Going on a long motorcycle trip can be an exciting and rewarding experience. But it’s well worth ensuring your bike is in tip-top condition before you set off.
The last thing you need is something going wrong – especially when that something was preventable in the first place!
Taking the time to do some basic motorcycle maintenance keeps your bike in the best possible condition, identifies any potential problems, and puts your mind at ease.
In this post, we’ll look at a few things you can do to get off on the best possible foot.
Preparing your Motorcycle for Tour: Servicing your Bike
I recommend booking your bike in for a professional service before embarking on a long motorcycle trip. This ensures that all essential maintenance tasks are taken care of, such as checking the brakes, changing the oil, and inspecting the tyres.
A mechanic can also identify any potential issues that may cause problems on the road, allowing you to address them before they become bigger problems.
Although it may cost some money, getting your motorcycle serviced before a big trip can provide peace of mind and help ensure a safe and enjoyable journey.
If you know your way around a toolbox and want to do your own servicing, be sure to check the following:
Tyre pressures are one of the most important things to check before any long ride. Ensure both tyres are inflated to the correct pressure as indicated in your owner’s manual or on the sidewall. Underinflated tyres can cause poor handling and decreased fuel efficiency, whilst overinflated tyres can lead to uneven wear and an increased risk of punctures.
Tyres and Wheels
In addition to checking pressures, inspect your tyres for signs of wear or damage. Look for cuts, bulges, or other irregularities that could indicate a problem with the tyre or wheel rim. If you find any issues, replace the tyre before heading out on your trip.
If you’re looking for new tyres, check out our recent post: What are the Best Motorcycle Touring Tyres?
Regularly changing your engine oil is an essential part of routine motorcycle maintenance. Before setting off on a long trip, make sure you’ve changed your oil recently according to manufacturer guidelines. This will help keep your engine running smoothly and reduce wear and tear on its components.
If your bike has a chain drive system, check chain slack before heading out. The chain should be tight enough that there is no noticeable slack (less than 2 inches) when pushing down on it with two fingers but not so taut that it causes excessive friction when turning the rear wheel by hand. Adjust chain tension according to manufacturer instructions before your trip if necessary. For a small cost, your local dealership will do it for you if you’re unsure.
Preparing your Motorcycle for Tour: Other Maintenance Tips
In addition to these essential maintenance tips, there are several other things you should check before embarking on a tour:
- Check brake fluid levels and top up if necessary
- Inspect brake pads for wear and replace them if needed
- Check all lights (headlight, taillight, turn signals) are working properly
- Make sure all cables are in good condition
A Note on Tyres
Knowing when to change your motorcycle tyres is important to maintain grip and avoid blowouts while riding. The general rule of thumb is to replace tyres when the tread depth reaches 2-3mm or less. You can measure this using a tread depth gauge, or by inspecting your tyres visually.
Additionally, if you notice any cracks, cuts, or bulges on the tyres, it’s a sign they need to be replaced. If the tyres are more than five years old, it’s good practice to replace them also.
In any case, ensure your motorcycle tyres are in good condition before undertaking a long trip. Worn, damaged tyres can increase the risk of accidents and reduce overall performance.
It’s sometimes difficult to know whether or not to change your tyres – especially if you’re only midway through the natural life of the tyre.
If this is the case, I would err on the side of caution and get them changed before you go. You can always put the old ones back on when you get back.
Failing that, research garages along your proposed route so you can get the tyres changed mid-tour.
As for selecting tyres, I’d recommend sticking with ones you know and trust rather than opting for something new.
Related: How Long Do Touring Motorcycle Tyres Last?
Preparing your Motorcycle for Tour: Fitting The Right Luggage
Of course, preparing your bike for a long trip means more than just the mechanicals. We have to consider luggage options, too.
When it comes to luggage options for a long motorcycle trip, there are several things to consider. First off, should you go for hard or soft?
Hard luggage is made of plastic or metal, and offers more protection for your belongings. It is typically more secure than soft luggage, as it cannot be easily cut open or torn apart. Hard luggage is also more durable and weather-resistant, making it ideal for long trips in challenging conditions. However, hard luggage can be bulkier, heavier, and more challenging to install and remove than soft luggage.
Soft luggage is typically made from softer materials like nylon, canvas, or leather and is easy to install and remove. It is generally lighter and more flexible than hard luggage, allowing riders to store more items in different shapes and sizes. Soft luggage is also typically less expensive and can often be used for other outdoor activities. However, soft luggage is not as durable as hard luggage and is more susceptible to wear and tear. It’s also easier to break into and can be damaged when exposed to harsh weather conditions.
Overall, the choice between hard and soft luggage depends on your needs and preferences. If you need better durability and security, go for hard luggage. But if you’re looking for a lighter, more versatile option that’s easy to remove, soft luggage might be the better choice.
It’s easy to go overboard with packing – thanks mainly to the fact that we have so many luggage options! Choose wisely, though, and luggage accessories can make your life easier without overloading your bike. Considerations could include tank bags, tail packs, roll bags, backpacks or thigh packs.
Preparing your Motorcycle for Tour: Bike Protection
Crash protection bars, also known as engine guards or crash bars, form part of your motorcycle protection system. They are steel bars that attach to the frame, and protect the engine and other vital components in the event of a crash or fall.
Crash protection bars can also help absorb impact energy and prevent damage to the bodywork or fuel tank. While they do not guarantee 100% protection in every accident or crash, crash protection bars can significantly reduce the severity of damage to the bike. They can also provide a convenient attachment point for auxiliary lights or other accessories.
Moreover, crash protection bars are available in different styles and configurations, including top, lower, and highway bars, to suit individual preferences or specific riding styles.
Other accessories that may be required to ready your bike for a long trip include:
- Fitting a USB charger to your bike if it doesn’t already have one – perfect for charging your phone or powering your sat nav.
- Sat nav – either powered from the above USB port or hardwired to the battery.
- Windscreen deflector – if you know you’re prone to buffeting on motorways.
- Make your bike ready to accept heated clothing if needed – either by having the correct battery packs or hardwiring to your bike.
When embarking on a motorcycle trip, it’s crucial to have a well-curated tool kit in case of any mechanical issues. And I say curated because having tools specific to your bike is so much more useful than a generic setup.
Some essential tools that should be included in your kit are a sturdy wrench, pliers, screwdrivers, tyre pressure gauge, chain lube, and spare fuses. In addition, a puncture repair kit, extra batteries, and a torch should also be added to your tool kit.
Preparing your Motorcycle for Tour: Conclusion
Preparing your motorcycle for a long-distance trip entails much planning and careful consideration. Bike servicing ensures that your motorcycle is in top condition, reducing the chances of mechanical problems during your trip.
Luggage setup is also critical in ensuring your belongings are securely stored and won’t affect your bike’s balance.
By taking the time to carefully prepare your motorcycle and luggage, you’ll be able to enjoy your long-distance trip with peace of mind and focus on admiring the beauty of the journey.