January 2016 Vol 2 • Issue 1

Road Trip Tips

by Dan Mirabent

at Red Rock Garage Inc.

As a motorcycle enthusiast I’m always looking for our next adventure, always another destination on my bucket list to check out, however, motorcycle trips demand far more planning than the equivalent journey in a car. Though riding provides an inherent sense of freedom, the open road provides a place to clean your soul and get your mind cleared from the day to day issues, practical limitations require motorcyclists to think ahead when choosing to hit the open road.
For starters, most motorcycles are limited in their storage capacity. Some touring bikes such as the Harley Ultra and the Electra Glide, Honda Goldwing or a BMW R1200, they all offer numerous hard cases for the storage of extra clothes and gear, however this is not the norm for all motorcycles, and long distance riders are often forced to make tough decisions about the details for their trips, and how much of what items they need to pack. Packing Tips
Plan, Plan, Plan...
Though it's tempting to hit the open road and simply follow your nose, don't forget that you're more vulnerable to the elements, fatigue, and potentially serious injury on a motorcycle. Prepare yourself with clothing appropriate for the weather. Plan a route and, if you don't have a portable GPS system, do whatever it takes not to get lost-- even if it means taping directions to the top of your fuel tank. Err in the direction of filling up with gas too frequently; because of their relatively low cruising range, most bikes will barely make it across some of the North American stretches of highway that are sparsely populated. When in doubt, fill up.
Pace your travels. Don't try to ride so many hours in a day that it might affect your reflexes or decision making ability; after all, most of the fun is in the journey, not simply in reaching a destination. While riding, be sure to stop whenever necessary-- whether for a snack, a stretch, a picture, or a nap. The simple act of taking a breather will make the ride all the more enjoyable. Remember to keep a photo journal or a written journal; this will help you remember places, adventures and details that will come handy for your next trip. Don't Over plan!
Once you've prepared sufficiently, enjoy the possibility of the unexpected. Riding requires a certain amount of discipline and logistical planning, but part of the joy of the journey is the process. Be open to re-writing your plans when necessary and you'll have a blast no matter where you end up. How to Pack an Emergency Repair and First Aid Kit
Hope for the Best, but be prepared for the Worst
Here are a few items to pack so you're covered in case something goes wrong: Toolkit Most bikes come with toolkits, but you'll want to make sure you're equipped with pliers, wire cutters, and various wrenches (including allen or torx wrenches.) A small, all-in-one Leatherman®-style tool can be a handy complement to a traditional toolkit, and is easily accessible for quick repairs or adjustments.
Key Mechanical Spares & Lubes Bringing along extra fuses, bulbs, spark plugs, and chain oil can make the difference between traveling securely and limping to the next service station.
Flashlight Ever been caught in the dark? A flashlight will save you the hassle of trying to use your cell phone for illumination. Tire Repair Kit Blowouts are an all-too-common occurrence, and a flat kit which includes C02 cartridges for tire inflation will get you on the road again.
Duct Tape If it's good enough for astronauts, it should be good enough for you. Unexpected mechanical failures or breaks can sometimes be held together with duct tape, providing a low-tech solution for potentially crippling problems.
First Aid Kit A first aid kit is something you never want to be without-- whether its poison ivy or an ankle burn from an exhaust pipe, the cliché about an ounce of prevention is absolutely true. Rather than assembling your own supplies, an easier and more thorough solution is to purchase a pre-assembled kit, which will ensure that key items are not missing.
Consider this short list of items as insurance: hopefully you'll never need to use them, but if you do, they will be worth their weight in gold. Keep safe and enjoy your ride!

Great Planning makes for
a Great Road Trip

Important Points to Consider
The first questions you'll want to ask yourself when planning a trip pertain to how long you plan on being gone, where you intend to go, and what you have in mind for lodging, will you be camping or staying at hotels and motels.

First on your list of "must pack" items is a safety and repair kit, which we've covered this later on this article.

Unless you're riding a fully-fledged touring motorcycle, you'll probably need to invest in some type of storage bags; backpacks don't count. Options include saddlebags (which rest straddle the seat and rest on either side of the rear wheel, and are also known as panniers,) and tank bags, which sit directly atop the fuel tank (and often have handy clear plastic windows for displaying maps.) While hard bags offer more weather protection than soft bags, they are also costlier, add more weight, and require more involved installation. Centrally positioned tail bags (touring packs) are another option if you need even more storage. Inspect Your Bike
Maintenance is not only an essential part of motorcycle ownership; it can make the difference between safe riding and getting stranded-- or worse, taking a spill. 
Learn how to change your oil, check and lubricate your bike's chain, ensure that your tires are inflated properly, and check your fluid levels, and you'll ride with the confidence of knowing that your bike will run reliably.
Motorcycle Safety Foundation's T-CLOCS method is an efficient way to inspect your bike before traveling: T: Tires.
Make sure both tires are properly inflated, using an air pressure monitor that you bring with you on rides. Don't risk riding on tires that might need replacement; if suspect a tire will not last long enough for a ride, have it replaced.
C: Controls.
Are your cables (clutch and brakes) and controls intact and working?
L: Lights.
Make sure your headlights (high & low beam), turn signals, and brake lights work.
O: Oils & fluids.
Check everything from engine oil and coolant to brake fluid.
C: Chassis.
Ensure that the frame, suspension, chain (belt), and fasteners are all secure and intact.
S: Stands.
Make sure the center stand and/or side stand 
isn't cracked or bent, and that springs 
properly hold the assembly away from
the pavement when stowed.
Smart Biker Magazine / All rights reserved / Canadian Built

Ride Safe... Ride Smart!