As any keen motorcyclist knows, planning ahead can resolve virtually any problem. If planning a long distance trip any time soon, here are some essential tips worth considering. Whether touring regions of America or riding through Europe, these tips will help reduce major risks or issues on the next motorcycle journey.
Starting these tips with a motorcycles tires seems the best place to start, after all, a rider only has two of them keeping the bike on the road. Depending on the route, riders may encounter a variety of road surfaces and conditions. In anticipation of this, riders should choose the right tire suited to the expected environment.
Some examples of this would be, rough roads which require a strong grip and thick tread while smooth highways can make the most out of what’s called reduced rolling resistance and fuel efficiency. A great resource can be found with online tire test results and reviews to get an accurate idea of which style of tires should be considered.
Obviously, changing tires mid-trip is unpractical so choosing the best overall tires is the next best option. Maintaining those tires insures they’ll offer the best performance during the trip. When checking the depth of the tire’s tread, riders should look for any chips or punctures as well.
Not only should any motorcycle trip start with the tires being set for the correct pressure according to the load carried on the bike, a tire pressure gauge, pump and repair kit should be packed as well. Preparing for the worst case scenario, riders should be able to patch up any puncture until they get to the next opportunity to replace or professionally fix the problem.
They key to packing for a motorcycle trip is to pack light. Easy to say readers may think but if riders have the goal of bringing enough water and snacks to last the day, the load will lighten and available space increase. Riders simply replace these on a regular basis and as needed.
As for travelling itself, it’s always useful to carry a map of the local area. Riders never know when they’ll lose signals for smartphones or a GPS signal. In these situations, an old fashioned map can become a motorcyclist’s new best friend.
Speaking of weight
Regardless of how well a motorcycle is packed for a ride, everything adds to its overall weight. Motorcycles shouldn’t be operated beyond the maximum weight recommended by manufacturers. Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to work out the weight limits that your particular ride offers.
Once the wet weight is known, how much the bike weighs with a full tank and other fluids, this number is taken away from the gross vehicle weight rating, or GVWR. What’s left should give riders a pretty clear limit on how much can be pack at any one point.
A motorcycles suspension is most affected by the load it’s carrying. Ensuring its suspension is up to the task is as important as any pre-ride trip. On older vehicles, the motorcycle’s suspension might have lost some of its rigidity, so the upper weight tolerances might not be very effective. This can be tested with a dry run before the trip to see how well not only the motorcycle performs, but the rider as well.
This will answer the important question of whether you’ll be comfortable riding with the loadout for long periods of time.
Have a coherent plan
Finally, long distance trips bring risks, so a well thought-out plan is essential.
Riders should understand the range limits of their motorcycle and ensure that there aren’t only enough places to fill up along the route, but some hedging is considered to avoid running on empty.
The same also goes for accommodation, food and other requirements. Riders shouldn’t assume they’ll what they need. While the smartphone offers a myriad of apps to find everything and anything, as mentioned earlier, signals can quickly disappear. Fortunately, many apps such as those from Google have offline features. Riders should consider downloading everything needed ahead of time, just in case.
Many of the above tips should be second nature to seasoned tourists, but for many, that next road trip is the start of a gradual learning curve.