Motorcycle traveling is one of the most adventurous activities where people enjoy the most. Some enjoy riding the motorcycles for short distances and duration, where some enjoy taking their motorcycle for long distance traveling. Long-distance motorcycle touring involves a lot of preparation, be it mental and physical fitness, before the tour preparation, on the tour preparation and fixing breakdowns, in this blog we will cover most of the important topic relating to “Tips & Tricks for Long Distance Motorcycle Touring”.
1. Pre-Tour Preparation:
Before you embark on long-distance motorcycle travel, one should start the preparation months before the actual journey begins. Following are the important aspects one should take care of before the journey.
Physical and mental fitness: One of the important things in long-distance motorcycle travel is Endurance, you should have enough endurance to ride the motorcycle for 8-10 Hours a day in all conditions. So, the best thing to increase your endurance is to start with cardio exercises like cycling, rope jumping, swimming, and jogging. This will help to increase physical fitness and endurance.
Prepare Route map & number of days: Prepare a detailed outline of the complete journey, to begin with, decide the number of days that you have planned to travel, complete study about the geography of the region you are planning to ride, gather terrain info, road condition, weather condition, accommodation facilities, breakdown assistance, local regulations, permits required, etc.
Prepare your Motorcycle The condition of your bike is the most important factor on long-distance motorcycle touring, after deciding the number of days and route map the next things will be your bike must be in running condition and not kept in a parking lot for a long time.
2. Which bike is suitable for long-distance Motorcycle Touring: This is the first question where every biker who decided to do long-distance motorcycle travel, which bike is suitable? Well, nobody can answer this question since it is completely depending on individual perception. Some people do on BMW 1200GS or Triumph Tiger 800 or any other adventure motorcycles, but on the other hand, few people have done on Honda Activa or 110cc motorcycle. But the only difference between each motorcycle is the way you maintain it and the way you ride it. But any bike you ride just to make sure it is well serviced and not a very old model, where you will get stuck if proper spares not available in such terrains and because of that your trip may hamper.
3. Understand your Bike: Every passionate rider will always know their machine very well than their life partners, so before you start long-distance motorcycle trips, the first thing you should do is to understand your bike and its condition very well, try to recall how it used to respond when you go on a long ride, during monsoon season and what is the pain point of the bikes and what troubles the machine more. Once you understand this pointer you will know what exactly you need to do for your bike and accordingly, will you explain the same thing to your mechanic. Suppose your bike give more problem during monsoon season then understand that it might be a problem with carb and electrical due to water get blocked in few parts of the machine, likewise in long rides, it may get overheat, then it may be a problem with overheating of engine and needs at most attention.
4. Get your bike service done: After analysing the bike, choose your mechanic wisely who has extensive knowledge about particular models. Some mechanics are good with 150cc to 250cc bikes; few are good with Royal Enfield’s only and few on Super Bikes. Tell your mechanic a complete history of your bike like its model, periodic service schedule, problems occur during a different season and different riding experience, etc. And importantly tell your mechanic that you are taking your bike to long-distance traveling.
5. Gain knowledge about repairs: After giving your bike for service, try to sit with your mechanic and learn some basic repairs like a change of clutch cables, throttle cable replacement, spark plug check and maintenance, basic electrical work, puncture repair, and chain cleaning and maintaining techniques, this will help in increase your confidence level and you will be trained enough to handle basic breakdowns during your journey.
6. Spares to carry for Long Distance Motorcycle Travel: After your bike is fully serviced, ride your bike for at least 4-5 days before you start the ride, this is will help you understand that how your machine is behaving after the service. Also, buy the following spares and carry them with you for the journey.
Puncture repair kit with an extra tube for both front and rear tires
Clutch and throttle cables
Put new tires with good traction for on & off-road
Fuses and fuse box
Spare engine and brake oil
Clutch plates (If your clutch plates are too old, its better to replace new ones)
Brake pads /disc pads
Battery charges or a cable for a jump start your bike from other battery, in case of the battery get the drain out
Nuts and bolts of major parts
Tool kit for wheel removal and other basic things with a set of screwdrivers & spanners
Petrol pipes and spare fuel cans
7. Essential things to carry for Motorcycle tours
After doing a lot of research and years of hands-on experience in long-distance traveling we have listed down the important things to carry on your Motorcycle trip are as follows:
Clothing – carry riding jacket, riding pants (If not good quality Knee Guard, winter riding gloves, balaclava or face mask, thermals, socks, high ankle boots or gumboots which are economical and reliable, winter wear hoodies, jeans and T-shirts and lastly waterproof or rain gear jackets.
