Lots of riders use their motorcycles for daylong cruises or simply touring the countryside. In fact, a big reason for taking up riding in the first place comes from the desire to tackle the open road and turn the ride into the vacation.
Though you can jump on your bike and throw caution to the wind without so much as a plan, the better approach involves knowing what to expect to successfully take on the adventure touring by motorcycle offers. Obviously, you want your motorcycle ready to ride but outside of that we often get asked advice and questions on how to make a road trip memorable, and so worth it the rider can't wait for the next weekend.
Planning a motorcycle road trip requires the fundamentals like wearing the required riding gear, handling any maintenance needs, mark off the pre-ride checklist, and packing whatever belongings necessary for an overnight stay. But you can certainly dive into a sea of frustration without knowing some basics before setting out on a long ride. Therefore, we have put together a few obvious tips and perhaps some "glad I knew that" advice that should help make an upcoming motorcycle tour go off without a hitch and get you riding off into the sunset.
Tips for Long Motorcycle Trips
Know Where You Want to Go
Yes, part of the adventure takes you to unknown places however you want a definitive stop and hotel reservations. Picking the next exit because of available hotels might turn into a headache of you keep encountering "No Vacancy" signs that force you back on the road after mentally resigning for the night.
Besides, planning ahead usually gets you cheaper rates than walking up to the counter.
You probably do already, but wearing earplugs on a long ride not only prevents hearing loss from the engine and wind noise, but reduces fatigue. A few hours of what ultimately amounts to excessively loud white noise tires you out pretty quickly.
Plan, but Don't Plan
Know where you want to go - at the end of the day - but for all times in between take the road less traveled, stop and look around, or grab some pie from the local mom and pop restaurant. Touring by motorcycle means embracing the journey, not quickly reaching the end of your day.
Bring a GPS
You just might get lost and not on purpose. Taking side roads, alternative routes and skipping the freeway comes with the motorcycle touring territory but getting sidetracked becomes a problem when the gas tank runs dry, the sun sets and/or you really have no idea of your location. A GPS not only offers an escape route but also highlights those curvy branches off the main route and finds your way back or out.
Don't Over Pack
You have a limited amount of space on a motorcycle, use it wisely. You can't pack for a two-week European vacation nor do you want to, but you can grab the essentials to remain comfortable not only off the bike but on the bike as well. Do you want to haul around a car trunk's worth of stuff all day then unload it all after a long day of riding or walk into your hotel room with everything in hand? That's the difference.
Stop and Smell the Roses
You can easily get distracted by the riding and have not a care in the world as you eat miles and enjoy the open road while taking in scenery. You get really tired that way, though. Pull off at a road side attraction or even a rest stop. At the very least, take frequent breaks to stretch, eat, drink, gas up, use the bathroom, whatever gets you off the saddle for a few minutes and allows you to slow down, so to speak.
Find Your Pace
Assuming you tour with others, ride your pace - don't try to keep up or hang back, unless necessary for safety. Remember, you have all day. What's the rush? Riding beyond your limits to keep up with someone else makes for an uncomfortable experience and slowing down for others gets frustrating. Always have a set goal in mind prior to heading out so if any in your party gets too far ahead of behind you meet up at the agreed checkpoint.
Know the Fuel Range
The fuel tank on your motorcycle probably carries no more than three gallons of gas which equates to less than 150 miles before you need to fill. But motorcycles differ - some get better gas mileage while others boast larger fuel tanks. Know the fuel range on your motorcycle so if you see a sign that says "last gas for 50 miles" 100 miles after your last fuel stop you know to pull off and replenish the tank.
As you can tell, motorcycle touring does not involve moving efficiently from Point A to Point B. Instead of riding the way the crow flies, time has no limits and you can control the clock. You get there when you get there and enjoy the process of doing so.