Well like many when I first started riding I was MUCH younger and full of P&V, if you have to look that up you may still be young? I started on mini bikes graduating to Enduro’s or what are now called Duo Sport Bikes, which basically means you can ride on street or dirt as the tires can handle both surfaces. Yes I had to look up the Dual Sport definition as things seem to change without notice these days? While it was fun to have the ability to drive on or off road I didn’t think it was a suitable vehicle to go on LONG trips. So I ended up going to a dealer to rent a motorcycle and see what kind fits my need as well as my budget?
Back in 2005 I went and rented a Ultra Classic as I liked the look and it seemed to have enough storage for any length of trip I wanted to do. So the first thing I did was TURN ON the RADIO. Now up till now no bike I rode on had a radio, so this was NEW! I really like listening to music and getting lost in the song, as I drive to wherever it is I am going. I do this all the time in a car and took it for granted, however on a MOTORCYLE this was like the best thing ever to me! I drove it around and really had no clue where I was going and really didn’t care it was nice out and I was JAMMING. The Ultra’s come with 4 stock speakers , 2 up front in the fairing and 2 in back in what I call the QUEEN’S REST. I did end up buying the Ultra Classic as shown below:
This Seat looked SOOO comfortable that I was willing to ride back there and do the PRINCESS WAVE if she would drive? Unfortunately that never happened as apparently the Bike weighed to much? I had said that all you have to do is WAKE me up and I’d be happy to stand up and hold the bike upright; but NO WAY! It did weigh about 758 lbs but I wasn’t asking anyone to PICK IT UP off the ground. So even with the stock seat the bike was pretty comfortable, however for long trips I found that you tend to tire out and have those little aches and pains that come from sitting for long periods of time. But I was young and TOUGH so I suffered in silence on those trips, back then there weren’t that many due to working and having Acreage with a horse ranch.
So fast forward to more current times 20012 to be exact. I wanted to start riding again and this time wanted to see more of the States that were now not that far away as I live in Missouri as opposed to Michigan. First thing I remembered from my riding days was the fairing on my Ultra would turn when I turned the handle bars or they would try to turn if the wind was BLOWING hard enough. So to make things easier I decided to go with a FIXED fairing. This means that the front of the bike like the radio, gauges, speakers and such were stationary, they do not move or turn when the handle bars do. Now at first this takes some getting used to as I have never driven a fixed faring bike before. However once you get used to it and realize you don’t have to work as hard in gusting winds to keep the bike straight or upright, it’s a no brainer. This also allows you to ride further without wearing yourself out. So I opted for a 2012 Road Glide Custom as it fit the bill so to speak.
Well now comes the fun stuff, once you buy a bike you have to make it YOURS, so customizing it was next on the list. First thing was paint, then tires, then windshield. It is important to note that the Windshield is a critical element in comfort while riding, it can mean the difference between BUG TEETH and or BOBBLE HEAD and less neck stress, to actually being able to HEAR the radio which of course is another thing I changed! I have 4 speakers 2 in front faring and 2 in saddle bags lids. I then went with 18″ custom windshield and still found it lacking so upgraded to 20″ custom windshield. The size of the windshield is determined by the height of the driver. Here is a link which can help:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k2CA8JFrUPA
Next came the Drivers backrest, this is one of the NEW things I tried and believe me it makes a real difference on LONG rides. It seemed to be a little thing until I took my first long trip and that little thing paid off in spades! There are several hundred different styles and types of Drivers backrest, you will have to determine which is best for you. I usually drive 2 up meaning I have a passenger, so I found a backrest with a pocket on the back so she could put phone or whatever in the pocket and it’s right there at her fingertips. Here is an example
The stock seat although good for short trips wasn’t what I was looking for so I bought a Mustang seat. This seat has more cushion in it, plus added an air pad to alleviate and pressure points while cruising. Now there are air pads, memory foam and you name it out there to help but I found the air pad works best for me. Of course if you are 2 up (someone on backseat) better get one for the passenger as well because a HAPPY PASSENGER means a HAPPY TRIP! The rear stock shocks are air shocks, which are good but not what I was looking for, so those were changed as well. Please know that all these changes happened over YEARS of riding, as you can go broke trying to do to many things at one time. I usually did a project a year so I could spread the finances over a longer period of time.
So now that I have completed the upgrades to make touring a LOT more comfortable, we have been all over the US from California to Florida and back again. You will need to find your happy medium on the things you need to make the trip not only MEMORABLE but COMFORTABLE as well!
If you have any questions or comments please fell free to leave them below as I look forward to hearing from you.
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