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Thirsty for Riding

ROLLING OUT BIKER AID: Bill Howarth creates app to help motorcyclists find biker-friendly destinations, from scenic stops to locally-owned restaurants and pubs.

Southwest Florida resident William “Bill” Howarth wasn’t thinking about drinking when he created the Thirsty Biker app for motorcycle riders. Rather, a thirst for the open road that he could help quench.

“It’s about being thirsty to do your own thing. Being in the wind, being yourself,” says Howarth, a longtime motorcyclist. “It’s more like a yearning of what you like to do with your time.”

But it isn’t always easy for motorcycle riders to fully explore what’s available to them. Not every restaurant or bar openly welcomes bikers, Howarth said, and with limited guidance, they don’t always know where to go.

Thirsty Biker addresses that issue. Motorcyclists can choose how far within a 150-mile range they want to ride, and the app will show biker-friendly destinations—from scenic stops to locally-owned restaurants and pubs—that they can program into their routes along the way. App users can also search for events, gas stations, dealerships, or friends to ride with. Biker-friendly business owners can even add their locations to the app.

“The cool thing is most of the businesses we’re supporting are your local people,” Howarth says. “None of the businesses are chains, so they need support from the community, or they’d fail.”

Another perk? The app doesn’t collect personal data, Howarth said.

Howarth hit a few bumps along the way while creating the free, community-based app. The developers had to build an entirely new API (application programming interfaces) system since Google Maps, which they planned to use to map rides, only covered a 30-mile range. He and his team also had to manually enter every major motorcycle dealership and related business they could find into the database.

Completing the app took significantly more time—and money—than Howarth thought it would. It officially became available to iPhone and Android users in July.

“Building the app was double the cost of the initial plan,” Howarth says. “I could have built the app at the original estimate, but it wouldn’t be the app we’ve introduced today.” Howarth brought in three investors to help cover the development cost, and he plans to earn money back from advertising and the databases he has created.

Since the app has debuted, Howarth says he’s only received positive feedback, and he’s rolling out additional enhancements soon to improve the user experience.

Now, the app is open to users across the U.S. It will be available to users based in Colombia, Brazil, U.K. and Canada next, he said. “We’ve really found a niche that no one was filling,” Howarth says. “There was not anything out there offering this lifestyle on an app, and that’s what this is—a motorcycle app for people who like biker locations, live music, outside events and festivals, and that kind of stuff.”


Photo Credit: Vanessa Rogers

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