Its been almost 7 years now since the time I went on my very first motorcycle trip. Starting from being just a pillion rider, I believe, I have come a long way today considering I am on a solo motorcycle trip across India! I find it hard to believe that even almost a year and half after I bought my bike I did not know how to ride it. And in all these years there have been memories, experiences and learnings – good, bad as well as ugly. This post is an attempt of mine to share with you what would make your ride as smooth as the bumpy roads allow them to be ;)
#1 Wear a Helmet
Irrespective of wherever one is riding, I am a firm believer in wearing a helmet. Do not wear it for the cops. Do not wear it because I am telling you to. Wear it for yourself! And for your family and friends who care.
And as you intend to shield yourself by wearing one please make sure that you don’t buy those cheap ones off the highway, for a couple of hundred bucks. Invest a couple of thousand and you will get good one. Try out different helmets to see the one that is right and do not forget to fasten the straps.
Couple of must know pointers would be – Helmets need to be full faced. There are half faced helmets that look cool but that jaw won’t be smiling in case, God forbid, you suffer a fall. Helmet must be a perfect fit. Too loose a helmet will offer little protection, and if it is too tight will result in discomfort, painful earlobes and so on. Also take some trouble and clean the visor regularly. As you ride on the highways, dust on dirt that gets accumulated on the visor will impact your visibility.
#2 Riding gear
Invest in protective riding gear like biking jacket, pants, knee guards, riding shoes and protective gloves if you are a frequent rider. All the protective gear must be CE approved. As far as possible ensure that the clothing you wear gives you some kind of protection. Wear full sleeved t-shirts or a jacket over a t-shirt, pants and shoes that offer good cushioning to your feet and ankles.
#3 Service your bike
A long ride will demand not only a lot from you as a rider but also from your machine. When riding to remote places any fault with the mechanics is not the thing you want. Finding a service center or even a decent mechanic may be a task in itself. Avoid it. Get your bike serviced.
A check done on the following will go a long way in ensuring a smooth ride:
- Clutch plates
- Air filter spark/spark plug
- Clutch/Accelerator/Brake cables
Replace if they have or are about to run out of their life.
Other checks recommended:
- If you are riding to some remote locations chances are the roads might be very bumpy and will take a toll on the luggage as well as your behind
- Wheel alignment
- A misaligned wheel will affect your control on the bike and resulting in a disaster
- Tire pressure
- Very important for the bike to get a good grip on the road and ensuring a smooth ride as well.
#4 Riding Speed
This is a case of discretion. Ride at a speed which you are comfortable with and most importantly will have complete control of the machine. Personally I find a speed of 55-65 kmph an ideal one. It works perfectly with me! Within, one can very well control the bike in case of sudden need to brake and at the same time enjoy the sceneries on the road as you go along and cover good distance at the end of the day.
There will always be a hot head on the road trying to challenge you to a race or simply piss you off with his speed. Do not ride to smash his ego. You might end up smashing your head. :I
#5 Plan your ride
Schedule your ride to start early and end early. Early in the morning you are fresh and raring to go and as the day passes you by fatigue will start to set in. Start at 7 am, after a cup of coffee and a fruit or biscuits, ride until 9 and have breakfast. Have a light lunch around 12-1pm and start your last leg of the day to end it at around 4-5 pm. Ensure that you keep yourself well hydrated by drink plenty of water as many times as possible. The sun, dust, pollution takes a toll on your system. Cool it off by drinking water on an hourly basis.
One benefit of winding up early is that you have enough time to search around for a place to stay at end of day’s ride. You can look around a few hotels before deciding to stay in one and bargain hard as well. That won’t be the case if you find yourself at the hotel reception at 10 in the night since the hotel guys would know you would give in to the price he demands at that time instead of going hunting for a better deal.
Also reaching your destination for the day at 4-5pm will help you roam around the town, enjoy some local street food, have a conversation with the locals and still have time for a good 6-8 hour sleep which is essential for long distance touring.
For every 2-3 days ride have at least a couple of days to relax for your body as well as your bike!
#6 Keep a track of your budget
Budget will go a long way in deciding how long your motorcycle trip will last. Set a daily budget and stick to it. The main expenses on the road will be Fuel, Food and Shelter. Divide this daily budget in these three areas in a ration of 2:1:1, 2 parts for fuel, 1 part each for food and shelter or a ratio that suits your ride. Cut expenses wherever possible but do not go to extremes of putting yourself in discomfort to save a few bucks. Eat at local food joints. Avoid buying packaged drinking water and instead ask the staff at the place where you eat to fill your water bottle with hot water. If you are a part of riding community, fellow rider would be eager to help by sharing a place to crash or inviting you for a meal. Accept that and be grateful to them!
These are my learning as of now. I’d be glad if you could share with me some more by leaving a comment below. Till then VRRRRROOOOMMMMM. Happy and Safe Riding Fellas!
(With editorial inputs by Jovitha Jasmine)