Last updated: 13 December 2022
I’m a firm believer in the powerful and positive change that comes from touring on motorcycles.
Most of us spend our days chasing (what we deem to be) the important things in life. The priorities.
But in reality, most of us aren’t going to think about the office when we’re on our deathbeds. We won’t think about the money we saved or the mortgage repayments we made.
We’ll think about our loved ones and the experiences that meant the most to us. And we’ll think about the things we wish we’d done.
And this is why I do everything I can to help people get on their bikes and experience the world.
Because there’s always an excuse not to. We’re too busy at work. The kitchen needs redecorating. We’re due a new car this year. I don’t know how to work my motorcycle route planner. The list goes on.
Don’t let the excuses stop you from experiencing something magical.
- Fear vs Accomplishment
- Are There Motorcycle Route Planner Apps To Discover Europe?
- How Do You Plan A Europe Trip Using A Motorcycle Route Planner?
- Using Your Motorcycle Route Planner To Plot Your Route In Europe
- Using Your Motorcycle Route Planner To Build Out Your Europe Trip
- Speaking of the Alps, here are a few related posts:
- Using Your Motorcycle Route Planner To Personalise Waypoints in Europe
- Adding A Hotel Through Your Route Planner
- Adding Notes To Waypoints
- Tidying Up Your Route & Fixing Errors
- Using Streetview Within Your Route Planner
- Using Your Motorcycle Route To Planner To Distribute Waypoints
- Reversing Your Europe Trip In A Motorcycle Route Planner
- Calculating Distance & Time Between Specific Waypoints
- Using Your Motorcycle Route Planner To Split A Route In Europe
- Merging Europe Routes Via Your Motorcycle Route Planner
- Learn more about discovering Europe:
- Using A Motorcycle Route Planner For Your Trip To Europe: Conclusion
Fear vs Accomplishment
For many people, these excuses are born out of fear. A fear brought about by not knowing where to start. Fear of the overwhelming organisation that comes with preparing for a European tour. Of not knowing how to plan or execute it.
For people who are a bit later in life, the fear is often of the technology that comes with motorcycle touring. And it seems innately unfair to me that someone’s life can be decided based on whether they can use a laptop (or not.)
That’s why I wanted to write this post.
For all the Stoics out there, you’ll be familiar with this quote from Seneca:
“We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.”
And this applies to planning a motorcycle trip, too. Because whilst I’m not saying that planning a motorcycle tour is easy, it’s nowhere near as difficult as many conjure up in their heads.
This post is here to help you get to grips with that motorcycle route planner so you can go and enjoy the adventure you crave. You deserve that.
Please note this is a long article and is intended more for reference than reading from start to finish. For your convenience, we’ve added a table of contents at the top of this post. Clicking on the links in the contents will take you to the section you need within the post.
Are There Motorcycle Route Planner Apps To Discover Europe?
Yes! In fact, there are many. And the list is growing all the time. If you’re interested in the different sorts of route planner apps available, check out these related posts:
- Our Top Motorcycle Route Planning App Comparison
- 10 Essential Touring Apps For Bikers: A Few Of The Best
- Motorcycle Sat Nav vs Smartphones? THIS Is A Better Option!
- My 9-Step Route Planning Process For Motorcycle Touring
In these posts, we look at everything from route planning and voice guidance to offline maps and social media.
Whatever you’re after, one of the apps in those posts will likely suit your needs. But for the purpose of this post, we are using MyRoute-App.
Which Is The Best Motorcycle Route Planner?
This is where it gets a little more difficult! We’re all very different beasts. Therefore we all have different things that we need from a route planner.
Personally, I’m not into the social route planners – as my ubiquitous resting bitch face will attest!
And I’m also not a fan of unnecessary faff, which is why I like MyRoute-App. In fact, I enjoy using MRA so much that I even posted a dedicated article on it here.
For me, the interface is simple and intuitive, which makes planning motorcycle routes quick and easy.
It provides me with all the tools I need, and I can file away routes in neat little folders so I know exactly where they all are.
On top of this, MRA app comes with an integrated sat nav which means I can plan (and follow) my routes in Europe from one app.
