How long is long? - Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums
General V-Strom Discussion Talk about all things V-Strom not limited to just one of the above models

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post #1 of 30 Old 10-06-2010, 10:42 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Signal Mountain, TN
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How long is long?

I'm a take it easy kinda guy. I play golf slow. I walk slow. I'm slow. I like to stop at every roadside placard. I enjoy visitor centers almost as much as the national parks they're in. But when I drive a car, I can drive all day for several days without any problem.

How will this translate into a long distance motorcycle trip. I'd like to get out to CA, but being here in TN I would need two solid long days of driving across the boundless middle. I've only got 8 days. Two out and two back would leave 4 to see the sights.

I drove an inferior motorcycle 8 hours once. It wasn't terribly difficult. I think my new V-Strom would be much more comfortable and trek friendly. Have any of you driven 14 hours in a day? Is there a long distance thread anyone can point me to? My only motorcycle experience is commuting an hour a day. I am an avid backpacker, so I'm not worried about the outdoors-camping aspect. I just wonder if this kind of distance in this kind of time is foolhardy.

I actually kinda like foolhardy though.
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post #2 of 30 Old 10-06-2010, 10:51 PM
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8 days to Cali and back is plenty of time. You just need to set your bike up for comfort ahead of time. Always when your on your first big trip you will think of a dozen or more things that could of made your trip better and you will always bring things you didn't need or use. Just make sure your comfortable and dry.

Have fun.

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post #3 of 30 Old 10-06-2010, 10:59 PM
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well, it can be done, you may want to try a shorter trip first, work your way up so to speak

I have combined long distance riding with a little bit of adventure riding, last summer, I managed to get 5 days in a row off from work, I rode from NH to Joplin MO the first day, the next day, I explored in the Ozarks and ended up in LA, then I rode back to NH, 4200 miles in 4 days

my next plan will take 8 days, ride from NH to Jax, FL then a 50cc to Sandyeggo then to Cornado Trail in AZ for a day, then back to NH, 8500 miles

good tips here

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post #4 of 30 Old 10-06-2010, 11:07 PM
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First let me start by saying, no, I've never done anything of the like. But I want to. I'm in Louisville, KY and I desire to ride to Fort Lauderdale, FL, my old home town.

Is it foolhardy? No. We took this country by horse and covered wagon. It's about endurance and a few other particulars.

* First I truly believe you need a clue. Every mile you ride away, you typically MUST ride back. Know what you are getting into.

* Know your bike. It's either this or

* How long can you maintain the concentration levels for riding? It takes more mental effort than a cage.

* How long can you sit in the seat that you have?

* Do you have any wind buffeting woes or other things that will expedite your fatigue?

* Do you have the appropriate gear (riding, tools, monetary, etc)?

* Are you prepared to resolve issues along the way, perhaps even roadside?

It's no different than a cage sans the hours of listless bliss sitting in a confined, noise and climate controlled environment substituted by less than typical creature comforts for hours on end flanked by meticulous packing and routine regardless of whatever deprivation you've encountered.

For my trip I plan to start with shorter trips, say 5 hours out and 5 back. Also, never done ANYTHING off road, I'm researching OHV trails and parks so that I can get a feel for that as well in case a long journey takes me off-road.

You're a backpacker, you are already ahead of the game and you're savvy endurance.

Good luck!

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post #5 of 30 Old 10-06-2010, 11:22 PM
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Hmmmm...I always see these folks post that they go 500+ miles a day with no problems. I have spent a lot on improving my bikes for cruising distance, but I've never been comfortable doing more than 300 miles a day. I once borrowed a friend's Vulcan Nomad, with lots of screen and lowers and felt it might be good for 500 miles a day, but I have yet to find a bike that's fun to ride that doesn't cause discomfort after 200 or so miles. My solution is to stop and stretch a lot, but that eats into your daily mileage time. I wish I knew the secret to mega-mileage on a fun bike, but so far no luck.
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post #6 of 30 Old 10-07-2010, 12:05 AM
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I must be a real glutton for punishment then. I rode a Suzuki Burgman scooter from Chicago in about a day and a half. I left after work at 6 PM Central time and arrived in San Fran early Sunday morning. It was even more incredible as it had the stock POS seat.

