Organized Motorcycle Touring

The Joys and Pitfalls of Organized Motorcycle Touring


The other day my husband and I were talking about taking a day-ride to see the Fall Foliage and he mentioned a tour he found on Facebook that piqued his interest. It was on the West Coast and included motorcycle rental, hotels and GPS info to take us through a number of very scenic areas. It seemed like a reasonable price (under $2,000 for 4-5 days). “We’d just have to fly in, pick up our bikes and pay for food”, he said. I proceeded to point out all the negatives, having been a ride leader on a large guided tour previously. I wish I hadn’t been on that tour and seen what goes on from the inside, but you can’t undo things and unfortunately we both got so discouraged discussing the pros (and me mostly the cons) that we decided not to talk about it anymore. Too bad, because looking at it in retrospect, it probably wasn’t a bad deal.

But just like any vacation package, whether it’s a cruise, bus or motorcycle tour, it pays to do your homework to make sure you are getting everything you think you are paying for and there are no unpleasant surprises. Some of the questions you need to ask are who is giving the tour? What is their reputation – any complaints? Sometimes a simple Google search of the company name and “complaints” will yield results. Do they have a website? Can you pay by credit card? Are there testimonials from past satisfied customers? What is their refund policy? Play the “what if” game. What happens if:  you show up at the rental place and the bike you reserved is not available and the only bike for you to ride is too big/small/unsuitable  for you; the bike breaks down during the tour (do they provide towing service or a replacement bike); the weather is bad and you have to delay or stay an additional night; you don’t like the accommodations provided and opt to stay at a different hotel; you get sick and have to abort the trip (think food poisoning or just the flu); you don’t like the tour guide (or other people on the tour) and opt to be “self guided” instead. All these “what ifs” should be answered by the tour operator/company and clarified in writing before you sign on the dotted line and pay. Look carefully at the refund policy. Ask about additional trip insurance.

There are many reputable motorcycle tour operators and companies out there that will do everything in their power to make sure you have a great time on your vacation. Make sure you do your homework to insure you have the trip of a lifetime, and not a nightmare!

Ride Safe!

By Diane Ortiz – President and founder of the Big Apple Motorcycle School

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