When you're preparing for your first long-distance road trip on your motorcycle, you have a steep learning curve ahead of you. Some rookie mistakes can turn your much-anticipated vacation road into a highway of nightmares. Here are some things you should do before and during your trip to make sure everything is smooth sailing—or riding, in this case.
1. Replace Your Tires
"But," you might protest, "these tires are only a year old. They've got plenty of wear left." However, tires are the things that get the most wear on a long distance trip, and changing a tire on the road can be a challenge, especially because, unlike a car, you don't have a spare in the trunk. You'll waste valuable time and mess up your vacation timeline if you blow a tire. Invest in new tires before your trip, and if your old ones do have a lot of wear left, use them when you get home when your commute is shorter.
2. Be sure to break in new parts or repairs.
If you need to have your motorcycle repaired, it's best not to leave it to the last minute. You'll want to make sure the new parts aren't faulty and that the work you have done truly has your bike working at top notch. Basically, don't pick up your bike the day you plan to start packing on the miles. Use it to drive around town and make short trips to make sure the new parts and repairs are up to snuff.
3. Keep sunscreen and other items within your reach.
Not all states have helmet laws, and you can take advantage of a hour or so of helmet-free driving, especially if it's hot outside. But, if you forget the sunscreen, your scalp, face and neck will feel the pain when it comes time to put that helmet back on. Pack for your trip so that you can easily reach items like sunscreen, check a map, or grab some lip balm, as these are essential to your comfort and success on a road trip.
Another item you should keep handy is a bottle of eye drops. A whole day of driving can deplete the moisture in your eyes. Putting a few drops in at each fuel stop can save you from a lot of discomfort later.
Always keep water within arms reach. A backpack water carrier is a good investment. It can be very easy to get dehydrated on the road. Never let your supply of water run out; always stock up at gas stations when you fuel up.
4. Learn to notice fatigue signs.
When you get tired driving a car, you notice your eyelids starting to droop, and you know all the tricks to keep yourself awake, like running the cold air or putting your seat in an uncomfortable position. On a bike, you don't have these luxuries and the signs of fatigue are a little different on a long trip. Typical things to look for include
- the inability to make a simple choice. You might debate whether to stop of food or keep going, or whether or not it is worth stopping for gas. The inability to be decisive on the road, especially after several hours on the bike, is a sign you need rest.
- forgetting to put your stand down when you stop to fuel up or forgetting other basic essentials, including where you are or what turn you need to take. If things start slipping your mind, you could be just minutes away from slipping into sleep.
- slowing down. Your internal speedometer is usually pretty accurate for keeping a good pace. If you find that your speeds are lagging or that you are having a hard time staying consistent with the flow of traffic, it's time for sleep.
With these tips, you will much better prepared to head out on that motorcycle road trip and make it a success.