How to Plan a Motorcycle Trip

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>> Aaron Cortez

August 26, 2014

How to Plan a Motorcycle Trip

With Labor Day coming up, lots of us will be hitting the road this holiday weekend for our last big trip of the summer months. But before you do, check out this article to make sure you have all the important things covered!

Any kind of bike cab be an "adventure bike," even a little ol' Honda long as you have an adventure on it! Photo cred:

Whether it's your first real motorcycle trip or your 100th trip, there's a few things you need to keep in mind while laying out the plan. Sure, there's the ever appealing want to just hop on the open road and see where it takes you, but let's be honest, a lot can go wrong. Avoid mayhem and motorcycle mishaps by remembering these few tips when planning out your next motorcycle trip.

A motorcycle can take you on a trip car drivers can only dream about.

First, take stock of the amount of storage space on your bike. Do you ride a bagger or a sport bike? Depending on the type of bike you ride, you'll have very different motorcycle luggage, which means different restrictions on the things that you can bring. Make sure that you have enough room for your supplies before deciding on the type or length of a trip. For example, if you're doing a cross country motorcycle camping trip, you're going to need the storage space to bring a sleeping bag and enough spare sets of underwear to get you through the trip.

From there, sit down and make a list of your motorcycle trip "must have's." The most important things will be a motorcycle toolkit, a motorcycle tire repair kit, a first aid kit and some other repair necessities such as spare parts and duct tape. Get a full list of suggestions in this Ten Things to Take on Every Trip article.

You can do a road trip on a sport bike... (Photo cred: Moto blogger Tina Walker.)

Before hitting the road, you'll also want to have a pretty good outline of when and where you'll be riding. Plan out where you will be stopping for breaks such as at restaurants or rest stops and how long you will be riding between them. Because you will be more susceptible to the elements on a motorcycle, you'll be more likely to suffer from fatigue.

In order to not only keep you riding as safely as possible but to also allow you to enjoy your ride to the fullest, try not to stretch yourself too thin by riding for too many hours at a time. Know your limits and abilities and plan accordingly. Schedule stretch, food and even nap breaks to keep you at your fullest ability and comfort.

Of course, you'll also want to calculate out how much gas your tank holds and where you'll need to re-fuel. Nothing can put a damper on a motorcycle trip faster than running out of gas. When in doubt, fill up. It's better to get over anxious with refueling that it is to run out of gas and be stranded on the side of the road!

...or a cruiser...

With everything you need packed up and ready to go, spend the night before or the morning of your trip fully inspecting your motorcycle. One of the best ways to make sure that you check everything essential is to follow the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's T-C-L-O-C-S method:

  • T: Tires. Check the pressure in both of your motorcycle tires with a tire pressure gauge. If you're unsure what the pressure of your tires should be, check the sidewall for the PSI listing. Here's a handy guide to help you read and care for your motorcycle tires: Inspecting and Maintaining Your Street Motorcycle Tires. Also, be sure to check the tread of your tires. If there's any possibility that you're close to needing a new set before your trip, don't wait until after. Tire failure is one of the biggest causes of motorcycle accidents.

  • C: Controls. Be sure that your motorcycle cables, clutch and brakes, as well as your controls are working smoothly.

  • L: Lights. Double check that all of your indicator lights work. Flip on your motorcycle headlights on both low and high beam as well as check your motorcycle's turn signals and the brake light.

  • O: Oil & Fluids. Check and top off any and all fluids including your motorcycle engine oil, brake fluid and coolant.

  • C: Chassis. Do a once over on the frame, suspension and chain of your motorcycle as well as all fasteners to make sure they're all secure and structurally strong.

  • S: Stands. Inspect your motorcycle stand, center stand or side stand, to make sure it's not cracked and that the springs are working properly to make sure you don't get any nasty drop surprises during a break or stop.

...or a sport tourer...

Once you're sure your bike is up for making the trip, refresh your memory on the plan one last time before hitting the road. If you're traveling with other riders, double check that they're clear on the plan as well. For a complete write-up on what to do when riding as a group, check out this article, How to: Group Motorcycle Riding. With that all said and done, hop on and let go. Sure, planning is important but also be open to rewriting the plan a little as the moment arises. It is an adventure, after all.

...or a dual-sport. An adventurous spirit is a lot more important than a certain kind of bike!

What helpful motorcycle trip planning tips do you have?

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