One of the greatest joys of owning a motorcycle is the motorcycle road trip. There are some spectacular routes across the world that are popular with bikers wanting to explore. These trips can be incredibly rewarding, but it’s important to prepare properly to ensure your safety on the road. Plan ahead and have a trip you’ll remember for all the right reasons.
Choose a suitable route
It might be tempting to choose the most exciting looking route you can find, but make sure you plan the route you’ll take carefully. There are many companies who organise motorcycle tours. If you are new to bikes or haven’t completed a long trip before, this could be a great option. You’ll get to experience the thrill of the road trip, without the hassle of planning the route or arranging where you’ll stay along the way.
If you’d like to plan your own tour, there are a few things to consider. How long will the route take? Where will you be able to stop to sleep, eat or rest on the way? Is the road suitable for a rider of your skill level? What will the weather conditions be like?
To follow the route as you go, it’s a good idea to have physical copies of maps as a back-up. While many riders rely on GPS, and even helmets with Bluetooth attachments to guide them, if you travel through an area with poor connection, you don’t want to find yourself lost. Find a space in your luggage to take a map, just in case.
Make any upgrades and repairs before you set off
You’re going to be relying on your motorbike on this trip, so make sure it’s in top condition. You don’t want to break down halfway round if it could have been avoided.
Give your bike a thorough check well in advance, with plenty of time to make any needed upgrades or repairs. Anything that looks like it might be a problem for you should be replaced. Make sure to buy motorcycle parts you need to replace in good time, and get a mechanic you trust to make the repairs if you can’t do them yourself.
As well as repairs, make sure your bike is prepped for a long ride. Is the seat going to comfortable for a long time on the bike? Are the handlebars comfortable for you to grip for long periods? Are your lights sharp, bright and reliable? Have you got good sized guards to protect you from road splatter?
If you’re renting a bike for the trip, make sure you choose based on safety and practically, not on the bike you think looks the best.
Practice motorcycle safety
On a long trip, it’s crucial to ride safely. An accident on a remote stretch of road could be fatal, so be sure not to let excitement get the better of you. Brush up on your basic motorcycle safety before you set off.
Ride carefully. A long trip is not the time for tricks or stunts. It’s also not the time to ditch the proper gear. It’s essential to dress correctly to protect you in case of an accident. Buy proper motorcycle clothing and invest in the best you can afford. Good boots are important, as are gloves. These help you control the bike and will protect you should you come off. Try everything on before you go, so you can be sure you’ll be comfortable if you’re on the bike for a while. Many find closer fitting riding gear is more comfortable over long distances than baggier options.
A good helmet is a non-negotiable part of a motorcycle trip. Make sure it fits correctly and is comfortable to wear. A helmet could save your life, so don’t skimp on a decent one.
If the route you’ve chosen is likely to be bumpy, it may be wise to wear elbow or knee guards. Hitting bumps increases the risk of the bike tipping, and guards can offer a bit more protection if you come in contact with road.
Don’t forget, anything you pack has to go on the bike with you. Pack light, but pack wisely. Take the smallest amount of stuff you can manage without sacrificing the things you’ll need.
Prioritise what you’ll need by making a packing list of essentials. Leave behind anything that doesn’t make the list. Have a practice run to make sure everything fits into the luggage storage option you’ve chosen. If you’re not used to riding with luggage, it might be a good idea to load up your saddlebags for a couple of short rides before you leave on the trip. You can get a feel for how the extra weight changes the feel of the ride and learn to work with it before you hit the open road.
Prepare for bad weather
Bad weather will have more of an impact on your trip on a motorbike than it would if you were in a car. Be prepared for bad weather, whatever the forecast says, just in case.
Pack decent waterproofs, and proper covers for your luggage in case of rain. Build extra time into the trip in case bad weather forces you to make an unplanned stop. Don’t put yourself in danger by being forced to keep riding in heavy rain when the road may be slippery. If the weather takes a turn for the worst, take a break and wait it out until conditions improve.
Look after yourself
Motorcycle gear is hot and heavy, so make sure you stay well hydrated during the trip. Take regular breaks to drink some water, have something to eat and take a rest. A break can refresh you to get you back on the road safely. Never ride tired.
Plan for these stops so you can take needed breaks without getting behind on the route. Make sure you’ve chosen somewhere safe to stop where you can get off the road, whether it’s a pause for a quick drink of water or an overnight stop for some sleep.