Motorcycle Pre Ride Preparations – Roadtripping
Riding for me is a place where the past and the future dissolve into the now. Fellow riders will understand how deep our love for riding and the attachment to it goes, maybe because historically as humans we have always ridden… We’ve riden Horses, Ponies, Oxen, Bulls & Buffaloes, Camels & Carabao, Mules, Elephants and any other equine that even remotely gives us the impression of wanting to be riden on. So to me the feeling of mounting up to ride and facing the wind almost naturally beckons and captures my soul.
Long distance riding is a kind of meditative venture. I’d say people who are comfortable being with themselves usually tend to be comfortable with a long distance rides. I for one have my moments of ‘are we there yet’ but in its eventuality I swear I’m short-changed for time – no matter how long the ride.
Riding though isn’t about just fun and thrills, but is often a balance of hardships and niceties. The passion for biking however determines how much you want to get back on the saddle to ride. What we look for as riders is how not to turn a bad incident into the bane of your expedition.
One of the most important aspects to a ‘Biking Expedition’, having a bike that you love and love to ride will make a world of difference to your approach to it. For example when I bought my first Enfield Bullet, I really didn’t have to try too hard to ride out long, the bike will tell you through its RPM-Gear relationship that it wants to head out long and that is enough of a push usually to get going for at least day trips. For Indian riding, I would suggest a reliable bike that can give you fair latitude with milage, being a large country with tonnes of inroads and bike-able terrain, you’ll surely be left stuck gauging the fuel gauge in some interesting moments. I find most new generation Indian bikes capable of doing good rides if run at optimum RPMs. I personally prefer liquid cooled engine bikes since it provides that extra latitude for pushing the RPMs and one can be pretty sure of the engine not heating to the red zone at high RPMs. I currently use a Honda CBR250r for all my flying expeditions and it hasn’t ever disappointed me, although I did get Leh’d on a Bullet and love it with equal vigour. I’ve seen plenty of Pulsars and even Splendours take on challenging rides and coming out very successful… It’s all about the rider and how well he can communicate/push/handle his machine. Whatever the case, I suggest falling in love with your bike anyways, because it helps.
Planning to Ride:
Do not take on massive rides before you experiment and practice short distances on your bike. Short rides will tell you a great deal about riding. Here are a bunch of things you need to keep in mind on practice rides or short runs;
- Ride for 100kms non-stop to gauge which parts of your body are likely to come under strain.
- Experiment adjusting positions to come to the most comfortable ride position (your ankles, foot, butt, back, neck, hands, head… Everything matters).
- Test out optimum rpms on the bike and get comfortable with it since you’ll be spending most of your time riding in that rpm.
- Buy a good comfortable certified helmet and get comfortable in it. A bad helmet can mean the difference between a good ride and a bad one.
- Yoga or stretch exercises can massively aid in keeping your joints and muscles strong, supple and trustworthy for a ride.
Clothing and Luggage:
Riding unlike driving a car is very much in touch with all the natural forces on offer out in the open.
I find having a good biking jacket which is padded serves a multitude of purposes. I used to follow a basic rule of layers which would mean I would either peel off or put on a layer depending on the heat/chill factor respectively, but before the last ride I found www.cramster.in and liked what I saw… This was just before my solo journey across India from Bangalore to New Delhi so I was looking for something reliable, has good build quality and is designed by a biker… And that is exactly what I found at Cramster, apart from the positive about this company being an Indian SME. The all-weather Jacket really caught my attention; built with peelable anti-rain and thermal layers it also featured a mesh outer construction that kept my body cool with wind circulation while riding the sweaty Coastal middays or the hot middle lands of India. Carry lots of socks and two pairs of footwear that you can ride with incase one gets wet in the rain.
As for luggage, what I normally did was fasten two duffle bags to the sides beside the pillion seat with hooked bunjee chords (readily available in local auto markets). I also kept a small bag fastened on top of the pillion seat – this was also to provide a backrest when needed (I always needed it in a Bullet). Of course this comes with its mental baggage of worrying about the bag sagging or an unhooked hook… Especially after the innumerable number of potholes and rattle rumblers you fly past in our beloved country. Fortunately again I depended on Cramster for it… Bought the saddle bag and that proved to be one good decision, it meant a 15 min overall prep time instead of a 45 min overall prep time every morning, it meant clamp on – tighten up and forget it, it meant the right pockets for the right things and the right places, it even meant giving a drop to an old man for 27 kms and most of all it meant I didn’t have to look back or help hold it in place for the entire 13 day ride.
