If you truly want to experience everything the beauty of America has to offer, a road trip is the way to go. And if you want to take your road trip to the next level, you should try hopping on a motorcycle and hitting the open road. But don’t let the carefree image of riding fool you. Even for a biker with years of experience, long-distance rides can be challenging. Make sure you know what you’re doing!
5 Tips, Pointers, and Best Practices
It’s imperative that you prepare in advance for a motorcycle road trip across the country. Here are a few helpful suggestions designed to assist you in making this an unforgettable (and safe) experience:
Develop a Loose Itinerary
It’s never a good idea to start a road trip without an itinerary. Riding without a plan – as exhilarating as it may sound – will land you in some situations you don’t necessarily want to find yourself in. On the opposite end of the spectrum, over-planning your trip takes the fun out of the carefree experience and makes you feel like you have to rush to get from one spot to the next.
The key is to develop a loose itinerary that helps you stay on track, but that doesn’t tie you down. In other words, develop a rough list of where you want to end up each evening, but don’t plan out each hour of the day. This ensures you know where to ride, but provides you with the freedom to explore.
Choose the Right Ride
You’ll be riding for hundreds – possibly thousands – of miles on this road trip. The right motorcycle is crucial. If you plan on taking your own bike, you may need to make a few modifications to make it more comfortable for long rides. Or, you may even opt to rent a bike for this particular trip. This article has a good list of bikes that are well-suited for long distance riding.
Packing is arguably the most difficult aspect of preparing for a road trip. There are so many items you want to bring, but you only have space for a very limited amount of gear. Make sure you choose wisely.
“Depending on the month, you'll want gear to deal with the sun and heat (cool neck wrap, sunglasses, sunscreen), the cold and rain (gloves, long underwear, heated vest liner, waterproof outerwear, etc.), or often both,” Esurance notes. “Tire inflation kit, tool kit, jumper cables, bike cover, and motor oil are some basics to consider. If you're particularly handy, you might also include things like spare spark plugs, replacement fuses, or a clutch cable.”
If you find that you’re short on room, you may choose to buy certain items instead of packing them. If you’re riding with a group, pack items that can be shared (rather than unnecessarily duplicating certain things).
Practice Defensive Driving
Safety is a key concern. Any time you drive for long stretches on open interstate and highways, you face the risk of being involved in an accident.
“In collisions between cars and motorcycles, the automobile driver is more often at fault,” Tate Law Offices mentions. “Drivers often fail to see motorcyclists in traffic and overlook approaching motorcycles. Two-thirds of collisions between motorcycles and cars happen because motorists violate the motorcyclists’ right of way.”
The best thing you can do to prevent an accident from impacting your trip is to practice defensive driving. Stay out of blind spots and remain aware of what’s happening around you. Always keep a safe distance and never assume that another driver sees you.
Take Frequent Breaks
Any time you’re riding for an extended period of time, you should take frequent breaks. As a rule of thumb, take a minimum of a 10-minute break every hour and a half. Get up, walk around, use the restroom, and grab a bite to eat. If you’re feeling tired, a quick 20-minute nap and/or a cup of coffee can do wonders.
Ready, Set, Ride
A cross-country motorcycle road trip isn’t for everyone. But if you’re willing to go the extra mile, you may just find that it’s an enjoyable way to see America from a firsthand point of view. For best results, take the suggestions in this article to heart. In doing so, you’ll find tremendous freedom and opportunity. Safe travels!