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Old 9th September 2021, 23:25   #1
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Default Preparing a motorcycle for a long highway journey

Hello friends, my college has come to an end and i'll be moving from Delhi to my hometown in UP and I need to take my motorcycle back with me. I can transport it by train but I am considering riding it back. Its a roughly 500 kilometer trip, and I think even if I go slow it shouldn't take more than 10 hours which means I won't require a night halt.

The motorcycle in question is a 2012 Honda Unicorn that hasn't run a lot: It has done 26k kilometers in the last 10 years and it was parked completely idle for one entire year in my hostel during the Covid lockdown.

I have two big issues: I have never actually ridden a motorcycle that long. Although I have ridden to Noida from Delhi and back, I have always stuck to urban environments where finding a mechanic(or a puncture shop, or a fuel pump) was a matter of looking it up on Google maps. I know it won't be the same on a highway. I also have very little mechanical skill of my own, I don't even know how to fix a puncture. I can change the oil, lubricate the chain and that's it.

Although I have had serviced the bike every 3000 km, and it has no real problems (except minor rust and some recent front brake trouble) I am not very confident about taking a 10 year old bike on a 500 kilometer solo highway journey. I have so many fears: what if the accelerator/clutch cable snaps? What if I get a puncture? What if keeping a high speed for long periods of time snaps something inside the engine?

Can you guys give me any tips on how I can prep my motorcycle(as well as myself) to have a safe and sound 500 kilometer ride? I am going to get this bike serviced next week, whether I undertake the ride or not. I will get done whatever you guys recommend.
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Old 10th September 2021, 00:14   #2
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Default Re: Preparing a motorcycle for a long highway journey

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Originally Posted by SkylineGTR View Post
Hello friends, my college has come to an end and i'll be moving from Delhi to my hometown in UP and I need to take my motorcycle back with me. I can transport it by train but I am considering riding it back. Its a roughly 500 kilometer trip, and I think even if I go slow it shouldn't take more than 10 hours which means I won't require a night halt.
Once the bike is serviced, and if you've got the gear, there's nothing to worry about. Just enjoy the road, in my experience things get more interesting when everything doesn't go to plan. It might not be fun then, but you'll remember it later.

Hopefully you have a good full face helmet. Wear earplugs. Try not to wear a heavy backpack. Start early, have fun, and let us know how it goes
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Old 10th September 2021, 01:16   #3
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Default Re: Preparing a motorcycle for a long highway journey

You're horridly overthinking this. You're young, the weather is pleasant (broadly) or soon will be. Just ride and you'd be done in 7-8 hours total!

- Regards, a gnarly almost 40 something biker

Quote:
Originally Posted by SkylineGTR View Post
Its a roughly 500 kilometer trip

The motorcycle in question is a 2012 Honda Unicorn that hasn't run a lot: It has done 26k kilometers in the last 10 years and it was parked completely idle for one entire year in my hostel during the Covid lockdown.

I know it won't be the same on a highway. I also have very little mechanical skill of my own, I don't even know how to fix a puncture.
Read:
https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/road-...ays-ghats.html (Safe Driving on Indian Highways & Ghats) esp pieces on safe monsoon riding since the distance is long

https://web.archive.org/web/20100707...eparation.aspx has decent pointers

Here's what I would do:
- If you don't have riding gear, buy it - gloves, jacket, quality helmet, knee guard - the works.
- Take the bike to Jitu paaji. Order snacks, grab a chair and nap. Whatever he says in terms of battery charging, any rubber gaskets or accelerator cables etc, let him change it. https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/delhi...gar-delhi.html (Repairs, maintenance & rally support for Motorbikes - Jitender Motors (Gautam Nagar, Delhi))
- Next day, start the ride at 4am so that no matter what you reach comfortably even accounting for any problems.

I would not carry ANY spares except basic toolkit and puncture kit. This is bharat. Your bike is not an exotic import - in the worst case even if they put a cable from a pulsar, nothing will happen. Chill!

