Wes’s Speedy Tacos or, testing Pirelli’s iPhone app in the real world

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Pirelli’s new Diablo Super Biker app promises to give bikers a free tool to track ride routes, speeds, lap times and even lean angles, then share all that data on Facebook. Sounds great, but can it do what it says on the virtual tin? Last night, I fired up the Triumph Daytona 675R, made LA’s best taco truck a stop on the route to my girlfriend’s house and tested the app along the way. With a measured top speed in excess of 205mph and a max lean angle of 46.2°, I’m considering a new career as a taco delivery guy. Delivered ahead of time or your money back, guaranteed.

Released in America earlier this week, the app overlays existing tracking functionality with a bike-specific interface and branded sharing tools. Tracking your routes via GPS, extrapolating speed data and measuring lean angles using the phone’s accelerometer are nothing new, but doing so in a slick, easily sharable package is. Immediately following my delivery, I was able to upload a synopsis of my route to Facebook — including a map, max speed, average speed, elapsed time, total distance, max lean angle, bike and tires — with one click. On my phone, I can scroll through the data via the speeds and angles or using a full-screen map. The latter is particularly useful in tracking performance in a given corner.

The price you pay to have all this for free? The app itself is obviously heavily branded, but so is the data posted on Facebook. It automatically uploads the routes as photos to an album inalterably titled “Diablo Super Biker Photos” which makes them sound a little like a video game. Obviously developed in Europe, where it was released last month, data is also recorded using the metric system.

Known for its Tacos al Pastor — marinated pork cooked on a vertical, Shawarma-style spit — Tacos Leo is a perfect representation of an LA food truck. It’s located on La Brea and Venice and attracts a predominately Mexican and African American audience. The presence of a brand new, Ohlins-equipped 675R raises eyebrows and leads to a lot of questions. The food is outstanding — fresh, tasty and made from quality cuts of meat — yet impossibly affordable — just $1 a taco.

Eight al Pastor and the requisite condiments loaded into my Kriega R35 backpack, I turned the app on, locked my phone and stored it in the bag’s mesh top pocket, where I figured it would get the best GPS reception. That pocket is also flat across the top of the bag, something I was hoping would contribute to better lean angle data. Then, bag on, helmet on, gloves on, bike on, past all the kids and out onto the road. Despite receiving a “hurry up” text en route, the app kept recording.

But, that process is indicative of the app’s first drawback. If you’re measuring average time and extrapolating average speed from that, then a few minutes on either side spent adding and removing gloves and stowing/unstowing the phone is going to compromise the data you’re gathering. You could never expect totally accurate lap times from the app, seconds on either end spent de-gloving would knock you all the way from MotoGP to Moto3.

Then there’s the question of the data actually collected. With a 675R to use, I am a pretty handy taco delivery guy, but not 205mph or 46 degrees of lean handy. At least not without my custom Icon taco delivery suit that is. I looked, but couldn’t see a turbocharger anywhere on the otherwise 124bhp engine. And, while the Diablo SC2s grip like little else and the Ohlins NIX30 forks and TTX36 shock are surprisingly compliant through the broken concrete of the 110-to-101N ramp, there’s no way I could achieve 46+ degrees of lean there, the surface is just too damn broken.

Accelerometer-derived lean angle data is also questionable, it extrapolates G forces rather than measuring actual lean. No instructions are provided as to where to locate the phone; did sticking in my backpack make it subject to a body more upright than bike?

There’s also the question of achieving the optimal heat-preserving delivery time to wind chill ratio. I determined that staying below about 140mph wouldn’t unduly cool my tacos before consumption, where a 205mph breeze could have led to an unnecessary degree of evaporative cooling through the single layer of tinfoil separating taco tastiness from the gelatinous disappointment of tepid tacos.

The app’s sharing function is also somewhat limited. The maps upload as images, not links to scrollable, zoomable Google Maps, limiting their usefulness, and the only social media channel available is Facebook. What if I want to share my terrific tacos on Twitter?

As a free toy, there’s nothing wrong with Pirelli Diablo Super Biker, but it doesn’t offer anything like the functionality of our favorite route tracking app, Motion X GPS, which exports its recordings in Google Maps, enabling us to embed them right into articles or to mine for further data. It’s a good little marketing exercise, but will do little to offer riders value beyond the novelty of the first couple uses.

  • JaySD

    Reminds me of the similar app BMW just put out

  • Chris

    The cops are going to love this shit.

    • Gene

      No kidding. I sure as hell don’t want any of my rides posted at all, much less automatically. Especially when I’m late to work (again) in the morning, and feeling a little suicidal because I don’t actually want to go to work.

      • http://pinkyracer.com pinkyracer

        you said it! I disabled the map sharing function on Cyclemeter (on my bicycle) because I have a lot of FB friends who don’t actually need to know where I am. Imagine if you’re the sort of person who left FB with the default settings (public), then any cop could see exactly where you were going 205mph, even though you were really only going 55. I wonder why these apps get so overly optimistic. Cyclemeter seems to do that too, and I keep meaning to test it against my motorcycle speedo.

  • Jon B.

