May 25, 2019

Motorcycle Road Trips: Tips for Riding Long Distances

RumbleOn Road Captain

Motorcycle Tours ‘U.S.A.-Style’ require a Bit of Planning On Your Part

No matter when you decide to explore the best motorcycle roads in the U.S., before you saddle up, take a gander at these tips for riding long distances.

Tips to ride a motorcycle long distances

Experienced riders everywhere will tell you “Ride smarter, not harder,” especially when it comes to traveling great distances along the best motorcycle roads. This sage advice was given to me before I embarked on my first long-distance ride, and I’ll not soon forget it.

You could be riding one of the best sport touring motorcycles, or simply the best touring motorcycle since Harley-Davidson’s Road King; either way, you’ll want to know these long-distance riding tips to ensure a safe, smooth, and enjoyable ride.

Take the right bike.

Riding long distances calls for a bike that promises optimal comfort but that doesn’t interfere with your alertness. A seat that reclines too far, for instance, might be easy on the back, but it doesn’t bode well for your reaction time in the event something unexpected happens on the road (flying debris, animals on the road, etc.). So make adjustments as you see fit.

Generally, touring, sport touring, and adventure motorcycles are more than equipped to take you the distance, but cruisers are often just as comfortable and just as capable. I would NOT recommend taking a sportbike along on your adventure, though. (Check out Types of Motorcycles: What is a Touring Motorcycle for a quick glimpse into what features make the best touring and best sport touring motorcycles.)

Beginners, if you aren’t used to the weight and handling of a touring bike, you’ll tire quickly during your trip and have to cut your ride short. So if you have your heart set on getting the best touring motorcycle and have time to train before the journey, I’d highly recommend doing so.

Splurge on some specialized riding gear and aftermarket mods.

These could mean the difference between looking forward to riding long distances in the future and never wanting to saddle up for the long haul again. Gel seat pads are a godsend when you’re riding long distances, and cushy handlebar grips make a world of difference, too.

Motorcycle gear

Finally, if your pocketbook can spare it, a place to store any traveling necessities and supplies – snacks, water, sunscreen, baby wipes or cleaning solution for your visor, etc. – might be a wise investment, too. (I prefer a saddlebag on each side and then distribute weight evenly between the two.)  

Adjust your motorcycle’s suspension.

This will account for any added weight from an extra passenger or the supplies you take along with you.

Perform a pre-check beforehand.

How old is the oil in the motorcycle? Is the chain properly lubricated? Are all the lights working properly? These are just a few of the questions you’ll want answered before hitting the road (unless you’re fond of hitch-hiking, that is).

For more on motorcycle safety, check out How to Perform a Motorcycle Safety Pre-Check, and watch as RumbleOn’s resident Bucketheads Nick and Will guide you through the process!

Bring the essentials (and pack them the night before).

You should always dress (and pack) according to the rules of ATGATT. And, depending on where you’re traveling to, you may want to put some layers on beneath your leathers to account for any changes in weather or climate. (Pro tip: Bring a rain poncho and a couple of plastic bags with you – this way, you can protect your leathers and your valuables.)

Motorcycle touring tips

Ear plugs and a full coverage helmet (with a visor, preferably) will help reduce rider’s fatigue. Pack all these things the night before, and catch some extra Zzzz the next morning!

Plan out your route in advance.

Personally, I like to plan my route a couple weeks in advance (mostly because it hypes me up for the ride), but if you’re comfortable planning a few days ahead, go for it! (Pro tip: Print out maps and other resources for each day of your trip, and then separate your days into different envelopes – it’s a great way to stay organized!)

Planning ahead is crucial because it allows you to anticipate and correct challenges. For example, it’s a good rule of thumb is to map out all the gas stations on the route you’re traveling. If you notice gas stations are sparse in a certain area, you’ll know you need to bring some extra fuel in case you run out during that stretch.

And don’t forget to make lodging reservations in advance!

Let others know about your whereabouts.

Letting friends and loved ones know your riding itinerary is a prudent measure for any traveler to make, especially a motorcyclist. When you’re on the road for long periods of time, chances are you’ll be traveling through unfamiliar territory. Should anything go awry while you’re traveling alone, you can rest easy knowing others will know where to find you.

Take the road less traveled.

Motorcycle road

It’s also a brilliant idea to check the traffic forecast for the areas you’ll be traveling through, because nothing dulls the excitement of long-distance riding more than bumper-to-bumper traffic. If you can help it, avoid urban areas as much as possible; if not, plan your ride so that you’ll pass through bustling areas before or after pique traffic times.

Be realistic about your riding time.

A fatigued rider is not only a danger to themselves, but to others on the road as well (that includes cagers). Manage your time wisely and pace yourself according to your experience level. Riders who are familiar with the pressures of traveling long distances on a motorcycle know their limits and will make adjustments to their schedule accordingly. If you’re a beginner, though, try not to bite off more than you can chew, and if you absolutely MUST arrive at your destination by a certain time, arrange to take plenty of stops along the way.

This Ultimate List of Biker Bars and Food Stops in the U.S. is an awesome resource to use when planning out your pit stops (and cat naps)!

Note: RumbleOn is an Amazon Affiliate, dedicated to reviewing the best and safest gear and more, for riders everywhere. We may receive commissions if products are purchased from them.

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