Whether you’re going across town or across the country, riding a motorcycle is one of the most enjoyable ways to accomplish a task. Sure, you could choose some other way to do either of those things, but if you’re reading RideApart, chances are excellent that it wouldn’t put anywhere near as big a smile on your face, would it?
Although there are countless examples of all the reasons that motorcycle travel is great, it’s also true that there’s a dark side. That’s what seasoned round-the-world moto traveler Pavlin of Motorcycle Adventures wanted to talk about in this video, and it’s probably not what you think.
To start out the video, in fact, he goes into a detailed description of what it isn’t: Worries about safety, such as the argument that motorcycle riding is inherently dangerous; worries about traveling in a country experiencing war or political turmoil and increased danger there; worries that your spouse or partner will leave you while you’re away from home, and so on.
As he points out, each of us only has one life, so it’s ours to live as we see fit. Sure, you could say that riding is dangerous, but any number of folks who don’t ride will be only too happy to tell you that anyway, the very second you mention that you ride. You don’t have to even be a regular moto traveler for that to happen, and I’m betting it’s probably happened to you more than once.
As for where you choose to travel, that’s up to you—and it’s on you to do sufficient research before you ride into a new place so you know what you’re getting yourself into. Is it worth the risk? Only you can say for sure, because it’s your life and your trip.
Regarding your partner leaving you, well—you don’t need a motorcycle travel lifestyle to make that happen, as plenty of folks who eventually find themselves incompatible with their partners can readily tell you. Only you and your partner know your relationship, so it’s up to you to have any conversations that need to be had and figure things out for yourselves. (Having a partner who rides and understands is a significant bonus, I’m not gonna lie.)
So, if all these things listed above aren’t the dark sides of motorcycle travel, what are? As Pavlin sees it, there are two potential problems that can kind of go hand-in-hand. For one thing, the more you get out and see the world on your motorcycle, the more it becomes an itch that you need to scratch. The world is a fascinating place, full of such a variety of wonders and possibilities that you’ll never fully experience unless you’re in it. You can watch videos, read books, look at photos, and so on—and while you’ll certainly learn some things, there’s nothing like experience to guide your mind and heart to places they’ve never been before.
Where that can become dangerous is when it starts to make your regular, everyday life feel kind of unfulfilling. Most of us don’t get to travel for a living, so in most cases, we go back to our jobs, live our daily lives, go through our daily routines, and then only feel truly alive when we get to go do something amazing, like travel on our bikes.
It’s something to learn to deal with but can also lead to another potential danger that Pavlin points out: Constantly comparing yourself, your bike, your gear, your travels, and everything else to do with how and where you choose to ride with other people on the Internet. There’s no shortage of motorcycle travel videos, photos, blogs, books, and other content available at a few keyboard taps in 2023.
While you can of course gather lots of useful information to help you make better-informed decisions about a new piece of gear you’re thinking about, or a bike, or some other aspect of travel—the place where it gets dangerous is if you’re constantly comparing yourself to other folks who are out on the road.
You’re never going to be happy that way, which kind of defeats the purpose of motorcycle travel. The phrase “ride your ride” doesn’t only apply very literally to your personal pace as you’re out motoring on your chosen bike. It also applies to everything else. If you like a modular helmet, wear it. If you prefer an open-face ADV model with goggles, go for it. If you like a fancy adventure touring suit with multiple layers that come with it and can be removed or added back at will, you do you. If you’re happy to throw a $10 clear rain poncho you got at a drugstore over the top of your regular riding gear, don’t let anyone tell you that you’re doing it wrong.
At the end of the day, your travels—on a motorcycle or otherwise—are about you, your likes/dislikes, and how you choose to live your life. Take what’s useful from all the sources online that can help you, but don’t let it dictate your life for you. That’s up to you—and likewise, if you want to share your travels or not via any type of social media, video, or written content, that’s also up to you. Don’t let anyone force your hand, just ride your ride anywhere and everywhere you choose to go.