How to Stay Safe on a Motorcycle Trip

Staying safe is important for motorcycle travellers. But it’s a boring subject and not exactly fun to research, so we pulled together this article to cover the most important points in one easy to read guide. 

How to Stay Safe on a Motorcycle Trip

Contents

Staying Safe While Motorcycle Travelling

We spend a lot of time planning our motorcycle trips, whether it’s a weekend ride, a mini tour of Europe or a round the world adventure. We consider everything from paperwork to tyres, hotels, packing and routes in great detail, but we rarely put serious time aside for safety. It’s a broad (and not very interesting) subject covering everything from the gear you wear to dealing with bribes to wild camping. To take the sting out of researching the subject, we’ve pulled together and covered a wide selection of points concerning your safety on motorcycle trips. Have a read and make sure you’re covered.  

Emergency satellite devices for motorcycle trips

An emergency satellite GPS device is crucial for motorcycle travellers venturing into remote and far-flung lands. You can quickly find yourself alone, isolated and away from people – and that means without help should you need it. If you were to crash your motorcycle, it could be hours – or days even – before help passes by. Your mobile phone may not have signal and you might not be able to call anyone either, and so that’s why a emergency satellite communicators can make the difference between getting immediate medical help and even life and death.

These emergency devices are small gadgets that have SOS buttons on them, and once pushed will send signals via satellite to an emergency service centre. The centre will then get your coordinates (and message if you sent one) and immediately contact and send emergency medical help to you.  

If you’re on a motorcycle trip and are going anywhere remote, please consider carrying one of these. For more information on what they are, the different types available and how they work, have a read of our comprehensive guide and what we use.

READ MORE:

The Ultimate Guide on Emergency Satellite Devices for Motorcycle Travellers
An emergency satellite device is a must-have for motorcycle travellers.

Motorcycle travel insurance

Sorting personal travel insurance for your trip is one of the most important things you can do. Your insurance will cover your medical bills and repatriation if you have an accident or fall ill while travelling. Make sure you are fully covered to ride a motorcycle before you select your policy. Have a read of this packed guide first. 

READ MORE: 

Motorcycle theft

Unfortunately, motorcycles are a target for thieves. Especially shiny touring bikes, laden with luggage and expensive kit. There are lots of ways to keep your motorcycle and gear safe while on your adventures. We’ve listed our top recommendations and tips in this dedicated guide below.

READ MORE: 10 Tips for Motorcycle Security While Travelling

Motorcycle security while travelling
Nobody's stealing our bikes....

Adventure riding gear

Your motorcycle riding gear’s job is to keep you protected. Unfortunately, it’s often only something people think about the minute they need it, but you’re investing in your safety so pick wisely.

It’s important to opt for gear that meets standard safety ratings. Ensure your helmet meets the safety ratings for the country you are buying it in (UK helmet ratings are different to US ratings for example). Your boots should have ankle and shin protection and your jacket and trousers need back, knee and elbow protection. Wear your gear all the time and stay safe on the bike.

READ MORE: Adventure Riding Gear Guides

Adventure Motorcycle Travel Lo Manthang Upper Mustang Nepal
Wear all the gear all the time, but make sure it's suitable for the weather, climate and conditions you're riding in.

Weather conditions and motorcycle safety

You may be faced with severe weather conditions on your motorcycle travels. Extreme heat and cold can both be dangerous and so you need to properly prepare for those situations.

Wearing the right riding gear will make a big difference. For extreme heat, you need mesh or exceptionally lightweight riding gear. If riding in temperatures above 40C, then consider wetting your t-shirt underneath and zipping up your clothes to create a sub-climate. Stop often in the shade, keep very well hydrated and be aware of heat stroke.

For winter riding, you will also need to choose your gear wisely by using thermal layering and even heated gear. Remember that it’s easier to stay warm than to get warm, consider heated gear and be cautious of ice on the road.

For more info, check out our riding gear guides on the best heated gear and jackets.

Road and riding conditions for motorcycle travellers

Part of the adventure is pushing yourself and riding unknown and difficult roads and terrain. However, that doesn’t mean you should push yourself way outside of your comfort zone – especially when riding alone. A motorcycle trip is an endurance event, not a race. It’s about enjoying yourself and arriving at your destination safely.

Be honest with yourself about your abilities. If you’re riding in a group with more skilled riders, don’t feel pressured into keeping up or riding with the pack. Go at your own pace and only do what you feel comfortable with.

If you’re unsure about road conditions and your ability to handle them, then research them in advance. Search online for information and ask locals and fellow travellers. Make an informed decision before you get there and are faced with having to push through something that’s potentially dangerous.

