Preparing a motorcycle for my first long highway journey

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.

BHPian SkylineGTR recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

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 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.

Here's what BHPian RiderZone had to say on the matter:

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.

Here's what BHPian phamilyman had to say on the matter:

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!

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.
  • Next day, start the ride at 4 am 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.


  • 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.
  • 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.

Here's what BHPian ashwinprakas had to say on the matter:

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 500 kms or 5000 kms 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.

Here's what BHPian mygodbole had to say on the matter:

Your worry is natural for someone not confident of riding long distances and solo. My take for long distance solo rides is as below:

  • 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.
  • Get a good mechanic to check the bike.
  • If you feel tired, take a break (or just brake). The constant wind pushing against your body can cause serious fatigue.
  • Stay hydrated even if it is raining. That means water, only water and nothing but water.
  • 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.

Here's what BHPian tharian had to say on the matter:

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.

Here's what BHPian neil.jericho had to say on the matter:

There are two aspects that I would suggest that you focus on:

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.

The rider

Get a good night's sleep. Ride safely and within your comfort zone. Don't 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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