The lure and romance of long-distance motorcycling are irresistible. The sense of fulfilment derived from the experience of seeing new places, meeting new people and making memories for a lifetime is something that has forever enticed travellers to leave the confines of their daily life and venture out… That, in addition to the feeling of freedom and the sense of adventure when riding the open road, is inherent to those long motorcycle rides.
Text: Sandeep Goswami (Old Fox)
Rule 0: While riding, always wear a helmet… Always!
Long-distance motorcycling comprises of two distinct entities. ‘Long-distance’ and ‘motorcycling’. Motorcycling is pretty absolute and anyone who rides a motorcycle is a motorcyclist by definition. But ‘Long Distance’ is hugely relative. To some, a 100 kms would be long-distance while to others even 800kms a day would be pretty-much usual. The perceived ‘long’ in this arises from quite a few elements, majorly being 1) mindset/attitude 2) prior experience of distance travel 3) state of one’s physical fitness 4) confidence about one’s riding skill levels 4) confidence in the reliability of one’s machine 6) availability of like-minded company etc, all not necessarily in that order.
Through the points detailed below, we shall put forth for you a repertoire of suggestions, advice, pointers towards essential skillsets for long distance motorcycling and ways and means of improving the skills you already carry, to a high potential. The idea is to make your long-distance rides a safe and pleasurable experience. Come…..share the high road with xBhp and Castrol POWER1.
1. Don’t get your bike serviced, fixed for a fault or add accessories “immediately” before the ride. Instead, get these things done a few days earlier so that you get to ride the bike around long enough for remaining or new faults to show up. A loose electrical connection, mounting bolt or spongy brakes will show up within a day or two of riding. Let it happen while you’re still home. To get your bike serviced by reliable & trained technicians, you can take your bike to a nearby Castrol Bike Point.
2. Pre-trip checks should include: 1) brake pads/shoes and brake oil 2) drive chain 3) oil (and coolant where applicable) 4) lights 5) battery 6) spark plug 7) control cables (throttle, clutch, choke and brake) 8) clutch 9) air filter 10) suspension components (front fork and rear damper) 11) tyres 12) general nuts and bolts 13) PUC validity 14) Insurance validity 15) Registration certificate.
3. Be aware of your own experience and limitations. Long-distance riding is as much about riding skills as about being able to physically endure the long hours on the saddle. Being fit helps in stretching your fatigue threshold. If you’ve not done more than 200 kms a day ever before, don’t plan a 1000 km round trip in 3 days. Give yourself time, space and opportunity to learn and get comfortable before pushing for those really long rides. Even nature respects progressive growth. Also, do not forget that the engine of your motorcycle is strained just as much during those long jaunts. It needs proper protection and care. Castrol POWER1 CRUISE does just that ensuring consistent performance over long distances.
4. Luggage is synonymous with travel and on motorcycles, it means panniers or saddlebags. Mount them properly or tie them firmly (or both) depending on what you have and most importantly, keep them as light as possible. It is important because too much weight so far from the centre of gravity of the bike gives it the kind of leverage you’d thoroughly dislike in a panic stop or with a rear-wheel slide. The weight behind will act like a pendulum and tend to swing the bike sideways when you least want it to. In a nutshell, carry only the essentials and carry them tight.
5. Protect yourself from the cold and dry wind. The best way of keeping the cold wind from robbing you of your precious body heat is to dress in a combination of warm layers and wind-proofs. The layers give you two advantages; 1)Layers trap air between them and such dry air is the best thermal insulator (it’s trapped air that makes those wooly sweaters so warm). And 2) layers allow you to control your dress-up needs. If you feel hot, you can take a layer off. Wear one huge jacket and either you feel hot underneath or freeze without it.