This is the third installment in a series about the combination of rider, ride, route and
resources required to endure and enjoy long-distance riding (LDR), and the second of two parts discussing the
ride. Our focus last month was what kind of motorcycles distance riders do ride. Our focus this month
is what kind of bikes they should ride.
Part 2 of 2: What kind of motorcycles SHOULD distance riders ride?
Last month we shared a survey showing that touring bikes like the Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic and Honda Gold Wing
were popular choices among last year's IBA SS1000 riders, and that only 2 out of 2,911 riders managed to make the
24-hour, one thousand mile run on bikes described as choppers. Those two guys must have truly learned the meaning of
So, what kind of motorcycle should a distance rider ride? Well, it probably shouldn't be a Billy Lane one-off hardtail
kidney-cruncher, but it doesn't have to be a Geezer-Glide either. Simply stated, the motorcycle should be capable of
covering your intended route, in your targeted timeframe, with the capacity to safely, securely and comfortably transport
you and your gear. The most important criteria are capability, capacity, and comfort:
Capability: Knowing your route, stops and timeframe, you can calculate how fast you will need to run and
over what distances. Is your bike engineered--and in condition--to handle the demand? If so, the next question is
fuel range. What is the longest distance you have to cover between gas stops? Given your bike's rate of fuel
consumption at the speed you plan to run, is your tank large enough? Next comes maintenance and repair. What are
your bike's maintenance intervals? If unanticipated repairs or scheduled maintenance are required over the course
of your trip, who will perform them and where are they located?
Is your bike backed by a nationwide dealer network like Harley-Davidson or Honda, or will you have to call Russell
Mitchell at Exile Cycles, praying that he's close by and has a clear head?
Capacity: Every motorcycle has a recommended load limit. Find out what it is for your bike, and make
sure the combined weight of you, your backwarmer and your gear do not exceed it. And as for gear, test and verify
that everything you need for your trips can be safely secured on the bike, without impeding maneuverability, and
without impacting balance by adding too much weight to the front, left, right or rear.
Comfort: Last year, the SPEED CHANNEL's Greg White and Dan Parisi rode cross-country on a pair of 49cc
Yamaha Zuma scooters. They didn't cover a thousand miles a day, they weren't packing all of their gear, and they
didn't finish without repairs, but they did make it! Check out their press releases at
SpeedTV.com, and you'll see that one of the recommendations
is "Get some pillows for your butt."
In distance riding, the comfort of your ride is just as important as its capability and capacity. Comfort considerations
go far beyond the saddle, and the determinations are highly subjective. A bike that feels right to a 25 year-old taut
and slender six-foot female, for instance, might bring sheer agony to a short and stocky 55 year-old male. And come to
think of it, so might the female....
Until Next Time ... Ride Long, Ride Free!
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LdrLongDistanceRider.com is a bikers' rights, motorcyclists' issues and long distance motorcycle riding resource for
touring endurance riders and extreme cruising on bikes by
Aprilia, BMW, Buell, Ducati, H-D/HD/Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, Moto-Guzzi, Norton, Suzuki,
Triumph, Vengeance, Victory, Yamaha and other makes.