Everyone lives their motorcycling passion differently. Some focus on track riding and just love speed; others prefer dirt roads, woods and wilderness. Then, there’s another category of motorcycle riders: The travelers. To them, every new motorcycle trip is an adventure, a way to discover places and people. Indeed, for enthusiasts, riding a motorcycle is one of the most beautiful things to do, but, as with anything, to ensure a smooth experience one must be well-equipped and take some care. So, here's a list of tips on what to check and what to take with you before leaving on a motorcycle trip.
An essential task that requires no effort at all: Before going on a motorcycle trip, always check tire pressure and wear. Tires are the touchpoint between the motorcycle and the asphalt, and as such they greatly affect riding dynamics. To check the pressure, you could consider getting a digital pressure gauge, which is practical, accurate and doesn’t take up too much space. As for wear and tear... Taking a really good look at the tires should be enough. Italian law says that the minimum tread depths is 1.6 mm, but you should also check for even tire wear: Motorcycles that have only been driven on the highway tend to have a flat tread profile, which leaves you with a weird and dangerous feeling on leans.
You don’t need to worry about this if your motorcycle has a shaft drive, but if that’s not the case, then you should get into the habit of performing a general inspection of the final transmission (chain – crown – sprocket). If the chain is dry, you need to lubricate it, but it’s always best to clean it first using a brush and a specific cleaning product. If, however, the teeth of the crown and of the sprocket are excessively worn out (they get increasingly thinner over time), you'd better replace the whole assembly. Finally, check the chain clearance, which must be within the range specified by the manufacturer. If the tension needs to be adjusted, as long as you have some good manual skills and the necessary tools you should be able to do so yourself – otherwise, better go to a professional.
People often underestimate them, yet lights are among the most important components when riding – you might end up traveling at night, or the sky might suddenly darken, not to mention that if the lights aren’t working you could get a fine. Always check the turn signals as well.
It should go without saying, but we might as well remind you. Before going on a motorcycle trip, check the brakes, particularly the amount of wear on the pads, which is visible to the naked eye, without having to disassemble anything: It’s a closed circuit, so pad wear is directly related to the brake oil level, which means that by the time the oil level is at its lowest, you’ve probably reached the limit of the pads. In any case, you can also perform an additional “visual” inspection by taking a look at the pad’s grooves. To check the oil, however, it’s best to contact a mechanic: They’ll be able to tell you whether it’s better to bleed the system or not.
Just as with the lights, people often neglect to check the documentation, but as you can imagine it’s essential to do so before traveling. It doesn't take much time: Just check the registration papers (the motorcycle has to have passed its inspection) and that the insurance is in order. Take a look at your license, too, just to make sure it’s not expired!
Once you have reviewed all these essentials, and before you set off on a motorcycle trip, we’d also like to give you some advice on the kind of equipment that might prove useful when traveling.
To carry with you all the accessories you need for a motorcycle trip you need some stowage: So, better equip the motorcycle with some bags, and one of the most useful ones is the tank bag. It’s the most convenient to use and in it you can store essential items such as your wallet, smartphone, toll device, etc. To minimize the risk of breaking or ruining these delicate items while riding, make sure that your tank bag has a magnetic fastening system in addition to the traditional straps – and if it’s made of waterproof material, even better. The Dainese D-Tanker has all these features.
Experienced motorcycle travelers know this well: Being unprepared during a thunderstorm can be extremely annoying... Riding a few minutes in a downpour it’s just like diving into a swimming pool. Therefore, we suggest you always take a rain kit consisting of jacket and pants, or, more simply, a rain suit – especially if you want maximum protection – with you.
The intercom, a device known by most riders that allows rider and passenger to communicate, is a very useful accessory when traveling in company, though it can actually do much more than just this. An intercom has several advantages: It allows you to listen to the navigation system, answer calls or hear the traffic news on the radio. We recommend you take a look at the AGV INSYDE, designed specifically for the Tourmodular helmet. It employs a technology called DMC, which is more stable and high-quality than the classic Bluetooth system.
It may seem trivial, but staying hydrated during a scorching riding session (for example in summer, particularly in muggy places) is often underestimated. We might not think about it because we’re often too focused on riding, but listening to what your body needs is paramount. Accordingly, a backpack with a water bag solves the problem: You will no longer have to stop to drink during your trip. The Alligator Backpack features a 2-liter inner bag lined with insulating material to maintain a cool water temperature.
As you have seen, there are quite a few things to pay attention to before going on a motorcycle trip. Some of these may seem tedious, but we can assure you that your trip will feel totally different, and all you’ll have to do is just enjoy the ride.