In all circumstances, you'd revisit this thread in a month laughing at yourself and why you imagined it to be a big mountain to climb when it was a pleasant road to cruise on :-)

Addendum:
1. If you truly worried about a puncture Learn to repair a puncture else in the worst circumstance, you can head to a local tyre shop and give them some cash and learn under them in an afternoon.
2. Even in the worst scenario, enough highway hotels / Oyo exist for you not to bother, frankly. I have driven to Lucknow / Kanpur at all hours of night with wife / baby son in early 2010s so I know they are perfectly safe routes

Last edited by phamilyman : 10th September 2021 at 01:17.
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Old 10th September 2021, 03:55   #4
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Default Re: Preparing a motorcycle for a long highway journey

Quote:
Originally Posted by SkylineGTR View Post
Can you guys give me any tips on how I can prep my motorcycle(as well as myself) to have a safe and sound 500 kilometer ride? I am going to get this bike serviced next week, whether I undertake the ride or not. I will get done whatever you guys recommend.
Let's simplify this.

Change all consumables, fluids, rebuild kits, cables, filters, etc etc. Dont think twice.

Now the most important part, DIY the above. You can get it done for peanuts at a roadside shop but the goal is insignificant, it is the journey that matters. The first time you do something it will take more time but the confidence and knowledge you gain would last a lifetime and 500kms or 5000kms won't matter to you.

This would give you an opportunity to understand what can break, when it can break, how it can break and what to do when it breaks. Which basically is what hauling ass on a motorcycle is all about.

P.S. Brake line needs to be changed once in 2 years and tyres need to be changed once in 5 years.

Ride Safe,
A.P.
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Old 10th September 2021, 06:59   #5
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Default Re: Preparing a motorcycle for a long highway journey

Your worry is natural for someone not confident of riding long distances and solo.
My take for long distance solo rides is as below:
1. DO NOT set a time table. Enjoy the road. Take the ride easy and don't stress if you cannot 'match' your schedule. Lots of places to stay if you feel an overnighter is needed.
2. Get a good mechanic to check the bike.
3. If you feel tired, take a break (or just brake). The constant wind pushing against your body can cause serious fatigue.
4. Stay hydrated even if it is raining. That means water, only water and nothing but water.
5. Personally, I look out for a 'pilot', someone who knows the road conditions. When 'pilot' slows down, you slow down. 'Pilot' can be a bus, a car or even another biker. If your selected 'pilot' is going too fast for you, DO NOT try to match speeds, find another pilot.
And as phamilyman said, don't overthink this.
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Old 10th September 2021, 07:36   #6
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Default Re: Preparing a motorcycle for a long highway journey

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Originally Posted by SkylineGTR View Post
?

Can you guys give me any tips on how I can prep my motorcycle(as well as myself) to have a safe and sound 500 kilometer ride? I am going to get this bike serviced next week, whether I undertake the ride or not. I will get done whatever you guys recommend.
Make sure your bike is mechanically fit, change engine oil, clean air filter, check battery health, check headlights, check brake pads. Now coming to riding, start early, take a break every two hours, stay hydrated enough, hope you have protective gear - if not atleast a jacket, jeans and shoes. Full face helmet is a must. Plan your ride before leaving - food and fuel breaks, And enjoy the ride !
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Old 10th September 2021, 08:00   #7
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Default Re: Preparing a motorcycle for a long highway journey

I still do trips on my almost 20 year old Bullet, solo, and you have a Honda.

The only thing I am worried when I do trips are punctures and after I got one on a solo trip few years ago, I used one of those puncture sealant fluids which needs to be pumped into the tube. Although not many recommend it as it not good for the tube on the long run, it helped me on a trip when I was nearing Bangalore and my rear tyre got a cut and the tube inside too, thankfully the fluid sealed it after loosing half the air in the tyre and I was able to make it home and only after I got back I realised what happened.

Mechanically, since you are getting it serviced before the trip, ride around for few days after that so if any issues crop up, you can fix it before the trip.

Don't look at the ride as a transport of your bike. Take breaks frequently and stay hydrated and enjoy the ride.
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Old 10th September 2021, 12:12   #8
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Default Re: Preparing a motorcycle for a long highway journey

Quote:
Originally Posted by SkylineGTR View Post
Can you guys give me any tips on how I can prep my motorcycle(as well as myself) to have a safe and sound 500 kilometer ride? I am going to get this bike serviced next week, whether I undertake the ride or not. I will get done whatever you guys recommend.
SkylineGTR, there are two aspects that I would suggest that you focus on

1. The bike
As the others have suggested, just do a proper service. Since it is 10 years old, it would be better to change the accelerator and clutch cables (assuming it may not have been so far), along with the other consumables. Just give it to a trusted garage. Its a Honda, dont worry too much about the bike. Keep at least 4 to 5 days between the service and your journey. That way, in case any issues come up after the service, you can spot them in time and rectify them.

