A motorbike road trip holiday can be a truly liberating and fun experience, especially if you have planned and prepared thoroughly to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible.
We outline some tips for planning and preparing for the ultimate motorcycle holiday below.
Plan Your Route
Planning your route is the starting point for a biking trip. Different riders will have their own priorities on planning a route, but whether it be hills, mountain passes or gravel tracks, make sure you plan your route carefully before you leave. Ensure that once you are out on the road, you always have quick and ready access to your route information. This is particularly important as it can be extremely dangerous having to look away from the road for an excessive amount of time when you are not sure which way to go. Fortunately, we have many modern devices to help guide the way.
There is a wide range of GPS navigation equipment compact enough to be mounted directly in front of you. However, if you prefer to use standard maps, you can often find tank bags that have a transparent map pocket allowing you to display the current section of your route.
Smart phones are, of course, very useful for navigation, photos, emergency calls etc.
Finally, allow ample time for unexpected hold ups and allow time for plenty of comfort and rest breaks.
Prepare Your Bike
Before embarking on a road trip, you should check your bike, making sure that your servicing is up-to-date and give your bike a thorough once over. The following checks are strongly advised:
Lights: Check that all your lights are functioning properly including both high and dipped beam, and rear and brake lights, as well as indicator lights if your bike has them.
Tyre pressure: This is one of the most fundamental factors in ensuring a high level of road performance. When adjusting pressures, it is important to take into account your personal riding style, along with load and luggage. The correct air pressures for your tyres can be found in your motorcycle’s handbook.
Oil levels: It is very important to ensure that your engine, gearbox and drive train contain the right levels of oil so that your engine runs smoothly throughout your trip.
Levers: You should check all levers to make sure they are functioning properly. This includes checking connectors, screws/bolts and cables. With foot-operated levers in particular, a slight misalignment is generally not noticed straight away. This compromises your long-term comfort. Most motorcycles come with adjustable levers and pedals that can be set to fit and suit your personal requirements.
Throttle and clutch cables: The throttle cable should be inspected for damage such as cracks, kinks, corrosion and badly worn areas resulting from rubbing, all of which should be addressed before your bike trip. Inspect the cable from the throttle grip to the throttle body/carburettor as much as visually possible. Clutch and brake cables should be also be checked for excessive wear, corrosion, cracking or any other damage in order to eliminate risk to life.
Chassis: Ensure that the chassis is intact and not cracked.
Stand: Ensure that the stand isn’t cracked or bent.
Assembling an adequate repair kit is an essential part of preparing for a motorbike trip. The most likely event to bring a trip to an abrupt halt is a puncture. If your tyres are tubeless, include bung inserts in your repair kit, and also a pump that can connect to the battery to re-inflate. If, on the other hand, your wheels are tubed, you should include patches and a spare tube, or alternatively use something like Slime to prevent deflation. Also include a mini tyre pressure gauge in your repair kit which is lightweight and takes up little room.
Your repair kit should also contain appropriately sized wrenches for removing wheels, adjusting chain, bars, brakes, levers and bodywork. A screwdriver with reversible Phillips and flat-head bits is also a good idea.
Other small items to add to your repair kit are a variety of fuses that match OEM specifications, replacement brake light and headlight bulbs, cable repair kits, an LED torch and a pair of pliers.
This list is not exhaustive and depending on space you might also consider taking spare clutch and brake levers as these easily break and a few common nuts and bolts, which can be used for a variety of repairs.
It is obviously important to ensure that all your documentation is up-to-date and that you take it along with you. This includes MOT, insurance, road tax and driving license. If you are travelling abroad you will also need to ensure that your bike insurance covers you in your country of travel, as well as making sure you have with you an EHIC card, passport, travel insurance, breakdown cover and V5 registration document. It is a legal requirement to be able to produce the original V5 registration document in a number of countries. For UK residents the EHIC card will continue to be valid until at least December 2020.
It is a good idea to consider taking out insurance coverage which includes towing and rentals in case you have an accident that triggers this. Also, if you’re travelling with a passenger, your motorcycle insurance should include guest passenger liability.
What to wear on a trip is obviously down to personal choice, but the compromise is often between price, comfort and protection. Needless to say, you should pack the right clothing for the expected weather conditions. Your clothing should provide protection against the weather and also at least a minimum level of fall protection. It should have protectors fitted to the right places and be non-wearing.
When it comes to gloves, it is always best to have a spare set, in case of rain or if you lose one.
With limited space and possibly 2-3 weeks or more on the road, it’s important to pack sparingly.
It is also a good idea to check the upper materials of your protective clothing, such as leather and fabric, are in good condition before your trip. Functional clothing also requires regular maintenance, or the internal membranes will lose their active breathing properties.
It could be a disaster to lose your key on a trip and have the hassle of trying to source a replacement, especially if the new one needs to be programmed in. Therefore, a spare key tucked in your wallet or somewhere safe and out of sight on the bike is useful. It can save you a lot of time and money if you happen to lose the original.
Learn More With Venhill
While you may enjoy the complete freedom of planning every aspect of your bike trip, the organised motorbike tour is another option. As a biker, the world is your oyster as there are motorcycle touring holidays organised in every far-flung corner, from the Iceland ring road to a 14-day Himalayan tour.
Whatever type of trip you decide, the key to a memorable biking holiday is to plan well in advance and to make sure that both you and your bike are fully prepared. For compact tool kits, replacement cables, and other essential spare components explore our site here at Venhill.