Since the dawn of biking, when the first enthusiasts were assembling their racers in backyard sheds, the number of motorcycle lovers increased drastically. Immortalized by the iconic motion picture “Easy Rider”, long tour biking has been blossoming ever since, with the entire lines of dedicated tourers designed especially for long-distance riding in comfort. While having a sturdy and powerful bike is the most important pre-requisite, there’s much more to it. Check out this list before heading off to your first bike road trip.
Choose a comfortable bike
We all love our bikes, but can you say that your dirt bike or low rider will be comfortable on a long tour? Road trips are more strenuous than you may think, so you need a bike that you can ride for hours in a take and several days in a row. You could even make your bike road-worthy by replacing the handlebars and seats, as well as boosting up the headlights.
Know your bike
This is especially important if you ride a customized chopper. There’s no telling which bolts may start rattling during your journey, so you want to take a few extras, as well as a pack of zip ties. Zip ties are the most useful thing you can bring along. Even if you ride a new bike, you need a tool roll for simple fixes you can handle on your own.
Get it serviced
Having your bike serviced by an authorized mechanic is the keystone of all preparations. If recommended, you should change the tires according to the terrain that you plan to ride over. The same applies to lights, as off-road trails are often accompanied by clouds of dust, so you need a more powerful beam to see ahead. Also consider electronic covers, which protect your machine’s electronics from rocks and road debris.
Install a windshield
If you ride mostly in the city, you don’t see much use for windshields, however, as soon as you hit the highway, you’ll see that a windshield has other purposes than to “ruin” the look of your bike. Sure, feeling the wind in your hair is one of the most beautiful things about riding, but after three hours doing 80 mph, it becomes exhausting. After five or six hours, it gets even worse, even if you slow at 65 mph. Unless you plan on working out your arms a lot more, save yourself from the exhaustion and get a windshield.
Add a few accessories
On a road trip, your bike and your skills will be put to the test on more than one occasion, so make sure that both the man and the machine overcome anything the road throws at you. As road trips are a whole lot different than city cruising, consider upgrading your bike with quality bike accessories, which will improve its performance, safety, and comfort. These include performance brake pads, foam seat covers, skid plates, as well as security locks and cables.
For most people, this is easier said than done. Have one t-shirt for your ride days. Even if you ride in sunny skies, you’ll get dirty, so there’s no need to spoil 5 shirts for your trip. However, if you plan to remain stationary at the destination, pack one for each day off the bike. Make sure you have a supply of underwear, as well as the personal hygiene kit. For most of the trip you’ll be in your riding gear, so don’t bother with mixing and matching.
Dress the part
Riding pants, ankle-length safety boots, a hydro packable rain jacket, and a full-face helmet will be your work fatigues on the trip. If the part of your trek includes off-roading, add a pair of knee and elbow guards. When you first head out dressed like this, it might feel uncomfortable, but you’ll soon understand the benefits of having a full set of biking clothes.
Plan the route
If the route you’re about to follow is uncharted territory for you, you need to plan each day in advance. While just driving on and exploring whatever comes next feel adventurous, running out of gas or driving for hours in the night without a rest-stop has nothing adventurous about it. If you’re a member of a motorcycle club, talk to local members to help you with the local knowledge of roads and the points of interest.
A rule of thumb for each day of your road trip is to start early, as soon the sun is up, and to check out before the sun hits the horizon. This way you’ll beat the morning rush and cover more distance in a short time. Plan your lunchtime so that you avoid riding in the low sun that is staring into your eyes. As the sun is about to set, head to your planned rest stop and give yourself plenty of sleep.