How to Prepare for Long Distance Motorcycle Riding

Rinehart 100-0200 4 Xtreme True Dual System for Harley-Davidson Touring 2009-2016

Knowing how to prepare for a long-distance motorcycle riding is important because such a trip is unique in its way. The ups and downs, motorcycle lane splitting and filtering, the bad roads, the clustered rides, competitive riding, the increasing number of motorcycle enthusiasts crowding the road, and a host of other issues are head-ups that should make the rider have adequate preparation before hopping on his bike and begin a bike ride.

In this article, I will be guiding you through all you need to know and what preparations you need to make to have a hitch-free outing as you look forward to your maiden long-distance motorcycle riding. As a rule of thumb, the safety of other riders and road users is as equally important as yours.   

Let’s get down to business as I offer useful tips and suggestions as to how to prepare for a long-distance motorcycle trip and make your journey a memorable one. There’s no doubt that you already know where you’re heading towards. I won’t bother about that.   

What Style of Motorcycle is Appropriate for a Long-Distance Ride?

Given that you’ve chosen your destination, the first thing that should bother you and get your brain racking is the most suitable bike style that will cruise you to and fro without any hitch. Interestingly, there is a wide range of motorcycles that will do magic, including Touring, Cruiser, Sportster, Adventure, etc. Harley Davidson won’t disappoint in that regard.

While choosing which of bike styles to go for when embarking on a few days trip, make sure you take into account certain features that such motorcycles should have, including high engine performance, great torque, windscreen coverage, cargo potions, mileage, seat height, and riding position. For motorcycle styles that come with these amenities, you can choose any of the following: 

  • Touring a Motorcycle 

Ideally, I would have asked you not to consider any other style of motorcycle apart from touring when making distant trip, but experts say any motorcycle should be perfect for touring. This is because touring motorcycles are specifically designed for a long-distance bike trips, making you have a feeling of barreling down the best motorcycle rides and highways on your motorized steed. If you’re sitting for long hours on the saddle, the upright riding position of touring motorcycles offers you comfort and eases you off a lot of back strain.

What makes touring ideal for long-distance biking?

  • Adequately equipped top-side cargo boxes that feature trunk areas, saddlebags, and extra pockets where you can keep your smaller items. 
  • Roomy windscreen and front fairing for enough airflow within and around you 
  • Big-block and a large displacement engines
  • Extra seats in case you get tired and your partner has to take over
  • In-frame storage to store your extra items. 

Long-Distance Touring Motorcycle Models

Are you confused as to which bike has these features, I have got four options for you.   

1. Harley Davidson Electra Glide

Without blinking my eyes, I would recommend the Harley Davidson Electra Glide. Why? They are two of the most popular touring bikes you can find on the market because of their high mileage of 100,000 miles on the odometer. Electra Glide prides in its Milwaukee-Eight 107 V-twin engine, which is known for its power and high performance. Electra Glide also boasts a superior throttle response and suspension performance.

2. Yamaha Star Venture Transcontinental

I have no doubt Yamaha Star Venture Transcontinental is one of the most track-worthy motorcycles in the market. Popular for its great mileage, this motorcycle will partner with you all through your trip, providing comfort, stability, and reliability. What’s more, this Yamaha model is a high-performance bike that boasts a large air-cooled 1854 cc, 8-valve, V-twin engine, 6-speed transmission, and 141 luggage capacity.

3. Triumph Tiger Explorer XRT

With a 650 cc engine built for long-distance riding, Triumph Tiger Explorer XRT is a perfect machine that cruises with you anywhere, anytime. It has built a powerful 1200 cc, 12-valve, in-line, 3-cylinder DOHC high-performance engine. Boasting 139 horses at 9,350 rpm, this device is maximized with heated seats for the rider and pillion as well as 4 preset riding modes and 1 rider programmable mode.

4. BMW Motorrad K 1600 GTL

It comes with a powerful 1,600 cc 6-cylinder in-line engine that gives off 160 horses. The roomy seats on the K 1600 GTL are ergonomically designed for two and have a heating feature perfect for long cold rides. It also features keyless ignition, beautiful Xenon headlamps, an adjustable electric windshield, ABS brake system, and electronic suspensions.

If touring bikes aren’t readily available or your preference doesn’t go with touring bike models, you can also choose Cruiser and standard motorcycles. If you choose cruisers, I guess all you’re looking for is comfort and storage. This is because almost all cruiser motorcycle models come with a lower, relaxed seating position that is ideal for long rides. The storage features of this style of bikes include saddlebags, a tank bag, and a front pouch.

But you may have to find an alternative because Cruisers typically are not built with a large front fairing that will help deflect the wind around you completely. Also, unlike touring bikes, cruiser motorcycles don’t generally come with trunk storage.