How Do You Plan A Europe Trip Using A Motorcycle Route Planner?
Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), there is no right or wrong way to plan a route in Europe. There is no prescriptive process or definite way of doing things.
Outlined below is my way of doing things. I’m not saying it’s the right way, but it works for me.
As mentioned above, I’ve been using MRA for quite a few years. And through trial and error, this is my process for planning ‘normal’, tarmac-based routes in Europe.
One more thing.
MyRoute-App is one of the only route planners running both mobile and desktop applications.
In general, I plan all my routes on the desktop version for no other reason than it’s easier to see.
I use mobile for quick changes or route viewing. And I also use it for voice-guided sat nav.
Using A Motorcycle Route Planner To Create A Route In Europe
Once you’ve logged into MRA, click on Routes. Here you will find any routes (or folders containing routes), that you have created in the past. If this is your first time, this page will be empty.
On the right-hand side, you will see the New button. Click on the drop-down and select Route.
From here, you will see the default name for this route is “New route.” You can change this to whatever you like. (For the purpose of this post, I’ll call mine “Alps Loop”.)
Click OK, and a new route map will open (usually in the location you are right now.) It should look like this:
Using A Motorcycle Route Planner: Sort Out The Admin!
There are a few things I always do at the start of plotting a route. Because if I don’t do them at the beginning, I spend the rest of the plotting process fighting against them!
Firstly, I set my map type to HERE because I use a Garmin sat nav that also uses HERE maps. (If you use a TomTom sat nav, select the TomTom maps. If you’re unsure which to use, the default setting of OpenStreetMap will be your best bet.)
Secondly, I usually try to avoid motorways and toll roads.
Finally, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be planning this route in the winter months in preparation for the following summer. The problem with this is that MRA knows certain mountain passes are closed in the winter months. So it will not let you plot a route over these passes.
To get around this, we need to tell MRA to ignore road closures as we plan to ride this route in the summer when the roads will be open.
Using Your Motorcycle Route Planner To Apply Trip Preferences In Europe
Selecting Your Map
So let’s go ahead and apply these preferences. Click where it says Default (OpenStreetMap) to select the drop-down menu. By default, it will say OpenStreetMap.
Now you need to select whichever map layer fits your sat nav as discussed above. (I will choose HERE maps as I ride with a Garmin. You may need to select TomTom or OpenStreetMap, depending on your situation.)
Now let’s set our route preferences. To choose our custom avoidances, click on the Toolkit drop-down menu and hover your mouse over Avoid.
You will see a submenu where you can select any avoidances you want MRA to consider whilst plotting your routes. As mentioned above, let’s select toll roads and highways.
Note: You can only select one avoidance at a time. So we need to go into the Avoidances menu as per the above instructions and select ‘Toll roads.’ Then we have to go in again via the same process and select ‘Highways.’ If you check after you’ve done this, you’ll see black ticks next to each of your selected avoidances.
Disable Road Closures
From the same Toolkit drop-down menu, select Disable seasonal closures. This will let you plot routes over mountain passes that are ordinarily shut in the winter months.
Once you’ve done this, you’re good to get onto the fun stuff!
Other Useful Buttons To Know
Before we plot a route, I want to add a quick screenshot to show you some other buttons we will need later.
How To Un-Do
We’ll get into the functions of these buttons a little later. But it’s worth noting that on the bottom right is an Un-do button.
If you make a mishap when plotting your route and are unsure how to fix it, click on the un-do button and it will remove that action.
Using Your Motorcycle Route Planner To Plot Your Route In Europe
In the top left of the map screen, you will see a search box where you can type in where you want to start your route. (You can also drop a waypoint on the map as your starting point if you prefer.)
Start typing in your start point (in my case, “Grimsel Pass”), and MRA will give you a drop-down list of suggested locations. Click on the one that you want.
MRA will then ask you what you want to call this starting point. In this case, I’ll call mine “Grimsel Pass start”.
Call yours what you like, and then hit Confirm.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll see a blue waypoint placed at your selected location.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll see a blue waypoint placed at your selected location.
It’s worth remembering here that unless you input an exact address, the location where the app decides to drop the waypoint will be ‘approximately’ in the right area.
