Nuts About Bikes

Navigation, Harley Style

AtlasRecently grabbed Harley Davidson's entry into the world of roadmaps, the Harley Davidson Ride Atlas of North America (1st edition, $34.95). We first saw the book in a rider's saddlebag over the winter. He was very enthusiastic about it so the Nuts About Bikes crew put it through its paces during our recent road trip to Shenandoah Park, Virginia.

The book is a product of a collaboration between the Milwaukee motorheads and Rand McNally, one of the world's most respected names in mapmaking. The idea was to create an atlas that meets some of the unique needs of the rider and – like all HD products – promote the brandname through a new vehicle. Learn more.


The book is well done, but could be better. We give it a B+ overall. Here's what we liked:

  • It's a rider's atlas! How cool is that?
  • Every map includes color-coded 'ride friendly' roads.
  • Construction zones are clearly marked (almost worth the price of admission).
  • The maps make color sense and are easy to follow. Legend and
    mileage scales are done well.
  • The compact size makes it easy to pack.
  • The metal spiral binding is durable and makes it easy to lay flat
  • The rubberized cover protects it from moderate weather.
  • The featured rides magazine section is well thought-out.
  • The book is easy to navigate - no pun - standard atlas layout, alpha by state.
  • Each state page includes a roundup of local bike laws, a nice reference.
  • Other niceties include city-to-city mileage charts and a handy
    lists of HD dealers, also by state.

From a useability point of view, the Ride Atlas is very good, but could use some tweaking. The stuff we didn't like:

  • The elastic band. What is it? In its designed location, it does not hold the book closed (positioned too close to the right edge) and cannot be used as a bookmark (slips out). It also forced the corner of our cover to bend rather unattractively. However it does work as either you loose it from its moorings and move it towards the center.

  • The compact size is a compromise - some detail is sacrificed and it requires a lot of multiple page state coverage, which can be troublesome when your geography is on a page edge. Not a fatal flaw, just something that takes some getting used to. One of our riders in Virginia had a full-size atlas stowed in his Road King trunk (plenty of room for it) and this won the day in terms of detail.

  • Marking the bike-friendly roads is spot-on, but the method could be better. HD uses a light yellow-green (it resembles highlighter pen). The trouble is that secondary roads are pale yellow, a color close to the ride-friendly hue. If we were on the HD-RM team, we'd go with RM's standard 'scenic' mark - the chain of green or black dots. There is no mistaking that for any other notation on a road map.

  • The book could be more GPS friendly - but the team gets a thumbs-up for including longitude/latitude coordinates for the Harley dealers.

  • The coated paper stock tends to be glare-prone when studying the map indoors, but may be a bit more damp-resistant than uncoated stock.

  • It's on the pricey side.

Bottom line - recommended. You'll pay a Harley-Davidson price for a Rand McNally map but you are paying for more than the logo - the book includes creature comforts absent in a map designed for drivers. The second edition is out momentarily - so we'll see how the HD-RM team does with the refined version.

-Sal, Editor
May 2007

Please note: there is no relationship or affiliation between Nuts About Bikes
and this manufacturer/publisher.

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