How nice a holiday by bike! Nature, the landscape, maybe even the hands of the person behind who caress us while we cruise among beautiful views. No queues, no parking difficulties. And the freedom to go where we want. However, be careful to plan everything in the best possible way, without forgetting anything. In order not to compromise the idyllic picture just painted
Here we are, summer is here. And it is one of the best seasons to plan a holiday on two wheels.
Sea, mountain, quiet places, straight roads, curvy roads. The important thing is to escape from the routine. Better if on your motorbike. But scooters, small or large, are also good. The important thing is to make the perfect journey.
Right, but how do you do that?
Here below you can find 5 steps to start to get your holiday “right”!
Step 1 – Choosing a trip within our reach
What kind of holiday do we want? Sea? Mountain? Countryside? Itinerant or Residential? Tent or B&B? Alone, in two, or in a larger company?
If we are in company it will be essential to make a number of things clear to the person or people who are travelling with us. It may seem strange to you, but in that sacred period that we call holiday, we tend to be very inelastic about schedules, budgets, choices on accommodation, itineraries and duration of stops.
We have opened this chapter by talking about holiday within our reach. It also means that we have to assess the state of our vehicle and the people who have to travel with us. Long legs with hypersports, maybe on very ruined asphalt or with white road sections, are very hard to manage. Not to mention that we must understand if our vehicle is ready to endure so many miles with weight, heat, steep climbs and, perhaps, queues.
What about us? Do we feel prepared to drive? Are we trained and ready to go to the top of the world? Or have we always done a few kilometres so far, and is it better to envisage stages that are not too long and have adequate recovery times? In case, if you have any doubts and you are still on time, put yourself to the test, you and the passenger, with 1-2 days of long trip.
Step 2 – Prepare your motorcycle (or scooter)
Take your bike to the service and the tyre specialist. And if you’re planning a long and challenging trip, don’t think too much about investing a little more money.
The journey is in itself something that puts a lot of stress on the vehicle. Because one thing is to do 500 km in a week, in short stages and without load, another thing is to do them all together, perhaps on the highway, with a lot of weight and strong sun.
The stress on the tyres, for example, is much greater. That’s why, if you have tyres that are not totally fresh, that maybe they can still make the journey, and maybe they’ve been fitted for some years… You’d better replace them!
In short. Service your bike, replacing anything that gives signs of wear. Tyres and brakes first of all. Have the fluids checked. And do a general inspection of the bolts, to find loose nuts, cracks or damage. Moreover, wash the bike calmly, cleaning well all the hidden spots. It will help you to check it all with methodically.
Needless to say, controls, mirrors and lights must be in perfect working order. And consider the installation of appropriate equipment for the comfortable and safe transport of luggage.
Step 3 – Clothing
It depends on where we go and with which vehicle.
Simple and intuitive, right? Yet, just have a look at the motorcyclists who pass by on the highway. In certain areas where the weather is hot, you will be able to see people in shirts, open shoes, with bare hands, and improbable helmets for the passenger.
A brief preaching that you already know: technical clothing is necessary because you can hurt yourself even sliding from a standstill. And good clothing also protects against heat shocks and from cold and water or rain.
In short, dressing up with appropriate gear also makes you drive more comfortably, which benefits concentration and safety.
The minimum equipment, therefore, includes the helmet, better if full or modular. Jacket with back protector, gloves, long robust trousers, and technical boots.
Step 4 – The luggage
Bring with you only the essentials! Easy to say, difficult in reality.
Personally, made a checklist, I start to put on the table all the things I think to bring. When I put the bags in close proximity and start filling them… the trouble comes. This is where the most ferocious selection takes place. Because when you’re done you remember that you must also leave room for the souvenirs that you take back. Don’t you want to go home with the Eiffel Tower model if you’ve been to Paris? Or any other totally pointless thing you would have never otherwise bought?
Back to serious mode, you need to find an easily accessible place for warm and waterproof clothing, in case you need them because of sudden rain or cold. And do not make the mistake of thinking that where you will go these things might not be useful. Personally, I took the snow in July in Europe, and pissing rain in August in the south of Italy.
Do not forget electrical adapters, if you go to countries where they use different sockets. Finally, placed at the bottom of a bag, put a minimum amount of tools and spare parts. Light bulbs, repair kit, tape and wire. It is a first aid kit in accordance with DIN 13167, which is compulsory in countries such as Austria and Germany, among others.
To distribute your luggage weight on the bike, put the heaviest things in a tank bag, or in a bag in the middle of your legs in case you travel on a scooter. In saddle bags or side panniers you can put objects bigger but lighter, so that the bike is not too unbalanced and the front wheel becomes lighter. Indeed, because the load place towards the tail has the unpleasant contraindication of lightening the front, facilitating unexpected wheelies and loss of grip when cornering or braking suddenly.
On the market it’s possible to find any kind of pannier or saddle bag, in all shapes, sizes and material – including textile. Starting from about 100 Pounds. But don’t rely too much on the impermeability and protect the most important things (money, documents, telephones, cameras) with plastic bags!
When it comes to packing your bags, always put in the things that you are unlikely to need first. Leave a sweatshirt, waterproof gear, swimsuit and towel at the top.
Include a detachable carrierbag for the most important and valuable things to take with you, in case you need to park your loaded bike to go for a walk.
Step 5 – The approach to holiday
Need I remind you that on holiday we are deconcentrated and slowed down in our reflexes? We’ve detached after a year of work, we’re with friends, with our partner, we’re far from the problems (hopefully). We eat, we drink, we sleep and we chill out. A series of conditions that on the road make us less responsive.
On holiday we are more prone to mistakes, to distraction. And we drive on roads we don’t know. Sometimes in a traffic that has dynamics different from those we are familiar with.
For this reason, a quiet and disengaged approach is important during holidays.
No forced stages, no marathons, no fatigue and suffering. No high speeds. Sometimes a little slip is enough to force you to interrupt your dream holiday.
If you go abroad check out our next article on the rules for riding motorcycles in the different countries of our continent. Because harmonisation of traffic regulations across Europe is not a reality yet, and each country has its own, which must be known and respected. For example, the alcohol level, which ranges from 0.0 to 0.8 g/l.
In Germany and Spain, drivers with prescription lenses must carry a pair of glasses or spare lenses. In the Netherlands, regardless of the regulations of other countries, you must be 18 years old or older to ride a motorbike over 50 cc . In the Czech Republic, the driver must have an alcohol level of 0.0 and a carry replacement fuses.
More about regulation in different countries in the next article.