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Long distance comfort riding tips.

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by loubre, Jun 29, 2016.

  1. #1 loubre, Jun 29, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2016
    A few tips for anyone contemplating a longer ride, this is the essential starter guide and a lot of it is common sense. I'll do a follow up with more tips on what to carry etc.

    Pretty much any bike is comfortable for just a few minutes, but any bike can be torture if you have to spend hours in the saddle. Luckily, there are ways to address that. Here’s how to stay comfortable on long motorcycle rides.

    1. Stretch
    Get a good nights sleep before the ride.
    Stretch all your muscle groups before you ride. If you have the right riding gear — stuff that flexes with your body and allows full range of motion — you can even wear it while stretching.

    2. Hydrate
    Before you set out, drink water until you can’t drink anymore. Then, top yourself up on the go. The goal is to urinate once an hour, all day and for that urine to remain clear. If you’re off schedule or it starts turning dark, drink more. Riding a motorcycle, even just cruising down a highway, puts you outside in the elements, remaining adequately hydrated will prevent soreness from developing in your muscles and keep your mental acuity high. And I do mean water. Staying hydrated is better for energy and focus than sugary caffeinated drinks ever will be.

    3. Dress Appropriately
    No matter what the weather, there’s riding gear that will make you more comfortable in it. We all know what it can do in the rain and cold, but even in extreme heat, appropriate riding gear can allow your body to cool itself more effectively than simply exposing it to the wind. Ventilated or mesh gear controls the airflow around your body, giving the evaporative cooling effect time to work, rather than simply allowing the wind to blow the sweat off your body before it provides any cooling. There’s also cooling vests and other articles that soak up water, then keep you dry (they’re like diapers) while providing additional cooling. Or, you can just soak a scarf in water and achieve a cooling benefit from that too. You’ll also need to protect yourself from the sun, any remaining exposed skin should be covered in high-SPF sunblock.

    4. Compress Your Muscles
    Compression garments increase long term comfort and athletic performance by increasing the lymphatic and blood flow. It also holds muscles in place, isolating them from vibration, further preventing long-term soreness. A simple pair of bike shorts can work wonders over long distances and compression garments are now available for virtually your entire body. Wear them, they work.

    5. Alter Your Ergonomics and Aerodynamics
    Any stock motorcycle should only be considered an ergonomic starting point. This is as true for a Gold Wing as it is for an R6 track bike. You can achieve a surprising level of custom fit simply by rotating bars forward and backwards and levers up and down. Going further, you can fit different bars, different foot pegs and modify the seat to the taller, shorter, thinner, wider or to provide more padding or support.

    The same goes for aerodynamics. A screen that works for one person, might create terminal vibration for another, seemingly identical rider. You can shim screen bolts, chop them down or purchase taller screens to tailor aerodynamics to your personal needs.

    Also ensure your helmet is right for you, it should be comfortable with good ventilation and preferably as quiet as possible, ear plugs are a good idea, it's amazing how fatiguing just the road and wind noise can get over a few hundred kilometres.

    Find yourself on the road and in urgent need of a quick, easy ergonomic fix? Don’t be afraid to experiment. Duct tape, cardboard and spare clothing can be used to conjure up all sorts of comfort aids in a pinch.

    6. Avoid Monkey Butt
    Get a sweaty butt and you could experience chafing, or worse. This is what those sheepskin seat covers you see on GSs and Gold Wings are intended to prevent; they do so by helping air circulate around your backside. Duct taping a folded up towel to your seat can achieve a similar effect for free. Talcum powder applied to your nether regions is a good idea too.

    7. Keep Your Hands Warm
    Having your fingers pointing into the wind for long periods, even in good gloves, just has a way of creating cold hands. Bark Busters and heated grips help, but in a pinch you can stick chemical hand warmers in your gloves, wear nitrile medical gloves underneath or fashion makeshift mittens from other clothing.

    8. Move Around
    No matter how comfortable your bike may seem, sitting in one position for hours at a time is going to lead to sore-butt-itis. So move around. Be safe and don’t do this in places where you may need to make emergency evasive manoeuvers, but long trips frequently see us sitting on the pillion seat, putting our feet on cylinder heads or other protruding parts or just standing up. The latter can help stretch your leg muscles and return blood flow to your back, feet and legs. Just be careful not to inadvertently tweak the throttle, foot controls or nudge the bars off course when you’re doing so. The gyroscopic force of the spinning wheels makes motorcycles extremely stable at highway speeds though, you can use that to your advantage.