Top 3 Cruiser Bike Recommendations

If I should recommend, the Yamaha V-Star 250 Cruiser, Honda Cruiser Motorcycle – the Rebel 500, and Ducati XDiavel belong to the top 3 best cruiser and standard motorcycles that give you incredible long ride experience, come rain, come shine. 

The Yamaha V-Star 250 Cruiser can take you up to 78 miles on every gallon of gas you fill your tank with. That means you can ride 200 miles before you stop to refill the gas tank.With its low seat, you can comfortably sit straight back while the V-Twin 249cc engine rumbles on with more than enough power to get moving. If you fancy city commuting and weekend trips, this is the bike for you.

The Honda Cruiser Motorcycle is a lightweight bike (weighs only 408lb), powered by a 471cc parallel-twin engine that is capable of getting up to 46HP. The Ducati XDiavel is 100% cruiser-approved and boasts an odd 1262cc L-Twin which is capable of delivering fantastic 152HP and sporty speeds.

Adventure or Dual-Sport Motorcycle

If you’re one of those confused about the differences between a Dual Sport and an Adventure Bike, know now that an Adventure Bike is technically a type of Dual Sport. But that’s not our primary concern. Why do you have to choose a dual-sport motorcycle for your long-distance motorcycle ride? Check out the following features:

  • Excellent ergonomics that relieves you of your back and wrist strain
  • Perfect fairing against wind attack
  • Easy Upgrade System
  • Extra luggage for additional storage space.
  • Single-cylinder 250cc-650cc engine 
  • Long flat motocross-style seat
  • Windscreens for better wind protection at speed

Any recommendations? Sure. 

The Suzuki V-Strom is maximized with six-speed gearboxes, Suzuki V-Strom comes with a 90-degree, liquid-cooled 645cc fuel-injected engine. It gives room for reduced weight and superior heat transfer within the cylinders. The Kawasaki Versys is another adventure bike I will recommend. The bike comes with a high-performance engine that features a bottom end and mid-range torque. What about the Honda Africa Twin? It is an amazing experience riding on this bike. With a 90s 750 V twin engine version, the bike boasts state-of-the-art DCT 6-speed transmission. It also features high-tech gearbox, as well as DCT, which stands for dual-clutch transmission. The last I will tell you to look out for is the Yamaha Super Tenere. The bike comes with a 1199 cc engine, coupled with a 6-speed gearbox and shaft-driven rear wheel. With great traction, the bike allows the rider the luxury of full control over the machine at any given time.

Sport Motorcycle

I really don’t like touring with sport motorcycles while I’m going on a long-distance riding. Not for anything but their forward-leaning position. Ideally, they’re designed for a low, sleek riding position, and a crouched posture. This is why they are more aerodynamic than any other bike. But hey, do not count them completely out because a lot of people have great testimonies and feedback about using sport motorcycles for their long-distance ride. I’ll advise you to start with a shorter ride.

Would you still recommend any sport motorcycle? 

Well, truth be told, I have not used one before but you can check any of the following: Ducati V4S, BMW S1000RR, Yamaha YZF-R1M, Honda Fire blade SP, Kawasaki ZX-10R SE. These sport motorcycles make my list not because I have tested them for a long-distance motorcycle riding but because they are manufactured by top-quality brands. 

So having decided on the style of motorcycles to use, let us shift our attention to some other equally important things you need to consider as you prepare for your long-distance motorcycle riding. 

Bike Maintenance

I’m sure this is not coming to you as a shock or a piece of news. Even if you are not going for a long-distance ride, it is a must that you take your motorcycle for the scheduled  

Imagine your bike breaking down in the middle of the mountainous Los Angeles’ Mulholland Drive or The Snake to the Rock Store. The experience won’t be palatable, and you can only continue to imagine the degree of pain you’ll have to face before you leave or some helper comes to pick you up with the trailer or tower. What if you’re over 1000 miles away from your destination? You can even be stuck in an ever-busy split lane that you’re unable to even drag let alone move your bike. All of these are not palatable experiences you would want to go through, isn’t it?  

Why do you have to wait until situations subject you to ugly experiences before you know that your motorcycle needs the scheduled service?

Conduct proper and regular maintenance on your bike before you take off. Check the oil level, the brake system, the worn tires, stuck cable, old brake pads, and the condition of the engine. All of these and many more are things you must not take for granted. Even if you go for the scheduled service with your engineer, still try to do a random check to know if there is any part of your bike that needs to be repaired or fixed before you leave for the trip. Remember, your motorcycle is an asset and investment that you must guide jealously. 

Not every Engine is made for every ride!

Let me resound it, ‘not every engine is good for every ride.’ One thing you need to know whether you’re a veteran or beginner in a long-distance motorcycle trip is that not all motorcycle engines are suitable for the motorcycle rides you will be plying. 

