Prepared by Adventure Roads Active Travel team.
Have you ever wondered what it feels to be completely free while traveling? What it’s like to experience every inch of the territory and never skip a sight where your heart is taking you, but your next flight is not allowing you to go? We’ve got two little words that will shake up the way you travel - motorcycle touring!
The roaring sound of the motorcycle engine, the cool wind, the open road with endless possibilities. On long motorcycle tours, all of the romantic and inviting elements can become your worst nightmare if you’re not well prepared. Therefore, we’ve assembled the complete motorcycle touring guide for beginners that will help you get started with your motorbike adventure!
Once you feel the road and the freedom of motorcycle touring, you’ll never want to go back.
What is Motorcycling Touring and Why is it Unique?
Motorcycle touring is one out of many tourism forms, but this particular includes motorcycle as the primary vehicle. This unique way of experiencing the country has been around since the beginning of the 20th century and it now reaches the dazzling number of $350 billion business per year in Australia solely.
Tourism on the wheels as some like to call it can vary in both distance and the traveling style. Some people love to travel alone, while others prefer to join a motorcycle touring group. There are people who love to take small trips and travel gradually, enjoying every possible sight and experiencing freedom. Other riders take motorcycle tours to the next level by traveling thousands of miles, embarking on tours that can last for years, even decades. The longest motorcycle touring was completed by Emilio Scotto and it took him 10 years to cross 735,000 km!
Motorcycle riders and those that want to become one of them, believe that motorcycle touring is special for its diversity.
7 reasons to go motorcycling touring at least once in a lifetime?
For the motorbike tours newcomers, riding their motorcycle abroad for the first time can be a life-changing experience filled with amazing surprises and special turnovers. However, if you want to make it with ease, no hassle, taken care of all stuff needed to have a trip of a lifetime combined with ultimate relaxing experience and enjoy it to the fullest you can join guided motorcycle tours!
If you are among those that believe that the journey is more important then the destination, here is 7 reasons to go motorcycle touring at least once in your life:
How to choose a motorcycle touring bike ride?
Almost any motorcycle model can be used for motorcycle touring adventure. However, there are some that meet the specific needs and circumstances better than others. Before heading out and picking and/or buying a touring motorbike that will take you places, consider a couple of questions:
Comfort of your motorcycle touring bike
Both long and short motorcycle tours crave for the comfort - for your passenger and yourself. Longer trips are much more convenient on larger touring motorcycles such as BMW R 1250 GS or GSA. Specific models of touring motorcycles address specific needs better, especially for long-distance travel.
Things you want to look after when choosing your motorcycle touring vehicle:
Big or small storage for your motorcycle touring experience
The second most important thing to look after when going for a motorcycle tour adventure is the size of your storage. Investing in your own full luggage set for beginners might be expensive. Moreover, before you’ve hit the motorcycle tour at least a couple of times, test out enough luggage types to decide which one you feel most comfortable with. Once you’ve found the luggage set you’d like to purchase, road-test a fully loaded tank bag near home.
You’d be surprised how much of your necessities fit into a small-size tail bag for your motorcycle. Because they don’t interfere with the rider’s center of gravity, they are a perfect choice for your first motorcycle touring trip.
Make sure that your motorcycle luggage is waterproof and that you leave some space in your motorcycle baggage to fit your helmet and jacket when you wish to go for a walk.
Be aware that big bags strapped on the back of your motorcycle can lead to vehicles becoming unstable. That's why we always recommend trusted and proven brands like VIKING BAGS
The weather, terrain and the road ahead
Once on the road, you don’t want to be surprised by the weather or terrain that might ruin your motorcycle touring experience. Therefore, it is best to align your baggage, motorcycle gear, and motorcycle type to the terrain and conditions you might encounter during your motorcycle tour route. Your motorcycle tour might encounter strong winds - gear up with windshield and layered clothes. Going into a dessert area - wear sun protection. Our best advice on this topic is to customize your motorcycle gear along with your baggage to fit your motorcycle terrain and a complete bike route.
