Motorcycle Riders--What are some good tips for going cross-country on a bike?

My boyfriend and I are thinking about riding his Harley from Mass to Daytona Beach. We have never rode across states let alone down the eastern border. Just looking to find some good tips out there that I might not have thought about.


To Bill- I said states as in multiple states. We have rode together plenty of times for a couple hours on end, highways, etc, up through New Hampshire and Maine. I just meant like through mulitple states across country. I also own my own bike, but it is an 883 sportster with a small gas tank, and think it would be much better to be on the back of my bf's and take everything in without paying attention to the rode. :-) Before I learned to ride, I rode on his bike for more than ten years, so we are entirely comfortable with each other...

12 Answers

  • 7 years ago
    Best Answer

    Byron made a very good point about packing light and washing your clothes along the way. Something else, if you find you need something unexpected like extra shirts or something, don't overlook thrift stores. Wear a couple of $3 T shirts and when you're done, toss them in the trash.

    If you can ride 500 miles a day alone, better figure 350 two up. 200 miles at a time is a long stretch on a bike, even with a comfortable dresser. Two up, it feels even longer. I suggest riding 120-150 miles, gas up, stretch, pee, get a drink and so on. You will be a lot better off making a lot of short rides with short rest stops rather than long tiring rides and long rest stops trying to rest up.

    Take a camera, especially something like a better point and shoot with 10-15X zoom (compact size) or what's called a bridge camera, the point and shoots that look more like a large DSLR. Many of them has 24-40X zooms. Have a couple of memory cards, take plenty of photos of everything and delete those you don't want when you get home. Take shots over your bfs shoulder while riding, if things go wrong, take photos of those times as well. My motto is whatever doesn't kill you makes for a good story later, which is true. When at rest areas, if your camera has a self timer, perch it safely on a picnic table and get a shot of both of you. If there are other photographers there, ask them to take your photo. If they are carrying a camera, especially an expensive DSLR, you have nothing to worry about asking them to handle your camera. Shady looking, drugged out characters are not ones to hand your camera to.

    In case you don't already have one, get the HD road atlas because it has the locations and numbers of HD shops, which may come in handy in case of a flat tire, etc. Put sticky things like shampoo bottles inside a zip lock bag should the bottle decide to pop open in the saddlebag or backpack. Stuff a plastic trash bag somewhere just in case it is needed during rain. One of the little, cheap LED mini flashlights is good to have on hand. If the weather turns cold and you don't have a warm enough jacket, buy a newspaper and place several layers between your chest and jacket. Amazingly effective.

    And most important, ride safely, don't take chances, expect delays or something to happen and when it does, remain calm and keep in mind that regardless of what happens, you will get there and you will get back. Maybe a bit late, but so what. And keep in mind, whatever doesn't kill you makes for a good story later. I've been touring all over the US for over 35 years and the trips where the weather is perfect, nothing breaks down, no cops stop you, you don't get diarrhea from road side food and no aprts fall off are soon forgotten. The trips you remember forever and revel in recounting is where you must go to the motel front desk three times for more toilet paper, a huge lady cop mistakes you for a vandal and comes within a hairsbreath of stuffing you into the back seat of her cruiser and you get caught in a rainstorm so severe that when you put your foot down at a stop sign, water runs over the top of your cowboy boot. That's just a few of the more "memorable" times I remember. Good luck.

  • 3 years ago

    Motorcycle Cross Country

  • 3 years ago

    Cross Country Motorcycle Trip

  • 4 years ago

    This Site Might Help You.


    Motorcycle Riders--What are some good tips for going cross-country on a bike?

    My boyfriend and I are thinking about riding his Harley from Mass to Daytona Beach. We have never rode across states let alone down the eastern border. Just looking to find some good tips out there that I might not have thought about.

    Source(s): motorcycle riders good tips cross country bike:
  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • 7 years ago

    First off, your sportster tank is normally around 3 gallons or a little better. The fuel injected versions can pull about 50 miles to the gallon, slightly less if you're really moving along. That means you should be able to get close to 150 miles before stopping to get gas. I did a 5,000 mile road trip twice on an old Honda that only got 120 to the tank and it's very doable.

    If you still want to ride on the back I would suggest tow things. First one is something to keep you warm, since the temps down here are still chilly, and you could get cold easily. The second thing would be something to keep you dry. A good rain suit like Dri-Duck, or Frogg Toggs would serve you well. A good foldable waterproof map, a zip lock bag with small change in it for toll roads, some and some spare clothes are all you really need for a good time.

    Source(s): Did Sturgis twice on an '84 Honda Magna 500CC from eastern North Carolina.
  • 7 years ago

    Plan ahead. DUH! you knew that.

    For longer trips I like to get-up early, have a small/quick bite and some coffee than hit the road. Do about 200 miles (or fill-up time) and do a 30 minute break with a few easy snacks, off again. End of the second 200 miles, stop for an hour and assess how I feel. If tired, I figure another 100 miles may or may not be advisable depending on the conditions I've been through so far.

