the route you want. Hell, that doesn't even bother me. What DOES bother me is that the waypoint shows on the nav as a "destination" mid-trip, when I only really have it there to force the route I want to ride. So in the middle of my trip, it's acting like I'm "arriving" somewhere important -- or somewhere I've wanted to stop at -- when I don't care about it whatsoever.

      Does that make sense at all?

      Another frustration of mine is that I'll click on the map to set a destination (or waypoint) and it's only by zooming in quite a bit that you realize it's placed the dot in a parking lot NEXT to your route. So you're happily driving along and it tells you to take a right, then a right again, and finally to a parking lot in front of a hair salon or something -- when you just wanted to pass that waypoint and keep riding.

      Know what I mean?

      I've raised these issues (and suggested "fixes"), but Beeline appears to have one person in support that replies with links to their support articles instead of actually listening. THAT'S been frustrating as hell. I can't get to anyone over there that will acknowledge the problems, suggest fixes, or even tell me they're looking into it.

      The .gpx method is definitely a solution of sorts, but (like you said) makes a route that you cannot edit.

      Does any of this resonate with you? If so, have you found any workarounds?