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panorama of the coast by motorbike

How to plan a road trip on a bike?

To the point

In the milesopedia community, we have a few biking road trip fans! Motorcycle riding has been their passion for a long time and they give us their anecdotes, tips, and recommendations to plan for a road trip on a motorcycle.

Need to escape

Swallowing miles of asphalt

The subject is on everyone’s lips among the members of our group. Where to go for the summer holidays? While some members made the decision to postpone their travel until 2021, the majority indicated in a survey that they would go somewhere. Most in Quebec, some in other Canadian provinces.

For the six fans who responded to our offer to write about their passion for motorcycle road trips, there is no question about it. They’ll swallow miles of asphalt, as they say, to enjoy the freedom that their mount gives them.

2 motos arrêtées pour observer un paysage avec un lac.

Enjoy the advantages

Jonathan, one of the six in the group, says the freedom his motorcycle gives him has allowed him to get to places few people could have got to at his own pace. For example a detour on a dirt road for a breathtaking view of the Grand Canyon, or crossing the Colorado Mountains via rugged trails.

“I’ve crossed rivers in Central America where even a JEEP wouldn’t have dared to get his wheels wet,” he adds. Charles, his biking road trip friend, says the same: “We really go where we want “.

Oh Boy, those two…

Road trip en Moto au Grand Canyon vue spectaculaire
road trip en fôtet en moto au guatemala
Road Trip en moto au Grand Canyon

Audreyanne who also likes a certain kind of sporty driving, goes for the scenery, the trees that sometimes form a hedge of honour on the road and then…the adrenaline that awaits you in the curves.

For Emmanuelle, who travels with her spouse, the advantage of this mode of transportation, in addition to seeing the landscape, is that it allows her to smelleverything. In the Gaspé Peninsula, the salty air delighted her. She likes the slowness of the motorcycle road trips she undertakes and the fact that she travels with the bare necessities.

Paysage en moto de bord de mer
Arrêt à un lac en Moto
motos—

Stéphane agrees and points out that he can enjoy the sun and the temperature when it’s good. He particularly enjoys meeting other motorcyclists along the way and being able to exchange with them. We both agree we cannot do this when in a car.

Plus…fuel economy does the trick.

Finally, Lucie likes to be outside, with the wind in her face, so she has the impression that all her worries fly away. Better than therapy, she says. Well yes, why not!

road trip en moto, motarde sur la route, femme en moto rouge
regroupement de motos
Moto rouge sur la plage

Assume the inconveniences

While there are many advantages to riding on two wheels, there is also the other side of the coin. Here are the disadvantages of being on a motorcycle according to our panel. Not in any particular order:

  • Lack of comfort in the medium and long term, especially for adventure and sport profile machines.
  • The limited space available for transporting materials.
  • Road conditions in Quebec.
  • Overtaking by trucks while driving in the rain on the highway.
  • Lane displacement of the motorcycle due to very strong winds.
  • The battle to keep the mastodon standing when driving in the city or when road works cause slowdowns and stops.
  • The absence of music is replaced by the noise of the motorcycle and the impossibility of chatting with the passenger.
casque de motos

Bike and biker profiles

TThe fast ones

You had the feeling the milesopedia community was a heterogeneous group? You were right and that’s what struck us when we talked to our six road trip bikers.

First we have intrepid people in the group. Owners of a KTM 690 Enduro R 2019 and a gleaming Yamaha Tenere 700, 2021 which allow them to hum… how can I say, go on mud trips.

Moto embourbée dans la boue
Moto dans la boue
Moto tombée dans la boue
Randonnée en forêt et en moto

Their old 2010 BMW F800GS and 2008 BMW 1200 GS Adventure also took them off-road. Equipped with crash bars and skid plates. For beginners like me, I have learned that this type of equipment is a must for adventure motorcycling. The skid plate or engine block, for example, protects the underside of the motorcycle from the many impacts on unpaved trails. Although in Quebec, in the spring, asphalt or not…

motos—
Motos lors d'une randonnée

We also have a road tripper on a Kawasaki ER-N-2014. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree, his mother is driving around on a Ryker, fully equipped. Of course he tried it!

Moto avec drapeau des états unis

The girls ride the 2011 Triumph Street Triple R, which is a sporty ride. Her father gifted her her first motorcycle for her 21st birthday.

Next, a Harley Davidson fan, FLHX Street Glide Special 2018 model, and finally as a happy passenger of a Polaris Slingshot after riding on a Polaris Vision and Gris Venture. Quite comfortable here.

Moto  Harley Davidson d'une femme

The equipment

How do our members dress? How do they prep their bike?

For the majority, there are side and tank cases, sometimes integrated into the model. One member opted for a simple backpack.

On the comfort side, heated coats and gloves for some, heated handles and helmets with headphones with double tinted visors for others.

