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Q&A with a Touring Pro: 3 Most Common Questions Answered

I’m fortunate enough to have been a part of the motorcycle travel industry for almost twenty years. What started as a side gig running a few small guided tours during my down time in the summer, eventually became my full-time passion and profession. I have architected, guided, and supported hundreds of tours across every conceivable corner of North America, for thousands of riders from around the world. I have traveled most of the great motorcycle roads on this continent more times than I can count and lived the kind of unfiltered experiences that can only be found from the saddle of a motorcycle. And, yes, it’s as cool and rewarding a job for a person who loves to ride motorcycles as it sounds.

Over the course of the past two decades touring North America, I have learned some very valuable lessons and gained some unique insight into the world of motorcycle touring. While I find time on the road much more enjoyable than time in front of a computer, I’d like to take a few minutes to share some of the most common questions we receive, as well as our responses, that might help you plan the perfect motorcycle journey and allow you to start checking your dream rides and destinations off your own bucket list.

SHOULD I JOIN A TOUR OR RIDE ON MY OWN?

This is a question that we get from almost every rider or group that we work with. It always comes down to personal preference and budget, as well as a rider’s willingness to try something new. There are really three ways to travel with EagleRider:

  • On Your Own
    • Motorcycle Rental
    • Bike + Hotel Package (Better Value)
    • Self-Guided Tour (Best Value)
  • With Your Own Private Group
    • Group Rental Discount 4 Bikes or More
    • EagleRider’s New Group Travel Package (Value + On-Road Support)
  • Join an EagleRider Guided Tour
    • The Ultimate Experience
    • Professional Bilingual Tour Guides, Luggage Transportation, Upgraded Hotels, etc.

Again, this is really a matter of personal preference. If you have the time and the budget, then we always suggest a Guided Tour. In my twenty years of building and leading tours, I’m still struck by how many people finish a guided tour and tell us their most lasting memory is going to be the incredible bonds they forged on the road with people they didn’t know a week or two earlier. You will also benefit from the experience of riding with a Tour Guide Team that knows every backroad, restaurant, bars and attraction, as well as all the incredible characters you will meet on the road with them.

If you are more of a “throw a dart at the map” type of rider, then our team would suggest simply grabbing a bike and hitting the road. Your risk here is that hotels can be difficult to find in high tourism destinations during the peak summer months. A great way minimize risk is to travel during months like April, May, October and early November. The weather is great in destinations like the Southwest, Southeast and Baja. On top of being easier to find hotels, EagleRider’s rental rates are typically much lower in these months.

Over the years, we have had countless groups of riders reach out to us asking how they can enjoy the comfort and safety of a tour without sacrificing the ability to craft your own experience. In response to this high number of requests, we have created our brand-new Group Travel Package, which includes motorcycle rental, Motorcycle Friendly Hotels, route planning, and a personal On-Road Concierge and Luggage Transportation for your group with a driver that speaks your native language.

WE HAVE A FEW DESTINATIONS IN MIND. HOW DO WE CHOOSE THE RIGHT ONE?

Most riders have a laundry list of epic destinations, roads and attractions they have been dreaming of hitting on a motorcycle, but the reality is that there’s simply not enough time to even begin to hit all of them on one trip. Choosing between riding destinations like Route 66, the Southwest, Baja or the Smokey Mountains can be overwhelming at times. We spend a lot of time working with our clients to understand what they want to get most out of their time on the road, and this is the very question that you need to ask yourself as well. Are you looking to check off a “Badge of Honor” ride? If so, we like Route 66 or a Coast to Coast journey across the USA. If you are looking for a deep connection with “Americana,” the history, culture, music and food; then we love to steer you towards the Blues Trail, New Orleans, Nashville, and the epic motorcycle roads of the Smokey Mountains and Blueridge Parkway. For those chasing incredible motorcycle roads and endless miles of jaw-dropping scenery, we always hit a homerun in the Southwest, the Rockies, or the Northwest and Canada. 

It is important to note that our team crafts tours that are as much about the sights, attractions, food, culture and people as they are about the roads. We like to run 150 – 250 miles each day, allowing our riders plenty of time to relax and soak it all in.

I could spend a week writing about the top destinations and rides in North America and still not cover them all. With more than 200 EagleRider locations in North America, there likely isn’t a ride you can dream up that we can’t help you experience.

WHAT IS THE BEST TIME OF THE YEAR TO RIDE ON A BUDGET?

If you are like us, you work hard for your money and want to stretch your vacation dollar as far as it can go. Resort destinations, cruise ships, airlines and hotels all offer some level of savings for those willing to travel during the off-peak demand, just as we do at EagleRider. And with the vast size and many climate zones of North America, it’s just as easy to craft and amazing ride during the fall, winter and spring, as it is during the summer months. Here are some of our top riding destinations that show Peak, Off-Peak, and Best Value months to rent or join a tour.

Southwest

  • Peak – May, June, August, September
    • Great weather, hotels more expensive, airfare more expensive, larger crowds
  • Off-Peak – July, October
    • Great weather, lower-cost hotels, fewer travelers on road, lower rental and tour rates
  • Best Value – November through March
    • There is great winter riding in Southern California, Nevada and Arizona!
    • Incredible value Winter Getaways
    • Significantly lower rates on rental, tours and travel
  • HOT TIP
    • Bring your group of at least four bikes and get huge savings in November through April on warm weather winter rides in the Southwest!

Route 66 / Coast 2 Coast

  • Peak – May, August, September
    • Large crowds, warm to hot weather, tons of tour dates to choose from, most expensive rental rates
  • Off-Peak – July, October
    • Still great weather, less traffic at top attractions, lower cost rental and tours
  • Best Value - April, late October
    • Higher chance of rain and colder weather, lower rental and tour cost, lower airfare
  • HOT TIP
    • Ride Route 66 from Los Angeles to Chicago and save HUNDREDS on one-way fees!

HOW TO GET THE MOST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK

Let’s face it, many of you reading this blog post live someplace where it’s cold, wet and miserable most of fall and winter months. I grew up in Washington where riders spend six months of the year waiting for the rain, snow and cold weather to be replaced by warm, sunny days so we can pull our bikes out of the garage again. If your bike spends half the year attached to a battery tender in your garage, we have some great news! EagleRider has more than 50 locations in the sun belt of the USA that are open and that offer warm weather riding through the entire winter season. You can grab some friends or your significant other, jump on a short flight and be in t-shirt riding weather before you know it.

For an awesome winter riding experience, check out EagleRider’s Winter Getaways. These are 5 Day – 5 Night tours out of Los Angles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Orlando and New Orleans that include motorcycle rental, group riding, luggage transportation, and tons of fun parties and attractions. You can check them out HERE. C’mon, who doesn’t want to be the envy of your riding friends back home when you show up with a farmer’s tan in February?

As I said earlier, I could spend weeks writing about all the amazing places to ride in North America, and the many ways to experience each of them. The good news is that I will be posting frequently right here on the EagleRider Blog with many more Tips from a Touring Pro to share with you. Until then, I wish you all a happy and safe ride, and I hope our paths cross on the road this winter. I’ll be the other guy with a farmer’s tan in February!

 

Shawn Fechter

Tour Guide