What is needlessly complicated, very fragile and costs almost $2000AUD? The iPhone 11 Pro. You’d think that after 13 years making phones Apple would have improved durability, right? That’s what I thought, but it turns out I was very wrong. So wrong that I broke two iPhone 11 Pro cameras within days of each other.
The alleged culprit? My motorcycle. No, I didn’t run over my phone, it didn’t slip out of my pocket on the freeway and I didn’t crash. All I did was mount it on my handlebars so I could use maps on the go. That is all it took to shatter the cameras optical image stabilisers. The vibrations from my motorcycle were just too much for the overly-delicate Apple parts to handle.
So what if, like me, you use your phone on your bike for maps and directions? What if you can no longer mount a phone to your handlebars? Well, it just so happens that a riding gear company out of England has us motorcyclists covered.
If you have a motorcycle and a pulse, you’ve most likely seen the advertisements. I am indeed talking about the Beeline Moto. The UK group has TomTom squarely in its sights and wants you to do away with traditional, large screen GPS systems. In their own words, Beeline Moto is smart navigation for motorcycles, made simple. It is a small, puck-shaped device which you mount to your bike and it displays little more than an arrow, a distance countdown and a next turn indicator.
If you think Beeline Moto sounds basic you’d be right. Well, kind of. This pared-down navigation system is minimalism at its finest. The user interface is clear, concise and easy to understand and getting started is also incredibly simple. First, you download the Beeline app on your smartphone. Open up the app, connect to the Beeline via Bluetooth and you’re all set. Setup took me all of 3 minutes and after connecting to your Beeline the first time your phone will seamlessly connect every time after.
When purchasing the Beeline you can choose from three finishes – black plastic, gunmetal grey aluminium or silver aluminium. Select the finish you like and choose where/how you want to mount your Beeline Moto (more on that later). Out of the box, first impressions are very good. The unboxing experience is easy, it’s beautifully presented and the gunmetal grey edition has Apple levels of fit and finish (for lack of a better term). It will look good on any handlebar.
Speaking of handlebars, in the box there is a universal handlebar mount and a sticky mount. Editor Geoff graciously sent me his Beeline alloy handlebar mount to try out too. While it looks great and feels very solid it’s a little chunky. This is ok if you have plenty of room on your bars or you run risers but it left me with few options. I ended up mounting it as close to the middle of my bars as possible, right where my phone used to be. Beeline also offers a mirror stalk mount or a 1” ball mount.
What is the Beeline Moto like to use? It’s very simple (are you starting to notice a trend here?). Launch the Beeline App and click on the “Where to?” button at the top of the screen. Now enter your destination. If “Route Mode” is selected then Beeline will automatically choose the best route for you to follow. After you press the “GO” button at the bottom the screen the Beeline Moto unit starts up and a large white arrow appears on the screen. The arrow tells you which direction to go and a white dot represents the direction of your next turn. There is also a progress indicator at the top of the screen and extra guidance is provided when there are roundabouts or forks in the road.
If Route Mode is turned off Beeline Moto will switch to “Compass Mode”. This is where Beeline gives you complete freedom to navigate to your destination using a route of your own choosing. When I say complete freedom I mean it. In Compass Mode all the Beeline Moto gives you is a straight line indication of where your destination is, along with a distance countdown. It’s up to you which path you take to get there.
For those who like to plan their own route, this is where Beeline Moto truly shines. Start in Route Mode, select a point along the path Beeline has chosen for you then click and drag to the road you want to go on. It takes a little finesse but I got the hang of it pretty much straight away.
I have to say that the Beeline app is downright incredible. Being able to create custom routes from the convenience of your own phone will have you wondering why the hell it has taken Google so long to do it. I organise group rides quite often and having to use Google ‘My Maps’ on my desktop is very long-winded. Google also does not give you turn by turn directions for My Maps inside the Google Maps app. This is a huge oversight by another tech giant (really not holding back today). How Beeline lets me create my own custom route in the app then get turn by turn directions is nothing short of revolutionary.
The Beeline app also records your movements during your rides. This means that if you get lost and come across a good stretch of road you’ve never been on before, you can go back and see exactly how you got there. Off-road riders may find this feature particularly useful. I haven’t tried the Beeline Moto offroad myself but I am very excited to see what it can do out in the sticks.
Of course, no good navigation system can be tested properly without a decent road trip, so that’s exactly what I did. I organised a two day trip into Western Australia’s South West and used the Beeline Moto as the sole navigator the entire time.
On our two day trip, the Beeline Moto performed well but it did have its moments. Sometimes it would lose track of where we were, with the icon on the screen turning black. It would then re-route with the icon turning white again when it caught up with where we were. Keep in mind I was using a custom map created in the Beeline app, not a GPX file or normal route suggestion. Some sections of the trip didn’t have phone reception so this may have been the cause of the Beeline freak-outs. However, on my last ride, I used Beeline to help me navigate the Perth CBD. I asked it for directions home even though I knew where I was going just to see where it would take me. In some places where multiple roads ran in parallel close to one another, it would reroute frequently. This is not ideal if you are running late or you have several close turns ahead of you.
On the flip side, it was night time, and I was able to test the Beeline’s fantastic automatic backlit display which is very easy to read in low light conditions. The Beeline is also IP67-rated waterproof and shockproof. I didn’t get the chance to test the waterproofing features but I can say the Beeline Moto is infinitely stronger than an iPhone 11 Pro. Another honourable mention is the Beeline Moto’s battery life. I charged the unit to 100% on February 15th. More than three weeks and over 1000km later the battery has only just dipped below 10%. I also love the way the unit looks, and how Beeline has designed the user interface. The app is just as slick as the Beeline Moto itself and the variety of mounting options means it will fit on any motorcycle or scooter.
So who is the Beeline Moto’s target audience? Firstly, I think of the custom bike crowd. Custom bike types would really appreciate the simplicity and how downright unobtrusive the Beeline Moto is. Secondly, I know there are people out there who ride a motorcycle to disconnect from the world. That means no phone, no Bluetooth intercom, no distractions. Just them, being alone on the bike with their own thoughts. I think this crowd would really appreciate the simplicity of the Beeline Moto as well. You can still get directions to where you want to go but your phone stays in your pocket out of sight. This means you can remain blissfully unaware of anyone trying to contact you without losing your way.
You could also be in my position where you’ve been forced to change your lifestyle to suit a POS phone. This is a huge slap in the face, especially because phones are getting so expensive. The Beeline Moto isn’t exactly cheap but it is a lot cheaper than a new phone. My advice would be to go with the black plastic version. It’s $100AUD cheaper and has exactly the same waterproof, shockproof specs as its metallic brethren.
Good technology should fit seamlessly into your life on two wheels and augment it. The Beeline Moto does it simply, cleanly and stylishly.