2. The rider
Get a good night's sleep. Ride safely and within your comfort zone. Dont skip meals. Take breaks every hour or so. Drink water. Carry some chocolates in your bag. Take photographs. And most importantly, dont forget to enjoy your ride! This will be the first of many in your lifetime, so cherish this and do update us with pictures from your memorable trip. Safe riding.
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Old 10th September 2021, 18:55   #9
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Default Re: Preparing a motorcycle for a long highway journey

Thank you everyone for your responses. You guys sure make it look easy, hopefully I can achieve this level of comfort with long distance riding sometime in the future.
Quote:
Originally Posted by phamilyman View Post
- Take the bike to Jitu paaji.
hey thanks a lot for the detailed response. I am having trouble locating Jitu Paji/his garage on Google Maps, can you tell me a landmark? I am currently living in North Delhi, in Kamla Nagar. Not very familiar with the AIIMS/Green Park area.

Or alternatively, if someone here can suggest a good mechanic in Karol Bagh? I have lost trust in Honda ASC due to past bad experiences so would prefer to go to a trusted local mechanic instead. Karol Bagh is near my place of residence.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ashwinprakas View Post
Change all consumables, fluids, rebuild kits, cables, filters, etc etc. Dont think twice.

Now the most important part, DIY the above.
I agree completely. What tools do I need to do these things? I have no tools with me atm.

Quote:
Originally Posted by neil.jericho View Post
Since it is 10 years old, it would be better to change the accelerator and clutch cables (assuming it may not have been so far), along with the other consumables.
The funny thing is, never once in 10 years have the cables on this bike been changed. I now have a belief/superstition that these OEM cables are uniquely strong and durable, and I should not replace them with new ones, they might be of the same quality. Lol
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Old 10th September 2021, 19:40   #10
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Default Re: Preparing a motorcycle for a long highway journey

It is just doable. You just need to service your bike thoroughly. Apart from that you need to be mentally tough to undertake any sort of long drive and ride. Yours 500 KM in one way is just doable and just go for it. Last but not the least, must check the conditions of tyres and if required just go for a change. All the best and I am sure will soon see your 500 km travelogue post completion.
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With Regards
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Old 10th September 2021, 19:55   #11
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Default Re: Preparing a motorcycle for a long highway journey

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Originally Posted by SkylineGTR View Post
hey thanks a lot for the detailed response. I am having trouble locating Jitu Paji/his garage on Google Maps, can you tell me a landmark?
I am currently living in North Delhi, in Kamla Nagar. Not very familiar with the AIIMS/Green Park area.
As I had mentioned in that thread - his number is 9810550243 and his bike touring biz is his landmark - "India Bike Tours" https://goo.gl/maps/3PjQ7dPz2JYsjGKR6

Quote:
Or alternatively, if someone here can suggest a good mechanic in Karol Bagh?
I went to Jitu paaji for peace of mind after giving up on Bajaj Probiking and the high velocity Karol bagh mechs because my bike was used ONLY for touring not commutes so I wanted full reliability & accountability. Parts for CBR just needed a bit of heads up else there was no issue with my P180-2005

Quote:
The funny thing is, never once in 10 years have the cables on this bike been changed. I now have a belief/superstition that these OEM cables are uniquely strong and durable, and I should not replace them with new ones, they might be of the same quality. Lol
Agreed - which is why Jitu paaji. Because when they could do with some greasing and TLC, why bother with replacement?

That said, if your bike has been standing in the sun all these years, physics and hence old age will catch up with the cables. If you've had a sheltered basement parking without bad humidity, you need not worry.
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Old 10th September 2021, 21:35   #12
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Default Re: Preparing a motorcycle for a long highway journey

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Originally Posted by SkylineGTR View Post
I agree completely. What tools do I need to do these things? I have no tools with me atm.
Your thread reminded of my first solo ride, Gurgaon to Manali around 6 years ago. I was equally apprehensive as you and had posted on an FB group with similar queries. In hindsight, I was clearly overthinking things and today, I fully echo the sentiment from other members. Think of a 500 km ride as 10 small rides of 50 km each. Something that you are already doing in your Delhi Noida runs.

