In 2014/15, I was becoming disillusioned with traditional sat nav units. I’d had two TomTom units (both failed due to water ingress, despite being “waterproof”) and a Garmin.
The TomTom’s looked better and had a more user-friendly interface. The Garmin had superior features and was better built. But it was a horror to use when I threw Garmin BaseCamp into the mix – the most unnecessarily complicated route-building platform ever built.
All three devices cost somewhere in the region of £450-£550. And I couldn’t help but feel that I was paying an exorbitant of money just to be irritated.
But then, I stumbled across Tyre-to-Travel. Remember that?! It was the first route-planning ‘app’ I had come across that resembled apps as we know them today.
Of course, it was clunky and fiddly to use. And you couldn’t use it for navigation; it was simply a platform to plan routes. But I could see, even then, that this was the way things would progress with motorcycle route planning. And in the years since then, motorcycle route-planning apps have continuously evolved – yet perpetually disappointed us!
The potential is there, but there is always a caveat – a clunky interface, no offline mapping, or continued issues with re-routing, which still plight many apps even today. And that’s not to mention the issue with phones overheating, battery worries, and mounting.
Motorcycle route-planning apps always sound good on paper. But they never quite live up to the promises made by their developers.
Because now we have the newer, better, updated version of the Scenic Motorcycle App.
If you’re currently hunting for a motorcycle route-planning app (that works), this is the post for you. I’ll explain Scenic’s functions, my likes and dislikes, and the pricing structure to help you decide if it’s right for you.
- My Needs and Priorities From Scenic Motorcycle App as a Touring Rider
- So, What is Scenic Motorcycle App?
- What I Like about Scenic Motorcycle App
- What I Dislike About Scenic Motorcycle App
- Testing Scenic Motorcycle App: Final Thoughts
My Needs and Priorities From Scenic Motorcycle App as a Touring Rider
Over the last five years, my touring miles have significantly increased whilst the miles I cover domestically in the UK have dwindled to nearly none. I almost exclusively clock only touring-focused miles, which means I have touring-focused priorities. These include:
Any app I use for touring must be intuitive and easy to use. I need to be able to pre-plan routes (quickly and accurately) for days when I’m on a schedule.
Equally, I want an app that can suggest routes, roads, attractions, and roundtrips on my days off – when I have time to enjoy them.
Touring apps MUST work offline. I struggle to see how developers still drag their feet when it comes to adding offline mapping. If you want to reach the touring market, you have to include offline maps. As a touring rider, I need it for the following reasons:
- I need it to keep me on route when I lose signal (which I will.)
- It needs to get me back to my accommodation if something goes wrong – regardless of whether or not I have a signal.
- Running constant navigation (online) along with Spotify or Audible absolutely savages your mobile data!
Because I spend so long on the bike, the app needs to be customisable – and it needs to be easy to use. I need to find petrol stations at the drop of a hat. I need to find places to eat and stay and basic amenities such as toilets, supermarkets, or cash points. So I want shortcuts to these chosen locations.
On top of that, I don’t want to make do with a navigational interface that is built to suit the masses. I want it to suit my needs, so it has to have some form of customisation.
Ease of Use:
And finally, I really do NOT need any long-winded, convoluted processes to negotiate a road closure when I’m already late for a ferry crossing. So the user interface needs to be simple and intuitive.
These were my priorities for the trip on which this version of the app was tested – a 10-week trip which took me through France, Switzerland, Italy, the French Alps, the Pyrenees, and northern Spain, with month-long stops in Corsica and the Picos de Europa.
Below, I’ll go through some highlighted features of the app and explain how these came into play during my trip.
So, What is Scenic Motorcycle App?
Scenic is a cleverly crafted app for bikers that aids in route creation (and subsequently) the riding and navigation of those routes. It allows you to plan, ride, track, and share your routes, and it’s been specifically designed for bikers and their needs.
It helps you find the best routes and the most curvy roads whilst negating custom avoidances. But since its inception, the team has added more of the features we need as riders – finessing and curating the things that really matter – whilst getting rid of the fluff that doesn’t.
The result is an app that is intuitive, intelligent, customisable, reliable, and (in my opinion) simply unrivalled in its space today.
It’s worth pointing out here that I am using a Beta version of the updated App that is different from the one currently available for download in the App Store. A few of the features below will not be available in the current version – such as built-in POIs, and built-in layers. But they WILL be available when the update goes live in the Fall.
A Few Key Functions
I could spend weeks writing this section – but it would be boring for me and even more so for you! So instead, I’ve selected the main functions to give you an idea and then used the following sections to drill down into more detail.
- Route Planning: The app gives users the ability to plan a route from scratch via the ‘Power Planner’. This is where you plan your routes natively through the app. You can shape your routes by dropping pins on the map, or you can use the search function if you know the specifics of where you are going. You can also add custom preferences, avoidances, route reversals, or round trips.
- A ‘Round Trip’ Feature: This allows you to curate a round trip from your current location. The app lets you customise your roundtrips by selecting the overall distance (20km to 300km), the general direction of travel (or random), the type of roads you want to ride (fast curvy, curvy, extra curvy), and also custom avoidances (ferries, tolls, highways, unpaved, main roads, and narrow roads.) There is also a clever avoidance that prevents the app from sending you on the same roads twice.
- HERE Maps: This is courtesy of Scenic’s most recent update, which saw the developers rebuild the app from the ground up. And the use of HERE maps has made this app very powerful. It’s accurate, up-to-date, clear, and feature-rich. It allows Scenic to stand head and shoulders above other available route-planning apps.
- Search Functions: A search function on the main screen allows you to search for a specific address, place, or postcode. But you can also use it to find fuel, parking, restaurants, lodging, banks, and many other POIs.
- Favourite/Saved Locations: From the search screen, you’ll find easy access to regular locations, such as your home address, work address, or other saved (favourite) locations.
- Ride Tracking: The app records your rides so that you can enjoy them again at a later date, or share them with others so they can enjoy them too.
- Importing Routes: If you have routes saved on another platform, you can import them as GPX files and save them to your routes. You can also import routes from Google Maps.
- Map Styles: Numerous map styles allow you to set the app as per your preferences. There are five default maps to choose from, but if you want something specific, you can create three custom styles.
- Customisable: Similarly, there are lots of options to customise your map in the settings, including map layers, sound/haptic options, and a choice of colour schemes.
- Layers: You also have to ability to show specific layers and POIs on your map (either when planning, navigating, or both.) Some layer options include speed cameras, terrain, traffic flow, and constructions. POIs include fuel, parking, grocery stores, motorcycle services, and more.
What I Like about Scenic Motorcycle App
Okay, it’s all well and good to tell you about the general features of the app. But as mentioned above, that doesn’t really tell you how those features work in the real world. So that’s what I hope to get across in this section.
Below, you’ll find my list of ‘likes’ after using the app for six months. I’ve put each point in a logical order – from start to finish of using the app:
- Ride Prep
- During the ride
Scenic Motorcycle App: Ride Prep
The Look, Feel, and User Interface
When you first open the app, it looks a little underwhelming. Nothing flashes or jumps around on your screen. There is no drama or look-at-me pop-ups. It’s all quite minimal and to the point.
But after a few minutes of poking through the app, I realised this had been done on purpose. The app has been designed to put everything you need at your fingertips without cluttering and complicating the interface with things that you don’t.
The Power Planner
The Power Planner is where you create routes. It seems daunting at first, but it really isn’t once you press a few buttons and realise what everything does. In fact, the Power Planner is quick and intuitive to use once you get used to it. And it’s powerful, too, because once you complete your route, you can ride it there and then from the same app. The whole process is incredibly fast.
Power Planner Smart System
There are two features I love about the Power Planner. The first is the use of a smart system that puts waypoints in order. Let me explain. With most route planning apps, if you drop three waypoints on the map in the correct order (let’s call them Point 1, Point 2, and Point 3), everything will be fine.
