Long distance motorcycling is an awesome way of taking your riding to the next level. It's a mental and physical challenge that will test what you're really made of, and leave you with plenty of unforgettable memories.
While an epic road trip should be on any rider's bucket list, don't forget that it takes some preparation before you're ready to kick off. This isn't your commute to the office. A long distance tour takes some real prep work. You'll need a plan, the right gear and plenty of long distance riding tips before jumping into the deep end.
So before you start designing that next riding adventure, read through our essential guide to preparing for a long distance motorcycle trip. By the end of this article you should have a good idea of what to expect and be ready to take on the world.
Building Stamina and Preparedness Before Long Rides
If you want to start riding long distances, it's best to start small. Think about it, you wouldn't scale Kilimanjaro without any climbing experience. So if your regular rides consist of an hour or two at most, try escalating things a bit.
Start by taking on a few day trips before you begin dreaming about multi-day tours. This way you'll get used to long hours with your ass in a motorcycle seat, and it will prepare you for the realities of spending considerable amounts of time on the road.
Think about your overall fitness as well. Riding a motorcycle for long periods of time takes a surprising amount of endurance. If you're seriously out of shape then it will probably come back to bite you. Motorcycle riding engages your glutes, core and overall cardio ability, so try to build some stamina first if you're not used to riding for more than a few hours.
Must-Have Gear for Long-Distance Motorcycle Riding
Helmet: Obviously you'll need a helmet to legally ride. But the real question is what kind of helmet are you riding with? If you're a casual rider then you might own something like a 3/4 helmet, but that still leaves a quarter of your face exposed. If you can, try to get your hands on a full face helmet before taking on a long tour.
Motorcycle Jacket: A good jacket will not only keep your upper body protected, but comes in handy if the weather turns against you. Speaking of weather, be prepared for anything.
You can findwater resistant motorcycle jackets, or pack a light rain coat to throw over the top of your existing riding jacket. In any case, make sure to bring a jacket that's comfortable. You'll be wearing it for a long time, after all.
Gloves: Some riders skip gloves altogether, but what's the first thing we do when we fall over? Stick our hands out.Proper riding gloveskeep your hands protected during impact, and they'll help you keep a firm grip on the bike's controls. If you find yourself riding at night or in cooler weather, they'll also keep your hands from freezing up.
Proper boots: Sturdy boots with good grip are the only way to go when motorcycling, and that goes especially true for a long distance ride. Don't make the mistake of thinking that normal shoes will get the job done. You don't have to necessarily bring boots designed for motorcycles, but they will need to be reliable boots that can keep you supported.
Motorcycle pants: Many riders make the mistake of wearing a jacket that keeps their upper body protected, and completely neglecting the lower half of their body. Don't be that guy. There's a whole range ofmotorcycle jeansthat will shield your legs and still feel comfortable during long rides.
Run through this list before you head off, then run through it again. There's bound to be something you missed on the first go.
Riding gear: As mentioned above, make sure to bring a helmet, riding jacket, riding pants, gloves and some sturdy boots.
Casual clothes: If you plan on staying somewhere overnight then don't forget to pack a change of clothes to lounge around in once your riding is done for the day.
Tool kit: If you're riding in a group, make sure one of your riding buddies brings along a small repair kit. If you're solo travelling and don't own one, then it's time to get one.
Toiletries: Don't forget a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, toilet paper and any other hygiene items you might want to have handy.
Paperwork: It's always a good idea to have paperwork handy like your driver's license, vehicle registration and insurance.
GPS: Whether it's your phone or an actual GPS device, forgetting your mapping tool can be a huge headache. And whatever you do,don't forget the charger! Portable chargers can be lifesavers in these situations.
Snacks: Odds are you'll come across plenty of convenience stores along the way, but it's never a bad idea to stash some emergency snacks that you can grab at your own convenience. Go for healthy options like protein bars and trail mix that give you energy.
Water: Bring two bottles of water. Yes, you will probably find plenty of places to replenish your bottles, but you don't want to run the risk of getting dehydrated.
Camping equipment: If you're camping, triple check that you've brought everything or you'll feel like an idiot when you realise that one important item is missing. That means tent, sleeping bag, mattress, stove, cooking equipment, a torch (with extra batteries), plates, cutlery and a towel.
It seems weird to say this after stressing the importance of remembering everything, butbe extremely ruthless with your packing. Only bring things that are absolutely essential. If that means sacrificing the speaker so you can pack your cooking equipment then so be it. The last thing you want is to be bogged down by a ton of crap you didn't even need.
Consider investing in saddlebags or something like a tank bag for extra packing efficiency. You'll be surprised how much you can cram in with a little strategy. Get creative! Whether you own a touring motorcycle or not, there are plenty of ways to squeeze in some extra items. Feel free to look online for some packing inspiration.
