At the turn of the century, I arrived in California to pursue my dreams of the ballsy action-adventure rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. But it really hasn’t been until now, 18 years later, that it has truly felt like the futuristic, “YEAR 2000” I dreamed of. One of the signs that the future has finally arrived is this Riser app I have on my phone, right now, which came from Austria to facilitate adventure, like me—so who better to give it a goddamn ballsy review!? Exactly.
Riser tracks, documents, routes and plans rides, and can instantly share that data with fellow riders, worldwide. Not that long ago these capabilities would have seemed like total science fiction and all this, so it’s made me ponder the ancient Austrian folklore of the Terminator, the alpine myth that warns of an impending “rise of the machines.” Rise? Riser? Come on!
These reflections are throwing this review totally off topic and may make this not only my first, but also my last review for CityBike, right now. Stay on target, Holzfeuer! Discipline!
To test Riser, I reluctantly purchased a mount to attach my iPhone to my Moto Guzzi V11 Sport’s clip-ons. One of the attractions of riding is actually my inability to use my goddamn phone, but I must admit, the technological juxtaposition of the retina display alongside the classic Guzzi analog dials amuses me, right there.
“Riser is an all-in-one-tool for motorcyclists built by motorcycle enthusiasts,” the app store description reads. “With a focus on the adventure in motorcycling, Riser will help you discover exciting new routes nearby fitting your personal preferences, track and analyze your trips and share and discuss them with your friends and the community.”
After setting up my account with basic info about myself and my bikes, I decided to test the tracking and analysis functionality, appropriately available via a button labeled “Go!” Yes, these developers are definitely Austrian; I scream that at the top of my lungs before every ride! Come on! GO!!!!!
Upon returning from a heroic Redwood ride, my thoughts of an impending rise of the machines were once again triggered. Let me tell you, not only did the app save the ride, create an exact route with map data leading to and from my house, list top speed, define sections with fastest acceleration—it was, by default, shared publicly to anybody logged into Riser. Well, goddamn! I quickly adjusted the privacy settings to hide this information, because not only was my ballsy defiance of speed limits on display, the exact coordinates of my home (and garage full of bikes listed in my Riser profile) were visible to anyone. Forget about it!
Once I changed my settings, I calmed down. But with all the talk about Facebook data being used for nefarious purposes, it does concern me that there are databases accumulating every detail of how and where people ride. Will Skynet one day acquire this data? Will it contribute to the termination of the human race, or even worse, enable retroactive enforcement of moving violations?
Come on, don’t bullshit me. I’m certain Judgment Day will arrive regardless. However, there is no fate but what we make for ourselves, so be sure to check your privacy settings. If you leave it all public, Ride Fast Take Chances takes on a whole new meaning!
Nevertheless, trip tracking and analysis have become favorite features. For the disciplined rider, it’s fun to challenge yourself on a familiar route at an incrementally faster pace and see hard data on your progress. This was particularly evident on recent trail rides through Knoxville OHV park on my trusty BMW R1200GS, chasing my brother-in-law on his Tiger 800 XCx. Watching my average speed increase and trip time decrease from one ride to the next was almost as rewarding as setting a new personal record for squats at the gym. Progressive resistance training in motorcycle form, right there! Pumped!
Another fantastic feature is “reWind,” an animated playback of your ride on a topographical map that you can pan, zoom and rotate in three dimensions. It’s more of a novelty, but does provide context for how your route relates to surrounding geography, with overlays indicating where on the map things like fastest acceleration and top speed apply. Looking eerily similar to what a Terminator HK-Drone would see from an aerial point of view doesn’t bother me one bit, either. Nope. Nothing suspicious, there.
Tracking is not the key feature of the app, however, nor is it unique in the world of GPS-based sporting and mapping apps. The biggest potential for Riser to truly distinguish itself might be the built-in social network, an entirely new, 100% motorcycle-based social media platform. The ability to seamlessly plan group rides with integrated mapping, invite friends, create groups and see where others have been riding without them having to explain or link to an external map… Can you believe how much I will be in heaven when more people begin using this? If I didn’t need Facebook to communicate with ArnoCorps fans and the Riser community contained all my riding friends, I doubt I’d ever use Facebook again.
Photo: Surj Gish
Local riders usage seems low, so far. I only saw two shared routes in the Bay Area at the time of this review, but that’s not a detriment to using the app to discover heroic rides nearby, if that’s your goal. No matter where you live, Riser’s “adventure navigator” will create routes for you based on location and desired duration. It dynamically analyzes map data and gives you a route based on your preference of curvy or super-curvy for either round trip or one-way rides. I was impressed that the results included all of my favorite local roads and suggested some I’ve never been on. Coooool.
The free version includes Trip Recording, Getaways (group ride creation), Sections (select portions of your rides to share), Discover (seeing all user-shared rides and sections), Group Creation and Adventure Navigator Basic. The Pro upgrade addsAdventure Navigator Pro, Offline Maps, Trip reWind, Live Tracking and “more to come,” according to their website. The free version is promised to be free forever, while the Pro version runs $8.99 a month or $59.99 annually.
I was granted a Pro account for this review, but once it gets downgraded, I’ll have to see whether I miss the Pro features enough to justify the substantial subscription price. In the meantime, I encourage anybody reading this to download Riser and add me to your network! I wouldn’t give you the wrong advices.
By the way, remember when I told you this would be my last product review for CityBike?
Holzfeuer is vocalist for the greatest band of all time, ArnoCorps. When he’s not reclaiming the ancient legends of his alpine homeland, bastardized by the Hollywood entertainment establishment in Austro-ploitation films such as Terminator, Total Recall and Kindergarten Cop, he rides an ’01 Moto Guzzi V11 Sport, ’05 BMW R1200GS, or ’16 H-D Softail Slim, or wrenches on his ’40 Indian Chief, seeking a deeper understanding of the riddle of steel.