Motorcycle Travel Tips
To those who may be considering their first motorcycle road trip, or for those who are seasoned riders hitting the open road, there are many things to consider to ensure you have the best time possible while staying safe. Here are a few tips:
It will take you longer than you think
So you want to take that trip to California? You pack a backpack with a change of underwear and toothbrush, sling on your leather riding jacket, boots and gloves and hit the gas station on your way out of town. Google maps says it should take a few days to get down there, so how hard can it be?
Motorcycles don’t hold nearly the same amount of fuel that cars do. The average motorcycle has to stop for fuel every 200kms or so. This is especially a concern for certain stretches of road which may have large distances between fuel stations. Be aware of what your bike is capable of!
Sitting on a motorcycle can be very tiring for long periods of time. Your back and behind feel things you have never felt before! It is always good to stop and stretch and walk around a bit every hour or so. This can also be an excuse to take out the camera and snap a picture or two of your surroundings. Why not take a picture at every stop you make?
Setting up and breaking camp can be time consuming. Packing the tent, sleeping bag, cooking utensils and food all takes time. Even if you stay in a hotel or motel, it takes time to gear up the bike and yourself before you start.
Hypothermia is also a real concern. When you are riding at highway speeds and the rain starts, the temperature drops considerably. You can get chilled to the bone, your limbs don’t work the same way, and your grip is slower and slower to pull that brake or clutch lever.
A real life experience:
I took a trip to Kelowna for a week in the Okanagan valley with my family. We all had a great time and the weather was absolutely perfect. I was high on not running into any adverse weather the whole trip and thought that it could only continue for the ride home. I decided to lighten my ride a bit for some spirited riding back to calgary and sent a bunch of clothes home with others who were heading the same way. In it included my rain gear, which turned out to be a mistake.
The rain started just outside of Vernon, barely an hour into the six hour ride home and didn’t stop until Calgary. I became so cold and wet, I began fearing for my own safety and I made excuses to stop whenever I could to warm up as best I could. It became a balancing act of managing the overall length of the trip and stopping frequently to keep my body heat up.
By the time I reached Golden, I was shivering uncontrollably. I had never experienced this before and decided I needed some hot chilli and coffee at Tim Horton’s. It helped, but full rain gear would have been better. Since this trip, I have always packed a full rain suit and gloves for any trip longer than an hour from Calgary.
Keep your bike maintained properly
If you have everything taken care of beforehand, it will be easier to get up and go the next time you plan to take a trip. Some points to consider are:
If you don’t know how to do this yourself, get a mechanic to do it for you. When you have time to learn, it can be beneficial and more cost-effective to do it yourself. If something goes wrong while on a motorcycle, it could be disastrous.
A real life experience:
On a recent trip to BC, I witnessed a rider go down in front of me while riding due to tire failure. It was fast and shocking to both me and the rider. The cause was due to hot roads, and a rapid deflation of a tube-tire in a wired wheel rim.
Take a practice trip before a big trip
Practice packing and unpacking a couple of times, ensure that you can strap everything to your bike safely, and know where everything is located. A good time is to pack all of the things you need immediately while on the road on the outside pockets of your bags. This would include things like:
Packing all the things you need once you get to your destination on the inside of your bags keeps them all out of the way when you need to open up your bag at a rest stop or on the side of the highway.
Taking a small pre-trip trip will also allow you to make any necessary adjustments to your riding position. Perhaps you really do need to spend a few dollars for those highway pegs, or a new seat or seat pad.
Be cautious with traction on new roads
A real life experience:
On a recent trip to the BC interior, a destination I encourage all motorcycle enthusiasts to try out some day, I decided to visit Nakusp and area. This part of BC offers spectacular views of mountains, lakes and wildlife not seen in Alberta. You truly feel like you are far removed from home in this area, especially with the lack of cell phone reception I experienced.
I remember a specific part of this trip I will never forget. It was mid-day and I was moving along at a decent speed. Nothing dangerous or illegal, but I was having fun. Scraping my pegs was a regular on some of the sweeping corners. I routinely found myself muttering Don’t die on these roads today even if I was grinning from ear to ear.
There was a wooden bridge coming up and found it to be curved and very flat. Usually these things are banked slightly to allow easier cornering. I took mental note of this and slowed the bike down a tad before crossing the bridge, I hit a slight bump on the entrance to the bridge and the bike’s suspension compressed. As the full weight of the bike and myself landed on the bridge, I had both brakes engaged slightly and both the front and rear tires slid on the surface directly left about 3 feet. I discovered the surface to be slightly mossy and slick after a recent rainfall. It was a pucker moment for sure and something I would not soon forget.
Lesson learned, be careful on roads you have not traveled before.
Figure out your gear situation before you leave
Gear is important. There are a lot of options out there and comfort and fit are most important. It’s important to get everything you need and to purchase quality items.
Have the best time possible
Motorcycle riding is supposed to be fun! Take the time to see the things you want to see. Ride together with your friends, take pictures, and relish the adventure. These adventures are what make the best memories and stories to share with others down the road.
If you have any questions regarding your motorcycle insurance policy, or if we can assist you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact our Office!
The Costen & Associates Team
*Thank you to our valued client, Dan Penton, for providing the content for this Blog post!