I think ZepRider makes some good points. Especially about being prepared. Mental preparation is a big key. Planning to have alternate routes in case of bad weather. I always take 2 GPS with me just in case as well as a good paper map.

There has only be one time I really regretted going on a long distance trip. The weather turned much colder than planned (or I was prepared for) due to a freak storm. I got stuck riding almost 600 miles in sub freezing temps and with the occassional snow storm. Fortunately the snow really didn't stick and the roads weren't really slick. I hated every minute of that ride.

I personally can't deal with riding the super slab any more than absolutely necessary. I'll ride a few hundred miles out of my way just so I can stay mentally engaged. I am currently planning a trip from the midwest back to the West Coast and working on the route I want to ride.

I don't want to get stuck driving across Nebraska or Kansas just bores me to tears. Oklahoma isn't any better. I can't leave until November so I already risk snow in some areas if it comes early but at least I'll be prepared for it. I have 3 weeks for my trip so i don't really have to hurry. Fortunately I don't have to ride back to the midwest on the return so I'll miss snow.

From TN to LA (assuming you are going to LA), you are looking at about 2,000 miles. If you want 4 days in Cali, you need to do at least 1,000 miles a day. That is pretty serious mileage per day. Once you get out west, you'll have speed limits of 70-75 and traffic moving faster. Through New Mexico you can pretty much average about 80 mph. You are going to need to put in at least 16-18 hours of riding each day and keep the speedo near 75 mph indicated as much as possible everywhere else.

Hwy 40 is really boring through Oklahoma. Once you hit New Mexico you have some decent mountains and some amazing scenery. Nevada and Eastern Cali will still be pretty hot this time of year (assuming you are going soon).

Quite honestly I think you are more likely to have about 3 days in Cali. Don't forget that you can lane split there (if you are comfortable) so that can help you speed through traffic jams. If you could have 9 days it would be more workable.

I'd personally would do it even if I only had 8 days. I can pretty easily knock down 1,000 miles a day when I really want to. If you are working and could leave immediately after work and ride until tired, you might eek out a few more hours. I always have my bike ready to roll and hit the highway immediately after work instead of waiting until the next morning unless it is just too late at night. If I can get in at least 5 hours of riding then I'll hit the road. Lastly don't underestimate the pain of a sore butt! Be prepared.

How soon do you plan on going?
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post #7 of 30 Old 10-07-2010, 01:11 AM
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I think the reason for all the differnt comfort levels in distance riding is that everyones expectations in traveling is differnt. You must be prepared to not do alot of stopping for the real long days. I have ridden with guys that want to stop for a half hour for coffee every hour. Your not going to be doing that if you plan on riding 800+ mile days. I personally have done more than 800 miles in a day and while I could have gone longer, I didnt stop much and lunch was 15 minutes at a burger king. Also, not all miles are the same. 800 miles of twisties is nowhere near the same as 800 miles of straight interstate.

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post #8 of 30 Old 10-07-2010, 07:04 AM
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You will be fine. I was unable to get away this summer for any of my usual trips to Ohio or NY and actually got very little saddle time since I had bought a couple of other toys. Despite that fact I had no qualms about hopping on my Vee to ride down to Columbia SC on a Friday and return on Sunday to spend "parents weekend" with my son at college. That was only 1100 miles in 56 hrs but I felt fresh and I wasn't tired when I arrived.

I will tell you that for long distance, a good COMFORTABLE set of ear plugs is a must. You will be amazed at how much of a difference riding with them vs without can make. I typically start a long trip without them, enjoying the sights and sounds till the first fillup. Then I either pop in the earplugs or don the mp3 player for the next two-three tanks then switch to the last. I've been able to sock away nearly 900 miles and felt good because I managed my audio input.

