Basics Of Motorcycle Touring

What will you be doing on your next vacation? If you haven’t considered a road trip on your motorcycle, perhaps it’s time to rethink your options. One of the best ways to achieve this is to organize a motorcycle tour and it doesn’t matter if you are going alone, with your significant other or in a group. There aren’t many ways to experience that “get away from it all” feeling these days, but a motorcycle tour is certainly one of them.

Let’s take a moment to think about planning for a successful and fun tour. You’ll need to think about how long the tour is, what shape your ride is in, what shape your wallet is in, and what shape you’re in.

How long will your planned tour be? Tour planning is made simpler by researching routes that have been ridden and documented for their scenic beauty and “fun factor”. Harley & others publish touring handbooks online that are worth researching. They are on the Harley site under “Owners / Plan Your Ride / Ride Planner”. There are some amazing tours out there! How about the “Tail of the Dragon” in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee, “Three Twisted Sisters” in central Texas or along the “Skyline Drive” in Virginia, just to name a few.

How many days do you expect to be on the road? Could you stretch that number of days if you need to drive fewer miles each day? What type(s) of terrain will you expect to be in? Long stretches of straight highway are generally less popular for motorcycle touring trips – it’s usually the twistier and hillier the better. But, whichever trek you choose means that your motorcycle’s tires better be up to the task. You might consider talking with whoever puts the tires on your bike about the length of your journey vs. the current condition of your tires.

Speaking of tires, be sure to check the load limit of your ride & adjust the tire pressures accordingly. Tires that are in good enough shape for no-luggage, single-rider around-town trips could heat-fail during a long, luggage-packed trip. You should also take your ride to a certified mechanic and have it gone over with a fine-toothed comb to identify any issues that might cause a breakdown on the planned trip.

From the Harley websites, here is a couple of URL’s you might want to check out while planning your trip:

What to pack:

Planning your trip:

When riding in a group, it’s important to designate who will be “road captain(s)”, who lead and who will trail (be last inline). The leaders & trailers should be in radio communication. Aside from keeping the leaders informed about how much the group has been stretched out and if anyone is having some sort of trouble. Also, things like hand signals and spacing should be discussed by the riding group before starting out. Generally, road captains are also the leaders and are the ones who are responsible for guiding the group along the planned route and for initiating hand signals for along-route situations such as riding single or double file, pointing out road hazards to avoid, when to turn, etc.

Finally – what shape are you in (physically)? Do you sunburn easily or are your eyes sunlight-sensitive? If so, take appropriate protection. Are you near/far-sighted i.e. you need vision correction to drive? Do you have joint problems? Do your legs/arms go to sleep after being in one position for a while? One of the remedies for some of these muscular or joint issues is to buy the most comfortable saddle you can afford. A hard custom saddle might look great but could seriously limit the length of a road trip you might be considering. Riding is supposed to be fun, so don’t put yourself in a position that may aggravate an existing medical condition.

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