motorcycle travel

QUICK GUIDE TO PLANNING A LONG-DISTANCE MOTORCYCLE TRIP

When I started I was totally overwhelmed with the planning involved in a trip like this. Everything from getting my bike prepared, to wondering what to pack. After months of planning, I have finally managed to get my head around everything and cannot wait for it all to come to fruition. Here is my guide for anyone else craving to give a long-distance trip to go, but is unsure of where to start.

And all have to show for it is this Quick Guide, but I think it is still worth trying, at least in the hope to connect with others out there who might join me one day.

THE BIKE

Let’s start with the most important thing. Your trusty method of transport. Your motorbike. I will be using a Yamaha XJR1300. I wish I could say I chose it especially, but it is the only bike I own. I have had it for 6 years, but this will be the longest trip it has ever done.

Whichever bike you go for, make sure it is from a well-known manufacturer. If you break down in the middle of nowhere with only one mechanic in a 50-kilometer radius, he better know your bike model. Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki’s are all well-known makes, just no obscure imports.

Secondly, you need something with a lot of ground clearance and a decent suspension system. Unless you want to be stuck on tarmacked roads the whole time, I would recommend a bike with 50/50 dual-sport tires. This will give you the freedom to explore dirt paths a little more and get away from the main roads.

I also swapped my fuel tank for this trip. The larger tank will mean I don’t have to stop so often to fill up and will have a little more fuel security in areas where petrol stations are not so frequent. I am also going to carry a spare jerry can and a funnel, just in case.

PLANNING THE ROUTE

Once you know more or less where you want to go and how far it is, you should calculate how long it will take you. This is totally up to you. I prefer to stop a little more regularly, so I have allowed myself 6 weeks to cover 4,300km. A pace of less than 1,000km a week. If you are not interested in getting off the route and exploring at a leisurely pace, you can do 400-500 or even 600km a day, providing you have a backside made of leather.

Check your route for extreme temperatures, wildfires or flood warnings. Some parts of Australia are more inaccessible at certain times of the year, be aware of this before you set off and try and time your route for the best time of the year.

LUGGAGE

Buy saddlebags and panniers and bring plenty of bungee cords to strap things to the bike. When you are fixing your luggage to the bike, consider two things; how will it affect the centre of gravity and what items will get wet when it rains. If you have both of these things in the forefront of your mind when packing, you won’t go far wrong.

TOOLS

You are going to need tools. Bring a travel motorcycle tool kit as well as a crescent wrench, vice grip, tire irons, a patch kit, a valve stem snake and a tire pressure gauge. Bring some spare tubes in case you get a puncture.

ADDITIONAL TOP TIPS

• Be aware when riding at sunrise and sunset. This is prime kangaroo time.

• Don’t leave a dirt road. If you leave a dirt road, you may end up lost in the middle of nowhere. If you don’t want to become a news story, stay on the tracks.

• If you are going way off the beaten track and exploring more remote areas, inform the relevant authorities of your route, destination and expected travel time.

• Check your chain tension and tire pressure every morning, and your engine oil level every time you fill up with fuel.

 


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John Wilkinson
john.w@dinga.com.au

John is into everything and anything that has an on or off switch. He's a big fan of the outdoors and using tech wherever he can to make it more fun for his son.