One last thing you’ll need to account for is heavy rain… The kind of downpour you’re water resistant stuff will not be able to resist. You will have to think of a way to completely cover yourself and the luggage secured on your bike individually. An oversized ‘Company: Duckback’ style rubberized Raincoat/Rain Jacket & Rain Trousers should be adequate for yourself and maybe a camera bag. Buy think grade sheet plastic and get it stitched to cover your luggage items or use different things like the bike cover, and other plastic bags to fashion individual rain covers. Using provided raincovers that come with branded saddle bags and other bike luggage items however offer the best protection and ease of operation when it comes to rain.
Bike Service Checklist:
- Engine Oil Change
- Brake Fluid Top-up
- Brake Shoe Check
- Brake Cable Check
- Clutch Cable & Clutch Play Check
- Gear Oil Check
- Accelerator Cable Check
- Chain Link/Chain Play Check
- Wheel Balance Check & Tire Air Pressure Check
- Carburetor Clean & Idling Check or Fuel Injection Check with Idling
- Timing and Point Check (In older bullets its advisable to waterproof the point in some way).
- Check for leakages worn out parts and
- Service and Wash
- Chain Lubrication post washing
Spares to carry with you on the ride:
- Clutch Cable
- Accelerator Cable
- Brake Cable
- Extra Engine Oil (Enough to top it up on long rides – not too much)
- Chain Clean and Chain Lube (I find these very useful. One instance I had a plastic cover squashed between the chain gaps and sprockets, couldn’t stand the ‘Kweeetch Kweeetch’ sound while riding)
- Chain Link Lock
- Head Lamp
- Tubeless tyre repair kit or spare tube.
- Spark Plug
- Bungee Hook Chords (Good to take them in whatever case)
Things you just cannot afford to forget:
- Original Bike Papers; Registration, Insurance and Emmision certificate (all up to date) kept safe where you keep your money and other important stuff.
- A copy of the above to be kept in the bike.
- Original Driving Licence
- Spare Key
- Provided Toolkit and your personal set of tools if you use any.
- Hand Sanitizer (when something goes into your eye, you’ll need clean hands and water to wash it off)
- Mobile phone (for emergencies at the least)
- List of Authorized Service Stations and their phone numbers (applies especially while soloing)
- Research about the area you will travel through, our country is diverse and sometimes extreme in both ways; common sense, respecting local cultures and etiquette, Adaptivity, kindness and gratitude are key traits to have in yourself while travelling. You will find that most people return the given respect with a smile.
- Update your antivirus… uh… i mean get yourself vaccinated (consult your physician and tell him your plans he’ll know what to do).
- Get a basic First aid kit.
- Mosquito Repellant.
- Water Purifying Tablets.
- Flashlight, Matches and Pocket Knife.
Some generic medicines that you’ll want to carry with you for unforeseen uncomfortable eventualities, please remember that these meds are India centric and available in India (Disclaimer – These are medicines that I normally make a kit of, I am no doctor – Please consult with your family physician to verify, check recommended dosages and take other specific medicines you might need).
- Tablet – IMOL PLUS – For headaches, body aches, throat ache, backpain etc.
- Tablet – ONDEM MD 4mg – One tab on tongue to stop vomiting or some such sensation.
- Capsule – ELDOPER – For loose motions, watery stool.
- Tablet – DOLO 650 – For fever and headaches.
- Tablet – NIMEK SPAS – For stomach pain, menstrual pain.
- Tablet – STEMETIL – Take one tablet with DOLO 650 at onset of migraine.
- Tablet – AZIWOK 500mg – Antibiotic – once a day for sustained cough, cold, throat pain and fever.
- Tablet – PAN 40 – For Gastritis, heartburn.
First try something natural like taking a good sleep, eating fibrous meals, practicing yoga or flexibility exercises etc that balance your body’s natural levels… most often than not its this imbalance that is experienced as various illnesses when you’re just out of balance not ill.
Update to NRIs/Foreigners:
- Follow the crowd when it comes to clothing in different parts of India. It maybe acceptable to wear/not-wear anything in Goa but that doesn’t apply in every place.
- Banish those old notions – India is changing, you cannot just bribe a cop everytime, the central Data Center is on and can track you, there are cameras stationed at many Indian Cities at signals/junctions etc, the village is no more a land where its people haven’t the slightest clue of the cities… They’ve got TVs and Internet… Innocence and patience are a fleeting virtue just like any other place in the world. Bollywood is the movies, real life is quite literally much more drastic, the weather a lot hotter and people more ogle-some.
For the brave, enterprising and adaptive traveler, this country can blow your mind with its rich diversity in experience, terrain, foods, people, accommodations, silent interactions with fellow travelers and much much more.
Happy Riding folks.