5 Things You Must Bring On A Motorcycle Trip !

Ever since I started riding motorcycles, I’ve felt a powerful desire to explore new places on a bike. As soon as I was old enough to get my motorcycle endorsement, I began taking serious motorcycle tours.

I enjoy all aspects of riding, from commuting to work to trail riding, but I enjoy touring on a bike most of all. I find nothing more thrilling than cresting a hill and seeing a new expanse of world open up before me. Whether I’m exploring the Sand Hill region of Nebraska, the High Desert in Southern California, the lush Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, or the wheat fields of Minnesota, I never get bored when I’m traveling on a bike.

Motorcycle Trip

No matter what I tell you, you will probably overestimate the amount of clothing and gear you’ll need when you take your first motorcycle trip. But here are my 5 suggestions for all you need for a safe, comfortable ride.

The Clothes Make the Motorcyclist

On my first extended trip, which I took about 15 years ago, I brought a couple of different jackets (for riding in a variety of weather conditions), along with five or six complete changes of clothing, including some dressy clothes in case I wanted to go out to eat or on a date.

Now I bring a couple of pairs of jeans, a couple of turtlenecks, a couple of sweat shirts, and a couple of T-shirts. I may bring three T-shirts if the weather is hot, or if I plan to be gone a week or more. And I bring pretty much every pair of underwear and socks I own. If I go out for a nice dinner, I wear my cleanest pair of jeans and the turtleneck with the fewest holes in it.

When packing for a motorcycle trip, pack light. A lighter load will tax your motorcycle less and not have such a pronounced effect on your bike’s handling. Leave a little extra space for any souvenirs you might pick up.

Your best bet is to travel light on a bike. Only bring clothing you’ll wear. And you’ll always seem to wear less than you bring. As you become a more experienced motorcycle traveler, you’ll find that you bring less clothing on each successive trip.

Tools You’ll Use

Although I pack less clothes for each successive trip, I find that my list of must-bring gear grows each year. Every time I’ve needed an item I didn’t have, I’ve included that item on following trips.

I always bring a small selection of extra tools, even when I’m on a new bike. The toolkits that come with most bikes will do in a pinch, but I always like to have an extra set of combination spanner wrenches, a couple of pliers (needle-nose pliers and channel-lock pliers), a ratchet, and a small selection of sockets. I also include a cigarette lighter, a small selection of nuts and bolts (including some for connecting my battery cables to my battery), some electrical connectors, a roll of wire, and a couple of rolls of tape (friction and duct tape).

Safety First: First Aid

I also carry a first-aid kit with me. I make certain that kit includes :

- A selection of bandages, including gauze bandages

- Adhesive tape

- An antibiotic of some sort

- Something for bee stings

This is a list of the absolute minimum amount of items a first-aid kit should include. If you can pack a more complete kit, you should do so, even if you need to leave something else behind to make room for it.

For the Scenic Routes : Photographic Equipment

I’m a photographer and always bring my camera equipment when I travel, which presents some challenges on a bike. The greatest of these challenges is weather protection. If you have watertight hard luggage, this is not as much of an issue, but riders with soft luggage will have to come up with a way to keep the rain off their camera equipment. Before a trip on which I’ll be using soft luggage, I buy a box of the most durable garbage bags I can get (the kind for bagging leaves seems to be the toughest), then double-wrap my mirrorless cameras in these bags.

When your camera is packed away in your luggage, it can take too long to reach it, so I have a fanny-pack–type camera bag. If you want to keep your camera ready to use when you ride, I highly recommend this type of bag. Another option is to use small point-and-shoot cameras when you travel. You can keep these in your vest pockets or fairing pockets, where they’ll stay dry and be ready when you need them.

If you pack your camera in your luggage, whether you have soft or hard luggage, be careful not to place it in a location where it will bounce around. Just the vibration from your bike can pound expensive cameras to pieces ; if they bounce around in your trunk or against your shock absorbers while in your saddlebags, you could end up with very expensive paperweights instead of cameras.

Always buy a large box of heavy duty garbage bags before going on a motorcycle trip. You’ll be amazed at the uses you’ll find for them. I place my clothes in them, then put the garbage bag in my saddlebags. Not only does this protect my clothes from getting wet, but it makes it easier to pack and unpack my saddlebags. I also wrap my sleeping bag in garbage bags. If you’ve ever had to spend a night in a wet sleeping bag, you’ll see the value of this practice.

Carrying your camera in a fanny pack, or carrying a point-and-shoot camera in your vest pocket, can eliminate much of this problem. If you transport your camera in your luggage, pack soft items, such as towels, clothing, or pillows, around it to absorb shocks and vibrations.

Protective Gear

I always wear a full-face helmet with a visor when traveling. Not only does a full-face helmet provide superior protection in an accident, it provides superior protection from the elements and superior comfort.

The most versatile piece of protective gear you can own is a waterproof riding suit like Alpinestars Durban Gore-Tex Jacket (mentioned in : How to Choose Your Best Extreme Riding Gear !). These suits eliminate the need for rain gear, freeing up a lot of luggage space, and they provide unmatched versatility. With all liners in place, such suits provide excellent cold-weather protection, yet with the liners removed and with all vents opened, they are the best hot-weather gear you can buy. This is especially important when traveling in high mountains, where temperatures can vary by 60 or 70 degrees in just a few miles.

Make certain that your load is secure when packing a bike for a trip. If something falls off, it could get caught in your wheel or chain, causing you to lose traction and crash.