    9. Take A Break
    There’s nothing wrong with just pulling over and taking a break. Go sit inside somewhere warm if it’s cold outside or cool if it’s hot. Drink some liquids; take your concentration away from riding and just chill out. The mental recuperation from even a short break might just be what you need to get home.
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  2. 10. Don't take the sports bike
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  3. As you get older you will find that Sports bikes brings your legs up too tight. I find it hard now just to get my legs onto the pegs now. Leaning forward puts presure on the lower back and also locks you into one position.
    I also think that real long distance riding is not for everyone and I am one of them. The concentration need to ride safe after 10-12 hour is too much for me. So I work on a maximum of 1000km and 12 hours. There are other factors to this as well. I have road 700km in 40c heat. To do this I stopped and drank 500mls of water every 50-60 minutes and was ok at the end of the day. The other extreme is riding with day temps where it does'nt get over 12c. Stop every 50-60 minutes and find a warm spot. Moving around (walking) with all of the gear on helps to get you warm. At the end of the ride get into the shower straight away. Other wise it can take hours to warm up. Be aware of the finger in the cold. You will not need to be told to warm them up because that will be the first thing that you do.
    Normal weather riding. The butt is the first thing to wear out. Get yourself a good seat and maybe an airhark seat. Make sure that the undies do not have a seam because that will hurt after awhile.
    Build up your riding distance and you get to know what youare comfort with. And I would tell riders new to touring to work on a 70 km/hr average over a day. This give comfort stop, fuel stop, photo stops. When you shorten up your stops you can get the average down to a 80km/hr average.
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  4. On long rides, keep an eye on yourself. How are you travelling? Consider your level of awareness. Monotony, cold, dehydration, fatigue gradually has one's realm of perception diminish. Eventually one finds they are staring at the one thing - the road ahead. Things "just pop out of nowhere" and your reaction time is severely lengthened. Consider changing your speed briefly. Double your break frequency. I like caffeine. It will improve my alertness and enforce more frequent breaks.
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  5. I am so healthy I am seven times better than that.

    Of course the down side is it is hard to keep up the average speed when you have stopped seven times in the last hour.

    And the only thing worse than standing there having a pee, hearing a crunch and finding that your bike has rolled off its side stand is finding out that at the TEC is telling it as an after dinner story at the next meal break.
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  6. don't drink too much coffee or have a large meal just before or while on your ride.
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  7. People make out like riding is an Olympic sport!
    Eat what you want, drink what you want (alcohol excepted of course) and take reasonable breaks.
    Doing 1000-1500km/day should be little trouble on a modern bike suited to the task.
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  8. It can be as difficult as an Olympic sport if you don't prepare properly, I do at least one and last year two 10,000km rides annually and in between those I still average another 30,000kms annually. Preparation and planning for any longer trip is important. Talking about and actually doing 1000 - 1500 kms per day are two totally different things, I've done back to back 1600+ days and it's not an easy thing to do at all, fatigue sets in quick and then the focus and attention can start drifting, before you know it you're in trouble, this was written as a guide to assist people and there are definitely other things to include but to make those comments I would suspect you're either being facetious or never ridden any sort of distance.

    Remember not everyone has a full dress tourer suited to the task but use whatever bike they happen to own and even with full dress tourers you will find that most serious long distance riders will have modified them to better suit themselves and their ergonomics.

    My current bike (2016 BMW R1200RS) I have modified to better suit me, bars have been raised 25mm and brought back 19mm, screen has been replaced with a taller, wider screen. Top box has been replaced with a larger aftermarket unit. Stock GPS mount has been relocated to improve visibility. All my previous touring bikes have been modified in some way to improve ergonomics and comfort.

    I would not recommend having large meals during the days on longer rides, you will find that sometime around 2 to 3 pm you will be falling asleep, not something you really want.
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  9. I'm surprised "Getting a good nights sleep before the ride" isn't on the list. That is unless I missed it.

    Nothing worse than starting out on a long ride already feeling fatigued.
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  10. Blimey, the conflicting advice here shows that I shouldn't be riding!

    Seriously there are a number of variables that may not be immediately apparent, such as loubre being in Darwin where the NT speed limits allow a significantly higher cruise speed than us poor Mexicans could cope with ;) So 1,500km at (probably) an average up around 120kph on pretty good highways hasn't the same demand as 8-900km around Victoria's High Country where you're pushing to get 90kph as an average. Been to both, big differences.

    I like to ride to the conditions, and they will dictate variations that aren't easy to cover here. Constant concentration when racking it around twisties for hundreds of kilometres will move you around on the seat as part of the ride, whereas hundreds of k's on gunbarrel highways will need the movement in the saddle called for by others. Coffee and cake: I live on it and suffer withdrawal symptoms up north where you can go a thousand k's before you find a decent barrista, but need to stop every 90-120 minutes in the coffee centre of the universe.

    Dress for the conditions and be prepared for changes through the day. Cold starts can easily become a mid-30s day by late morning, so layering is essential along with enough room in your pannier/tailbag/backpack to pack the longjohns/crewneck/winter gloves as you shed them during the day. If there's a chance of deteriorating weather then take a rainsuit packed away, it will not only keep you dry but also cut the wind-chill and keep you warmer.

    Talk of drinking water/fluid on a regular basis is fine but where are you going to get it? Carry enough water in a flask/bottle/Camelbak to last you until you can reasonably expect to top up your supply, plus a block of chocolate/powerbar should you be riding a route devoid of milkbars. I concur with loubre that heavy meals are an absolute no-no, almost guaranteed to put you off to sleep mid afternoon: at least if you're an old fart like me ;)

    A good night's sleep is something to aim for, but only you know what you can cope with. After a lifetime of working in an industry with a massive variation in work times I'm quite used to coping on a few hours sleep, but that's not for everyone. Fatigue management is a complex subject and just 'a good night's sleep' isn't the only factor to be considered.

