A new rider on a forum I frequent asked the following question:
first long trip?
I’m picking up my ninja 400r on May 24th (first day I can get my m2 licence), and I have a cottage trip on the 26th. Planning to take my bike up there, and its a 400km trip. I have no riding experience and will be taking the course a couple of days prior to getting my bike. Think its a good idea? I wanted to break my bike in while doing my first long distance ride.
I thought I’d share my response below, and add a couple of pictures for you at the same time. My concept was, if I can stop him, perhaps I can get him to think safety and limit his risk on the trip. Feel free to add in points that I’ve missed in the comments below.
Re: first long trip?
You’re better off riding on Northern roads than you are down here in the city, but traffic volume heading up there on a long weekend is going to be pretty heavy.
Leave early. Try to be on the road before sunrise, and you can be far out of the city before the long weekend traffic even starts. Riding in the daytime means you don’t have to risk riding at night on roads that team with wildlife such as raccoons, deer and moose not to mention the family dog out for a wander. Your headlights suck at night on lonely cottage roads, and with cornering you’ll never see what you hit.
Bandit vs Deer
Sunrise over Port Perry
Bring something to clean your visor. At dusk swarms of bugs come out and while you may not notice them in a car, on a bike, you can felt up your visor so badly you may have to stop twice to clean it. BTW, this is prime time for the deer to be out. If you wear that neat tinted visor downtown and ride with it at night under the street lights, pack along your clear visor in case of rain, fog, or simply getting caught on the roads at dark.
Figure on an experienced rider on a sport bike riding for about 200km before a stop depending on tank range, so divide that by 80kph and you’ll be able to plan your gas stops.
ALWAYS fill up before 8pm as many small towns roll up their sidewalks, and walking sucks.
Drink more water if the weather is warm. Your sweat gets whisked away by the wind as it cools you, you won’t even feel hot, but you’ll dehydrate even faster than you think. I always have at least 500ml of water in my tank bag along with my clear visor in an old sock and some cleaning fluid for the visor.
Buy a safety vest or better, a safety t-shirt in XXL to fit right overtop your riding jacket. It might seem lame now, but if you get caught in the dark or the rain, you’ll thank me. You’re not advertising that you’re new, you’re telling them “HERE I AM!!!” “DON’T HIT ME YOU CAGING MORONS!!!”
The weather says that the daytime high is X degrees, but always dress for the night time lows, in layers so you can shed some for the heat of the day. Bring rain gear always, this is Onterrible.
Be careful passing and with your speed. I know following a truck and boat doing 70kph and three other cars is boring, but everyone on that road expects you to behave like a car, so signal clearly and don’t overtake a dozen cars at a shot, they’re impatient too, and probably not going to use their mirrors when they pull out to pass. Passing around corners or over blind hills leads is just plain stupid.
Don’t tailgate. It’s easy, but all it takes is brakelights while you’re looking elsewhere and then we’ll be hearing about how much it cost to get your bike fixed once you get out of the hospital. Leave yourself an out no matter what the situation, the only place where that’s really tough is on the Don Valley Parkway or on the 400 on the Long Weekend.
Watch your speed on the corners, sometimes they’re much harder than they look, have gravel, sand or dead animals lying where you can’t see them.
Program an In Case of Emergency ICE contact in your cellphone so that if they find you unconscious in a ditch they can tell Mom and Dad what hospital you’re in. Do this even if you’re riding with friends around Toronto, for most of the time, my mates have never met my ICE contacts. Fill out your donor card. <– I hit a deer on the highway, a car, and almost smacked a cow and a moose. This comes from real world experience, not reading books or watching youtube.
Read through V-Tom’s fine research on “Sorry mate, I didn’t see you.” (SMIDSY) accidents and what you can do to avoid them. Riding up North is prime area for this type of thing, especially when Farmer Brown pulls out thinking you were doing 80kph towards him at the intersection, not 180kph. Remember that vest?
Breaking in the bike. Read the manual. Most breakin procedures tell you to do as much engine braking as possible, that will include rolling off the throttle while riding at speed so you lubricate and wear the bearing surfaces evenly, and avoiding extended runs at sustained rpm. Ask the break in question in the “technical” area of this forum, being certain to tell them what bike it is as well.
Can you realistically and safely make this trip at the peak of cottage season as a new inexperienced rider? Ask your instructors on the course how you did, and seek their advice regarding traffic. We’re not your parents, and the final decision is always yours to make, nevertheless, err on the side of caution.
But most of all, if you decide to go for it, have a great time, post pictures and ride safe!