Planning a solo motorcycle trip? Good for you- that takes guts. Before you set off, here are some essential solo motorcycle touring tips to help you have an EPIC adventure.
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Why go Solo Motorcycle Touring?
There are two types of solo motorcycle tourer. There are those who deliberately plan a trip by themselves, for themselves and then there are those who planned a trip (usually in a pub) with a group of friends/ family… only to discover that you’re the only one still interested a few days later.
Many people struggle to find committed people to join them on a motorbike trip- especially an overseas one. However, don’t let the lack of a sidekick put you off- you can absolutely head off on your own and have an amazing time. Heck, you might even prefer it!
RECOMMENDED: New to motorcycle touring? Here’s how to get started
The best bits about solo motorbike travel
It doesn’t matter whether you’re motorcycling in the UK or heading to another country: these are some of the main things you’ll LOVE about touring by yourself.
The people you’ll meet along the way
One of the best bits about being a biker is the community- that camaraderie you feel with complete strangers because you have the same bike, or helmet, or are just riding on the same road. Be honest, do you ever feel like that about a fellow car driver?
But it goes beyond the friendly head nodding (or cool two-finger salute if you’re riding on the left). Pull up to any cafe or bar on a well-known biking route, and 9 times out of 10 you’ll find someone to strike up a conversation with within a few minutes.
This is especially true if you’re riding in a foreign country and see another bike from the UK/ hear someone else speaking English. It’s an instant bond and you’ll meet some fantastic people like that.
One of the BEST things about travelling by yourself is that you don’t have to run your plans by anyone else. You can stop when you want to, go where you want to, change your mind when you want to, have a lie-in, do a crazy detour, stop at a festival or just decide to have a lazy day and not go anywhere at all.
It is YOUR adventure. YOUR trip. And you can do whatever the heck you want with it. It’s not often we get that sort of freedom, so make the most of it!
The pride you’ll feel in yourself
I don’t care if you’re a female motorcycle rider or not- getting on a bike and heading off by yourself somewhere new takes balls. Sure, the more you do it the more used you get to the
abject terror slight feeling of nerves, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that most people do not and WILL not be brave enough to even set off.
And just think how AWESOME you’ll feel when you return. Seriously, if you can do that, you can do anything.
Before you leave on your solo motorcycle trip
Before you leave, there are some things you can do to make things easier for yourself- especially if it’s your first solo motorcycle trip; you’ve got enough to be worrying about.
I know some bikers prefer not to have a ‘plan’ and ‘go where the road leads them’. That’s awesome, and if you’re comfortable doing that and making it up as you go along, then do that, but don’t for one second feel like less of a motorcycle tourer because it makes you feel better to have a plan.
Plan a route (and check it twice)
This, of course, will depend largely on where you’re planning to go riding. If you’re heading into Europe, the route is less important (or likely to cause you major headaches) than if you’re going somewhere with notoriously poor roads, like South America or Africa.
In those places, or if you really love finding crazy dirt tracks, be sure to check and double check the route to make sure it’s rideable for a motorcycle. Getting stuck whilst by yourself is a bad idea.
This is also the time to research any places you want to visit on your trip, any biker cafes you want to visit and what the rules are like for each country. For example, if you’re going motorcycling in Portugal, did you know it’s illegal to use a Dashcam or Go Pro? Research and planning your trip is essential before you leave.
Don’t plan to ride too far in a day. 250 miles seems to be commonly spouted but, unless you’re trying to get somewhere specific, I’d probably plan less than that for exploring- maybe 150-200.
Book accommodation in advance
In these… interesting… times for travel, it’s important to know what you need to cross a border. Some countries ask for an address you will be staying at (give the first hotel or campsite), which means it can be important to book up accommodation in advance.
If you’re worried about finding somewhere to stay, or you want to stay somewhere specific, then plan and book up your stops before you leave to take the stress away. Yes, it still counts as motorcycle touring and you’re still a badass, even with a plan.
We always use booking.com for our trips, as the more you book, the cheaper it gets!
Learn basic motorcycle maintenance
If you get a flat tyre, do you know what to do? Do you know how to check the chain, or levels or any of the hundred other motorcycle maintenance checks you should do, both before you leave and during your trip.
If you don’t, you need to learn before you go. Grab your FREE motorcycle maintenance checklist here
These will also help:
TOP TIP: If you’re planning your solo motorcycle travel far in advance, these books make excellent gifts for motorbikers– add them to your birthday or Christmas list, along with all the other motorcycle gear you’ll need!
Don’t forget to give your motorbike a full service before you leave (or get it done by the professionals) and you’ll probably want to get new tyres fitted too if you’re planning a really long trip.
Pack with care
One of the downsides to solo motorcycle travel is that you have to carry EVERYTHING you need by yourself. There’s not another bike to split the load with.
Of course, if you’re not motorcycle camping and you’re staying in hotels/ B & Bs, then you don’t need to take camping gear, but you still need to take clothes, toiletries, wet weather gear, chargers, electricals and many other things.
It’s important to make sure you pack the bike with care so it’s properly balanced, but also make sure you can pick it up by yourself… just in case things go awry and it lies down for a little nap.
Where are the best places to go solo motorcycle touring?
