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Motorcycle News, Editorials, Product Reviews and Bike Reviews

Google Maps Tailored for Motorcyclists Rolling Out in Certain Asian Markets

How soon will it be available in the United States?  This is the question that arises when U.S. motorcyclists hear about the customization of Google Maps for motorcyclists … already available in certain Eastern Asian countries.

Google Maps is a great tool, of course, but the assumption underlying the directions, and quickest routes, fed to vehicle users here in the United States is that you are piloting an automobile, not a motorcycle. This means that the shortest route, for example, does not take into account certain motorcycle-specific abilities, such as splitting lanes in certain states. It also does not provide visual landmarks to alert motorcyclists to an upcoming turn or destination … so you can keep your eye on the road rather than your phone screen. These features, and more, are available in the motorcycle-specific version of Google Maps, which we hope Google will introduce to U.S. motorcyclists in the not-too-distant future.

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  1. BlindJoeBeck says:

    I assume that my dedicated GPS device does not care or record my whereabouts (and for sure I could be wrong), but Google would very well be interested if there was money involved.

  2. Eric S says:

    Use G-Maps as is and it works pretty darn well IF you use Options to ‘avoid highways’ and select way-points along the route. Helps to lay out the route on the PC before replicating on the phone.

    Another tip is to download area maps for ‘off network’ navigation. The GPS signal always works and maps navigate w/o cellphone service this way.

  3. Jeremy in TX says:

    I’ve used Google maps on the bike quite a bit, though audio only – the phone stays in my pocket. I like it fine when point A to B is the priority. If an algorithm is developed that teaches the application the twistiest way from point A to B, that might be a pretty good thing.

  4. Dino says:

    I used my cell as a GPS a few times, using a handle bar mount, but i found it more distracting, and less enjoyable to ride. After a few days, the sensor for screen rotation went haywire and the map would turn sideways at times!
    On the plus side, the vibrations from the ride gave me over 25,000 steps on one day, according to the fitness tracker app!

    • Dino says:

      I do use Google maps almost exclusively in my car, when i needed a GPS. Traffic routing, ETA and up to date with road construction. Just not real good on my bike!

  5. Sean says:

    The problem is, smartphones don’t really make good motorcycle GPSs. I tried to make one work for an entire summer once before giving up.

    They have shiny displays, and they do not work with gloves (critical!). I’ll stick with my Garmin that links to my phone to download traffic, weather, reads my emails, reads my texts, make calls, etc.

    • Dino says:

      If you don’t know where you are going, and can’t afford to be late, the GPS is good. For road trips, i stick with a paper map in a tank bag. Some of the best vacation stories are parts that were unplanned!
      Just enjoy the ride!

      • guu says:

        Planning is where the paper map shines. Its much easier to see the “big picture” and somewhat plan the ride to avoid “fast” route.

        • Larry Kahn says:

          Have to wonder how many people under 35 have much knowledge of map reading. Missing out. Then again I don’t have a cell phone.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            Anyone can read a map. But like learning to use an abacus, there is just so rarely any good reason for it.

  6. gutterslob says:

    I think it’s important to consider the market and the demand. The countries where it’s already available – I live in Singapore and have been to most of em, either for work or holiday – are countries with;

    a. Large concentration of motorcycles. Heck, some of these countries have Uber-like services on motorcycles, where the customer rides pillion. I’ve tried it once while on holiday in Indonesia. Not for the faint of heart.

    b. High uptake of Android devices. Let’s face it, most of the people in these countries aren’t exactly loaded by first-world income standards (Malaysia is probably an exception since they have slightly higher spending power there, though I don’t think that power extends to the rural areas) and we all know Apple hates the poor, and even if you have an iPhone in any of these countries, the feature isn’t available (yet) for the iOS version of Google Maps.

    c. Large amount of roads only motorcycles can travel on. I’m not just talking about narrow bumpy dirt roads, but all those little “service” lanes between buildings in crowded cities. Forget cars, I reckon even Ben Kingsley playing Gandhi would have trouble fitting into some of em.

    The typical US rider probably doesn’t require such features as desperately as the people in these countries do. Heck, they don’t even allow lane splitting in many US states, so I doubt most of the motorcycle-only type of routes available to riders in these East Asian countries would be considered legal in Yankland anyway.

    • ThomasX says:

      Yes. You hit it right on the head. I’m in Indonesia. And it is common knowledge that there are two types of direction you give to people: one for cars and one for motorbikes(scooters if you wanna be real about it).
      There are many routes that go through alleyways, service “roads”, fruit orchards (yes), etc, that would be impassable on 4wheels.
      As for western europe/us, i don’t really see any advantage over regular car gps.

  7. Al says:

    I’ve been asking google this question for six months.

  8. Bart says:

    If it can it display the rolling blockades of pirates on staggered road cattle, bike make/model at nearest Starbucks then it might be worth downloading, assuming G doesn’t do that automatically anyway to every single-track cell phone on the planet.

  9. WSHart says:

    “Alice asked the Cheshire Cat, who was sitting in a tree, “What road do I take?”

    The cat asked, “Where do you want to go?”

    “I don’t know,” Alice answered.

    “Then,” said the cat, “it really doesn’t matter, does it?”

    One supposes the Cheshire One may well have been hinting at the possible joy of roads unknown. Thank the Buddha he didn’t have Google Maps…”O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”

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