Are you planning to go on a long-distance motorcycle riding trip? Kudos to you: doing high miles on a motorcycle and exploring new places is a bucket list dream for any rider. Whether you’re planning a cross-country ride or a transcontinental adventure, riding long distances on a motorcycle is no small feat. You’ll be covering some serious miles, battling different road and weather conditions, finding places to stay, maintaining your bike on the road, and dealing with all sorts of unexpected challenges along the way.
Here at Pando Moto, we love long-distance motorbike trips for the same reasons as you: the freedom, the adventure, and the pure, unadulterated motorcycling bliss. However, a road trip spanning several thousand miles or several countries requires some prep and planning, and if it’s your first time riding long distances, you’ll need a little help to get started.
Here are some of our favorite long-distance motorcycle trip tips and advice collected over the years on the road and experience on two wheels:
Before you swing that leg over the saddle and ride off into the sunset, make sure you’re prepared for the long haul. You don’t need to meticulously plan out each day armed with Excel sheets and precise routes but think about your daily mileage, your end destination, and what you’d like to see and experience along the way. Long-distance motorcycle rides require endurance and determination. You need to factor in things like unexpected detours, potential roadside breakdowns, delays, etc. Remember, your trip is, first and foremost, fun rather than a rush to get from A to B. Usually, doing more than 350 miles a day results in fatigue and even burnout. So plan shorter routes and pepper the trip with exciting things to see and do along the way. After all, you’re traveling, not just riding your bike.
Next up, design a rough route you want to follow. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but having a general direction and some interesting stops along the road is an excellent way to go. Make sure your motorcycle navigation is up to scratch: whether you’re using GPS navigation units or your phone, remember to download up-to-date maps. Some riders also carry old-school paper maps as a backup.
Finally, it’s crucial to get your bike road-ready. Do a quick motorcycle inspection or take it to a garage for service before you go: checking the essentials like your tires, brake pads, turn and brake signals, fluid levels, and the battery doesn’t take long, but it’s best to make sure your motorcycle is in top shape before you leave for the trip. As you’re inspecting your bike, think about ergonomics, too: depending on what type of bike you own, your riding stance may make a difference in how fast you’ll tire over the long haul. A comfortable seat for the bike can be a lifesaver when you’re riding long distances on a motorcycle.
There’s nothing worse than finding your motorcycle gear isn’t up for the job in the middle of the trip. To make sure you’re geared up well, choose durable motorcycle gear that offers excellent protection, especially when it comes to helmets, boots, pants, and jackets. High-quality motorcycle gear is essential for long-distance motorbike trips as you will be experiencing different road conditions, temperatures, and different weather. You may be planning a fair-weather ride, but the reality is, even things like elevation changes can make a big difference in climate and temperatures: it’ll always be cool in the mountains and hot in the lowlands, but if you’re planning a long-distance ride, chances are, you’ll experience it all, so gear up accordingly. It’s best to pack some rain apparel, too: you never know when the skies might open with several hundred miles left to your destination of the day.
One final piece of gear a lot of riders tend to forget is earplugs. It may seem like an insignificant detail, but you’re guaranteed to travel along some noisy roads, and the constant wind and engine noise can damage your hearing. Pack some earplugs in your tank bag!
Now that you’re ready to hit that open road. There are a few more things to consider when you’re going on a long-distance motorcycle riding trip. Regardless of what sort of mileage you’ve got planned for the day, always begin riding early. Why? Because you never know what delays or unexpected challenges lie ahead. So to avoid riding in the dark, just start early to make the best of the daylight hours as you go along.
Don’t forget that taking breaks and resting every once in a while is the best policy to avoid fatigue. Even if you start off feeling full of energy, don’t push your limits: stopping every two hours or every hundred miles, even if it’s just for a short break, helps reduce overall fatigue as the day wears on. Having a quick snack during the break and drinking water is also key to staying focused and alert throughout the ride. Finally, be sure to get some proper rest at night: if you don’t sleep well, you’ll be much worse for wear the next day, so go easy on those post-ride beers and get some quality ZZ’s.