A few years ago, our choices for tracking our rides was limited to a scant few, and then as if someone dumped a box on the floor, ride tracking apps came out of the woodwork. Choosing the one that served you best was an obvious matter of personal opinion and the old tried and true method of trial and error.
In the early years of ride tracking, I used MapMyRide. Although primarily an application for tracking and creating routes for cycling and later on running, it actually worked quite well for Motorcycle Rides and proved itself to be quite reliable. The problem came in when it came to logging the activity. You had to scroll though a crap load of activities until you found “motorcycle ride”. Sufficient, but not ideal.
Then along came Rever and Eat, Sleep Ride. I used ESR for a little while but at the time I felt that the user interface was a little clunky and it was a little unreliable as it would crash from time to time and you’d lose your ride. A little inconvenient.
I became enthralled with Rever after interviewing the creators on my podcast. At the time, the features available to the free account holder was sufficient and it was a relatively reliable app. There were times where it would crash mid-ride or not save a ride, but those moments were few and far between. And to be honest, after the interview I was all about Rever and I used it every ride.
Then Harley Davidson got into the game. Now, to be honest, I’m all about Harley Davidson, I bleed orange and black. So when they announced the ride app, I was all over it and suddenly I would be like….. “Rever who?”.
Is it worth noting that the reason I use these apps is to track my rides that I am in progress of doing. I do NOT use these type of apps to navigate me anywhere, I have a dedicated GPS for such things and though I practice redundancy from time to time, this wasn’t one of the areas that I prefer to do so. The only purpose for these apps….. for me….. is to track my ride and keep that data for referral another time. I have yet to ever use the app to repeat or follow another ride. I’m not saying that I won’t do it at some point in the future, it’s just that to date, I have never felt the need to do so.
The Harley Davidson App is, above all, free. Period. No extra fees or subscription services required to use the app. Sure you can use the other apps free as well, but premium services are a monthly subscription fee. Not with the HD Ride App. What you see is what you get and it is quite extensive.
The Harley Davidson Ride app can be downloaded in the app store on the iPhone and Google Play for you Android users.
Once on your smartphone, the Harley Davidson bar and shield logo appears and you’re almost ready to go. After opening the app and creating an account, the first screen you see is the landing page. This will always be the “Today” tab.
Also along the bottom of the screen will be Profile, Ride, Groups and More. I’ll go over each of these “tabs” in this review.
On the Today screen, it provides you a view of your Primary Bike, the weather in your area and, if you scroll down, there will be listed active and upcoming challenges, saved events, HD recommended rides, recommended rides in your area and upcoming events.
While this information is mildly useful, with the exception of the weather, all of this data is available on the other menu points at the bottom of the screen. Though the weather portion might seem like a good idea, most of us will likely access one of the other weather apps we have on our phones or may have been something we checked earlier, rendering this part of the app un-necessary. Having stats like year-to-date mileage, mileage of last ride, year-to-date average distance and speed and perhaps average, year-to-date and last ride fuel consumption might be a better use of this space in the app instead of weather and the other items mentioned.
On the profile screen, you’ll have 3 option listed across the top; My Profile, My Bikes & My Dealer. On the “My Profile” screen, it will show you your Profile picture, which you can upload by tapping the pencil “edit” point to the right of the screen. The app then gives you the option to upload a photo or take a photo. most recent rides with generic ride stats. Once you tap the “Details” bar, the app will display a second screen that expands the details of that particular ride. This is great information especially if you are a data nut and just have to know every detail of every ride you have ever been on. I would be one of these nuts.
The joy of this part of the ride app is that if you wish to ride this exact route again, all you have to do is scroll down on this screen and tap “Copy & Plan Ride”. This will allow you to save this as a route for later use.
Tapping the little star in the upper right hand corner allows you to tag this ride as a favorite. There is also a share touch point next to the star and finally an “Edit” point that allows you to edit the details of the ride such as the ride name, route type (road or off-road), bike used and ride description.
The center tab is the “My Bikes” tab and tapping that will bring you to the next screen where you can add a bike either by VIN number or by entering it manually. The manual method takes you to another screen where you will enter the Make, Year, Model and bike nickname. In my case, I added both of my 2003 Anniversary Harley Davidsons by the VIN number and uploaded a picture of each bike to the app. This is useful when you track a ride and specify the bike that you used.
