A common question I find on the internet is how to navigate with apps. GPS devices are fine, but their maps are often clunky, old, or simply have no maps for the area you’re going to.
We owned a Garmin GPSMAP 64i (or something to that extend) and after a few days of struggling with it I decided that the frustration that using this thing brought would ruin our adventure. Garmin navigation isn’t for me… But then the next struggle started – Where to find a good navigation app for smartphones that “just works” and is not hard to use.
Turns out that wasn’t as easy as it should be either. But I have a few workable solutions!
After some trial and error I eventually settled on using Osmand, for which I bought the lifetime update package, activated some mapping plugins and Jeanette choose to use the free version.
Figuring out how to mape GPX files work with it was a bit of an adventure in itself.
I prefer to prepare maps and routes on my laptop, export that file and then load it into the app on my phone. Osmand doesn’t like that very much, but ones you get it working it works mostly fine.
The settings are a bit finicky because there are so many of them, so once you’ve got it set up you may want to export the settings profile. Then if an update screws it up you can easily restore your working settings. This also helps to sync your different devices or to share your ‘ultimate’ settings to your adventure buddies.
I have a full write up with screenshots on how to get the Routes and Tracks from MotoTravel working in Osmand here: Importing GPX files into Osmand. This includes step-by-step instructions for Android and iPhones.
For our big adventure through Mexico I had prepared every segment of our route as a track which also included Points of Interest. Osmand often got confused with routing with the POI and Waypoints. So half way through I switched to not using Waypoints at all. And again later on in the trip I figured that having the Points of Interest in a separate file would be better. This worked really well. That’s why every route on MotoTravel has a separate file with Points of Interest and Waypoints are not included at all – They’re mostly irrelevant anyway since the map itself has those places as icons on it as well.
GPX and Guru Maps
Later on I also discovered Guru Maps as being a decent navigation app. I haven’t really used it much as I’m, for now, invested into using Osmand. But I did experiment a bit with Guru Maps on some shorter rides. I like the way Guru Maps renders the map better compared to Osmand. So maybe I’ll switch in the future.
Anyway, I did figure out a good workflow for loading GPX files into Guru Maps and in my limited testing this works very well.
Also for Guru Maps I did a full write up with step by step instructions and screenshots for Android and IPhones on how to load GPX tracks and routes into the app.
You can check it out here: Importing GPX files into Guru Maps.
But wait, there is more!
On top of this I also created short tutorials for several other apps such as BMW Connected, Routes (Android) and MapOut (iOS) all with step-by-step instructions and screenshots on how to load GPX files into the apps and how to use them for navigation.
Check out all tips and tricks here: Using GPX files.
All these steps should work for the majority of GPX files out there, but I never tested that. I usually use my own routes which I uploaded to MotoTravel.
Yesterday we were headed out to Todos Santos for lunch and icecream and just a leisurely drive. After stopping for fuel near the Walmart in La Paz the BMW G310GS wouldn’t start anymore. Dead battery – Not just low voltage, but actually dead.
We know a local guy which provides great service – And also does comes to your aid as it turns out. So with waiting and checking the battery and replacing it we were back on the road 2 hours later.
But it made me wonder, the symptoms match a lot of quirks my F850GS Adventure has… Maybe that one is bad too?
Update: I have recently replaced the battery in my F850GSa and since then none of the software, abs, brake and brake light issues have reared their head. Which made me realize all the electronics on it are kind of a luxurious pest.
After days of panicky predictions on how a hurricane would rampage straight over La Paz in Baja California Sur all we got was rain for a few days. Immediate flooding ensued. But the actual storm stayed on the pacific to crash into land much farther north, near Guerrero Negro.
Lucky me I guess 😉
Yesterday I went to the Cabo area for some exploring and alone time. Along the way I found a jungle like area that reminded of me of the Philippines. Having barely dodged a rain storm everything was nice and freshly green after the rain forced the dust to the ground.
Today we replaced the headlight on my mom’s BMW G310GS. The OEM mount broke a few months ago. BMW in all its wisdom makes everything from plastic and a new headlight assembly costs a ton of money and has to be done at a service station because they won’t sell me the part… With BMW services being a 5 days ride away – Not an option.
We ordered a compatible aftermarket LED assembly online for just under $150US. And today I went on the task to replace it myself. This is a laborious process that involves taking pretty much the whole front-end of the bike. All the plastics from the saddle on forward needed to be removed.
All to get to the 3 mounting screws and the small plug for the pilot light.
Taking off the many plastics took a while, it’s a puzzle of plastics screw-holes and maaaaaaany screws. 39 screws not including the headlight mount to be exact. I also replaced the hard-rubber mounting rings I put in last year to fix the wiggling and vibrating of the whole headlight unit. Not super nessesary, but while I’m in there… Why not. For this I used some simple rubber gas seals from the local hardware shop. You know, the ones you use to seal a valve where it connects to a hose.
And behold! The new headlight is a funky and modern looking LED assembly!
Looks like it’s working alright. Soon we’ll test it in the dark.
After making up my mind for a few days and being depressed about BMW service being the worst I decided to finally have my motorcycle fixed.
I found a local repair shop with a guy in it who was happy to finger my BMW F850GS Adventure to apply a new gasket seal for my motorcycle.
Hopefully this fixes the leak BMW couldn’t fix. They replaced this seal 3 months ago…
In May of 2022 I drove down to Cabo san Lucas for lunch and a bit of fun. Living in La Paz is great, but the city as a whole doesn’t have much to offer and a change of scenery is nice from time to time. Cabo is supposedly only a few hours away. And it almost is. The plan was to leave somewhat early, have some fun in Cabo and ride back at the end of the day. Simple as that.
A little roadtrip to the Todos Santos and the nearby beaches.
in the southern bit of Baja California Sur in Mexico.
Somehow this restaurant failed. All that is left are some walls and floors.
With service centers being a scarcity here in Baja California Sur you have to find other solutions for getting service.
Small businesses found via recommendations and word-of-mouth often are the solution.