The Adventure of Touring

I think the Adventure Touring nomenclature is very interesting. I personally have never gone touring on my motorcycle where it has not been an adventure. For sake of this conversation let’s define motorcycle touring as a 1,000-mile plus trip.

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Bob Kay is the V-Twin Director of AIMExpo/MIC Events. He’s been involved in the motorcycle industry for more than 40 years. Bob says that shops should encourage customers to take part in the adventure of touring no matter what they may ride.

I think the Adventure Touring nomenclature is very interesting. I personally have never gone touring on my motorcycle where it has not been an adventure. For sake of this conversation let’s define motorcycle touring as a 1,000-mile plus trip. While I did a lot of woods riding in the northeast (up to about 250 miles in any given day) I have never had the opportunity to ride one of the new adventure bikes on a half road, half off-road, 1,000-mile excursion. I can just imagine the fun riding the back roads, hitting some moderate trails and going to places totally off the grid that would not be possible with my Street Glide.

One such touring adventure was our 2014 road trip to Sturgis. It was the year my brother turned 60 and I just realized he had never ridden to Sturgis with us before and I insisted he come. We left Texas at 4 a.m. and headed 600 miles north to Grand Island, Neb. The next day, we got off the highway and rode 400 miles of back roads, paved and non-paved to the Badlands.

There is nothing like a morning run through the Badlands. As we were leaving, my brother asked if there were any Buffalo in the area. I said follow me, so we found the Buffalo and then proceeded 27 miles on a very loose gravel road along the north rim of the Badlands. Everyone kept asking if we were going the right way as they followed my bagger sliding through corners at 60 or so mph… It was great! On the way to Deadwood we stopped at the Crazy Horse Monument and of course Mount Rushmore. We hung out in Sturgis for a few days cruising through Needles Highway and the Black Hills National Forest. On the way back we went through the Grass Lands in search of more Buffalo.

Coming across Wyoming we hit one of the most horrendous storms I have ever ridden in. At one point you could not see three feet in front of you; the winds were blowing the bikes from a left side 45-degree angle to a right side 45-degree angle and we were just trying to go straight. At one point I looked back and noticed we were missing half the group. I went back and one of the bikes had stopped running.

We went to a nearby ranch and they let us pull in a barn and get things sorted out. Our hosts insisted on putting us up for the evening, and we had an incredible time partying that night. The next day was on to Estes and Rocky Mountain National Park spending the next night in Grand Lake, Colo. We ran Route 9 through the ski resorts to Canon City and headed home. It was a great trip that my brother and friends will never forget. Earlier that same year, me and my buddy rode our choppers to the Smoke Out and we hit heavy rain the whole way, but that’s a story for another time.

The big takeaway here is that the adventure of touring is something every shop owner or employee should encourage customers to experience. Remember we are all looking to bring new riders into our sport, but let’s not forget to introduce new experiences to existing riders. It does not matter if they are on a BMW R1200 GS or Sportster 48. Let them know a little planning goes a long way based on their motorcycle’s capabilities, their skill level and their desire to have fun.

While it would be nice to sell everyone a new $18,000 adventure bike, it is still good business to advise your customers on how to prepare themselves and their bike while selling them all the appropriate gear for touring. How about a road trip to Columbus, Ohio on September 21? They can check out the motorcycle industry’s one and only North American trade show – AIMExpo presented by Nationwide – which happens to be open to the public during the weekend. The weather should be great, the AMA Hall of Fame is nearby, and there are more attractions to visit no matter what direction you are coming from, than I can list here.

While you are encouraging others to get out and ride don’t forget about yourself. Whether you organize a group ride or head out solo, just do it, isn’t that why you got involved in motorcycling in the first place?

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