    Strava is an amazing pedal bike app with routes, leaderboards, segment times, awards etc. It needs to be ported over to the motorcycle world.

    • http://krtong.com KR Tong

      There needs to be a caveat to this post: PLEASE don’t start logging motorcycle times on Strava. I don’t need motorcyclists wrecking my records.

      • Thom

        Oh Hell KR now that you’ve said not to , you’ve got to know damn full well everyone and his/her brother will .

  • Thom

    205 mph !

    Jeeze Wes I’m surprised you’re not writing this from the LA County Jail ! Or are you ? :o)

    If its any consolation on the App foibles , my iPhone’s finder can’t find where I live and in fact 90% of the GPS’s out there are convinced my street , which had been here for decades doesn’t exist , including Garmin’s which is a riot considering Garmin’s WHQ is right down the road from me

    FYI the Strava App I’ve tried as well with it taking me up to six blocks in the wrong direction and errors up to a half a mile .

    Just give me a map , and leave me be .

    This whole GPS/Apps thing is far from sorted out .

    Not to mention now anyone with the capabilities to read the code will know exactly where you are at any given moment .

    Hint – Turn off the Locator function on the iPhone . You’ll gain a good 30% battery life and keep your whereabouts to yourself .

    • jeremy

      Somebody get these apps off Thoms lawn!

  • Sean Smith

    “And, while the Diablo SC2s grip like little else and the Ohlins NIX30 forks and TTX36 shock are surprisingly compliant through the broken concrete of the 110-to-101N ramp, there’s no way I could achieve 46+ degrees of lean there, the surface is just too damn broken.”

    Yeah, you need pre-heated 211s and pucks to really have fun on that ramp.

    • Tommy

      The 110s to 10e is one of my personal favorite ramps.

      • http://pinkyracer.com pinkyracer

        personally I prefer the 10E to 110N. Even in traffic it’s pretty fun.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/Adeysworld adeysworld

    Glad you tried it out first…saved me the trouble.
    I’ll stick to my MCN Ride Logger. Thx

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Ah, it’s probably identical software. All these marketing apps are, they just reskin licensed tech.

  • HammSammich

    D@mnit, now I want tacos for dinner. Maybe I’ll put this app to the test and see if my Bonneville can beat 205 mph with the added power of Tacos Tumbras! ;)

    • HammSammich

      Who am I kidding…my Bonnie couldn’t break 130mph if it was falling out of a plane…

  • Gene

    And finally we find the truth about the guy on the Ducati 1199: he’s a taco delivery guy!

    Seriously, though, I use a D-cell-size Holux m241 vehicle logger and everytrail:
    It does the Google Maps overlay that you want.

  • Deep6Dive

    Are there any apps for android like this?

    • Gene

      MCN Ride Logger is on Android Market for $3.

  • 85gripen

    I’ve been using Ride Logger for Android by Nick Holliday for a couple of years. The only limitation is that you can only import files into Google Earth, not Google Maps due to a maximum samples limitation in Google Maps.

  • Taco

    I tried going by the name Speedy Taco for a while.
    However only half of the nickname stuck.

  • http://pics.zenerves.net/index.php?gallery=vehicules tropical ice cube

    Hasn’t anyone though this “data” was there to pamper our small-penises-challenged egos… And build Customer Fidelity, or am I just into Plot Theory again?

  • pplassm

    Mmmmmm. Tacos.

  • Scott-jay

    App Sean used to verify 40 mph on a 50cc scooter?

  • http://www.damiengaudet.blogspot.com damien

    Wow dude. Those are the best looking take-out tacos I’ve ever seen! ha. Usually all I’m left with is a soggy mess by the time I race home.

    Props for the Guinness glass too.

    • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1100]

      But no Guinness in the glass.

  • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1100]

    My Garmin GPS (which is waterproof, powered from the bike, and mounted via a RAM mount to the bars) will log my ride, and I can upload the track (and any waypoints I create) to Google Earth, which I can then share with anyone through whatever means I want.

    The GPS also calculates and displays moving average (as well as total average and something like 20-30 other statistics — with a multi-field trip-computer screen that is user-configurable). So when I’m donning my gloves or stopped for a pee break, my time off the bike doesn’t contribute to the average speed.

    It’s also the same GPS that I use hang-gliding and hiking. It’ll run on plain-ol’ AA alkaline batteries for 12 hours straight — with the screen on — something an iPhone (or any other smartphone) can’t do. And because the GPS is waterproof, I don’t have to worry about it dying when I’m under a weeping cloud in a hang-glider or caught in a downpour while hiking.

    But it doesn’t do lean angle. And it costs about $160. But it does do offline maps with turn-by-turn — I have a lifetime subscription for North America.

  • http://cynic13th.livejournal.com/ cynic

    mmmm Tacos.

  • Eric
    • Scott-jay

      EEs and programmers give me the willies, and a case of wannnabes.

  • zato1414

    All that speed, big lean angles and tacos… a sure winner!

  • Anthony Parker

    I used it on the ride to work yesterday morning, managed to wring the V-Stroms neck enough to pull 305.3Kmh at an impressive lean angle of 63.9 degrees!!

    I felt like a motorcycle God when i reached the office :)