New Year’s Bucket List Ideas For Motorcyclists

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New Year’s Bucket List Ideas For Motorcyclists

Background photo by Out.of.Focus

Every year we make resolutions for our finances or our food intake, and add a few seemingly impossible healthy habits for good measure. But what about resolutions that feed your motorcycling habit? The good news is that our sport of choice offers a broad expanse of avenues for amazing experiences and a lot of satisfaction. Some ideas are pie in the sky and others are very attainable. Here is a list with a little bit of both.

New Year’s Bucket List Ideas For Motorcyclists

Photo by Steve

1) Continually Improve Your Technique

Find your limits and the limits of your bike safely with experienced feedback from professionals. For as little as $300, you can get yourself into a weekend riding school track day like 2-Fast and Corner Speed. Everything learned will not only assist you on the track but will also translate well to skills and habits that can improve your daily street riding. Consider taking a course from the MSF, whether it be the Basic Rider Course, Advanced Rider Course, Street Rider Course or the DirtBike School. Keeping a firm grasp on the fundamentals can be just as important as learning the advanced techniques. You can also buy books, watch videos, and practice to keep your skills sharp.

2) Take An Epic Endurance Trip

Choose from the multitude of insane endurance rides and start planning for next year. Attempt the Bun Burner Gold 3000 Iron Butt trip, which clocks in at two consecutive 1500 mile rides in 48 hours. Experience the four corners of the United States in 7000 miles over 21 days with the USA Four Corners Tour. Feeling something more off-road oriented? Gear up for the brutal Trans-America Trail (AKA: the “TAT”), a massive 5000 mile dual sport ride across America using a mix of dirt and gravel roads, jeep roads, forest roads, farm roads, dried-up creek beds, and more. Use that vacation time you work so hard for on something you’ll never forget.

New Year’s Bucket List Ideas For Motorcyclists

Photo by Ezequiel

3) Prepare To Become a Full Time, Year Round Motorcyclist

Take 2014 and make it an opportunity to push your comfort boundaries a little farther. Take a ride in the rain. Wait until it’s the coldest you think you can stand and have a frigid little excursion. Buy the right gear, prepare the right mindset and outfit your bike with the right equipment. Start enjoying your bike in every season and every flavor of weather. Transform your commute into something you look forward to every morning. Tease out every last little nugget of awesome you can find on every ride, no matter the weather.

New Year’s Bucket List Ideas For Motorcyclists

Photo by Tom Reynolds

4) Join a Charity Ride Or Create Your Own

Mark your calendar and get on board with a local charity ride in your city. A huge variety of charity rides exist that spans from veteran and armed forces support to health issue causes to annual toy drives. Pick one to help out and meet like-minded motorcyclists or take it a step further and create your own for a specific cause or organization. If massive group rides aren’t your thing, donate financially to a great cause like Riders For Health.

New Year’s Bucket List Ideas For Motorcyclists

Photo by cdamian

5) Attempt The Ultimate Challenge Of Your Packing Ability
(Also known as MotoCamping)

Some people see camping as an exercise in needless difficulty. If you happen to be one of these people, I don’t recommend motorcycle camping. Packing for the trip alone makes regular camping easy by comparison. Motocamping in the mountains pairs the calming simplicity of camping with the adrenaline-fueled kineticism of sport riding. Once you get trip packing sorted, prepare for an extraordinarily rugged experience that provides a concentration of all the basic needs of life: Simple food, good rest, and daylight devoted solely to help you kiss the next corner apex perfectly.

New Year’s Bucket List Ideas For Motorcyclists

Photo by Chris Betcher

6) Bring Someone Into The Fold

Do you have a friend whose been curious about motorcycling but still has reservations? Do you know someone who is willing to buy a motorcycle but is overwhelmed with the knowledge required? Help them out. Encourage an introductory class in rider education. Buy them books on riding. Let them know how gear is rated, how it works and how it should fit. Explain how easy maintenance can be with a service manual and a few tools. Provide wisdom and a second pair of eyes when they check out used bikes or keep them from getting fleeced at the dealership. Encourage curiosity in our favorite hobby and enjoy the chance to introduce them to a different world of travel.

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  • Brian

    getting to that non functional or non running moto project that I have been putting off for far too long.

  • William Connor

    I plan on every one of these! Whether I make them all work or not is the challenge but most will be accomplished with ease.

  • Ryan Kiefer

    Working on #3 right now. This morning’s ride was 10°F, but only 15 minutes. With a little fingertip numbness in the warmest gloves I have, I think I might be approaching my personal no-heated-gear limit of cold.

    My FIL and BIL are planning an epic trip from Alaska to Georgia on their R1200GS Adventures, but like Eve joining Ewan and Charlie, I’ll only be along for a short part of the journey when they’re coming through my neck of the woods, as I don’t have the luxury of a month of vacation from work.

