Don’t get me wrong, I love touring on a motorcycle. It’s the thing I look forward to the most, and I enjoy almost every aspect of it.
The things I hate are such a small percentage that they barely play a role.
But there are inconveniences that make life hard work. So I’ve put together a list of things I hate about touring on a motorcycle – in the order they happen throughout the day.
Putting My Kit On
Getting your gear on is always a nightmare – especially if you’re stopping in a hotel and the walk to the car park is ages away.
No matter what you choose to wear, you will always be too hot, too cold, or too uncomfortable – and you will always wish you had put on (or hadn’t put on) a particular jacket, pair of gloves, or waterproofs.
And whilst you have to dress for the current weather conditions, you also have to plan for the conditions that might arise later in the day.
Faffing With Packing
I’ve spent years perfecting the way I pack – for the simple reason that packing has the inordinate ability to ruin your day before you’ve even got on the bike.
But no matter how well you plan it, you will always have to pack and then unpack because it’s not right – or it doesn’t fit.
And when you get to your bike, you then have to spend what seems like years tying stuff down and making sure it’s all secure.
When you finally think you’ve finished, it’s at this point you realise you need something (like a passport) that you’ve stowed away in the bottom of your luggage to ‘keep it safe.’
So the process of unpacking, packing, strapping, and fighting starts all over again.
Keys Still In Your Pocket
When you’ve finished packing, you make your way back to your hotel room to pick up your jacket, helmet, gloves, phone etc. You don’t want to leave the key in your bike, so you put it in your pocket so you ‘know where it is.’
On the bike, you’re ready to go. So you reach down to turn the ignition on and realise you’ve left your damn key in your pocket. And now you have to go through the entire process again.
The Weather Ruining Good Rides
I’m a believer in planning routes in advance. This allows me to choose the best roads without the fear of missing out on any corkers.
Once there, I can 100% enjoy the moment, knowing that my sat nav knows where I’m going, and the next fuel stop is already accounted for. It means I can live for right now and soak up every second.
So it’s always a disappointment when you get there, and it’s raining. The road you’ve been looking forward to for months is now a slippery, greasy mess that you have to tentatively navigate whilst getting pissed wet through in the process.
The wind is just as bad – especially on transit days. We all need to factor in those long days on the motorway to get from one place to another. But strong winds make for a lousy way to spend the day.
Constantly fighting it, you arrive tired, aching, and with a monster headache.
Touring On A Motorcycle: Arse Ache
I’m built like a marathon runner. I don’t have much fat to cushion me from the rock hard seats that manufacturers choose for us to sit on.
For me, it usually means spending a fortune on a bike and then spending more money either on a comfort seat from the manufacturer or, at the very least, an aftermarket air cushion.
And the longer the tour goes on, the worse it gets.
At the start, we can all live with it because the excitement of the trip is more than the effects of arse ache.
But on your way home, where you know your trip is coming to an end, there’s no excitement. So the horrendous torment of arse ache comes in to the point where you’re having to stop every 40 or 50 miles, just to give it a break.
The Drama Of A Breakdown
I’ve been quite lucky in my riding career. I’ve never had a puncture or had to deal with a minor issue at the roadside.
I have, however, had a major fuelling issue that couldn’t be fixed at the roadside or even in a local garage.
I was in the south of France at the time. The closest Honda garage was over 100 miles away, and the next available slot was in 4 weeks.
Unable to do anything, all I could do was call the breakdown truck to tow my bike back to the UK.
The entire trip was ruined.
Fuel Station Woes
As mentioned above, I like to pre-plan my routes. And in my routes, I also account for petrol stations.
If I know I can get 200 miles to a tank, I’ll find a petrol station every 160 miles or so. This means I never have to worry about finding fuel because my sat nav automatically takes me there. They’re built into the route.
But occasionally, the petrol station is closed. Or shut down. Or doesn’t even exist. And then the pressure starts – because invariably, the next fuel station is further away than the number of miles I have left to do it.