Accessories: Sunscreen lotion SPF 50 and above, Sunglasses, Skull cap, warm gloves & woollen socks during the night
Daily use packs: Face cream, lip balm (always keep in your pocket), petroleum jelly, cold cream (Himalaya or Nivia), Tooth Brush, Toothpaste, liquid soap, toilet paper, shampoo, towel, deo, and waste bin covers to dispose of any unwanted things.
Short bites: It's essential to carry a few short eats or eatables like dry fruits, chocolates, energy bars, and water bottles
Medicines: Personalised first aid kits, Diamox, disprins, and basic medicines for fever, stomach upset, vomiting &, etc
Electronics: Phone Charger, power bank, spare camera battery, memory cards, multipurpose plug points,
Important documents: Driving license, RC book of the vehicles, valid insurance, Passport, Voter id, VISA copy
8. Luggage system – Panniers, saddlebags, etc.
Once your motorcycle is ready and you have finished all the necessary work on your long-distance motorcycle travel, another important thing is to decide on the Luggage system. The luggage system can be your panniers, Ladakh carriers, saddlebags, or you can customize according to your motorcycle. It is ideal to put hard case panniers than saddlebags, since you will be traveling on the long-distance you must be needed something which is sturdy and can hold the harsh terrains if any. Fix mobile holder with charger or GPS holder with charger also carries tank bag to keep essential needy stuff like wallet, lighter, motorcycle paper, insurance, driving license, GoPro or action camera, wet tissues, etc.
9. Start before sunrise and end before sunset
After finishing all your initial pre-tour preparation, you will be mentally and physically ready to start one of the best journeys of your lifetime. Once you start your dream ride, remember one thing always start your ride early morning and end before the sunset. Wake up around 6 am, get your things arranged, eat light, carry water bottles, saddle up and start the ride, the reason why to start early is during the morning you will have a firm and focused mind and a lot of energy, so you can cover 30-40% of your days ride by 10-11 am. And always remember to end the day's ride before the dark, it is not advisable to ride in the dark or sunset when you are riding solo. So, you need to decide how many miles you can ride and how many numbers of breaks you can take, and a contingency plan in case of breakdowns or any other mishap during the day's ride.
10.Check with locals about the day’s route
Even after doing extensive planning about the route plan, preparation, and other important things, always remember one thing that local people will have more knowledge than Google, so whenever you start the journey have a small chat with locals about the day’s journey, road condition, mechanics if any, hotels, restaurants and other details.
11.Check for fuel frequently
It's always advisable to fuel up the tank in the morning before you hit the road, also keep an eye on the number of miles that you will be riding, and the average that you get. Mainly you should be aware of the fuel station availability in the region that you will be traveling to, always carry spare fuel in jerry can if possible.
12.Carry enough water and small eats
Keeping yourself hydrated is one of the best things to do on long-distance motorcycle tours, always drink enough water and keep hydrated. Consider wearing a hydration pack or carry small bottles of water in a tank bag to keep you hydrated during long hours of riding. Pack small snacks such as trail mix or protein bars in case you get hungry on the road (or buy them along the way). Plastic bags are a cheap alternative to keep things organized and dry. Use a permanent marker to document the contents of the bag and include the weight so that you can balance the weight on your motorcycle
13.Plan smart breaks for long-distance motorcycle traveling
A lot of people seem to separate fuel stops, lunch breaks, coffee breaks, and general ‘stretching’ breaks. If you’re transiting, plan breaks where you can do all of the above in one place. Motorway service stations are excellent for making time-sensitive breaks. Make it a priority to refuel, eat/drink, go to the toilet, and stretch your legs all within the shortest time possible. Bonus tip: Don’t drag out your breaks. The longer you’re off the bike, the less you want to get back on it! Keep your breaks short to maintain that touring mentality and momentum
14.Riding speed and consistency
The best way to cover the distance is by maintaining consistent speed, keep a standard speed of the bike based on your comfort. No need to drag the throttle unnecessarily and expose yourself to a risky position. Slow and consistency will help you to cover the maximum miles in a day, also while riding at a consistent speed one can enjoy the beautiful sceneries on the go.
15.Choose your fellow rider carefully
This is probably one of the main aspects of long-distance motorcycle traveling, you need to be very cautious while choosing your ride partner or fellow rider. When you are riding solo, you can be the sole decision-maker, but if you are riding with the group then you need to think about another fellow rider as well. Your complete journey will be stressful if you fail in choosing the right fellow rider. So be extra careful.
Conclusion: Long-distance motorcycle touring involves a lot of preparation, focus, dedication, and cautiousness, so one needs to be very careful and should give attention to tiny aspects as well. Other than that Motorcycle Touring is the best way to explore any country, it gives you a sense of pleasure, happiness, freedom and you can explore the different cultures and people personally. So, keep riding and stay safe.
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