So you have a motorcycle now and you want to explore the world around you.
You might want to do it to seek adventure, a better connection with nature or simply being alone with your thoughts and meditate. Despite your deep thoughts there a series things that you should keep in mind and organize before you set off. So let’s start with the basics. Of course checking the level of oil, coolant, brake fluid, brake pads and tires is the first thing to do before even begin so we won’t cover that in this article. But we should spend two words about tire pressure. Follow the manual instructions, usually, the manufacturers suggest increasing the back tire pressure if you ride with a passenger. This is because the rear tire is under a lot of pressure, will be more likely to deform with a bigger contact area which it’ll increase the temperature. The consequences will be a bad handling and a worn out tire.
Bags, straps, and weight distribution
Speaking of bags there are two philosophies here: the soft bags and the hard cases. In my opinion the bags are great tools for a short trip or cruising and they can fit on any bike. The cases are very comfortable because you can lock up everything and leave the bike but they fit just on an adventure bike.
- The Tankbag – It’s great for all the ready to use stuff like a bottle of water a camera or a phone. Take a small or a regular size because a big one will just be annoying. If I’m crossing regions where the weather can be tricky I also fit my rain gear right there, ready to be used. I usually put here a bottle of water and some energy bars.
- The Side Cases – They look cool on an adventure bike like BMW GS but ugly on a café racer or sports bike. Practical and safe, you can lock them up and leave the bike there. If you’re traveling with your partner give her/him one and you keep the other one, it’s a good deal to avoid a fight about the space.
- The Tail Bag – There are small and aerodynamic ones and soft and big where you can fit your house in. If you’re planning to bring your sleeping bag this is the right place for it. It’s big but light and it’ll stay dry.
- The top case – It is actually the worst place where to put weight in. I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t use one but try to fill it with the lightest things you have.
- Straps & Cargo net – You’ll need the straps to keep everything in place and ride safely. A cargo net is something that you’ll need at some point. Like duct tape.
- Weight distribution – If you are planning a long trip and you seriously want to pack your bike. Weight distribution is crucial for safety and fun. Think about this: you have a big bag or two on the back or even a passenger so all your weight will be on the rear wheel. Having a light front end will make your bike understeer and this can ruin the pleasure of riding. What you should do is try to put more weight, or the barycenter if you like, in the front and as low as possible. Use a tank bag for some heavy stuff like a chain, a bottle of water and your camera. The lower parts of the cases are also for the heavy stuff (but the ones you need once a day) like camping gear or first aid kit. If you use a top case, put the lightest stuff in it, you want to keep your barycenter between the wheels.
Different ways of traveling
A motorcycle trip is not just a motorcycle trip, there are different ways to do it. But there are things which are the same. For example, you need fewer clothes than you might think. You’ll ride most of the time and you have your motorcycle gear on. You’ll wear regular clothes when you’ll be out in the evening for a few hours. Here you can find the three main way to approach a travel.
Here you can find the three main way to approach a travel.
Riding from place to place, sleeping in hotels or apartments and eating out. You can travel light, you don’t need that much. Bring with you the strict necessary like clothes and a toothbrush. One soft bag will make the job.
If you want to travel like a cowboy in the wilderness this is the part where you should pay attention. You probably want to cross places where you’re on your own, so you have to take care of yourself. It means carrying your tent, sleeping bag, and prepare your food. You should also bring a first aid kit with you and a toolbox. Having a basic knowledge of how your bike works will help.
Traveling with your girlfriend or boyfriend
Traveling with your partner can be an amazing experience to make together but if you don’t take care of some aspects it’ll turn into a nightmare. For example, if your sweet half doesn’t like to sleep in a tent then you should think about booking a hotel. And don’t plan a crazy schedule, calculate less daily mileage than you do when you’re alone so that the trip will be enjoyable for both.
How being prepared can get you out of a bad situation
It was in 2012, I was crossing the desert in Morocco with a friend of mine on two motorcycles. We went through a couple of desert storms and sometimes I had the feeling we were riding on another planet. At some point, far from every city, I got sick. I was weak and the progress was slow but we had still hundreds of miles of desert to cross. Fortunately, I had enough water and food for two days with me and medicines. It took me a week to fully recover and when we got to the next city I had the chance to rest for a couple of days.
So my personal tip is: know where you are going and prepare for what can happen.
There is a special sense of freedom in traveling by motorcycle that can’t be matched by anything else. Enjoy the moment, don’t book hotel rooms in advance, do it day by day. Riding is about living in the present and by the way, you can’t schedule an adventure but you can go with what life offers you. And this is the essence of traveling by motorcycle.
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