Everything You Need to Know About Riding in Ontario, Canada

Dozens of approved motorcycle routes, loads of MC friendly hotels, and tons of rallies means that riding here is never boring.
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Most US riders have heard the rumors—riding in Canada is pretty great. But not everyone has had the opportunity to ride there yet. So we've put together this complete guide of riding in Ontario, Canada, for riders coming from the USA. The best routes based on where you're coming from, our top summer events, the best riding roads, repair shops, rentals, and tips for entering Canada. It's all here—and if there's something we missed, just ask us on Facebook!

Where to Ride in Ontario, Canada

Choosing your route here is probably the most important part of riding in Ontario. We have dozens of routes that we've painstakingly developed over the better part of the last decade, all with the rider in mind. We start with the best roads we can find, add in hotels and restaurants who have decided to make riders a priority with helmet storage, wash stations, and even motorcycle-specific parking, and put them all together under one banner. Of course, each route has its own special qualities.

Ride Lake Superior

Ride Lake Superior is Ontario's bucket list ride. At over 1,400 miles, it's easily Ontario's biggest, with a route following the shores of the world's largest freshwater lake. Start in Minnesota, Wisconsin, or Michigan, but be sure to ride clockwise for the best views. 

RLS, as it's sometimes known, also includes two other routes of note: the Grand Algoma and the Nor'Wester. While the Nor'Wester takes riders on 300+ miles of the most remote and sparsely populated sections of Ontario, the Grand Algoma is a bucket list ride in its own right. 

At just over 400 miles, the Grand Algoma takes riders coming in from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan on some of the most inspiring riding in the province. The drive from the Sault to Wawa has long been acknowledged as one of Ontario's most scenic rides, but the road through the Mississagi River Valley, from Chapleau to Thessalon is equally thrilling —with lots of massive sweepers and a few tight twisties, this route will keep your heart pumping. 

You can order your free map here. RLS riders can enter Canada at Pigeon River (Thunder Bay) or Sault Ste. Marie. Distances from urban centres are as follows:

Thunder Bay to

  • Duluth - 189 miles
  • Minneapolis - 343 miles
  • Green Bay - 520 miles
  • Milwaukee - 583 miles

Sault Ste. Marie to

  • Detroit - 346 miles
  • Milwaukee - 401 miles
  • Chicago - 471 miles
  • Cleveland - 499 miles

Ride the North (Northeastern Ontario) 

Three hours north of Toronto is Northeastern Ontario, home to one of our oldest motorcycle routes, the Temiskaming Loop. This area is well known for is long sweepers through the bare rock of the Canadian Shield, and hundreds of lakes dotting the landscape. The Temiskaming Loop takes riders through Ontario and Quebec, and you may even get to experience some of Ontario's Indigenous culture as well. This ride is generally started in North Bay or Mattawa. Distances are as follows:

North Bay to:

  • Detroit - 436 miles
  • Buffalo - 304 miles
  • Cleveland - 496 miles
  • Rochester - 374 miles
  • Burlington - 436 miles

Mattawa to:

  • Burlington - 398 miles
  • Plattsburg - 324 miles
  • Syracuse - 360 miles

Ride the Highlands

Known as the most technical roads in Ontario, the Highlands are well suited to the sport touring rider, but all roads here are managable by cruisers as well. Legend has it that these roads were hand-made by the people settling the region, long before heavy equipment could flatten every hill and tame every curve. Motorcycle parking is available throughout the region, and they even make special souvenirs just for visiting riders—past entries included a branded kickstand pad, handcrafted by locals, and now they're offering Ride the Highland spikes—to help enjoy a local craft brew when travelling through the area. You can order your free map here.

Ride the Edge (Explorers' Edge - Muskoka, Algonquin Park)

Running through two of Ontario's most well know tourist destinations, Muskoka and Algonquin Park, the roads of Ride the Edge are quintessential Canadian riding. While the routes don't include approved motorcycle-friendly accommodations, or motorcycle parking, the routes have been fulled vetted by fellow riders, and remain popular with riders throughout North America.

Cruise the Coast (Southwest Ontario)

Easily the closest routes to the USA, Cruise the Coast generally follows the Ontario side of the Lake Erie coastline, veering in to the mainland to take riders through forests, farmland, and over canals. Southwest Ontario is also home to Canada's largest single day motorcycle event, PD13—aka Friday the 13th in Port Dover. If you're planning on attending, you can combine the routes of Cruise the Coast with your visit. Read this article to get a better sense of what PD13 is all about.

Top 30 Roads in Ontario, Canada

Sometimes you don't want to be doing someone elses route - you just want to go where the wind takes you. We get it. If you're looking for the best roads in the province, check out this article, detailing all of the top roads and where to find them.

To give you a sneak peak, check out the top five:

  1. Calabogie Road
  2. Highway 64
  3. Highway 141
  4. Northey's Bay Road
  5. Highway 129

Tips for Entering Canada

Canadians are notorious for their friendliness, and you can be assured of a courteous border crossing from our border guards. There are a few things you can do to ensure your passage is quick and easy. 

  1. Bring your passport
  2. Ensure you have no DUI's or criminal charges
  3. Do not bring guns or dangerous goods with you
  4. Have your passport ready and remove sunglasses when approaching the window
  5. Turn off your bike
  6. Have a detailed itinerary with booked accommodations ready to show the guard

Canada uses the metric system. Most major highways are 100 km/h, which is about 60 mph. 100 kilometers is about 60 miles, which should help you gauge distances. Premium non-ethanol gas is available almost everywhere, but much of the best riding is in more remote areas. If you have less than 60 miles of gas left in the tank when starting your day, ensure you gas up before heading out. 

For a quick and easy guide on crossing the border on a bike, check out this article, or for our exhaustive guide for compulsive planners, check out this one.

Repair Shops in Ontario, Canada

As important as the sightseeing, is a solid sense of security and confidence that you can take care of problems quickly and easily to get you back on the road. What you'll find in Ontario is that everyone is eager to help, and that although there isn't a dealership on every corner, you'll be able to get yourself running again.

It might be worthwhile to bookmark this list of all the known motorcycle shops in Ontario, broken down by region, to help you find places along your routes. 

Motorcycle Events Listings

Ontario has literally hundreds of motorcycle rallies, meetups, and charity events throughout the season (and a few outside the season) - you can find them all listed here.

The latest rankings for top events haven't been published yet, but you can review the top events from 2018 as you're planning your trip. If you want to feel like a real local, check out list this of weekly bike meetups throughout the province.

That is everything a US rider needs to know about riding in Ontario—if you've got any questions, don't hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook!

About Mike Jacobs

Mike is an avid Northern traveller, having spent years traversing its backroads, and visiting its remote lodges and fun cities by car, RV, motorcycle, and boat. There's always something new to discover in the North and Mike never shies away from the next great adventure. Mike is the chairman of the board for the Tourism Technology Company.

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