Navigation system

 

The ideal navigation system for me would select the best and safest roads without distracting my attention from the traffic too much. Unfortunately I have not found such a system yet.

I started my journey with a Garmin Origon 700. This device enabled me to plan trip ahead on a laptop using Garmins planning software : Basecamp. Each day I would recharge two sets of AA batteries and connect the device to my laptop for loading routes that I planned.

It seems Garmin is phasing out Basecamp because the software looks a bit outdated and serious bugs are not being fixed. I really tried to get along with this Garmin system but I was happy to send it back home when I found an alternative. This alternative is Komoot and runs as an app on my iPhone.

One advantage of Komoot is that I don't need a cable to to transfer the planned route from my laptop to the iPhone as this is done over the internet. So the exta USB cable can be send home as well. I can plan my route ahead and it also records a track during my ride which I use for the map on this website.

After cycling 3000+km with Komoot I have got to know its routing preferences and strange quirks a bit . Following Komoots instructions I have been cycling on very rocky paths while there was a perfect and well documented cycle-path (EV1) close in the same direction. Since I got to know this strange behaviour I now plan my route ahead but I do not listen to it all the time. Every time it instructs me into a smaller road I stop and check the map. Usually it is just a detour from the main road that is just a bit shorter but usually has no advantage at all.

Even when BIKE TOURING is selected in the planning tool Komoot still gets me on these impossible to cycle roads like river beds, sand dunes and steep paths. This may be fun for the ATB rider but not when you have a bicycle with a lot of luggage and a trailer.

The most important advantage of electronic navigation is,  in my opinion, to increase safety for the cycist. Unfortunatly Komoot does not contribute to safety at all ! It led me onto very dangerous roads (see article : cycling in Spain) and distracts me with totally unnecessary social communation features. For instance on busy it would ask questions like  "would you like to share this image with your friends [YES]  [NO]" while I am busy not getting run over.

Komoots quirks :

  1. if there is a strong left or right curve in the road it will often ask to go left or right. If this coincides with an actual road or going left or right this will get you onto the wrong path.

  2. On road crossings that are not orthogonal Komoot will instruct to change direction. For instance at this intersection you will hear the instruction to take a right turn mistakenly going onto the N90


  3. Exits fom roundabouts leading to a motorway are just ignored. For instance if Komoot instructs to take the 1st exit from a roundabout this may actually be leading to a motorway where cyclist are not allowed. Komoot does not 'see' this exit. The second exit is the one you should take.


 

Maybe in the future there will be an app that is as good as a human navigator. You may then hear  :  "Ï told you to turn left, why don't you listen ?"