Motorcycle Road Trip

A Complete Guide To a Motorcycle Road Tour For Beginners (Tips and Tricks)

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Are you planning to go on a motorcycle road tour?

Is it a brave, cool, or scary idea?

I mean, deep down, you know you want to hit the road, but you’re not sure if you are ready yet.

The fact of the matter is, the idea of embarking on a motorcycle road trip is full of uncertainties.

So, suppose it’s your first motorcycle road tour. In that case, you’ll need to know how to choose the right motorcycle, must-have motorcycle gears before a road trip, how to service your bike before a road trip, how to pack right before taking a motorcycle road trip, and the tips and tricks to apply when touring on a motorcycle.

Travel like the pros- Tripversed x
Travel like the pros- Tripversed

But the good news is, in this beginners’ motorcycle road tour guide, we’ve covered that.

In other words, this guide will turn you from a complete road trip noob to a motorcycle road trip snob in just a few minutes.

How cool is that?

But before we begin:

Every motorcycle enthusiast knows the beauty of going on a motorbike road trip lies in the enjoyment of every minute of a journey and the intimate experience with the outside world. 

And that’s what makes it special.

And again, only a biker knows why a dog sticks his head out of a car window.

In fact, riders who enjoy going for long road trips are basically dreamers who make their exploring desires a reality.

Yes, that’s right.

Now let’s get into details.

Choosing the right motorcycle

The bike you ride on makes all the difference.

A good road trip motorcycle will give you a better experience if you have a long road ahead.

Do you know why?

Because you will be seated in the same position for many hours.

But before you choose the right motorcycle, you will first need to consider the different styles of motorcycles that suit your type of road trip.

Let’s take a look.

Styles of motorcycles

There are many different motorbike styles available. But not every style is suitable for long-distance travel.

Here are my top three recommended styles to consider when going on a long motorcycle road trip:

Touring Motorcycles

Touring Motorcycle.

These bikes are designed for the sole purpose of long-distance travel. They provide a more upright riding position that would be comfortable when riding for many hours.

Unlike other motorbikes, these bikes do not put a lot of strain on your back. They have spacious cargo space.  The windscreen and the front fairing are also large enough, so you won’t have to keep fighting with the wind.

It is also important to note that there are two types of touring motorcycles. We have the touring and the sport touring bikes.

Both types are designed to provide comfort for the rider, but what’s the main difference between the two?

The following table gives the main differences between touring and sport-touring motorcycles.

TouringSport Touring
Has more storage areaHas less storage area
Has a more relaxed seating positionProvides riders with a less relaxed seating position
It has more weightIt has less weight
It has more room for rear passengerIt has less room for the rear passenger
Some touring bikes have relatively low seat heightsThey have a reasonably tall seat height. This is to give more ground clearance for better cornering.
They are slowerThey are fast as compared to touring motorcycles

Kawasaki concours14, BMW Motorrad K 1600 GTL, and Honda GoldWing are a few best examples of these touring Motorcycles.

And on the other hand, Kawasaki H2 SX SE+, BMW S1000XR, and Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX are a few best examples of sport-touring motorcycles.

How do I choose a touring motorcycle?

It would be best to choose a comfortable touring bike, has a more carrying capacity, and is reliable.
A comfortable touring bike should have great seating support, and its seating position should be flexible and ideal for long-distance touring.

Cruiser Motorcycles

motorcycle cruiser

These bikes are a great alternative to the touring motorcycle. However, their cargo area cannot be compared with the touring bikes. They also lack essential features that would help block the wind while riding. 

But on the flip side, its main upside is in its lower, relaxed, and comfortable sitting position that would be great for long-distance travel.

Cruisers are commonly designed to create maximum rideability on paved roads for riders.

Cruiser bikes are also ideal when you plan to ride on routes with few potholes because of their great tough tires.

Yamaha V-Star 250 Cruiser is among the best road trip cruisers for beginners.

To sum it up, it is worth mentioning that the main difference between a touring and a cruiser motorcycle is their style, engine performance, comfort, storage, and customization.

While touring bikes offer great comfort and storage, cruisers have a higher engine performance, and they can be easily customized to suit your needs/wants.

So, are cruisers good for touring?

Absolutely. Cruisers are great for touring. However, depending on your style and comfort, if you are planning to ride for long hours without putting a strain on your back, then you could consider customizing it for more comfort on long rides.