    Quick water or pee breaks along the way, as needed, but I try to push in early miles and than cruise in the afternoon.

    Eat a good carbo and protein meal, relax for a few hours than off to bed.

    Early -up and off again.

    I think about 400-450 miles is a good days ride, any more than that is too much to try if on a muliple days trip, you may want to plan shorter as I ride over the legal limit as much as I can.

    You'll find out soon enough how far to push the envelope before both of you are too tired to think straight.

    Source(s): Ridin'racin' for 50+
  • 7 years ago

    Good for the both of you, there are those who say you silly for doing this and those who wish they were you. I have done your trip a few times and plan on doing it again leaving NH March 8 riding to SC and either riding to SanDiago or going to Jacksonville and then riding to SanDiago and back to Daytona, SC then to NH . Cross country in 50 hours, I am a member of a safe long distance MC group called Iron Butt Riders. You can go to their web site and learn from those who have already done this many times. Some will be just good practice ie; stopping on the back side of a city so you don't get jammed up in traffic to charting your gas stops.

    Source(s): 33 years on 2 wheels. I'll be the guy on the Black Road King smileing like an idiot, look for me on the trip.
  • Anonymous
    7 years ago

    First tip is to familiarize the place that you are going to visit. Next, prepare for the gears that you must bring in the ride. Do not forget to wear helmets, gloves, jackets and boots. Since both of you will be traveling, there is a need to bring saddlebags where you can put all your belongings. Make sure that you wear good gears. Also bring some raincoats and motorcycle covers just in case the weather changes.

    Source(s): Jafrum
  • 7 years ago

    I'd say think carefully through your trip as to whatever you think you need, and pack that. Sunglasses, camera, cold weather/heated gear, wet weather gear, sunscreen, if travelling in hot weather you may want to have one of those wet vests. Have appropriate insurance. Maps/GPS, cell phone, money/credit card, toiletries, toolkit, if spending cash at a travel stop, check your change for foreign coins. Keep some extra space for those souvenirs. Make sure your registration/insurance card is available. Microfiber cloth would be good for the windshield. Can't think of anything else at the moment, hope that helps though. Good luck with your trip.

  • ?
    Lv 5
    7 years ago

    You've not ridden across the state together, yet you plan to ride 20+ hours down the eastern sea-board? I commend your ideals, but I question your resolve!

    #1 before taking any long trip is to know you CAN. Before taking on that long of a ride, you should have at least taken a few shorter trips together (start with 30-min rides together, then move up to 4 or 5 hour trips)... so you can get the feel of what it is like on your bodies for that long in the saddle, as well as get the feel how the two of you co-exist in handling the ride... curves, stops, acceleration, emergency situations... the passenger is not just there for looks, and boobies in the rider's back! And the rider/driver has much more to consider when navigating the roadways now that there is extra weight. One wrong or sudden move from either of you, and you're not in sync regarding how to handle the situation, and you'll be eating pavement... or worse... dead!

    Now, if you are determined... you need to make sure you have necessities... twice as much money as you expect you'll need (then bring even more), luggage/saddlebags that will hold all your stuff (plus souvenirs), cash for gas/meals, Credit or Debit card, Cell phone, plenty of water because you will be dehydrated on the bike. Are you camping or hotels? Plan your route accordingly and make reservations so you won't arrive somewhere only to find "no room at the inn". You'll also need helmets, as many of the states you will go through have mandatory helmet laws. The bike needs to be in PERFECT working order, with fresh fluid changes, plugs, good tires, etc. and don't forget to carry a tool-kit with spare bulbs and fuses, too! Lastly, you'll need to make sure you have proper gear for the weather... rain-gear, insulated jacket, gloves, over-the-ankle boots, etc.

    I've ridden across country by myself, and it can be exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. Riding with a passenger can be twice as tiring. My longest trip with a passenger has been just over 1000 miles (one way), and it took almost twice as long to get there as it would have if I were alone.

    Be sure to plan frequent stops, and enjoy the scenery... don't be in any hurry to get there! A trip from MA to FL would take many hours in a car, longer on a bike, and you'll want to stop and take pictures and picnic along some of the most scenic roads in the country (through VA, NC, SC, GA)... stick to the back-roads and the trip could easily take you a week as you'll want to stop and see everything along the way!


    Glad to hear you've ridden together for long-ish trips... that will make me feel better. I'm assuming you'll be heading to Bike Week in Daytona in March. Hope to see you there... I'm heading down myself! Be aware of the weather on your ride... VA and NC mountains can be pristine or snow-covered in March, so plan accordingly, dress warmly, and be careful. As for being on the pillion, yes, it will be more enjoyable for you, but more tiring for both of you. Your 883 would make the trip just fine, and frequent stops for gas are a good chance to stretch the legs and shake out the cramps! If you feel up to grabbing the throttle, I would go for it! Nothing safer than two bikes on the road if one were to have issues... you can always have the second bike to seek shelter or obtain help easier, not to mention... you'll have more than twice the carrying capacity.

    Source(s): Riding and repairing bikes for 40-yrs
Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.