Like most people who are serious about touring, I’ve flitted from one motorcycle route planner to another over the years.
And I did it because it’s important.
My approach to touring is similar to that of boxer training for a fight: Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
I prefer to get all the admin done in advance so when it comes to the fun bit of actually getting on the bike, I can fully enjoy the ride.
Tyre-to-Travel: Everbody’s Favourite Motorcycle Ride Planner
Like most people, TTT (along with Best Biking Roads) was my go-to motorcycle route planner.
It was free, accurate, easy to use, and it just worked.
But then Google ramped up its prices and TTT (along with almost every other small company out there that relied on its mapping infrastructure) couldn’t afford to carry on.
On The Hunt For Another Motorcycle Route Planner
I was genuinely saddened when TTT ceased to exist. And it actually took me quite a while to find a replacement motorcycle ride route planner that was even close to its efficiency.
At the time, I was a motorbike riding instructor and I’d just landed myself a job instructing in London. I was desperate for an app or a program that would allow me to develop routes simply and easily.
Just as I was about to give up, an email from MyRoute-app landed in my inbox offering me a free trial.
Out of options, I subscribed and received access to their platform.
And it was a revelation!
An Easy-To-Use Motorcycle Route Planner
The first thing I noticed about MyRoute-app was just how easy it was to use.
As discussed in my post a few weeks ago, 10 Essential Touring Apps For Bikers, we all live in a technology-driven world.
All of us use smartphones, laptops and desktops on a daily basis. And what I loved about MyRoute-app was that it was indifferent to these systems we are used to.
It felt familiar even though I’d never used it. And as someone who dislikes unnecessary faffery, the intuitiveness of this motorcycle ride route planner was hugely welcomed.
The team of developers at MyRoute-app have (in my opinion) done an excellent job of producing a platform that is instinctive. And whilst you might have to dig around in a few of the settings to set it up to your individual needs, it does exactly what you would expect it to do as a motorcycle ride planner.
And I genuinely appreciate that.
MyRoute-app: The Growth Of A Motorcycle Route Planner
At the time, MRA was simply a route planning platform.
So you had to plot your route, and then export it to your GPS device in order to follow it.
And this was fine.
But I was always hit with that same feeling of trepidation upon the exporting of a route. Because more often than not, the route would not be the same on my GPS device as it was on the motorcycle route planner on which I’d originally plotted it.
All logic said it should be the same.
But the reality is that Garmin uses different software to TomTom. And almost all route planners use different software to either of them. So there would always be discrepancies that needed ironing out whenever you imported a route from your motorcycle route planner to your device.
Garmin BaseCamp As A Motorcycle Route Planner
To get around this issue of routes not matching up, I was in the habit of plotting a route in MRA, and then saving it as a GPX file.
From here, I would import the GPX file into Garmin BaseCamp, and then re-plot the route.
Now, this always works.
But the problem with BaseCamp is that it’s tedious, laborious, and so ridiculoulsy time-consuming that it makes you want to end your life.
It’s brilliant, but the interface is so overly complex that you need a PhD in Route Planning Bullshittery to be able to decipher it.
Despite working flawlessly, it’s an absolute bitch to use and I hate it.
MyRoute-app Becomes An All-In-One Motorcycle Route Planner
Thanks to Garmin, I’d already ripped out huge chunks of my hair.
I was rapidly running out of follicles on my head and was seriously considering starting on my teeth instead.
And then MyRoute-app made an announcement that changed everything.
Because now, you could plot your route on their easy-to-use platform and then simply run voice-guided navigation through the integrated app!
From here on in, there would be no more dicking about with BaseCamp. You could simply plot the route, hit the Navigate button, and away you go.
Adding to this revelation was an integrated system that would run seamlessly on both mobile and desktop.
Having a motorcycle ride route planner that runs between desktop and mobile means you can do the intricate planning on your desktop, and instantly view it on (and navigate from) your phone.
This is a truly excellent feature.
MyRoute-app; Our Favourite Motorcycle Route Planner Features
I won’t bore you with every single detail. As a motorcycle ride planner, you will already be aware of the fundamentals of its purpose!
However, below are some of the features that I find work really well and go a long way to simplifying the process of route planning.
One of my pet peeves is when a motorcycle ride route planner doesn’t give me the option to view roads at street level.
MyRoute-app is one of the only planners I’ve found that works in a similar way to the little Street View man on Google.
Simply click on the Street View button and MRA will light up all of the roads in blue.
From here, simply click where you would like to view and MRA will provide you with a street view that you can rotate and move around.
Personally, I find this invaluable when planning routes. I’ve found myself on some dodgy or unpaved roads far too many times simply because I wasn’t able to check out the road at street level!
Another helpful aid is the ability to view your route using no less than 13 different map layers.
More often than not, this isn’t necessary.