However big your engine may look or high its displacement, or large its fuel-to-air cubic centimeters mix, some engines aren’t just designed to be on that ride. In fact, some will pack up when you need them most on your long-distance trip, not because they are not good enough because they are not meant for that ride. 

Hence, selecting the right engine is the way to go. No motorcycle with less than 750cc fuel-to-air mix is suitable for long-distance bike journeys. If you’re on the saddle of a standard, cruiser, or sport-bike with a fuel-to-air mix of 750cc or above, you’re good to go on your long distances, especially if you’re a daily commuter and an occasional long rider. 

You’re guaranteed efficient mileage and easy maneuverability. Also, if your motorcycle has a fuel-to-air mix of 250cc, you may not consider putting it on the highways, even if it is fuel-efficient. If you’re an occasional commuter, maybe once in a while, you may try it but not for a longer distance. 

Cargo Save

Whether you’re riding independently or on an outfitted ride, you’ll need supplies to store your stuff. You can get some lightweight soft, sturdy duffel bags or oversized backpacks if you’re on a sanctioned ride. Meanwhile, independent riders can get $50/bag saddlebags (panniers), $15 handlebar bags, or $10 under-seat bags.

Communication Gadget

This is one reason Jenkins’ wife wouldn’t want her husband to leave the house without his smartphone and other essential items. Your smartphone should be in hand to connect you to your family when you’re on a long-distance trip on some bike rides. 

However, you don’t get reliable cell service in some remote rides; in that case, you’ll need a backup communication gadget that is not dependent on mobile networks. I would recommend Sena R1 Smart Cycling Helmet.

Refillable Water Bottles

Water is life; in winter, summer, cold or hot weather, you need a lot of water to weather the storm of a long-distance ride. To cater for that, equip yourself with some body-mounted hydration packs or refillable water bottles. hydration pack. You can procure these items on the cheap, and with $13 Walmart will offer you off-brand hydration pack.

Sun Protective

Fair-skin riders or people whose skin is sensitive to prolonged sun exposure must travel along with high-SPF sunblock, sunglasses, or a cheap hat. With $3 to $15, you can get a quality high SPF sunblock; while $5 to $10 hands you a functional pair of sunglasses. If you have up to $10, you can get a cheap helmet or hat.

Other essential supplies you can get include bicycle repair gear, tent tarps, stakes, sleeping bag, pillow, or rain flies. Also go with your appropriate clothing (bike shorts, under layers for colder weather) and footwear (clip-in shoes and pedals, toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, liquid soap, or shampoo), etc.

Emergency Repair Toolkit

Sometimes your bike can disappointment on the road and require a few emergency repairs. In that case, you’ll need to carry along with you a small toolkit for emergency repairs or adjustments. Inside the toolkit, make sure you put a simple socket set, small locking pliers, a crescent wrench, a small flashlight, a multi-tool with screwdrivers and picks, etc.

Training For Long-Distance Motorcycle Ride

Have you enrolled in any long-distance bike ride training programme? If you have not, then you haven’t fully prepared for it. You may have been on a personal training regimen. Putting yourself on a regular exercise bandwagon will help you adjust your personal workout to take care of your age, time horizon, medical conditions, total ride length and duration, baseline fitness level, and ride difficulty. 

In order to have a worthwhile long-distance ride experience, try the following preparatory activities and training programme:

A Million Mile Begins With a Step

You’ll need at least 50 miles a day to be ready for a long-distance bike ride. But you don’t have to have it all at once.  You can start slow and gradually, perhaps with 10 miles per day of four times per week, and from there you can build things up. Mind you don’t need to wait when it’s a week to your journey before you start the training. You’ll need to start at least three months’ preparatory training, especially if you’re starting from a low fitness baseline. 

The Body Isn’t a Machine / It Needs Some Rest

As you progress in your training, you need to know that your body isn’t a machine; it needs to take some time off to recover from the week-long stress, resulting from the workout. Besides, rather than engaging in an aggressive workout, you can give the body a light training at least two times a week. You can also go a few hours without training regimens a week.

Maximize Weekend Training Regimen

In order to optimize your weekdays for some other things, you can plan to have more time to train on weekends. Your weekends can take about 30 or 40 miles while the mornings and evenings of your weekdays are given less aggressive training. By your peak training period, you should be at 60 to 70 miles per weekend day.

Change What You Eat

As part of your training regimen, try to make changes to your dietary schedule. Do you need more carbohydrates, more proteins, or more fluids? What should be the attitude of a vegetarian towards his protein intake? Don’t take my word for it, consult a dietician for matters regarding weight, body type, dietary restrictions, and so on.     

More Cycling & Less Gym

Innocently some fitness coaches advise on gym work when training for road cycling. Here’s the thing you need to know: when training for a long-distance bike ride, emphasis should be on regular road cycling, not gym. Although you will need stable muscles, you need stability on the bike, skills, including maneuverability skills.    

