Resources 7 Dec 2017

Advice: Beginner’s guide to touring

Things that will assist you in getting away on two wheels for the first time.

Words: Matthew Shields

With the holiday season almost upon us, there will be a lot of people that are looking forward to a break. There’ll also be a lot of people who haven’t ridden their motorcycles enough. The solution to fixing both situations in one go is by taking a holiday on your bike, but what if you haven’t done it before? Here are a number of factors that will help in getting you on your way.

Image: Greg Smith (iKapture).

1. Match your ride:
The first thing you need to know is what bike you are riding. Every person has their own idea of what the right ride for a touring trip is and, as such, the style of bike you have dictates where you can go easily and how enjoyable the ride will be.

2. Planning:
With a destination or route in mind, the first most important job is to plan your stops. Hot days increase the need and duration of stops, while bad weather can prolong them too. There’s no point having a hotel paid for somewhere if there’s a chance you won’t make it, so with that in mind, fuel, food and accomodation need to be considered before even packing your bike. Just how long the days are or how remote the ride will be has a direct influence on how you pack, however carrying extra water is never going to do you wrong. In one respect you might get away with a tail-pack and a hotel booking, on the other hand you could be laden with food, fuel, clothes, sleeping equipment and a pillion. When planning your route keep in mind how the season will affect the roads in your plans.

3. Loading up:
Loading a bike for a few days, or even weeks, on the road is something that requires full consideration, because where you place the gear and how you tie it down is of vital importance. Make sure everything is packed tightly and close down to the seat of the bike. Heavy weight – like tail-packs, top-boxes and the like – upset the handling balance and will need attention when setting up a laden machine – it won’t be just pre-load you play with necessarily. The best option is fitting accessory luggage, as it gives added security to your belongings and this pays off on the road when you stop and get away from the bike and don’t have to worry about stolen gear.

Image: Greg Smith (iKapture).

4. Being flexible:
Multiple situations can pop up literally anywhere across Australia anytime of year and sometimes your plans may need to change out on the road. If you are riding through remote areas, especially solo, again make sure you have water on-board and the type of phone to get you the best reception possible. Check each provider’s coverage maps (usually on their website) and ask them if they have you covered if you are in doubt.

5. Mechanical know-how:
With a route selected, get your tool kit ready. Have as many tools as your mechanical know-how will let you use to get you out of trouble and make sure a puncture repair kit, metal bond, duct tape, rag and cable ties are in their too. Roadside assistance is a godsend and being a member of the National Motorcycle Alliance or one of the motoring bodies across Australia can save you any day of the year.

6. Taking two:
If you are thinking of riding two-up, make sure of two things. Be certain that you have the experience to ride with a pillion and the pillion will last the distance. There’s no joy to be had when on day one of a four-day ride, your pillion decides that they don’t like you or motorcycles anymore. But with that sorted, your machine mechanically A1 and a full tank of fuel, you’re all set with a top way to spend your time off.