Motorcycle Touring Comfort: Our Top 9 (Practical) Tips

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When I first started planning trips, motorcycle touring comfort didn’t feature on my to-do list.

At all.

I had the roads planned (sort of), and my accommodation was booked. But other than that, it was all a lot of guessing work.

Which sometimes worked.

But most of the time, there was always a faff with something.

And when you’re sat in the comfort of your home, these minor issues seem trivial. But out on the road, they soon mount up and become the bane of your trip.

Taking the time now to account for motorcycle touring comfort can really enhance your experience.

Here are my top 9 things to consider!

1. Motorcycle Touring Comfort: Take The Right Bike

If you’re planning on riding the Trans Euro Trail on your Honda Goldwing, you’re probably not going to have a good time.

Similarly, if you’re planning lots of big miles in the Alps, your seatless trials bike won’t be the best bike to take!

And whilst I’m not saying you need to go out and buy a new bike every time you plan a trip, take a second to consider if the bike you have is suitable for the route you want to take.

Moreover, having the right bike will massively enhance your comfort out on the road. And it’s easy to make adaptations to suit your trip.

Or, you can adapt your route to suit your bike.

And this brings us on nicely to point number 2.

Trending: The Best Touring Motorcycle: And Why It Doesn’t Exist

ktm 390 off-road - the right bike for motorcycle touring comfort
Taking the right bike for the right tour adds to your motorcycle touring comfort (image via KTM)

2. Plan Your Route

Sometimes, you can get away with not planning a route. I was off-roading in Snowdonia before lockdown. And whilst I knew the general area I was heading towards, I didn’t have a concrete route.

I didn’t need one.

Conversely, I got lost in Luxembourg a few years ago and spent 3 hours going up and down the same road trying to figure out where I was supposed to be.

Getting lost is all part of the adventure. But when you’ve been in the saddle for 8 hours, there’s nothing worse than pissing about with sat-navs, trying to figure out where the hell you are.

Take the time to plan your route now. Having a well-planned route means you can forget about the directions and concentrate on the scenery instead.

It’ll make a huge difference to the enjoyment of your trip.

Related: Plan Your Route On A Motorcycle Route Planner: Step-By-Step

bikers checking map
Planning your route means you worry less about directions and getting lost!

3. Plan Shorter Days For Motorcycle Touring Comfort

I can hear the gasps already!

If you’re planning to spend 12 hours a day in the saddle riding from sunrise to sunset to cover 15 million miles in 3 weeks, that’s great!

But when you’ve done it for a few days and you realise you still have another 18 days left to go, I guarantee your ambitious intentions will turn into feelings of regret.

Ignore those macho thoughts of monster miles and 12-hour days. Long days in the saddle aren’t (generally) the right way of touring for most.

So plan shorter days instead.

I know it sounds lame. But trust me.

Spending 5 hours in the saddle and enjoying every minute of it is a world away from spending 12 hours in the saddle and hating 7 of them.

Because for touring comfort, shorter days is where it’s at. But if you need to do long days, check out this post: Long-Distance Motorcycling: 17 Tips

bmw r 1250 rt by lakeside - shorter days for motorcycle touring comfort
Planning for shorter days improves motorcycle touring comfort and enjoyment (image via BMW)

4. Taking Days Off For Motorcycle Touring Comfort

I’ve already upset the hardcore riders by suggesting they plan shorter days.

So I may as well rub salt into the wound and recommend taking days off the bike completely!

I know, shock horror, right?

But in all seriousness, you don’t have to ride your bike all day, every day.

If you stop off in Seville, take a day off the bike to enjoy the historical buildings. Enjoy some tapas, or go and do a flamenco lesson if that gets you going!

Enjoy a few beers or a glass of wine in one of the many cafes as you watch the world go by.

Sample the museums and galleries. Or simply lounge in the sun.

Because days off allow you to experience the culture and the hospitality of the place you are visiting. And they let your mind and your body rejuvenate.

Your motorcycle touring comfort level has a chance to level out. And then tomorrow, you can be on your way whilst feeling fresh and rested.

parked up motorcycle underground
Leave the bike in the garage every now and then – go and explore and come back refreshed! (Image via Slaser J)

5. Enhance Motorcycle Touring Comfort With The Right Gear!

As with Point 1 above, I’m not saying you need to go out and buy all the best kit for every conceivable type of tour.

If you’re riding the trails in summer, your fancy laminate jacket is going to give you heatstroke.

And whilst your ultralight summer jacket is great for Alpine riding in July, it might not be the best idea for the Scottish highlands in November.

Taking the right kit for the right trip will add to your motorcycle touring comfort.

Textiles:

Generally, textiles work best for touring because they’re durable and versatile. If money was no object, this setup from AdventureSpec would be my clothing of choice.

That said, there are plenty of affordable textile setups that work perfectly well for most people in most situations.

bikers wearing textile jackets - the right gear for motorcycle touring comfort
Textiles are durable, versatile, waterproof, and ventilated (image via Bike Nation)

Helmet:

Again, you don’t need a collection of 72 helmets to choose from. But if you know the majority of your ride will be on the trails, taking an off-road-inspired helmet will do a better job of keeping you cool and providing you with ventilation.

If you’re spending a lot of time on the autobahn, a touring-inspired helmet renowned for quietness will greatly enhance your touring comfort on the road.

Planning a trip with your buddies? Then perhaps a Bluetooth helmet with excellent comms would make for the better option.

