If you’ve traveled for any amount of time in any corner of the world, you will have seen them. Astride their luggage-laden two-wheelers, fully kitted-out in gear and having the time of their lives, motorcycle travelers can be found anywhere there is a road and even on paths that could only jokingly be described as one.
So what’s the big deal about motorcycle touring? Why is it that so many people choose to travel, fully exposed to the elements, on what is statistically one of the most dangerous modes of transportation? And why do they look like they’re having so much fun doing it?!
Well, as someone who belongs to this tribe of nomadic lunatics, I aim to answer all these questions for you. And I wager that I’ll have you considering swinging a leg over a motorcycle before you’re done reading this article.
My name is Hugo, and I live and breathe all things’ motorcycle’. Over the years, what started out as a hobby has become an obsession: from the daily commute and occasional weekend ride to traveling the globe, camping in the most remote regions of the world, and seeing all there is to see. I also share my passion for motorcycling through Bikes Future, where you can find my thoughts on the best parts and gear for your bike.
But today, I’ll be bringing you into the fold and giving you some tips on how to go about planning your very first outing on a motorcycle.
So without further ado, here’s why your next adventure should be on a motorcycle.
Why Your Next Travel Adventure Should Be On A Motorcycle
1 >> Motorcycle travel is cheap
Traveling on a motorcycle is cheap. Ok, so some of you might be scoffing, saying, ‘You’re telling me the person traveling all around the world on a $40,000 adventure bike is on a budget? Yeah, right.’
But what you have to realize is that much like traveling on cars, planes, or anything else, there are levels to motorcycle travel. And our friend with the expensive bike and gear is getting around on the first-class equivalent for motorcycles.
In reality, motorcycle travel can be customized to fit just about any budget.
Travel motorcycles are, for the most part, a lot more fuel-efficient than vehicles like RVs, vans, and even cars in a lot of cases. They are cheaper to transport by sea or air if needed. Motorcycles are cheaper to store, and most countries charge lower toll rates for two-wheelers.
What’s more, highly capable and reliable travel motorcycles can be had at just about every price point.
For every $40k ADV with all the bells and whistles, there are hundreds of decade-old, 250-cc dual-sports that do the same task, albeit a bit slower and slightly less comfortable.
That said, costs can start to add up if you’re traveling abroad. When planning a motorcycle trip, it’s important to plan your trip around a particular budget and stick to it.
But the beauty of motorcycle travel is that you don’t have to go halfway around the world to enjoy yourself. Really, you could be close to home and save some money doing it, which brings me to my next point.
2 >> Motorcycles can go (just about) anywhere
The main advantage of motorcycle touring is that motorcycles can go anywhere. Because they’re so lightweight and capable, motorcycles give you a lot more options as far as the destination is concerned. Paved roads? Sure.
Dirt paths? No problem.
Rocky, uneven terrain? Bring it on.
Literal ice and snow? You’ll need some special tires, but yeah, why not.
This varied use case opens up a whole world of possibilities. Motorcycle touring is liberating, it's as if you grow wings.
Motorcycle touring is like having a superpower. You can go camping on your motorcycle, get off the beaten path, go off-roading, travel across deserts, cross entire continents, and so much more.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the adventures you can have on a motorcycle.
One of my favorite parts about motorcycle travel is how you can modify and outfit your bike to go basically anywhere and do anything. RVs and vans could only dream of being this customizable.
3 >> Motorcycles force you to travel light
Ask any motorcycle adventure enthusiast what the most important consideration is for moto-travel, and they’ll tell you it’s weight management.
There are no two ways about it, folks; space is limited on a motorcycle. Furthermore, it gets significantly harder to maneuver and handle a bike the more weight is loaded up on it.
While some might consider this a drawback, I have always thought of it as an advantage of motorcycle travel. You are forced to travel light, only taking what you absolutely need and nothing unnecessary.
Personally, I find that this helps me stay in the moment and focus on enjoying the ride. And limited space also challenges you to pack creatively. Every inch of space on a motorcycle is utilized, and nothing is left to waste. Travel on a motorcycle, and you'll become a master of packing light.
4 >> Motorcycles allow you to go off-road
I mentioned this before, but I think it deserves more recognition. If you have a travel motorcycle capable of going off-road and aren’t doing it, you’re not getting your money’s worth.
On my motorcycle road trip, I love the thrill of going off-road and getting my hands dirty on some twisty forest trails, gravel paths, or uneven terrain with lots of fun elevation changes.
Granted, it took me a while to get the hang of off-roading and even longer to learn the subtle intricacies of the discipline. But it’s well worth it, in my opinion.
If the thought of experiencing nature and going where only a select few can go excites you, motorcycle travel is the way to do it.
5 >> Motorcycle travel gives you a sense of freedom
Ok, ok. I know this is a bit of a cliche, but it’s also true!
There are few things as liberating as riding a travel motorcycle, the wind in your face, surrounded by picturesque landscapes, clear skies, and perfect weather.
Fair warning, there will be times when you are met with sweltering heat, frigid cold, drab scenery, and the bane of every motorcyclist’s existence, rain.
