Planning Your Motorcycle Tour
Everything from choosing the best motorcycle to shipping your bike overseas
By Agata Gutkowska
You’re finally going to do it. You’re going to hit the open road with nothing but your bike, your sunglasses, and a badass leather jacket to match your badass fantasy. If you’re like most of our readers, then you’ve probably spent your childhood daydreaming about a motorcycle escape. You’ve romanticized a trip painted with sunny days and starry nights, set to the soundtrack of a roaring motorcycle engine. Now, you finally have the time and money to chase this dream of yours. Before you climb onto your bike and embark on the two-wheeled journey of a lifetime, you need to sit down and do some serious prep work.
Bike trips involve lots of planning, investment and, most importantly, maintenance. We’ve organized a list of things you should consider before riding off into the abyss. Of course by abyss we mean a thoughtfully planned destination. After all, we don’t want you to end up in boring suburbia, desperately asking dog walkers for directions to the nearest gas station.
Get a Bike
As simple as it may sound, the first and most important step to planning a bike trip is the bike itself.
If you plan to cover major mileage each day, a full-dress heavyweight tourer will make your life easier on the road. A lighter touring bike is perfect for slightly shorter days in the saddle. Speaking of which, your posterior demands a comfortable seat. As well, make sure you can pack all the gear you need to carry in the bike's storage space. Finally, your motorcycle needs to withstand Mother Nature’s elements – rain, snow, mist, wind, and flying bugs.
Personally I like the Harley-Davidson Electra Glide. I can ride for hours without clenching a sore butt when filling up for gas. It’s a classic designed for touring and it lives up to its reputation. If a friend wants to tag along, then you can even request a TLE sidecar. The Victory Cross Roads, equipped with saddlebags and a classic windscreen, is another viable option with some sex appeal.
Shop ‘Till You Drop
If you’re holding back on a full-fledged touring bike, then you need to start writing a shopping list.
First, you need to invest in storage bags. Backpacks are out of the question. You can get tank bags or saddlebags – hard bags or soft bags. I recommend hard bags for longer journeys because they can withstand the weather. However, they’re pricier and heavier. Do your research and choose storage that works best for your needs.
Make sure you own a reliable full-face helmet that – like your bike – is comfortable and weatherproof. If you’re taking a long trip then you’ll inevitably encounter rainy days. That’s why you’ll need a waterproof riding suit. When it’s wet it’s nice to throw on something waterproof and stay as dry as possible.
First Aid Kit
Pack one for yourself and one for your bike. It’s best to be prepared when you or your bike get scratched up.
Your First Aid Kit should be equipped with bandages of different shapes, sizes and materials. Tweezers, scissors and flashlights prove to be useful in many unexpected situations. Also include: alcohol pads, cotton swabs, painkillers, and antiseptic wipes.
Your bike’s First Aid Kit should include a toolkit equipped with wrenches, pliers and wire cutters. Pack spare fuses and bulbs. A tire repair kit is a given because flats are a common occurrence and set you back if you’re not prepared.
Follow the T-CLOCK
Before setting off on your journey, you need to make sure that your bike is fully enabled for the ride.
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation created the T-CLOCK checklist to ensure that your motorcycle inspection is executed with precision. This checklist includes a careful inspection of: Tires, Controls, Lights, Oil, Chassis, and Kickstand. You can download the checklist here.
Whether you’re following Che’s route in South America or touring the Alp’s in Austria, you’ll need a reliable shipping service to send your bike overseas.
Many shipping service providers are available for you to choose from. Your best resource is the Internet – particularly UShip.com. After you plug in your personal needs and motorcycle information, the website supplies you with a list of various shipping providers that match your requirements. There are many things to consider when choosing the company including insurance, credentials and reputation. Finding a shipping service can be a major headache. For more information, you can refer to our article about how to choose the right shipping provider.
No matter how much you plan, expect the unexpected. Things won’t always go your way and you’ll definitely run into obstacles. Once you prepare yourself and your bike for the trip, you’ll be fully equipped to handle unpredictable situations. These are the situations that will make your trip a memorable adventure.