It’s always good to be prepared so here are 10 Motorcycle Adventure Riding safety tips that will help safeguard against some of the dangers of adventure riding…
1/ Never ride alone. Pretty obvious as to why really – if you break down in the middle of nowhere without signal, you will need someone to go fetch help. Or if you do decide to fall off and knock yourself out, having a buddy there to call the emergency services is always a good idea. If possible befriend a dirt bike riding doctor!
2/ Stay connected. If you do decide to ride alone (dear me, you’ve broken rule no.1 already! ) invest in a ‘Spot personal tracker‘. This little gizmo is a satellite GPS messenger with numerous features: The SOS function means you can notify emergency services of your GPS location and that you are in need of assistance; There is a ‘help’ button for non life threatening situations and a ‘check in’ button so family members know you are OK – to name but a few of the features.
If you can afford it, it is well worth getting your own Sat phone – more expensive than the Spot tracker but is extremely useful if you are planning on going places with limited or no phone signal. In some situations they are literally a life saver and we wouldn’t ever dream of going out on our tours without one!
TOP TIP! Corner man system: When riding trails with a group, it is always advised to use the ‘corner man system’. This will ensure that no rider gets lost or separated from the group. How it works: When the leader reaches a turning he/she signals for the second rider to wait at that corner and wave everyone through, counting heads to ensure no one has gone missing. When everyone has passed he/she will then continue behind the group. Voila, no one is lost! It also means every rider gets the chance to ride at the front and back of the pack.
3/ Hang Back. In dusty conditions stay a safe distance behind the rider in front of you. It takes 3 tenths of a second for your eyes to register what they’ve seen. This doesn’t sound like much but at 60 kmph you will have travelled 5 metres before you realise the guy in front is braking and in seriously dusty conditions visibility can be as low as 10 meters… that doesn’t leave much room for error! This video explains all…
4/ Insurance. It’s always good to be prepared, so make sure you have any of the relevant phone numbers you may need when out on a ride. It’s imperative you have your insurance details within easy access in case you need to call out that emergency helicopter – they’ll always require either the ‘go-ahead’ from your insurance company on your credit card details before they put the bird in the air. NB Doublecheck that your insurance does in fact cover you for your needs. From past experience, a number of our riders have been told over the phone that they are covered for a 250cc but on paper they were in fact only covered up to 100cc.
5/ Maintain your bike. Check over your bike daily – obvious things like oil and water levels, tyre pressures, chain tension and always test your brakes etc before heading off.
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6/ Expect the unexpected. Always be aware that there may be unexpected obstacles on the trail ahead. Some of the hazards we have encountered while riding round single track trails include ox and carts, small children, chickens, families on motos, elephants and loose cows wandering around. Obviously it depends on the country you are exploring but in some places it is advised to never leave the track (running tours in Cambodia, there are some areas where leaving the track could prove extremely dangerous due to unexploded land mines). Better to be safe than sorry!
7/ Stock up on Food & Water. Dehydration of greater than 3% of body weight substantially increases a riders risk of heat illness (heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke). Always be sure to have plenty of water with you on a ride, either in a CamelBak or in water bottles. It’s also a good idea it hot conditions to bring some sachets of electrolytes with you such as Royal D. Some sugary sweets are always handy if you need an energy boost. Bring along a packet of super noodles or similar – they can be eaten dry as a last resort if you are peckish and they provide long lasting energy. If you’re in a sticky situation you need to have the energy and hydration to get yourself out of it!
8/ Tools. On any motorcycle adventure breakdowns are inevitable so bring a set of essential spare parts and tools to get you out of some of the situations (unfortunately you’ll never be able to carry enough spares to get you out of EVERY situation!). Some basic spares would be: brake levers, clutch levers, oil seals, spark plugs, sprockets, chain links (and a chain tool!), clutch plates & cables. And of course, NEVER travel without a First Aid Kit.
9/ Money money money. Having plenty of change with you is an obvious must. Should you need the help of a local, then it is handy to have some cash to give them as a thank you. Or there may be a charge you weren’t expecting ie a toll for crossing a bridge.
10/ Cheat sheet. Again, it depends on the country but if you are abroad and can’t speak the language then bring along a phrase sheet with a map printed on it. Handy if you are not sure where you are or need to ask directions. A few phrases such as ‘which way to’ or ‘i need a doctor’ can be extremely useful to have written down.