Summer weather is here and you’re wanting to bring your Harley-Davidson motorcycle on its first long distance ride of the summer. In fact, this is the first long distance motorcycle ride you have ever embarked on. Are you prepared?
Oftentimes, first time long-distance-motorcycle-riders will dismiss the length of the trip and the effort it takes to successfully complete the journey. However, it’s important to understand exactly how difficult the trip may be along with situations that might come up along the way. You might be used to casual weekend motorcycle trips, but this time around you may be carrying additional gear, riding more miles and staring at the road for a longer period of time.
Because we take safety very seriously, the team at Zylstra Harley-Davidson wants to make sure you are fully prepared for the journey ahead. To help get you ready for your long distance motorcycle trip, we have gathered the best tips to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable ride on your Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
Plan Your Route & Itinerary
To begin, it’s always important to know where you’re going to travel to. This first step might sound obvious, but this will determine everything you need to learn and prepare for on your upcoming trip. For example, if you’re planning a trip to beautiful Yellowstone, you will need to make sure your gear is suitable for the windy, open areas of the Dakotas, Wyoming and Montana, depending on the route you take. However, if you’re planning a trip down to the Mississippi delta, you will need to prepare for hot, humid weather which will alter the gear you pack.
As you plan your trip, it’s best to plan out your daily riding goals. As fun as it could be to ride and see where the road takes you, there are many benefits to planning your breaks. Like we mentioned earlier, long distance motorcycle riding can be more difficult than you think, so it’s important to make sure you’re properly hydrated and rested. Additionally, knowing where you will stop for meals or rest breaks will make the journey less stressful and allow you to have a more peaceful sleep during the night. Especially during peak travel seasons, planning your overnight rest stops ahead of time is very important as many hotels can reach capacity quickly.
Purchase The Right Motorcycle Gear
After figuring out where you’re headed and where you will be stopping, it’s important to make sure you’re outfitted with the correct gear. As we mentioned before, different destinations require different gear and items to keep in mind. No matter what the weather conditions are or where you’re planning on traveling to, it’s imperative that you always wear the appropriate motorcycle protective gear. Wearing a helmet, gloves, chaps and leather jacket might get hot in the summer sun, but your safety is the number one priority.
Along with the standard protective gear, one oftentimes overlooked aspect of protective equipment is appropriate ear protection. Even though Harley-Davidson motorcycles are loved and known for their signature roar, exposing yourself to the loud roar of the engine over time may come at a steep price as prolonged exposure can unfortunately cause hearing damage. Along with the noise of the engine, traveling along the highway at high speeds can also be dangerous to your ears because of the wind rushing past your helmet.
While it might not seem necessary to wear ear protection while wearing a helmet, the road and wind vibrations that affect your helmet can actually make things worse. If you’re searching for an effective solution, foam earplugs are a relatively cheap and effective option.
Practice Longer Distance Riding
Now that you know where you’re going, the distance of the ride and have the proper gear, it’s time to get out onto the road and practice some long distance motorcycle riding. If this is your first time heading out on a long distance ride, practicing is very important to see how you will react during a long trip. If you have gone on multiple long distance trips however, it’s still a good idea to go on a few practice trips to remember the feeling of being on your bike for multiple hours. To begin, you can start with one or two hour trips and work your way up from there. This progression will get you ready for your actual long distance motorcycle trip.
When the first day of the motorcycle trip is coming up, it’s important to think about your packing situation. Unlike a car trip, you don’t have a back seat or large trunk to store your necessities. With a motorcycle, you have very limited storage space, so it’s very important to pack intelligently. If you have too much weight on board, it will make the motorcycle slower and it can also make the bike harder to control while operating it.
For the trip, make sure to pack efficiently with the spare clothes you need, snacks, a tool kit, a first aid kit, and plenty of water for hydration. After all of the essentials are packed, you can then begin adding other items that would be nice, but not absolutely necessary, to have on board.
Plan For Inclement Weather
Another step in preparing for your motorcycle trip is preparing for any inclement weather that could arise. Oftentimes, the greatest threats to summertime motorcycle rides are rain storms and possibly hail storms. Before leaving, it’s important to check the forecast and see if there is any bad weather on your route. While it’s important to check the forecast, it’s more important to be prepared for any weather that you may encounter. Packing rain gear, even if the forecast is sunny and hot, is a great safety precaution.
Along with planning for bad weather with the gear you pack, it’s also a good idea to look at possible rest areas along your route in the case you need to pull off the main route. Taking shelter under a reliable structure is safer and much more comfortable than stopping on the side of the road and covering yourself with a tarp.
Final Pre-Ride Maintenance
As a final measure of getting ready for your motorcycle trip, performing one last maintenance check on your Harley-Davidson motorcycle is a great idea. Not performing this final step can result in lost travel time, potential roadway danger or expensive damages to your motorcycle. Make sure to double check your bike’s fluids, tire condition, electrical components and basic operations before getting on the road. If you need a trained eye to look over your bike, our trusted Harley-Davidson motorcycle service department is more than happy to make sure your bike is running smoothly.
Enjoy the Ride!
If you’ve completed all of these items, it’s time to get on the road and enjoy your long distance touring motorcycle journey! Though keeping rest stop locations and timelines in the front of your mind is important, make sure to take in the scenes around you and the attractions you visit. If there’s an intriguing sight you want to check out, take the exit and explore what it may be. Take pictures, record videos for a short trip documentary, purchase keepsakes and have a good time.
Here at Zylstra Harley-Davidson, we’re excited to support you and hear about your trip once it’s complete. If you have any questions regarding preparation, proper gear to wear, best motorcycle routes or the best motorcycles for touring, we would love to chat with you.
Happy riding and stay safe!