  • David Parradee

    Rode the Alps on a Ducati, Virginia on a Harley. My daily ride is an FZ1 in So. Cal. Plan on doing more in the near future. Good article, great website. Thanks!

  • Bill T

    No bucket list but a few items on the WISH list.

  • MichaelEhrgott

    Going to Deadhorse, AK this summer. 5800 mile ride. It’s checking a few things off my bucket list in one trip. The prep for the trip is definitely checking off #8. KTMs are such a joy to work on(Borat voice)…..NOT :)

  • kent_skinner

    I have to disagree that moto camping is difficult, or more difficult than regular camping. I love it!
    Since bulk is more important than weight, you can use backpack gear that is not focused on shaving the last possible ounce of weight, and therefor *much* cheaper than top shelf gear. For example, I Have an REI tent that sells for $150, rather than a $500 North Face.

    My stove cost me $20 on Amazon, and I have a plate, bowl, pan, fork and spoon. All of them except the pan are off the shelf, inexpensive stuff.

    I think the most expensive part of moto camping is the bags. I went high end, and got Wolfman waterproof saddlebags, with a waterproof duffel bag to throw across the back of the bike.
    Expensive, or frequently needed items go in the tank bag (sunglasses, phone, maps, snacks, extra gloves, bandana, water bottle)
    One saddle bag gets a small tool kit, cooking gear and food
    The other bag gets clothes and a pair of boots
    The duffel gets a tent, mattress & sleeping bag.

    Pack light. You just don’t need all the crap you think you do. Get a few buddies. Take a weekend camp trip to test your gear, then take off on a long trip. I love it.
    My biggest splurge is a Kermit chair, but you can live without one (and I did for a long time).

    Just get out and do it.

    • Wes Siler

      Yeah, I consider motorcycle camping to be an opportunity for luxury camping. After a lifetime of backpacking, it feels like I can take the kitchen sink along with me on the bike.

      Why buy a stove when you can make one out of a catfood can? This is what I use:

    • Braden

      Valid points. I don’t think motocamping or regular camping is difficult either. If you don’t have a great deal of experience in regular camping, switching to full on motocamping could be challenging. I was writing from a perspective with barebones motocamping. Without access to amenities, I’ve had to pack for every eventuality. Trying to figure out how to fit everything required on the bike is like a fun little puzzle before every trip.

      • Piglet2010

        This must be the US, if “regular camping” is defined as having at least a pop-up trailer pulled by a cage or a Class B RV. I grew up thinking regular camping was pitching a tent you carried by backpack, canoe, or bicycle.

        • Braden

          Pfft, here in the US a pop up trailer is “rustic camping”. I should be careful with the term regular camping as the phrase seems to mean vastly different things to different people.

          • appliance5000

            Like the “hunters” I see in the southwest – a diesel 4×4, a 40foot trailer dragging behind and the extended bed filled with weaponry and generators, and a small trailer filled with ATVs. If these “sportsmen” ever touch mother earth with their shoes I’d be shocked.

            How hard is it to find a bear – put a bag of trash on the ground – wait and shoot -if that’s your thing.

  • mirage2k6

    Love motocamping – went last year to the White Mountains in NH and had a great time, I even saw a freakin bear. Heading to Nova Scotia this coming spring, will definitely be camping along the way.

    • appliance5000

      I was in Vermont and NH camping – loved it. I’ll do much much more next spring. I didn’t buy this thing to hump around Boston.

  • Adan Ova

    I am from Colombia and I would like to know if you can show any statistics or at least share some stories on people on motorcycle being captured by “rebel insurrectionists” just by riding in my country.

    • Clint Keener

      I want to go riding in Colombia, but this is pretty scary.

    • Braden

      I based it entirely on Two Wheels Through Terror, where a motorcyclist who was traveling through South America gets captured by Colombian rebels and tortured before finally escaping months later. The statement was more tounge-in-cheek than anything. No offense intended.

      • Adan Ova

        I know you didn’t mean no harm. However, by making that statement (to a large audience) you are affect the perception your readers have on my country on a negative way. Now how can I let you do that without a word or two?
        Pd: I am very sorry about what happened to Mr. Heggstad but that was in 2001 and so much things have changed since then. This is not the place it used to be.

        • Piglet2010

          But I hope they still torture people who spell the name of the country as “Columbia”. ;)

    • Andy Scott

      I recently did 2 weeks in Colombia with and I have to say that I felt super-safe the whole time, even wandering around downtown Bogota after midnight. Beautiful country and friendly people. I can’t wait to go back.

