There’s nothing like the wide-open road, especially from the perspective of a well-kept motorcycle.
Ripping curves around mountains on a bike that shifts when you need it to and responds to your throttle input by pulling you both through the apex of the turn to see the sun shimmering off the surface of an alpine stream.
It’s hard to admit, but we all need to take a bike break eventually, not just to gas up and examine the status of both bike and rider, but just how often should you stop?
Here’s the Answer to How Often Should You Stop When Riding a Motorcycle:
Take a 15-minute stop every two-three hours during long motorcycle rides to inquire into the bike and rider’s condition. If the bike is running hotter than usual or guzzling oil, you should rest until the bike is cool. If you are fatigued, irritable, or dehydrated, rest until you feel renewed.
It’s not enough to just pull over and sit on your motorcycle for 15 minutes, swiping through your social media.
What you do on your 15-minute break is as important as stopping. Obviously, gassing up and hitting the bathroom are typical first steps.
Below, we answer the more detailed questions about safe motorcycle and rider traveling ranges.
We’ll also provide tips for what to do during your 15-minute break.
Do Modern Motorcycles Need a Pause During Long Drives?
Most modern motorcycles don’t need to rest during long trips, providing the engine’s cooling mechanisms are intact, and the motorcycle is maintained per the guidelines in your owner’s manual.
That said, if you’re riding in high temperatures, the answer gets a little more complicated.
Riding your motorcycle in a hot climate for an extended period will eventually raise your bike’s engine temps. Modern motorcycles will alert you if the temperature gets up to an unsafe range. In fact, these days, most bikes will enter what we call a limp mode before they let the motor parts get hot enough to fuse.
Riding your modern motorcycle in the redline for hours on end will increase the chances of hitting the Electronic Computer Unit’s limp mode, especially in hot climates.
In short, you can ride a modern, well-kept motorcycle for as long as you want to, as you’ll need to stop for fuel long before your ECU even comes close to the limp mode that protects the machine from damage.
Do Older Motorcycles Need a Pause During Long Trips?
Most older motorcycles stocked a fuel tank that wouldn’t exceed 100-200 miles at the most, meaning you will likely have to stop for fuel long before your engine is at risk of overheating.
While older bikes didn’t have ECU-governed safety features to kill your engine before it overheats, the fact is that, under OEM-suggested riding conditions, the straightforward design of most bike motors can take 100-200 miles rips all day long.
That said, it’s vital that you check your engine temperature during your fuel-ups and let your bike cool down to a safe operating temperature when necessary.
If you’re riding your older bike to its redline max on a hot day, you’ll need to wait at least 30 minutes for your motorcycle to cool down, if not an hour.
Suppose you’re riding your motorcycle in a temperate climate, and you’re following the owner’s manual riding suggestions. In that case, you’ll likely find that a quick 15-minute rest at fuel ups is usually enough to maintain a safe-operating engine temperature.
Related: Should I Store A Motorcycle With Full Or Empty Tank? (Solved)
What Are the Max Miles You Should Drive in One Day?
The general rule of the road is to plan on riding for no more than 500 miles a day. This assures that you can take a 15-minute break every two hours to stretch, inspect your bike and yourself, hydrate and refresh in an eight-hour period.
I personally don’t like riding at night when I’m motorcycle touring. Not only is my vision better during the daytime, but taking in the scenery is also one of the highlights of moto-tripping.
Scheduling yourself for 500 miles at the max ensures you have time to stop and see a few sites between your bi-hourly 15-minute breaks while still having 8 hours of daylight, provided you leave early enough.
Do Motorcycles Overheat Eventually If Driven at NORMAL Speed?
Most production air-cooled and liquid-cooled motorcycles do not have a limited range of operation, as they’re designed to maintain a consistent, self-sustained stream of coolant and/or air and oil for the duration of the motorcycle ride.
Even bikes that are solely air cooled have an oil system engineered to transport heat away from your motor, while engine fins are employed to deflect heat into the air and away from the motor parts.