Dual-Sport/ Adventure Motorcycles

The motorcycle is best suited for people who love adventure and those looking to have more fun with a mixed ride of dirt and asphalt.

If you plan to rent this type of motorcycle, perhaps you will need to pay attention to a few basic things. 

Take, for instance, the backrests, footpegs, handlebars, and seats. These should be properly set up and adjusted according to your height and riding position. And in other words, you will want to reduce the likelihood of stiff limbs and an achy back.

It is also worth noting that, if planning an off-road road tour, you should consider investing in a softer seat, guards, and sharp headlights to increase your comfort.

But wait, are dual sport bikes good for long trips?

Dual sport bikes are not good for long motorcycle touring, and especially on paved roads. And apart from comfort, their small gas tank and the lack of a windshield are some of the features that make them unsuitable for long motorcycle road tours.

Related: How to prepare & ride a sports bike on a long road trip.

Now that we have learned about the different styles of motorcycles that you can use on your road trip, next, we take a look at must-have gears for your safety on the road.

Must-have motorcycle gears before a road trip

The importance of wearing proper motorcycle gear on your road trip can’t be emphasized enough.

Good motorcycle gear would make your road trip experience better and comfortable in a wide range of situations. 

These include protection from sunburns, rain, wind, debris, noise, and even crash protection. But even better, it acts as your second skin. 

Trust me. Even a minor crash could leave you severely injured.

Good gear is armored against impacts on the rider’s joints and is designed for abrasion resistance.

But let’s dig a little bit deeper…

Helmet

Motorcycle Road Tour For Beginners

Before going on your motorcycle road tour, make sure that you choose the correct helmet. But even more importantly, the best one for the kind of riding you are planning to do.

You may take, for instance, the street and dirt helmets. They are designed to offer you better protection when riding in extreme conditions.

Make sure it properly fits and feels comfortable around your head. This is because helmets may hugely vary in shapes and sizes depending on the models and the manufacturers.

Full-face helmets are the best when you are taking a long-distance ride. In any case, they are made specifically to offer you absolute protection in case of any road mishap.

If you plan to ride mostly during the day, you will want to budget for a tinted visor. It will in no doubt keep you from being blinded by the sunlight.

Before purchasing a helmet for your next ride, remember to check the customer reviews. This is because you will want to know the experience of other riders in regards to other important considerations such as aerodynamics, weight, and noise.

Quick Tip:

Never buy second-hand helmets. Sometimes helmets can sustain unseen effects, especially after a crash. Therefore their performance may not be as effective as compared to a brand new helmet.


This is because the material and adhesiveness of the helmet may have degraded. This would not properly protect you in the event of a traumatic head or face damage resulting from a crash.
Common Motorcycle Helmet Questions

How long do motorcycle helmets last?

Five years is the maximum life of most motorcycle helmets. However, this is considering that the helmet has not had any accidents or great impact on it.

Does dropping a helmet ruin it?

No. Dropping a helmet cannot damage your helmet. Therefore, there is no need to replace your helmet if it drops. However, frequently dropping or spiking it hard on a hard surface will definitely degrade it. And another thing, there’s a greater probability that the helmet may get ruined when dropped from a significant height. 

Are old motorcycle helmets safe?

Old motorcycle helmets are unsafe because the materials used to design the helmet may have been worn off completely. This would hence expose the rider to greater danger in case of an accident.

How often should you replace your motorcycle helmet?

You should change your helmet after 5 years. This rule only applies to helmets that haven’t encountered any impact that may degrade their materials.

What is the safest motorcycle helmet?

The safest motorcycle helmets must have the following:

  • An impact-absorbing liner.
  • It should have a thermoplastic or a polycarbonate (this is a very strong material).
  • Has a shell-built design.

How do I know if my motorcycle helmet is still good?

5 reasons why you do not have to replace your helmet:

  1. If there is no visible sign of cracks or deep scratches.
  2. If the visors do not have scratches or cracks that may hinder your visibility.
  3. If your helmet properly fits in your head firmly (does not slide when you shake your head). This also means that it does not have indentations in its foam lining.
  4. The straps are working properly.
  5. It does not flake off onto your shoulders or hair.

What happens if your motorcycle helmet is too big?

Wearing an oversized helmet would expose you to a lot of noise, wind and it may likely fall off in the event of a crash. 

Which color helmet is best?

The yellow color is the best for helmets. Generally, brighter colors are the best because they make it easier for other motorists to see you when riding during the day and at night.