    Finally, the comments on the bike are important since an unprepared and set-up bike will negate all the planning and efforts that you put into your long days. Mechanical problems will just get worse and make your ride painful, as will poor handling, poor seat comfort, bad posture and poor clothing.

    There's a lot more, but then you'd go to sleep before you got on the bike...... ;)
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  11. If you feel fatigue creeping up on you, please stop a.s.a.p.
    A 10-15 minute break off the bike can do wonders. Aiming to travel that 'extra 15 minutes' can be a deadly decision.
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  12. Ride a bike that fits. Sort the ergonometrics. Someone mentioned leaving the sport bike at home. It's not hard and fast. If it truly fits, then it's fine, People who are stretching to reach controls or not happy looking "up" to see the road, or leaning on their handlebars, or even sitting bolt upright with all their weight on their bums.will tend to fatigue much faster than they might.

    People, what they comfortably accommodate and the shape of the rider's space also vary enormously. I do know a fellow who gets around on a 'Busa, does long distances, and it is his commute. Works for him. I wouldn't regard that as a proposition for me. I am familiar with the ergonometrics - for me, it's only going to work for a short time and is going to leave me very sore.

    Even people with "special needs" can be accommodated. People fit "highway pegs." These are not a style statement for a lot of people. It's about providing more options for the position of feet and legs. People have seats remoulded. Curiously, a softer seat is not always a recipe for long term comfort. A soft seat which is moulded to provide "placement" will almost invariably have the rider settle into "the spot" from which there seems no escape, and so the person ends up sitting in the one space, pressing on the same parts of their anatomy which does not change. Move, and you will quickly settle back into "that spot" Soft seats can be uncomfortable for this reason. Flat, firm seats that are not rock hard and allow one to move easily fore and aft provide seating options much in the same way highway pegs work for the position of the feet and legs.

    If there is ANY thing a little amiss in the basic ergonometrics of the bike you ride, then your comfort will not last long, and the onset of fatigue will be hastened. Variation, in almost any aspect of your ride improves the overall quality for the rider.
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  13. [QUOTE="loubre, post: 3014239, member: 42194"
    ]1. Stretch
    Get a good nights sleep before the ride.[/QUOTE]
  14. [/QUOTE]

    Told you I might have missed it - why it's under stretch is beyond me, but ok.
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  15. Good stuff loubreloubre

    I've always have some form of stupid naked bike whose fuel tank limits me to ~200 kms in the saddle. Works well.

    That said, as long as you prepare for the ride - any ride - it's all good.

    Good night sleep? Yeah right.
    Under normal circumstances a sparrow can fart down the road at 3am and I'm all over it.
    If I've got a good ride on in the morning my mind is going from dusk 'till dawn.
    Not that I disagree - just not always going to happen.
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  16. Yes sleep can be an issue, I seem to be the same, the excitement and anticipation can override the need for sleep. 200kms is more than enough between stops, I usually work on between 250 to 300km fill ups but I'll usually have at least one pee/smoke break in between :rolleyes:.

    Seems to be the norm now that bike manufacturers are making the fuel tanks smaller, even BMW is doing it now, apart from the R1200RT and the K1600s the fuel capacity has come down dramatically, my RS only has an 18 litre tank, still that's good for 320+kms at our highway speeds, interstate with their nanny speed limits the range increases quite a bit :).

    Preparation is definitely the key.
  17. I stop every 200 kms for fuel and a rest, probably manage 250 out of a tank but I'm a bit anal about fuel (ie I dont want to push 280 kgs of bike anywhere) I am looking for a servo at 1/4 tank, did a trip last year where they were stopping every 20 mins for a smoke, got a bit frustrating.
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  18. Time is a much better predictor for stops than distance, IMO. 90-120 minutes is the optimum, but I sometimes go out to 2-3 hours on a good day. It all depends.
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  19. 3 Hours on the K1600? So that would be lunch in Cairns then?
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  20. #20 Zim, Jul 2, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2016
    We do a big 4 day ride every year and at first I would get numb bum and cramps in my right thy. I tried a sheep skin,minor help. I had John Moorehouse sort the seat,more helpful. I added an air hawk,that stopped any vibs getting to my arse and now no numb bum. And last of all I lowered the foot pegs 30mm and that fixed the thy cramps. Last of all I now wear get padded pushbike shorts under my riding pants and I am good for as long as the mind can cope. That's all on a bike that had a reputation as a bear to bear for any distance at all. My first long ride resulted in pins and needles on both wrists for a few months. Fixed with an extended engine end clutch lever to reduce the pull strength of the clutch and foam grips and raising the bars 30mm. Used to make me laugh, all the harder up comments. I am 130kgs and work in the building industry. I am plenty hard enough.Find what hurts and fix the problem. BTW there is a bloke in Sydney doing the rounds who just got back for a round OZ ride on a Panigale. That makes me wince.
    Panigale Around Australia 2016: Introduction
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