Obviously, this law can be broken by failing to maintain the quality, condition, and spec level of oil—the same goes for coolant on liquid-cooled bikes.
Related: Do Black Motorcycle Helmets Get Too Hot In the Sun? (Explained)
How Often Does the Rider Need a Break During Long Trips?
A motorcyclist should take a 15-minute break every two-two and a half hours to stretch, hydrate, assess the condition of their bodies and bikes, and get the blood flowing before riding for another two hours.
That being said, what you do during those 15 minutes dictates how well you’re taking care of yourself during the long haul.
Here are 6 fast tips on what riders should do to rest during a long motorcycle trip:
1. Take a 15 Minute Break Every 2-3 Hours
As we mentioned upfront, this is more than just a gas station quick bathroom break or a pull up, refuel, take off kind of situation. What we’re advocating for is finding a safe and comfortable place to relax for a few minutes after you’re done with the basics.
Even a quick walk or round of jumping jacks is enough to get the blood flowing again. But we suggest you move on from the gas station and find a place where you can perform the following activities:
If you’re not cramping, feeling tension, or experiencing physical pain yet, you should stretch regardless, or discomfort will be waiting just around the next curve.
Avoid muscle cramps by stretching before you start your long ride and again during the 15-minute breaks you should be taking every 2-3 hours.
Focus on your legs and hands to lessen the stiffness and joint pain resulting from vibration and monotonous posture.
3. Assess Your Posture
While spending a portion of your break stretching, take a second to put your awareness on your back, legs, and hips to see where the tension is focused. This could indicate the need to adjust your riding posture in order to avoid cramps.
Also, switch between a few different riding postures, leaning forward and back, shifting your legs forward and straight down, etc., based on where you are feeling weak and where you’re feeling strong during your 15-minute assessment.
If you’re on a long trip, you should pack at least half a gallon of water and top it off at every fuel stop. That said, not all riders are able to safely access their water supply while riding, making this an important reason to take frequent breaks while doing the hard riding.
Consume water before you ride and again in every bathroom, fuel, and a 15-minute break, stopping to drink water at the first signs of thirst. Avoid sugar, excessive caffeine, or other substances that might accelerate your dehydration.
Some riders think stopping to hydrate slows them down—thinking of the big picture, you can cover more miles more comfortably and have more fun for the long haul if you keep yourself hydrated.
5. Adjust Your Ear Plugs
While the helmet market is growing increasingly diverse with noise canceling options, no helmet is totally wind-and-noise-proof.
Over the course of a long motorcycle ride, the wind starts to punish and deafen your ears, which could become a source of unidentified anxiousness and fatigue.
You can nip this wind fatigue in the bud by assessing your ears during your stops and using and adjusting ear plugs accordingly.
6. Update Your Riding Gear
Stops are essential for staying comfortably and appropriately geared up. Different long rides also take us through varying climates that vary not just in temperature and UV exposure but also in terms of precipitation.
Sometimes it’s cold when you wake up and hit the highway. Maybe it’s warmed up since then, so on your first stop, you take off your insulating layer, only to realize that the wind is still ripping and wicking your skin. At the next stop, you throw on a wind-resistant layer.
And on the third stop, you might check the weather and see it’s raining ahead, inspiring you to throw on your rain gear.
Adjusting your gear, ear plugs, assessing the condition of your bike, posture, stretching it out, and hydrating yourself are all important aspects of long motorcycle rides that must be done while at a stop.
This makes stopping for at least 15 minutes every two to three hours a routine part of any long moto adventure.
Related: 9 Reasons a Motorcycle Won’t Start After Long Ride (Explained)
Is It Safe to Ride Till the Tank Is Empty?
It is unsafe to ride your motorcycle on an empty tank, as your fuel pump can dry out without the presence of fuel to serve as lubrication.
Not only does this increase the risk of overheating your bike’s motor, but it also leaves an empty space for moisture, grime, and sediment to enter your fuel tank to cause damage.