Common Tread

Waze app updates with motorcycle features

Nov 30, 2017

Finally, a mainstream navigation app experience tailored for motorcyclists.

A global update to free nav app Waze just added moto-specific features, and I am so glad to see a mobile navigation giant giving this much attention to riders.  

Plenty of motorcyclists already use Waze for traffic alerts, accident updates, and the do not wheelie zone indicator police-ahead warnings, but you’ll need to make a few tweaks before you can use moto-mode.

Waze settings
Vehicle Type: Motorcycle. Always the right choice. RevZilla photo.
To turn it on, open the Waze app, go to Settings, then select Navigation. Tap Vehicle Type, and select Motorcycle. I tested it here at the ZLA office, and it works on both iPhone and Android. Windows Phone users, sorry. The three of you will have to find another way to navigate.

Waze claims the new vehicle mode “comes complete with specialized routing to help make finding freedom on the open road simpler and faster. In addition to the real-time road updates and alerts, Wazers riding in motorcycle mode will be directed on routes optimized for motorcyclists based on where fellow Wazers-on-wheels are riding and the more you ride in the motorcycle setting, the smarter the routing will become. To sweeten the deal, better routing also means you'll see a more accurate projected arrival time at your destination.” I tried punching in my commute, and my projected arrival time was significantly better with the motorcycle option selected. I’d like to try some A/B testing, but for now I can at least say Waze’s ETA actually changes when switching modes. 

Urban riders, rejoice: Another update is Waze’s new ability to direct motorcyclists using narrow streets that cars would avoid. Dual-sport and adventure riders will want to try the “Dirt Roads” setting, found just under the Vehicle Type option. I'm not saying you can't take your sport bike down Muddy Swamp Lane. Just remember what settings you used when switching between bikes. Riders with Bluetooth communicators can try another new feature, “OK Waze” speech commands. “OK Waze, navigate to the Tail of the Dragon…”

It’s about time a major navigation app got motorcycle-friendly. And for Free 99? Even better. Here’s hoping other major players will follow Waze’s footsteps in providing a better navigation experience to all road users. Google Maps can already detect whether you're driving or motorcycling, and since Google owns Waze, I'd expect at least a few features from them, too, in the near future.