There are plenty of incredible places you can go on your bike- that’s half the fun. If you’d like some ideas for countries to visit, here are some of our favourites:
On the road- tips for your first solo motorcycle trip
Once you’ve set off, you’re going to be completely self-reliant. Every corner taken, road ridden and place visited is going to be completely up to you. No pressure…
Check the weather & route before you leave each day
Make sure you check the weather each day before you set off. Mostly so that you can dress appropriately (wet weather gear, t-shirt only or jumper under jacket, neck warmer or not) but also so you have the opportunity to change your plans in case it’s looking worse than predicted.
This is especially common if you’re riding in the mountains- local weather patterns can change quickly and you don’t want to be caught in local fog or a sudden squall.
Also, be sure to look for any road closures (which could be due to accidents or seasonal closures) and plan accordingly.
Look after your bike
It’s a cliche but it’s true- look after your bike and your bike will look after you (as much as any inanimate machine can!)
Each day, check the overall condition of the bike. Things to check include:
- Tyres: Check for nails/ punctures/ stones and also check the tread is still ok
- Chain and sprocket: are there any broken teeth? Is it too tight/ loose?
- Are there any leaks beneath the bike? That’s never good
- Look for anything broken/ hanging off and make sure dirt/ dust isn’t going to affect things like the brakes.
Each day when you stop, spend a few minutes double-checking everything is as it should be and things like your motorcycle sat nav are still securely fastened- a two minute check and tighten is better a broken unit.
It can be tough to secure your bike on a solo motorbike trip and bikes are notoriously easier to steal than other vehicles. However, here are some tips to help you:
- Locks are still worth using; they won’t stop a professional, but will deter opportunists
- Always use your ignition lock
- Park under a light if possible and as close to reception/ a building as you can.
- Put a soft saddlebag inside solid luggage so it can be removed easily at night. Leave the solid pannier unlocked so it’s easy to see it’s empty.
- Ask for a room overlooking the car park. If you travel with a go pro, you can always leave it in the window to record at night- just in case.
Look after yourself
Similarly, it’s important to take the time to look after yourself each day. Pay particular attention to the following:
- Staying hydrated
- Mental health
Make sure you are dressed appropriately for the weather. If you find it’s changing, take the time to pull over somewhere safe and make adjustments (another advantage of motorbiking alone- you can stop as often as you like!)
Take time for breaks
It’s not rare for us to ride for 3/4 hours without a break. On occasion, we’ve been known to do even more. But motorcycle riding is physically demanding, whether you’re on narrow roads or on a motorway. Make sure you stop regularly to eat, drink and refresh yourself mentally.
Don’t ride every day
Similarly, don’t plan to ride or change hotel every single day. Travelling is exhausting and you’ll need time to relax and enjoy the trip, as well as see local attractions. I aim to have one completely non-travel day for every 3/4 spent on the road.
Check in with yourself
Solo motorcycle touring is an excellent time to think without other distractions. It’s the reason so many bikers call it ‘active meditation’. After all, you don’t see many motorcycles outside psychiatrists 🙂
However, if you find you’re not enjoying travelling by yourself, or you’re feeling unhappy, it’s time to change plans. Don’t forget, YOU are in charge of this trip. If you want to go somewhere else, find someone to ride with or cut the whole thing short, you absolutely can.
Solo Motorcycle Touring Safety Tips
It’s not just female motorcycle riders who need to think about their safety when on the road. It’s important that everyone considers these tips when riding alone:
Make sure you have an ICE contact in your phone (In case of Emergency)
Similarly, many solo motorcyclists choose to have an ‘accident’ file somewhere obvious (like on their tank bag) so that if the worst happens and there is an accident, it’s easy to find who to call.
Likewise, it’s important for solo bikers to share their itinerary with someone trusted. It’s perfectly ok to update them each morning if you’re worried you’ll change your mind, but let at least one person know where you are, where you’re planning to go and what time you expect to arrive. (Err on the slower ETA to give you some wiggle room in case you want to stop along the way.)
Don’t forget to check in with them when you arrive safely so they don’t worry. Another option is to share your location with them using the ‘Find my friends’ app so they can see where you are (but then it’s up to you to set expectations so they don’t panic if you stop for lunch up a mountain!)
Social media is a fantastic way to stay connected with friends/ family and other travellers who want to follow your adventures.
However, don’t share where you are when you are there; wait until you have left/ are about to leave before posting your location. Similarly, don’t share where you are planning to go. Sadly, you just don’t know who’s reading.
This also applies to apps like Polarsteps, which tracks your real-time GPS location. I would never recommend using something like this, whether you’re a solo female or male motorcycle rider; again- you just don’t know who is using and seeing that information. Creepy, yes, but better safe than sorry.
Arrive before dark, especially if motorcycle camping
All bikers should be happy to ride in the dark, but ideally you want to ensure your riding day has ended well before sunset.
Arriving in daylight allows you to find your way to your overnight stop, park carefully and get to grips with your surroundings. This is especially true if you need to set up a tent and cook your own food- arriving later and tired is going to wear on your physically and mentally.
Riding in the daylight also means that if there is a problem, you’re dealing with it in daylight, instead of waiting by the road in the dark. It’s also much harder to avoid potholes, wrong turns or animals in the road in the dark.
If you find you are consistently arriving at places after dark, either leave earlier or don’t plan such long trips each day- slow it down a little so you can get maximum enjoyment from your trip.
I hope you found these solo motorcycle touring tips helpful. If you have any other tips, please do share them in the comments so we can all benefit.