Ensuring Rider Safety with High-Visibility Gear
How visible will you be on the road? It's important to remember that bikers are basically invisible to most drivers, and this rings especially true for highways and long, winding roads. If your riding gear is all dark colours, consider throwing on some reflective tape or a high-vis vest so other drivers are a lot more likely to see you coming.
Comfort and Ergonomics for Prolonged Rides
Ideally you'll want to stay as comfortable as possible during a long riding trip. This means wearing comfortable clothes but also maintaining a comfortable riding style. Nothing will put a dent in your trip like pulling up with a sore back or aching muscles, so keep your posture in mind whenever you spend long hours in the seat.
Technology and Communication Gear for Connected Rides
Riding with a group of buddies is some of the most fun you can have on a motorcycle. Whenever planning to set out with a group, make sure you've established a clear way of communicating with each other.
This can be achieved through Bluetooth helmets, which are incredibly handy but also a bit pricey. An alternative is to learn theuniversal hand signalsfor motorcycling. Hand signals are a simple way of communicating actions like turn left, slow down, speed up and pull over.
Weather-Adaptive Gear for Versatile Riding
It's always a good idea to check the weather forecast when planning a big motorcycling adventure. Whether you'll be riding in cold or hot conditions, make sure that you've packed gear to get the job done. Your clothes should be comfortable and breathable in either case.
There's a high probability that you'll need to end up packing for both hot and cold weather, and that's not an issue. Layering is your friend here. If your motorcycle jacket isn't particularly warm, throw on some extra layers underneath. If you don't want to bring a heavy raincoat, throw alight rain jacketover the top of your riding jacket.
Making Sure Your Bike is up to the Job
When was the last time your bike went in for a service, or got tuned up at the very least? These are not questions to consider on the morning of your big trip. If you can't remember the last time it was serviced then it's probably a good idea to book your ride in, or do it yourself if you're handy with tools.
Conclusion: Preparing for an Epic Journey with the Right Gear
Taking on a long distance riding adventure is heaps of fun, so don't be intimidated by all the tips and requirements. The whole idea is to have fun, after all. Just make sure that you go about it the right way. Packing safely and smartly is your insurance to make sure that exciting road trip doesn't turn into a drag because you forgot something important.
Following these tips is the best way to make sure that everything goes according to plan. Just remember to pack plenty of strong, durable riding gear and double check your checklist before you finally set off on the journey.
What do you wear to a long-distance motorcycle ride?
So what do you wear to a long-distance motorcycle ride? Here are the pieces of riding gear that are essential for any long distance motorcycle journey:
Motorcycle helmet: Obviously you need to wear a helmet if you plan to ride a motorcycle. If you're planning a long trip, however, it's recommended that you invest in a full face helmet if you don't already own one. Unlike 3/4 and half face helmets, they don't leave any part of your head unprotected.
Motorcycle jacket: A proper riding jacket gives protection to your whole upper body. If you wear one that's been fitted with body armour in key areas like the shoulder and elbows, even better. Plus riding jackets look awesome so it's a win win.
Motorcycle pants: If you're going to protect your upper body then don't forget about your lower body. Regular jeans will get shredded in the event of an accident, so gear up with a proper pair of riding pants.
Motorcycle gloves: When we fall our first instinct is to stick our hands out, so make sure there's something protecting them! Good riding gloves will also keep your hands warm and help you maintain a firm grip on the bike's controls.
Sturdy boots: Lastly, don't set out on your trip without a pair of good, sturdy boots. Proper footwear is crucial for keeping yourself balanced and comfortably seated on the bike. They don't have to be proper riding boots, but they do need to be sturdy and reliable.
Can you go a long distance on a motorcycle?
Many people associate riding with short trips, but can you go a long distance on a motorcycle? Yes, motorcycles are great for handling long distances. They're fuel efficient, have nimble handling and are a ton of fun to explore with.
Almost any bike can handle long distances. Just make sure that it's properly tuned up and good to go. If you decide to take on a massive trip with a beat-up lemon of a ride, don't blame us when it breaks down on you.
What is considered a long distance on a motorcycle?
What is considered a long distance on a motorcycle depends on who you ask. Generally speaking, most riders would consider anything over 300km to be a considerable trip. Some seasoned riders would consider a thousand kilometres to be a long distance, or even multiple days of riding.
If you're planning your very first long distance ride, just do you. There's no such thing as too short. People with touring motorcycles might be clocking in thousands of miles, but that doesn't mean you have to do the same.
How do I prepare my motorcycle for a long ride?
A common question for riders preparing for their first big ride is 'how do I prepare my motorcycle for a long ride?'. They're often surprised to hear that you don't need to do anything particularly special to a motorcycle before a long trip. Just give it a once-over like you would during a routine check up. Check that the following things are in good working order
Check if the oil needs changing
Inspect the tires
Check the brake pads and replace them if they've worn down
Adjust the suspension to accommodate for the extra weight of your luggage