Are you Road Ready?
I’m sure each of you wonderful folks reading this would agree that there’s something extremely special about embarking on a long distance motorcycling trip. Whether we’re just glad to be out of the loop of things for a little while or genuinely intrigued at the prospect of exploring some previously un-chartered territory (atop our beloved hog, no less)- there’s generally a great deal of excitement in the run up to a ride out or journey.
As time passes, most would expect that the thrill of picking out our favorite outerwear jackets and hard saddlebags in preparation for an extended period on the road would subside somewhat, but in truth it never really does.
Of course, planning for a long motorcycle trip takes a little more thinking ahead than a simple road trip or vacation by four-wheeler might take. Why is that? I hear you ask; well the answers very simple: motorcycles have far less capacity when it comes to storing the possessions necessary for your slog on the highways and byways.
While it’s true that a rider with the latest touring bike/trailer combination will be able to take more out on the road than the speed freak touring our nations beautiful and limitless routes on the back of dirt bike, the tips I’m about to bestow remain highly relevant nonetheless.
One of the biggest issues faced by motorcyclists hitting the road (particularly first timers), and one which only becomes apparent once you’ve left the boundaries of your hometown, is over-packing. You really don’t need as much to survive out there as you think you do.
Getting soaked through to the bone, regardless of the circumstances, is more times than not at the very least an inconvenience. Getting soaked through to the bone when you’re tired from a long days ride and hurtling along unshielded at 70mph, certainly poses the potential to cross the border into ‘annoying’. Perhaps the worst thing about getting wet on a ride is the involvement of moistures inseparable and equally detrimental ally; cold.
When you’re preparing for a motorcycle journey it is absolutely essential that you take a suitable range of outerwear. Though it’s nice to plan for extreme sunshine (good for you, positive thinker!), and vests are immensely awesome, to pack no further than lightweight road-clothing is beyond a faux pas.
If, for the rest of my time as a rider, I was only allowed to pack a single item into my trusty hard saddlebags- you can mark my words it would be a weather repellent riding suit.
While we’re on the subject of saddlebags…
Backpacks simply won’t cut it! They’re great for little day trips/going about your business/buzzing off to your better halves residence for an evening of shenanigans, but will not do much for your storage needs/personal sanity if you wish to hit the road for an extended period.
Sure, when you’re just starting out in the motorcycle game a backpack seems like the obvious option for your storage needs: compact, discrete and to an extent even fashionable (I guess, for some reason…). However, once you inevitably decide: ‘hey, motorcycling is just so awesome that I think I’ll base more and more of my life around the practice, sell the hatchback and trade off the annual summer vacation in Florida for a 2,000 mile slog around California/Washington/Montana/pretty much anywhere’, you will soon discover that the backpack has forsaken you. As secure feeling and multi-colored as it may be, it’s JUST NOT BIG ENOUGH. And, more-so- IT COST JUST AS MUCH MONEY AS A TOP-END SADDLEBAG OF FOUR TIMES THE CAPACITY WOULD!
There are many options when it comes to motorcycle saddlebags, whether you’re a rider who favours hard saddlebags or stretch bags, scramblers or roadsters- finding the bag that’s right for your set-up and style remains totally paramount. You needn’t be duped into spending a small fortune on your saddlebags either, though as is typical- the more you spend the higher the quality you are likely to receive. Tip: look for bags that come ready for use straight of the box with their own mounts.
To Round Up:
Extended motorcycle trips seem like the unreachable pinnacle of the pursuit to many modern day riders, though remembering the roots of our passion (as an extremely influential cultural movement, no less) will unlock an essence sure to gift you with the courage and commitment necessary to simply get out there and do it.
In this writers humble opinion, a journey undertaken just you, your motorbike, the open road and perhaps some likeminded individuals is one of the last true humanistic experiences left available to us, certainly to motorcycle owners. A fixation on the less vital components of our modern society (technology, careers, you name it) should not hold anyone back. Providing you’re ready to open your mind to it, an unsure and lightly planned ramble through the US, or anywhere for that matter, could be the best thing you’ve ever done.
Some final tips for you as you prepare to head out:
- Create a packing inventory list and cut out all non-essential items, including all of those which can’t be easily replaced on the road.
- Don’t pack outfits, pack layers.
- Don’t overthink things.
- Get off the internet and go out there and DO IT!
Kevin Parker enjoys reading and writing about motorcycles, safety, and motorcycle tours. Furthermore Kevin Parker has been riding for over 6 years
Special thanks to Kevin for his contributions to AdventureTouringMotorcycle.com! Got a story or review you want to share? Use the contact page and let us know what you’ve got!