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How to plan a motorcycle trip – effective free tools

How to plan a motorcycle trip – effective free tools

How to plan a motorcycle trip – effective free tools

Motorcycle Travel is Freedom! We did not fall into adventure motorcycle riding from one day to the next. Trip after trip we learned new tricks, because we wanted to have more fun and less worries. And believe when we say, some of the things we know now we learned the hard way! For many, riding a motorbike is linked with certain idea of freedom, adventure, discovery, etc. In order to experience that stress free, a certain hard work needs to be put in place in advance. The key to a great ride is to know how to plan a motorcycle trip beforehand and get the most out of it. 

 

Smart planning is free

Doing adventure motorcycle trips as a solo rider you learn – sometimes the hard way – how to get more out of your motorbike adventures. Being stuck for 10 days in San Pedro de Atacama waiting for a slave cylinder can be expensive and boring, although bearable. But most probably the moment you need 24h to dig your bike out of the mud in a remote track in Bolivia you finally realize that having a less hassle travel is worth some advanced planning and hard work! Here’s the good news: more fun on a ride does not cost anything, it only involves some proper preparation.

 

motorcycle trip planning

 

Do in-depth research

This is one of the most enjoyable parts of the trip preparation. To start off with google maps, scour the internet for articles, travel stories, blogs of hikers, cyclists, bikers, searching open street maps for clues of interesting or unusual things to see. This way, you can stumble on ghost towns, haunted cemeteries, crashed planes in the middle of the desert, fantastic abandoned places and loads of spectacular landscapes that make each trip even more memorable. If your thing is to tick off the 10 most popular touristic spots of a given area, a Lonely Planet guide will do the job. However, if you’re into more remote places, you must do a proper research.

Find out about some of those trips HERE & HERE

 

 

Some free itinerary building tools

MapsMe is a great tool to mark all the tracks, roads, locations, etc. you identify during your research. After having saved all the places you liked and would want to see, another fun bit is to try to connect these dots with what looks like the most scenic roads or tracks. For this, you can rely also on google maps, although always remember that those applications are never ideal and include bugs and mistakes. Therefore, a good solution would be to always have a backup app.

You can find the link for MapsMe here: https://maps.me

 

Basecamp is a track building program provided by Garmin. It is sometimes unfairly perceived as hard to use. Basecamp has useful video tutorials to get you started in no time. YouTube has also many videos showing real-life examples. A little patience will reward you with a very useful tool that is sure to make your motorcycle trip planning much easier. You can install Open Street Maps (see below) on it as well.

Free download is available here: https://www.garmin.com/en-US/software/basecamp/

 

For European paved route planning an easier tool would be ViaMichelin (https://www.viamichelin.com). It has a nice features, such as highlighted scenic roads and easy to find service locations. To see the highlighted road portions that indicate scenic roads, just scroll to the area of your interest.

 

There are many other routing applications available, free or payable. A simple google search will return pages of results. In this article you can find the basic and sometimes sufficient, easy-to-use and completely free solutions that work.

 

motorcycle trip to South America

 

Experiment with routing options 

Here’s a fun tip: toggle between the bicycle navigation options of MapsMe, Google Maps or Basecamp. This sometimes gives interesting routing options!

 

Planning for fuel stops & obstacles

When researching new remote tracks, it’s also a good idea to use the satellite views in google maps. This will allow you to get a feel if a certain route is going to be rideable – or if obstacles (impassable seasonal river crossing for instance) could make it too dangerous or impossible. Checking the distances between fuel stops also works great with MapsMe. This way, you’ll know if you have to carry extra fuel. Another nice feature of this application is the ability to quickly check the elevation profile of certain track sections: toggle from car mode to cyclist or pedestrian and elevation profile appears.

 

How to plan a motorcycle trip

 

Save service locations

You do not want to learn it the hard way, so please remember, when you go to a country where the distances are significant, that it pays off to thoroughly research motorbike service spots, repairs, parts, tire locations, etc. You don’t want to end up hauling spare motorcycle tires or filters for thousands of km. You should save all those locations into MapsMe and your GPS, along with the websites and contact details of those locations before the trip. Being well prepared could save you tons of cash, days of effort and frustration on the road. For example, if you know that your rear tire has a life of approximately 6,000km – plan a rough route to make your way to a location where you know there’ll be a suitable tire. Don’t waste vacation time or energy in worries. 

