Not many people can boast the big miles that we achieved on our Fastest Circumnavigation of the World by Motorcycle Guinness World Record in 2002.  We averaged 1,008 miles per riding day, travelling two-up on a BMW R1150 GS.  In 2003, we then went onto break the Trans Americas by Motorcycle Guinness World Record.

Ensuring that long distance motorcycle riding is safe and comfortable is not something to be taken lightly.  It’s a true test of mental and physical endurance.  Yet, it’s probably one of the biggest challenges an adventure touring rider can face, yet one that many overlook.  Thankfully we do not schedule such big miles on any of our motorcycle tours, but there can always be an emergency which throws the plans out of the window!

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The Big Miles Club

No matter how well a route or itinerary is planned, you can never rule out having to ride a big mileage day.  Maybe a border or road is closed, or there’s a ferry to catch and you’ve been held up en-route.  Perhaps there’s been an incident and you have to ride the extra miles to get help.   Maybe you’ve just underestimated how long it takes to get to your end destination or the conditions your riding in.  Sometimes, it’s far too easy to be over optimistic at the miles you can achieve in developing countries.  Our experience shows us that you can go a lot further and faster in Europe, than you can in Africa or Asia.

Here’s our top tips for managing a big miles day!


Start early

If you know you’ve ended up with 1,000 miles to go and only two days left, then make sure you are up early and off.  We always aim to make progress in the early part of the day, so you’ve done two thirds of the ride by early afternoon.  We always balance this advice, with trying to avoid riding in the dark.  So check your sunrise and sunset times to know how much daylight riding time you have.

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Don’t rush to get ready

Knowing you’ve got big miles to do, may lead you to rush about in the morning to leave early (as recommended above).  But before you leave, remember to do the basic checks around the bike, that your packing is secure and you have all your documents.  Don’t be the one who rides for 50 miles and then realise your passport is still in the hotel safe!  Taking a few extra calm minutes before you leave to double check everything, as it could save your hours later on.


For long riding days, especially if you’re motorway riding, then we always use custom molded earplugs for noise reduction.  Medical experts state that exposure to excess noise can be fatiguing and stressful, and can ultimately lead to tinnitus or more severe hearing loss.  Some riders will use earplugs that are linked to listening to music or audio books whilst riding, and certainly this can boost morale on a long riding day, although its not everyone’s “cup of tea”.  Earplugs are small and easy to carry with you, so we highly recommend that all riders should have them.

Motorcycle Seat

OK, so this is not something that you can change easily when en route if a big miles day suddenly presents itself, but generally when touring, seat comfort is key and many riders will change to an after market seat or seat covers to assist in staying comfortable.  On our Guinness World Records we used Airhawk seats and on the Trans Americas ride, Julia even “double airhawked” on the passenger seat.  More recently we have used Cool Covers to aid seating comfort.

Always take breaks

Even if it’s just five mins,  you should get off and stretch your limbs and have a drink of water.  A five-minute break is worth its weight in gold.  Never ride until the point of exhaustion.  Our mantra is “”STOP TO GO FURTHER”.

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Stay hydrated

Being properly hydrated helps keep your concentration level up. We always have water within easy reach when riding.  If you drink little and often, as you are riding, we find it keeps you more alert.  This is better than going for a couple of hours without water, getting thirsty, making a stop and then consuming a whole bottle in one go.  Little by little!  We prefer to have our water bladders in our tank bag, with the water tube just visible from the zip, so it can be pulled out and used when riding.  Others will wear a Hydropak or Camel Bac.

Eat little and often

Don’t stop and have a big meal, as the blood goes to your digestion system and this can speed up tiredness.  Caffeine has been proven to help, so like the old public information film said: “Pull over, drink a cup of coffee.”

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Ride smoothly

Full throttle and full brake is not good. You should try and maintain a consistent speed.  Riding big days is not about top end speed.  It’s about endurance, the amount of time you spend in the saddle, riding at a good consistent speed.  Go too fast and your fuel consumption goes up too!  Smooth and steady wins the race.

Monitor yourself

Learn to listen to your body.  You should recognise the signs of tiredness, fatigue, hunger, body temperature etc. and learn not to ignore them.  If you can sense a problem, deal with it right away.

Your Riding Gear

If you’re riding more than 500 miles plus, it’s not likely that you will have the same weather on your route.  Also, if you’re riding early or late, then temperatures will be colder than in the middle of the riding day.  So your riding gear needs to be able to cope with these changes, and still keep you comfortable.  We are big advocates of the layering system so you can remove and add layers depending on conditions.  And keep your extra layers easily to hand.  We carry our waterproofs and extra gloves in a tail bag, and our insulating layer at the top of a pannier.  Having comfortable kit, that you are familiar with, means for a less stressful ride.


Whatever the reason, being capable and confident riding for longer periods is a skill that not many train to do, but sometimes there may be no option. Be prepared, so that if a 500-mile plus day presents itself you are up to the job and you can tackle long distance motorcycle riding with ease.

Kevin and Julia