Being well prepared for a motorcycle trip can turn a bad trip good and a good trip great. But learning all the tips and tricks to save time, stay organized and have the most fun on the road often takes years of trial and error to figure out. Luckily you don’t have to wait years to have these “aha moments.” Revolutionize the way you ride by checking out these 15 insider motorcycle touring tips from staffers at the American Motorcyclist Association!
1. Eat at weird times.
Everyone and their dog eats around 8 a.m., noon and 6 p.m. So if you want to get in and out of restaurants quickly, plan ahead so you’re not hungry at those times.
2. Carry a spare key.
Hide your spare somewhere on your bike using a zip-tie or duct tape, or trade keys with a traveling companion.
3. Keep your stuff dry in saddlebags by using trash compactor bags.
These DIY waterproof barriers are thicker and more durable than the standard garbage bags a lot of bikers use.
4. Set yourself up for a quick getaway.
If you’re nearing the end of your riding day, you can set yourself up for a quick getaway in the morning by riding to the far side of the next city you reach before stopping. This will eliminate time lost in urban traffic the next morning.
5. Carry a backpack hydration system.
Take a tip from off-road riders. This must for arid weather lets you easily drink while you ride. For more gear suggestions check out the Sturgis Rider News article 10 Essential Pieces of Gear You Shouldn’t Ride Without.
6. Use the envelope system to stay organized.
Going on a long, complex trip? Before you leave, prepare one envelope for each day on the road. Mark the outside of each envelope with dates and locations, then stuff them with things like hotel reservation info and lists of things you’d like to see. Instead of juggling your entire stack of literature to find the information you’re looking for, you can just open up that day’s envelope.
7. Look your bike over every morning before hitting the road.
Checking the simple stuff—air pressure, oil level, loose or missing fasteners—only takes a little time, and it can save you from big trouble. Here’s a great motorcycle pre-ride checklist you can follow.
8. Sign up for AMA Roadside Assistance.
To sign up, call the AMA at: 800-262-5646.
9. Wear earplugs.
Earplugs help reduce wind noise, and they’re fairly easy to come by. Check out the Sturgis Rider News Blog article “8 Innovations to Give You a More Comfortable Ride” to find out about DUBS Acoustic Filters and other cutting-edge products that’ll increase your comfort level on a ride.
10. Keep track of where you are.
Your cell phone can be a lifesaver in an emergency. You can dial 911 for help anywhere you’ve got service, but dispatch will want to know where you are. Keep track of route numbers, interstate exits, towns you’ve passed, road signs, mileposts—anything that can save emergency officials time in getting to you. For more advice on what to do if you come across someone who’s been in an accident, check out 8 Tips that Could Save a Rider After a Motorcycle Accident.
11. Plan for a day of nothing.
On a long tour, plan for at least one day per week of doing nothing. Time is the ultimate luxury; it can mean the difference between a vacation and an endurance run.
12. Be realistic with your daily mileage.
In really scenic areas, 150 miles may make a very full day. Don’t assume you can achieve freeway mileage on good back roads. You can plan out your route and find amazing places to stop by using the Buffalo Chip’s Rider Friendly Map.
13. Invest in a packable motorcycle cover.
These covers not only keep your bike clean and dry overnight, they also discourages thieves.
14. Call ahead for your room.
If you call a hotel--even if you're only two blocks away--you can often get a better rate than if you just walk in. And if you have access to a computer or connected mobile device, you’ll often come across some spectacular Internet-only deals. Either way, do yourself a favor and have a reservation by 4 p.m. You never know when a convention will take over your destination city. For a list of rider friendly accommodations in the area where you’re traveling, be sure to check out the Rider Friendly Map.
15. Avoid riding into the sun.
If you’re traveling east or west, schedule breakfast and dinner times near sunrise or sunset so you don’t get stuck staring into the blinding sun when it’s low on the horizon.
To learn more ways to get the most out of your next road trip, check out the American Motorcyclist Association’s 33 Secrets for Smart Touring.
Do you have your own touring tips and tricks? Share them with other riders in the comments below!
About the American Motorcyclist Association
Founded in 1924, the AMA is a not-for-profit member-based association whose mission is to promote the motorcycle lifestyle and protect the future of motorcycling. As the world's largest motorcycling rights and event sanctioning organization, the AMA advocates for riders' interests at all levels of government and sanctions thousands of competition and recreational events every year. The AMA also provides money-saving discounts on products and services for its members. Through the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Pickerington, Ohio, the AMA honors the heroes and heritage of motorcycling.
For more information about the benefits of AMA membership, including free roadside assistance to members who sign up for automatic renewal, see www.americanmotorcyclist.com.