Are smartwatches the ideal gadget for motorcyclists?

TAG Heuer awarded its Connected timepiece to Pikes Peak winners.

TAG Heuer smart watch
There are times when checking directions, email, and text messages are important when traveling.Cycle World

This article was originally published on CycleWorld.com.

History was made at the 96th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on June 24, as French driver Romain Dumas piloted an electric Volkswagen race car to the summit in 7 minutes, 57.148 seconds. His reward? A Connected smartwatch, presented by the official timekeeper of the event, TAG Heuer. Four-time motorcycle King of the Mountain Carlin Dunne also received a TAG Heuer Connected watch, which got me thinking about its use for motorcycling.

TAG Heuer Connected smartwatch
The $1,450 TAG Heuer Connected smartwatch.TAG Heuer

As smartphones get bigger, staying connected is getting cumbersome. I’m not real keen to mount my phone on the handlebars, and with all the miles I rack up on the bike, there are times when checking directions, email, and text messages are important when stopping for gas or a meal. Such is the life of a moto journalist working remotely.

Samsung Gear S3 Frontier smartwatch
The $349 Samsung Gear S3 Frontier smartwatch.Samsung

I just bought a Samsung Gear S3 Frontier smartwatch from Best Buy. I prefer the Android OS, which syncs with my Samsung Galaxy S6 Active phone and Samsung Chromebook. Our editorial team relies on Google Drive and Slack to get it work done, so working in the cloud has now become de rigueur.

My wife calls me “go-go gadget boy,” and for good reason. Mobility has been my career foundation for years, and the reality of a connected world is hard to deny. As I write this on the front porch of my home, a Waymo vehicle drives by, collecting data for Google’s autonomous vehicle project. The frumpy white minivan with an overpaid intern technologist “behind the wheel” reminds me that motorcycling, with all its technological bits, can carry us away from the tech-mad connected world, if only for a few hours.

RSD Indian Black Scout
This RSD Indian Black Scout has amazing grunt and growl.Gaz Boulanger

I just returned an Indian Roadmaster to Los Angeles, and picked up a custom Roland Sands Design Indian Black Scout to ride to Las Vegas for Travis Pastrana’s “Evel Live” event on July 8. I logged 800 miles in 32 hours, and downloaded the following apps to my Samsung Gear S3:

  • Weather
  • Navigation
  • Gas Buddy
  • Email
  • Spotify
  • Altitude

It was a little awkward at first to reference a wristwatch instead of a phone on my voyage, but I adjusted to the ritual and found it useful and most helpful. A quick glance for directions saved my bacon a few times, and I liked knowing information was available but not staring at me from a handlebar mount. I look forward to using the watch more, and will continue to download apps as I become more familiar with the options and user interface.

Will a smartwatch help or hinder our sanctuary from the office and work? Time will tell, or more accurately the Gear S3 will.