The next tab on the profile screen is the “My Dealers” link. Tapping this will bring you to another screen that allows you to “add a dealer”, tapping this will then allow you to select the dealer that is closest to you. The App automatically goes to the dealerships closest to you based on your address. When you select the dealership of choice, it then brings you to another screen with details on that dealership and the options of “Take me there” where it will navigate you to that dealership OR you can “send to bike” for those of you who have a Harley Davidson equipped with a navigation system. in the upper right hand corner there is a blank star. Tapping this makes it a favorite and places it in your “My dealerships” screen. I have had zero success with this, however I will say that it is likely my phone that is preventing me from saving my nearby dealership as a favorite.
Here is the business end of this app and where you will spend 99% of you time.
We’ll start at the top.
You can enter a destination in the “Where to” and navigate to it if you wish. After entering your desired location another screen will appear and you can tap the “Take me there” button or “send to bike” button. Either way, like any other navigation app, it will get you there. How it will get you there is another thing as I have never used this feature.
The next button over is the “Filter Button”, this is very important, so pay attention.
Once you tap on that button, another screen appears with a myriad of options to select or deselect as things you will see on the screen and they are broken down into categories:
My Rides, Recommended and Points of Interest.
My Rides gives you the chance to select the rides you have planned and recorded to show on the map screen. The Recommended section will give you the option to select any of the rides by Harley Davidson, affliliates, dealer rides, H.O.G. Rides, Eaglerider Rides, Short Rides, Long Rides, Overnight Rides and others. I have selected a few on this screen and as you see in the image above, an orange icon will appear that indicates a ride start location.
Here is a good suggestion to scroll down to the Points of Interest section and select Gas stations, restaurants and Harley Dealership (if you own an HD). This way if you do not have any other form of Navigation at least this will show you where the nearest fuel, food and dealership is should you need or want them.
On the bottom of the screen there is “Create Ride” and “Record Ride”.
Tapping “Create Ride” will bring up this screen. Here you can enter your current location in the “Start” bar or, using your finger, move the map around until the bullseye is over the desired starting point and tapping the “+” symbol. This will set that location as the starting point and then all you have to do is enter the ending location by entering the address or, again, scrolling around on the screen to find it and hitting the “+” symbol.
You can also set your avoidances like in any other navigation program and you can also select the options of what you want to see on the screen; Events, Dealers, Gas Stations or Restaurants. There is also a layer button allowing you to see just the street maps or satellite imagery.
Near the top there are two small icons, one suggests roads and the other suggests off-road. If you select the road feature, it will find the best route to your destination and the screen will display the average time to get there, the distance and how many waypoints there are. Selecting off-road from will give you a straight line from point A to point B. So I’m not sure what is going on there. But since I do not use the app for this purpose I’ll leave it for those who wish to venture off road to experiment with this feature. Good luck.
Back to the “Ride” screen, the next button, the most important button, is the “Record Ride” button. This is why you are here. Tap the “Record Ride” button and the next screen will show you a map in 3D. There is a button to show you traffic (the traffic signal), a button to switch to 2D (the “S” button), a compass bearing and finally the “Start Recording” button on the bottom of the screen.
Once you tap that “Record” button, it starts recording your movement. That is the movement of your phone, which I would hope is either attached to your bike or in your jacket pocket. But best if it is on your handlebars. Displayed on the bottom of the screen will be your moving ride time and your distance from the moment you started recording. There is also a “Pause” button, which I find rather unnecessary. Once you stop, the app automatically goes into a pause mode so that you aren’t recording stopped time as ride time. Once you start moving again, the app resumes.
At the conclusion of your ride, that is when you have pulled into your driveway and are ready to chill for the remainder of the day, all you do is tap the “Pause” button. Once you tap that, the orange “Finish” bar appears along the bottom. Tapping that will bring you to another page where it will show details of your ride. Here is where you will give your ride a name, define the bike you used for the ride and write a description of the ride itself. If you wish, you can also upload some pictures you may have taken along the way. There is also a “share” button if you are the type to share your travels on social media or with friends.
That’s it for the “Ride” tab.
The Groups Tab.
The Groups tab provides you with a listing of events and challenges that may be offered by Harley Davidson. Tapping the “Filter” tab will allow you to select the type of events and/or challenges that you are interested in. Here you can join challenges if you are the type to do so and tapping on any challenge will bring you to another screen that will give a more in depth description of the challenge, a leaderboard if the challenge is in progress and additional details. At the bottom of that screen is an orange bar that will invite you to “Join” that challenge.
Swiping to the left or tapping Events will bring you to the events screen that will show you events that are sponsored/sanctioned/approved(?) by Harley Davidson. There is also a “Filter” button for you to, again, select the type of events you are interested in.
