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Five essentials for a bike tour

Five essentials for a bike tour

Helmet, jacket, trousers and boots are ready to wear. Your bike is clean, full of fuel, serviced and fitted with bulging panniers, navigation gizmos and action cam technology. Everything is sorted with insurance, road side assistance and itinerary.  You just need to fire up your beloved motorbike, lock your front door and ride off to that far away destination of your dreams. But hang on, wait a minute. There are some less obvious accessories to take along that should not be overlooked. Consider the following for your SAFETY and the long term ENJOYMENT of your road trip.

1. Ear Plugs

As per research published on the Journal of Fundamental and Applied Sciences (March 2018), it’s proved that riding a motorcycle at even moderate speeds (60km/h) with an open face helmet, exposes a rider to wind noise levels of over 90 dBA which, if repeated and prolonged in time, is more than enough to cause hearing loss at any age. It goes without saying that higher riding speeds induce greater wind noise and  potentially greater damage to our hearing as well.

Although there is some controversy over how sound levels can be accurately measured beneath a helmet, motorcycle audiometry tests agree that helmet induced noise is a real threat and one that should not be taken lightly. What to do to protect ourselves from this hazard?

Motorcycle fairing and more expensive helmet designs claim to target this issue but for now perhaps the safest option to lessen the menace of wind noise on a bike is to use a set of good quality ear plugs.

There are a variety of designs available but possibly the safest and most comfortable option is a set of personal custom moulded ear plugs Taylor made to each of our ear canals. Many companies specialise in this sort of product and although a set of custom plugs can cost around £100 (GBP) they are generally durable products that last years and can be worn comfortably for hours. I guess they’re cheaper than hearing aids for sure.

Custom made ear plugs
Custom made ear plugs

2. Sun Block

The sun, especially in warmer countries, is a biker’s fiercest yet most underrated foe. Exposure to the sun causes dehydration, sweat, exhaustion and UV radiation is responsible for lasting damage to the skin and eyes.

The face, neck and nasal bridge in particular are parts of our bodies that are exposed to the sun the most while we’re on the road and protecting  these areas is essential for our well being.

A few drops of high factor sun block on nose, cheeks, forehead and at the back of the neck should be part of a biker’s daily routine before climbing onto his/her machine and hitting the road. It goes a long way in avoiding unsightly and painful sun burn, peeling skin and chronic blemishes. 

3. Gloves

As remarkable as it might seem, not everyone wears motorcycle gloves whilst riding a bike. Some find them cumbersome, others claim that gloves are too easily lost or are that they simply cannot be bothered with them.

There are  plenty of reasons why you should use of gloves on a bike. Falls, for example, are unpredictable and scraping unprotected hands on any length of hard tar is always a sorry experience.  Gloves permit a better grip on the handlebars especially when riding off road and they also help lessen the numbing effect of engine vibration when travelling at motorway speeds.

I would argue however, that gloves are essential most of the time just to protect our hands from the elements and the sun, once again, most of all. 

Falls don’t happen every day and neither do we always need the firmest of grips on the bars of our bikes but the sun works relentlessly all the time, every time we ride, it’s rays beaming down on us mercilessly. Covering up the back of our hands is the best way to lessen the damage from the UV rays on our skin.

I always pack a pair of spare gloves (the cheapest ones are fine) in my panniers and will not get caught riding without wearing gloves for any appreciable length of time.

Light weight motorcycle gloves.
Motorcycle gloves, essential to protect your hands from the sun.

4. Safety Specs

Visors on helmets do a great job in protecting a biker’s face from sun, rain, dust and colliding insects. Occasionally though, especially when it’s warm, we all like to keep visors open to enjoy some cooler air. Our eyes, need constant protection and a good pair of quality sun glasses is advisable. But sun glasses can be excessively expensive and some designs frankly aren’t suited for motorcycle travel at all. A cheaper option to costly eye wear is making use of safety specs, readily available in most hardware stores in any town, anywhere in the world.

Safety specs come in a variety of shades, from tinted to clear. What’s more, they’re tough, easily replaceable and usually come with adjustable temples which makes them ideal for use under a motorcycle helmet. 

Safety Specs with adjustable temples are ideal riding companions
Safety Specs with adjustable temples are ideal riding companions

A tinted or mirrored pair of safety specs are just fine for riding in the sun and clear ones are great for protecting  eyes when riding after dark or on a cloudy day. I personally wouldn’t travel anywhere without them any more and often have more than a pair as back up.

5. Neck scarf/warmer

Neck warmers are a versatile piece of kit that can serve different purposes well. Most of all they provide an extra layer of warmth at the top of our jackets and protect our faces and the back of our necks from the sting of the sun during hot days. Equally, neck scarfs help filter the dust and fumes from the road traffic air we breath. They can also be used as bandanas and a bright colour increases a biker’s visibility on the road for sure. 

Interesting geology in Nubra Valley, Ladakh, India
Interesting geology in Nubra Valley, Ladakh, India. Bright neck scarf as well.

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