Does a Motorcycle GPS Take the Fun Out of Travel?

motorcycle gpsIf you’ve ever been lost on a trip, then you understand the importance of good directions. Before technology took over, the ability to read a paper map was a good skill for frequent travelers to have. Of course, reading a map on a moving motorcycle is not very easy to do. Today, map reading is a lost art due to the prevalence of GPS units.

You’re most likely familiar with automobiles GPS units. In a few short years, consumer GPS moved from a geeky toy to an indispensable travel companion. Your GPS unit links to a system of satellites parked in orbit around the Earth. By comparing the different times it takes the signal to reach each satellite, a GPS can determine your precise location on the planet.

The reason people like to have a GPS in their car is for the wealth of information available about your trip. Most GPS models come preloaded with an unbelievable collection of maps that make route planning as simple as touching a screen. You can find the fastest route, the shortest route or even the most scenic route. But more than directions, a GPS provides information about points of interest along the way. These include landmarks, hotels, restaurants or fuel stops. There’s no more guessing if the next exit has a gas station or if there’s a decent restaurant in the next town.

Are there any features unique to motorcycle GPS devices? Most of the differences lie in how the unit is mounted to your vehicle. The suction mounts that are so convenient in a car or truck would be absolutely useless on a motorcycle. It wouldn’t take long for your GPS to rattle itself off, or be blown away by the wind. You’ll want a sturdy motorcycle mount, preferably one designed specifically for your motorcycle. The mount should hold the GPS securely so your screen touches don’t push it away. Of course, the mount should keep your GPS stationary as you ride, and ideally should dampen some of the shocks and vibrations that may occur due to road conditions.

A motorcycle GPS may remove some of the thrill of open road travel, but the thrill of being lost or the thrill of running out of gas you can keep.

Benefits of Motorcycle Cargo Trailers

Motorcycle touring is a great way to see areas of the country, but sometimes it’s difficult to fit everything you need to take along into a set of saddlebags. That’s where the motorcycle cargo trailer comes in. By adding a separate trailer to your touring setup, you can more than double your carrying capacity.  That probably explains the massive increase in the popularity of motorcycle cargo trailers.

Adding a trailer opens a new world of possibilities when it comes to things you can take along. Golf clubs, for example, are pretty much out of the question without a trailer. But a cargo trailer means you can include them for your next trip to the golf resort. Motorcycle trailers also greatly extend the number of days you can plan to travel, because you’ll be able to take more clothes and gear.

If the weight of your motorcycle-trailer combo is distributed well, then you will barely notice the trailer is there, even on long trips. But keeping most of the weight low is the key to a smooth ride. Front-to-back weight distribution is also important. Put too much weight on the front and your motorcycle will begin to sag. When most of the weight is moved to the rear, that could cause your trailer to sway.

When you start touring with a trailer attached, there are few safety considerations. You should learn to ride more closely to the center of the road. You might have to adjust your driving style a little bit to account for the extra length of your motorcycle plus trailer rig. But on the plus side of safety, adding the trailer increases your visibility to other drivers (which has always been the number one problem with motorcycle touring).

Has this post given you some ideas about adding a motorcycle cargo trailer? If your motorcycle riding includes lots of touring, then you should at least take a look at some of the models available. A properly attached and loaded trailer can provide a lot of benefits without sacrificing your ride comfort. Many riders who already run with trailers report they would never go back to traveling without one. Continue reading Benefits of Motorcycle Cargo Trailers

How to Pack Your Gear for Touring Like the Experts

One of the obstacles facing motorcycle touring enthusiasts is how to take along extra stuff for the longer trips. Touring bags can help overcome this obstacle without the need to move up to a motorcycle cargo trailer. First, you’ll need to decide which type of bag will work best in your situation. Consider the mounting system, because this may affect your bike’s handling. When shopping for motorcycle touring bags, you’ll need to evaluate each bag’s durability and ability to protect your belongings.