How to Pack for Motorcycling Touring?
Packing for a motorcycle tour, weather long or short, can sometimes be intimidating. What to bring and what to leave out? You don’t have the luxury of the large trunk of your car to put all the things that you usually carry on your trips. And that is when you realize that most of the stuff is optional and can be left at home.
Besides choosing the appropriate motorcycle baggage, which we talked about in the previous chapters, you’d like to develop a motorcycle touring packing system. For us, the formula of two sets works perfectly.
You’ll want to pack the motorcycle touring riding set, available to you while on the road. Say snacks, water, registration and insurance paper, money, and phone. All of these should be at your hand and can go in a small backpack or a tank bag.
The second set can be stored in the saddlebags which you are going to access at the end of the day. In there you can store your clothes, camping gear, toiletries, or whatever else you need once you are done with your motorcycle tour day.
What to Wear on a Motorcycling Touring Trip?
At most times when people think about motorcycle tours, they imagine a badass rider on a Harley - Davidson in trashy jeans and leather jacket, with aviator sunglasses. But, the reality is quite different. Half an hour on a motorcycle tour in these clothes and you’d wish you’d never gotten on the bike in the first place. First layer, or underlayer such as shirts, are often overlooked, but are equally important for long-range touring comfort. We recommend technical high quality gear like BORN TOUGH
When picking your motorcycle clothes, safety is the first condition that you need to address. Comfort and usability are also one of the factors to look after. Helmets are indispensable for obvious reasons. According to the statistics, helmets are 34% effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and 67% effective in preventing brain injuries.
Good pair of gloves is the second most important thing when it comes to safe motorcycle touring. In case of a crash, our first instinct is to catch our fall with our hands. That is where a quality pair of gloves comes in handy.
According to scientists, our bodies were not designed to travel faster than 40 km/h. It seems that driving faster than that, without protective clothes, would cause damage to our skin cells, bones, and internal organs. And that is why the third most important thing on your motorcycle tour is protective clothes - jackets, pants, suits, and boots. Usually, they are called ‘body armor’ because of the padding that protects your body as much as possible. For each and every element of your motorcycle clothing, you’d be happy to have it waterproof in case of rain and bad weather.
That's why we always recommend trusted and proven brands like VIKING CYCLE
Motorcycle Touring Gear
During your motorcycle trip, you don’t want to be surprised by anything that might interfere with your amazing experience. As we already mentioned in the paragraphs before, essential motorcycle gear is composed of helmets, clothes, and gloves. But there is more to it. Some of the best motorcycle riding gear is being produced by Viking. Viking Cycle and Viking Bags. Viking Cycle is world's best and renowned Motorcycle attire brand. Shop Best Motorcycle Jackets, Chaps, Vests, and Gloves at the lowest prices. Viking Cycle takes the highest pride to provide the best motorcycle gear craftsmanship and material in the world.
Motorcycle trips are all about the journey, rather than a destination. That is why opening a detailed map during or before the tour, will help you gain a bigger picture of where you are and what roads to take. Motorcycle maps often include descriptions and details for the best motorcycling roads in designated states and/or regions.
Pulling out a map during a ride is mission impossible, and stopping every now and then to reassure yourself that you are on the right track would take too much of your motorcycling time. That is where a GPS Navigation comes in handy. Dedicated motorcycle-specific GPS systems are waterproof, glove-friendly, and safe. Some of them like TomTom Rider even have trip-planning software and the voice-guided navigation via Bluetooth.
The sound of the wind and your roaring engine on the road can be relaxing and meditative. But having the option to tune into your favorite tracks or to chat with your fellow passengers is also a good way to shorten a long riding route. Most Bluetooth helmet communicators nowadays can pair with multiple devices and transition seamlessly between different functions. And, if you want to opt-out to enjoy some more alone time just hit the ‘off’ button and you are back to solitary and peace!
Typically, modern motorcycle tires can last for thousands of miles. However, all of the tires are vulnerable to punctures and cuts which can bring your motorcycle touring journey to a halt. In case your motorcycle runs the tubeless tires, a flat repair kit can get you on the road quickly. Most of the flat repair kits are compact, lightweight and will allow you to make on-the-spot repairs.
