Google Maps Bike Navigation – How good is Google Maps for bikes? (Full Guide)

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Google Maps is one of the world’s most popular navigation apps. The app is not only popular, but also navigates reliably. How good is Google Maps bike navigation? You’ll find out in this article.

How good is Google Maps at bike navigation? How interesting are the routes? Can Google Maps hold its own, against bicycle satnav experts komoot and sports portal Strava?

Google Maps Bike Navigation

The Google Maps route planner calculates routes to your destination for car, public transport, walking and cycling.

Special bicycle maps are also available at the map details. Bike paths are then specially highlighted here. However, the use of this view is quite limited.

Google Maps Set Bike and Show Bike Lanes
Show Google Maps bike lanes: left: without bike lanes, right: with bike lanes, middle: bike lanes can be switched on and off

The most obvious change is the display of different map types. The following card types are available:

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  • Standard: The familiar Google Maps default view. This type of map is similar to a road map
  • Satellite: Satellite images are displayed on the map
  • Terrain: Facilitates the detection of height differences. Especially off-road rides with the Gravelbike or the MTB can be planned more easily.
Google Maps Bike Set Map Type
Google Maps Set map type: left: Standard, Right, Satellite, Center: Map Type Settings

Google Maps Offline Maps

Google Maps offline map saving is possible. However, the bike route calculation does not work with offline maps. For the calculation of bicycle routes you need internet access.

Google Maps Bike Navigation Offline Maps Download
Google Maps is capable of bicycle navigation with offline map download: Select “Offline Maps” in the menu, then select “Choose your own map”, then select the map section and tap DOWNLOAD.

Google Maps offline maps are still useful: they use less mobile data when you’re on the go. Downloading Google Maps offline is very easy:

  • First, tap your account avatar (account picture) in the top right corner.
  • A menu opens
  • Select Offline maps from the menu.
  • now you are in the menu offline maps
  • Choose your own card
  • Now you can select a map section. In the map view you can zoom out and in
  • Once you have selected the appropriate map section then tap Download.

Save Google Maps offline maps to memory card

Google Maps offline maps can also be stored on the memory card (SD card of your device):

In the Offline maps menu, there is also a gear icon in the upper right. This will take you to the online map settings. Here you can set, for example, whether the offline maps should be updated automatically, that the offline maps are only downloaded via WLAN and you can select the storage location of the Google Maps offline maps.

So the Google Maps offline maps can also be stored on an SD card.

Google Maps Route Create & Navigate

Learn what Google Maps can do to create and modify a route.

Destination navigation with Google Maps

Destination navigation (route calculation directly to the destination) Google has mastered wonderfully: In the search box above you enter your destination And Google automatically calculates the fastest route there. Tap on Start at the bottom of the screen and the navigation will start. If you get lost, Google automatically recalculates the route and shows you the way to your destination. The newly calculated route is destination-oriented and direct.

Start Google Maps Bike Navigation
Start Google Maps Bicycle Navigation: Type in your destination, select the activity “Bicycle” and then tap on Start.

This type of bike navigation works great with Google Maps. Google as a search expert also finds unknown destinations, exotic POIs and places from appointments in your calendar, as well as contacts from your phone book. This is very comfortable. The quality of search and integration with the calendar app and your contacts is unmatched by any other bike navigation app.

Google Maps is great at calculating the fastest route to your destination. However, Google Maps does not calculate the most beautiful or interesting route. For pragmatic and quick journeys from point A to point B, Google Maps is thus ideally suited.

Google Maps Route Planner

Planning Routes: How well can Google Maps plan bike routes with intermediate destinations and individual bike routes? Can an already planned route be changed?

You can easily add stopovers in the route view. Google Maps then immediately adjusts the calculated route. However, there are no more options to change the route on the smartphone. Tapping certain points on the map to create a stopover is not possible. Also, you cannot reschedule the calculated route by “drag-and-drop”. If you want to fine-tune the calculated route, the only option left is to add intermediate destinations.

Google Maps for Bicycle Insert waypoints
Google Maps for bike: Multiple waypoints can be inserted

On the desktop you have more options: as just described you can also add intermediate stop. If you want to change the route individually, this is also possible. Click at any point on the route to set a marker. By holding down the mouse button you can move the marker on the map. Google Maps immediately adjusts the calculated route and you see the result on the map. Click on the marker to delete it. This fine-tuning option is only available on the desktop in the web application. There is no way to fine tune in the app.

You can send planned routes directly to your smartphone with Google Maps: Click on Send directions to my smartphone. Unfortunately, only the start destination and between stops are transmitted. Individual adjustments to the map with the way pin are lost.

Unfortunately, Google Maps does not support bike profiles or other settings for customizing the route calculation.

Google Maps for bike settings
Google Maps for bike: A few settings are possible. Bicycle profiles do not exist

As I said: Google Maps calculates the fastest or shortest route but not the most interesting or worth seeing route. The calculated routes are most likely aimed at trekking bike cyclists.

Google Maps bike legend and altimeter: The Google Maps bike navigator also masters the display of a legend including altimeter. Important to know: This legend incl. Altimeter is only displayed before the start of an activity. When navigation is active, Google Maps Bike Navigation does not give you any information about the altitude.

Google Maps Bike Legend Altitude
Google Maps Bike: The Legend incl. Altitude meters are only displayed before the start of navigation

Google Maps Navigation

How does Google Maps behave when bike navigation is active? Up to here we have found: Operation and destination entry are very simple. Fine adjustments are only possible in the app via intermediate stops.

Google Maps Bike Navigation Map Overview
Google Maps Bicycle Navigation: With the button “Show routes” you get the whole route in the overview.

Along the way, Google Maps shows you three major areas. The map view is displayed with fluid animations and clearly laid out in large size when bike navigation is active.

Google Maps Bike Navigation
Google Maps with active bike navigation

The following information can be seen:

  • Top screen: Turn-by-turn directions are displayed at the top of the screen. The information is easy to understand and clearly displayed.
  • Middle screen: the large map is visible in the middle of the smartphone touchscreen. The map with navigation arrow is displayed huge, animations are smooth and therefore the action on the map is very visible. The map display on Google Maps on the bike is really fun.
  • Screen below: additional information is displayed at the bottom of the screen. You get information about remaining distance and time to the destination and your expected arrival time is displayed.

There is no information about speed, distance covered or altitude. The focus of Google Maps is purely on navigation.

Google Maps Voice Announcement

While navigating your bike, Google Maps also gives you voice prompts and turn-by-turn directions.

Playback via the smartphone speaker works wonderfully. The simple voice announcements are easy to understand and are played loudly. Of course, this is always due to the smartphone model. In my experience, the voice prompts are easy to understand even in very noisy environments.

The voice announcements are even better understandable with a Bluetooth wireless headset.

Keine Produkte gefunden. can be easily paired wirelessly with the smartphone. This makes the voice announcements even more clearly audible. I have had very good experiences with these earphones over the last few months. Please do this on your own responsibility and make sure that ambient noise is still audible to you.

Conclusion

The Google Maps bike navigation is ideally suited for practical and fast cycling from A to B. Google Maps is excellent at calculating a fast route. Especially for short trips in the city, the Google Maps bike navigation is suitable. Particularly star is Google Maps also, in the search and find place names, shops, etc..

What are the limitations of Google Maps bike navigation? Google Maps is not intended for performance-oriented road bike training. When navigating, you are presented with far too little information. Nor will you be able to plan an eventful tour in detail or discover exciting mountain bike trails with Google Maps.

Alternatives to Google Maps Bike Navigation

Google Maps bike navigation has its strengths especially in the city. If you want to reach a place by the shortest route and you don’t care if the route is scenic or not, Google Maps bike navigation is strong.

You want to plan an individual route? Then it’s worth taking a look at the bike navigation apps komoot and Strava.

komoot

komoot is the first choice when it comes to individual route planning. The app is simple for beginners while offering extensive features for experts. Planned tours can be cycled directly with the app – including GPS navigation. In addition, almost all modern bicycle GPS navigation systems have a komoot connection. The komoot platform offers numerous tour suggestions. Available for: Web, iPhone, iOS

To the detailed komoot test (test & full instructions)

Strava

Strava is a social media app for athletes. At the same time, Strava is a great archive for recorded activities with the Strava app or a GPS bike navigator with Strava interface. Note: Almost all modern GPS bike navigation systems have a Strava interface. Virtual competitions motivate. The web application also handles a route planner and the app handles bike navigation. However, these functions are rather rudimentary and not as sophisticated as Google Maps bike navigation or even komoot’s bike navigation.

Learn more about Strava as a komoot alternative in the overview of TOP 35 cycling apps.

Do you use Google Maps bike navigation? What are your experiences and do you have any questions? Feel free to write me your comment.

Reading tip: The best bike apps I also introduce you to on the blog. There you will find the best cycling apps & apps for your next bike trip. The best apps in navigation, training, MTB, bike computers, transportation, accommodation, communication and more.

Geschrieben von Michael Luplow
Hallo, ich bin Michael, Bikepacker, Abenteuerfan und der Mensch hinter Bikepacking-Adventures. Die Idee für bikepacking-adventures.com entstand direkt hinter dem Fahrrad-Lenker! Nämlich als ich auf einer Fahrrad Tour von Deutschland nach Istanbul war. Hier geht es um Abenteuerreisen mit dem Fahrrad und um Bikepacking auf allen Kontinenten dieser Erde! Du möchtest mehr wissen oder hast Tipps? Schreib mir einfach!

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