There’s no denying road trips can be a fun-filled adventure. But for motorcyclists, road tripping is not as simple as gassing up the car and heading off to your destination. There’s also a big difference between motorcycling along a local highway on a Sunday afternoon and traversing hundreds of miles on a cross-state journey.
First-time road trips on a motorcycle can be an initiation into new rigors. In a poll of American Motorcyclist Association staff members, some respondents said learning the best ways to approach a long tour can take years of trial and error. AMA staffers offer a range of insider tips, such as “carry a backpack hydration system so you can drink while you ride” and “a nap can do wonders on a long day.” Check out the top four motorcycle road trip tips below.
Motorcycle travel tip #1: Watch out for fatigue
Safety is, of course, a big issue, with fatigue a major factor in accidents. According to rider information published by the Alaska Department of Motor Vehicles, “Riding a motorcycle is much more tiring than driving a car. When you plan a long trip, bear in mind that you’ll tire much sooner than you would in a car.”
With enough planning and preparation, while staying mindful of what is potentially in store during your daily rides, your trip can be a safe and enjoyable experience filled with all the reasons you ride in the first place.
Motorcycle travel tip #2: Take practice rides
The road can seem never-ending when you’re on a long trip. Six hours on a bike may be doable for the experienced road-tripper, but if your previous record is two hours that extra four can seem like a marathon. Get accustomed to longer periods on a bike by taking practice rides beforehand to help you acclimate to long-distance riding.
Practice runs will make you realize the importance of getting comfortable in your seat. Once you’re on the road and moving, you don’t have the luxury of changing positions as you would in a desk chair or car seat. The standard seat that came with your motorcycle may not be the best for long-term sitting. Consider changing your seat before the trip for a more comfortable model. You can also adjust your handlebars and add a back rest and foot pegs, which will help reduce the likelihood of an achy back and stiff limbs.
Motorcycle travel tip #3: Invest in a good windshield
If you don’t have one already, consider installing a windshield. The feel of the wind may be one of the pleasures of the open road, but riding for several hours at a stretch at 60 to 70 miles per hour can tire you out. With a good windshield, you won’t have to constantly fight the wind, helping you save your strength to keep moving comfortably down the road.
Even with a windshield and helmet, your eyes can dry out and get irritated by all the dust and dirt flying through the air. So carry eye drops and use them liberally.
Motorcycle travel tip #4: Take it easy
Easily the most important advice is to take plenty of breaks. Rest your back, stretch your legs and drink water to keep your reaction times sharper. Know your limits, and be proactive by stopping every 60 to 100 miles.
If you find yourself on a scenic two-lane highway, 150 miles may be all you need to accomplish for the day. You don’t want to turn your trip into an endurance test. Part of the point of a road trip is to stop and enjoy the scenery and the people you meet along the way.