  • SniperSmitty

    I’m new to sport bike riding so my resolution for the new year is to make my chicken strips smaller on my second set of pilot powers. I trust those tires completely, it’s a psychological problem that won’t allow me to put my helmet 18 inches off the tarmac. Any suggestions on how to improve my confidence would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance and keep the dirty side down riders.

    • BillW

      Get thee to a riding school, ASAP. It’ll be the best money you ever spent on motorcycling.

      • SniperSmitty

        Thanks Bill. I’m already looking into that. My teacher was a HD rider, so he can’t tell me much about body positioning, etc. I’m not trying to drag a knee. I just want to improve my skills.

        • BillW

          Sorry, I should have been more specific. Get thee to a track-based school. Parking lots aren’t going to cut it for what you want to learn. You need to go someplace that can really teach you sport bike cornering technique. They’re available all over the country, but in general, they’re not cheap. But I think you get what you pay for. I’ve done two: one at Freddie Spencer’s, which is no longer in operation (although I recall reading that head instructor Nick Ienatch had started another school), and Keith Code’s California Superbike School. Both were very valuable. CSS runs schools at a bunch of different tracks. There are lots of others (Schwanz and Pridmore come to mind).

          If a track school is really beyond your budget, there are books and videos. Keith Code’s “A Twist of the Wrist” series is good, I think. But they’re no replacement for having somebody who can watch you and tell you what to change, and for having a safe place to practice the techniques where you don’t have to worry about traffic and cops and gravel, etc.

          • Piglet2010

            I half agree. I strongly believe that a rider getting into sport riding is best served by taking classes that focus on the fundamentals without the high speeds (e.g. Total Control ARC1 and ARC2), and once competent in those techniques moving on to a track school. Having competance in proper vision, body positioning, speed-shifting, and trail braking will allow one to focus much more on proper lines, braking points, etc while at the track. In addition, the first time at the track can be a little bit overwhelming, due to the high speeds and being on a real race track with other riders.

            And of course, there are two Pridmore schools – CLASS (Reg) and Star (Jason). I chose Star simply due to location, location, location of the nearest class.

            • SniperSmitty

              Excellent feedback Piglet. Thank you. I am going to start with the MSF advanced class. Then check out the ARC classes. Thanks again guys. Very helpful. Keep the dirty side down.

            • BillW

              Well, at CCS, they’re going to teach you all of those things, and in the early sessions at Level 1, you won’t be going that fast, nor will anybody be passing you. Perhaps other schools handle it differently. What you seem to be describing as prerequisites for a track school sound to me more like prereqs for a track day. And even then, I’d call trail braking an advanced technique. CCS doesn’t introduce it in Levels 1 or 2 (the ones I’ve taken), although it was taught in the Spencer 3-day course.

              • Piglet2010

                Recommending CSS is worthless to non-rich people who do not live near where the classes are offered.


                • BillW

                  Looking at the schedule you linked, I see eight (8) different tracks spread across the country, and costs as low as $390, which ought to put CSS within reach of a lot of people. That’s more than a few six-packs, but less than most are paying for a year’s insurance. It’s a really good investment. It might even save your life. And it’ll improve your bike’s performance more than spending the same amount on accessories. Also, I’ve got no idea where SniperSmitty lives or what his financial situation is.

                  But I did offer the books and videos as a low-cost alternative. And I’m sure there are cheaper schools. I think you get what you pay for at CSS, but I can only compare it to Spencer’s (also expensive) and MSF, since that’s where I’ve taken training. Oh, and Motoventures for off-road training.

                  Dunno why I kept typing CCS instead of CSS. Probably some acronym from my past.

        • Piglet2010

          Never try to drag a knee. Getting a knee down should be a side-effect of combining high cornering speeds with proper body position.

    • David Parradee

      On Bridgestone 023s, were scrubbed to the edge. With Pilot Road 2 (Michelin), still have 1/2 inch strips, leaning just as far, just a different shape tire. And, yes, find a way to take a riding course. California Superbike School is the one I took, and worth every penny! I’m still grinning!

  • Slacker

    Bringing someone into the fold is something I try to do all the time… to date I’ve got 5 people hooked, and I have one more “quarry” lined up. :P I enjoy being able to help someone learn and progress through the sport so they can see the support that we all give each other when stuff hits the fan. Excellent article!

  • ColoradoS14

    Bucket list 2014: Ride in early spring. Have first child in May. Try to convince wife that I still need to ride and she should watch the baby alone on Sunday mornings. Look at my bike in the garage while I feed the baby. Sigh.

  • Jonathan

    If you’re a working stiff, look to the year ahead and map trips according to your vacation days. If you get two days around the 4th of July (like I do), make that your “big trip” weekend. Add on a few vacation days to Labor day or Memorial day. Maybe it’s a no-brainer tip, but some advance planning helps make 2 weeks of vacation seem a lot longer.

