Packing and Preparing for a Motorcycle Trip

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Preparing for A Motorcycle Trip

When you become a motorcyclist there’s nothing finer than adding the pleasure of touring – travelling and vacationing by motorcycle (or scooter). And unlike the ease of tossing all essentials into an automobile, preparing for a motorcycle trip means you need to ensure all essentials are included, yet space is limited so you need to travel light.  The guiding rule truly is ‘less is more” which is also a fun part of the adventure of motorcycle touring!

When preparing for a motorcycle trip, stowage is made easy today with many great options even if camping, there are many small tent solutions to be found. When purchasing motorcycle luggage there are a few options with the importance of ensuring you find just the right type to hold all the belongings that you wish to have with you. Everything is stacked and positioned properly; remember how great the forces acting on your luggage can be when you’re shaking down the highway.

Follow these useful tips to preparing for a motorcycle trip to help you on your way.

Prior to Departure

Your motorbike needs a check before you leave to avoid surprises along the way. Certainly you can’t control everything – but starting any journey knowing your motorcycle is prepared and in good shape for the ride will get you off to a great start.

Be sure to get an oil change and tune-up including all repairs done before you leave by either your mechanic or yourself.

Ensure These Motorbike Checks Before You Start

Lights:   Check that all your lights are functioning properly, i.e. high and dipped beam as well as rear and brake lights.

Air:   Maintaining the right tyre pressure is one of the most fundamental factors in ensuring a high level of road performance. It is important to take into account your personal riding style, along with load and luggage. The proper air pressures for your tyres can be found in your motorcycle’s handbook. Check our mini tyre pressure gauge – lightweight and takes up little room.

Oil:   Not only is oil the lubricant that ensures that your engine literally runs smoothly at all times, but it is also a coolant. This is further why it is very important to ensure that your engine, gearbox and drive train contain the right levels of oil. Too much oil can also be disadvantageous, because the oil pressure in the engine, for instance, has been calculated for a particular amount of lubricant.

Controls: You should therefore frequently check all four levers to make sure they are functioning properly. This includes checking connectors, screws/bolts and cables.

With foot-operated levers in particular, a slight misalignment is generally not noticed straight away. This can affect your long-term discomfort – and is often due to the boots a rider wears further making it difficult to sense when something needs adjusting. Many motorcycles come with adjustable levers and pedals that can be set to fit and suit your personal requirements.


Helmet, Clothing, Gear

Your motorcycle clothing should be purpose designed, whether for quick trips into town, longer distance tours, or even a spell on the race track – safety is of paramount importance and your comfort. So don’t forget to choose the right clothing to suit your intended purpose.

Eventually your motorcycle gear ages. This applies in particular to protectors and helmet shells, which need to be replaced more often (helmet every 3-5 yrs) due to the nature of their materials. When materials are too hard and brittle, they are more prone to breakage and can no longer offer the level of protection that they could in their prime.

Eventually your motorcycle gear ages. This applies in particular to protectors and helmet shells, which need to be replaced more often.

The next thing to check regularly is that the upper materials of your protective clothing, such as leather and fabric, are in good condition. Functional clothing also needs regular maintenance; otherwise the internal membranes will soon lose their active breathing properties.

Furthermore, you should select the right clothing for the expected weather conditions. It is important that you are neither too hot nor too cold while you are out on the road.

Your clothing should not only offer protection against the weather but also at least a minimum level of fall protection; it should have protectors fitted to the right places and, above all, it should be non-wearing. Interesting ideas on this subject can be found at the BMW Motorrad website in the Riders Point section.


Your Fitness  Checks and Preparedness

It is important to check that you are fit and healthy, because only then will you be able to enjoy your motorcycling journey to the fullest. This not only refers to your physical condition but also your general mood. So when you planning your next journey, make sure you are also prepared mentally and that your mind is free to concentrate on enjoying what lies ahead.

Weather check: Be sure to adapt your riding style to suit the weather conditions. Don’t forget that your tyres (as well as your engine) need a certain operating temperature to be able to work at their optimum level. And if the weather is changeable, it helps not just to be wearing the right clothing but also to adapt to the appropriate riding style.