There are two different types of touring bags available. Tank bags are designed to perch on top of the gas tank. Panniers hang below the seat on each side of the bike. Most tank bags are expandable and can hold a surprising amount of luggage. Panniers hang out of sight and may have less impact on your ride quality. Some panniers can be detached and carried like a suitcase.

In fact, detachable panniers can be very convenient with their increased portability. You could even opt for throw-over saddlebags for the ultimate combination of casual portability with increased carrying capacity. But you should know ahead of time that throw-over designs won’t last as long as more enduring types.

The strongest and most durable motorcycle saddlebags employ hard mounts, meaning that they will stay on your bike most, if not all of the time.  The benefits you gain include greater durability and greater carrying capacity, especially for heavy items.

The bottom line on choosing motorcycle touring bags is to find equipment that is stable on you bike (that is, not shifting around with every curve and turn). But as you shop, remember that keeping your personal gear safe and protected inside is the chief aim of any motorcycle touring bag.

Get Ready for This Year's Major Motorcycle Events

motorcycle eventsThe Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is held during the first week of August in Sturgis, South Dakota. This rally is considered by many to be the number one motorcycle event in the United States. It is a classic rally event and has been held every year since 1938. As many as 50,000 people attend every year, many of them motorcycle enthusiasts.

Bikes, Blues and BBQ is a motorcycle event held in Fayetteville, Arkansas in the early fall. A ride into town from the surrounding Ozarks kicks off the event. Although relatively new (it started in 2000), this rally has become one of the fastest growing rallies in the entire world. The one held in 2006 brought together more than 350,000 people. Bikes, Blues and BBQ is also a very family-oriented event. You will see many bikers bringing their children for all the festivities.

Daytona Beach Week is a well-known rally that marks the beginning of the rally year. It normally runs from late February to early March. It attracts as many as half a million visitors, who enjoy the rally, street festival, concerts and parties that make up Beach Week. In terms of popularity and attendance, it is the only other rally that comes close to Sturgis. A centerpiece of the event is a motorcycle race that switches back and forth between the pavement and the hard-packed sands of Daytona Beach. You can also visit classic and custom bike shows, which is a great way to get ideas for customizing your bike.

For folks in Southern California, there is the Love Ride. It is primarily a fund-raising event and is held for one-day only. Given its location and its charitable cause, you can usually find quite a few celebrities hanging around. The Love Ride is usually held in October of every year and has been a feature of the California biking scene for 27 years.

Do The Clothes Make the Rider (Make Them Safer, That Is)?

motorcycle clothingWhen it comes to the basics in clothing for motorcycle touring, here’s what every rider should know. The very least you can get by with is a jacket and gloves. You may be concerned about style, but safety is the primary function of motorcycle clothing. When you are shopping for what to wear on future rides, choose wisely because good clothing lasts a long time. Let’s look a little more closely at these issues because your safety and comfort depend your motorcycle clothing.

You just don’t ride a motorcycle without a jacket and gloves. Or at least you shouldn’t. If you don’t have some minimal protection, even a minor spill could cause major scrapes and bruises. The traditional material of motorcycle jackets has always been leather, but new man-made textiles are making some serious inroads to the motorcycle clothing market. To more complete protection, add boots, glasses, and pants (or chaps).

Motorcycle clothing is the most important safety gear you’ll wear (after your helmet). Any riding surface hard enough to support your motorcycle is hard enough to cause serious damage to you if you end up riding it without your bike. The right clothing, especially jackets and gloves, provides a soft layer of protection that can keep minor accidents minor. The future of motorcycle clothing may include instantly inflatable jackets that function like an airbag. I don’t know if I would get though. Can you imagine the thing misfiring while you’re riding in traffic? [shudder]

Good motorcycle clothing lasts a long time. The most expensive part of the ensemble will be your jacket. But don’t let the prices deter you because you can’t afford to be without a jacket. You can’t go wrong with leather, but if you plan to ride in all different types of weather, you might consider newer, more versatile materials now available.

You may believe that motorcycle clothing makes a statement about you. Actually, the right clothing makes two statements: (1) This rider is smart! and (2) Wow, this rider is looking good!