Monday, July 13, 2015

Preparing for your next ride on the motorbike

While traveling (solo or in groups) on motorbikes, there are many things apart from weather and distance that you need to keep in mind. I have listed a few things that if planned well will make the get away an enjoyable one. I have a Harley Davidson Street 750 and have used these tips for most of my rides.

Before we go any further, Safety first: Not just while you are going on a long ride, but each time you throw your legs around a motorbike, safety comes first. You must have proper protection from head to toe. Starting with a good helmet, a weather appropriate jacket (with shoulder, elbow and back protection), riding gloves, knee guard and boots. Additionally, having a leg guard installed on the bike is also a must.

Prepare your bike:
If you are doing a long distance ride (say 500+ kms), then the bike should be in the best running condition. Check the necessary fluids, gauges, battery, tires, brakes, cables/wires etc. If the next service is due in a thousand km or so, get it done before the trip. There is nothing more troublesome than getting your bike towed to the service station in the middle of your get away. If you have time and budget, get your seat modified to suit your comfort.

DIY repairs:
You need to carry:
  • puncture kit depending on the tire type (tubeless or with tube)
  • spare spark plugs and also know how to install them
  • repair kit that came with your bike along with one spare bulb
Remember that the key is to having at least one spare part at the beginning of the trip and replenishing it at the earliest opportunity if you have used it.

Pack your bags:
Travel light. This is the basic of riding. You have multiple options to carry luggage on the bike. For example, attach carriers (side or rear) on the bike or get a tank bag. Most often, riders get a back pack and tie it at the back of the bike with strings. The next question is – what to pack? I always forget to pack my tooth brush and toothpaste. So this goes on the top of my list. Depending on the number of days of your trip, pack a pair of jeans, shorts/lower, a couple of T-shirts, socks and undergarments. Start placing your stuff in a back-pack. I always slip some poly bags and newspapers as they come handy. While I have recommended using poly bags, keep the environment in mind while using and disposing it. There may be some additions if you are planning the trip in winter/rainy season of the destination. It is recommended that you also have a waist bag to keep handy cash, your bike’s papers (RC/PUC/insurance) and some quick bites like chocolates/candies. I also keep a swiss knife in the waist bag.

Know the mileage of your bike:
It is important that you do your homework. Identify the route that you plan to take and map your refueling points. When you are on a route with lesser count of petrol pumps, knowing your mileage becomes very important. Carrying back-up fuel is strongly recommended. You can equip your bike with carriers to carry fuel cans and luggage.

Carry cash:
Even though we are in the age of plastic money, there are many places which accept only cash. It may so happen that the card machine at the petrol pump is not working or the guest house/hotel you chose for overnight halt takes only cash. Especially when you are planning a trip towards the hills or away from civilization, you need to carry sufficient cash which will last for the entire trip. You cannot rely on the ATMs in the hills as most of them are out of service or do not have cash.

Contact number in case of emergency:
I have a friend who has “contact in case of emergency number” sticker on the handle of his bike. I am not saying that this is the only choice, but if there is situation, an emergency contact number should be easily accessible. You can have it as a sticker on the back of your phone OR side of your helmet OR on the back-pack. You also need to have road side assistance (RSA) number. There is a dedicated RSA for the HOGs but for other riders, you can avail RSA services from the market at an annual fee.

Don't forget your camera!

Wishing you a safe and a happy ride!!

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