More and more people are taking to riding bikes nowadays and quite a lot of them are inexperienced! From road conditions to riding gear to traffic rules; there’s a lot that needs to be learned before you head out for the next motorcycle tour! Motorcycles are our favorite mode of traveling as they help us connect with everything around us! Over the last 7 years, we have ridden across the country and in this process, learned quite a lot of tips that will help you plan your next ride.
We get a lot of queries like, “What are the best tips to pack for a bike ride?” or “Tips for riding a bike in India”, so we decided to share everything we acquired during our rides. So if you are a beginner or an experienced rider, we are sure we have something useful for all the bikers out there!
Get Enough Sleep
This is probably one of the most underrated one but also the most important tip every biker needs to follow for a long road trip. I know this is easier said than done as most of us spend sleepless nights the day before the ride. The heightened excitement of getting on the bike and heading on to the highway is an adrenaline rush that only bikers will understand but it’s essential you give your body sufficient rest for the upcoming journey.
ATGATT (All The Gear All The Time)
Invest in a good helmet and do not buy a cheap one from the roadside to save money. They’re not going to be much help when you meet with an accident. Do ensure that you try out different helmets to see the one that fits. A good fitting helmet will be a little tight initially so don’t get a bigger size if you feel uncomfortable with the fit. Some of the best brands in India include MT, Shoei, Bell, LS2, HJC, Nolan, Origine, Arai etc. We tested Origine helmets and you can read the review here.
Invest generously in protective riding gear like biking jacket, riding pants, knee guards, riding shoes and gloves if you ride frequently. Check if the riding gear provides you protection rain and cold weather. While buying riding gear look for fit, comfort, durability, safety, and style.
Service Your Bike
During our trip, we saw a lot of bikers languishing due to breakdowns like engine failure, damaged parts etc and a simple way to avoid this is by getting your bike serviced, especially before a long enduring ride. Endurance rides not only demand a lot from the ride but also from the bike, so make sure it is in optimum condition before taking it out. Get the bike serviced and check your cables, lights, oil, tire condition, spark plug etc to ensure they work properly and have been changed as per the service schedule.
Don’t you just love opening the throttle on an open stretch of highway, or when someone overtakes you? Riding fast is definitely fun with the high powered bikes that are not in the market, but they take a huge toll on the rider, the bike, and its performance. Ride at a speed which you are comfortable with and most importantly will have complete control of the bike. Personally, we find a speed of 80-90 kmph an ideal one. It doesn’t stress us out, returns great mileage, gives us ample braking time and keep the engine cool as well.
No matter how expensive your bike is or how technologically advanced it might be, it is still prone to a breakdown. Whenever we ride, we carry all cables, headlight bulb, spark plug, and chain lubes as a safety precaution, as on certain occasions we faced some minor breakdowns. Most of these parts don’t occupy a lot of space and can easily be stuffed inside your saddle bag. ALWAYS carry your spare keys as well!
Very few of us drink enough water during the ride, and this is a mistake you cannot make during a long tour or during summer. Dehydration causes fatigue, loss of concentration and if it gets worse you can suffer from headaches, muscle pain, nausea, and pass out. On a hot summer day, if you wait until you’re thirsty to take a drink of water, you’re already too late. Also, don’t forget that you need to drink water in the cold weather too, as conditions are typically very dry.
Even though you got your bike serviced before the ride, it’s important that you are aware of any mechanical issues your bike might have. So inspect your bike every day before you start. The main things to check are: tire treads and pressure, electrical system, Chain and sprocket, leaks beneath the bike, braking and engine sounds.
Pack Light, Pack Right
Roll your clothes! This tip is going to help you save tons of space and make packing an easy affair. This is a tried and tested tip and we follow this even when we take our car for a road trip! When we first started touring, we had a tendency to overpack and ended up carrying 3-4 bags that not only strained our bodies but also put more load on the bike. Stick to the essentials; two pairs of jeans, a couple of t-shirts, shoes, undergarments and the travel tech you require. You can stuff the smaller items inside your shoes to help save space!
For rainy conditions, line your bag with plastic sheets on the inside to make them water resistant. Get 4-5 bungee cords so that any additional piece of luggage can easily be tied on the existing bags!
Start early, finish early
Our trips usually start around 4am-5am irrespective of the distance as early starts help us avoid traffic! It’s a great feeling to watch the world wake up from the seat of your bike, and if you’re planning to do big miles, the earlier you start, the earlier you can finish.
Riding early also helps us avoid riding in the dark as low lights conditions increase the risk of accidents. It’s tough to ride when others are shining bright headlights making it difficult for you to see the road.
What does food have to do with a bike ride? Well, it does especially if you don’t eat right! We are sure you are familiar with that feeling you get after a heavy meal when you desperately want to take a nap or are reaching out for a cup of coffee to keep you awake at work! Well, you can’t afford to do this while riding so you need to watch what you eat. Stay away from spicy and oily food, eat light and drink plenty of fluids.
DO NOT go overboard with energy drinks/bars and chocolates as they are very harmful to the body! Keep alcohol consumption to a bare minimum and avoid drinking the night before your ride. Dinner should always be light unless you want a rough night ahead!
Information like blood group, allergies, and emergency contacts should be on you at all times during your travel. Put up blood group stickers on your helmet and motorcycle, store your health data on your phone (iPhones have a feature) and carry a hard copy of all important numbers in your luggage. Alternatively, you can also wear a medical bracelet if available or a small pouch that sticks to the outside of your helmet, and contains relevant information.
Make 2 copies of your insurance, registration, driving license, PUC and any other documents that you may need. Put the first set of copies on the bike and the second with your luggage. Keep soft copies of ALL documents in case you lose your hard copies. The Indian Govt has recently launched Digilocker, and docs stored here can be shown to the traffic police in case you are not carrying the hard copies. Else use an app like Dropbox.
We hear from a lot of riders on how they take pride in completing the Saddle Sore or the Bum Burner ride! But sadly they don’t realize how such long rides can take a toll on their bodies because there’s a lot of fast riding with little or no breaks. Bike rides, no matter how short or long they are, need to be planned with plenty of breaks ideally after every 75-100kms. Stretch your legs, move your shoulders around, rest your hands during every break, and drink plenty of water.
Prepare for Bad Weather
Snowed in mountains passes, torrential rain, harsh summers, hot winds, fog; India has varied weather conditions and all riders need to be adequately protected at all times. Raincoats, rain pants, waterproof gloves, and/or Gators are a must for those riding through different weather conditions. If you’re riding during the summer, try to use a Mesh riding jacket and if it’s during winter/monsoon, get one which has rain/warm lining.
Ensure your bikes electricals are in great condition and install extra lights is required. Keep yourself dry at all times and carry plenty of changes. If you know you are going to be caught in low visibility areas, then we advise you to wear high visibility jackets on top of your riding gear.
We constantly use Whatsapp and other apps to keep our family informed of our current location. Live location on Whatsapp is a great tool to keep your loved ones in the know and is handy if anything goes wrong. You could also create a Facebook group, add your important contacts and post your trip details like hotels, routes, location etc on that group. DO NOT post your travel plans or location details on facebook publicly as it might be misused.
*Read the Origine Helmets review here