But if you’re planning an off-road trip and wish to know the terrain, it can prove invaluable.
Similarly, the satellite view can prove massively useful if your accommodation is in the city centre and you want to see if you can park.
Other layers include, HERE (Garmin), TomTom, OpenStreetMap, OpenCycleMap, Michelin, Traffic, and a whole range of hybrid layers.
The seasonal closures function caused me some issues at first because its default setting is on.
Like many tourers, I usually plan my routes in the winter; which means many of the high mountain passes that I want to ride are closed at the time of planning.
I could never understand why MRA wouldn’t let me pass over certain roads – it used to drive me crazy!
And then I realised it was because the passes were closed for the winter.
You can uncheck this option but it is on by default. So if you’re planning routes in the winter (in preparation for the summer), be sure to turn it off.
On the other hand, it’s really useful if you’re planning on touring out of season; particularly around October time when you’re not sure if certain roads will be open or closed.
Motorcycle Trip Calculator
I used to spend ages looking at metadata between individual points to see how long it was; especially if I wanted to split a route into multiple days.
The motorcycle trip calculator function makes an efficient tool for quickly ascertaining the distance between two points as well as the estimated time it will take to ride.
The Favourites tool is another great time-saving aid. I tend to pre-load destinations such as the Eurotunnel or individual hotels.
From here, I can simply plan the exciting part of my route. When I’m done, I find my hotel on the favourites list (rather than trying to find it on the map) and then let the software find the most efficient route there.
As you’d expect from a motorcycle ride planner, MRA gives you a blanket option to input custom avoidances. The two I usually use are motorways (or highways) and gravel roads (unless off-roading.)
Just make sure the same avoidances are set on your GPS device if you’re exporting the route as sometimes it can cause conflictions.
Saving & Exporting:
As mentioned above, nightmares can ensue when you plot a route on a generic motorcycle route planner and then try to import it to a device that uses specific mapping software – e.g., Garmin or TomTom.
Garmin uses its own proprietary maps called HERE, and TomTom uses its eponymously-named Tom Tom maps.
Quite often, I enjoy going on ride outs or tours with my dad. I use a Garmin GPS device, but my dad prefers the interface of TomTom. And putting one route on two different devices can sometimes cause some issues.
Many a time I have put the same route on both devices only to find that they are both showing different directions, mileages and durations!
MyRoute-app gives its users the ability to plot a route on one mapping platform and then compare it to another mapping platform.
In other words, I can plot a route using HERE (because I use Garmin), and then I can compare it with the TomTom map (for my dad) to make sure the routes match perfectly before I export them.
This way, we both have the exact same route. So if we become separated, we can both ride independently to our destination and meet up there.
Like many a motorcycle ride route planner, MRA uses OpenStreetMap by default which is a good place to start. But if you plan on exporting the route to a GPS device, I would advise plotting it using the correlating maps.
If you use Garmin, plot your route on the HERE map. If you use TomTom, plot it on the TomTom map.
This usually solves any discrepancies later on.
Expanding Routes & Adding Way Points
This is another feature that I’ve found incredibly useful if I plan to take a route from MRA and import it into my Garmin.
If you plot a route (let’s say from Point A to Point B) and you leave too much of a gap between the points, BaseCamp will show you a straight line between the two points which is essentially ‘as the crow flies.’
Once you import this into Garmin, the system will calculate what it deems to be the most efficient route between the two points.
This is fine if you’re commuting. But if you’re in the Alps, it may choose to avoid those really exciting roads you went there to ride because those roads don’t provide the most efficient route between the two points.
So by using the Expand option, MRA will log up to 200 intermediary points between Point A and Point B. This makes it 100% clear to your GPS system that you want to follow this exact route with absolutely no deviations.
Formats For Saving Routes
If your intention is to save a route and then send it to another motorcycle ride route planner (like a GPS unit or even Google Maps or Google Earth), MRA will let you save that route in a variety of formats.
And seeing as though there is not yet such a thing as a Google Maps motorcycle route planner, importing your route is the next best thing.
GPX format works for most systems. But if the motorcycle ride planner you are sending it to requires a specific format (for instance, Google Earth requires a KML format), MRA will let you save your route in that particular format.
This eliminates the need for third-party applications or websites in order to convert files from one format to another.
Over the years, I’ve found that planning individual day rides doesn’t work for me when touring.
So if I’m going on a 10-day tour, I prefer to plan the entire route (as one big single route) and then split it up into 10 individual days.
MRA provides you with a great function where you can simply select points within the list of waypoints to split them up.
So say for instance you want Waypoints 1 to 23 to be day one, you click on those waypoints in the list and it will turn them into an individual route which you can rename as Day 1 (or whatever.)
Not only this, but once you’ve split your route up into individual days, you’ll be left with a folder that displays each route in order. The folder also includes the mileages of each day and the estimated time it will take to ride. It will do this for the entire trip as well.
