To Tour or Not To Tour by Motorcycle
Touring by motorcycle has become increasingly popular with motorcyclists in recent years for many reasons. Whether short tours that span a few days, or multi-day / multi-state tours,– touring with other people is a great way to make new friends, see amazing sights, experience roads perfect for motorcycling, and spend quality time relaxing on your bike. There are more motorcycle touring companies operating now than ever before.
As for the tour companies themselves, riders have many choices. You can find touring businesses that specialize in specific geographical areas, companies that provide loaner bikes and gear, some that operate internationally, others that create custom tours, and even some that cater solely to women riders. But how can you tell if motorcycle touring is right for you? And if you decide that you want to tour, how do you pick the best company? The following tips will help.
The most important first step in deciding on a touring provider is to research your options carefully and don’t be afraid to call tour providers and ask questions. Any reputable company will welcome your inquiry and provide data on tour accommodations, food options, safety protocols, weather and riding conditions, daily itineraries, and activities. Additionally, reputable companies provide questionnaires asking detailed questions about participants’ riding experience so the tour guides can set optimal pack positions based on skill. This level of organization generally leads to smoother, more cohesive group rides and points to a proficient touring company. Other important issues to uncover when researching are what you get for the cost of the tour, the tour guides’ experience level (in actually guiding riders), and whether the company conducts safety briefings. These are all indicators of a company’s focus, health, and maturity, regardless of how long they’ve been in business.
You can find touring businesses that specialize in specific geographical areas, companies that provide loaner bikes and gear, some that operate internationally, others that create custom tours, and even some that cater solely to women riders.
Tour costs vary depending on the provider, accommodations, amenities, and activities, among other considerations. In general, international tours cost more than domestic because participants have to pay for their travel to and from the country, among other expenses. In general with “full-service” guided tours, where the operator handles the details for you (accommodations, food, and activities), you can expect to pay from $400 – $800 per day, per bike (or per person), depending on the particulars.
You’ll want to find out exactly what you get for your money, as most touring companies don’t provide gasoline for your bike, even if you’re using one of their bikes. Additionally, most tour operators don’t include the cost of alcohol or other extras. Some even have restrictions on the number of meals included with the tour. The key here is to research as meticulously as possible. Having all the facts beforehand will reduce uncomfortable surprises and make for a better experience.
As far as your riding preferences, consider whether you like multiple hours in the saddle with few stops or prefer less time in the saddle with routine stops for photo opportunities, rest, shopping, dining, etc. Your touring company should provide details on what to expect before you book. Find out the riding conditions you’ll be in as well. For example, will the group be on paved roads, some gravel, all interstate or highway riding, or a mix of highway and back roads? Again, the company should be able to tell you this upfront and be very familiar with the local roads and conditions.
Taking a guided motorcycle tour is a great way to experience the joy of motorcycling in a new way, and riders have more choices in touring than ever before. The best way to find out if a particular touring company and their offerings are right for you is to spend the time to research the tour company comprehensively. An excellent tour operator will make your decision easier by providing quality, informative documentation and excellent customer service before you even book your tour.