Boots

motorcycle boots

Do you really need motorcycle boots?

Absolutely. Motorcycle boots are essential because they will give you extra guaranteed protection in case of a crash.

And this is why it is always a great idea to always go for non-slip soles, oil-resistant, and good ankle support boots. Why? Because you’ll need to be able to ride your motorbike comfortably, even on unpredictable and slippery surfaces. 

And another thing, consider going for breathable waterproof boots. 

Armour

This is a must-have!

It is essential to get an approved back armor to protect you from spinal damage in an accident.

Ensure all joints are protected by CE-approved armor inserts. But more importantly, that it fits properly to prevent any movement around in case of an accident.

But that’s not all.

You can go the extra mile to upgrade your gear if it has pockets that would accommodate your armor. This could be through adding the back protector.

You can opt for the D30 armor, which properly molds your body shape when worn. The D30 armor is a protective gear designed to give you maximum protection when you’re hit hard by an impact.

Gloves

You will want to go for gloves that cover your hands completely with strong abrasion-resistant material. Trust me.  It’ll be worth it.

But you’ll also want to ensure that:

  • They have armor at the base of the palm
  • They have armored knuckles to offer you protection from rocks, bugs, and debris from the asphalt in the event of a crash
  • They have good ventilation to prevent your fingers and palms from sweating
  • They are designed in such a way that they cover your entire wrist. They should also have armor for the ulnar bone as well
Motorcycle Road Tour For Beginners

Apart from safety, the best motorcycle gloves should be great even when riding in different weather conditions.

So, what are the best motorcycle gloves for cold weather?

The best motorcycle gloves for cold weather should have greater water resistance and features that enable them to withstand lower temperatures. 

Some riders opt to go for heated gloves. But are heated motorcycle gloves worth it?

Absolutely. Heated motorcycle gloves are the best choice for any rider who wants to keep their hands warm when riding in cold weather conditions.

But don’t just take my word for it. Find out everything you need to know about heated gloves here.

Motorcycle Jacket

Always go for motorcycle jackets that have armor in the elbows, back, and shoulders. 

Motorcycle Jeans

Choose leather or abrasion-resistant textile that has knee and hip armor.

The bottom line is, every gear should be considered a necessity when going on your motorcycle road trip.

And to top it off, it’s perhaps worth mentioning other gears that would make your long motorcycle road tour more enjoyable. 

These include: 

  • Heated grips – These provide you with extra warmth, making them a good option when riding at night, early in the morning, or in cold weather.
  • Gel seats(s) – These seats provide extra seat support and improve your comfort levels when riding.
  • Backrest – Backrest adds extra support when leaning back as you ride. The backrest can be mounted on your motorcycle together with the gel seat.
  • A good windshield – With a good windshield, you won’t have to constantly fight the wind.

By now, you already know how to choose the best style of motorcycle that suits your road trip needs and style. You also know how to gear up for the road tour.

Now, let’s take this baby for a tune-up.

Servicing your motorcycle before a road tour

Motorcycle Road Tour For Beginners
Motorcycle servicing

Needless to say, your motorcycle needs some thorough tweaking before heading out on a long road tour. In other words, you will want to worry less about any mechanical issues during the road tour.

Hence, you should make sure your fluid levels, brakes, tires, lights, and any loose bolts are checked and tested. The frame suspension, fasteners, and chain should also be secure and intact.

And another thing, you’ll still need to take your motorcycle to a mechanic, even if it’s brand new or has recently been serviced.

Trust me. You will be glad you did it.

Want to know more? Get our best tips on how to properly prepare your motorcycle for a long cross-country road trip here>>>

Be sure to carry a basic toolkit and all essential spares such as brake cables, spare tubes, spark plugs, etc.

Basically, your toolkit should have the following:

  • Replacement fuses
  • Motorcycle jumper cables
  • Locking and needle nose pliers 
  • Clutch cable/clutch saver

Up to this point, I want to congratulate you. You deserve a pat on the back for having made it this far.

Next, we learn how and what to park.

Pack right

Motorcycle Road Tour For Beginners
Pack right

You could start by packing items that have more than one use.

Carry disposable items that you can easily discard after use to create extra space. For instance, instead of carrying bottles, you can carry sachets.