The ability to combine routes is a huge time-saver and it kind of acts like the opposite of Splitting routes (above.)
For example, I have a route that I enjoy riding from the Eurotunnel to the Vosges mountains. And I also have a route for when I’m going back to the Eurotunnel.
So I plotted these two routes and saved them; almost like templates.
This means I can now plot the middle bit of a European tour and simply add the templates to the start and end of the route. This saves me around 500 miles of plotting waypoints!
Combining routes also comes in handy if you have two sections of an area you would like to explore and you want to combine them to make one big route.
Simply add one of the ‘template’ routes, then add the second route either to the beginning or the end of the first route, and MRA will automatically find a route between the two (or you can plot your own.)
I hardly ever plot a route and then ride it. I almost always end up editing it and changing it before I come up with the final version.
In times like this, the simple ability to copy a route and subsequently edit the copy rather than the original can save you a whole lot of messing about!
If you edit the original route and then decide you want to revert back to it later, you will have to do it all again.
Working on a copy whilst retaining the original as a backup keeps your options open and can save you an awful lot of time.
Finding Hotels Natively
As with Tyre-to-Travel, MRA offers its users a function to find accommodation within the motorcycle ride route planner.
Simply click on any waypoint, select ‘hotels’, input the dates you intend stay there, and it will open up a link to Booking.com which you can use to arrange your hotels.
The beauty of doing it natively is that if you can’t find accommodation in the area you wish you to stop, simply click on your route a bit further along and do another check.
There are probably cheaper ways to find accommodation than this. But in terms of convenience, I find it to be quick, easy and convenient.
Plus, I’ve never had any issues with booking.com and would more than likely book through them anyway.
This simple function is a blessing in disguise. Another pet peeve was when I wanted to reverse a route in other route planners, I always had to manually swap them around. Finding a motorcycle ride route planner that gives you the option to reverse a route is a God send.
In MRA, just click on reverse route and it will switch the route around exactly.
If you combine routes (as described above), you can still reverse the entire route should you need to.
One thing I really like to do is add comments to waypoints.
For example, sometimes I might set a waypoint for a specific restaurant for lunch.
I find it comes in useful to write the name of the restaurant in the comments, or even add a photograph to make it easier to find when I’m there. Directions to the nearest car park also come in handy.
I do the same with hotels as well; using the comments section to confirm the name, address, and phone number in case I can’t get in for whatever reason.
As well as adding comments, I like the fact that I can change the colour and the icon of individual waypoints.
By default, each waypoint in MRA is a blue pin.
If I want to make something stand out, I like to change the colour (let’s say to yellow) so it is obvious within the route.
A good tip is to put a waypoint at the start of a pass and another one at the end. Rename the waypoints to the name of the pass (for example, Furka Pass start, and Furka Pass end) and this way, you know where it starts and ends at a glance.
Changing the colour (or the icons) of your accommodation and fuel stops is also another handy way to use this function.
Organisation, Folders & Renaming
As mentioned above, I like to plot the entire route first and then split it up into days.
The organisational system used in MRA is very similar to the folder system used by Windows or Apple. So you can simply rename your routes to whatever you like, and then drag and drop them into a corresponding folder (which you can also rename.)
All of this allows you to fully customise each route, folder, and subfolder in a way which suits you best.
Customising Points Of Interest (POI’s)
I’m not a fan of overly detailed maps found in many a motorcycle ride route planner. I find them distracting and unnecessarily cluttered.
I don’t think I’ve ever needed to know that a post office was near my hotel in the Dolomites, nor have I ever needed to know that I’m riding past a hair salon or a nail boutique in Liechtenstein.
MRA gives you the option to uncheck all of the POI’s and simply select the ones you need.
Personally, I uncheck everything except petrol stations.
This way, my map is blank apart from the roads I intend to ride and any petrol stations along my route. And it’s about the only motorcycle route planner with gas stops I can find!
I sometimes do this for lunch stops or hotels – which can also prove useful.
Finding Your Motorcycle Ride Route Planner
If you are currently in the position of being planner-less, I highly recommend giving MyRoute-app a try.
Sure, there are other, more sexy platforms out there – many of which are mentioned in our 10 Essential Apps post.
But if, like me, you want something intuitive to use that will get the job done, I can highly recommend MRA.
A few of the functions mentioned above (such as the map layer functions and street view etc.) are on the paid version only. But most of the functions you need are available for free on the unpaid version.
As far as I’m aware, MRA also dishes out trial versions of MRA Gold so at least you can try the additional features for free before you commit.
Taking into account the price of the platform and the functionality of the service it provides, I think MyRoute-app is up there as the best motorcycle route planner available at its price point.
Give it a go!
Top image via MyRoute-App