I once got hit in the neck by a horsefly when I was going 80 miles an hour. Never again without a full visor.

Charles

Well-ventilated protective clothing, for example made of Goretex. And in any case, raincoats that you keep on you or on top of your suitcase in case of emergency.

A word about helmets that retail between $100 and $1000. In Canada, DOT certification is required. Furthermore, the helmet is not mandatory in New Hampshire, it is optional.

When it’s wet, it’s wet…when it’s hot, it’s hot…when it’s cold, it’s cold…and when it’s cold and wet. Ouch!

Jonathan

Years of practice

Our members have been driving for several years. Between six and seventeen years on the road. One was a passenger for fifteen years, and another was a passenger for several years before buying her bike. Had no choice but to go back, her husband bought himself a solo bench for his own bike. Anyway, they all got hooked.

They ride alone, with friends or as a couple. Some tried it in groups but lost interest because of the two-hour dinners. They wanted to drive.

The permit is a class 5 except for the three-wheeled “Slingshot” which requires only a few hours of training. The disadvantage is that this training can only be used to drive in Quebec and Alberta. Everywhere else in Canada and the United States, a motorcycle licence is required. For Emmanuelle’s spouse, no problem, they have this permit. But be warned.

road tripper motard

Mileage

And how many kilometres of asphalt do you swallow, ladies and gentlemen, in a day of road trip on a motorcycle?

Well, that depends. Let’s start with an extreme case. Let’s just say we’re not naming anyone. 1,700 kilometers in 24 hours. The Grand Canyon in 3 and a half days. Calgary-Bromont in three days. This is so that you can better enjoy the destination once you arrive.

Halfway there are those who will do 700-800 km in a day of road trip by motorcycle. Still.

It’s the opposite for others who want to take their time and will drive 400-500 km per day, to include a picnic stop and a restaurant in the evening. And finally, there are also those who only have the weekend to go to a festival, for example, and because of this they will limit themselves to 300-400 km of asphalt during the day.

Pause pique nique avec panorama lors après un road trip

The Destinations

First rides

Of course, it all depends on one’s temperament. For Jonathan and his “partner in crime”, Charles, the latter with his apprentice’s permit in his pocket, it was first Bromont, Albany, New York, Boston and back… in six days. We all agree that afterwards, he was no longer an apprentice.

For Emmanuelle, it was a tour of the Gaspé Peninsula that she would do a few more times. You know, the salty air!

For Stéphane, the first weekend getaway brought him to Chicoutimi via Route 175. He has nothing but praise for this road when leaving from Quebec City.

Audreyanne opted for Hampton Beach in and around New Hampshire for three days.

And finally, on their Harley, Lucie and her husband rode the mythical “Tail of the Dragon” to Deal’s Gap, North Carolina and the “Blue Ridge Parkway”.

Randonnée Promenade sur un pont
Maison trouvé lors d'une promenade en fôret
port de plaisance

The other road trip bikes.

And the rest of the trips…

Apart from the destinations already mentioned, there were short rides.

  • Quebec City, Kingston, Mont-Tremblant, the ZEC “Chapeau de paille” in Mauricie, Saint-Donat, Lake Placid, Burlington and the “Puppy trail” in Vermont.

before moving away to:

  • Niagara Falls
  • Milwaukee
  • The Cabot trail in Nova Scotia, known as the St-Graal of motorcycle road trips.
  • Tour of the Maritimes
  • Mount Washington
  • The American and Canadian West (Colorado, Utah, Yellowstone, Okanagan Valley, Banff)
  • Las Vegas (Grand Canyon, Valley of Fire )
  • Daytona

and away again with a bunch of rented motorcycles in.

  • Guatemala on a road marked with a dotted line on the card .
  • Costa Rica

I didn’t name anyone.

itinéraire d'un road trip en moto aux états unis
itinéraire au guatemala pour un road trip en moto
road trip en moto sur la Route 66

Preparation

Generally speaking,

  • It all starts with an idea, something they’ve seen, experiences they’ve heard about. Then comes the reading of comments from other motorcyclists, for example about the quality of the roads and the beauty of the scenery.
  • Then they go ahead and mark points of interest (or the smallest possible roads!) with flags on the OSMAND application, for example. It can be used without any Internet connection. The road then traces itself.
  • Calculating the mileage between each destination for some.
  • Looking for places to sleep and eat.
  • Preparing the “survival kit” according to individual needs: rain gear, corkscrew, picnic kit, road maps, basic repair material and sunscreen.

As proof, Emmanuelle’s great preparation.