After your flat tire is fixed, you’ll need to reinflate it. To make sure that you don’t need towing to the nearest gas station, having a dedicated air compressor that connects to your motorcycle’s battery, will do the work!
You won’t be doing any serious repairs while on the motorcycling tour, but you should be able to adjust your suspensions, controls, or tighten a loose mirror. The toolkits for motorcyclists can also vary, both in brands and a wide range of applications. CruzTOOLS makes specialized toolkits, from specific brands like BMW and Harley-Davidson to more universal kits.
Spare Key and a Motorcycle Manual
Carrying a spare key on your motorcycle trip is also a life-saving motorcycle trip tip! In case your main key breaks or gets lost, you’d want your spare key to holding your back. Keep it in a safe place, such as a chain around your neck.
Also, keeping your motorcycle manual with you on the motorcycle trip might come in handy. Motorcycle manuals contain valuable information about routine maintenance, electrical system charging output, tire inflation data, making adjustments to the suspension and controls and so much more.
Motorcycle Tour Guide - Route Planning
Your motorcycle trip can span from a day trip into the countryside, to a month on the road. When you are heading out to unfamiliar countries, finding places to sleep, to eat, to refuel your tank, can be tricky. That is exactly why you need to be prepared. Motorcycle touring can be very exciting, and while camping and sleeping under the starry night bring in more excitement, after a few days on the road, you will for sure appreciate a hot shower and a warm bed.
Experienced riders on the motorcycle trip like to head out early to catch their favorite roads. Some of them like to travel long, meaning that they cross hundreds of miles daily. And even if that might sound tough, with good planning and discipline, it is feasible.
For beginners at motorcycle touring, we recommend approximately 200 km daily. Traveling slower will get you some savings on the fuel and you will not have to stop for gas that often. Take a break whenever you feel like it, or whenever you stumble upon something worth visiting on your way.
Motorcycle Touring - Short-Distance vs Long-Distance?
Before you decide to endeavor on a long motorbike tour, our best advice is to try several short distance motorbike trips. You don’t run a marathon without preparing for it. Which is also why you shouldn’t ride long distances without preparations.
Taking several short-distance motorbike tours near your home will help you master the techniques necessary for the long-distance motorcycle touring experience. Ride in your spare time to build up your stamina for your trip ahead. For sure, your body will give you an insight on the trip, whether it’s through the aches and pains symbolizing that the ride was too long, or a feeling of satisfaction indicating that you can ride further than you thought.
Both short-distance and long-distance motorcycle tours are amazing to experience. However, preparations and planning for the long-distance motorbike tours are much more extensive than for the short destinations.
That is why for long-distance motorbike tours we recommend you to take several short trips with all the gear you intend to bring with you. This will allow you to feel the difference in the balance and weight of the motorcycle.
Motorcycle touring - group vs solo rides?
The ultimate motorcycle touring question is whether you should go touring alone, with somebody or in a group. If you are an experienced rider, you might consider traveling on your own, but it’s much more fun and secure to take a motorcycle trip in a group or through a specialized travel company such as Moto Tours Europe.
The main benefit of motorcycle touring by yourself is that you don’t depend on anybody. You can change routes easily, stop whenever you feel like it, and go at your own pace. However, the downside of taking a motorbike trip by yourself is the increased vulnerability. Meaning that if anything happens to your bike or you while on the road, you can count just on yourself and travelers passing by.
It can be challenging to organize a group motorcycle travel trip on your own. This is where motorcycle touring companies such as Moto Tours Europe, can be of great help. Insider knowledge helps you to enjoy the motorcycle adventure at most, without missing any important details and exciting sites.
When going for a motorcycle tour organized by a specialized motorcycle agency, you will always know in advance the precise budget and description of the route.
Motorcycle touring Tips and Tricks
We’ve thrown in our personal beginner touring motorcycle trip tips that will save you some time and help you on the road: