Apps for motorcycles - the SR! take

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Motorcycles and Apps

Can one exist without the other?

Wow. Imagine back in 1999 when this magazine started. There were no apps. Only motorcycles. And somehow we managed to make it into the 21st Century.

Well that was then and this is now. We need apps. But, which ones? The list is long. So long you won't have any time to ride … or will you?

Riding a motorcycle requires a great amount of concentration. 2x more brain skills than driving your dumb car. And researchers recently discovered that no matter how fast technology moves, there are still only 24 hours in a day. So, sometimes it comes down to 'Ride, or screw around with my smartphone.'

Which leads us to the invention of the smartphone. Who invented it? The smart phone was originally invented in the Sub-Saharan Desert about 3,000 years ago, by… you guessed it - the Sub-Saharans. The first app was that of a thumb piano, which continues to be its finest attribute and the most popular use of the smartphone to this day. In fact, as an app, you don't even need to activate it since the Post-Saharans incorporated it into the operating system of every smartphone today.

The code for the thumb piano was cracked by Steely Dan in the mid 70s and revealed in the opening bars of the song, 'Rikki Don't Lose That Number.'

But how can you play a thumb piano while you are riding your motorcycle? Recently insurance companies colluded in secret and determined that this is not such a good idea.

Nonetheless, riders everywhere across the globe believe using a smartphone, or known as an iKalimaba in certain circles, while riding, makes the ride much better. Let's see how true that is by exploring a few apps that may or may not be to the rider's benefit while on the road.

Maps Apps - Whatever they are referred to this week - Google Maps, Nokia Here or iMaps, the jury is out as to whether these are a good source of information, regardless of whether you are riding a motorcycle or driving a car. Imagine the sports bike rider thinking they will use a shortcut between here and there only to find out they would have to endure a dirt road for 25 miles. Have yet to see a map app that identifies the difference between a dirt or paved road.

Having done the above scenario myself, I'd like to save all street riders a little terror now and suggest the following: GET AN ATLAS that shows the difference between a dirt road and a paved road and carry it with you.

Weather Apps - Weather changes constantly for the most part, especially the closer you get to any pole of the planet. Some apps will tell you what already happened, while others will take a guess at what is going to happen next. The latter is the app we recommend.

It's a good idea to brush up on weather in general. Like - what does it mean when you're wearing light clothing and you see an anvil cloud on the horizon in front of you? Or, is it possible when your pillion is wearing nothing but a spaghetti strap top, that you will be nursing her sunstroke this evening? Seriously. You could spend hours reading a weather app, or you could bone up on weather reality and know how to deal with it preventively. Do that. And remember to always carry layers.

And if your weather app failed, you can always ask the waitress at the breakfast stop to turn on the Weather Channel, read the paper, or watch the news the night before. Compared to the weather app, they all work about the same.

Restaurant Apps - Are you going to entrust your dining selections from reading an app like Yelp? You could take a little extra time at home and dig deeper to find out just how good or bad the restaurants ahead will be. Or, you could simply arrive in town, stick your head in the door of a possible place (we call this exploring) and then make your decision based on what you saw on the menu and on other people's plates. Like the way people used to do it! Don't be fooled otherwise - this still works.

Accommodations Apps - DITTO! However, I'm more inclined to stay at a AAA rated motel or hotel than one that is not.

Gas Apps - Don't get confused here. We really are taking about the fuel you need to run your bike here, not that last burrito you wolfed down. What is important to know is that the internet, and thus apps, are loaded with misinformation. You may ride an extra 15 miles one way to get gas that was noted in an app, only to find out the station bit the dust last season. Unlike a machine-moron, take the extra step to call the station and be sure they're in business.

GPS Apps - There's lots of them out there. But we have yet to find the one that replaces the actual GPS unit. I own several such Garmins. Garmin and MapSource made a lot of money in the 2000s and they reinvested it in patenting routing code. Unless you want to pony up for the Garmin phone routing app, you probably won't be having such a great ride with just your smart phone. There is a difference between riding from point A to point B, and riding an entirely well-thought-out route. Once you've done that, you've reached a level well beyond that of a typical smartphone. And is your smartphone waterproof?

Insurance Apps - Everyone should have motorcycle insurance, whether it's required or not. But don't think an app is the way to go. Just because a lizard suggested you could save 15%, insurance is a long term commitment. You can't jump around too much or you won't be accepted as well by the next carrier. Instead, we tend to like working with people still. Find a broker who carries a number of the insurance companies you're considering. And remember there are often discounts if you also insure your car, home or business with a single carrier as well. Most apps won't tell you that.

Text Apps - Really - you're texting from your motorcycle? Well, so did I. Yes, it's true, this can be done, but there's a time and a place. Five p.m. rush hour traffic is not the time. And the older you get, the better it is to stay focused on the road and not be bothered with such stupidity.

Music Apps - There's plenty of them out there. But keep this in mind. You can protect your hearing a lot by wearing ear plugs every time you ride. Then you can augment the boredom by blaring music through those plugs into your ear canals. And at that point, you'll have to ask yourself - 'What boredom? - I'm on a motorcycle!'

Traffic Apps - Unless you're a daily commuter, you don't need them. As an adventuring rider, you're supposed to be trip routing around areas that would require a traffic app.

Twitter - Really - you figured out how to tweet from your smartphone during a ride? Congratulations. And just what is the real purpose of riding a motorcycle? You must not have gotten there yet. Good news for you though, the answer is just ahead, AS SOON AS YOU BURY YOUR SMARTPHONE.

BTW- What the F&*K is a hash tag anyway?!

Facebook - DITTO - sans the hashtag.

LinkedIn - WTF - either you're taking a break from being unemployed, or you are so bored with life you do not deserve to have a motorcycle in your possession.

Alright, alright. So let's not assume you're doing some of these things while you ride. Perhaps you're doing them after you're done riding and get checked into the hotel, motel or campground.

Despite all the exaggeration here, the good news is, you're reading this and probably own a motorcycle. Here's to the next ride being better than the last.

David "JL" Walsh/ Spring 14

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