As you can see with mine below, MRA dropped the waypoint just after the start of Grimsel Pass. I’d like to start my route at Gletsch, so I need to shift the waypoint slightly east.
All I need to do to correct this is click on the blue waypoint and then (with my mouse button pressed down) move it to wherever I like.
As you can see below, I’ve shifted the waypoint to Gletsch, where I would like my route to start.
Using Your Motorcycle Route Planner To Build Out Your Europe Trip
Once you’ve done that, you are ready to add the rest of your route. If you have a definite endpoint (for example, a hotel), you can input the address in the search bar like you did earlier. MRA will then automatically plot a route between the two points.
But if like me, you want to plot your route as you go, it’s now a case of adding waypoints along your intended route.
So in my instance, all I need to do is add waypoints up Grimsel pass.
To add a waypoint, click on the map, and MRA will plot a route from your start point to the waypoint you just added. Once you add the waypoint, a box will appear asking you what you would like to call it.
Unless it’s a specific place (like a hotel or a restaurant), I generally stick with the default name:
On the left-hand side, you will now see your two waypoints. It also shows the distance separating the two points and the estimated drive time.
This is also shown in the little box underneath the search box.
Continue To Fill Out Your Route
From here, it’s simply a case of repeating this process until you get to the end of your route. In my case, I continue to add waypoints up Grimsel pass until it meets Susten pass. This is what it looks like:
(Don’t forget, you can zoom in and out to ensure you drop your waypoints in the centre of the road.)
As you can see, I now have six waypoints, the total distance is 19.88 miles, and the estimated drive time is 27 minutes.
Now I need to follow the same process east across Susten pass (shown below), and then I need to turn right and head south towards Andermatt:
Finally, I will turn right once again, and head west along Furka pass, back towards where I started.
So now, we have a route planned which sees us ride Grimsel pass, Furka pass and Susten pass. And all whilst avoiding motorways and toll roads like we selected.
Our total ride is 82.91 miles and has an estimated drive time of 2 hours and 7 minutes.
And in a nutshell, that’s it! But if you want to personalise it more, you can do so. So let’s look at the next set of options we have.
Using Your Motorcycle Route Planner To Personalise Waypoints in Europe
If you click on any waypoint, it will bring up a list of options. I’ve selected waypoint 9 at random for demonstration purposes.
If you hover over these options, MRA gives you a description of what the button does. So, for instance, if we hover over the little pencil, MRA tells us that we can Rename this waypoint.
The next one zooms in. And the little paint palette after that allows us to change the colour of the waypoint – which comes in really handy!
Let’s say, for example, that waypoint number 9 is where I want to stop for lunch. If I click on the paint palette, it changes the waypoint colour from blue (default) to green. If I click it again, it turns yellow. Then red, and then pink, before turning blue again.
Choose whichever colour you fancy. In this example, I’ve chosen to turn mine yellow.
Try to use specific colours for specific stops throughout your tour. I tend to use yellow for restaurant/lunch stops. And I use red for hotels.
So at a glance, I know that any yellow waypoints signify lunch stops, and any red waypoints are hotels.
I also sometimes use green to signify the start and end of mountain passes. But you can use whatever colour you like for whatever purpose you fancy.
Adding A Hotel Through Your Route Planner
Okay, so you’ve plotted your route around the three big passes, and now you want to ensure you have somewhere to stay at the end of it.
Go ahead and click on the waypoint to bring up the options as you did above. But this time, select the picture of the little bed (it will say Find Hotel when you hover your cursor over it.)
One of the best functions of MRA is that Booking.com is inherently built into it. This means you can book accommodation straight through the app.
Setting Your Dates
Click on the Find Hotel button, and booking.com will bring up a form asking for your arrival and departure dates.
For the purpose of this tutorial, I’m going to say my arrival date is 1st July 2021, and my departure date is 2nd July 2021.
Click Search for hotels, and booking.com will automatically load in a new window. It will display all the hotels within the vicinity of your selected waypoint that are available on the dates you selected.
From here, you can personalise your search even further by adding price filters or features filters (such as breakfast, parking, or WiFi.)