 

How to plan a motorcycle trip-4

 

Open Street Maps vs. Garmin Maps

For navigation and motorcycle trip planning an Open Street Maps (OSM) is a great choice. We suggest this tool, because for us personally OSM is much richer then well known Garmin for example. However, bare in mind that the routing in cities can sometimes be wrong. In our opinion though, the extra detail in OSM outweighs potential shortcomings. Open Street Maps is also free! You can download your maps here for exemple: http://garmin.openstreetmap.nl. The option “generic routable (new style)” gives good routable results. Installing the maps in your GPS, if you use one, is very easy.

Open Street Maps is the result of a collaborative project that created a free editable map of the world. The format used by Open Street Map is compatible with GPS devices such as Garmin. As Open Street Maps incorporates the input of users, it contains a wealth of information not available on proprietary maps. The data quality varies sometimes, but we feel they provide a terrific base for motorcycle trip planning and riding: those maps can be uploaded on your GPS device and also used in routing programs such as Basecamp.
 
Garmin maps, on the other hand are proprietary maps.  Those maps are sold by Garmin, usually with a subscription that allows users to get updates. The Garmin maps are typically designed primarily for road travel.

 

plan motorcycle trip map

 

Off-road motorcycle tracks in Europe

In case your destination is Europe there’s a great tool – https://transeurotrail.org It’s a great starting point for experimenting with all these free to use tools to build your very own off-road adventure.

 

 

Smart planning can be totally free and can be a fun part of motorbike trip preparation. This will definitely help in making the most of your precious vacation time, turn each motorcycle trip into a discovery. With a little practice you will be completely fluent in using the free tools mentioned in this article. We wish you countless big and small discoveries in your next rides!

 

 

Women Riders’ Off-Road Campout: Girls and Their Toys

Women Riders’ Off-Road Campout: Girls and Their Toys

Women Riders’ Off-Road Campout: Girls and Their Toys

Motobirds is a female-founded and female-run company, and every once in a while, we love to escape and ride with other women. Why? Because a women riders’ off-road campout is a unique event filled with sisterhood vibes, hard riding, mud-splattered bikes, and so much fun it’s impossible to peel away once it ends.

This weekend, the Motobirds crew – founder Ola and freelance tour guide Egle – set out on a mission to attend the Baby na Motory women riders’ off-road campout in Western Poland. The event is organized by local riders who put some rides together and invite women from all over Poland to join, ride, camp, and hang out. This year’s edition saw forty women attending, and it was the biggest gathering of female dirt bike nutcases in the country to date.

We had some 400+ kilometres to go just to get from Warsaw to the Baby na Motory campout location, and we figured we’d hit the dirt on the way. Sticking to backcountry roads and off-road trails, we hauled some serious ass to cover the distance and managed to get to the campsite just before dark.

 

women riders’ off-road campout

 

As we rolled up to the camping area, we both got a feeling we’d come… home. It’s hard to describe the emotion that hits you when you’re greeted by thirty-odd women in bike gear, with tents, motorcycles, and bike trailers scattered all over the place, a few male campers watching the mayhem from the sidelines. Most of the time, women are the odd ones out at any motorcycle event; and while we’re mostly treated well, always being the minority sometimes gets old. Here, at the Baby na Motory camp, women were the majority, and all we can say is, being surrounded by a horde of two-wheeled females is a high in itself.

 

women riders’ off-road campout

 

As we were pitching our tents, the gals immediately came to our aid – some helped us with the pegs and the covers, one woman poured some homemade moonshine down our throats, and we soon found ourselves huddled around a huge bonfire exchanging hello’s and beers. There were women from all walks of life – insurance experts, finance consultants, dentists, office workers, travel agents – and the ages varied just as wildly, with our youngest rider being just 23, while some of the women were well into their fifties. The ringleaders Asia, Kasiek, Agnieszka, Emilia, and Elsa welcomed us all explaining there were three track versions for tomorrow: a paved route, a soft off-road route, and a hard enduro trail. Being on a KTM690 and a Suzuki DR650, we weren’t sure if we should do the hard enduro track, but you won’t know unless you try, so we decided to stick the band of hard enduro maniacs. Having demolished some food and beers, we crawled into our tents, hit the hay, and slept like logs.

