It is the time of year to travel on that new motorcycle you just bought. Whether you are backpacking or you have a touring bike like my , you don’t want to get a hour out and find out, “uh oh, rain.” (Hey, we live in New England. It can be sunny in Keene and raining here in Springfield.) Little trips are not a big deal, because you can always come home. (Though I can leave in a t-shirt and ride home in my leather jacket.)There truly is an art to properly packing and preparing for a great motorcycle trip, especially when the trip is a long distance one and you need to prepare right for the best success. Most people who do not put enough forethought into packing find that what they pack does not line up with what they end up needing for the trip, which is why planning ahead and knowing exactly what to pack is the best way to make sure you are prepared for anything and everything that comes up during your motorcycle trip. When you begin packing for your long distance motorcycle trip, begin by crafting a list that reminds you of what needs to be packed and where you intend to store it, since obviously motorcycles only offer a limited amount of space. Consider breaking your packing into different groups or categories to make the whole process easier.
- Things for the Motorcycle (Maintenance, Security)
- Things for the Rider (Gear, Snacks) We carry leather jackets, rain gear and the like.
- Equipment for the Trip (Camping Gear, Hygiene Supplies)
Things for your Motorcycle (Maintenance, Security) -If you are taking a long trip, the odds are against you in that you will probably end up having to fix something, as this is just the nature of motorcycles and long trips. Always make sure that you have tire patch and spare CO2 cartridges at the very least so that road side tire problems can be handled. (I carry a small tool kit and have decided AAA for motorcycles is worth the few extra dollars. Just last week my rear tire went to cord, and rather than attempt driving any further, called AAA and had it carried to the dealer. I also carry my cell phone, though there are areas where cells do not work.) You should also make sure that you have a complete portable set of wrenches, Allen wrenches and Torx wrenches. Having a small multi-tool that you can keep with you is another good idea, especially if it has an LED flashlight attached because breaking down in the middle of the night is not enjoyable if you can’t find a light.
It would also be wise to carry extra fuses, sparkplugs and light bulbs in your tool pouch just in case, along with electrical tape and zip ties for quick fixes. These repairs may not get you all the way through your trip, but they certainly will get you off the side of the road quickly.
Additionally, if you are planning long trips, you need to consider security for your motorcycle and all of your gear. It is always a good idea to consider locking up your bike, and locking up the wheel so that most motorcycle thieves will be deterred and will stay away from your bike. Carry locks that you can keep with you, so that you can pop them on quickly whenever you need to leave your motorcycle for any period of time. Portable locks are always preferable to hefty or bulky chain locks, at least in my opinion. I also carry my cover, really to deter people from just seeing what is there, as well as keeping it clean.
Things for the Rider (Gear, Snacks) –Taking care of yourself is just as important as keeping your bike going when it comes to long motorcycle trips. For example, if you plan on riding during the day you need to think about options for skin protection from the sun, because getting sunburned can really destroy an otherwise excellent day of riding. Always make sure to carry sunscreen and lip balm at the very least. You should also make sure to bring a small, portable style first aid kit that includes bandages, antiseptic ointment and pain relievers at the very least.
In addition to having all of the right gear, there are two things that I tend to walk out of the house without that need to be remembered: Something to eat, and a cell phone with a charged battery. Bring something portable like snack bars or 100-calorie snack packs so that if you stop someplace and cannot find food, you are not left to go hungry. Also make sure that you always have a cell phone with a full battery, just in case you ever need to make a quick call. Make sure that your “In Case of Emergency” or ICE number is programmed into your phone, just in case.
Equipment for the Trip (Camping Gear, Hygiene Supplies) -You will undoubtedly get hit by road grime during your trip, so pack some basic hygiene essentials before you go. Carry things that you can wash up with, like a washcloth and towel, and travel soap, shampoo, conditioner and other essentials. Also make sure to bring your toothbrush, toothpaste and any other dental essentials before you leave. Even if you only have a limited amount of time to worry about hygiene on your long distance motorcycle trip, a little can really go a long way so make sure you have everything that you need before you head out.
Camping equipment is not easy to carry on a motorcycle by any means, because most is bulky and cumbersome and causes more trouble than it is worth. Still, if you plan on making a long distance motorcycle trip, it may be extremely advantageous to bring as much additional gear as you can. Try to find a two man dome tent, as these tend to fold up easily, and when they spread out, they offer a lot of nice room and comfort. Self inflating mattresses are also worthwhile, even though they do take up a little bit of room on your motorcycle. They are not as cumbersome as a sleeping bag when they are deflated, but they provide much more comfort than even the softest sleeping back. Roll these things up into a sturdy protective bag and secure them to your motorcycle and you are ready to go.
Armed with the right essentials and gear, you can lead some truly interesting motorcycle journeys both on a long distance basis, and on a local level as well.