This is another reason why I am a staunch user of MRA. Not only can I plan my route, but I can navigate it and plan my accommodation all out of a single app.
Adding Notes To Waypoints
More often than not, I find that I don’t need to add notes to waypoints. But sometimes, adding a note to a waypoint can be useful.
If we continue with hotels, for example, it’s common to pre-pay for some hotels, whilst for others, you have to pay on arrival. And it can be difficult to remember which hotels you need to pay for!
You can add a note to this hotel waypoint to remind you that you’ve either paid or need to pay on arrival.
To do this, click on your waypoint (as above). But this time, select the three little dots on the right-hand side. (If you hover over the button, it will say More options.)
When you click on the dots, four more options will become available. These are Notes, Add favourite, Starting point, Via, and Skip.
Click on the notepad, and a text box will appear. Write your note in this box.
In my example, I have written that this hotel needs to be paid for on arrival. Sometimes I add check-in and check-out dates or whether breakfast is included in the price.
When you’ve finished, hit Confirm.
Tidying Up Your Route & Fixing Errors
I noticed when looking at my route just now that waypoint 16 is slightly off the road. In the grand scheme of things (especially if you plan to navigate your route using MRA), this shouldn’t be a problem.
Most sat nav units will keep you on the road closest to the waypoint. However, you can sometimes find that when riding down the road, your sat nav will tell you to “turn right in 300m.” So you check your mirrors and pop your right indicator on, only to find there is no right turn.
When this happens, it’s usually down to the fact that your waypoint is slightly off.
Prevent Simple Mistakes
Putting this right is easy. And spending an extra few minutes to ensure everything is in order can save you a lot of messing about on the road.
So if I zoom in to waypoint 13 using the + button on the left side of the screen, you can now see how inaccurate I was when I dropped that waypoint on a zoomed-out map.
As mentioned above, this shouldn’t cause a problem in the grand scheme of things. In all likelihood, the sat nav will keep me on the correct route regardless.
But it only takes a few seconds to fix, so I may as well put it right rather than leave it.
To correct this mistake, click your mouse on the waypoint, and (whilst holding the mouse button down) shift your waypoint to where you want it.
Once you do this, MRA will ask you what you want to call it. Either keep the generic name it allocates or change it to something specific if needed.
Fix Trip Mistakes In Your Motorcycle Route Planner
Whilst sorting out waypoint 16, I noticed I also made a mistake with waypoint 15!
You can see this waypoint is way off where I was meant to drop it. In this case, my sat nav would have taken me to this waypoint, and then asked me to turn around and go back.
And this is fine if it happens once or twice.
But you can imagine how annoying it would be if your sat nav kept asking you to turn around every ten minutes. It becomes very irritating very quickly!
So, this is what my route looks like now I’ve sorted out waypoint 15 by dragging it to where it’s supposed to be.
Using Streetview Within Your Route Planner
Another feature I love to use in MRA is Streetview. With this feature, you can drop the little figure on your map and get a street view of that particular road.
Why is this important? Well, there are two significant reasons:
The first is to ensure I haven’t accidentally plotted my route on any unpaved roads when in remote areas. This is easily done, and I’ve been caught out with it before. It’s happened to me in the past when I couldn’t get around the unpaved route and ended up having to go back to the hotel to plot a new one.
The second reason I use street view is to get a visual of places I intend to stop.
So if I’ve booked a hotel somewhere, I use Streetview to see if I can see the hotel from the road. I can see what it looks like, which makes it easier to locate whilst on tour.
Using Streetview To Check Road Surfaces
For the purpose of this post, I’m going to open Streetview on waypoint 17. (It’s on Furka pass, so I’m pretty confident the road surface will be fine. But let’s check.)
If you look at the buttons on the left side of your screen, you’ll see an icon of a person with a circle around their feet.
Click on this button. The button will turn blue, and every road where Streetview is available will also light up in blue. (If you can’t see this, zoom out a bit, and you will see the extent that Streetview is available.)
If you wanted to, you could run through your entire route using Streetview without even leaving the comfort of your home.
As mentioned above, once you click the Streetview button, all available roads will light up in blue. Click on any of these roads, and MRA will open up a view of that road at street level.