 

women riders’ off-road campout

 

In the morning, after wolfing down some breakfast, we joined a group of twelve-odd women determined to give the hard enduro track a go. While some gals were on small Huskies and KTM’s, there were some Honda Transalps, BMW GS 800’s, and even an old scrambler with skinny tires in the mix, so we knew our big bikes stood a chance, too. Hitting some local single track, we set off weaving in and out of forest trails, meadows, and muddy tracks. Along the way, we stopped at a NATO tank base – it turns out, tanks make fun, wavy tracks with some cool natural jumps – and chanced upon a group of American soldiers. We must have been a sight to behold, a swarm of women on dirt bikes chasing each other across a mangled, muddy field, because the soldier boys came out to say hi and pose for some photos. We can’t say we weren’t happy to see them:

 

women riders’ off-road campout

 

Leaving the boys with their toys, we jumped back on ours and took off on the tank tracks. Here, the first casualty happened – one of the gals’ bike had a dead battery – but helping each other out and hooking the quad’s battery up to the bike, we soon revived it and hit the trails again. After some fast sand and gravel tracks where our one and only quad girl, Karolina, showed us all how it’s done drifting around corners and doing donuts in the sand, we ventured deeper into the forest.

 

women riders’ off-road campout

 

Now came the “hard” in the hard enduro part where we had some deep, slick mud, water crossings, steep climbs, and huge soft ruts filled with slimy, slippery earth. One drowned and rescued KTM and lots of teamwork later, we left the muddy forest behind and finished the day off with more fast tracks, sand, and a glorious dinner at a local pub.

 

 

Back at camp, we were sore, soaked, and covered in mud, but the vibes were in an all-time high. Washing the sweat and the dirt off in the lake, we cracked some beers open, cooked some food, and gathered around the bonfire again exchanging stories and laughing like there was no tomorrow. We wished it wasn’t just a weekend, and that the women riders’ off-road campout would go on for a few more days. Riding with the gals felt nothing short of sublime; we hit some hard trails and got on the gas, but the camaraderie, the sisterhood, and the relaxed atmosphere were just unparalleled.

 

women riders’ off-road campout

 

Still, the next morning, it was time to pack up, hug everyone, and hit the road again. We decided to stick to the off-road track for the first two hundred kilometres keeping a good pace and singing along the music on our helmet speakers, and as we travelled cross country on our filthy bikes, our faces covered in dust and grime, our boots still making squelching sounds and our leg muscles working overtime, we both couldn’t help but feel like we’d just taken part in something very special.

 

women riders’ off-road campout

 

As we’re writing this, we’re still washing the mud off the bikes and boots, but the one thing we just can’t wipe off our faces are the biggest grins. Huge thanks to the Baby na Motory group founders, our track designers and leaders, and all the badass women we got to meet and ride with! See you next year – ride hard and be safe.

 

women riders’ off-road campout

Adventure Motorcycle Gear: What’s in Your closet?

Adventure Motorcycle Gear: What’s in Your closet?

Adventure Motorcycle Gear: What’s in Your closet?

Debates about adventure motorcycle gear often get just as heated as arguments about which bike is the most suitable for long-distance ADV travel. What should you wear on a motorcycle trip? Full-on four-season adventure suit? Lightweight motocross gear? Street wear?

It all depends on where you’re going, and for how long. If your trip isn’t going to last longer than three weeks and you won’t be covering varying altitudes and climates zones, you’re probably good with some Kevlar jeans and a comfortable touring jacket. If, however, you’re riding somewhere a little more rugged or where you will be traveling multiple climate zones and crossing mountains – like, say, South America – you need to be better prepared. In addition to keeping you warm and dry, adventure motorcycle gear also keeps you safe. Out there in the sticks, that matters even more.