Date Route Km
July 11th Sherbrooke – Saint-Siméon 397 kms
July 12th Saint-Simeon- Baie Comeau 239 kms
July 13th Baie Comeau – visit 434 kms
July 14th Baie Comeau – Havre St-Pierre 448 kms
July 15th Havre St-Pierre – End 138 (return) 316 km
July 16th Havre St-Pierre – Sept-Iles – archipelago visit 219 kms
July 17th Sept-Iles – Tadoussac 427 kms
July 18th Tadoussac – Quebec 216 kms
July 19th Quebec-Sherbrooke 221 kms

The Budget

Accommodation

As far as accommodation is concerned, some people opt for camping, but depending on the weather, youth hostels are quite popular. To be dry, warm, and to be able to use a shower and toilet nearby. Cabins and motels with kitchenette and sometimes BBQs are also popular for breakfast and lunch after a trip to the grocery store. But not everyone cooks on the road.

There are the proponents of the cheapest possible accommodation, but the bargain is not always a bargain when the air-conditioning makes even more noise than the traffic on the motorway next door and you pass the exterminator on your way out.

And finally we have of course those who prefer hotels with balconies, beautiful view where the restaurants are close enough to walk to, because you had a few glasses of wine. Their main expense will therefore be the roof over their heads, which will not be the case for our campers. Unless, of course, you use your points to pay for it.

I often use Air Miles, I set a valuation of 0.11 dollar for them. I also apply Cobalt Select points on this type of expenditure.

Emmanuelle
motos—

Food

When it’s time to eat, we have snackers on the go and fans of big lunches in restaurants before tackling the road until dinner. With snacks in your pocket to help you out. Beer stops, mandatory for some, picnics in parks for others, groceries for the rest.

One of our members estimates the cost at about $250/day which she reduces to $150 because of the points she applies on her expenses. And let’s not forget, that when we travel, we all earn some too.

réconfort d'une bière après un road trip

Gasoline

Number one expense, if you don’t sleep in hotels and eat in restaurants. Because even on very secondary roads (read here dirt, mud and sand roads), the low-speed machine needs energy, if only to avoid getting stuck on the spot.

compteur Moto

Anecdotes and misadventures

Gentlemen, ladies, you go have some special little stories to tell us. Anecdotes? Misadventures? Come on, tell me.

One day, I found a great beach to go to in Anse Bleue, New Brunswick. I put out the tent, I’m missing a pole… It’s in Escuminac, Quebec, where I slept the night before. I’m looking for a solution: the only solution is to go back and look for it, but it’s two hours away. I get there and I find it. I notice behind the Chic-Choc Mountains that the sky is threatening. I’m trying to get away as fast as I can, but the storm’s catching up with me. It’s raining so hard that the cars are stopped on the side of the road; I can’t find any place to pull over. There are literally torrents that cross the roads. I finally manage to hide in a garage that’s open. I found a hotel that was too expensive. The next day, I learned that it hadn’t rained at Anse Bleu. Um… all for a tent pole!

Jonathan
road trip moto camping

At the end of a trip in the Maritimes, the GPS directed us to a trucker’s route. For 4 hours, we drove without cellular connection, without service, on a road full of craters (not holes, craters!), among moose, deer and bears in the Siberian cold in the summer.

Well, we can say that since we have always been lucky in our travels that this misadventure is classified under the term “inconvenience” and that it was without consequence.

Emmanuelle
Motos de deux motards en road trip

We went away for a long weekend without a booking. We came from Outaouais, an 8h drive to find no hotel/motel available. We turn back, stopping everywhere, and finally, we find something in Laval, of little quality, to leave for Quebec City the next day. This time not without first finding a place to stay for the evening.

You never get lost on a motorcycle… you just ride more!

Lucie

Recommendations

A final word, bikers? Any recommendations?

  • You don’t go on a road trip in your first year of driving, says the wisest of the group! And you have to equip yourself with quality rainwear, clothes that dry quickly. Finally, be prepared to change your route when the weather doesn’t cooperate.
  • Choosing the right bike is essential because riding long roads on a racer is still hard. After 300 km you don’t enjoy the road as much anymore, adds another member. Be well-equipped: the mount as well as yourself.
  • For someone who wants to go off-road, because in Quebec it’s becoming more and more popular, there are groups, schools and Facebook groups. Check them out!
  • Give yourself some time to visit. Be flexible to change plans at the last minute, choose accommodations that accept cancellations. In case of bad weather, travel may not be safe.
panorama of the coast by motorbike

And finally some darling references:

Bolide moto jaune, rencontre motards

Conclusion

Six members, five profiles. All fans of freedom, wind in your face, panoramic secondary roads to hurtle down preferably on asphalt for the majority.

It goes without saying that there is a bike for every genre and it can be an economical way to travel, once the mount is acquired. It allows for short and long trips, alone or accompanied and has the advantage of being able to go almost everywhere.

Comfort levels vary, but the equipment seems to be as important for both the ride and the person. Special mention to the rain gear.

There are many destinations in Quebec and elsewhere. Our members will all be moving and going in road trip mode for their summer holidays in the coming weeks.

We wish them great motorcycle rides!

Moto enfant

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Credit cards for activities

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