But if you ask me, it’s all part of the experience.
And if you ask me what I prefer between traveling in a stuffy car or other enclosed vehicle and traveling on a motorcycle, I would take the motorcycle every day of the week. Well, maybe not Tuesday. AccuWeather predicts heavy showers on Tuesday.
Still, there’s more to it than just the weather or the scenery. There’s something almost primal about riding a motorcycle. In this world of self-driving cars and driver aid systems, motorcycles are perhaps the last vehicles that still really require a human component.
Motorcycles are inherently unstable and need you, the rider, to balance them. Maybe I’m getting too sentimental about this inanimate object, but I have developed a bit of a relationship with my bike over the years, and I can’t wait for you to do the same with yours.
If you made it this far, you’re probably at least somewhat intrigued by the prospect of motorcycle travel. And if that’s the case, I’m about halfway to my goal of getting you on a bike and venturing out into the world.
To that end, I’d like to share some valuable tips and information about motorcycle travel and touring.
Tips For Planning A Motorcycle Trip:
Gear is important
Proper riding gear is essential no matter what type of motorcycle you ride. When you ride a motorcycle, you’re exposed to the elements, and there aren’t nearly as many safety features as a car or other vehicle.
You’ll have time to build out your list and get all the nice gear you want later.
For beginners, I recommend the following:
- A high-quality helmet
Helmets and motorcycles go hand in hand. A high-quality helmet that is tested to industry standards protects your noggin in case of a crash.
It also shields your face from road debris getting kicked up by other vehicles, dust and grime, and the visor shields you from the harsh sun. Motorbike travel should be, first and foremost, safe for you.
- Some sturdy riding gloves
For your motorcycle trip, you'll also need some sturdy riding gloves. Here’s something most people don’t realize about motorcycle crashes: some of the most at-risk-of-injury parts of your body are your hands (I found that out the hard way). This is because, in the event of a fall, we instinctively try to catch ourselves by stretching out our arms.
This can cause fractures, road rash, and in extreme cases, something called a degloving injury. I’ll leave it to the more iron-willed among you to Google that last one.
As for the gloves, invest in ones made of thick leather or other abrasion-resistant material. Palm sliders have also saved my bacon on a couple occasions, so definitely get those if you can.
- Good riding boots
Another important thing you will need for a motorbike travel is good riding boots. You’ll have to shell out a bit more cash for these, but they are necessary if you plan on going off-road. In the event of a crash, it’s possible that you don’t clear the bike in time, and it ends up falling on your leg. In such cases, ankle injuries are common, and boy, do they hurt!
Riding boots that come up to your ankle or even higher are recommended to prevent such injuries. Not to mention, taller riding boots add a couple inches to your height, which helps you ‘flat-foot’ your bike.
Being able to ‘flat-foot’ a bike means you can place both feet flat on the ground while sitting on the bike, which helps you maneuver and control the bike more easily. While not necessary, it gives the rider more confidence and is especially useful for vertically challenged folks.
Riding in groups is recommended if not always necessary
If you’re just starting out, it is recommended that you ride with a group. Group riding ensures you have someone to back you up in case of an emergency. And by riding with more experienced riders, you can learn and hone your motorcycle skills. There are many organized motorcycle tours that you can find and join.
Once you get the hang of it, feel free to go it alone if that’s what you prefer.
Choose a route or destination that you are comfortable with
You might be tempted to go all around the globe, far and wide, high and low, on your motorcycle. But if you are a beginner, you should take things slow, as touring by motorcycle can be a little bit dangerous. There are a lot of fine details about motorcycle adventure riding that you will learn as you go.
For your first ever outing, look for a destination that is close to home. A local camping ground, a nearby town, anything to get your feet wet.
Make sure the route is easy and doesn’t require a lot of technical riding, i.e., uneven terrain, drastic elevation changes, and other hard-to-navigate paths.
Again, try to learn as you go; in time, you’ll be fording rivers, doing cross country motorcycle trips, traversing continents, and riding up mountains! So, little by little, you can increase the level of difficulty, and you will feel like a fish in water, touring on a motorcycle.
Have fun !
Lastly, remember to have fun with your motorcycle road trip. Don’t get too caught up in the details, and be patient. This was an introductory look at motorcycle touring, but there is a lot you will need to learn to go around the world and back.
If you make mistakes, just know that it is part of the process and that every motorcycle adventurer started out right where you are now. Give it time, and you’ll definitely get the hang of it.
So there you have an introduction to motorcycle adventuring. Touring on a motorcycle is a fun and cheap way to get around while taking in the scenery and meeting new people.
Moreover, it allows you to go where most people wouldn’t even think it was possible to go! If you are a beginner, take it one step at a time, and it’ll come to you. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me on bikesfuture.com, and I’ll be more than happy to help you out. Happy riding!
About the author:
Hugo is a motorcycle enthusiast and blogger. His site Bikes Future provides expert advice and recommendations for all your motorcycle needs. He is also a die-hard fan of traveling, going far and wide, exploring the world on his bike, doing trips in both Pakistan and India.