But if you drop another point between Point 2 and Point 3, the app will call this Point 4, and it will navigate from Point 2 to Point 3 and then backwards to Point 4. To avoid this, you need to physically re-arrange the points.
With Scenic, the app recognises that you’ve inserted a waypoint, so it automatically changes the order to keep your route running smoothly.
It really is good and saves a lot of messing around when adding/removing waypoints. It also avoids mistakes (when you don’t realise you’re waypoints are in the wrong order.)
Via vs Stop
The second thing I like is that Scenic allows you to choose whether a waypoint is a ‘via’ or a ‘stop.’ As a stop, the app will alert you when you reach that location. So it’s useful for things like lunch stops, fuel stops, supermarkets etc.
But if you select ‘via’, these act as a shaping tool to keep your route on track. For example, I really wanted to ride the Petit St Bernard Pass when crossing the border from Italy to France. I didn’t need the app to alert me at any point, but I wanted to ensure that the app kept me on the programmed route so I wouldn’t miss riding the pass.
Stops notify you when you reach a location. Vias shape your route without alerting you unnecessarily along the way.
Using The Folders
Using folders to organise routes is nothing new. Route-planning apps have used them for years. And the folder system in Scenic keeps things organised in a way that is simple, clear, and easy to use.
I had four folders for my Corsica and Picos tour:
- My daily routes from the UK to Corsica.
- Specific routes/roads I wanted to ride once I got there.
- My routes from Corsica to the Picos.
- Specific routes/roads to ride once there.
Again, this is nothing new. But it has been designed in such a way to keep things easy and organised.
Importing Your Routes
The process is simple and straightforward to import routes from another platform. If your routes are stored on your laptop, hop over to Scenic on the web, click Import Routes, and drag-and-drop them into the Import box.
From here, open the Scenic app and head to Import in the main menu. Here you will see your routes waiting to be imported. Select whichever folder you want them to go in, and hit Import. Job done.
Another useful feature is that you can directly import routes from Google Maps via the URL. You can find a tutorial for importing routes from Google Maps here should you need it.
Scenic Motorcycle App: Pre-Ride
This is a big one. As a contributor to Motorcycle Tourer, I’m lucky in that I get to try lots of route-planning apps – and most of the time, I’m asked to give my thoughts and feedback to the developers so they can improve them. One thing I almost ALWAYS have to say is,
“The app works well, but it NEEDS offline mapping. Without it, the app is useless to me.”
Plenty of route-planning apps include offline mapping. But (frustratingly) it never seems to work.
Thankfully, Scenic has got it right! And I have to say it works flawlessly. Yes, you lack certain functions (like live traffic updates or a comprehensive list of POIs). But that’s to be expected when you can’t glean information from the internet.
But for pure navigation, the offline mode on Scenic is the best I’ve seen – bar none. It’s perfect, it works, is seamless, and it gets the job done well.
This is a HUGE plus point for this app. If you’re a touring rider, it’s worth getting this app just for the security that comes from stable offline mapping.
Round Trip Planning
There were a few times in Corsica when I had nowhere in particular to go. I had no routes planned, but I fancied a ride out in the sunshine. And in times like this, the Round Trip function provided a nice way to ride a random ride that I didn’t have to spend hours planning.
Whilst sitting on your bike, click on Round Trip and choose from the relevant options. These include how far you want to ride, custom avoidances, and direction of travel. From here, hit Generate, and away you go.
Another nice touch is that you can also edit Round Trips. So if you see a rogue waypoint that’s adding 20 km onto your trip for no reason, simply delete it, save, and enjoy your edited trip.
I spoke above about the organisation and folder system. But another nice feature of that system is the Route Overview.
I like to look at the route overview before starting a ride. This gives me a snapshot of the ride, the length, how long it will take, and my stops along the way. Clicking on the map allows you to double-check the route on the map to ensure everything is correct before you set off.