Also, repeat after me, my Escort 8500x is my friend, my get the idea. It has saved me from at minimum, one ticket per trip. I usually ride with 85 or 90 being indicated just to ride a couple more mph then traffic, it has served me well and I made a cheap homemade platform for it so it mounts right behind my windshield and the plug is mounted on the flat part of the fairing in front of and to the side of, the handlebars. I think that I did some kind of write-up here when I installed it. I also fabbed a set of forward pegs so I can get my feet in front of my knees while riding, makes all the difference in the world for me.

Good luck and enjoy your trip.


PS, always pack your rainsuit last. You want it to be the first thing you see when you open your topcase, saddlebag etc. !!

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post #9 of 30 Old 10-07-2010, 07:47 AM
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It can be done, certainly, but as others said I'd work myself up to it. Riding all day is work. Getting up to do it again the second day is even more work.

I rode from from Nashville to Phoenix last fall and spent about 8 days doing it. We didn't bore straight down I-40 though, but cut south to Hot Springs, AR and then north through New Mexico, the corner of Colorado, and Utah.

Here is what I wrote as the intro to my web page:

From my home in Nashville, TN to my friend's home in Phoenix, AZ is 1,670 miles by the most direct route. It took us 2,944 miles to get there and I enjoyed virtually every single one of them. We rode in sunshine and clouds. We rode in warm and cold. We even rode in light snow. Through Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas into New Mexico. Then north through Colorado and Utah back into Arizona. We went from 500' above sea level to 10,600' above sea level. We stopped at 21 national parks and national monuments. We saw the mountains of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado and Utah. For 8 days we rode through magnificent scenery and had an absolute blast doing so. There aren't any very high-mileage days here, 556 was the longest. We were both more concerned with enjoying the scenery and stopping when we wanted to than just putting in miles. We watched hot air balloons take off in Albuquerque and we walked around Sedona, AZ for a couple of hours. We toured the rock formations of Arches National Park and stopped so many times that we ran the battery on one of the bikes down. We rode Scenic Byways in 6 states and we stopped to take photographs of a thunderstorm in the distance. For 8 days we purely and simply enjoyed the scenery that the USA has to offer.

I would not want to try and cram that trip into 8 days out and back because I would have missed too much. The page on my site is Here. There is also one from early 2009 when I flew to Phoenix and we rode to the west coast. That trip is Here.

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Last edited by SCraig; 10-07-2010 at 07:52 AM.
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post #10 of 30 Old 10-07-2010, 07:58 AM
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Signal Mnt. TN to Los Angeles is like 2100 miles. That's 1050 miles a day...while it can be done it won't be any fun. You will have to stay on superslab the whole way and won't be able to stop and see anything interesting.

I've done a 1080 mile day once, (Albuquerque to Memphis) it was Aug (ie hot as heck across TX). We left at 0700 and didn't finish until 0030 the next morning. It was not fun and I won't do it again.

I've been out west about 5 times now, on a motorcycle. I usually plan about 700-750 mile the first day of a trip (all/mostly interstate). That will get me from Huntsville, AL to Kansas City or Topeka. That's about all you will really want to do. The following days I reduce the milage to between 500 or 600 miles depending on where I want to stop. Again this is about all I really want to do, the first day is longer because of the excitement/thrill of a new adventure.

With this formula it would take you about 3 1/2 days each way. Plus if you're not used to long trips on a bike it isn't anywhere near as easy as a trip in a car.

I say start with something closer and work your way up to a cross country trip. This will allow you develop/refine your gear and how you pack it. Plus it will give you a better idea of what touring on a bike is like. And you won't feel so rushed.

Plan a trip to Florida. It's closer, but still far enough to give you a good idea of motorcycle touring. Maybe Daytona (Biketoberfest or Bike Week). Or go part way out west, TX maybe San Antonio.

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