Connecting the Country

How one app helped create a cross-Canada community of motorcyclists

By Breanna Mroczek

It might not be as well known (yet) as Facebook and Instagram, but Tonit just might be one of the most social apps out there. Launched in November 2018 from its headquarters in Kelowna, BC, Tonit is an app designed to help motorcycle riders plan and track their trips, find new routes, and, most importantly, connect with other riders in their area. For an activity which can be done in isolation, founder Jason Lotoski knew that there was a desire for riders to meet and build communities with other riders.

“When I bought a motorcycle four years ago, I found that it was hard to find friends to ride with,” Lotoski says. He created the Sport Bike West motorcycle club in the Okanagan to try and connect with the local motorcycle community, and when that took off he realized that this sort of community-building could happen on a global scale—and Tonit was born.

“Most motorcycle riders like riding with a group of friends, but it’s not always easy to find someone to ride with, especially as life scenarios change,” Lotoski says. “So what Tonit helps with is helping riders find new friendships and keep those connections. Tonit helps riders expand their network of riding friends which is great for social activities and also for safety, you don’t have to ride alone.”

Beyond the social interface, Tonit has opportunities for riders to track their trips including speed and distance—which has a safety and a memory element to it—and the team is working on adding new features based on user feedback. Next up, Lotoski wants to introduce a crash alert feature.

The app has received a very positive reception–as of April 2019, the app has over 100,000 active users in North America with diverse riders across Canada finding new people to share their passion for biking with.

“There are a lot of friendships being created on the app, and users have told us ‘I feel accepted on this app,’” Lotoski says. He even recalls of a couple who met on the app, started riding together, then started dating. “They posted, ‘Thank you Tonit for finding my soulmate.’ So that was pretty cool.”

Read on to find out about some more amazing stories from just some of the bikers using Tonit.

Sarah Postill
Where: Calgary, Alberta
Bike: 2008 Honda CBR1000RR

Sarah started riding dirt bikes when she was just four years old, and at age 16 wanted a sport bike. “I won’t lie, dirt bikes just weren’t fast enough,” Sarah laughs. “I wanted the freedom of the open road to go on adventures across the country.” Finally, at age 20, Sarah began her sport bike life and soon after joined Tonit when they launched the beta version. “I was just starting my life on a sport bike and it has been amazing to grow with the Tonit community. When I started to share my motorcycle life on the app, the feeling of belonging to something was incredible. Tonit solidified that bike life is where I’m meant to be!”

Joey and Damir “Scruffy” Poljak
Where: Vancouver, British Columbia
Bike: 2008 Suzuki GS500

Joey was interested in biking when she was 16, but her dad wouldn’t let her get her motorcycle license. She finally got it at age 39 and has enjoyed biking ever since, including a trip to Whistler to eat dinner on top of the mountains. Scruffy started riding in his early twenties. “I found it to be an incredible feeling riding on country roads with nothing but my thoughts,” he says. “Riding gives me an incredible way to be available as I can just jump on a bike and be anywhere in a few minutes and enjoy my travel there.” The two of them are new users to Tonit, but like that it connects them to other riders in the area and can record trips for them, which was a feature they had been looking for. “Tonit has opened up my mind to realizing that there are a lot of cool people who ride!” Joey says. “The app gave us the opportunity to initiate our own little club, the MC Vancouver Vigilantes,” Scruffy says. “We welcome all riders to join and find new friends with us.”

Kevan Ztorm
Where: Halifax, Nova Scotia

Kevan bought his first bike, a Yamaha FZ6R, back in 2005 and has been riding ever since—acquiring four more bikes along the way. “I breath motorcycle and I can’t see myself doing anything else during the summer, fall, and spring,” Kevan says. One of his best rides so far has been a trip in 2008 from Quebec City to Virginia in the United States with two good friends, one who has since passed away. “I learned my passion for motorbikes with them,” Kevan says. Kevan joined Tonit in order to meet others who ride. “Riding in groups is so much better than riding alone, it’s hard to find people to ride with but this app is the occasion to group together people from the same area.” Using the app, Kevan created a riding club in Halifax. “There are people joining every day, it’s great to see people getting involved.”

Mahogany Haris
Where: Ottawa, Ontario
Bike: 2010 Kawasaki Ninja 250

Mahogany always wanted to ride a motorcycle, so in 2017 he finally signed up for a motorcycle safety course. During the course he broke his hand, but as soon as it healed he bought his first bike and kept going with his training, and got his full license in 2018. “I try to ride as much as the weather allows and I am enjoying it a lot.” Relatively new to the biking world, Mahogany joined Tonit in order to meet fellow riders at a similar skill level. “I need a destination or reason to ride, even if it’s just meeting someone for coffee. Meeting up with other riders provides that objective I need and riding with others reduces some anxiety I have.”

Logan Frison
Where: Weyburn, Saskatchewan
Bike: 2010 Kawasaki ZX6R

Logan remembers watching his dad ride and watching motorcycles drive past him as he rode his pedal bike in the front yard. When he was 16, he bought his first sport bike and started riding. So far, one of his most memorable biking experiences has been riding for a few hours to a lake and exploring his home province on two wheels. “I joined Tonit because I like the idea of an app that brings people together with the same passion for riding bikes like I do,” Logan says. “I’ve met so many great people on this app and have connected with a few local riders in my area.”

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