Going on a road trip aboard your trusty motorcycle is the best form of travel, adventure, and let’s face it, therapy there is. We get it; we love motorcycle touring just as much as you do. Just like you, we’re constantly browsing maps and chatting to friends about new destinations.
The one thing that people rarely mention in their ride reports, however, is safety. Staying safe on the road is key to have the adventure of a lifetime on two wheels because nobody wants to deal with stolen bikes or broken bones while on the road (or anywhere, really).
So if you’re already plotting and scheming your next long-distance motorcycle ride, here’s what you’ve got to keep in mind.
As with any epic road trip, prep time is key time. In order to prepare for a long-distance motorcycle trip, you’ll need a few things: patience, time, and curiosity. Every motorcycle journey is different, as every rider is different. However, whether you’re heading left, right, or North, you’ll still need to do the basics.
First off, pick your destination. While easy for some, for others, that’s the hardest part. Most travelers will tell you long-distance motorcycle touring is all about the journey, not the destination, but you still need a rough direction. Depending on your budget, if this is your first long-distance motorcycle odyssey, we’d say pick somewhere relatively cheap. This way, you’ll be able to fine-tune your riding and traveling style without paying an arm and a leg for it. As an example, South America and Southeast Asia are still cheap, which means you’ll be able to stay at better hotels and have secure parking for your bike every day without even thinking about it. Norway, Switzerland, or Iceland is a lot more expensive, however. Here, you’ll need to consider your accommodation, food, and fuel choices a tad more carefully.
Now that you know where you’re going, the fun part begins. It’s time to connect the dots and actually plan out your route. Regardless of what bike you ride and what’s your experience level, we’d say keep the daily mileage under 300-400, even if you’re an Iron Butt cowboy. It’s simply because when you don’t know the terrain or the traffic conditions, it’s safer to plan shorter distances and avoid things like riding in the dark or fatigue.
Be mindful of terrain and seasons when you’re planning your route. If you’re crossing mountains, you’ll be riding slower than along the Pacific Coast Highway. If you’re heading to South Africa, keep in mind that the seasons are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere, and double-check things like rainy seasons.
You know where you’re going, and you know how you’re going to get there. Awesome! Now is the time for your packing list. To stay safe on the road while motorcycle touring, we highly recommend you pick protective riding gear. Decent quality, sturdy motorcycle boots, motorcycle pants and jacket, a good helmet, and a pair of gloves are a must. However, if you’re planning to be on the road for longer than a month, you should also think about varying altitudes and weather. Pack some thermals and some riding gear, and if your boots aren’t waterproof, get yourself a pair of Goretex socks. If you know you’ll be heading somewhere cold or if there’s a high-altitude mountain range between you and your destination, you might want to get a heated jacket.