Until a few years ago, Royal Enfields have been the chosen companions for long distance motorcycle trips. Recently however, a lot has changed with the availability of efficient, powerful motorcycles. Enfields are still popular, but there are a number of other choices as well, such as KTM, Kawasaki, Honda, Triumph, etc.
No matter what changes motorcycles have undergone over the years, the love of touring on a motorcycle remains the same. Keeping that in mind, here are some essential points to remember while planning a long distance motorcycle tour, rather a ‘Motorcycle Checklist' for a perfect trip.
1. Start early, finish early
The thumb rule one has to follow is to start early, as soon as the sun's up and finish early, before sun down. Riding in the night is not a bright idea, as motorcycles are difficult to bee seen amidst trucks that choose to travel in the night. Also, visibility will make the ride feel very miserable and if you do manage to get lost, or have a breakdown there won't be people around to help.
2. Plan the day's route
The second most important tip goes in hand with the first, but is best described separately. Plan your day's route, this will help you calculate how much fuel you would need, the amount of money you should be carrying, places to visit along the way, and good spots to take a powernap if required. Also, when you are prepared and there is a road block, you will be able to take another route, before it turns dark.
3. Fill the tank before setting off
There are a few riders out there would prefer to hit reserve before tanking up again - that is not a good idea. Fill up before heading off in the morning. This will help you save time on fuel stops, and also keep your pace. There could also be issues when there are no petrol bunks working, or worse - there are no fuel stations on your route.
4. Stop and hydrate yourself properly
Take adequate stops and stay hydrated. Dehydration kills a lot of bikers, leads to loss in concentration, and even loosies. Stopping to drink water hardly takes a couple of minutes, so stop, hydrate, and then proceed. One easy way to check if you are hydrated enough is to count the number of times you pee — at least 9 times a day is a sign of being hydrated.
5. Make sure bike is serviced before the trip
Preparation is key, and for a long ride, preparation comes in the form of servicing your motorcycle. Ensure the motorcycle is checked by an authorised technician, since the only way to make it a happy trip is when your motorcycle is trouble free.
6. Ensure tyres are in good condition
Check the tyres before heading out, and change it if necessary. Tyres take a beating on long trips, so ensure they are inflated as per the recommended pressure. If most of the trip is on tarmac, chose radials and if it involves on and off-road, chose dual sport tyres. Do not use knobby tyres for the road and road-recommended radials for the dirt — they are not made for that.
7. Ensure all lights work
Every light is meant for a reason on the motorcycle, be it headlight, park light, indicators, or tail lamp. Make sure all of them work and if necessary, carry spare bulbs. Never head out even if one of the lights do not work.
8. Leave the mirrors on!
We have to admit it, many of us Indians take off the mirrors — that is stupidity to the core. Bikers need eyes at the back of their heads too, and that's what mirrors are for. Leave them on, and make sure they give you enough visibility.
9. Always wear full protective gear
Wear full protective gear while you're out on your motorcycle. If you are left with a choice between trip or gear with the cash you have saved up, choose gear. You can always save up for another trip, but you get only one shot at life.
10. Pack smart and light
Coming to the last, but an equally important tip - luggage. If you have planned for a week's trip and 6 of those seven days involve riding from one place to another, it is understood that you will be in your riding gear most of the time. Never pack too much, because you will be carrying all that luggage on your motorcycle, which is going to make the bike heavy, and you will end up not enjoying the trip at all.
There are many more tips to making a long distance ride more enjoyable and safe, but the above mentioned tips are the core essentials. Feel free to get in touch or share your thoughts in the comment section below.