Nowadays it seems like almost every company is a technology company to some degree – you may be a motorcycle manufacturer but you can’t compete in many segments without the latest in electronic assists like Cornering ABS or wheelie control. This same battle is now moving to your phone, as many OEMs have released mobile apps that connect to your phone with varying levels of capability and usefulness. Rideology is the name of Kawasaki’s effort, and I got my first taste with it at the Versys 1000 launch last summer.
I know that the phone app is not going to be the deciding factor between getting a Kawasaki or a competitor, but I appreciate that they’re improving and I figured you might want to know about it if you haven’t had the chance to see it before – this likely isn’t something you’ll try out when you’re on a test ride. Rideology is becoming a fixture in Kawasaki’s lineup. As with most technology, it started in Kawi’s premium machines – the Versys and the H2 supercharged motorcycles, for example. But this year it’s coming to the Z900 and the Z650, as well. Power to the people!
Kawasaki says there are three main functions to Ridelogy: vehicle information, vehicle setting tuning, and a riding log. But before you can get into any of that, you have to pair your phone to your bike with the magic of Bluetooth.
Disclaimer before we get started: I have an iPhone – you may have a different experience on Android.
Vehicle InfoThink of this as a snapshot in time. You’ll be able to see the GPS position of you and your bike (hopefully the two dots overlap!) and a long list of specifications such as the odometer reading, total time the motorcycle has been on, trip meters, fuel level, range, average fuel consumption, average speed, maximum lean angle, battery voltage, last service (at what mileage and who performed it), last oil change (at what mileage and who performed it).
If you’re not currently connected to your bike for some reason (such as you only got to ride it for two days for a test before Kawasaki sent your ass home), then you won’t have access to most of the information, but I still want to give you an idea of the UI:
Vehicle TuningIn general, the Kawasaki motorcycles that have ride-by-wire come with 4 modes: Sport, Road, Rain, and Rider. The first 3 are presets that change the power output, traction control, and in the case of the Versys 1000, the electronic suspension.
The Rider mode lets you set your own preferences, and it’s infinitely easier to make tweaks on the phone than on the bike – though you’ll probably only do so once.
It’s a little nerdy, but a hypothetical situation that Kawasaki representatives gave me at a launch was that you ride somewhere, stop for lunch, and then you see that rain is coming in. Now you can pull up the app, change the ride mode to rain, and once you get back to your bike the mode will automatically be changed. That makes sense, but Kawasaki already has a very convenient button dedicated to changing the mode on the fly…and that’s what I’d likely use myself.
Depending on the bike, you can also turn the quick shifter or engine braking override on/off. You can also save and share settings, but there are so few things to change that I’m not sure why you would.
Beyond that, you can tweak when the shift light comes on, if you want to get notified when a call or email comes through, and then a few other settings that are minor at best. Again, I suspect that you’d probably go to this section once (when you first buy your bike) and then ignore it for the rest of your ownership experience.
Riding LogI’m saving the best for last. If Rideology has any value to you, it’ll probably be with the Riding Log, which allows you to keep track of your rides with stats like distance, time, average mileage, max and average speed, and max lean angle on either side. It also displays your best mileage but that’s pointless because the computer maxes out at 240 mpg and you’ll almost always see that figure on a trip as you’re going to be coasting at some point.
Just like with Tinder, the good stuff happens after you swipe right. That’s when you get to review some data that was tracked real time throughout your trip: your gear position, miles per gallon, water temperature, RPMs, speed, throttle percentage, boost pressure (in %), brake pressure (in kPa), and boost temperature (if you’re on a supercharger-equipped model). You can see all that data alongside a map showing where exactly you were at the time, which I find fascinating. It’s basically a budget version of the telemetry that race teams get, but now it’s all at your fingertips.
The usefulness of this is very situational. When I was on the Versys launch, I didn’t really care about how much throttle I was giving the bike driving out of a corner when I was “sport-touring”. But when I was on Las Vegas Motor Speedway on the Z H2 and didn’t want to take my eyes off the track to glance down at the speedometer, it was fantastic to be able to pull out my phone after I parked to see what my max speed was.
So the riding log is awesome if you’re on a track, and it’s probably also interesting for those of you that have a favorite stretch of road that you like to go a little too fast on every once in a while. Beyond that, I don’t know if anyone’s going to get excited about knowing what the water temperature or boost pressure percentage is when they are 13 minutes and 32 seconds into their commute, though I suppose it’s nice that you now have the option.
If you’re curious, the maximum ride length that can be recorded is 24 hours – perfect for your Iron Butt Saddlesore attempt. Amusingly, the FAQ says that you “can save up to approximately 2 billion riding logs“!
Overall, I’d say Rideology functions well, and it’s a fun free bonus to complement your new Kawasaki. My main gripe at this point is that you have to manually start and stop the ride log, and you must hit the stop button while the bike is still on. If you forget and shut your bike off, you’ll have to turn the bike back on and hope that the app doesn’t get confused. It works the majority of the time, but it’s also tedious – especially when you learn that BMW’s equivalent app automatically records your rides without requiring you to hit any buttons on your phone.
Again, I know this isn’t going to be the thing that makes you pick between one bike versus the other when it comes to spending your money at a dealership, but I think it’s nice to know what’s out there. Does this stuff interest you or would you never be bothered to look through the app if you had a motorcycle that supported it?