By Sally James
The things which make something enjoyable are, of course, subjective. Someone who loves history will wax lyrical about the old cities of Europe, which won’t interest a wilderness-yomper one jot. A ski nut will appreciate mountainous resorts the charms of which will be completely lost upon a beach bum. This subjectivity is as true of motorcycling as anything else. Some love straight, desert roads in which to roar along with the world spread out before you. Others like the challenge of a bendy forest road. Some like it warm, some hate to sweat in their leathers. As such, any ranking of states regarding their general enjoyability for bikers is going to meet with stormy opposition in some quarters. So we won’t attempt to do that. Here instead are the best states for hitting the road on two wheels according to certain criteria – namely: Warm riding weather, dry riding weather, safety, and gasoline prices.
Warm Riding Weather – Florida, Arizona, Hawaii, Louisiana In all fairness, this is a pretty subjective category. After all, some people might prefer the crisp tang of a Wisconsin winter to the hot humidity of a Southern summer. Feel free, therefore, to completely ignore this category and go your own sweet way! To be honest, we’ve mainly chosen these states based upon their hours of daylight and the relative paucity of chill winds. In general, the states of Florida, Arizona, Hawaii and Louisiana are the most likely to give you a good, clear run of days in which the daylight is abundant and the nasty weather keeps away. Texas isn’t far behind, but loses points for just being too damn big to gather non-conflicting data for! Don’t take it as read that these states are automatically going to roll out the climactic carpet for you, however. We all know about Florida and Louisiana’s issue with hurricanes! These states give you your best chance of consistently warm riding weather, but it’s by no means 100% guaranteed!
Dry Riding Weather – Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona Wet roads, snowy roads, and water splattering your visor do not make for a great ride. Some may enjoy the challenge, and some may relish the chance to pit their snow chains against the ice, but those of us who like an easy life would probably prefer to hit the road on a dry day. Working on yearly averages, the driest states are Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and Arizona. However, it might be worth taking seasonal averages into account as well. In the summer, California just about manages to knock Nevada from its desiccated top-spot, while in winter you’re more likely to find dry conditions in North Dakota (which perhaps helps to account for this state’s exemplary safety record – see below). In general, though Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and Arizona are the most consistently dry states all year round, so if you’re not a fan of slippy tires and the scent of soggy weather, it might be an idea to head West!
Safety – North Dakota, Nebraska, Mississippi You need not worry about damage (to yourself or you bike!) or theft if you head to one of these states. The roads here are smooth and well-maintained – particularly in North Dakota - which makes for an enjoyable as well as a safe ride. The accident and fatality rates for all vehicles, not just motorcycles, are commendably low in all three states (which will make your mother happy!). North Dakota notably experiences low levels of congestion, and drivers tend to be both considerate and bike-aware. Helmet laws are laxly enforced within Nebraska, which counts against them, but this does not stop Nebraskans from taking the initiative and wearing helmets out in spite of law-enforcement’s unbothered stance on the issue. Mississippi, meanwhile, are both consistent and persistent with their traffic safety laws. Thefts of motorcycles are low in all three of these states. If you want your bike undamaged and your body unscarred, head on out to North Dakota, Nebraska, or Mississippi.
Gas Prices – Oklahoma, Missouri, Indiana, Kansas Gas prices zip up and down all over the USA on a daily basis, so don’t rely too much on this information in a year’s time! As it currently stands, you’ll get the most miles for your dollar in Oklahoma, Missouri, Indiana, and Kansas – but it might be worth checking before you book anything, just to make sure!