Most riders like to challenge themselves on their motorcycle, and for many, nothing beats the thrill of going on a real adventure on their two-wheeled pride and joy. It’s an opportunity to explore the country-side, take in spectacular scenery, and test your endurance; all while enjoying your motorbike to the max.
Taking your motorcycle on long distance journeys is a truly unique experience that everyone should experience at least once! However, in order to really get the most out of it, you’ll need to prepare yourself properly for the journey ahead.
So, before you hop on your motorbike and take to the open road, we’ve put together some tips to help you fully prepare.
Choose the right motorbike for the journey
Of course there are a wide variety of styles available when it comes to motorcycles, and some are definitely better suited than others for handling long distance rides. Certain features on the motorbike will play a pivotal role in how practical and comfortable they are for the journey, such as riding position, storage capacity, and windscreen coverage.
Some of the motorcycle models that are best suited for long distances include:
- Touring motorbikes – which of course are designed specifically for long journeys on the road. Their upright riding position helps to ease the strain on your back from what can be hours of sitting. Storage space in these bikes is always maximised, with saddlebags, a trunk area, and extra pockets. Plus, you won’t suffer from high winds thanks to the larger windscreen and front fairing.
- Cruiser and standard motorbikes – can both be good options for long rides, as they have lower and more relaxed seating positions, making them more comfortable. They lack the storage capacity of touring bikes though, and typically don’t offer the same amount of wind protection.
- Adventure and dual-sport motorbikes – are an effective choice when you’re riding on lots of dirt roads. They are designed to put less strain on your back and joints, and can be upgraded if necessary to offer more space for storage.
Think about engine size
Your motorbike engine size can actually have an effect on your long distance riding experience. If you opt for a lower cc engine, such as a 250cc, then this will be more suited to a short daily commute as opposed to a substantial trip; where you’ll likely be travelling at greater speeds.
Instead you need to consider a larger engine size, such as a 750cc or higher. A bigger engine combined with the right style of motorbike, will give you all the efficient mileage and maneuverability you need, and will also better cope with travelling at higher speeds for longer periods.
Don’t forget a maintenance check
Before you set out on your long distance road trip, it’s essential that you conduct a thorough maintenance check on your motorbike. The last thing you want is to find yourself broken down miles away from anywhere.
Instead, check your motorbike for any faults or signs of wear; such as worn tyres and brake pads. A complete maintenance check will give you the opportunity to make any much needed repairs before it’s too late, and reduce the risk to you out on the roads.
Consider using long distance features
As you’ll know, preparing for a long distance ride means getting the right motorcycle gear for the job. Of course you need to bring the essentials, such as all-weather protective gear and eye wear etc. However, there are also some alternative aftermarket options available, which could make your trip even more comfortable, including:
- Padded and heated grips – can provide any extra bit of cushion for your hands, and keep them nice and warm when your riding in colder temperatures.
- Backrests – will add that little bit of extra support for you whenever you lean back.
- Gel seats – are a great option for getting some much needed extra support on long journeys.
- Cruise and throttle control – can prevent you from having to continually squeeze your hand around the throttle as you ride.
Always plan out your journey
Knowing your route through and through will really make a difference to your long distance riding experience. Use GPS, Google Maps, or and old-fashioned paper map to plan and see exactly where you’re going.
By planning the journey out, in terms of the exact routes you’re going to take, you’ll be able to determine how long it’s going to take to get to the end destination. Also, you’ll be able to plan for other eventualities.
You’ll be able to find out what the weather will likely be like, and the temperature, depending on whether you plan to ride at night etc. Check if there are any roadworks being carried out on your planned routes, then you can plan accordingly for any possible delays or detours. Look at accommodation and plan where you’ll be staying at each stage of the journey. Decide on your rest stops in advance, as riding while fatigued can be extremely dangerous.
Train for your long trip
You shouldn’t suddenly try to go out on a really long distance journey, without preparing yourself physically first. You’ll be required to use a lot of muscle movement, and employ quick mental reactions when riding for extended periods of time. So consider doing some endurance training before hand, which will help you build muscle and lose weight to better fight fatigue.
Go on some shorter touring trips to test out your endurance and stamina. This way you can assess your limits when riding, and better understand what you need to do to be able to continue riding for longer. Also, it will help to adjust your diet to focus on protein and fiber, as this will keep your body fuelled with clean energy.
Pack the perfect gear
Preparing for a long distance ride means bringing the right gear with you, as you’ll no doubt encounter a variety of situations on your journey. You need to think about the climate and weather you’re likely to encounter, and how it can fluctuate. So, bringing base layers to wear under your motorbike gear is a must, to effectively adjust to any temperature fluctuations.
Bring some rain gear with you and make sure you focus on synthetics as opposed to cotton, as the latter doesn’t wick away moisture and sweat as easily. Remember to take protective eyewear with you, and consider packing a separate visor so that you can adjust to any possible changes in lighting.
As well as protecting your eyes, consider protecting your ears as well, by bringing some ear plugs. Wearing these everyday will help to reduce headaches and fatigue from wind noise. Also, packing protection from the sun is essential, such as sunscreen or lip balm with SPF.
Take some tools
It’s not nice to think about, but there could be a chance you’ll have to stop for some emergency repairs or adjustments during your long distance ride. This is why it’s a good idea to take a small toolkit with you, which ideally contains all the essential motorbike tools, from a crescent wrench to a set of jumper cables.
As well as tools, consider bringing some extra parts with you, such as fuses, cable ties and replacement bulbs, just in case. Cleaning supplies should always be brought with you, such as cleaning spray and a microfiber cloth for your helmet visor and windscreen.
Hunger and hydration
Make sure that you bring plenty of small snacks with you, as you’ll likely get hungry when there’s no food stop nearby. Things like trail mix or protein bars can give you that energy boost you need to keep going.
Hydration is of course hugely important when travelling long distances. It’s a good idea to bring a hydration pack with you, or you could carry small bottles of water in a tank bag, so that you can keep hydrated at all times.
- Always give yourself plenty of rest, and never rely on caffeine to keep yourself going. Whenever you feel tired, pull over straight away.
- Don’t go too fast, and stick to the speed limits wherever you are. It’s not worth risking an accident just to try and shave off an hour or two off your journey.
- Get up for an early start each morning to avoid having to ride in traffic.
- Take as many breaks as you can, as often as you can. You’ll find that taking regular breaks to stretch, eat and drink, will work wonders for relaxing your body. This will keep your energy levels nice and refreshed.
- Keep healthy by filling your body with good nutrients everyday. Drink plenty of water and eat a well-balanced meal before and after your ride. Load up on slow-energy releasing snacks too.
If you put enough planning into the preparation, then your long distance motorbike ride will be a hugely rewarding challenge for your body and mind. Follow these tips, and enjoy your journey! Remember, you can get a comprehensive motorbike insurance policy through Carole Nash. Get a quote via our online form, or give as a call today.