One of the first things that comes to mind when getting a bike is a nice long road trip. Motorcycles are great for commuting, but every passionate rider is keen to take his bike for a long drive when he gets a chance. Bikes are made to endure long journeys and adverse conditions, they will take you as far as you want to go, so you can fully embrace the sense of freedom that comes being on the road. Riding can really bring your traveling experience to a whole new level; whether you are alone or in a good company, it is a mind-blowing experience that is hard to describe and needs to be tried firsthand.
So, you managed to get some time off of work and you have decided on the route you want to take. The next step is planning your trip: if you do it properly it will make your journey much more enjoyable. Riding a bike is not like driving a car, and you need to think about luggage a bit more carefully – luckily there are a few simple rules to start with.
First things first, it is important to prepare your bike for the long ride. You don’t want to run into unexpected problems while you are on the way, potentially in a different country, and ruin what could have been the experience of a lifetime. Bring your bike to your trusted mechanic well in advance of the date of your trip, so they have enough time to service it and check it thoroughly. Tell them about your planned journey, it will help them to get a better idea of what’s needed, plus you might get some useful tips for your trip. If some bike parts appear a bit worn out, this is the best time to replace them – make sure that also the electrics and tyres get looked at, and your bike will be ready to go!
It is always a good idea to bring a tool kit and some basic spares with you, even after you have had your bike fully serviced. These items won’t take up a lot of space, in fact, you should always have them with you even on short rides. In the unlikely event you break down during your trip, you should try and reach the closest mechanic, but this might not always be easy. Having a tool kit with you can be very handy and help you to reach the closest garage on your own. If you have no hands-on experience in the mechanic operation of your bike, ask your mechanic for some basic recommendations on things you can fix yourself, plus what tools you should b e bringing on the road.
Bringing essentials for your road trip
Secondly: only bring the essentials with you. If this is your first road trip, you are probably very excited and will tend to pack a bit more stuff than you actually need to. It’s true that we want to be ready for the unexpected, but packing half of your house for a road trip is never a good idea. Think about what you will really need on the journey. You decided to go on this journey to enjoy the ride, you will be potentially spending a very long time on the saddle and you want your ride to be comfortable and enjoyable. Some things, however, should never be left behind. We are obviously talking about your riding gear. You should be wearing protective apparel on every journey, whether long or short and if you call yourself a rider it should already be your second skin. Think about all the possible weather conditions you will encounter on your way, it is often advised to dress in layers so you can adjust to different temperatures, heat, rain, and wind without having to change your outfit entirely.
Saddlebags as a good investment
No matter how much stuff you are planning to bring along, you should get some high-quality saddlebags for your bike. They are a good investment and one that will last you for a long time. Ideally, you should spend a bit of time trying different ones on your saddle to see what fits best. Check the fit, check how they feel when you are actually on your bike, think about it, and don’t make a rushed decision. You should also make sure that the bags are waterproof and have some reflective material for nighttime rides. Saddlebags come in different sizes and they are usually enough to carry all that you will need on your trip. Pack smart and optimize the space you have in your bags. Make sure you distribute the weight evenly for optimal riding safety and comfort. If you think you need more space … think again: are you really going to need that much on your journey? If the answer is yes, then you can consider getting an additional bag that you can tie to your back seat with a cord. Learn how to tie that cord in advance, as sometimes it can take a bit of practice to get it right. Go on a nice ride with it and check that the bag is well secured to the seat and does not move. In addition to saddlebags, you should also get a magnetic tank bag if you don’t already have one. This can be handy for storing your bike documents and for all the small items you usually carry in your pockets.
As much as you love riding, things can get pretty uncomfortable when you are on your bike for a long stretch of time. Going for a long ride is very different from riding around town, once you find yourself on the saddle for several hours the seat can get a little uncomfortable. Consider purchasing some seated padding, it could be a lifesaver in unexpected circumstances! You may have your whole trip carefully planned out, but something might happen along the way which means you have to ride for a longer stretch at one point. Get some expert recommendation on seated padding, try it out and see what difference it can make!
Remember that planning in advance is key to having a fantastic, stress-free experience … get everything ready, get a good night’s sleep, and enjoy your ride!
In addition, you can check out our article about the do’s and don’ts during long motorcycle trips to make sure you are fully prepared!