Preparing For Your Journey

We know you just want to get out there, you, your bike and the open road but there are a few things you need to think about before taking that journey. Whether it’s a ride out with mates, a trip to your favourite biker event or a tour across Europe – it’s vital you plan ahead to prepare yourself and your bike for the adventure!

Can my motorbike handle this journey?

Where will you be riding your bike? Is it really the best mode of transport to be taking? Of course, if you’re going on a typical ride out along open roads, across ‘comfortable’ terrain then as long as your bike has passed its MOT, you have insurance and you’ve followed the basic daily bike checks then you’re good to go!

Here are a few things to take into account when assessing whether your bike is right for this journey:

Weather:

  • If there has been a recent heavy downpour of rain, check your route for potential flooding
  • If you’re travelling in the winter be wary or black ice, practically invisible to the eye – you really don’t want it to catch you out!
  • Avoid riding in foggy conditions. If you cannot avoid riding in fog then ensure your fog lights are working, keep a sensible distance between yourself and the vehicle in front and ride at a slow and steady pace
  • In cases of particularly high speeds of wind it’s a good idea to hold out for a while until the conditions calm

Traffic:

  • During times of heavy traffic the roads can become particularly unsafe and difficult to manoeuvre through, so be cautious
  • Remain vigilant and aware when lane splitting, a motorist could suddenly pull out if they haven’t seen you
  • When road splitting it is a good idea to drop down a gear so your engine is loader, thus increasing your chances of being heard by other motorists
  • Remember, eye contact is key! If you’re able to make eye contact with other motorists then the chances are they’ve seen you. If not, ‘ride as though you are invisible’.
  • Will you be travelling along a road notoriously known for its potholes?
    • If your journey takes you down a route with many potholes, think about re routing
  • It’s extremely dangerous to swerve to avoid potholes!
    • We’re not recommending that you swerve potholes but some can be exceptionally hazardous! Be sure to position yourself safely on the road in plenty of time when approaching a pothole
  • Tips for riding along roads with potholes:
    • Keep a steady speed! If you strike a pothole at a fast speed you’re likely to damage your bike or even worse, cause an accident
    • Maintain a strong firm hold on your handle bars
    • Be aware of other road users before attempting to avoid a pothole
    • Check your tyre pressure
    • If you have hit a pothole it’s a good idea to get your bike looked over at your local garage for any damage that may have been caused. There are many handy applications that can be used to investigate where the worst hit areas are for example:

The following clip gives tips and pointers to consider when avoiding hazards and potholes. It’s important to keep your eyes raised and to look ahead at where you’re going, as in turn you will then follow.

Are you physically and mentally fit to ride?

Should you ever feel as though you are unable to ride safely then please do not ride!

Below are factors that can affect your riding abilities:

  • Tiredness
  • Injuries
  • Alcohol
  • Drugs
  • Medicines
  • Mood

If you believe you are unfit or that your riding capabilities may be hindered for whatever reason then it’s a good idea to think about an alternative mode of transport to make your journey or perhaps delay the journey until you feel fit to ride.

Legal requirements for riding with a pillion

A pillion can be of any age, as long as they are strong enough to grip onto the bike and their feet reach the foot rests. The clip below gives legal tips for motorcycle pillion riders.

What can be affected when riding with a pillion?

  • The handling of the bike – be smooth with your gear changes and acceleration to avoid “helmet bump”
  • Extra weight – adjust your suspension if your bike has suspension adjustment, if not then you could fit an adjustable rear shock
  • Increased petrol use due to the extra weight
  • Experience of both rider and pillion – a good way for both rider and pillion to get used to riding together is by practising in an empty car park, feel the changes in the bike and remember to communicate
  • Balance – it’s important for the pillion to work with the rider, remain still and if the rider wishes so then the pillion could even lean into the corners with the rider, remember…communication is key!
  • Stopping distance – leave a larger gap and brake earlier as it takes longer to stop
  • The bike – Is your bike suitable for taking a pillion? Is it big enough, comfortable, easy to manage and control?

The clip below outlines a few handy tips for riding with a passenger.

Loading your motorbike

If you’re planning a long trip away chances are you’ll have a fair amount of luggage with you and possibly also a pillion; so it’s vital that you have loaded your bike appropriately, securely and safely.

The clip below gives a great demonstration of how to efficiently fold your clothing, enabling you to fit as much into your luggage as possible. While also considering weight restrictions, balance and tyre air pressure.

Tips for loading your bike:

Be ruthless!

Only take what you need, you don’t want to overload your bike with stuff you’re not going to use. So check over everything you’re planning on taking at least three times.

Triple check the load is secure:

You definitely don’t want your luggage escaping you! One, the embarrassment of having to whiteness your smalls flying behind you in your wing mirror will probably be the embarrassment of your life. And two, on a serious note, loosely fitted luggage bags are extremely dangerous! If luggage becomes lose and disconnects this will drastically disturb your riding and could result in you losing control of your bike, leading to an accident.

Also, remember to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the luggage and load securing equipment to ensure everything is connected and in place properly and securely!

Plan your route:

Where do you want to go? What do you want to see?
If you’re planning a long trip away, over the course of a long weekend or even week then it’s a great idea to get a map out and pin point all the best places to visit and what kind of route you want to take.

Events: There may even be a few biker events taking place over the course of your getaway. These are always a great way to meet new people, find out where all the best places to visit are to interact with like-minded people.

GPS: If you can get your hands on a sat nav or download a navigation app on your phone then this will really help you out. You may find yourself straying from your route along the way, so some navigation always helps! But remember, don’t restrict yourself too much, you may stumble across a secret corner or a beautiful village to explore, so go for it, that’s the whole point of the adventure!