The idea of taking a long bike ride, meandering around the curving roads, and enjoying the breeze against your skin sounds like paradise. The reality, on the other hand, is often a little less pleasurable.
If you’re not prepared, a long-distance motorcycle ride can turn painful as you sit in the same position for hundreds of miles. Before you jump on your bike and ride off into the sunset (or sunrise) on a road trip, make sure you’re prepared for comfort and efficiency.
Unlike a car, where you can throw most of what you need in the backseat or the trunk, long rides on a bike require a lot of planning. These four biking trip tips will ensure you’re ready for a comfy(ish) extended time on your motorcycle.
1. Start Small
What’s the farthest you’ve taken your bike out for a spin so far? Your comfort zone needs to be at least half the distance of your expected road trip mileage before you head out comfortably.
Until you’ve ridden a long distance, you don’t know how your body will handle the jolts and jarring of the road’s vibrations. You can try to predict what you’ll need for storage, but this is hard to do without being in the situation. Take some practice drives, starting small and working your way up.
Is 500 miles your target? Then keep driving in smaller chunks until you know you can comfortably do 300 or 400 miles. Continue to push yourself out of your comfort zone, but don’t go from 50 miles to 500 without testing the waters (or the road) in between.
2. Use Your Gear on Your Pre-Trip Drives
This buildup from shorter rides to longer trips is important for your stamina, and it’s also a necessary way to get used to driving with luggage.
Depending on how long you’ll be gone, you’ll be loading up with roll bags, panniers, a top box, and other gear. The weight will throw your bike out of the balance you’re used to, so it’ll take some time to get used to the setup and adjust the positioning.
Load your bike up with some of the gear you expect to need and take it on a short trip, driving slowly. As you get accustomed to riding with the additional weight, you can go faster and add more equipment.
The slow acclimation reduces the risk of getting in an accident, and if you do crash, you’ll be less likely to have serious damage.
3. Pack for Accessibility
Although you’re not going to want to reach into your pannier to grab a bottle of water as you’re driving, accessibility is important. Keep the things you’ll likely use the most or need fast access to, like your phone, wallet, and insurance info, in your jacket pocket or a (dare we say) bum bag, aka a fanny pack.
When it comes to choosing between style and storage space, it’s amazing the things a long-distance biker will do to carry more stuff with them on the trip. Look for jackets and pants with multiple deep storage pockets and a bum bag that rides low on your waist without being uncomfortable.
Skip purses, crossover bags, or anything with straps that could keep you from getting away from danger in an accident.
4. Get in Shape
Riding a motorcycle for hundreds of miles into the unknown isn’t for the faint of heart. You must be mentally and physically fit.
Sure, hitting the road on your bike isn’t the same thing as pedaling across the country on a bicycle, running long-distance, or pumping weights. But it’s not easy, either.
You’re always focusing on your coordination to stay balanced when you drive a two-wheeled vehicle. Plus, you have to shift gears, adjust the brakes, and handle a heavy machine with a powerful engine.
Driving any vehicle requires concentration and paying attention to watch for dangers. On a bike, staying vigilant means watching for other drivers and hazards on the next level. One wrong pothole or unlevel highway could be deadly.
Plan on getting in moderately healthy shape before you take a motorcycle road trip. You’ll enjoy it more and feel less pain after the long, vibrating miles.
Planning a long-distance bike drive might be something you’ve always dreamed of doing, or it could be a mandatory trip you’d rather not deal with but have to. Either way, follow these four simple tips to make the ride as enjoyable as possible.