Are you motorbikers yearning to jump on your bike and hit the road for a trip? Do you want to explore the vast and diverse country that is India on your bike? India is a country with diverse history, culture, and locales. Its roads are equally diverse and interesting, as are its terrains and climate. But this diversity brings its own set of challenges. But these challenges will be a piece of cake if you know the right things to do! Hence, if you are a biker planning to go on a road trip, do go through this list of 101 tips for motorbikers in India.
Choose the perfect ride!
1. The first and most important step for your road trip is choosing the perfect bike. It will depend on your comfort level, budget, and the terrain where you will be travelling. You should focus on aspects like low maintenance, mileage, and a comfortable seating position since you shouldn’t strain your neck and back during the journey.
2. You can take your bike if it is fit for the trip, and if not, it is easy to rent bikes in India.
3. Moreover, make sure your bike is in good condition before starting. If you are renting the bike, take it on a test drive and check that everything is in order.
4. Check for any wear or cracks in the tyre. If the tyre is not in a good condition, it is best to replace them.
5. Check the tyre pressure, and fill it up if pressure is low.
Carry all the necessary documents
6. If you are taking your own bike, make sure to carry all required documents. In addition, while renting a bike, make sure you have all the necessary paperwork for the vehicle.
7. During your trip, if the police ask you to stop, stop politely without much fuss and show them your papers.
Safety tips for motorbikers
8. Always wear helmets during road trips. Wear good quality full-face single-piece helmets, which are better than modular ones.
9. Most importantly, avoid riding at night.
10. But if you do, be extra careful! Make sure your bike has properly worked full beams and headlights if you plan to ride at night.
11. If you plan on travelling at night, or under foggy or rainy conditions, wear jackets with loud/neon colours so that you can be seen properly by fellow travellers.
12. In addition, drive within the speed limit. They are there for a reason.
13. Use real-time Google location sharing for safety.
14. Try to go in a group in general, especially if you are going on a motorbike trip for the first time.
15. Keep space between your fellow passengers. Try to maintain a few car lengths of space ahead of you, as it will help react to hazards, such as vehicles ahead stopping, or being able to see something on the road.
16. Aux lights are important while riding at night, but do not throw aux beams onto incoming vehicles.
17. Use hazard light in the fog.
18. Never drive fast in fog. Stay close to the left.
19. Do not drive after drinking or under the influence of any sleep-inducing drugs
20. Put plenty of reflector sticker spots on the bike for increased visibility at night.
21. It is preferable not to use earphones while riding.
22. Also do not take calls while riding. If the call is important, stop the vehicle and finish the call.
23. You can wear at least level 2 CE-certified body armour for better safety.
24. Carry your bike cover, to keep it safe from dust, rain, and the attention of other people
25. Ride carefully in regions that are not safe. Try to avoid riding through those regions after sunset.
26. While crossing an area with an abundance of wild animals, be careful. Avoid those places at night. If you spot a wild animal, do not panic, and let it pass peacefully if possible.
27. Always carry a strong pocket flashlight for emergency breakdowns at night.
28. Use chain locks or disc locks for added bike safety.
29. Try not to camp at random places. It may put you in trouble.
30. Chain tension is important for a smooth ride. It should neither be too tight nor have too much slack.
31. DRL(Daytime Running Lights) is important for safety.
Choose the right route
32. Always study the route properly before embarking on your journey, and locate hotels/restaurants/petrol pumps/medical centres on the way.
33. You can follow your GPS, but in remote areas with internet connectivity problems, a physical map or a hand-drawn route map is your best bet.
34. Do not blindly trust Google maps. Even they make mistakes. Also, they might not be knowing about bad roads or ongoing road repairs.
35. Take tea/coffee/drink breaks. They will give you the required rest, and you can gain vital information about the route from the locals or fellow travellers.
36. You can always try for an alternate route while returning to keep it more interesting, but research well.
Choose the right apparel
37. The kind of clothes and accessories you wear during your bike trip will depend a lot on the season, the terrain, and the weather and climatic conditions of the places you are visiting or passing through. India is a country of varied weather and climatic conditions and one must research properly and anticipate any sudden weather changes during their trip.
38. On a hot and humid day, try wearing full riding gear. Although extremely annoying, it will prevent sunburns and also prevent dehydration. Wear textile and mesh jackets with good ventilation.
39. Prefer safe, comfortable, but breathable gloves for summer.
40. In case you will experience extreme heat, wear cooling vests and a set of Ventz up your sleeve (which are designed to hold open your jacket cuff) to keep your body cool.
41. Do pack your sun-glasses to fight the sun during the daytime.
42. For travelling in extremely low temperatures, wear the correct motorcycle gear in a layering fashion. Start with a full leg and full sleeve base layer (offered by many motorbike apparels company) which will allow your skin to breathe and wick away moisture. Also, wear socks that wick away moisture. Above the base layer, add one or two more layers of clothing with a neck collar, followed by an outer jacket.
43. Wear boots and gloves which will keep your hands and feet from freezing.
44. If possible, use a neck warmer, and a tightly-sealed helmet with a fog-free face shield.
Tips for a smooth ride
45. While overtaking use the pass light.
46. Make sure that the brake lights are working properly.
47. Indian roads are full of potholes, so look out for them.
48. Check the engine oil level regularly, and fill it up at the gas stations.
49. Try to carry an extra clutch cable and accelerator cable.
50. Carry a tube if you have tubeless tires. If rims are bent you can use them for an emergency. Also, learn how to change a tire and replace correctly the rear wheel.
51. Learn how to change every cable on your motorbike, so that if there is a breakdown and no mechanic insight, you can fix up your bike on your own.
