The pleasures of venturing out on two wheels are many and varied. There’s the thrill of acceleration, the soft whirr of gears changing smoothly, the sense of danger when you lean into a tight corner, the smell of oil and gasoline mingling with fresh air – and that’s all before you even leave home. Taking their first tentative steps into touring can seem like a big ask for most riders. After all, riding is one of those activities that doesn’t exactly come with an instruction manual.
However, anyone who has ever fallen in love with being on a bike will tell you: that riding is not just a hobby; it’s a way of life. If you feel that way too, and you’re looking to take your motorcycling to the next level, read on for our guide to planning your first motorcycle tour…
Plan Your Route and Logistics
Before you do anything else, you need to make a plan. The first thing you should do is decide on a destination. Motorcycle touring is more of a lifestyle choice than anything else, but you can still choose to tour almost anywhere in the world. Next, you need to decide how long your trip is going to be. This isn’t just about how far you want to go – it’s also how long you want to take getting there. You see, touring isn’t just about the destination. It’s also about the journey. After you’ve decided on a destination and length of the journey, you need to make a budget. As you probably already know, motorcycle touring isn’t an extremely cheap hobby. There are a number of costs to factor in, including hotel stays, fuel, food, and new tires when they wear out (which they will).
Choose Your Bike Carefully
As you may already know, different touring bikes are better suited to different environments. For example, a cruiser might be the perfect bike for a New York to Los Angeles trip, while a sport tourer would be better suited to a trip across Europe. It’s also important to consider the type of riding you’ll be doing on your trip. For example, if you’re planning on riding off-road, you’ll want a bike that’s designed for that kind of terrain. Depending on the kind of bike you want to ride, you may need to consider things like modifications and maintenance. You should also think about insurance. Different types of bikes carry different levels of risk. If you’re unsure about the best bike for you, don’t worry. There are plenty of forums where you can ask for advice.
Don’t Rush the Planning Process
Rushing the planning process is one of the most common mistakes riders make when they’re getting ready for their first trip. Although you might be eager to get out there as soon as possible, rushing can lead to a poor experience. Take the time to do the legwork and make sure that you’re well prepared. This will make the whole experience a whole lot more enjoyable. You’ll want to consider many things, such as insurance (this is a must!), gas tank size and fuel type, whether or not you’ll be bringing your bike back on a plane, and so on. You’ll also want to consider your riding abilities. If you’re planning to go on a long multi-day trip, you’ll want to ensure you have the experience and fitness required. You don’t want to get halfway through a long journey and find you’re not ready for it. The last thing you want is to get into a situation for which you are unprepared.
Don’t Be Scared to Go Solo or With Friends
Depending on your mood, you may have a desire to go solo on your first tour, or you may want to go with friends. If you go with friends, though, make sure you have the same level of experience before you set out on the road. Going on a long-distance trip with friends who have very little touring experience could end badly. If you go solo on your first tour, you’ll probably have to make a few sacrifices. The most obvious of these will be that you won’t have anyone to lean on in times of trouble. However, you’ll also have the freedom to go wherever and whenever you want. You’ll also have to take care of everything yourself, but in some ways, that can be a good thing. Solo touring will teach you a lot about yourself and your motorcycling skills.
Pack Light and Bring the Essentials
You’re going to want to pack light when you’re touring, but you’ll also need to pack smartly. You don’t want to overpack, but you also don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you don’t have what you need. This can be a challenge since you’ll be spending a lot of time on your bike. Make sure you bring the essentials, such as waterproof jacket and pants, gloves, a helmet, and so on. You’ll also want to make sure to pack some tools and spares. This is especially important if you’re going on a long trip and don’t have a mechanic at the end of it. Bring tools for basic repairs and make sure you’re familiar with how to use them. You don’t want to get lost in the middle of nowhere and be unable to fix a simple issue because you didn’t bring the right tool.
Learn the Rules of the Road
This might sound simple, but it’s easy to forget when you’re caught up in the excitement of touring, especially if it’s your first time. Make sure you learn the road rules specific to the country you’re riding in. If you’re riding in Europe, for example, you’ll want to make sure you know the rules of the road that apply there. This includes things like lane splitting, which is legal in many countries, but not all (so make sure you know where it’s legal before you ride in this way). You might think that riding laws and regulations don’t apply to touring, but they do. You’re still riding a machine that can cause damage and injure people if you don’t take care of it. So, it’s important to understand how to ride safely and responsibly.
Take Safety Precautions
When you’re touring, it’s easy to let your guard down, especially when you’re in a new place. However, you need to make sure you’re taking safety precautions at all times. Make sure you’ve got suitable travel insurance and that you know how to make a claim if you need to. Make sure you have access to the best motorcycle accident lawyers in case of an accident. In addition, make sure your bike is road legal and that you’ve got all the right documentation. Also, ensure you’ve got the right gear, such as a first-aid and tool kit, as earlier mentioned. Finally, you should also ensure you’re physically fit before taking your first tour. This means eating well, resting well, and doing some light exercise.
As you can see, preparing for a motorcycle tour isn’t something that happens overnight; it takes time, effort, and research to get the most out of the experience. However, once you’ve done all that, touring is sure to be one of your most enjoyable and memorable experiences. If you follow the tips in this article, you’ll be well on your way to experiencing the joys of motorcycling.