Mobile Mototainment: Making the most of your personalized digital entertainment options on the road

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Moto Entertainment Tips

Did you finish ripping your vinyl record collection to MP3 yet? And you’ve ripped all your three decades’ worth of CDs now, too? Good, then it’s time to get on with what we’re going to do with all this media technology we have in front of us today.

This is a tricky article to write since technology keeps marching on, but if I do one thing right here, I’ll help you sort out all the options so you have everything you need to go the next time you ride.

You see, just like car travelers, we motorcycle people like to listen to music or talk shows when we’re out on the road. Even though some of us wouldn’t think of playing music and riding our motorcycles at the same time, what about when we’re not riding?

Back in the old days, 10 years ago… we had these iPods, Zunes and other MP3 playing devices. Heck, some of us even figured out how to play music through the Bluetooth connection from our GPS units. Those days are over and our phones do EVERYTHING!

And before all that, there was radio. Remember radio? Radio is dead. It was never easy to find a good station when you were out on the road anyway and it’s at an all-time low today.

But that’s ok. We’ve got options and lots of them.

Choose a device – Now, as said, phones do everything. And chances are you’ve got a previous generation phone sitting around that will still run music and podcast apps. Two is better than one if you’ve got it. That way you’ll have a back-up if you need it. Doesn’t matter if you’re an Android, Apple or Windows user. There are plenty of apps between them all to provide you with the smorgasbord of entertainment options you’ll want on the road. I should know this, since I’m the weirdo with a Windows phone. If there’s plenty of apps for me, there’s plenty for all.

Choose a digital media service – iTunes, Spotify, TuneIn, GooglePlay, Groove, Iheart Radio and otherwise - all good stuff. Many of them are free to some degree. Pick two or more and spend some time with them learning about what each offers and how to get the most out of them. Like your old favorite radio station, many will spoon-feed you your favorites and turn you on to new artists as well.

Personally I have a Groove subscription and use the free version of TuneIn. That’s enough to keep me entertained with music I like and discover new artists.

Manage your subscriptions – If you’re using any subscriptions, be sure the devices you plan to take with you when you ride are included in your list of managed devices, so they will be fully functional when the time comes. Some subscriptions allow a limited number of devices, so be sure you’ve got it all sorted out in advance.

Keep building your music collection – Just like you used to run out and buy LPs, 8 tracks, cassettes and CDs, you’ll want to keep building your personal collection of music to take with you on the road. Oh yeah – I know, you can get access to any song you want on the cloud, so why buy it? Two reasons:

1) If you own a digital file of a track you can put it on any device and play it at any time. You won’t need access to the web or a data connection to do that if you set your stuff up right. There is very little internet access in the woods, the national parks or the desert. If you like a track or album, spend the money to own it.

2) The other reason you should pay for tracks you like is to support the artists that are making the music. Sure – the big stars don’t need your money. You can look them all up on Wikipedia and know they already have millions. So go buy the used $1.99 copy of their record on Amazon. But what about the small artists? You want them to stay in business, right? Support them with direct digital media purchases of their music.

Create some playlists – Some of us have crazy large collections of music. More than the 64mb Micro SD card can hold. We can’t physically take the entire digital collection with us on the road. So to remedy that, use the winter months to build 2-10 playlists for the road. I keep adding to a playlist called ‘Favorites.’ But once it went past 1,000 songs, I had to create ‘Favorites 2.’ I also have a playlist called ‘Sundays’ which is made up of casual mellow stuff to read the paper by on the day I’m supposed to be resting. Of course you’ve made your own playlists I’m sure, but with so much internet-of-things spoon-feeding coming from the likes of Spotify and others, it may have been some time since you’ve created a playlist. You’ll need them on the road when you don’t have data connectivity to all your stuff in the cloud.

Be sure to fly those completed playlists to a Micro SD card that you can insert into your phone or secondary device.

Grab some podcasts too – Podcasts are rapidly becoming a more common way for people to listen to what they used to call talk radio. Rush Limbaugh has given way to Adam Corolla in both popularity and medium. If you haven’t yet made an effort to discover podcasts, there’s no better time than now. Play with a few apps, download some shows and enjoy.

When you’re on the road, again you may not have a data connection at your campground, state park cabin or cheesebag motel in the middle of nowhere. And let’s keep in mind, even if you did, pulling all that music and now podcasts across your data connection will begin to tax your carrier's limit.

Some apps allow you to download podcasts in advance. This means you can connect your phone to your Wi-Fi at home and stock up before you hit the road. Along with your regular shows, consider adding a few documentary style programs that you typically wouldn’t listen to in case you play all your favorites and need something else to fill the hours.

A few hours spent discovering content/shows while you’re at home will go a long way toward rounding out your interest choices later.

Get a nice, compact pair of Bluetooth headphones – I know all about the $2.99 earbuds you can get off the shelf at WalMart. They’re not much for sound quality. And those dang wires – they get in the way when I’m adjusting my chain at the campground. Invest in a nice, compact pair of Bluetooth headphones so you’re not tethered to anything when you’re cooking, setting up a tent or working on the bike.

Keep ‘em playin' – Your devices, including those BT headphones all need a little charging now and then. Be sure you have cords capable of charging them on your bike while you ride. That’s one less 110 AC charger you’ll need to be packing.

TM/February 2016

Did you know?

  • Sound RIDER! has its own podcast. We put a new show up every month and older ones can be downloaded – all for free! Visit 
  • Sound RIDER! Is the only place you can buy a 2 amp 12v to 5v USB charging device with a Battery Tender-style connector. Nice for keeping those bigger devices like phablets and tablets charged. And they’ll safely charge lesser amp devices, as those moderate input amperages at the charging port. Visit for more information.

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