What Motorcycle Sports Touring was all about –


Maps come in all forms directed towards all audiences - even motorcyclists.

The differences mostly lie in the design - which is not unimportant. No "motorcycle maps" even try to enhance what should be special to motorcyclists...

Motorcycle maps should satisfy three important criteria:

  • They should fit onto the top of the tank bag and be easy to fold out and then together again. This means no hard-cover.
  • The should be easy to read and attractive roads should be easy to pinpoint ("green roads").
  • The should show sufficient detail but not force you to stop every few kilometers to unfold and then fold the map again. This means that scale should stay anywhere between 1:200 000 and 1:500 000 (my personal favorite is 1:300 000).

You may check out and compare the map details on the same Alp pass
( Col d'Iseran, France ) for the different maps below.

The Ultimate Alpen-MC Collection:

Online maps :

Online maps are clearly the order of the day. They have been on the market for several years and now come in all flavours for all audiences. Even for motorcyclists. My experience with these tools are, however, bland. The interfaces are often amateurish, or (worse) the map data are not accurate. Although you may print out the maps and bring them along, I have not found these maps to be good enough. There are only two things that these tools may perform well:

  • Itinerary route planning before you go
  • Documentation of a trip already made

But - even in these areas - the tools show clear weaknesses:

  • It is often difficult to plan a tour especially for motorcyclists. The tools I have tried seem to have been designed from the ground up for business people who prefers the shortest route between two destinations.
    To plan a motorcycle tour, you often will have to put in hundreds of way-points to make the route include the small roads we are interested in.
  • To document a previous tour is even more difficult: Here the route has to be completely equal to the tour actually done. And this may mean even more way-points...
    Where is the tool that will let me draw a route straight onto the map ??!

With this said, I admit that these tools provides both fun and useful information, some of which might even be helpful along the way ...

I have tried only two of these tools:  (  please mail me for hints on anything better  )

  • Motorrad Tourenplaner 2001|2002  
    This map tool is special: It was made especially for motorcyclists. Of course, this makes it better: There is greater stress on smaller roads, Alpen passes are separately marked, and there is additional information on motorcycle events and shops.
    I have tested the 2001/2002 edition. The current edition (2003/2004) may be better, you may order it below.

    • The maps are OK (relatively)
    • Alpenpasses and locations related to motorcycling are marked

    • The French Alps are NOT covered (with the exception of the Rhone-Alps)
    • It is not possible to draw anything on the map
    • It is NOT possible to set way-points directly on the map
    • The interface is non-standard and the program may be unstable ("memory-hog")

    ( Map details on Col d'Iseran, France not available )

    Check map details on Passo Bernina, Switzerland (approx. 1:200 000)

    Web: MAP & GUIDE

    Check out and buy Motorrad Tourenplaner 2003/2004 via Amazon.de
  • Microsoft Autoroute 2001 Express Europe  
    I have used this tool for years and by now, my #frustrations run into the thousands.
    This could easily evolve into the best map/touring/planning tool in the world.
    But Microsoft has clearly put this project into Low Priority - and assigned responsibility to a 3rd party contractor on low budget?
    I have also tested the 2003 edition. The maps are slightly better but be warned:
    The 2003 edition does not contain maps on Norway!

    • Although awkward, it is possible to draw on the map
    • It is possible to set way-points directly on the map
    • The interface is OK and the program is stable

    • The maps lack detail and are often inaccurate (this is supposed to have been improved in later editions)
    • No emphasis on touring. Even Alpenpasses are NOT marked. No marking of attractive routes
    • Tour planning demands far too many way-points: By the time you are finished you may not see the map behind the too clearly marked points.
    • The printed routes are far too detailed (and inaccurate)
    • Earlier editions supported "pushpins" which you could export to another route: This has now been removed
    • The program is NOT backward compatible. It is NOT possible to open routes made in earlier editions (!)

    Check map details on Col d'Iseran, France (approx. 1:300 000)

    Check map details on Passo Bernina, Switzerland (approx. 1:200 000)

    Web: Microsoft UK

    Check out and buy Autoroute 2003 via Amazon.UK

About GPS :

( to be continued - someone has to convince me about this. For now, check out Alpine Motorbiker )


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Published 21.05.2004
Last update 10.06.2005

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