How to Stay Comfortable On Long Motorcycle Trips
Adapted from an article by Wes Siler
Pretty much any bike is comfortable for just a few minutes, but any bike can be torture if you have to spend hours in the hot seat. Luckily, there are ways to address that. Here’s how to stay comfortable on long motorcycle rides.
Stretch all your muscle groups before you ride. If you have the right riding gear — stuff that flexes with your body and allows full range of motion — you can even wear it while stretching.
Start with your legs and work your way up to your head, neck and back. All this gets you nice and limber for the hours in the saddle ahead.
(Can you infographic this?) touch your toes, spread your legs to twice shoulder high and and fold your torso down so your head points at the ground, then bend alternating knees, stretching the inside of your thighs. Stretch your quads by bending your knee while standing and pulling it up with your foot. Sit on the ground with the soles of your boots touching and do butterflies. Your head and neck need attention too: roll your head around your shoulders. Stretch your back by reaching for the sky and your arms by pulling them behind your head and across your shoulders.
Before you set out, drink water until you can’t drink anymore. Then, top yourself up on the go. The goal is to urinate once an hour, all day and for that urine to remain clear. Riding a motorcycle, even just cruising down a highway, puts you outside in the elements, remaining adequately hydrated (with water, not sugary or caffeine-rich drinks) will prevent soreness from developing in your muscles and keep your mental acuity high.
No matter what the weather, there’s riding gear that will make you more comfortable in it. We all know what it can do in the rain and cold, but even in extreme heat, appropriate riding gear can allow your body to cool itself more effectively than simply exposing it to the wind. Ventilated or mesh gear controls the airflow around your body, giving the evaporative cooling effect time to work, rather than simply allowing the wind to blow the sweat off your body before it provides any cooling. You’ll also need to protect yourself from the sun, any remaining exposed skin should be covered in high-SPF sunblock.
Compress Your Muscles
Compression garments increase long term comfort and athletic performance by increasing the lymphatic and blood flow. It also holds muscles in place, isolating them from vibration, further preventing long-term soreness. A simple pair of bike shorts can work wonders over long distances and compression garments are now available for virtually your entire body.
Alter Your Ergonomics and Aerodynamics
Any stock motorcycle should only be considered an ergonomic starting point. This is as true for a Gold Wing as it is for an R6 track bike. You can achieve a surprising level of custom fit simply by rotating bars forward and backwards and levers up and down. Find yourself on the road and in urgent need of a quick, easy ergonomic fix? Don’t be afraid to experiment. Duct tape, cardboard and spare clothing can be used to conjure up all sorts of comfort aids in a pinch.
The same goes for aerodynamics. A screen that works for one person, might create terminal vibration for another, seemingly identical rider.
Avoid Monkey Butt
Get a sweaty butt and you could experience chafing, or worse. This is what those skeepskin seat covers you see on GSs and Gold Wings are intended to prevent; they do so by helping air circulate around your backside. Duct taping a folded up towel to your seat can achieve a similar effect for free. Talcum powder applied to your nether regions is a good idea too.
Keep Your Hands Warm
Craig Vetter invented the original bar muffs by duct taping a sleeping bag to the front of his motorcycle. Having your fingers pointing into the wind for long periods, even in good gloves, just has a way of creating cold hands.
No matter how comfortable your bike may seem, sitting in one position for hours at a time is going to lead to sore-butt-itis. So move around. Be safe and don’t do this in places where you may need to make emergency evasive maneuvers. Just be careful not to inadvertently tweak the throttle, foot controls or nudge the bars off course when you’re using these parts to stretch.
Take A Break
There’s nothing wrong with just pulling over and taking a break. Go sit inside somewhere warm if it’s cold outside or cool if it’s hot. Drink some liquid; take your concentration away from riding and just chill out. The mental recuperation from even a short break might just be what you need to get home.