Whether you want to cut down your drive to work by lane splitting, save money on fuel, or you just want to ride every day, here are my top 10 tips for commuting to work on your motorcycle.
Depending on your motorcycle, you either have the luxury of saddle bags or need to wear a backpack. My job has a business casual dress code, so I need to plan what I wear ahead of time and pack it into my backpack. I leave things like dress shoes or blazers in my locker or desk at work to keep them from getting wrinkled. For heavier items, like heavy work shoes or tools or bulky items, I’d look into tank bags, saddlebags, or boxes that you can mount on your motorcycle to keep the weight off of your back. Don’t forget to save space for your lunch either!
Time Your Commute
The biggest issue I have with commuting is feeling rushed in the morning. I need extra time in the morning to do a quick check of the motorcycle, warm it up, and gear up. Once I get to work, I need to have enough time to change into my work clothes and fix my hair/makeup. Give yourself plenty of time in the morning to get ready.
You should also check traffic alerts regardless of what you ride or drive, but especially for people who live outside of California and can’t lane filter. Check for any incidents before you head out so you can avoid highways and plan alternative routes. Even I sometimes avoid the mental exhaustion of lane splitting and take different routes back home.
Check Weather Conditions
Download a weather app (NOAA or Weather.com) that lets you track the weather by the hour. You’ll be able to dress appropriately for the ride, pack rain gear, or even plan out your parking situation at work. You may need to move your bike from an open space to a covered parking area/garage.
Wear the Right Gear
If you’re commuting to and from work, you’re going to be riding in heavy traffic or when most people are out on the road. It’s important to wear the right motorcycle gear, as it should be even if you’re not commuting. If you’re riding at night, make sure you’re visible with hi-viz or reflective gear. If you’re riding with the morning sun in your face, wear sunglasses or a tinted face shield. If rain is in the forecast, pack or wear your rain gear. Similarly, if your commute is in the early hours of the morning or late hours of the evening, you may need to wear/pack heated gear for colder temperatures.
For bonus tips, checkout our piece on 10 things you shouldn’t ride a motorcycle without.
Be in the Right Headspace
In a rush, stressed at work, or excited because of a promotion? Make sure you’re in the right headspace to ride on a daily basis. Extra emotions can get you into trouble. Make sure you always ride within your limits.
Wear or Ride with a Camera
The more hours you spend on the road, the more you are vulnerable to other drivers. Get used to having a GoPro or action camera mounted on your helmet or handlebars and record your commute. It can save your ass in a hit and run or accident, especially when the person at fault is uncooperative.
Plan Where to Park
Some properties have designated motorcycle parking while others have limited parking spaces. In my office, there are plenty of parking spots available with unlimited space. In the office next door, riders have a hard time finding parking. Sometimes they all cram into one parking spot, scatter themselves in-between cars, or parking along the wall near main entrance. Make sure you add time to park into your commute, especially if you have to fight for a spot.
This is especially relevant if you park in a downtown area or on a busy street. While you should have some sort of disc brake lock to deter a thief, Insurance is your best bet against theft. If a thief wants something, no alarm or disc lock will stop them, so be prepared. Make it a habit to park in well-lit areas or near security cameras as well.
Keep up with Bike Maintenance Frequently
The more you commute, the more miles you rack up on your motorcycle. Whether you splurge on maintenance at a dealership or do the work at home, be aware that you might be replacing tires and fluids more often if you commute daily. Prepare for those costs.
Check tire pressure and fluids regularly, especially if you have an older bike that tends to give you trouble. If your motorcycle is not reliable as your main source of transportation, it could affect your job. Your income depends on you making it to work every day!
Plan Your Work Week
Are there certain days of the week you buy groceries or pick up the kids from school? Or days when you need to transport something bulky to/from work?Plan your week so you take advantage of your car, or a borrowed car, to transport items that you can’t carry on your motorcycle
All in all, commuting on your motorcycle on a daily basis is all about planning and being prepared. Riding my motorcycle to and from work makes my commute, although short, much more enjoyable.