I’m going to click next to waypoint 17, as discussed. This is what happens:
As you can see, I have a mini-map in the bottom left corner, which shows me where (on my route) I have opened Streetview.
The main image is the Streetview.
It’s important to remember here that you can move the camera by clicking and holding your mouse button on the screen and moving left, right, up, or down.
By moving the camera on my Furka pass example above, I can see that it is perfectly tarmacked.
Excellent! I now know this is an appropriate road to add to my route. Once you’ve finished with Streetview, click on the ‘back’ arrow in the top left corner of this screen:
This will bring you back to your route screen. Click the figure again to turn off Streetview.
The Little Blue Circles: Streetview
You may have noticed that little blue circles appear when you select the Streetview icon. These are images that have been taken by the public and uploaded.
If you click on one of these circles, it will open up the view for you to look at. These can be useful if you’re looking for spectacular viewing points or somewhere to have a picnic.
Using waypoint 17 again as an example, you can see lots of little blue circles to the west of my waypoint.
If I click on one, this is what happens:
As you can see, this image was taken in the winter months and it shows the snowcapped Alps in all their splendour. Just looking at this image is making my spine tingle!
As with our Streetview on Furka pass (above), we can rotate this image left, right, up, and down, too.
Using Your Motorcycle Route To Planner To Distribute Waypoints
An important thing to remember when you drop your waypoints is the distance between them.
If you leave too big a gap between waypoints, your sat nav will sometimes take it upon itself to get you from one waypoint to the other via a route that it deems best.
And whilst that’s fine for commuting, it’s not fine for touring because you will want to ride specific roads.
To prevent your sat nav from taking the initiative, you must place your waypoints relatively close to each other to keep your route on track.
So once your route is planned (as with my Alps Loop route above), I tend to fill it with waypoints.
Now, you could, of course, do this yourself by manually dropping waypoints along your route. But it takes ages. However, if you look in the Toolkit tab, you’ll find an option named Expand.
Expanding Your Routes
Click on this option, and MRA will ask you how many waypoints you want to expand your route to.
As it stands, my route is currently made up of 20 waypoints. And in general, this would be fine.
But for the purpose of this article, let’s assume I really do NOT want my sat nav to deviate whatsoever from the route I have planned.
So to stop it from taking initiative, I’m going to expand my waypoints from 20 to 50.
This will not alter the route. It will simply add more waypoints along it to ensure the sat nav will not take me off course.
So, click on Toolkit, and select Expand. Type in 50, and then click Confirm.
This is what happens:
As you can see, the route is exactly the same as it was before. But there are now more waypoints.
Reversing Your Europe Trip In A Motorcycle Route Planner
This is another option that comes in really handy. Quite often, I will plan a route only to decide I want to do it the opposite way.
Now, I could, of course, re-plot it. But that takes time. I could also drag and drop the waypoints listed on the left-hand side of the screen, but I find this method cumbersome.
The easiest option is to reverse the route using the native function in Toolkit.
Click on the Toolkit drop-down and then select Reverse.
As you will see, the route stays the same but is now reversed.
Calculating Distance & Time Between Specific Waypoints
If you look at my screen, you can see a list of waypoints on the left-hand side.
Now, if we want to know the distance or time between two waypoints, we can manually figure it out. But that’s inviting mistakes.
Instead, we can use the Calculator in Toolkit, which will tell us the exact distance and/or time between two waypoints.
So for the purpose of this example, let’s say we want to know the distance and time differences between waypoints 6 and 13.
Click on Toolkit, and select Calculator.
As you can see, MRA gives you a box where you can select the two waypoints you wish to calculate.
In the top box, select waypoint 6. And in the bottom box, select waypoint 13. Hit Perform Calculation and MRA will do the maths for you.
So, in this case, the distance between the two waypoints is 10.86 miles, and they are 15 minutes apart.
Using Your Motorcycle Route Planner To Split A Route In Europe
In the case of our Alps Loop route, you could ride it all in one day. But what if your route ended up being 400 miles long, and you wanted to split it into two smaller routes?
Do you have to start all over again, plotting the same route but in two halves?
No. Because MRA has thought of this little problem and come up with a solution!