Scenic Motorcycle App: During the Ride
There are a few apps out there that are great for planning routes but are woeful when it comes to riding those routes! The navigation is slow, overly simple, and impractical in the real world. But the navigation experience on Scenic is actually very good.
As mentioned above, the maps are clear, and you can choose the style/layout that suits you best. Plus, you can add custom POIs on the map so you can see them in real-time as you ride (for example, fuel stations.)
But it’s not just visually where Scenic excels. It’s audibly, too. For a start, you can choose the language and voice that suits you best. But the best bit is the timing of the vocal directions.
As bikers, we need to know instructions wayyyy in advance – far sooner than a car driver. And with Scenic, that’s exactly what you get – clear directions way in advance, so you can prepare and change lanes ahead of time.
It’s small details like this that let you know you’re using an app specifically made for bikers – rather than an app that’s been designed for car drivers and modified for bikers.
Other little details I like are that you can add features to the map. For example, I have my iPhone in landscape when navigating because it’s the only way it fits on my bike. But the problem with this is that iPhones do not display the battery level when the phone is in landscape.
Within the settings of the Scenic app, you can choose to turn on a battery indicator level – and this makes a huge difference when riding because you can see at a glance where your battery level is at.
Other overlays include the current time, altitude, scale, and compass.
Clear Overview of Route Details
When riding, we need access to certain information, such as how far we’ve ridden, how far we’ve got left, how long it will take etc. And the map screen (when navigating) neatly holds everything you need to know without digging into menus and submenus. You will see:
- Current road
- Next direction (tap it, and it will repeat the upcoming voice command)
- Distance remaining
- Time remaining
- Arrival time
- Speed limit
- Your current speed
- Speed camera alerts
- Visual and audible warnings when speeding (optional)
You also have access to the Quick Menu, which allows you to access:
- iPhone’s Shortcuts if you have them set up
- An overview of the route (map, via points, stops)
- Skip the next waypoint
- Find a route around a roadblock
As mentioned above, the audio cues given through the navigation are excellent in all situations. But Scenic has created some helpful visual cues, too. At a glance, you can see the next turn and how far away it is.
But you can also see the current speed limit – and how fast you are actually travelling. And this is always helpful when you’re unsure what the speed limit is on foreign roads.
There are also audio and visual alerts when approaching speed cameras – again, very useful when riding in a country you don’t know.
Finally, you can set the app to give audio and visual warnings when you exceed the speed limit by a margin set by you. For example, you might set it to alert you when you’re riding at 10% over the speed limit. I don’t have this on, but I can see why you might.
You want to avoid touching your phone when riding. Firstly, it’s dangerous. Secondly, it’s illegal. And third, it’s inconvenient with gloves.
The disappearing menu in Scenic is a great idea. If you open it, it automatically closes again and returns to the map screen after a designated number of seconds. It’s 20 seconds by default, but you can set it up to 60 seconds. It means that once you find the information you need, you don’t have to worry about closing the menu and taking your eyes off the road – the app will do it for you.
We’re all different, and we all want different things accessible when riding. But route-planning developers can’t design functions for all of them because they can’t make an app for everybody!
Scenic has done a great job of bridging this gap by providing easy access to iPhone Shortcuts.
I have my Shortcuts set to volume control as I can’t get to the volume buttons once the phone is mounted on the bike. So if I need to adjust the volume, I can get to the Volume Up, or Volume Down button via the customisable Shortcuts.
Very smart, and I highly recommend you set yours!
On-Screen Camera Button
How often have you found yourself riding through a landscape on tour and pulling over to take a picture on your phone?! Happens all the time, right? Well, it does with me, anyway.
And that’s fine. But the biggest problem is having to take off my gloves so I can find the camera on my phone, take the photo, and then put the navigation back on screen before putting my gloves back on and continuing the ride. It’s a faff!
So it was nice when I stumbled across a setting allowing me to put the camera button on the map screen. And it’s made taking impromptu shots at the roadside a million times easier.
Tap the camera button on the map, and it will open your camera. Take the shot, and the app takes you right back to the map. No messing!
