Blog by 82ndpara
Motorcycle to Burning Man: Experience and tips
22 Jan 2021

Motorcycle to Burning Man: Experience and tips

What up you filthy savages? I've finally decompressed enough from this years burn to write this brain dump from riding a motorcycle to Burning Man. I couldn't find a thread on this topic before I left, and a few of you chimed in with good advice in a previous thread, so I figured I'd share my experience and see if anyone had any other input on riding to the burn.

The Trip

If you've done long distances on a bike before, you probably know what it's like to ride so long you can't feel your butt cheeks. I didn't, because I hadn't ridden longer than 3-4 hours before. And I naively decided that I'd take the whole 16 hour trip in one day (what a dummy!). Riding that long is a bitch, and even though I did it I'm pretty sure it wasn't the smartest decision I made. So take it in shorter day trips if possible, your butt and sanity will thank you.

Oh and the path to Burning Man makes for some real cool riding, so that's a bonus. I didn't pass through jackrabbit territory this year, but if/when you do make sure to take it a bit slower and don't try to save any of the dumb bastards by swerving or riding erratically.


Once you've made it to gate, if you were in a car you'd have to wait in one of the lines until it's your turn. But you're a maniac and biked down, so you get to skip the lines! Have your papers ready, and remember that motorcycles don't need a vehicle pass to enter BRC (gate crew might need reminding of that fact).

Lane splitting on gate road is allowed and encouraged, so get your butt to the front and have your ticket ready. As a biker you're used to being surrounded by danger on the road and gate is no different, so they encourage you to get the hell off the road as soon as possible. Plus it keeps the lines moving. Plus you're sitting on hundreds of pounds of hot metal in the middle of the desert surrounded by cars with A/C. Plus bikes aren't made to idle for hours on end. So just split lanes already!

Be prepared to deal with the lovely folks on gate that are a bit misinformed about bikes, however. This year I was greeted by a young lady who welcomed me by saying "what the hell do you think you're doing?!" and it took me calling over a few other gate people to assure her I wasn't an asshole (well for lane splitting at least, in general who knows) and keep me out of D Lot. Keep it calm, and be prepared for a short stop in D Lot if your misinformed gate crew is having a really bad day, and maybe have some whiskey for those poor souls as a way to say thanks (it certainly didn't hurt me getting in).

The same goes for getting to Greeters, keep on lane splitting and have another bottle ready for those beautiful folks. I only got a tiny amount of flak from these guys, but all it took was a quick hug and bottle of Jack and I was on my way to camp.


The gear you take is going to depend on how long your trip is, but a lot of it will look similar to what I brought along. Here's a quick breakdown of what you'll need:

📌Helmet: Ideally you could bring a half and full helm, but it's really up to you which you take. I rode the whole 1500 miles in a half helm, and I was very glad for it once I hit playa.

📌Goggles: Good eye protection is a must if you're in a half helm, and they can double as your eye protection while on playa (a recurring theme with the gear section)

📌Face Masks: The amount of dust that's kicked up on entry/exodus is insane, and a good face mask will go a long way here. Also it sucks getting hit in the face by bugs when you're doing 85, so pick up at least one.

📌Ear Plugs: Bikes are loud, and I made the mistake of not wearing my plugs for the first 2 hours of the trip. 14 hours later I still heard ringing in my ears, like I had just gone to a real good metal show and stood front row. Plus you want them for sleeping anyway, so get a good set for $10.

📌Layered Clothing: When I left at 7am, it was 50 degrees out at my place, and then as I headed further south it got increasingly hotter. Having layers of gear allows you to stay comfy the whole trip, instead of freezing in the morning and then baking that same afternoon.

📌Touring Package?: Probably the biggest thing I missed this year, my bike was NOT set up for touring. I added some soft bags a few days before but that was it, so getting gear down there was rough. Ideally you have a windscreen, maybe some fairings, and luggage racks/a sissy bar to strap gear down tightly. Doing it like I did is possible, but it sucks.

Here's me geared up during the trip back, for those interested.

During the burn

If you have a shade structure to store your bike under, that's great. I went au naturale and it seemed fine too, but I guess time will tell. I was warned against dust covers, as they won't keep 100% of the playa dust out and with the winds blowing any movement of the cover turns it into sandpaper. I can't verify that, but it seems logical enough.

Don't start your bike unless you need to, the less playa dust it ingests the better. Bring a kickstand pad if you're worried about it tipping or sinking into wet playa.


Exodus sucks, even on a bike. The roads are thrashed and the mountains of playa dust between lanes isn't fun to ride in (your back tire will want to kick out occasionally, tell it to knock that shit off). Keep it slow, and remember to split the HELL out of the lanes until you're back on pavement (or at least through the zippers). The lanes are wide enough that you can usually get away with riding next to cars and not in the mountains of dust, but sometimes you might have to change lanes to keep from rattling yourself off your bike. Again I caught some flak from people working the roads at exodus, but ride on brother, it's not really a concern that they're yelling at you to get in a line.

Before you leave, make sure all your gear is very secure and won't move. Double check it, because I didn't and the combined heat of my bike and the outside world melted one of my saddle bags and gave my pillow a tattoo of my exhaust.

This is likely the hardest part of the trip, as bikes hate going slow especially in the heat. Pull off to the side if you're worried about your bike and let it rest, taking the 5 minutes to let it cool off is nothing compared to what exodus could be like in a cage, so be smart.

Post Burn

Service your bike as much as possible. As soon as you can, get that thing a bath and get ALL the playa dust off it. Replace filters, change oil, clean/lube chains, etc. Your bike just took care of you for a week in the desert, so take care of her in return.


A few random topics, that didn't fit into any of the points above:

🛢Gas: Bring at least 1-2 gallons of spare gas, just in case. You'll be stopping for gas every few hours no matter what, but the last gas for me before I hit the burn was 100 miles away, and my bike has a 180-200 mile range. Don't chance it, grab some extra. If you don't, there's always neighbors with too much gas left over from their generators, or gas available in a few different camps (mobility camp, hell station). Just make sure you have access to a top off before you leave, or you might be thumbing it.

🔧Tools: Bring everything you'd need to make repairs on the road, including some spare parts (belts/chains, filters, etc) just in case. Being stranded in BRC without replacement parts would suck, so don't be that guy.

🍳💧Water/Food: Packing down your own water and food will SUCK unless you have a trailer to pull. In my case I had a camp that took care of both for me, since they knew I was riding down. Still, have a gallon of emergency water in your gear, as well as some calorie dense food that you can eat if you're broken down in the middle of nowhere.

This is a personal experience of the trip from SheepSlapper and I hope it will be useful for everyone who is going to visit Burning Man or who has never heard of it and now wants to join this event.

2 4.8K
  • WavveByye 22 Jan 2021
    😱Never Heard Of It! 😁But It Looks Like You Had A BLAST!😏 Definitely A Good Read😊🤘🏾 Stay Safe Out There💯❤
  • 82ndpara 22 Jan 2021 author
    I edited the post and added more photos
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