Motorcycle Touring Guide

Motorcycle Touring has its share of thrills and spills. While for most nothing comes close to touring on their beloved motorcycle, for some touring may leave a bitter memories. The purpose of this guide is to help you prepare for any eventualities and come back with a big grin on your face and fond memories.

The first phase of preparation for any motorcycle trip is the psychological part; you have to make sure that you are prepared to take the leap into the world of motorcycle touring. The biggest thing to understand is your and your motorcycles limitation, the sooner you learn this, the sooner you will understand what motorcycle touring is all about.

Route: Choose a route that suits your riding style and skills. Choosing a route which is beyond your ability can leave you with a dented ego or worse! Learn to recognize your limitations and only then will you be able to improve them.

Start off small; start going for rides that are few hours long. This will not only teach you the basics of riding on the highway, it will also build up your stamina. Remember; in motorcycle touring saddle time counts more than riding fast.

Once you get accustomed to highway riding, choose a popular tourist destination for your first long ride. This way you can be assured that roads will be in a slightly better condition (not always true) and there will be plenty of information available regarding the destination. A popular tourist destination is also likely to have a good network of roads, petrol pumps, service centers, communication, hotels etc. This will prove beneficial in case there is a breakdown.

A couple of trips like these will make you understand your riding style and skills. This will also boost your confidence and give you practical knowledge that no amount of reading will. Once you hit this phase, the only limiting factor for your trips would be budget and work/studies.

Preparing your Motorcycle: Preparing your motorcycle for an upcoming trip is as essential as breathing. Get your motorcycle serviced from an authorized service center; ask the mechanics to check your bike for any parts that are showing signs of age/wear. Replace these parts at least couple of days before leaving for the trip, ride your motorcycle at least a 100kms after changing the part to ensure its working optimally. Get your bike washed before leaving for any trip, a clean bike not only runs cooler it is also easier to spot oil leakage on a clean bike. Never go on any long trip with an engine oil that is more then 1000kms old!

A day before leaving for trip, check the air pressure in your tires, get the petrol filled, check engine oil levels, check if all the lights and meters are working.

Tools: Below is a list of tools one should carry:
1. Tool kit: the standard tool kit that you get with your motorcycle, never leave this behind!

2. Ring spanners size 8 to 17

3. Screw Driver, if possible multi attachment one.

4. Steel wire: can be used to hold together any broken parts i.e. Exhaust.

5. Electricians tape: can be used for multitude of breakage and problems.

6. Torch light: you will it need when working on your motorcycle at night.

7. Match box/lighter + candle

8. Foot or Electric air pump: for motorcycles equipped with electric starters take along an electric air pump, it takes less space then a foot pump and is easier to operate. You will need to install a car cigarette lighter socket with your motorcycles battery. Warning: attaching the cigarette lighter socket might void your motorcycles warranty, so remove it before taking your bike to the service center ;).

Spares: Here is a general set of spares that I would recommend you to carry, however these will change based on your motorcycle and need.

1. Engine oil: carry at least half a liter of engine oil recommended by your motorcycle manufacturer

2. 90w oil/Gear oil: Can be used to lubricate the chain

3. Headlight and brake light bulb

4. Chain links

5. Clutch and brake leavers and wires

6. Spare tube for front and rear tire

7. Spark plug

8. Rope: can be used for tying together various parts of your motorcycle or to help you tow your friend’s motorcycle.

9. Bungee cords: helps in tying the luggage.

10. Spare key of your motorcycle.

11. WD40

12 Spare Fuse

13 Electrical wire

Here are few spares that I wouldn’t term as essential, but can prove life savers.

1. CDI Unit: if your bike uses CDI ignition then carrying a spare CDI unit can prove beneficial in case your CDI unit stops functioning. CDI units are tough to find in small villages, unless there is a large authorized service center. With out CDI your bike won’t start!

2. Two Clutch plates: clutch plates take the brunt of the abuse in steep hill climbs, haven’t applied this but I believe in case your clutch plates fail, replacing two of them with two new plates should give you enough power to limp back to the nearest service center.

3. Disk Brake oil: in case there is any leakage in your disk brake assembly you can seal it off with the help of electricians tape and steel wire and top up the fluid.

4. HT Coil: in case the HT Coil fails, you will need it.


1. Your motorcycle's first aid kit.

2. Medicines for fever, cold, stomach ailment, headache, painkillers

3. In case going to high altitude areas carry Diamox to combat AMS.

4. Sun screen lotion (SPF 30 or above): essential for touring in high altitude places.

Driving license, Motorcycle’s original registration and insurance papers and pollution under control certificate.

Carry cloths that don’t get dirty easily, also in cold climate wearing layers is a better option then wearing one thick jacket. Layers will not only give you more protection against the elements, they will also help to scale down/up the level of warmth based on weather. Carry a water proof jacket and lower. Don’t forget gloves and if possible get knee protectors and motorcycling jacket with inbuilt body armor.

Carry good shoes; most trekking shoes provide decent protection and at the same time are easy to walk in.

Most important carry a good helmet. Well I am wrong, don’t carry it, wear it throughout the trip!

Carry at least a liter of water all time and drink water regularly.

Carry spare cash all the time, in a remote village you are unlikely to find an ATM.

Carry your mobile phone and activate roaming.

Carry a good map and compass, but if a road exists on the map it doesn’t mean it will on the ground!

Get a saddle bag, they can carry a lot of luggage efficiently and you will still have an empty rear seat. Always pack your cloths and things in plastic bags, that way even if the water penetrates your bag, you will still have dry cloths. Also carry small plastic pouches for your mobile phone, wallet, camera and documents.

Beside this, don't forget to carry things like comb, soap, face wash, shampoo pouch, toothbrush, tooth paste, ear bud, lip guard, cold cream, deodorant, toilet and tissue papers.

If possible ride in a group of 2-6 people, this way the group isn’t too large and you can be assured in case of a break down or any other problem you will have friends to help you. However choosing the right riding partners is also essential. If your attitude and riding skill/style doesn’t match, there is bound to be some friction, whereas good riding buddies can become your best buddies.


Don’t ride rash.

Don’t cut through traffic; when overtaking, honk and more often than not, the vehicle ahead will make way for you.

Don’t insult any one.

Don’t believe a villager if he says road ahead is good, you might find out other wise.

Don’t overstrain yourself or your motorcycle.

Don’t leave garbage behind, especially plastic.

Don’t drink and ride.


Click a lot of photos.

Treat every one on the road respectfully, especially the sweet village folks you come across.

Maintain a trip log.

Use commonsense and have a sense of humor.

Lastly post those photos and trip logs here

Disclaimer: this guide is only intended as a reference, on road any thing can happen. So please ride safe.