If you own a Harley or any touring bike, surely one of your passions is traveling. Whether they are day trips, campsites, or trips around the world, alone, as a couple or with your group, your motorbike will be the inseparable companion. Undoubtedly a motorcycle does not offer the space of a car to carry everything you need with you. But let’s be honest, we don’t give a damn about this, or am I wrong? However, since we are not at all super neat and organized, it would be useful to understand how to optimize spaces. Knowing what to bring, how it could actually serve on a trip and how to best prepare for it, could make the whole journey a lot more enjoyable. That’s why this little guide on how to best prepare for bike travel.
Check your bike
Firstly, it is necessary to check the motorbike and verify that everything is in its best shape to face the journey. To find out how and what to check, refer to our mini maintenance guide for a quick overview. Particular attention is to be given to the tires. Especially if you have to travel several hundred or even thousands of kilometers, it is good to know in advance, according to your journey plan, which type of terrain will you travel the most and consequently fit the most suitable tires.
Even if the bike is now in its ideal state, it is necessary to bring the essential in case of an emergency. You, as the owner, know your motorcycle better than anyone else. So who knows better than you if it has some “defect” or some flaw to pay attention to. By knowing these small defects you also know what you will need for the trip in addition to the normal equipment. And even if you don’t know any defects and the bike looks like it is in as perfect as when you first bought it, it’s better to be prepared for some common issues in advance. Here a list as a reminder for what to bring:
- A screwdriver
- Some wrenches (most used …)
- Plastic ties
- A piece of wire
- American tape or cloth tape
- Chain lubricant (for those without a Cardan)
- A pair of “battery cables”
- For those with non-tubeless tires, two air chambers never fail and take up very little space.
- For tubeless riders, the repair kit is essential and most of the times fits comfortably under the saddle.
Check your safety
Safety is not a joke, nor on a journey of 10,000km neither on a shorter holiday. From departure to arrival always be careful! We personally prefer a slightly lower level of comfort to be traded with always impeccable safety, which could save us from a silly fall! Here, then, what equipment to have:
- Jacket and pants with protections
- Technical boots. Better if high, at least to cover the shin
- A good helmet
Talking about the helmets an infinite parenthesis could be opened:
every motorcyclist has his very own helmet preferences and we do not feel like going into it (maybe we could talk a little a bit in another post?). But one thing has to be said: never go on a motorcycle trip with a new helmet if you have not already tried it for at least 15/20 hours. Being hundreds of kilometers from home with a helmet that somehow annoys us ruins the whole trip. The old and comfortable one is often better than the new and “cool” one.
How to dress…
In this case, the main aspect to focus on is the destination and the itinerary that you choose, always taking into account the season and the weather overall.
Unless you’re one of those Viking-like types of rider who drives no-shirt in the middle of the winter with a long beard and stuff, you know, it’s always better to feel a little bit warmer than dying of cold. Therefore, using the new 3/4 seasons suits, is better to take an extra layer with you. If you think about how little space it occupies and how much worth it can be in terms of comfort, you should always carry a water-repellent suit with you! But please do not wear it when it’s not needed. Your travel friends will thank you. You know, all the waterproof suits suffer from the same issue: once you put it on, it stops raining and you get wet from sweat!
When you are planning to drive through different and varied climates, we recommend to always bring with you two types of gloves: a lighter one for warmer and wetter climates, and and a thicker one for colder climates. While for the clothing we can decide whether to put on an extra shirt or remove a layer of the suit, with a single pair of gloves, when crossing different climatic zones, it can be annoying.
…and what to put in your baggage
You are traveling, you’re not at a fashion show! Treasure these little details and treat yourself to the bare minimum.
Microfibre is the best friend of motorcyclists, if you learn to wash something at the end of the day (you lose 10 minutes at most), you can go around the world, always clean, with four rags. A long time goes on with a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt! Keep in mind that a lot of stuff, such as food, can be bought on the road.
If you travel alone, a backpack and another bag sit well behind you on the passenger seat, and most of the times this will be more than enough. However, the problems show up when you travel in a couple. You have to carry the double with halved space. But don’t worry! There are a lot of possibilities to gain enough space for two! For example you can:
- Have side bags. One for each
- Trunk to share
- Tank bag for sunglasses, camera, adapter for electrical outlets and various accessories
Secure bike and load
Keep in mind the center of gravity of your motorcycle. Make sure heavy bags are placed lower, below the center of gravity of the motorcycle. Rigid luggage is comfortable but not essential. Soft luggage or throw-over side bags can be just as effective (and closing them safely is just as comfortable). Pay attention to the balance on each side of the bike: don’t put all the heavy stuff in one side bag!
Make sure nothing is in contact with the exhaust and that the luggage does not move while driving. And remember: if something falls, it will do it while you are on the move. Use the most effective ratchet straps you can find and use ropes or nets to secure the load and carry other bags at the top for easy access. Do not cram everything you think you might need in a backpack. And Keep in mind that it is advisable not to attach anything to the handlebar: in this way, you will affect maneuverability!
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