When it comes to traveling the highways and byways on a motorcycle, it is often said that the joy is not in the final destination, but in the journey. Seeing the country on a motorcycle should be all about freedom, exhilaration, the open road…but there are things that could happen that could turn your wonderful adventure into a nightmare.
Remember that handling a bike takes more skill and awareness than operating a car. You need to think of balance, maneuvering, the possibility of inclement weather conditions and maintaining your stamina. Experience is the best teacher, but here are a few good tips to help you feel better prepared to go on that long journey.
Know your limits: If you don’t have experience taking long rides, plan your trip to allow for an adequate number of stops. Put in longer days on the front end of the trip as they are probably going to be the days you feel the best and have the most stamina. Keep a close check on how you feel. If there’s any breakdown in your attention, you are putting yourself and others in danger.
Don’t rely on caffeine to keep you awake: If you’re feeling tired, you need to stop. Operating a motorcycle when your senses are less than one hundred percent is hazardous.
Prepare your bike before the trip: Change the oil and filter, check fork oil levels and fork seals, adjust cables, adjust drive and lube chains, inspect tires, check tire pressure and tighten fasteners. Check all gauges, lights and signals to ensure everything is working properly.
Test out any new accessories or gear before the trip: Don’t wait until you’re out on the road to pull that new rain gear out of the package or test out a new helmet only to find it doesn’t fit correctly, is defective or is different than what you thought you bought.
Upgrade your tool kit before heading out: Make sure you have the necessary tools to avoid being stranded on the side of the road if something comes disconnected, or needs to be tightened or replaced. Consult your owner’s manual or shop manual for your bike and see what types of tools are recommended for your model. If the bike comes with a tool kit, examine it and determine if you need more tools. At any rate, always take the tool kit with you on the bike. You should at least carry the following tools with you: screwdrivers (assorted regular and Phillips), pliers, wrenches (Allen, Torx, spark plug, open-end, adjustable, and combination in sizes needed for your model), and Loc-Tite to keep fasteners from loosening or falling off. Make sure you carry a flat repair kit and know how to use it.
Make sure you have adequate insurance coverage with Towing and Roadside Assistance: Although you don’t want to think about bad things happening on your trip, there is peace of mind in knowing that if something goes wrong you have a customized insurance policy to cover it. And if your bike breaks down and can’t be ridden, there is nothing that takes the place of Towing and Roadside Assistance to bring you gas, a battery, or to tow your bike to the nearest repair shop. Some insurance companies will even offer Trip Interruption coverage, in the event that your bike can’t be ridden due to a covered collision, to help pay for meals and accommodations if you’re far from home.
Pack wisely: Make sure that you are aware of what you’re taking, that you pack light and only bring what you’ll need. Some things are necessary such as clothing, toiletries and rain gear, but limit the amount of things you pack and try to distribute weight evenly. Make sure that you have ways to secure your belongings, whether you take your luggage with you when you stop to eat or pack your valuables in lockable storage areas on your bike. Items that are left unsecured are a target for thieves, even if you’re only going to be away for a minute or two. Make a checklist and go over it a few times to ensure you have everything you need.
Eat right: When you’re out on the road, it’s important that you keep your energy and stamina up by eating well and frequently enough. Make sure that you build time for these stops into your travel plans. Carry water with you at all times and stop occasionally to drink and keep yourself hydrated.
Dress appropriately: Even in the summer, it can get chilly at night and in higher elevations. Bring along extra layers or an electric vest for warmth. Purchase good quality rain gear and put it on before it starts raining. Once your clothes are wet, you’ll be very uncomfortable with damp clothes on underneath your rain gear. You should also dress to be seen. Make sure your outer layers are bright colors, and a brightly-colored helmet is helpful as well. The better other motorists can see you, the safer you are.
Get gas before you need it: Don’t wait too long, otherwise you could end up far from a gas station and in need of fuel. Bring a cell phone along just in case you need to call for Towing and Roadside Assistance.
Plan ahead: Spend time each night going over your travel plans for the next day. Get a feel for the route, how long you think you’ll ride and places where you might want to stop.
Keep it fun: Remember the reasons you chose to take a long trip on your motorcycle. Enjoy the scenery, and use opportunities you get to meet new people and see new things if that was one of your reasons…or enjoy your freedom and time alone if that was your goal.
If you plan ahead and are prepared, long motorcycle trips can be incredibly rewarding, fun and memorable. Following these tips can’t guarantee that nothing will go wrong… the possibility surely exists when you’re dealing with the elements and unfamiliar places. But it will help ensure that you’re prepared for just about any surprises that may occur.
Contact Hubbard Insurance Agency for a motorcycle insurance quote. We proudly represent several companies for motorcycle insurance and can quote to get you the best policy to fit your coverage needs and budget. We provide motorcycle, auto, homeowners, business, and life insurance in Rocky River and all of Ohio.