What to pack on your motorcycle road tour

  • All-weather clothes – raincoats, warm jackets, rain gear, and etc. 
  • Carry lightweight synthetic clothing that can be easily washed and dried overnight. Avoid cotton fabrics because they tend to take too long to dry
  • Carry a small/medium towel that can be comfortably wrapped around your neck to keep water from running down your back during a rainstorm
  • Carry a second fuel container that would act as a backup in case you run out of fuel along the way. And in that case, you will have peace of mind in the sense that your bike will make it to the next gas station.
  • Carry eye drops
  • Lastly, but very important, carry earplugs to protect your ears from the noise when you are riding

Don’t also forget to carry these essential items in an emergency kit :

  • First-aid kit
  • Cold and headache drugs
  • Insect bite stick
  • Emergency contact numbers
  • A spare key
  • Small flashlight and a candle
  • Eyeglass repair kit
  • Energy food bars
  • Emergency blanket

Remember to check the cargo weight limit of your motorcycle to avoid overloading it.

Tips on how to pack on your motorcycle road tour

  • When packing your clothes, do not fold, just roll them. This way you will take up less space.
  • If you are traveling with a partner or as a group, you could consider sharing the packing list to avoid packing duplicate items that can be shared, such as toothpaste and shampoos.
  • Get zipper-lock plastic bags of different sizes for packing your stuff. For instance, you can pack a day’s clothes on one zipper-lock plastic bag (jeans, shirt, and undergarments) to avoid unpacking your entire motorcycle every time you need to get changed.

This is also a great way of staying organized, and above all, time-saving.

When loading your luggage onto the motorcycle, make sure you load towards the tank, distributing it evenly from side to side to keep the weight towards the motorcycle’s center of gravity.

Do a Test Pack

First, pack everything on your motorcycle. This will ensure that everything fits well and that your motorbike is not overloaded before embarking on your road tour.

Then, take short trips to feel the difference in weight and balance of the motorcycle.

Tips and tricks when touring on a motorcycle

Watch out for fatigue

Motorcycle Road Tour For Beginners
Watch out for motorcycle fatigue

Needless to say, riding when tired is dangerous! 

When riding on a motorcycle tour, you need to know when your body wants you to take a break.

And besides, sitting on a motorcycle for hours without taking short breaks can cause saddle sores.

Have a backup plan

Motorcycle Road Tour For Beginners
Always have a plan B or even C

You may encounter changing road conditions or inclement weather conditions that might force you to change roads or original plans.

Yes, it happens.

Therefore, you need to prepare yourself psychologically for any of that.

Carry a paper map

Motorcycle Road Tour For Beginners
Always carry a paper map.

If you are taking a trip headed to an unfamiliar destination, then a GPS and hard copy maps will come in handy.

Be sure to invest in a helmet with Bluetooth and hard copy maps that you can use in remote areas with no network.

You can also opt to download offline maps with your smartphone in advance. You can later use them in places with poor cell service.

Beware of country or state laws

Motorcycle Road Tour For Beginners
Know the existing state or country travel regulations

Be sure to review all the local laws of the country or state you intend to ride your motorbike on before you hit the road.

Carry an extra key

Motorcycle Road Tour For Beginners

Let’s be honest. Many things are bound to happen during a long road tour.

Losing items comes as no surprise.

A good rule of thumb is, always carry your motorcycle’s spare key and be mindful of where you keep it.

Stay motivated

Try to keep your spirits up irrespective of the circumstances.

Take time to stop along the way to sightsee and enjoy the highway attractions. But even more importantly, make friends along the way. 

Motorcycle Road Tour For Beginners
Go make it happen

Bonus Tips

How cold is too cold for a motorcycle road tour?

Below 0°C is too cold to ride a motorbike. It is hence not advisable to ride when temperatures are too low ( below 0°C ) for the sake of your safety and health. And in other words, you will more likely be exposed to accidents this way, such as sliding or hitting the ice. 

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it is impossible to ride in winter. If you are planning to ride in winter or cold conditions, there are other things to consider.

How do you prevent your hands from going numb when riding on a motorbike?

The following are 5 easy ways to help prevent your hands from going numb:

  • Ensure that your motorbike’s seat is adjusted correctly to your height
  • Install higher handlebars before your road trip. This would greatly help reduce the pressure on your wrist
  • You can opt to replace your handle grips with softer ones
  • If numbing starts to happen, you can try to shake your hands vigorously
  • Try to relax your grips

Hey, I’m Rose. I’m passionate about electric cars and clean energy. My adventurous spirit and journalistic pursuits make each day fascinating and far greater. I consider traveling not just about the grandeur moments, but the little elements that transform the whole experience.