Looking to spend more quality time with your motorcycle?
Ride to work.
Aside from arriving at your job with a smile on your face that’ll make your co-workers wonder what you’re up to, commuting is a great way to keep your skills sharp while enjoying everything you love about life on two wheels.
While commuting on your motorcycle sounds like a simple decision, there are a few things you can do to make your daily ride easier, safer and more enjoyable. Whether you’re a committed commuter or a new rider looking to fit your passion into your day, it doesn’t hurt to review the basics:
Do a little planning. Getting ready for a motorcycle ride takes a bit more time than just jumping into your car. There’s stuff to stow, protective gear to don, and the proper frame of mind to be in.
Do yourself a favor, then: On the mornings you ride, schedule a little extra get-ready time. Also, plan for a few extra minutes at work to un-stow your gear and transform back into a working stiff.
Get a stuff strategy. You’ve got two main options for carrying the papers, computers and assorted detritus required by the working world: on your bike, or on your body.
A set of soft saddlebags or a tank bag or tail bag is good; lockable hard luggage is better. There are plenty of options in plenty of price ranges. Computers, we’ve found, generally don’t care for the vibrations of a motorcycle, so we recommend carrying them in backpack-style computer bags or courier bags.
Whatever you use, pack loose. That way you’ll have room for that quart of oil or half-gallon of milk you’ll need to pick up on the way home.
Dress for success. Company dress codes are one big reason many motorcyclists feel they can’t ride to work. But with a little planning, they’re not the hassle they seem.
The most obvious way around them is to dress for the bike and simply carry the clothing you need for work (or keep some work clothes at the office). You can change when you get there.
Savvy commuters, though, buy their gear with the ride to work in mind. A leather jacket works fine over a shirt and tie; overpants can do the same over casual slacks.
For the ultimate in commuting ease, consider the Aerostich Roadcrafter suit. It’s functional protection that covers you from ankle to neck to wrist and can go on and off in about 15 seconds.
Lastly, consider leaving a pair of dress shoes at work, and swapping out of your boots when you get there.
Be ready for the worst. If your gear isn’t waterproof, always carry a rainsuit. Plus, always leave a spare set of work clothes at the office. You never know what’s going to happen.
Be careful out there. Commuting puts you in the thick of traffic during the worst parts of the day. That makes it all the more important to stay alert.
Consider your bike. Almost any bike can be made into a commuter, but a few types are naturals for the task.
Dual-sport and street-legal Supermoto bikes are great for urban environments since they’re extremely maneuverable and get you up high enough to get you up high to see over traffic.
Sport-tourers or cruisers with luggage make good sense for carrying stuff if your commute is longer.
And if you’ve only got a low-mile in-town commute, consider a smaller bike or even a scooter.
Maintain your scoot. When you commute, your bike becomes a tool, not a toy. That means you’ll need to step up the maintenance schedule, especially if most of your time is spent in stop-and-go-traffic.
Make a walk-around inspection part of your pre-ride ritual. And every week, take a few minutes to lube and check the drive chain, check the oil, make sure the cables and controls operate smoothly, make sure all nuts and bolts are tight, and check the air pressure in your tires.
Don’t pass gas. Most motorcycles don’t have gas gauges, so it’s important to know how far you can go on a tank.
Keep in mind that stop-and-go commuting for short distances will burn up more gas than long, straight rides. Adjust your gas stops accordingly.
Lock it or lose it. Make sure you have a secure place to park your bike at work so it doesn’t get stolen. Consider a disc lock and a cover. Always lock your forks.
The best option? Ask if you can park right next to the guard shack, or the loading dock: anyplace where someone you know can keep an eye on your machine.
Have a backup plan. Remain flexible. If the forecast calls for driving rainstorms and you’ve got offsite meetings all day, just bail and take the car. No one’s keeping score, here, you know.
Make It Fun. Your job may be familiar, but your commute doesn’t have to be. Leave a little early and take the scenic route every now and then.
The best part comes on a Friday, when the weekend starts the second you push the starter button for the ride home.