When planning your long distance motorcycling trip, remember that half the fun is keeping off the major highways and discovering the backwaters as you travel. You don’t need a fancy BMW or a Harley; you can use any reliable bike. There are just a few points to remember when choosing your bike and planning your holiday.
One of the most important parts of a bike, especially if you are planning to spend hours travelling, is the saddle. Don’t choose a soft saddle. It may feel comfortable at first as you sink into it, but it prevents you from changing seated positions. Choose a relatively hard, flat and broad saddle; this will allow you to change positions as you ride. This movement also allows your knees and legs to sit at different angles, thus preventing cramp or stiffness.
PLAN YOUR ROUTE
Before you plan your route, decide exactly what sort of roads you want to ride on. Do you have any objection to travelling on a bit of dirt? Would you rather include a lot of small roads or dirt tracks or do you want to stick to main roads? Of course you can always let your GPS take the fun out of planning a route, if you so choose. Decide how many miles or kilometres you want to travel each day and how many rest days you would like to have, so that you can enjoy the area through which you are travelling. Try and check that there are petrol stations along your route and make sure they open in the evening and on Sundays. It is advisable to fill up once your tank is down to a third, to ensure you don’t run out of fuel in the middle of nowhere. Remember, just because you bought petrol at a service station in a little town six years ago, doesn’t meant it will still be there.
FOOD, LIQUID AND BREAKS
It’s important to take regular breaks, not only does it keep you alert but also allows you to enjoy the scenery and people around you. Stop and sample some culinary delights at a local eatery, or buy local produce and make your own lunch. Make sure you keep some bottled water and snacks in your saddlebags, just in case you find yourself in the middle of nowhere when hunger strikes.
Protecting your hearing is absolutely essential. It’s not just the exhaust that creates noise, it is also the wind. Riding hour after hour with your ears being constantly bombarded with different noise at different wave lengths is exhausting. Good motorcycle shops will be able to advise you on which are the best ones for your needs.
WHAT TO WEAR AND WHAT TO PACK
There is vast array of motorcycle luggage out there for you to choose from, if your bike isn’t factory fitted with luggage space. Try and buy luggage that has separate zipped compartments so that finding that toothbrush isn’t a mission. Also buy luggage that has reflective piping as an added safety measure. You can even buy motorcycle luggage that has wheels and a pull out handle. These are suggestions for your packing list. Try and choose items that compress easily and pack them tightly into Ziploc bags, and learn to layer your clothing. If you have room after you have packed the essentials, then you can think of adding items such as binoculars, your laptop, maps or reading material. Hopefully your phone can double as your GPS.
- A motorcycle reflective vest or a reflective belt.
- Rain suit.
- Warm jacket.
- Gloves – waterproof + another pair, depending on the weather you will be experiencing.
- Motorcycle cover.
- Pair of spare pants
- 1 x sleepwear
- Socks and underpants
- 3 x thin shirts
- 1x fleece or sweater
- Pair of alternative footwear
- Pair of shorts
- Camping towel
- Skullcap plus a bandana or headband
- Extra Ziploc bags and a couple of rubbish bags
- Small first aid kit
- Sleeping bag
- Self-inflating mattress
- Eating utensils and dishes
- Large water bottle which can take hot and cold drinks
- Cooking stove + cooking pot
- Biodegradable detergent and drying up cloth.
- Toilet paper
If you are riding through a country you have never visited before, thoroughly check their laws with regard to motorbikes. Some countries insist that you, and your passenger, wear a safety vest or motorcycle reflective vest. Each country has its own idiosyncrasies when it comes to travelling on the road; make sure you follow their lead.