Review - BikeMap Mapping Service
The BikeMap mapping service is one of the largest online mapping platforms for bike routes in the world. Using crowd-sourced data and details on the road surface and gradient, it creates what it believes will be the most suitable route for a bike tour.
Having used their service to plot my '9 Roads to Nowhere' ride, I thought I would feedback on the positive features, and drawbacks of the service.
- Simple to use - The BikeMap service is very simple to use: you just select your starting point, then click the road along the rough route that you wish to take, and the BikeMap planning will create a suitable route, along suitable roads.
- Points of interest - Another neat feature of the platform is that you can add points of interest along the route, such as cafe stops and breaks. See in the above example, where I have starred the two cafe stops along the '9 Roads to Nowhere' route.
- Route embedding - Unlike many competing services, the BikeMap service allows you to embed an iframe of your route onto a blog or website (much like the above).
- Offline navigation with Premium - If you upgrade to BikeMap Premium, then you can download routes and maps, and then follow them off-line on the BikeMap App.
- Occasional odd routing - Admittedly the Isle of Wight probably hasn't provided as much crowd-sourced data on rideable roads as most other regions. However, I did find it a little disappointing that BikeMap wouldn't allow you to route down some smaller lanes and sections of road; instead trying to divert you onto one of its known routes. Similarly, BikeMap isn't able to do off-road routing, except on known bikepaths.
- Elevation differences - One of the notable differences on the BikeMap platform is its elevation smoothing. Most route mapping services will 'smooth' the elevation profile of a route between GPX points; so that the route doesn't look like a series of spiked mountains. However, the BikeMap service seems to do this rather too enthusiastically, meaning it doesn't capture all those small rises and falls in the road, which can add up to some significant elevation gain. Compare the elevation profile of the above BikeMap route with the identical Strava route, and you see that the Strava profile has almost 1,000 metres more climbing shown. I have ridden this route, and the actual recorded elevation was between the two numbers. This might be a bit of a shock when you find you've still got a fair bit more climbing left to do on your route.
Overall, the BikeMap service is a smart and easy to use online mapping platform. Using the partner App, it allows some great off-line planning too. My only real criticism of it, is that it can't take you on the road less travelled, but then I suspect this may be an issue with a low number of routes recorded on the Isle of Wight, rather than a universal drawback for all regions.