One of the great allures of motorcycling is venturing off into unfamiliar territory and experiencing new places! However, without proper precautions, a mishap can throw a real wrench into your trip plans.
The biggest concern is often theft. Waking up to seeing the empty spot where your motorcycle was (especially when traveling in unfamiliar cities or countries) would be a real blow to any rider!
Keep your bike secure
The best deterrent is to make your bike as difficult to tamper with as possible. Steering column locks are the easiest first line of defense, since most motorcycles come equipped with them from the factory.
Beyond that, I highly recommend using a disc brake lock with an alarm function. They hook onto your brake rotor and have an audible alarm that’s motion sensitive. The benefit is twofold: the bike can’t be rolled away, and the blaring tone wards away thieves and draws attention to the scene.
Pro tip: If possible, park close to the window of wherever you’re staying so you have a better chance of being alerted in the middle of the night should something happen.
Keep your luggage secure
Security also carries over to your luggage. On a big trip, a rider may be carrying all the possessions they need to essentially live off their motorcycle for a month.
Hard luggage with a lock and key is the best solution, since strapped down luggage and equipment such as tents are more vulnerable. Locking ratchet straps and cable loops can help secure your kit with confidence, but when in doubt, unload it all and carry it with you.
Pro tip: When you’re in a new city, consider the local parking laws and signage. It would be horrible to wake up and think your bike was taken, only to discover you parked in a “Street sweeping on Tuesdays” spot!
Keep your personal belongings secure
When we travel, we’re carrying a lot of key possessions on our person, and there are a few tips to help avoid a situation that’ll bring the trip to a halt.
We’ve probably all lost our house keys at some point, but losing a bike key spells big trouble. If you carry a spare key, make sure it’s stashed in an interior pocket with a zipper or secure closure method that you wouldn’t use for any other purpose. That way, there’s no risk that you’ll accidentally open it and have the key fall out. Some people go so far as to hide the key on the bike in case their jacket goes missing. I’ve seen some clever hiding places, like inside a turn signal housing or a hidden compartment on the bike!
Pro tip: Keep any key documents such as your bike registration or passport in a zip-lock bag or waterproof pouch. All it takes is accidentally leaving the pocket of your jacket open a tad and then hitting a sudden rainstorm to drench all your critical documents!
Familiarize yourself to the new city
The last thing any rider wants to see is the flashing of red and blue in their rearview mirror. When you’re riding into a different state or country, be sure to familiarize yourself with the local motorcycle-specific laws.
Now that lane splitting is catching on, some people are accustomed to being able to skirt between traffic, but in some states, the act can carry some heavy penalties!
There are also some smaller and lesser-known rules. In New York City, a rider must have their visor closed on their helmet, even if they’re wearing eye protection. Or, for those who like to jam out while riding, in Colorado, you’re permitted to wear one earbud but not both. If you find yourself riding in France, motorcyclists must carry a high visibility safety vest but aren’t required to wear it.
Pro tip: When crossing borders, it’s helpful to have some sort of bar-mounted GPS that will display your speed in kilometers instead of miles. It’s far easier than trying to do the calculation in your head and could save you from a speeding ticket!
Hopefully, these precautionary measures help your next bike trip stay fun and worry free.