Prep Tips for Your Next Motorcycle Trip
Hitting the open road on two wheels is a beloved pastime for millions of motorcycle enthusiasts. There are those who live in climates that allow for year-round riding, and those who must make the most of short-lived seasonal windows of opportunity. In either case, nothing will ruin an anticipated run more than a breakdown caused by lack of maintenance. Most motorcyclists devote the necessary time in keeping their bikes roadworthy and ready for any opportunity to saddle up. Here are some tips on being ready for the road no matter the reason, season or occasion.
Formulate a Plan
If you’re planning a trip to, say, Sturgis, keep a loose itinerary that both plans for gas/food/rest stops and leaves room for spontaneity along the way. You’ll want a general outline of your travel route and ETA, but you never know what might catch your eye along the way that’s worthy of a stop. Be ready for adventure on your two-wheel journey, no matter where it leads.
Do a Once-Over
Make sure your bike is roadworthy for the miles ahead. Check your tires for proper inflation and tread; chain/belt condition; test brakes and lights often to confirm nothing is in need of replacement. Check your oil, transmission fluid and primary fluid and change it annually. A fresh oil change with AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oil will help your engine deliver peak performance and noticeably cooler operating temps. Get into the habit of routine checks to ensure early notice of any failing parts or fluids in need of top-off.
Dress for Success
Protect your head; helmets save lives every day. Be sure you and any passengers have appropriate protection that can prevent serious injury or death.
Wear protective eyewear. When you’re in motion on the open road, the last thing you need is something flying into your eye(s) and obstructing your view.
Where it’s hot, light-colored clothing breathes and reflects the sunlight. Long sleeves are a must to prevent windburn, so bring something easy to take on and off. Don’t forget sunscreen to keep you protected during the long trips. Keep rain gear packed for when the sun goes away and the skies open up.
Leather gear is a must among bikers in cooler climates. It also helps protect against road rash should the unthinkable happen. While not ideal for trips through the desert, those in warmer areas can also benefit from this added layer of protection. There are varying options available for leather gear, from perforated versions that breathe to full-on jackets and chaps. Do your research as to the best options that fit your climate and needs so you’re comfortable while clocking the miles.
Be Prepared for Anything
We all know that storage space on bikes is limited to the essentials. Most modern bikes come with a small tool kit under the seat, but it’s not comprehensive enough to save you from a roadside delay on what could’ve been an easy fix for those better prepared. Search online for an aftermarket tool kit that can be bolted or strapped to your bike. Vice grips, an adjustable wrench, pliers, allen wrenches, a pocket knife, zip ties, a tire repair kit and a flashlight are a few ideas that could save the day in your time of need.
Know Your Terrain
If you’re heading to a rally or another venue that draws large packs of bikes or traffic, know your surroundings and practice safe driving habits. See and be seen; be sure to keep space between your bike and surrounding traffic. Motorcyclists are not always visible to other drivers, so practice defensive riding and position yourself in lanes that ensure your presence is known.
If you’re going to be traveling through the wide-open yonder, be aware of the wildlife that call it home. Avoid riding at night if possible, and always be on alert for animals wandering into the roadway.
Enjoy the Open Road
Lastly, and most importantly, be free and have fun. There’s a reason motorcycling has become a lifestyle for so many enthusiasts. There’s nothing quite like the freedom of hitting the open road atop a steel horse, surging along to paths known and unknown.
Follow these tips to ensure your riding days last for years to come.