It’s always worth investing in your riding skills. Take a look at the below page that recommends some of the best schools in the UK.

READ MORE: The Best Off-Road Training Schools

How to Stay Safe on a Motorcycle Trip
Hmmm... somewhat suspect (somewhere in Kazakhstan).

Rider fatigue

Riding bikes can be tiring both physically and mentally, especially when riding long distance. Know when you need a rest and don’t push on if you’re tired. Stop for a coffee or a power nap. And if you’re done, take the night off. If there’s nowhere to camp and you need to splash out on a hotel then just go for it. Your safety is way more important than a comfortable night in a hotel.

To help prevent fatigue you should rest often instead of one or two big long breaks. Stay hydrated, try not to eat big heavy meals throughout the day as they’ll make you feel lethargic and make sure your riding set-up is comfortable too.

READ MORE: 

Uzbekistan road conditions
Somewhere on a long boring road in northern Uzbekistan.

Navigation

It might seem a bit excessive to put navigation in a guide on motorcycle safety while travelling. But, knowing where you are and how to get to your destination is very important for your safety. Sometimes, we have to deal with long stretches of road without fuel, food or rest stops. An easy ride can quickly turn into a nightmare if you’re caught out. So, make sure you have some form of navigation and a backup. That backup can be a paper map and compass or, even better, a fully charged spare phone with offline maps loaded onto it (use Maps.Me). 

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Motorcycle maintenance

Sounds obvious, but keeping your motorcycle properly maintained is a top priority for your safety. Big mileage and potentially hard and difficult terrain will wear on your bike, which means you need to pay even more attention to things like your tyre condition and pressures and your chain slack. Perform your pre-ride checks and ensure your motorcycle is safe to ride.

If you’re unsure about performing maintenance on your motorcycle, have a look at the Best Off-Road Schools page, you’ll find a bunch of companies who provide motorcycle maintenance classes. 

READ MORE:

Tajikistan Motorcycle Adventure (9)
Well, that's not supposed to be there? (Somewhere in the Pamir Mountains).

Safety for female motorcycle travellers

We have a dedicated guide specifically for solo female motorcycle travellers. It discusses concerns and provides info and tips. Have a read using this link here. 

READ MORE: Safety for Solo Female Motorcycle Travellers

First aid

Carry a first aid kit and know how to use it. It’s just like carrying motorcycle tools: pack what you may need, condense your kit as much as you can and learn how to use the equipment you have, otherwise it’s just pointless. It’s always worth getting first aid training before you leave. There are motorcycle specific first aid courses, or general courses, but try and find a course that deals with trauma and road accidents.

Motorcycle camping

Camping plays a big part in motorcycle trips. You have two types: wild camping and paid for camping. In paid campsites, you rarely have anything to worry about as they tend to be secure and fenced. But if wild camping (meaning not in campsites, away from people and in the wilderness), you should always consider your safety first.

Dealing with wildlife, thieves, drunk people are all possibilities. For tips on where and how to wild camp, have a look at our Ultimate Camping Guide.

READ MORE: Motorcycle Camping Guides

Adventure Motorcycle Travel Canada
You may also have to watch out for the elusive and incredibly dangerous Canadian Bench Tiger...

Top tips for staying safe on a motorcycle trip

+ Do your research. Check your government website for travel advice on the countries you’re riding through. Know which areas pose a higher risk and avoid dangerous situations. The UK Gov website is useful for this: gov.foreign-travel-advice

+ Check on motorcycle travel Facebook groups for the countries you’re riding through and ask about your proposed route. Find out if there are any areas or roads you should avoid. 

+ Know the emergency numbers of the countries you are travelling through and write down your embassy contact info.

+ Save scans of all your important documents (like passport, travel insurance certificate, driver’s licence etc) onto a USB pen and keep it safe should your original documents get stolen.

+ Don’t panic if you’re asked for a bribe. Have a read of this guide first: How to Deal With Bribes. 

+ Don’t ride at night unless you absolutely have to.  

+ Watch out for animals on the road, especially in countries like Australia.

+ Keep your wits about you and follow standard safety advice: be careful walking alone  at night, don’t flash your cash, lock your bike etc.

+ Go with your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, leave.

+ Follow local safety advice when camping. For example, be careful how you store food and don’t have anything that smells in your tent if camping in bear territory.

Adventure Motorcycle Travel Canada

Read more on motorcycle travel

Thanks for checking out the How to Stay Safe on a Motorcycle Trip guide. We hope you enjoyed it! Here’s a few more articles on motorcycle travel that we recommend you read next. 

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Are you planning a motorcycle trip and thinking about safety? Do you have any questions, tips or suggestions? Let us know in the comments below. 

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