  • BillW

    I keep thinking about spending a few days riding vintage bikes with Retro Tours (, but I haven’t booked it yet. Maybe in 2014. I wish they weren’t on the far side of the country from me.

  • Aaron Baumann

    I considered doing a few Iron Butt trips, then I realized that’d kill half of the fun of something like riding across the US. The “I have to clock this many miles per day” and “I need to finish my trip in X days” makes the thing a chore instead of an exploration. I’d rather take my time and enjoy the trip instead of trying to get my name on a list.

  • mms

    Whew gosh well I’ve done a lot of this stuff— riding around Australia on a sportbike was interesting I mean painful I mean awesome— and I wish I had the time to do more (Mongolia Rally on a dual sport! Maybe in 2015, any takers?)… Camping is always a blast. The big one this year was moving somewhere that has winter, and refusing to get a car. A sidecar happened, upping my fleet to 5. Moar dirtbikes in mah future. Good list though. Eking that last little drop of HECK YEAH out of every ride, every commute, that was my favourite and the one to which I aspire the most.

  • Piglet2010

    #1 – For $300 you can have a day with JP43 at Star Motorcycle School.

    #3 – I’ll pass, thank you. Temperatures of -10°F and colder combined with out of control cagers sliding wide in corners and through intersections due to polished snow and ice does not make for a desirable riding experience.

    #4 – Not much of a riding experience, but running stop signs and red lights with a police escort is fun to do every once in a while.

    #5 – What is “regular camping”? Motorcycle based camping is easy compared to camping-touring on a push-bike or backpacking – try riding an 80-pound bicycle into a strong headwind or up a 6% to 9% grade all day, or walking 15 miles on rough trails with 40+ pounds on your back.

    • Braden

      I’d love to hear about different schools and what not. There are absolutely tons of options when it comes to motorcycle schools/track days. I just picked a few at random.

      #3 needs to be taken with some common sense, since at no point do I suggest doing something reckless and dangerous with volatile road and traffic conditions,

      Meh, okay, I’ll freely admit that was a bit of padding on my part.

      I’ve done both. Lots of fun. Doesn’t really relate to the article though. Bucket lists generally list things people have not or rarely have done before. If you’re going to jump right into motocamping having had no prior camping experience, it might be difficult. I wrote with an ethnocentric perspective (US), and the norm here is camping with an absurd amount of equipment to replicate all of the amenities of being inside your house. Motocamping for me is a tent, bedroll, camp stove, and a bag of incidentals. The contrast can be a shock for some. That’s all I was trying to get across.

      • Piglet2010

        Well, the options for track schools go way down if you do not live in the SW US (or have the time and money to travel there for a school). I chose Star (Jason Pridmore) simply because he comes to Blackhawk Farms (just south of the Illinois-Wisconsin state line). But I feel I got a lot more out of Star the second time around after having take Total Control ARC1 and 2 (parking lot) and TC-1 (Road America Motorplex supermoto track).

        Eric Trow will not teach you to drag a knee, but the Stayin’ Safe training tours are excellent for street rider.

        A slow riding class is also a nice complement (many will be listed as “police riding” classes).

  • atomicalex

    1. Go back to the Alps.
    2. Do another track day, on my own track bike. Um, acquire said own track bike first.
    3. Take a dirt class oand get a dirt bike. Hoon mercilessly.
    4. (most important to me as a mom) Get at least one of my two sons up on two wheels.
    5. Enjoy MI riding, which is in every way different than riding in Germany.
    6. Make a presentation to the State Legislature on the benefits of lane splitting.

  • Kr Tong

    Not really on my bucket list but as a resolution for 2014 I hope to once and for-all define purpose of my motorcycle. I got into motorcycling for a lot of reasons, many of those reasons haven’t manifested themselves or were just flat-out wrong. Nowadays it’s just a toy, but i justify scratching as practice to be a better, safer rider—A better, safer for what though? Can i still live without a car or a truck? Can I do things on it that i can’t do on a bicycle? What’s the social/health cost/benefit of the bike? Is it saving me time and money, or has it just become a toy? So 2014, get over the crisis of faith—Go on a road trip to visit my relatives back east or something.

  • Eric R. Shelton

    I’ve been wanting to do an Iron Butt ride for years now- this post got me thinking about it again and for the past couple days I’ve been working on my wife for the “okay”. She was fine with me doing the SaddleSore 1000, but then I admitted I want to try the Border-to-Border. She was decidedly less thrilled with my goal. But we made a deal that if I can drop 30 pounds by May 18th, I can continue to plan and hopefully ride from Canada to Mexico. I figure I’ll have to try a regular SaddleSore first, toward the end of May, before attempting my southern run (hopefully) in June. Time to hit the gym, diet, and start planning! :D