Plan Your Route

Don’t just push your bike to the ride. You need to have a well-planned tour design that clearly shows you where, how, and when you’re riding. The following are things you should know to plan your riding route.

When is your trip taking place?

How much knowledge of the weather do you have? Will you be riding in the night or day, during Spring, summer, winter, or autumn? Be prepared for all the seasons.

Where are you going?

It is important to know your destination and how long it will take to get there. Do you plan on getting there quickly via interstate or you’re keeping tabs on visiting many places before getting there? What are the obstacles to your trip? Are there construction sites or a detour? All of this you’ll need to find out before you start the trip. That is why you need to map this entire trip out via GPS.

Are you stopping over?

As you’re about to kick start your trip, do you plan to have stopovers? Then plan ahead to have your accommodation booked beforehand. Your budget will determine the hotels you’re booking.

What’s your bike’s fuel tank capacity?

Again, too many fuel stops may not be necessary if the capacity of your bike’s fuel tank is large, being able to run 500 miles before the fuel gets exhausted. Decide if you want to go for a complete tank, or stop to refuel and refresh.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is considered a long-distance bike ride? The direct answer to your question is that any distance above 100 miles would be considered a long-distance ride. But again, if 100 (6hrs-ride) miles is the benchmark for a pro rider, a beginner wouldn’t be said to have taken a short distance ride if he took 50 miles.

What that means is that your level as a pro or beginner in ride sometimes may inform what would be considered a long-distance motorcycle trip.

What should I eat on a long-distance bike ride? Do not take eating for granted when you want to engage in a long-distance motorcycle ride. As much and aggressive as you can get, eat carbohydrates, including fruits, bread, grains, pasta. As a pro cyclist, you need between 6000-7000 calories per day, which is three times the number of calories you consume ordinarily. 

What is the best time to eat for a long-distance ride? The best time to eat if you’re going on a long-distance ride is the night preceding the day for the long ride. The reason is simply that by the following morning your muscles are already saturated with enough glycogen. 

How far should a beginner cyclist ride? Never act as though you were a veteran in cycling. Everything has its own time. Because for every distance you cover on your bike, there’s a price to pay, regardless of your level or status in riding. It may be in terms of fuel usage, the effect on health (especially if you’re not used to long-distance rides), engine impact, or cost of bike maintenance. 

To put it simply, the average riding speed for a beginner rider is about 12mph. in your first week, you should not cover distances exceeding 2 miles. By the time you’re eight weeks, then, a 10-mile ride shouldn’t be daunting distance to cover.

How long should I bike for a good workout? There’s a difference between riding for a workout and engaging in a competition. Cycling competitions have their rules and specifications. For a workout, it all depends on your discretion, fitness level, availability, and location.  But you need to take things gradually and progressively, too.

As to how long your workout should take, I would say you start riding your bike every 2-3 days. It doesn’t matter if it’s just a turbo trainer workout, your minimum workout ride should be about three times weekly.

Is riding bad for your heart? Are you a robot? Even machines are vulnerable to ‘diseases.’ But there are ways to nurse a sick robot back to health, just as there are ways to return an ill person to a normal state of health. 

Riding is one activity that is recommended for healthy living. That doesn’t mean the rider is immune to all kinds of diseases or ailments. Typically, long riding helps enhance your heart and strengthen cardiovascular health. But remember it doesn’t guarantee immunity from heart-related problems.

What equipment and supplies will I need? The kind of equipment and supplies to prepare depends on what type of tour you’re taking. Also, the season you’re making the tour is also important to consider. What a long-distance bike rider will need during winter and cold weather will be slightly different from if he’s on warm or summer riding. 

Another thing to factor in is the type of ride the tour will take place. If you’ll be going on an outfitted ride, you’ll need a lot less equipment than if you are on an independent ride. 

Carrying with you all the supplies for a long-distance ride is to ensure your safety, convenience, and comfort. Taking from experience and personal research, I have a list of some of the essential items you’ll need to take along with you when going on a long-distance bike trip.

If you’re taking a bike ride in warm weather, try to go with the following essentials. Some of them are also good during the winter or cold season. 

Conclusion

I do not mean to discourage you if at the end of this informative and enlightening conversation I conclude by saying ‘you’re not safe.’ That’ll sound counter-productive, right? But I think I am ok if you feel that way. After all, you’re not safe. Ask me why. 

The motorcycle ride isn’t a private premise where you can decide to wind and unwind. You have fellow riders and road users who also struggle it out on the same ride as you. Their safety is your safety. Be professional; follow traffic rules; avoid staying in split lane if you have to stop for a few minutes to sip from your water bottle. 

I’m sure the next time you’ll be preparing for your long-distance motorcycle ride, it won’t be difficult. Especially now that you have all the information you need right at the tip of your finger.