Road check: Sometimes it is unavoidable that you have to take a route that you know will be extremely busy. Be sure to check the traffic news and get the relevant information on road conditions before setting out on your journey. It is a good idea to plan in a little extra time if important you arrive at your destination on time.


For the Journey

Luggage: A motorcycle holiday is there to be enjoyed to the fullest. The less you take, the easier it will be to pack and store. Simply taking your luggage from your bike to your tent or hotel room can be a strain after a particularly long and tiring journey.

The second important point is that what luggage you do have is packed properly. There are a range of luggage options to decide upon including side cases with varying capacities, top cases and luggage rolls – and entirely waterproof. Whichever solution you decide to go for, it should be one of these, because only then can you be sure that your luggage is carried at the right point on the motorcycle.

The golden rule to follow is: heavy luggage at the bottom. No question. It is so important because this is how you make sure that your luggage will have a minimum effect on your road performance. But even then you should always remember that a total extra payload of, for instance, 50kg will make a considerable difference to the total weight of your motorcycle, and in turn your road performance. Be sure to adapt your riding style accordingly.

Planning a Route:  Every motorcycle rider has their own priorities when it comes to planning a route. It’s often the case however, there will be some stretches of road or highway that you’ll want to get done with as quickly as possible, so you can get back to whatever it is your motorcycle heart desires, be it bends, hills, mountain passes or gravel tracks. Whatever you want, and wherever you seek it, make sure you plan your route carefully before you leave, and make sure that once you are out on the road, you always have quick and ready access to your route information. It can be extremely dangerous having to look away from the road for an excessive amount of time as you are not sure which way to go. Fortunately we have many modern devices now providing for excellent resource.

If fitting, there are incredible ranges of modern GPS navigation equipment compact enough to be mounted directly in front of you. If you prefer to use standard maps, don’t forget that a good tank bag will always have a transparent map pocket to display the current section of your route. And wherever you are on your route, don’t forget that you are always subject to range limitations, both with regard to fuel and drinks.

Take Enough Breaks:  Each rider has their own performance capacity. This refers not only to pure strength but also to stamina. Motorcycling is a joy – of that there is no doubt – but as far as the physical demands it places on you, it is far more intense than car driving. This is why it is all the more important to take enough breaks. Otherwise, when concentration and reactions fade, the risk of entering an uncontrollable situation increases. Riding fatigue can make the rider suddenly fall asleep for a few seconds, a phenomenon which obviously is far more dangerous on motorcycle than in a car.
As a preventative, be sure to reward yourself with enough breaks, even if you are only riding down a motorway.

Read our article on preventing rider fatigue.

Motorcycle Service Network:  Research before you leave to find dealerships who can service your motorcycle along the way. Some brands such as BMW give you a listing online. Book mark these in your smart phone’s browser or GPS device ahead of time. Further write a few down in your smart phone’s notes section if you are in a zone without internet access.


Basic Must Bring Tools:

  • Tools (specific to your bike): Figure out what size wrenches you need to remove wheels, adjust chain, bars, brakes, levers, bodywork, etc…A screwdriver with reversible Phillips and flat-head bits
  • An inexpensive and compact set of box wrenches  (SAE or Metric; for Japanese motorcycles you should use JIS)
  • A variety of proper fuses (Be sure they match OEM specifications)
  • Replacement brake light and headlights
  • An LED flash light
  • A crescent wrench and pair of pliers
  • A master link (On chain-driver machines); they can be purchased be purchased from a dealer or some hardware stores

Other Tools to Consider:

  • Spare tube (21 inch): If you only carry one, make it a front because it will work in both tires.
  • Compact bicycle hand pump/or CO2:  A manual pump will always pump, but if space is tight, CO2 is more compact.
  • J-B Weld: Punch a hole in an engine case and this epoxy can save your day.
  • Safety wire and/or zip-ties: You’ll be amazed at the things that can be fixed with these items.
  • Duct tape: Peel a couple of feet off the roll and fold it into a nice compact, flat square.
  • Spare nuts and bolts: A few common nuts and bolts can be used for a variety of repairs.
  • Spare clutch and brake levers: Carry one of each these break easily.

Though this might seem like a lot of items; these tools are light-weight and will fit within a very small space.

Have a great trip and don’t forget to send us some photos!


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