Sunday, March 18, 2012

MotionBased: Online GPS mapping (review)

A couple of weeks ago I wrote that MotionBased, a website for online GPS mapping, had been acquired by Garmin. I’ve been playing with a Garmin ForeRunner 301 recently and used it to check out MotionBased, which keeps all your data online so that you can access it from anywhere. As a result, you can share trail info with others, though you do have the option of making your trails private. This is a great program for athletes, or anyone working on physical conditioning.

GPS based training

One of the strengths of MotionBased is its ability to integrate heart-rate data. It’s very cool to be able to overlay an elevation profile with your heart-rate graph. I had never thought about it, but my heart was pounding as fast going all out in the flats as when I was climbing a steep hill. Seeing such things is part of the wow factor for me; serious athletes will be more interested in seeing how long they stayed in various heart rate zones, and the multiple ways to view speed, distance and time data. This information is presented in both tables and graphs.

Multiple mapping modes

Now I like to stay in shape, but my perspective here is decidedly unathletic. I’m more interested in maps, and this is where MotionBased offers something other mapping software doesn’t.  Using their Map Player (which unfortunately will not yet work in Firefox), you can view a track superimposed on a street map, contour map, topo map, satellite image or elevation model!  You can even export the track to a .kml file for viewing in Google Earth. Here’s a link to MotionBased for a recent bike ride I did. Click the "Dashboard" button for a more extensive look.

Waypoints and routes are missing

No software has it all, and MotionBased has yet to add the ability to manage (or even show) waypoints and routes. But it is worth looking at for its other features. And it’s great to be able to view your trips anywhere you have an internet connection. If you own a Magellan or Lowrance GPS receiver however, beware—MotionBased is designed primarily to work with Garmin.


The free version, MotionBased Lite, gives access to mapping and analysis of your ten most recent activities. These limitations are removed with a subscription, which also gives you access to more extensive analysis features. Subscriptions to MotionBased Standard run $11.95/month, which is discounted 33% if you sign up for an annual plan.

This review just scratches the surface of a feature rich software program. I suggest trying it out yourself. Finally, stay tuned…in the near future I plan to post about the extensive data you can download from MotionBased for trip planning.

About Rich Owings

Rich is the owner, editor and chief bottle-washer for GPS Tracklog. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.


  1. herimit says:

    very disappointed with the service. Too slow and unstable. many errorsa nd bugs.
    It’s not up to commerical standard.
    I spent th epast 4days try and error, most of the time just wasting my time.

    Can you advice if you are upgrading, if not I’ll have to try other products.

    I have a garmin etrex vista hcx

    • Rich Owings says:

      They are changing to a new platform at but the rollout has been SLOW. MotionBased is definitely not the most user-friendly place to get this data, but it is one of the most complete repositories of track data.

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