Scenic Motorcycle App: Post-Ride
The most useful post-ride function by far is the fact that the app saves your ride. Much of the time, previous routes aren’t much use. But there are occasions when a saved route comes in handy!
For example, I know riders back home who want to come to Corsica as a result of my trip. And I’ll likely come with them. It will be so easy next time I come to open and ride routes I know are successful – zero planning, zero faffs, just perfect riding.
The saved routes also include useful details, such as total distance and riding time, which makes it easier to plan for the day. The routes are also editable, so you can shorten/lengthen them or add/remove POIs as you see fit.
Finally, it’s nice to be able to share my routes – either with friends or by making them public on the app so anybody with the app can enjoy them.
As well as being able to save and share routes, you can also add notes and photos. As mentioned above, other riders who receive the saved routes will have details such as the distance and duration of routes.
But you can also add personal notes, such as where is good to stop for lunch, as well as photos you took along the way.
What I Dislike About Scenic Motorcycle App
I’m not the kind of person who would only tell you the good bits of a piece of kit I review. As a touring rider, I want YOUR experience to be as good as mine. And I want to give you all the information you need to make a decision BEFORE you part with your hard-earned cash.
Now, as good as Scenic is, it isn’t without its downfalls – some of which are quite irritating! So in this next section, I want to go through a few points that let the app down.
As mentioned, I am using a Beta version of the App. In other words, I’m one of the individuals testing the new app before it goes live in the Fall. Having spoken to the developer about the issues below, all of them are being worked on as we speak and should be resolved by the time the app goes live in a few months.
It Crashes. A Lot.
Every app crashes at some point. Even Apple Maps will crash if you overwork it with too many via points – and Apple is a company with billions of dollars at its disposal. So it’s perfectly feasible to expect any app to crash. Unfortunately, it happens with most route-planning apps I’ve tested, and Scenic is no different.
Now, I’m running a Beta version of the app – not the app that’s available in the App Store. It’s still new and is still being worked on as I’m using it, so I accept there are issues for the developers to fathom out.
It’s worth pointing out at this juncture that the version YOU will download from the App Store is way more stable than my Beta version.
It’s also worth mentioning that when the big update goes live to the general population in the Fall, it will have an inbuilt feature that recognises that the app has crashed. Upon restart, the app will take the user back to the route, allowing them to continue from where they left off. It will also retain any saved information, such as any photos you took, the trail you rode, and where you were on the route before it crashed.
Whilst the high rate crash rate on the Beta version of the app is driving me mad, it’s good to know that by the time YOU get the app later in the year, these issues would have been fixed, and a back-up system will be in place to keep things running smoothly!
It Can Get Confused
This never happens if I stay on route. But there have been one or two occasions when I’ve taken myself off route for fuel, and the app doesn’t quite catch up. It wants to send me backwards (I assume to hit a waypoint), and I have to pull over to figure out what’s gone wrong.
It’s important to mention here that this has only happened once or twice, and most of the time, the route runs smoothly – even with unplanned stops.
This is an issue the developers are aware of, and re-routing will be more much stable when the new version goes on App Store.
VPN & WiFi
Whilst not a massive problem, the app can sometimes conflict with my VPN. I’ve spoken to the developers who have found that this can be an issue for those using certain VPNs. Unfortunately, this will be a tough one to fix, as the issue is with the HERE map servers, not the app itself.
I find that turning off my VPN helps to stabilise the app. Once I’ve done what I need to do, I turn my VPN back on, and everything is fine.
Another thing to consider is that Round Trips need an internet signal to generate.
Desktop vs App
There are a few issues that arise from the desktop vs app conundrum. Firstly, you cannot plan routes on the web version of Scenic.
This isn’t a problem for a one-day ride out – simply generate a route using the Power Planner (or Round Trip feature) on your phone and enjoy the ride.
But if, like me, you need to plan a 10-week trip, you need a desktop. It’s just easier.
Now, you can’t currently plan routes on the Web version of Scenic – you can only import them. Similarly, you can’t import routes via the app, but you CAN import them via the website. So you need both the app and the website for different things.
