Ten top tips for motorcycle road trips
If you're planning a motorcycle trip this summer, you'll have a long list of things to check over before you go. Everything from motorcycle clothing to luggage and helmets need to be sorted in advance.
But it can be tough to remember it all, so here's ten top tips for getting the most out of motorcycle touring, courtesy of Butler Maps.
1) Choose your roads carefully. Not all roads are equal and for motorbikes some are a lot more fun than others. Get hold of a good road map or check online for the most scenic, winding, car-free routes.
2) Dress for the crash, not to impress. The right motorcycle clothing is essential – tarmac is a great tattoo remover. No matter how hot it gets, don't be tempted to skimp on the correct gear. A motorcycle helmet is a must at all times and don't compromise on leathers. Waterproof gear can come in very handy to stop your leathers getting soaked.
"In terms of climate, one size doesn't fit all, because there are a number of different climates," explains Craig Carey-Clinch, policy advisor at the Motorcycle Industry Association. "The great thing is if you are thinking of riding abroad and it is somewhere hot, there is quite a wide range of apparel you can get from motorcycle dealerships that cover all types, but still give you that essential protection you need."
3) Two is more fun than one. Take a friend as a pillion passenger if they don't have their own machine. Take plenty of time to stop – it can be hard to have a discussion about all the sights and sounds while riding.
4) Try an organised tour. There are loads of firms out there that plan tours, sorting out the route, accommodation and all the little details that allow you to sit back and do nothing but ride.
5) Be aware of the local rules of the road. If you're biking on the continent, there are lots of different regulations to be wary of. And they vary from country to country, so it pays to mug up on all the nations you plan to visit.
6) Plan your trip around an event or a special occasion. From hill climbs to track days and owner's clubs gatherings, there is no shortage of things to attend and provide a focus for your tour. The Imola 200 Revival in Italy this September is an ideal example for Ducati riders.
7) Gear up. There is such a huge array of kit out there it seems a shame not to treat yourself. If you only ever ride at the weekends or to work, remember covering 2,000 miles in a week is a lot different and a few luxuries will be greatly appreciated. A comfortable seat, added wind protection and a quiet helmet should all be at the top of the list. Boosting your suspension is also a good idea.
8) Pack smart. Panniers are great, but if you don't have saddle bags then a waterproof duffel bag can be strapped to the back of the bike. Remember less is more when it comes to motorcycle tours.
9) Fix the oil leak. "A touring holiday can be ruined by problems with your bike," says Jeff Stone, media and public relations manager at the British Motorcyclists Federation. Careful maintenance is vital before going on a long trip. It's so much easier to solve a problem in your local garage than on the side of a mountain as the light is fading.
10) When in Rome. Think about how the local population approaches the road and biking. Don't try to be clever and do stick to the speed limit. An exception might be a country where helmets are not required.