I’ve lived off my motorcycle for up to six weeks at a time. Rarely have I wished I’d packed another T-shirt, but occasionally I’ve wished I’d packed more duct tape. Here are four tips and a checklist to help you enjoy this year’s rally.
TIP ONE: “Low and Close.” Make physics work for you by packing the heaviest things as low and close as possible to your bike’s frame. It’s tempting to keep piling up-up-up on the seat behind you, but when you do, you’re building a sail that will catch wind while you’re moving and make your bike unstable in parking lots. Packing low and close avoids that problem. Low and close gives you more stability when making sudden stops and when riding on less-than-ideal surfaces.
TIP TWO: Stick to a packing system. If you always pack the same things in the same places you can locate what you need in a hurry. BONUS: you’re less likely to leave something behind. On that note, pack your rain gear in an easily-accessed place, not in the bottom of your luggage.
TIP THREE: Put new gear through a dry run. Whether a new sleeping mattress, tent, riding gear or doo-dad, practice using your new gear before you hit the road. You might find a manufacturer’s defect or even decide to return the item for something that suits you better.
TIP FOUR: Stash your cash and cards. Don’t keep all your cash and cards in one place. Put a little in your pockets, your riding gear, and in your luggage.
Remember these motorcycle essentials
- Zip strips and duct tape. Between the two of them, you can handle most field repairs. Consider re-wrapping your duct tape around a small-diameter cylinder to reduce the space it takes up in your pack.
- A physical map. While GPS and phone apps have revolutionized the way we travel, things go wrong. Always bring a physical map of where you plan to travel.
- A spare key. If you’re traveling with a companion, trade spares. By yourself, either place it in an inner pocket of your riding jacket or secure it on the bike with a zip strip or duct tape—better yet, both!
- Your flashlight and fresh batteries. A flashlight can help not only after dark, but also if you need to shine a light into a dark space on your bike for a field repair. Of course no batteries, no light—so pack replacements.
- Protein and fiber. Fuel your body to balance blood sugar and maintain mental acuity with good protein and starchy veggies. In addition to balanced meals, pack snacks that are nutrient dense like mini packets of almond butter, homemade trail mix. Apples will keep nicely. Skip commercial granola bars and crackers, while opting for whole food bars like RX or Epic for energy on the go.
Finally, ship some stuff home. You might find that you’re not using some clothes you packed or want to buy a souvenir for which you don’t have room. Stop at a post office or package shipper and mail it home. They all have boxes and packing supplies, and your motorcycle will handle better with less weight.