In the interest of ease, I’m going to pretend that we want to split our route above. So I want waypoints 1 to 25 to form Route 1, and then waypoints 25 to 50 to form Route 2.
This is how we do it.
Splitting A Long Route Into Shorter Routes
Click on the Toolkit drop-down menu and select Split.
MRA opens up your list of waypoints. Whichever waypoint you click in this list will form a start and endpoint. So, in our case, if I click on waypoint 25, MRA will use this waypoint to END route 1 and START route 2.
(Note: The first and last waypoints in your list will ALWAYS be selected because your routes will always need an ultimate start and an ultimate end.)
When you click on waypoint 25, you will notice that it has now become indented. So I now have three indented waypoints: waypoint 1, waypoint 25, and waypoint 50.
Scroll to the bottom, and MRA will tell you how many routes these waypoints will be split into. In our case, they will split into 2 routes. Click Next.
MRA will then ask you to name these routes. It offers default names, but I always find it easier to rename them.
In this case, I will call the first route “Monday” and the second route “Tuesday.”
Once here, click on Split, and MRA will split your route into two smaller routes called “Monday” and “Tuesday.” These two routes will now be stored in My Routes.
Merging Europe Routes Via Your Motorcycle Route Planner
Okay, so we now know how to successfully split a big route into smaller ones. But what if we want to go the other way and merge two shorter routes to make one longer one?
This is also achievable in MRA.
For some reason, the option to do this is NOT in Toolkit like everything else is. I’m not sure why, but we have to find this from the Routes tab in the panel on the left-hand side of the screen.
For the purpose of this post, I created a second route which I named “Italy Lake.” And Italy Lake is a short ride from Brig to Lago Maggiore.
This is the route:
As you can see, it’s 71.05 miles long and takes approximately 1 hour and 56 minutes to ride.
But if you remember, our previous route (the Alps Loop route) is 72.36 miles and takes around 1 hour and 50 minutes to ride.
We can merge these two short routes to make one long route. And MRA will calculate the path you need to take from one route to the other.
Merging Shorter Routes To Form One Long Route
So let’s go ahead and merge our two routes.
Start by opening your first route (in my case, the Alps Loop route.)
On the left-hand menu, select Routes and then click on the blue Add button.
This will show you your saved routes.
Bearing in mind that your first route is currently open, select the second one you would like to add to it.
So in my case, I have the Alps Loop route already open and want to add Italy Lake to it.
Select this route from the list available, and the second route will appear on your map in yellow.
Adding The Second Route
If you zoom out, you will also see your first route plotted in grey. In the left column, you will now see your second route. And next to it, you will see a + (add) button and an X (cancel) button.
Press + to add the second route to the first one, or press X to cancel the merge.
In our case, let’s press the + button to merge the routes.
MRA will ask if you want to add the route to the beginning or the end of the route on the screen. In our case, we want to add it to the end of the first route.
Select End in the drop-down menu, and hit Merge.
As you can see, Waypoints 1-50 still make up our original route. But we now have waypoints 51-57 making up our second route, and MRA has filled in the gap between the two routes.
So now we have one route which is 175.91 miles long and will take 4 hours and 45 minutes to complete.
Learn more about discovering Europe:
- Motorcycle Touring In France: Why You Shouldn’t Dismiss It!
- Motorcycling In The Vosges Mountains: Make It A Priority
- Motorcycle Touring In The Jura Mountains: You Need To Go!
- Col de l’Iseran By Motorcycle: Riding The King Of The Alps
- Ride This Awesome Motorcycle Route Of The Vosges!
- 8 Motorcycle Routes In France That Take Less Than A Week
Using A Motorcycle Route Planner For Your Trip To Europe: Conclusion
I hope you got something from this tutorial on the features of many motorcycle route planner apps. And how they work!
As mentioned at the start of this post, feel free to contact me at [email protected] if you need any help with your motorcycle route planner.
There are many more features to MRA that I can cover in a separate post. But at this point, I’d like to ask your opinion.
Would you prefer subsequent updates to this post to be in blog format (such as this one)? Or would you rather have a video on YouTube?
I’ll look forward to your suggestions – and to seeing you on the road!
Top image: Abhishek Saini