After countless laps around parking lots, hundreds of miles of city traffic, and dozens of half-day trips to nearby Midland, you’ve got that itch. No longer content to just treat your bike as a simple commuter, you’re ready to hit the road and take part in that timeless tradition – The Motorcycle Road Trip.
But there’s more to a long-distance ride than just keeping a little more gas in the tank. Indeed, the art of the long-distance ride takes a little bit of forethought to get right. But don’t worry, it’s easier than it sounds. The pros at Ruhnke’s Xtreme Cycles are here to help with this quick-hitting guide!
Make Sure You’ve Got the Right Bike
Don’t take this the wrong way, but any bike can go anywhere, and you can even tour long distances on a 150cc bike, but you might not enjoy it. Some bikes are better suited for long-distance rides than others. For instance, the size of your engine might make a real difference in your experience. That 250cc engine that’s great for dodging through city streets and in between rows of gridlocked cars will really struggle to keep up at highway speeds. Generally speaking, any engine from 750cc and up will do fine at highway speeds for long periods of time. The bigger the engine, the better suited it is for serious cruising and touring.
You’ll also want to consider the style of bike you’re taking on your long-distance ride. Sportbikes are great for getting from point A to point B fast but are more than a little uncomfortable if you’re riding for six or more hours in a day. Touring motorcycles are the ideal, with their upright riding position, cushy seats, cargo space, and wind fairings, they coast down the road with ease. Cruisers and standards can be great choices too, just make sure you’ve got a windscreen on the front to keep from getting buffeted by the wind. ADV, dual-sport, and enduro bikes are also good options as long as they’re outfitted with windscreens.
It’s tempting to grab every saddle bag, backpack, and tank bag in sight and fill them with the gear you think you might need for your first big trip. But resist the temptation! All you end up doing is packing a bunch of stuff that weighs you down and never sees the outside of the bag you packed it in. If you’re going for multiple days at a time, you’ll have the option of staying in hotels or at campgrounds. If you’re “roughing it,” make sure you’ve got essentials like a tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad. You’ll want to bring other necessities like a change of clothing, hygiene items, insurance, registration, and license. While we don’t get much in the way of wet weather in Texas, keeping a rain jacket and pants handy is never a bad idea.
Simply put, if you’re packing something “just in case,” it will go un-missed if you leave it at home.
Care for Your Bike Everyday
When you’re just cruising around town or making quick jaunts to and from work on your motorcycle, you might not think to give it a once over every day. But on a long-distance ride, you might be far away from your tools at home or even a nearby mechanic. Checking your bike each morning before you start riding is a great way to keep you safe and your bike in working order. Take a look at the following before you start riding:
- Check vital fluids like oil, brake, and transmission fluids.
- Check the voltage of your battery.
- Check brakes for function and pads for proper thickness.
- Check your tire pressure to make sure they’re adequately inflated.
- Check your electrics like high and low beams, turn signals, and brake and running lights.
This might sound like a hassle, but when practiced, can be completed in less than two minutes. Think of it as a cheap insurance plan to make sure you get home at the end of your trip.
Be Realistic About Your Mileage
At some point, every rider has given serious thought about completing the Iron Butt challenge, but it’s really not a great way to introduce yourself to a long ride. Rather than powering through 1,000 miles in a day, shoot for something more realistic. 150 miles might not sound like much when you’re in a car, but as a new rider on a bike where you’re at the mercy of winds and weather, it can make for a long day. It’s also important to remember that the back and side roads that are safer for motorcyclists to ride, the speed limits are lower. Don’t get yourself in a hurry to travel, just enjoy the ride.
Wear the Right Gear
We get it. Riding a motorcycle is as much a style exercise as it is a way to get around, but you’ve gotta dress for the slide, not the ride. Safety gear is now more comfortable, light, and affordable than ever. There’s really no reason not to wear a helmet, armored jacket and pants, and reinforced gloves and boots. In fact, most modern riding gear actually makes your long-distance ride more comfortable than if you tried it without it.
Start Riding Today — Visit Ruhnke’s In Odessa
All these tips are great, but won’t do you any good if you don’t have a motorcycle to begin with. Drop by our motorcycle shop in Odessa today to find the best selection of new and used motorcycles. We carry brands you know and trust, like Honda, BMW, and Harley Davidson. Visit us today!