More people are riding motorbikes than ever before in America.
Indeed, over the last 4 years, 1.5 million US households became proud owners of their first motorbike. Those are crazy numbers!
Clearly, the masses have started to cotton onto what we’ve been saying all along:
There’s nothing quite like 2-wheel travel.
However, there’s a big difference between racing around the neighborhood and hopping on an epic motorcycle road trip. As free-spirited as the open road sounds, driving any vehicle for hours at a time can be a tiring experience.
But it’s a whole new ball game when you’re on a bike.
Are you looking into your first long-distance motorcycle trip? Well, we’ve got some pointers to help you have the best, and safest, trip possible. Sound good?
Keep reading to learn 10 top tips for riding long distances safely, comfortably, and successfully, on a motorbike.
1. Be Weather Sensible
First thing’s first:
You need to wear and pack the appropriate gear and clothing for the ride ahead.
There’s literally nothing worse than being kitted out for the wrong weather. Imagine riding for hours in the blazing sun wearing long johns and waterproofs. Conversely, imagine being caught in the rain and freezing cold without them.
Being blessed with hot and sunny weather isn’t without its issues either. When the sun’s out and the air’s warm, wearing sun-smart gear can make a mighty difference. Consider wearing a cool neck wrap, and be sure to slather yourself in sunscreen.
The take-home message here is to pay attention to the weather and proceed accordingly.
Don’t be caught out though. Check the weather forecast for an accurate idea of potential changes that might arise. The day might start off clear and dry, only to get worse later in the day.
2. Be Prepared for Emergencies
As they say, failing to prepare is like preparing to fail.
The idea of a spontaneous road trip can be mightily appealing. Caught up in the excitement, it’s tempting to hop straight onto your Harley without taking appropriate safety measures.
It goes without saying that all kinds of things can go wrong on a long ride. Everything from mechanical hiccups to first aid emergencies could occur. 90% of the time you’ll be totally fine. But it’s your job to be prepared for the worst all the same.
Regardless of your specific motorbike, packing a basic maintenance kit can be a life-saver when you’re stuck in the middle of no-where. At a minimum, have a basic tool kit, jumper cables, spare oil, and a tire inflator.
On the medical side of the equation, try to pack an equally small yet practical first-aid kit. Make sure you have sufficient supplies of water, a flashlight, and food, just in case you need them.
3. Be Properly Maintained
This tip follows a similar theme.
The trick to avoiding disaster is to take essential preventative measures.
In this way, it makes total sense to have your motorbike examined ahead of time. Take it to a professional mechanic to ensure that everything is running as it should. They’ll be able to identify any problems and fix them before your ride.
This might feel like a lot of unnecessary effort. However, for long road trips it makes perfect sense. You wouldn’t just try and run a marathon without the necessary prior preparation. You’d make sure you were in great shape beforehand.
Making sure your bike is in adequate condition for a long-distance road trip serves the same purpose. It’s one of the best ways to ensure that you have a smooth and uneventful ride.
4. Be Comfortable
Of course, comfort is crucial too!
There’s a level of endurance that goes with being sat on a motorbike for hours. It can be physically and mentally draining. As such, it’s important to do everything possible to maximize levels of comfort.
Sometimes it’s the smallest accessories that make the biggest difference. For example, having some earplugs to protect against road noise doesn’t sound like much, but you’d be surprised how much they help!
It goes without saying that your posture (and even the type of motorbike you’ve chosen to ride) comes into play as well. Sitting in an upright position will protect your back and help you stay comfortable for longer.
5. Be Group Smart
This tip only applies to people going on a road trip with other riders.
If you’re going solo, then feel free to move on to the next one!
By being group smart, we mean working together to spread the load. Nobody wants to weigh their motorbike down unnecessarily. Thus, get together as a group beforehand and think about combining your supplies.
It’s a bit like two people going on a hike. Rather than taking it in turns to carry one heavy backpack, it makes more sense to divide the load and each take a smaller bag.
Take the same tack with the gear you’ll take on the ride. Split it all up into equal shares to spread the load between everyone.
6. Be Sensible
We’ve said it once, but it’s worth re-emphasizing:
Riding long distances on a motorbike isn’t a walk in the park.
Traveling extreme distances can test the resolve and concentration of even the most experienced riders. The further you go, the more tiring, uncomfortable, and difficult to focus it gets.
Be sensible! Don’t feel compelled to travel the entire distance at once. Take regular stops, even if you don’t think you need one. Stretch your legs, have a nap, stay hydrated, and eat some food for energy.
Obviously, the whole point of a road trip is being on the road! However, you want to stay safe and enjoy the journey too. Being well-rested is the best way to make that happen.
Accidents occur when riders get tired. Don’t be another statistic. Be sensible, take breaks, and stay alive.
7. Be Diligent
Being sensible starts before you set off for the trip itself.
Take the time before you leave to perform basic safety checks on the motorbike.
Look at the fluid levels and refill where required. Clean and/r replace air filters that have become overly clogged. Ensure the brakes work and that there’s enough fluid. Ensure the tires are fully inflated and that the lights are working.
You get the idea.
Of course, if you’ve taken the bike to a mechanic already, then you should feel confident that everything’s good to go. However, anyone who decided against that step should at least be diligent in their personal checks.
You never know, you might be one single stop sign away from your brakes giving out. Testing them before the ride can avert disaster.
8. Be an Appropriate Weight
It’s always easy to overpack for a trip.
You assume you need more than you really do. As such, you stuff your saddlebags and storage spaces full to the brim. You’ve got food, clothing and supplies to last for weeks on end!
The trouble is that it all adds weight to the bike. As you know, this will make it feel slower, less responsive and less fuel-efficient. However, there’s a chance it will exceed the bike’s load limit too.
This is the heaviest weight that your bag’s designed to carry! Stay under that level wherever possible. Don’t already know the load limit for your bike? Check the owner’s manual, or use this calculator, before you leave.
9. Be In the Know
There’s only so much you can plan and prepare before a trip.
Nonetheless, it makes sense to do what you can to facilitate its smooth-running.
Oftentimes, that involves looking ahead for potential issues that might arise. Being in the know like this will help you avoid trouble along the road.
Now, we’ve already mentioned the need to check the weather forecast. Additional considerations include the route itself, and whether there’s any roadworks or potential obstacles to navigate.
Likewise, think about the amount of gas you’ll burn on the way. Plot on the map where you’ll fill up, and have enough cash to cover the expense.
Next, how about official documents if you’re to be crossing borders? And where will you sleep? Booking ahead will save the hassle of doing it on the trip itself.
10. Be Realistic
Our final tip is to be realistic.
By that, we mean not biting off more than you can chew- especially if this is your first long-distance trip.
Sometimes starting small is best. Test the waters with a long but manageable distance first. This will give you a taste of what proper road trips are like. With this behind you, gradually build up to ever-longer rides.
Enjoy Your Motorcycle Road Trip
More Americans are riding motorbikes than ever before.
However, there’s a mighty difference between brief and extended stints on the back of a bike. A long-distance motorcycle road trip is an incredible experience, but it’s not without its challenges.
Hopefully, though, this post has provided the tips you need to do it right.
Looking for trip inspiration? Click here to check out the ‘Rides and Routes’ section of the blog now!