If you’re a fan of speed, power, or adventure, the chances are that you’ve thought about, or have actually committed to, getting a motorcycle. If you’re an adventurer type, you’ve probably thought about taking a two-wheeled road trip too. Well, whether you’re buying your first bike or you’ve owned quite a few already, here is your guide on how to best prepare for your next adventure.
Choose Your Journey
The first step to planning a road trip has got to be picking the roads. You may want to keep it simple and stick with a good old-fashioned tour of the United States, Easy Rider style. You may be feeling a little more adventurous and be planning to head through Europe, or even round the world. If it’s your first time planning a trip of this scale then it’s best to start small, there’s plenty of time to plan your round the world trip once you’ve properly caught the bug. The simplest option is to stick to your own country or continent. Take a look at a map and see where you want to ride through or visit. Research must-see destinations along your route. Have a strong idea about what you want to achieve on your journey. Are you interested in seeing pristine nature, or meeting new and interesting people? The two are not mutually exclusive, but you may favour some destinations over others depending on your goals.
Choose Your Machine
Once you know where you’re going, you can pick the right tool for the job. You may own a bike already, but if you’ve always ridden a supersports bike, you probably won’t want to sit on that for eight hours or more per day. Above all else, you need to be comfortable. If you’re sticking to tarmac and mostly straight roads, then a Harley-Davidson might seem the obvious choice. However, if you’re planning to do some cross-country adventuring, or are heading somewhere with poor roads, you may want something with a little more ground clearance. Let’s say you’re sticking to North America, you will want something comfortable, with good load carrying capabilities, and a long range. If you’re a fan of chasing corner after corner, a Harley, or similar cruiser, might prove a little less capable than what you are used to. Something like the BMW GS1200 used in The Long Way Round by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman offers a good balance between long distance comfort and cornering capability. The important part is to take your vehicle of choice for a decent test ride to get a feel for it. You will want something reliable too, as you don’t want to be stuck on the side of the road with an unspecified electrical problem.
Choose Your Equipment
You will need to pack your bags carefully, especially with it being a motorcycle trip. You will likely need a good quality helmet – full-face is best as it offers the most protection, both in a crash and from the wind – some waterproof motorcycle clothing, and some camping equipment. You will likely be able to find somewhere to stay most nights, but it can be fun to camp out in the wilderness as you adventure across the continent. A basic tool kit and first aid kit is essential, should any little accident befall you or the bike. If a more serious accident should occur, then a call to the emergency services and then to some motorcycle accident lawyers is probably the best course of action. It is better to over prepare for your needs than to under prepare. Consider the terrain, the weather, and any other factors that will affect your ability to ride or find accommodation.
Choose Your Date
This may seem like something of little consequence, but starting your trip at the right time could be the difference between having a trip to remember and a trip you wish you could forget. Heading out onto the open road in the middle of winter when it is freezing cold, wet, and the days are short, is a perfect recipe for a trip that will leave you feeling dejected within hours. Not only do you want the weather conditions to be favourable to the long hours out in the open that riding a bike brings, but you want to ensure that your destinations have plenty for you to see and do along your travels. Many popular tourist spots have little on offer outside of summer, so you should factor this in when organising time off work for your trip.
Choose Your Schedule
This is entirely down to your budget, how much time you can get off work, and how in love you are with motorcycles and the great outdoors. You could try to make the trip as quickly as possible, simply passing through many destinations, stopping only to eat and sleep. You could choose the route and simply stop wherever takes your fancy, meaning that it could take you several days to travel even a few hundred miles if you are easily entertained. Or you could choose to do something in the middle of these two extremes. It is best to have a schedule and planned stops, but you may want to factor in a few days at some destinations you think will be of particular interest to you. You could even just plan an extra few days or weeks into your trip to allow for extra time you may want to spend anywhere, that way you have some wiggle room within your schedule should you find an unexpected gem of a town along your travels.
Planning a long road trip can be a difficult proposition, especially for someone new to motorcycles. However, a well-planned journey can be a turning point in some people’s lives. You can start small, or you can start big, the choice is yours. Ted Simon, the man dubbed as The Godfather of Motorcycle Adventure, famously used his job as a journalist to take four years to travel round the world, and there are plenty of other stories of ordinary people quitting their jobs, selling their homes, and adventuring all over the world on two wheels. Your first motorcycle road trip could well be your first step towards a new career as a two-wheel travel guru.