So let’s take a look at adventure motorcycle gear options out there.

 

Mid-Range Adventure Motorcycle Jackets and Pants

Some of the high-end adventure bike gear out there can feel like it costs an arm and a leg. Do you actually need to spend that much on a Klim jacket and pants? The answer depends on your riding: no, if you don’t clock more than 10,000 kilometers each year, if your adventure bike trips are less than two-week-long, and if you generally ride very conservatively and only when the weather’s good. If you mostly use your motorcycle for commuting and short weekend rides, aim for mid-range gear that won’t cost you a fortune but will provide comfort and protection.

Speaking of protection: always make sure that your motorcycle jacket has back, shoulder, and elbow armour and your motorcycle pants should have some padding at the hips and knees. Look for the CE label on all your adventure motorcycle gear, as this label means the gear meets the current motorcycle safety standards of the EU.

 

Four-Season Adventure Motorcycle Gear

However, if you ride year-round, if you love taking your bike off the beaten path, if you go on long adventure rides in places like Chile, Argentina, or Bolivia, if you spend long hours in the saddle and often ride through different altitudes, weather, and climate zones, you need some real hardware. That’s where high-end adventure motorcycle gear comes in. And yes, the cost isn’t small, but great-quality adventure suit will last you for years, protect you like an exoskeleton, keep you warm and dry even in torrential rain, and offer the best safety and comfort ratio.

 

adventure motorcycle gear

 

Our tour guides here at Motobirds prefer Klim because these adventure suits are incredibly durable, reliably waterproof, have good ventilation for those hot temperatures, and are virtually indestructible. We love Klim’s Artemis for women and Badlands for men; however, do try out other brands like Rukka, Touratech, or BMW. In addition to being functional, adventure motorcycle gear needs to fit great, too, so make sure you shop around and find what works for you.

Pro tip: if you’re looking for a truly four-season adventure jacket and pants, make sure the outer shell has GoreTex. If it has some other material and says “water-resistant”, you’ll get soaked. If it’s GoreTex, however, you’re covered.

 

Women’s Adventure Motorcycle Gear

For female riders, finding adventure gear that actually fits used to be a bit of a headache. Nowadays, however, brands are catching up to the fact that women love bikes just as much as men do for the exact same reasons, and more and more gear is designed with women in mind.

Here at Motobirds, our female tour guides wear Klim Artemis: it’s rugged, waterproof, durable, highly protective, and created by an actual female gear designer, so the cut and the fit are amazing. But do check out Rev’It! and Touratech, too, as these two companies have some adventure motorcycle gear aimed at women riders, and you want to find the best fit for you.

 

adventure motorcycle gear

 

Lightweight Off-Road Gear

If you’re an off-road maniac and your bike’s tires barely touch the pavement, a heavy, restrictive four-season adventure riding suit may not be for you. If you’re constantly battling steep hills, single track, and gnarly terrain, you’ll want excellent protection and complete freedom of movement, plus great ventilation. If that sounds like you, shop for lightweight off-road motorcycle gear aimed at motocross and rally racers.

 

adventure motorcycle gear

 

We love Leatt, as this company was founded by a South African neurosurgeon and rider who designs all the protective parts with scientific precision; however, there’s no shortage of other brands out there offering different options. Whatever you choose, just make sure you’ve got plenty of protection, and don’t forget to wear a neck brace.

What kind of adventure motorcycle gear do you wear and why? Let us know in the comments below!

Christmas Gifts for Adventure Riders

Christmas Gifts for Adventure Riders

Christmas Gifts for Adventure Riders

If you’re looking for some Christmas gifts for adventure riders, whether it’s your riding buddies, your partner, or your friends, we’ve got you covered. Even it’s last-minute shopping, you can still make it and surprise your loved ones, so let’s dive right in. Here are our favorite gifts for adventure riders:

 
Gifts for Cold Weather Riders

Parked Motorcycle Syndrome is no fun, so you probably have a few riding buddies who simply refuse to park their bikes for the season. They ride regardless of how cold it is, whether it’s raining or snowing, and whether the temperatures drop well below zero. Elefantentreffen, the notorious winter motorcycle rally in Germany, is probably their favorite event, and they likely already own all the heated gear they could find. So what can you get them?

gifts for adventure riders

Hippo Hands

These cozy handlebar muffs work wonders when the weather is nasty. Although they might look a little clumsy, they are surprisingly comfortable and easy to install. Hippo Hands can make a world of difference when it‘s freezing, raining, or snowing out there: they protect the riders‘ hands from cold and weather, making the ride that much more comfortable.

