Consistently warm weather is on the horizon! Sunshine and comfortable temperatures are the perfect combination for long motorcycle journeys. As COVID-19 travel restrictions continue to loosen across the country, you may be able to plan a much-needed road trip!
A significant amount of preparation can help ensure you have a successful, memorable adventure. Consider these tips to get started.
Have the Right Gear
Not all clothing and saddlebags are suited for the demands of motorcycle touring. We strongly advise against riding while wearing shorts and sneakers. You’re better equipped with the following gear:
- Protective Footwear: Make sure you wear boots that protect your ankles from debris and exhaust.
- Weatherproof Essentials: Bags and gear designed to block out rain and wind can keep you cool and dry. Also consider a windproof jacket and a full set of rain gear.
- Layering Pieces: Leather should be worn as your top layer for its durability and protection. Underneath, wear a combination of breathable and moisture-wicking lightweight and midweight layers to hold onto body heat, without adding bulk.
- Tank and Saddlebags: The tank bag sits on top of the fuel tank and saddlebags go on either side of the rear wheel. Both are designed to hold your gear, tools and other essentials. For more storage, consider a trunk bag if the rear seat will be empty.
- Comfortable Grips: Heated grips can help keep your hands warm and comfortable, while padded grips assist with reducing fatigue after hours of riding.
- A Supportive Seat: A gel seat and a back rest can offer more support to reduce strain as you ride for miles, day after day.
Have the Right Motorcycle
For optimal touring performance, consider these two well-suited motorcycles:
- Proper Touring Motorcycle: Designed to keep you comfortable during hours of riding, touring bikes can reduce back strain by allowing you to sit upright. Touring motorcycles also have a trunk area, which can be supplemented with saddlebags.
- Cruiser Motorcycle: Can handle the strain of a long ride and has a tank bag and saddlebags for sufficient storage. Consider adding a windshield, so the air passes around you to reduce fatigue as you ride.
Update Your Maintenance Plan
Maintenance should be performed early in the spring season before your first ride, but ask yourself: Is your bike ready to ride for hours and days at a time? If the answer is no, thorough maintenance should be done before your journey, including repairing worn parts and replenishing all fluids.
It can also be beneficial to have some DIY skills to address any maintenance issues that may arise while away from home.
Plan Out Your Trip
The weather conditions of late spring and early summer tend to be the most consistent for motorcycle touring. You don’t want to encounter too much rain or extreme heat on a long motorcycle trip.
Especially if planning your first long-distance trip, consider these precautions:
- Research rest stops and lodging along your route.
- Travel a maximum of 300 miles a day.
- Set aside time for water breaks, stops to inspect your bike and fill the gas tank.
- Keep the climate of your route in mind to help determine what to bring.
- Look for construction projects, closed roads and other potential obstructions along your route and have a backup plan.
- Book your hotel or campground stays ahead of your arrival.
- Once you reach your destination, remove all gear from your bike and lock up to avoid theft.
Packing for motorcycle touring can be a balancing act. You don’t want to take too much but should be sufficiently prepared. In general, pack light and make sure you have enough cash on you. Clothes tend to add bulk and should be limited to the essentials. With this in mind:
- Have a GPS and paper map with your route outlined. Be prepared to make detours.
- Bring along a tool kit, tire gauge and jumper cables to handle basic maintenance.
- Bring cleaning and sanitizing supplies for your windscreen, handlebars and gear.
- If you plan to stay at a campground, have a tent and all necessary supplies packed.
Are you planning a longer journey this year? Share your tips for long-distance motorcycle travel on our Facebook page.