There’s nothing better than being on the open road, the wind in your
hair, the scenery rushing by. A little planning goes a long way, whether
you’re riding a Harley or a Honda.
1. Learn basic motorcycle repair. You should know check the oil and the tire pressure, and adjust the chain. If you don’t already have one, buy a repair manual for your bike, available from the dealer or online from TheMotorBookstore.com.
2. Get an adequate tool kit. The kit that comes with most bikes is not high quality. Start with a small socket-wrench set, an adjustable wrench, a spark-plug wrench, a suspension adjustment wrench, a tire gauge, screwdrivers and an Allen wrench set.
3. Know your bike. Find out your gas tank range and safely attach luggage. Remember that a heavily loaded bike handles differently than it does without a load. Take test drives to find out how many miles or hours you can ride before you get tired or lose concentration.
4. Get out the maps and start planning. Look for scenic roads with light traffic. Freeways are monotonous–your bike wants to prowl on the back roads. Buy a campground and/or motel directory so you can make reservations while on the road.
5. Set a realistic schedule. For many people, riding more than 300 miles (483 km) per day is too much in terms of both comfort and safety. Make allowances for spontaneous discoveries, unexpected events or foul weather.
6. Discuss the planned route with your travel partner(s). Make sure everyone’s goals are included in the itinerary. If you’re traveling with other bikes, plan on starting each day with a route briefing: Lay out rest spots, lunch spots and meeting spots. See 418 Prepare an Itinerary.
7. Create your own maps. Use road map software and print a map of your route. Tape this map to the gas tank or clip it to the windshield for quick reference.
8. Outfit yourself with a helmet-to-helmet communication system that allows you to talk with your passenger, a much more effective and less frustrating system than yelling back and forth. This can be wired to your bike or powered by batteries.
9. Be realistic about expected temperatures and dress accordingly. Hypothermia is a real danger on a motorcycle and can affect your judgment and response time on the road. Widder Enterprises (widder.com) has been making electrically heated motorcycle clothing for many years. For hot weather, a hydration pack is a great asset. Shop for one at REI.com and other sites.