How to plan a motorcycle trip - Part 1: Prep and Clothing
If you’ve ended up at this site you’re probably like me in that you love motorcycles to a semi-unhealthy level; and have, or are interested in riding them on multi-day trips for pleasure. There are lots of things to consider when planning bike trips, and know right now: you’re never going to get everything 100% right. It’s an ever changing process. You figure out the basics pretty early on and then just continually hone in from there. BUT the thing that makes it impossible to build a calculated process here is that no two trips are ever going to be the same. You might be on a different bike or going at a different time of year. We also know well that weather is about the most inconsistent piece of the puzzle we’ll ever face. With all of that being said, I’m going to hopefully outline the ins and outs of planning a motorcycle trip to help you plan your specific rides.
Location vs. miles per day equation:
The first thing you need to figure out is where you’re going and where that is in relation to where you live. How many miles a day can you handle? I can tell you from the Canada Trip experience that 400+ miles a day is A LOT, especially when there are back to back days that long. It’s almost more like riding is your job vs. a vacation. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade that trip for anything, but it was all part of learning.
Going forward I think I’ll keep trip days to no more than 350 for a few reasons:
1) less saddle time equals more time enjoying the place you’re headed to, and
2) when you’re riding more than that you focus on the destination rather than the route just because you know just HOW MUCH lies ahead and then it’s harder to focus on the journey.
If you start out thinking between 300-350 per day, you’ll more easily be able to plan out the amount of time you’re going to need to get to and back from your destination. I also prefer to do a “loop” rather than going out and back, so if you do that know that you likely won’t be able to figure it’ll be three days back if it’s three days out…it could add or remove some days. Stating the obvious, but you’d be surprised. Maybe you’re a wild stallion and you know you have X days to ride but have no specific location in mind. I’m a pretty big planner so I don’t conduct my rides like this, but if this is your style just be sure to not get too far ahead of yourself before it’s time to swing back, otherwise you could have some very long days ahead.
Number of days on the road:
Okay great, you now have a location in mind, and likely know a rough route you’d like to travel on meaning you also know about the amount of days you’ll need to be on the road. Quick question…are you planning on staying extra days in any spots or are you going to ride into town and out again the next day? Are you limited by vacation days you have available? Just some things to consider before leading into the next, and probably most important bit – what should I be packing?
Packing can be pretty daunting, but if you keep it simple you should have no problem. I know for myself I think a lot about the “what if” scenarios which then leads to me trying to bring more shit than I really need. One really good way to combat this is to pack things that serve two purposes. For example, maybe the pants and jacket you buy are waterproof (NOT to be confused with water resistant), so you don’t have to bother with rain gear. Another example: since I work on my own bikes I know pretty much what tools I could need for most scenarios of bike trouble. So I built my own tool kit to keep with me that is smaller, lighter, and more tailored to the machine rather than lugging a “complete” pre-assembled kit that may or may not have what you need. Does this take more time? Sure, in the beginning it does, but it also has way more potential to save you some headaches should you need to break it out on the side of the road. With that said, let’s get down to everything you might need in a more organized fashion:
The item that is going to take up the most space on your bike is very likely your clothing. I’m telling your right now, you don’t need all those pairs of shoes or pants. The three items I want fresh for every day are my socks, underwear, and t-shirts. If I’m gone 11 days you’d better believe I’ll have something fresh in each of those categories to put on first thing in the morning, and then one extra because they don’t take up a lot of space and it never hurts to have an extra set of skivvies on the road. Outside of that I might bring one or two pairs of jeans, one or two pairs of shorts, some basketball shorts and tank for lounging, a smaller hoodie that fits under my riding jacket, a long sleeved t-shirt or two, a few pairs of low-cut socks to wear with sneakers, and a swimming suit for hotel pools/hot tubs. The footwear I bring only includes my riding boots, a pair of sneakers, and flip flops…and if I don’t bring swim trunks then the flip flops stay home as well.
- Underwear – # of days traveling +1
- Long boot socks: # of days traveling +1
- Low cut socks : # of days I think I’ll have time to walk around the places I’m staying +1
- Short sleeved t-shirts: # of days traveling +1
- Long sleeved t-shirts: 2-3 depending on days gone and the predicted weather
- Basketball jersey/bro tank: 1 for lounging
- Pants: 1-2 pair depending on days gone and the predicted weather
- Every day shorts: 0-2 pair depending on days gone and the predicted weather
- Basketball/workout: 1 for lounging
- Hoodie: 1 light weight that I can wear out or under my riding jacket
- Swim trunks: 0-1 (don’t forget to hang these overnight to dry or bring a plastic bag so they don’t get the rest of your gear wet)
- Tennis shoes: 1
- Flip flops: 0-1 for the pool/hot tub
(I am intentionally leaving out riding gear at this point because it will be included in a future section)
Lay out all of your clothing and make sure everything is logical that you’re bringing, and most importantly ensure it fits into your bags. If you’re planning on being out a really long time you could be anticipating doing some laundry which is great for the amount you’ll need to pack! It might cost you half a day and a few bucks but you’ll be able to pack half the amount you normally would. One trick Old Al does is save up his old socks and underwear. When he’s about to throw them out he instead washes them one last time and then that is what he brings on the bike. After he finishes with them for the day he then tosses em and doesn’t have to worry about carting as much dirty laundry home.