52. In addition, learn how to clean, change and tune the carburettor correctly.
53. Do clean your bike frequently, especially on engine fins to dissipate heat.
Riding know-hows for cold weather conditions
54. Firstly, in cold conditions, make sure that the antifreeze is fresh if your bike is water-cooled. Also, make sure all hoses are in great shape.
55. Cold weather means colder tires. And cold tires equate to limited traction. Riding helps increase heat in the tire, but even the briefest stop can quickly cool the tires down, providing a lack of traction. To get the heat back in the tires after a break, accelerate and decelerate quickly for a bit, obviously being aware of traction. Pressing the brake hard and going too hard on the throttle puts heat in tires more quickly.
56. Also, make sure you have adequate tread on your tires for winter riding.
57. While riding in wintry cold conditions, increase your visibility. While riding, look further down the road, around 10-15 seconds ahead, to recognize a potential hazard before they occur. This should be a general rule but is more needed in winter when traction is limited from the cold roads.
58. If it starts snowing heavily, it’s best to stop and take a break or stay in a hotel.
59. Black ice is more dangerous than fresh snow, so beware.
60. If you are getting a bit too cold, stop and buy a newspaper, wrap it around your chest under your jacket, stuff it down your trousers, down your legs into the top of your boots to keep your knees protected. It will keep you warm.
61. When making the turn don’t be frightened to use your boots as side runners.
62. Cut your speed until you are sure of the new surface
Riding in the rain
63. If you are riding in the rain, try to keep your hands as warm and dry as possible, since they are responsible for operating the fine controls of your bike.
64. Also, have dedicated rain gear if possible. Or choose a jacket that has built-in rain protection.
65. The pants you choose are important as well since they’ll take the brunt of road water on your ride. Many recommend one-piece rain suits that act as jacket and pant combos.
66. Since your feet are responsible for shifting gears and applying the rear brake, it’s important to keep them as dry and warm as possible. If you are riding in the rain or near the water, be sure to have boots extend up into your pants. You can use a boot spray or coating to help keep the moisture at bay.
67. Woollen socks are a good choice for most wet riders since they keep your feet warm even after they get wet.
68. It’s important to remember that riding in the rain creates several new hazards. The reasons for that are decreased traction of the tires (or slippery road), decreased vision (motorcycle helmets do neither have a windscreen wiper nor a defogging fan), and decreased visibility by others. So if you do not have much experience riding in the rain, it is best to wait out the storm.
69. ABS brakes prevent the wheels from locking up.
70. A helmet visor with a pin-lock antifog screen stays clear even in the rain, and if the visor is cleaned carefully, raindrops do not stay too long on it.
71. You should ride slowly and more gently during rains
What to do on roads with gravel/sand/loose dirt
72. In gravel or sandy road, while braking, avoid using the front brake on any turn and use the back brake, as your primary, and roll off the throttle, gently. Just be careful to not break too hard with the rear. If it locks up, then ease off gradually until it slowly starts to turn again. This is the opposite of what you would do on an asphalt road.
73. On a gravel road, or a road with loose materials, slow down, and at the same time to allow the bike to find its path without trying to fight with it. You as a rider can assist in finding the path by keeping your knees to the gas tank, transferring some weight to the pegs and moving forward if you can, and remaining loose in the arms and shoulders, and keeping the throttle to maintain a safe speed.
74. When making turns, keep all the above in mind and reduce the amount of lean as much as possible.
General tips for motorbikers
75. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! The last thing you would want during your trip is running out of water on a hot day in the middle of nowhere. You can invest in a good-quality hydro pack that can hold at least 1.5 litres of water. Replenish it whenever you get the chance. Alternatively, you can carry as many water bottles with you as possible, or buy from the roadside shops.
76. Take breaks around every 60-70km. It will help both you and your bike to cool down.
77. During summer months under the scorching sun, start early and ride less during the hottest hours of the day, if possible.
78. In hot weather, let your bike cool down a bit before splashing water.
79. Always carry important medicines and a first aid kit.
80. Take frequent stops when a route is scenic. Do not drive while looking sideways.
81. Always check the depth of water before you cross.
82. Travel light, but carry some snacks and energy drinks with you in case you do not find any shops/restaurants for long distances.
83. Fruits are as important as proper food. Eat foods that will help avoid constipation and flatulence on long rides.
84. However, do not forget to enjoy the local delicacies at dinner.
85. But do watch what you eat since you need to stay healthy throughout the trip
86. Most people do not appreciate the loud bike exhaust. Hence, avoid it.
87. If you are using your mobile for direction, use good quality mounts if you don’t want to lose your mobile.
88. Join community forums to gain more knowledge about routes before travelling.
89. Do take photos and videos of the trip. Carry a small diary and make travel notes.
90. Carry a tear-proof trash bag to carry your trash, and dispose of it in properly designated dustbins. Do not litter the environment.
91. Respect the mountains. And drive very carefully. Be careful of sharp turns, highs and lows. Also, try to ask about the condition of the road ahead from the locals.
92. If someone honks from behind, driving aggressively, give way to them because it could be an emergency.
93. The pillion should understand your riding dynamics for a smoother and safer ride, especially on rough roads. Pillion should not lean when you do.
94. Try to eat your breakfast after riding and not start riding after breakfast.
95. Practice applying both brakes simultaneously and gradually.
96. Try to stretch your legs in between riding.
97. Waterproof riding boots are important.
98. Carry plenty of paper and coin tissues.
99. When riding, ride with confidence.
100. In addition, ride with responsibility and follow all the rules of the road.
101. Lastly, just enjoy, experience and explore!
This list is not exhaustive and there may be a hundred and one more things that can be added to this list. Be sure to take care of the things written in this list, or which you think are necessary. However, do not let this discourage you from taking that trip. Be brave, be confident, and follow your heart and enjoy your road trip to the fullest!