Long distance riding or touring on a motorcycle is one of the biggest pleasures in life. Here you are, uncaged, closer to nature, and you are able to go into areas where four-wheeled vehicles could not.
Or you are heading out with some of your best buddies to some nice, authentic gourmet which you can only find outside of the big cities. Would 5 of you pack yourselves into a car and do so? Bet you would not.
Or you are just heading home to your hometown for a big celebration.
But touring is not just jumping on your bike and blasting down the highway. There has to be some preparations involved.
1. Planning is everything
The better you plan, the smoother your journey will be.
Begin your planning by at least noting down about where you want to head to and objectives, for example, to ride from Johor Bahru to Danok. Then, take look at Google Maps to determine the route, fuel stops and potential stops. Make sure you have a list of important telephone numbers.
Do set a realistic target, for example, to reach Juru from Kuala Lumpur within 5 hours including fuel and refreshment stops. Adding half-an-hour or another hour will give you more flexibility, otherwise you will stress yourself out (and riding dangerously) in trying to catch up with time on the road.
2. Prepare the bike
Always service your bike before a long-distance ride. Change the engine oil, sparkplugs, brake pads (if necessary). Also, do not forget to check the tyres and replace them if necessary. Clean, adjusting and lubricate the chain. Make sure that the lights and electronics are working as they should.
But do note that you should do so not a day or the morning prior to the trip. You should perform your service at least three days to a week before, so that you can spot problems that could pop up after that service and bring the bike back to the workshop. Speaking from experience we have experienced such a thing such as the technician forgetting to reset the service counter or missing out on other items.
Make sure the tyres are inflated to the correct pressures and all the electrical and electronic components are working.
3. Pack some extra tools
You should bring along extra tools especially if your motorcycle manufacturer supplied only the barest of tools. The best solution is to purchase a tool kit for motorcycle riders which include the necessities. Do include one or two extra bungee cords/helmet net, a small can of chain cleaner, chain lube, tyre repair kit, first aid kit. Cable ties, additionally, are absolutely necessary – never leave home without them!
4. Remember to charge your gadgets
Always charge your electronic devices the night before, even if the phone or Bluetooth communicator still has 98% battery power. Nothing is more inconvenient than finding 10% battery power left by the time you are halfway. You may need the devices in case of an emergency or when riding in a group, being able to get in touch with the other riders should you get separated.
5. Carry your belongings in waterproof bags
Place your important belongings such as the phone, wallet, chargers, powerbanks, cables in a waterproof bag or pouch. We do not have to elaborate what happens if these items get wet, do we?
6. Wear Appropriate Gear
Do not skip on wearing protective gear when you tour.
That said, however, you should wear something comfortable, breathable, and safe in this hot and humid climate of ours. Do not forget a rain suit. Your boots should be for touring, not racing or off-road riding. The helmet should be for touring or sport-touring, instead of one for sport or racing. Sport or racing helmets have tighter fits and you may find them uncomfortable for the long trip.
7. Ride at a comfortable pace
Once on the road, ride at a pace that is comfortable to you. Being “comfortable” here means a pace which you deem is suitable to you – it may be fast, it may be slow, it may be somewhere in between. However, if you are riding in a group, you will need to follow the convoy’s pace.
8. Stop as frequently as needed
If you ride solo, you can choose to stop as much or long as you want to, especially if you feel drowsy in the heat or if you need to eat or visit the loo. Just stop and rest. Do not attempt to resist the sleepiness because you may experience micro sleep.
If you ride in a group, let the marshals know you are feeling sleepy or tired. They could do with a short breather themselves.
9. Stay hydrated
Dehydration causes drowsiness and you will start to make mistakes.
While the choice of drinks is up to you, we recommend plain water and/or 100 Plus. Fruit juices help too, especially watermelon juice and coconut water, but without sugar.
Energy drinks are useful when you feel drowsy, but they should never replace water, as they are usually diuretic (makes you pee more often). The more you pee, the more dehydrated you get.
Do NOT drink alcoholic beverages and ride!
10. Stay Motivated
Staying motivated is very important yet always overlooked. You could feel tired, or must fight through a heavy rainstorm, not to mention the heat and humidity. Then you have errant drivers who think the entire North-South Highway belongs to them.But rather than get irritated or angry, remind yourself of what you are trying to achieve when you reach your destination. It could be the beautiful beach, or the sumptuous food, or your family and friends. That way, you will have an enjoyable and memorable tour.