So just get the service done and don’t push yourself during the ride. Take adequate breaks, stay nourished, hydrated and enjoy.

The only thing I would avoid doing right now is DIY. It’s really good to know about your bike in long term but trying out things just before a trip is a no-no in my books. You might break something unknowingly so better give your bike to an experienced hand and gradually build your DIY skills over a period of time.

Godspeed and hoping to see your travelogue soon.

Last edited by warrioraks : 10th September 2021 at 21:37.
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Old 10th September 2021, 23:24   #13
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Default Re: Preparing a motorcycle for a long highway journey

My main worry is punctures: Do you guys have any recommendations on DIY puncture kits?
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Old 11th September 2021, 00:50   #14
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Default Re: Preparing a motorcycle for a long highway journey

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Originally Posted by SkylineGTR View Post
My main worry is punctures: Do you guys have any recommendations on DIY puncture kits?
That is easily solved - get a puncture sealant gel like Slime (plenty available on Amazon or similar e-stores), and pour it into the tubes.

My main worry would be a crash. So take it easy and ride safe. See if you can have an experienced rider accompany you on another bike.

The first long highway drive / ride is always tough - until you start riding. Don't look at your watch, don't try to beat a time schedule. You might just manage 300 km before your butt hurts like hell and you feel you've conquered Mt. Everest - or you might just make it home in 1 day. Main target is, make it home in one piece!
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Old 11th September 2021, 10:43   #15
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Default Re: Preparing a motorcycle for a long highway journey

You have not evinced a desire to be a tourer. Keep life simple - My repeated advice:
- Service the bike
- If tubeless, learn puncture repair. If not tubeless, get new tubes + slime
- Sleep well, wake up and ride at 4am (5:30am if you wear specs and not contact lenses)
- Control urges to speed up beyond 80-85kph cruising. Stay within your comfort zone to the point of boredom since this is your first highway ride

PS: Just me: Keep 2 cans of Coke (or nescafe pre-made coffee) in case you get delayed and its dusk by the time you get within 100km of your house. Dusk is when light plays games, everyone is rushing home, cutting across the highway and what not. Stay alert at any cost! If you are truly sleepy, find a dhaba with long distance trucks parked there and go to sleep. You will be among friends (been there done that)

Quote:
Originally Posted by SkylineGTR View Post
My main worry is punctures: Do you guys have any recommendations on DIY puncture kits?
These are commodity items. Ask any local mech for tubeless puncture kit
https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/tyre-...-puncture.html (DIY Guide: How to repair a Tubeless tyre puncture!)

If you have tubed tyres, get a new tube, slime it

Quote:
Originally Posted by warrioraks View Post
I fully echo the sentiment from other members. Think of a 500 km ride as 10 small rides of 50 km each. Something that you are already doing in your Delhi Noida runs.

You might break something unknowingly so better give your bike to an experienced hand and gradually build your DIY skills over a period of time.
Perfectly framed it! DIY comes at a risk - unless SG wants to become a DIYer who self maintains his bike in the long term

That's why I said, sleep well and start at 4am. On most highways he will do great. Don't over hydrate or nourish. Don't take loo breaks because you're stuffing yourself every 50km (I did that on my first few rides!!!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
Get a puncture sealant gel like Slime and pour it into the tubes.

My main worry would be a crash. So take it easy and ride safe. Main target is, make it home in one piece!
Perfectly said sir

I don't know you SGTR - but sharing my limited experience from hanging around way too many biker groups and a few group rides and my own observations at your age - Please resist the urge to compete on the highway

That is your #1 risk

If I had a dime for every time newbie riders crashed on even Murthal rides it was because they tried to keep up with faster aggressive more seasoned riders and their bikes and their experience was NOT up to it.

You do not have the risk of winding hills here but I have had a horrible time riding in Rajasthan in the daytime for this one reason. Take any city - bunch of 3 morons on a Splendor will come and race past you, revving the daylights out of the bike.

Avoiding competing with those folks or trying to keep up with aggressive fast cars or tailing another fast biker - those are your real risks

Oh and if your visor is not perfect, get a new one. I once got RED eyes due to the insects I ran into, on a Mumbai-Goa ride with a crappy visor that won't close.

Last edited by phamilyman : 11th September 2021 at 10:44.
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