If you are planning a cross-country ride or even a long day of riding the Interstate, you'll want to be prepared not only with the right bike that's been properly maintained, but with the right gear and with some safety tips in mind. Let's review what you'll need to have an enjoyable long distance ride.
If you already have the bike you are going to ride, then no sweat. But if you are shopping for a dedicated long distance bike or a motorcycle that can do a little of everything, you may want to go with one with a 750cc engine or larger. Smaller displacement bikes can do just fine on long-haul rides, but you'll want to make sure that your bike of choice has both ample power and appropriate gearing for cruising the highways at 70 mph or faster all day long. Finding a bike that you are comfortable and confident riding for hours before a break is as much about ergonomics and personal preference as it is about the engine that's below you.
Touring motorcycles are by far the most popular choice for long distance rides, since they are designed for long journeys and feature comfortable, relaxed riding positions plus ample storage space thanks to saddlebags and a trunk area. With their large fairings and windscreens, you'll enjoy high-speed cruising a lot more on a touring motorcycle than a bike that doesn't offer the same level of wind protection.
Cruiser motorcycles are another common choice for longer journeys and offer that classic open-road style and sense of freedom you see in old biker movies. Thanks to their low profile and seating position and relaxed ride, cruisers are comfortable for longer rides, but may lack the wind protection and storage capacity of their touring bike counterparts. If your rides may include some gravel roads, you should also consider a dual-purpose or adventure bike, which can be upgraded for your travels with added storage space in the form of luggage racks or tank bags.
No matter what bike you ride, you can always upgrade it with some specialty gear designed to provide a more comfortable long distance ride. Consider the following available parts and accessories for your motorcycle if a long journey is on the horizon:
You can help avoid getting stuck on the side of the highway during your trip by conducting some routine bike maintenance and repairs before your trip. Whether it is time for scheduled maintenance due to your motorcycle's mileage or an overall inspection is in order, do not put off maintenance on your bike until after the trip. Tire service or an oil change is quick and can save you from a roadside headache later on, so be sure to give your bike the once-over before you set out on your next long journey.
Proper bike maintenance and the recommended riding gear can help mitigate some safety risks while you are out on the open road. Items like a helmet, protective eyewear, earplugs, a leather jacket, proper riding boots and other protective outerwear are certainly recommended, as they will help keep you safe and comfortable on any ride. You may never need them, but bringing along a paper map, rain gear, pain relievers, sunscreen, a first aid kit, toolkit and similar items can help ensure safer travels.
Maybe you are organizing a long distance ride with your buddies or planning a solo trip to see the U.S. National Parks system on two wheels. If you are itching to get out on the open road and put some miles on your bike, consider also seeking out local riding groups, which may hold weekly rides around your area as well as occasional longer rides to bike events scenic roadways.