We adventure motorcyclists are a gregarious lot, when not bouncing down a trail, we are invariably talking about and researching the next one. Thankfully, the mobile technology needed to plot and record such journeys has kept pace with the sales boom of dual sports motorcycles.
Today, no two-wheeled adventure whether a day trip or a world tour, go untracked and tagged and thanks to GPX files (GPS exchange format) everyone can share it. This software application with its no license, open format application, can be used to add all kinds of useful information in tags before sharing between GPS devices.
The obvious evolution was to upload the information to relevant websites and give it a global platform. Thus, allowing other travelers to make use of the downloadable information, add their take on the trail and even geotag photographs. Thanks to GPX files it’s never been easier to add your very own adventure to the vast cyber library of data.
Like everything in life, not all websites are created equal; some are easier to use than others, so let's look at five adventure bike sites and see what they have to offer.
An excellent free to use GPX sharing platform, specifically for the adventure bike rider. You can sign in with the usual suspects, Facebook, Twitter Google+ or it’s just as easy to create a new account on the site.
The opening page takes you straight to a world map, with a series of colored dots stretching from Canada in the west to the Mongolian/Russian border in the east. The numbered dots refer to the number of tracks listed for that region, but there's no explanation as to why the dots are different colors.
A basic row of icons runs across the top of the screen, and you can zoom in on any of the countries and switch from topographic to satellite view in most instances.
Due to the lack of info on the opening page, it’s easier to hit one of the icons; this will take you to an info page with an FAQ on the bottom. The site is easy to navigate with good detailed info and useful tools on the maps once you know where to look.
- free site;
- easy to upload and download.
- needs more info on the front page;
- bit buggy if signed in on Facebook;
- not possible to put a track from the site on your web or blog (but this is currently being addressed).
Another map of the world, opening page, with minimal information. You're looking at a series of different colored dots, which you can click on to find out what GPX trails are available for that area.
The majority of trails appear to be in the USA, almost four thousand, compared to one hundred and forty in Western Europe and Scandinavia. Without logging in you can zoom in on the map to look at a specific area, but trying to return to the main map is not as easy as it could be.
Once again, the option to log in via Facebook is available but having done this; it still couldn't access the site. I tried creating a new login profile, but it said I was still logged in! At which point, my attention span had dwindled, so I didn’t hang around to find out if it was Facebook at fault or if the site was buggy. Up/downloads of GPX files can only be done once logged in, and you can share or keep the info available only to those you nominate.
- free, no-frills site, which should theoretically be easy to navigate;
- plenty of trail information for the USA.
- couldn’t get past the login bugs;
- not easy to backtrack once you've zoomed in on a location.
One of the better-known adventure riding sites started way back in, well actually I don't know when it launched. Neither do I know the reason behind it because the ‘Home' button didn't work and there's no other info.
Moving on, this is a forum reader's dream site, with over 850k discussions and a staggering 31million plus comments. The site has well over 31million subscribers, which probably explains why every time you type in a name for registration it says ‘already taken.’
With such a humungous amount of pages to navigate, if there are any GPX files to download, I couldn’t find them. Instead, what you have is answer an almost inexhaustible supply of questions and answers regarding every subject and query relating to GPX files.
The same goes for advice on routes; tracks and general travel information as well as forums on bikes and accessories. Rummaging around the site, it also has forums for cruisers, tourers, and even café racers.
- vast library of info from the people who’ve been there, done that and repaired the t-shirt at the side of the road.
- easily searchable.
- maybe too much information, and why no intro page?
Adventure Bike Rider has been a hard copy magazine for the adventure riding community since 2009, and the dot-com is its online counterpart. Although the magazine was initially for UK riders, the online edition is globally downloadable.
I can’t tell you what the magazine is like as the online editions (current and back editions) you see advertised on the website, have no viewable content. This fact is disappointing since it has a ‘view details’ link.
Usually, I like to read the ‘about’ section, and in this case, it was just as well, as it's the only place on the site that links you to the huge ‘adventure forum.' As per usual, it’s full of bikes, gear, accessory, general chats, etc., and the uploaded reader rides were interesting and detailed.
The website has plenty to read, even without having to register and although there's no technical info on routes and tracks, etc., there’s plenty to keep you occupied.
- plenty of Adv related content on the website;
- easy to navigate.
- no viewable trial addition of magazine, no route date;
- needs a front-page link to forums.
The daddy of GPX sites, with trails and tracks from around the world, whether you rely on horsepower, horseback or foot. The site boasts well over 3 million members with a staggering 7.2 million outdoor trails and almost 12 million accompanying photos.
Started by Jordi Ramot as a hobby 11 years ago, the site is big, bright and easy to navigate with all the info you need on the front page. If anything epitomizes the information sharing philosophy of the Internet, it is this site.
Click on a country link or search for a specific area, search the trail lists until you find what you’re looking for then just hit the button. There's a fantastic amount of choice, and the layout is easy to follow.
Because this is one of the most popular sites of its kind, uploaders are only too pleased to pack it with detail and photographs to give the reader, a real hands-on look.
There's a graph on every map that plots the height and distance of the track. User uploads are added to Google Earth, and there’s a free app for iPhone and Android.
You do have to register to up/download and get the free mobile apps, but the process is free. The only downside was a buggy registration page, when trying to sign up it asked me to check the ‘I'm not a robot' box, which wasn't there, and no amount of reloading would produce one!