The good thing is you can import routes from Google Maps, so it’s easy enough to plan your routes on Google Maps, and then import them to Scenic using the URLs.
Furthermore, a Web Planner is in development and will be with us in 2024.
Scenic Motorcycle App is NOT Available on Android
If you’re an Android user, the fact that Scenic isn’t available on Android (yet) could definitely be a deal breaker for you.
The good news is that an Android version will be available soon. A Beta version will be out for testing by the Fall or winter of this year, with a view to it going live in Spring 2024.
If you’re an Android user and would like to stay updated on the process, you can fill out this pre-registration form and Scenic will notify you when it’s available to download.
Like everything these days, there is a free version of Scenic Motorcycle App and a premium (paid) version. The free version gives you a usable version of the app without the bells and whistles. So it lacks turn-by-turn instructions, round trips, route imports, route sharing, limited search results, and elevation profiles.
The cheapest (and easiest) way to purchase the full version is to pay €110 – this will give you lifelong access to the Premium version of the app. And if you get on with the app as a touring rider, I’d say it’s well worth it.
If you don’t want to pay €110 for life access, you can pay €27.99 per year for the Premium package.
One thing I don’t like about the current pricing structure is that even once you’ve paid for your Lifelong or Annual Premium package, you still need to buy offline maps.
Scenic works through a credits system – so X amount of money buys you X amount of credits. These credits can then be used to buy offline maps.
The credit pricing system is:
- £2.49 for 5 credits
- £4.49 for 10 credits
- £9.99 for 25 credits
- £18.99 for 50 credits
- £30.99 for 100 credits
*** The NEW Pricing System! ***
Why is this in red, I hear you say!
Well, because if you’ve read this far, you are about to be rewarded. The developers have informed me that the above pricing structure will change when the update goes live in the App Store in the Fall.
The new pricing structure will dispense with the credit system, and ALL OFFLINE MAPS WILL BE INCLUDED IN THE PRICE. So you’ll pay one price for the app, all of its features, and all offline maps.
BUT, the price of the app will increase (by almost double) to bring it in line with its competitors – although this will only be for NEW customers.
My suggestion would be to buy the Lifetime version of the app NOW while it’s half the price, and then buy a few credits for any offline maps you need right now. You’ll be set up for life, plus you’ll get free offline maps when the app goes live.
It’s also worth noting that you are able to access special discounts via the app for use with companies such as Quadlock and Wunderlinq, as well as various discounted guided motorcycle tours.
Testing Scenic Motorcycle App: Final Thoughts
In my opinion, Scenic Motorcycle App is currently the best option on the market. That statement is subjective, and I concede that there are features on other apps that are better than on Scenic. But when I look at it as an overall package, Scenic is the best option for me. It gives me the best experience when I’m out on the road – and let’s face it, that’s what riding is all about.
For me, having offline mapping that actually works is an infinite positive for so many reasons. And I like the clever use of Shortcuts that enable me to play music or listen to an audiobook.
I like that I can customise the map to show the information that matters to me – rather than the information the developers tell me I need to see. And I like that the turn-by-turn instructions are timed for bikers – not for car drivers.
The Power Planner allows me to curate routes and add vias and stops as I see fit. And the folder system makes it easy to save those routes and keep them organised.
But Scenic is the gift that keeps on giving. Because when you’ve ridden those perfectly curated routes, you can share them with friends so they can enjoy them too.
All in all, it’s a combination of the small things that separate Scenic from the masses. It’s the devil in the detail – those specific to bikers – that make it a joy to use.
Yes, it isn’t without its problems. But I draw comfort from the fact that the developers are fully aware of the issues and are working on them as we speak. They’re committed to making the app the best they possibly can.
As time goes on, this app will grow and mature. It will become the app for touring bikers across the planet. And one day, I’m pretty certain you’ll find Scenic Motorcycle App on your phone, too!
For further information on Scenic, be sure to check out the links below:
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