By: KGD Law
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Long-Distance Riding 101
The open road is a theme that calls out to many motorcycle riders, new and old. On the seat of a motorcycle is a truly special way to see and explore a new destination or route. With a motorcycle, you can even sometimes access backroads and paths that cars cannot. Long-distance riding can also be as challenging for the body and spirit as it rewarding, but riders all over the world keep taking on these fantastic journeys.
As adventurous as it might seem to just hop on your bike and ride away into the sunset, this idea is a bit romanticized, and there is a lot of preparation you need to do in order to make your long-distance journey safe, smooth, and comfortable. If you think you are up for the challenge or are planning that big celebratory trip after the pandemic, read on to learn what you can do to have the best long ride possible.
Choosing the Right Motorcycle for Distance Rides
If you know you are going to do a long trip soon or are planning to do a lot of long-distance riding in general, you may want to look into a bike that is suitable for covering the kind of miles you wish to ride. Not every bike is a reasonable option for this type of riding, and you may not want to use your daily commuter for a cross-country road trip. Luckily, there are many options available out there for every type of rider.
- Touring Motorcycles: As the name suggests, these bikes are designed with long, multi-day rides in mind. They typically have a more upright position, so you won’t put as much strain on your back after hours of holding yourself up sitting. There is also usually more built-in cargo space, such as saddlebags, a roomier trunk area, and extra pockets for stashing smaller items that need to be more readily accessible. They will often come with a larger windscreen and front fairing to help with aerodynamics, so you aren’t struggling against the wind for your entire ride.
- Cruiser and Standard Motorcycles: This is another comfortable option for long rides. Cruisers are built with a lower, relaxed seating position that allows you ride in a more restful position. However, these bikes usually lack the large front fairing of a touring bike, so they do not deflect the wind around you as well. There will also still be storage options, including saddlebags, a tank bag, or a front pouch, but they do not usually offer trunk storage, so keep that in mind when considering gear and packing needs.
- Dual-Sport and Adventure Motorcycles: This type of bike is great for people who are planning rides on mixed terrain, like dirt and asphalt. They are constructed with ergonomics in mind and will not put too much strain on your back and wrists during bumpy sections. They also offer decent wind protection. Storage is not usually an included feature, but you can always upgrade with some add-ons.
- Sport Motorcycles: Sport bikes are not usually the most desirable option for a long journey. Since you ride this type of bike with a crouched, forward posture, it can be hard on the body for longer distances. That being said, the sleek design and riding position makes these bikes very aerodynamic and good at taking high-speed turns, and many people have made long trips with sport motorcycles. If you are considering this option, it is recommended to test it out with a shorter ride and see what your tolerance level is for riding or if you are willing to take more frequent breaks.
Choosing the Proper Engine
There are benefits and disadvantages to different types of engines. While it is not essential to have the highest-powered engine for a long ride, there will be some differences between options that will depend on the type of bike you choose.
- 750cc and Under: While it is not impossible to ride longer distances on a smaller engine, like a 250cc, these can struggle at highway speeds. Even though they are very fuel efficient, they are best for a daily commuter. However, depending on the type of bike you choose, a 750cc engine could be a great option. In a standard or cruiser bike, a 750cc engine will work well for your daily commute, while still allowing you to take the occasional long ride. For a truly versatile option, a 750cc sports bike will be your bet. Its aerodynamic structure is great for daily riding with efficient mileage and smooth maneuvering, but it can also cruise comfortably at highway speed for extended periods of time without running into trouble.
- Over 750cc: Of course, anything over 750cc will be more than enough to get you through your daily commute, but this level of engine is really built for long rides at highway speeds. More power means a bigger engine, so that is why you typically see engines above 750cc in more hefty categories of motorcycles, like touring bikes. While they may not be the most efficient and reactive in urban traffic or driving environments that are constantly changing, this size of engine is just what you need to ride at cruising speeds in comfort.
Special Gear for Long-Distance Rides
If you plan to use your bike for long road trips, there are a number of things you can add to your bike aftermarket to make your ride more comfortable. All of this is in addition to the proper safety gear you should already be using, as well as protective clothing designed for all weather and temperatures if you plan to drive across different terrains and climates.
- Heated Grips: Cold hands can quickly become dangerous if they become stiff and you start to fumble with your controls, not to mention it is just painful. If you plan to ride early or in the evening, heated handles will help keep your hands toasty when temperatures drop.
- Padded Grips: Similarly, while you may not notice your hands in your day-to-day riding, extra padding can help prevent wrist pain and tightness that can occur during extended periods with your hands resting on the grips.
- Backrest: A little support can go a long way when you are riding for a distance. You can get one for a passenger too, and you can both lean back a little while you cruise at speed.
- Gel Seat: A gel seat insert can really make a difference in comfort for long rides and will help prevent your lower body from falling asleep or getting sore. You can even get a gel pad for your backrest too. If your seat doesn’t offer a compatible gel cover, it is easy to have one made by a custom shop.
- Cruise Control: Just like in a car, you can buy grips with a throttle lock that will help control your speed on the highway. This can save you a lot of energy and hand cramps from squeezing the throttle for hours on end.
Look for more tips in Long-Distance Riding 102!
Long rides are one of the great joys of riding a motorcycle. It is easy to get caught up in the moment and lose awareness of your surroundings. If you were the victim of a motorcycle accident and believe you could be entitled to compensation, contact the Law Offices of Kirshner, Groff, and Diaz for a no-obligation initial consultation. We will arrange a time for you to speak directly to a real lawyer.