Going across state lines on a motorcycle means that you’re planning something big. And an adventure of this magnitude requires careful planning and precision regardless of how experienced you might think you are.
Firstly, you can’t just take a 250 CC on a half-a-month long motorcycle trip and hope to have fun. You need to pick a bike that’s the best fit for you and your needs. Perhaps go with a cruiser, touring bike, or even something like a Harley Sportster that’s equipped with all the motorcycle luggage options because you’ll need the extra space.
Here’s a guide that can help you pick a bike for yourself.
Once you’ve finalized the bike you’re going to travel on, let’s get down to planning the trip across state lines:
Have an Itinerary
An itinerary is your guide to ensure you have a perfectly organized trip. And before all you rebels complain about having your freedom to choose at any time, let’s not forget that we have lives to get back to and you need a set of directions, routes, and a destination to get yourself on the road. Therefore, pick a place on the map after talking to other travelers, adventurists and reading up on suggestions online. Numerous places in every state are worth visiting and since you’re on a motorcycle, you can make the most of all of them.
Your itinerary will also tell you where you can stay along the way. Since it’s not advisable to camp along the way and carrying all that camping equipment is going to be a hassle in its own right, you should avoid the idea altogether. Align all your stops as per your destination and your route and always remember that any road can get blocked. These situations will demand improvisation and take additional time. (More on this below)
Know the Law
Crossing state lines can seem simple but you have to remember that the rules and regulations of each state are different. People who like to travel to rallies like the infamous Sturgis will know that cops can spell trouble, especially when you’re coming from someplace where the law considers you street-legal. One of the most common examples of this is wearing a helmet. Many states haven’t mandated the use of one whereas, others require a DOT-approved one on your head at all times. That’s why it’s wise to have a helmet on anyway because it’ll prove useful when you go off-road.
Other than the above, important laws to know include:
- Lane splitting
- Safety Gear Mandates
- Street Legal Modifications
- Highway speeds and Off-road territories off-limits
Decide on Luggage Options
A motorcycle isn’t that convenient when it comes to piling on luggage. However, that doesn’t mean that a bike can’t be equipped with proper luggage options that can help you comfortably travel where you want to go.
For example, several brands in the market boast of luggage options and even provide hardware for them such as a Harley Sportster sissy bar that allows you to latch on one or even two bags on it.
In addition to this, if you go for motorcycle-specific saddlebags that come with weather resistance and key lock ability features, you can be sure that your luggage will be safe and protected. Other luggage options for motorcycles include saddlebags or panniers, handlebar bags, tank bags, motorcycle backpacks (not your average backpacks), solo bags, organizers, and more.
Pack the Essentials
Though the definition of essentials can differ for everyone, here’s a list of items you shouldn’t forget to bring on your trip:
- Tool kit
- Med kit
- Clothing for each day you plan to be out and an extra pair of shirt and trousers
- Jumper cables
- Waterproof raincoat
- Hygiene-related toiletries (toothbrush, nail clippers, mosquito repellent, deodorant, shaving kit, soaps, shampoos, floss, etc.)
- Warm jacket, gloves, walking shoes, goggles or a helmet
Make sure that your bike isn’t loaded too much because this will prove extremely inconvenient when you decide to go off-road and are revving through the mud because of the weight. Moreover, even if you’re going with motorcycle-specific luggage options that are designed to keep the ergonomic performance of the bike in mind, you need to balance out the things you pack.
And this isn’t just limited to your saddlebags that hang on each side of the bike. If you don’t go for a Harley sissy bar and instead choose motorcycle trunks, you can’t fill it up too much because the weight will make your front wheel go up.
Planning for Mishaps
The world would be perfect if everything always went according to plan. Unfortunately, it’s not and we almost always have to improvise whenever things don’t go our way. This is especially true when you’re on the road and you encounter situations such as roadblocks, accidents, and mechanical problems along the way. Though not a lot of things can stop a motorcycle tourist, some can render you immobile without the proper tools and expertise that are needed to get you moving again.
Another example of mishaps that can occur during your trip can be medical emergencies. This is why it’s strongly recommended that you don’t decide to camp outdoors too far out in the middle of nowhere. Moreover, you need to have first aid kits as well as safety equipment with you at all times. Wearing knee pads and elbow pads along with a helmet may seem like a nuisance but it’ll save you from pain, agony, frustration and even hospital fee should you fall off. (even professional off-road racers fall off)
A motorcycle trip isn’t supposed to be frustrating and if you start planning smart and from early on, you’ll avoid all the pitfalls that can lead to an inconvenient experience. Make sure that you’re going with someone you trust and who has experience on the road. The last thing you want is someone getting on your nerves. Other than the above, always remember to abide by the traffic laws and safety regulations in each state to avoid legal as well as other forms of trouble.