Weatherproof Tank Bag

This little Mosko Moto tank bag is ideal for riders who love going off road, especially in rainy, muddy conditions. Waterproof, weatherproof, but easily accesible, this tank bag can be a gret gift for adventure riders.

Heated Gloves

Heated gloves are a godsend for those who refuse to stop riding during winter. Keeping the rider‘s hands toasty and dry, they work much better than heated grips, providing much more all-round comfort. If your riding buddies love riding all year round, they‘ll appreciate a pair of those!

Motorcycle Accessories

Farkles are always a great gift for adventure riders. Who doesn‘t love tinkering in the garage when it‘s cold outside, kitting their motorcycles out for the riding season? We know we do, so here‘s what you can get your riding pals who love working on their bikes:

Tiny Toolkit

Your friends may have a fully equipped garage with all the tools they can think of. But what about roadside repairs? This tiny toolkit by RRR Solutions is ideal for adventure travel: pocket-sized and easy to pack, it carries modular tools that can replace over a hundred regular tools.

Auxiliary Lights

As riders, we know just how little attention other drivers pay to us. Being seen on the road adds to our safety, and installing auxiliary lights can help boost your visibility to others. This auxiliary LED lights kit can be a fantastic gift to your riding buddy, especially during the winter season.

Motorcycle Gear Gifts

While it‘s difficult to guess someone‘s helmet or riding gear sizes, there are plenty of riding gear accessories that would be a perfect Christmas gift for adventure riders. Here‘s a list of our favorites:

GoreTex Socks

Most adventure riders choose to wear sturdy motocross boots for extra protection, and it makes sense. Trouble is, however, that this type of boot is rarely waterproof or even water-resistant. Solution? GoreTex socks! It‘s a simple trick to keep your feet dry even when your boots leak. Get a pair of GoreTex socks for your friends who love riding off-road – they‘ll appreciate it!

gifts for adventure riders

Base Layers

No rider can ever have enough of good quality base layers that help keep them dry and warm. If your riding buddies are desert rats, get them thin and light base layers to help them cope with the heat; if they mostly ride in cold conditions, look for tactical cold weather layers.

Sunglasses

If you know your riding buddy or partner has sensitive eyes and is always squinting at the sun, a pair of hi-tech motorcycle sunglasses may be the perfect gift for them. SpeedTrap makes amazing, shatterproof glasses that completely protect the rider‘s eyes from UV rays as well as rain, road grime, and moisture. These sunglasses are state of the art eye protection for riders who wear open face or modular helmets.

The Perfect Gift for An Adventure Rider: Motorcycle Holiday

Would you like to make someone‘s year and surprise them with a unique gift they‘ll remember forever? Book an adventure motorcycle tour for them! A two-wheeled adventure abroad is an amazing gift for your partner or best friend: you won‘t just give them nice stuff. You‘ll give them unforgettable experiences and memories.

gifts for adventure riders

If they love exploring new places on and off the road, our upcoming Motorcycle Tour in Colombia is the perfect match. Colombia is one of the friendliest and most diverse countries in South America, offering great riding, breathtaking views, and delicious food.

For those who love mountains, a trip to the Himalayas aboard a Royal Enfield motorcycle will be the highlight of their year. We still have a few places available on our upcoming Himalayas tours, so reserve a spot for your loved one now and imagine the look on their faces when you reveal the surprise!

In addition to the Colombia and Himalaya tours, we also take riders to Peru, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Vietnam, and Kyrgyzstan. Browse our motorcycle tours page for more ideas.

What are you going to get your adventure riding buddies for Christmas? Let us know in the comments below!