The “More” button is just that, but more so that it is, in its simplest terms, the Harley-Davidson Website menu. A menu list, from top to bottom, shows Motorcycles, Schedule a test ride, Find a dealer, Learn to ride, Events, Rent a bike, Museum, Online Store and Parts & accessories. Tapping any of these will bring you to another screen that will open a in-app Harley-Davidson Web page for that specific purpose. Rounding out the “More” page on the very bottom of that screen is the option to give “App Feedback” and “About”, neither of which I have used. Let this review act as the “feedback”.
Some of the features available in the “More” screen are useful but I wish they didn’t lead to a web based page. Depending upon the cellular service in your area, these pages can be slow or not load at all. While I know nothing of the creation of an app, I wonder if it wouldn’t be better if some of these things should be in-app rather than just a link to a web page. Why couldn’t the motorcycles tab just switch over to another page in the app that showed each of Harley Davidsons current lineup? Or perhaps the “Learn to Ride” tab would bring you to an in-app form you could fill out that would be sent to the Harley-Davidson dealer of your choice. As should the “Schedule a Ride” and “Rent a Bike” tabs. Shouldn’t the “Online Store” tab actually be a link to an actual in-app store?
The “Find a Dealer” tab I thought was another exercise in redundancy since this information is actually available on the Map page. As well as the “Events” tab which can be reached on another page within the app. Things like the Parts & Accessories and Museum tab are justified in being simply a link.
My thoughts on the App
I like the app, I really do. But I stopped using it because it has some issues that are in desperate need of fixing, most of which revolve around the recording of rides. I’ll give a couple of examples of what I experienced during my time with the app. Now these quirks could be the result of poor cell service, a flaw with my smartphone, there were birds in the sky or the wind was blowing in the wrong direction. There could have been a myriad of reasons why I experienced what I did with this app but these things happened more than once, in different places, different times of the day and with different smartphones (I owned two during my use of the app).
Example 1: Say for example you are riding and decide to stop at your favorite Harley-Davidson Dealership to meet up with some friends, browse the store or buy some parts or maybe just hang out in the lounge and drink coffee for a few minutes. So you get off your bike and press the “Pause” button on the app with this intention that you will tap “resume” when you get back on your bike. You put your phone in your inside jacket pocket and go inside. 40 minutes later you come out of the dealership and put your phone back on the mount only then to discover that the app has shut down your ride and saved it with some unimaginative name. Now you know you are going to be on the road for, let’s say, 300 miles and you know you are going to stop at least two more times. So, do you pause the app and risk it shutting down your recording again or do you let it record you walking to the men’s room? Let it run you say? HA….
Example 2: During one of my long rides, faced with the same question, I elected to leave it running. It recorded me walking to the men’s room, walking around the dealership, going to the parts desk, stopping in the lounge to get coffee and there is where I sat for about 20 minutes chatting with other riders. After I had my fill of coffee and conversation, I walked out to my bike, put the phone on the mount and saw that the app shut my ride down. I have to assume that because I was stationary for more than 5 minutes the app figured I was done riding, showered and in my jammies. My silly little 105 mile ride split into two rides on the app.
When I say “Split into two rides”, what I mean here is that I had to start recording a new ride from where I was and to its conclusion. Then when you’d look at your ride activity later, you’d see two rides for that day even though it was actually one ride. Frustrating.
I probably wouldn’t have minded so much if I could have edited the ride by joining the others to it. I feel that it should have been an option or a feature. “Link rides” or “Join rides”, giving you the ability to create one long ride from the three the app felt you actually did. Then again, not letting the app shut down the ride would be a better feature. This for me is the number one reason that I chose to stop using the app. I don’t care that it records me walking around the dealership or my house for that matter, then give me the option to delete those points of the ride, perhaps a feature only available through the on-line website.
As I have mentioned in this review, there are some features, redundancy’s that are perhaps not necessary. As a user of the app, I mostly ignored those repeated features and in fact ignored many of the features in the app. Again, for me, my only concern was the recording of the ride. The other features are what I like to call “Nice-ities”. Are they needed? Meh, they are ignorable but the space they use up could be better suited for something else.
In closing, I honestly do like the Harley-Davidson Ride App. I really do. I like that the mapping has the availability of locating Harley-Davidson dealerships, Harley Events and Rides. I like that it has all that Harley stuff in it. But I do not like the ride recording reliability and that is the only reason I stopped using it. Should the brainiacs at Harley-Davidson fix this issue, I will gladly return to it and use it religiously on every ride.