Related: Motorcycle Bluetooth Headsets: Budget To Premium

Gloves:

I can never understand why people knob about trying to take just ONE set of gloves.

Because gloves are light. They weigh nothing and they take up very little space.

So take a few pairs!

I always keep my winter gloves in my top box when on a summer tour. And I always have my summer gloves in my tank bag on a spring/autumn tour.

I have both sets of gloves with me at any one time.

Why?

Because the weather is changeable. And having the right gloves makes a big difference to your comfort.

Get yourself some decent winter riding gloves and take them everywhere you go!

biker pulling on gloves
Carry both winter and summer gloves on every tour for maximum motorcycle touring comfort. You never know how the weather will turn! (Image via Justevoyage)

Earplugs:

You’d be surprised at how small levels of noise exposure can take its toll on your ears.

And it’s a hot topic of conversation right now because hearing damage is irreversible. Nobody can figure out how to fix it.

Whilst your bike may be quiet, the wind noise that hurtles through your helmet on the motorway is enough to ruin your hearing.

For more information, head over to this post where we look at hearing damage in more detail as well as how to prevent it.

Waterproofs:

Don’t be the hero who decides not to take waterproofs!

Yes, I know you’ve checked the weather apps. And I know the experts say it should be 35 degrees and dry in July.

But I’m afraid mountains don’t listen to weather forecasts. They’re so high up that they make their own weather conditions.

You don’t need to spend a fortune on waterproofs. A cheap set that you can keep in your top box will save your textiles from getting soaked.

And it’s worth investing in! Because if textiles get wet, they might still be wet the following morning when you need to put them on again.

No matter which way way you look at it, that ain’t fun!

Related: The Best Motorcycle Touring Rain Gear

motorcycle waterproofs for motorcycle touring comfort
A cheap set of waterproofs prevent your textiles from getting a soaking (image via Richa)

6. Motorcycle Touring Comfort: Changes To Your Bike

It isn’t only the type of bike we ride or the kind of gear we wear that adds to our motorcycle touring comfort.

Because small adjustments to the setup of your bike can make a vast difference as well.

Custom Seats & Seat Pads:

Long hours in the saddle can often cause arse ache. And no matter how much experience we have, all of us are susceptible to aches and pains eventually.

A custom seat is certainly a viable option if (like me) you are vulnerable to aches and pains in your backside or tail bone area.

Another worthy mention (and currently my method of choice) is a motorcycle seat pad. There are plenty on the market for a variety of preferences and can make all the difference.

Related: 7 Of The Best Motorcycle Seat Pads

Bar Risers:

I never realised how much of a difference bar risers can make until I tried them.

Furthermore, they’re readily available on the market, are cheap to buy, and easy enough to fit. If you’re unsure, ask your mechanic to pop some on for you next time your bike is in for service.

motorcycle bar risers
Bar risers allow for a more upright riding position, enhancing motorcycle touring comfort

Height & Angles Of Levers & Pedals:

In the same vein as bar risers (above), slight adjustments to your brake lever, clutch lever, and pedals allow your bike to ‘fit’ you better.

Next time you’re in the garage, sit on your bike and grab the bars naturally.

From here, your mechanic can alter the angle of your levers with the turn of a few screws.

Changing these angles takes the pressure off your ankles and wrists. And it allows you to ride in a more natural and neutral position.

Screen:

Finally, the type of screen you choose for your bike can really add to your level of motorcycle touring comfort.

The type you choose will ultimately depend on your height, your forward lean angle, and your natural posture on the bike.

Some people prefer larger screens whilst others prefer stubbies or wind deflectors. If you’re feeling flush, splash out on an electric one that you can adjust on the go.

Optimise Your Luggage:

For weekend ride-outs, you can live with a disorganised luggage setup.

But if you’re doing 2, 3, 4 (or more) weeks, having a luggage setup that is optimised for your needs goes a long way to enhancing your motorcycle touring comfort.

For a start, you’ll know where everything is. Which means fewer times getting stressed out when you need something quickly.

It also means you can find waterproofs or layers when the rain starts to pour or the wind kicks up.

Taking the time to pack it all correctly also prevents weight imbalances which over time, really start to grate on your nerves!

Also, a strategically placed roll-bag on the pillion seat does an excellent job acting as a makeshift backrest when on the longer legs of your tour!

Check out our posts on the best tank bags and tail packs.

motorcycle luggage for optimum motorcycle touring comfort
A luggage setup that works is good for motorcycle touring comfort, organisation, and back support. (Image via Lomo)

8. Start The Day Right By Taking A Kettle

I’m not even joking!

If you like tea or coffee, take a kettle.

Yes, it’s one more thing to carry. But travel kettles are pretty small and they’re worth the extra faff in the long run.

Personally, I like to start my day with a coffee, and I like to end my day with a hot cup of tea before bed.

Taking a kettle allows me to main little luxuries that add to my overall mood and motorcycle touring comfort.

9. Hydrate For Motorcycle Touring Comfort

It amazes me how many people overlook hydration when touring. Especially in the 21st century where we all know the significance of adequate water intake.

And water has the power to make the biggest difference to your overall motorcycle touring comfort.

Check out this post we did a few weeks back for more details on hydration, the signs and symptoms of dehydration, and the benefits you can expect from staying well-watered!

kriega hydration pack
Don’t neglect hydration for motorcycle touring comfort! Hydration packs such as this one by Kriega are lifesavers. (Image via Kriega)

Top image via BMW

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