Cue limp mode and flashing lights until you finally roll onto the forecourt whilst holding your breath!
Related: How Fuel Prices Could Ruin Your Tour
Touring On A Motorcycle: Road Maintenance
When you’ve been looking forward to riding a particular road for months, it’s gut-wrenching when you get there to find it’s been dug up or resurfaced.
This has happened to me a few times – most recently in the Vosges, where a 25km road I was looking forward to was being resurfaced.
To turn around would add hours to our trip. So our only option was to carefully ride over the gravel for 25km – around hairpin bends, steep climbs, and steep descents.
We made it unscathed – which was definitely a win.
But the possibility of enjoying that road will have to wait for another day.
Speed Cameras And/Or Traffic
The first time I went to the Alps, I thought I would be the only person there. It didn’t occur to me that they would be a tourist trap!
So as the town road opened up into a delicious mountain pass, I was excited to get on the throttle of my CBR 600 and have some fun.
As you would expect, this didn’t happen. I trundled around in traffic, trying to negotiate overtakes where I could.
Even if you have a day where the traffic is light, you will almost certainly come across roads with average speed checks or sneakily placed local cops whose job it is to fine you an extortionate amount for speeding.
Your Sat Nav Spoils Your Route
If you’ve ever ridden in the Pyrenees, you’ll know there are thousands of unnamed roads that provide some interesting and scenic alternatives to the bigger main roads that run through the range.
As always, I had an exciting and intricate route planned – off the beaten path, away from traffic, tourists, and speed cameras.
Halfway through, my sat nav malfunctioned, and I couldn’t skip waypoints or turn around.
In the end, I had to choose the obvious route to my destination, which added about a hundred miles to my trip – including motorways.
The entire day was spent backtracking and then blasting down the motorways seeing nothing and experiencing nothing.
What a waste.
Related: Motorcycle Sat Navs vs Smartphones
Getting Back On My Bike For Food
I love riding my bike – it’s one of my favourite things to do.
But when I’ve been on it for eight hours and spent hundreds of miles fighting through hairpins, traffic, and bad weather, it’s a relief to get to my accommodation.
Once parked up, I’ll get my luggage off the bike, lube the chain, and cart it all into the hotel where I can finally have a shower and put on some clean clothes.
And that’s when you find out the nearest restaurant or supermarket is 30 miles away.
It’s a horrible feeling putting on your riding gear just to ride to a restaurant for some food.
The Feeling That Something Bad Will Happen
Does anybody else get this?
For me, it’s usually within the first mile of setting off from the hotel.
Everything will be fine. And then within a few minutes, I get the feeling of impending doom. I don’t know what I think is going to happen or why it will happen. But I just feel like something is going to go wrong.
Of course, the longer you ride, the more you forget about it.
But whilst it’s in your head, it’s a surefire way to ruin your morning and make you paranoid about anything and everything around you!
Touring On A Motorcycle: When The Good Road Ends
One of my favourite things in the world is when I hit a mountain pass, and everything just flows.
The weather is good, the road surface is perfect, the bike is performing well – and so are you. Blasting from bend to bend, you’re dancing with the bike.
For miles, you dance the dance of the pass with a smile on your face – loving every single second.
And then, all of a sudden, the road comes to an end, and you have to wait for the next one to do it all over again.
And finally, the worst thing about touring on a motorcycle is coming home.
Throughout your trip, you would’ve had good times and bad times. You’ll have memories to cherish and memories to laugh at – experiences you want to forget and experiences you’ll learn from.
But they’re your memories – times you had on your bike in a country you loved.
For me, it’s certainly a case of post-tour blues. But the good news is you now get to plan the next one!
The Worst Thing About Touring On A Motorcycle
So there you have my top 14 gripes about touring! How about you? What do you hate about two-wheeled travel?
Let us know in the comments!