In just a few days, I’m heading out on a vertical cross-country motorcycle trip (from San Diego to Canada) on my 2015 Harley-Davidson Street Bob. For the next two weeks, I’ll be averaging around 300 miles in the saddle every day and hitting temperatures ranging from the 30s in the mountains to 110 in the desert. This type of trip most definitely takes a toll on your body, so it might be worth the effort to make it as comfortable and practical as possible.
Unfortunately, factory Harleys aren’t exactly known for offering comfort and/or performance without a ton of customization, and over the years I’ve spent a lot of time and money setting my bike up to be the perfect long-haul machine. While this will be my longest ride to date, I go on road trips on this bike all the time, and I’m continuously making adjustments to make it more comfortable and practical for long rides.
Here’s what’s currently included in my perfect setup:
I used to run a set of straight T-bars, but for someone with regular shoulder issues, it wasn’t an ideal setup. The ones I have now are the Lucky 13 bars from Lucky Daves. They come with a few inches pullback in both risers and bars, which makes a huge difference in riding position. Plus they look pretty dope.
I’ve had a messed up right wrist ever since I got hit by a car a few years ago, so gripping a throttle for long periods of time tends to make my hand and wrist go numb. This Crampbuster allows me to just sort of rest my palm on the throttle rather than gripping it, and it’s a lifesaver for long rides. Well worth the $10 price tag.
It’s easy to get fatigued from fighting the wind when doing long days of mostly freeway riding. A windshield or fairing really makes all the difference. Mine is a Road Warrior from Memphis Shades (this is the second Memphis Shades fairing I’m running on this bike, and I 100% recommend these guys). I just recently replaced my 11″ windshield with a 13″ one, and so far I’m very happy with how well it deflects the wind. Bonus: I can stick a small bag with stuff I need while on the road (water, sunscreen, camera) behind the fairing without strapping it down, and it won’t go anywhere.
Having a bag on your handlebars is a great way to keep smaller things you might need on the road easily accessible. I keep my phone, GoPro, key fob, and some tools in mine. This one is made by San Diego Customs.
This is a big one. If I could pick just one thing to customize before a big trip, it would be the seat. A happy butt can be the difference between being able to do 150 and 600 miles in one day. I have a Step Up seat from Saddlemen that keeps my butt extremely happy. It’s got some fancy gel technology that absorbs vibration, and the curved seat even offers some lower back support.
Switching your foot pegs might not be the first thing that comes to mind when customizing a bike, but I’ve found that floor board-style pegs offer much better foot support than the stock rounded ones, allowing you to relax your legs and feet for longer. I’ve tried a few different brands and models, but I’m currently very happy with my mini floor boards from San Diego Customs.
On the same note, being able to stretch out your legs during a long day in the saddle can be a huge relief, especially if you have bad knees (like me — I’m clearly a big mess). I got some highway peg mounts on eBay that were super easy to install and well worth the money. They’re not the prettiest things, so I just keep the pegs folded up when I’m not using them, and kick them down when I need to stretch out. (Just a quick note that I’m 5’8″ and can just barely reach these comfortably, so this specific setup might not be the best solution for shorter riders.)
Here’s another very practical addition. For our upcoming trip, I’m leaving all my gear (rain suit, warm weather jacket, extra gloves, clear helmet shield, thermals, etc.) in these lockable saddlebags, while anything I’ll need to carry back and forth from hotel rooms go in a duffel on the sissy bar. These bags are from Viking, and you can read my full review of them here.
Before I put the saddlebags on the bike, I would carry everything I needed for a long trip on the sissy bar. Now the possibilities are endless. I have the 30″ Attitude Stick from Cycle Visions, and I can generally strap just about anything to it using a cargo net and/or some bungees. I’ve even carried a replacement tire on this thing before.
I use my phone for listening to music while I ride, plus checking maps/GPS when necessary, and I would really hate to run out of battery in the middle of nowhere. I’ve had one of these chargers on my last few bikes, and they’re a huge help. I just plug my phone in and let it charge while riding, so when I get to my destination I have a full battery.