Feature Article – Planning your big trip

Planning your big bike trip!

by Ed Patterson 


 Helmet w/ eye protection (clear & tinted face-shields) -- the good fitting ones w/ good venting and quiet really help make the ride more comfortable and reduce fatigue.

Tinted face-shields reduce eye-strain thereby also reducing fatigue. Make a spare shield bag from a sweatshirt sleeve or commercial ones are available.


Jacket/riding suit -- Versatile riding apparel reduces amount of clothing needed and increases comfort. Think layers for cold weather as temps/conditions can change on the road quickly.


Boots (comfortable/ protective & waterproof preferable)


Gloves: normal & cold weather


Earplugs (several spares in pockets)


Put this in your luggage (with rain cover):

 Avoid bulky items such as sweaters/sweatshirts to save space and use more efficient clothing. A light-weight windbreaker can keep the chill off around the camp site and stores pocket size and is easy to add layers under. Use the riding gear most of the time and keep that clean pants for eating out or whatever once set up at the camp site. Sandals or similar light shoes to walk around in w/ not on the bike. Tevas and such are comfortable durable and you can even shower w/ um' & require less space to pack.


Jacket liner or heated vest
Long sleeve shirt (2)
Short sleeve shirt (2)
Jeans & belt
Socks 2/2(reg & cold weather)
Underwear (& long)
Sandals or spare sneakers (flat or compact)
Personal kit – toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, deodorant, contact lens supplies, toilet paper, baby wipes

First aid kit w/ aspirin, ibupro/ tylenol etc, anti Hay fever meds (Claritin etc), anti-diarrheic such as Imodium


Put this in your tank bag (with rain cover):


Spare keys (mc & lock)
Glasses or sunglasses
Scarf/bandanna/neck-warmer or a balaclava which works great in any weather
Flashlight (ex. mini mag. w/ extra batteries)
Pen / address book
Knife or Multi-tool -- Gerber, Leatherman etc. a good multi-tool can supplement your tool kit and be all that’s needed for a quick adjustment.
Spray cleaner w/ cloth rag (no paper towels! -- Saeng Can-Do, Honda Spray cleaner & polish, Plexor and others in small cans etc. Use to clean face-shields, windshields, clean bikes etc. Use w/ soft cotton/terry cloth. Paper towel scratches.)
Matches or lighter
Camera (film or digital)
Rain suit
Walkman/mp3 (opt)
Radar det. (opt)
GPS (opt) -- (Global positioning system) Mapping devices are great fun and can help you finding some back-roads not on state maps. Keep maps though and be familiar w/ the device operation.
Camelback (opt)
Insurance/regist./inspect. papers or copy


Pack this on the bike (somewhere!):


Camping Gear:


Tent & ground pad (lite nylon footprint) invest in a good quality tent, they are worth the money. I prefer self-supporting styles. Eureka, Sierra Design, Kelty, North Face etc. See the backpacking stores or catalogs for these.


Sleeping bag & pad Good 3 season bags usually the best. Polargard/ Hollofill etc or Down filled. Down is generally warmer w/ less weight and smaller pack size but Keep um' dry.

Candle or sm. lantern/flashlight
Stove & cook kit (Opt.)
Water bottle
Tarp (Opt. light-weight to cover bike)
Folding stool (Opt.)


Seat-pad (Opt. sheepskin, or other assorted pads)


Duffle bags and "Dry bags" such as Seal Line bags can be used as stuff sacks for gear. Look for durable materials and preferably water resistance.




Standard tools (if cheap replace w/ real ones)

Screwdriver: reversible or multi tip
Pliers or Vice-grip (small to med size)
Small adjustable wrench
Combo wrenches 8, -17mm (Whatever size is commonly used on your bike)
Tire pressure gauge
Mini multi tester (radio shack etc) Use it the check to make sure the MC system is charging properly
Tubeless tire repair kit
Inflation device (CO2 cartridges or some means of adding air.)
Consider a 1/4" drive ratchet and a couple of sockets
Allen or Torx wrenches
Bulbs (spare head light and tail/brake bulbs)

Spare fuses
Spare length of wire and crimp connectors
Electrical tape
Small amount of duct tape
Fix a flat (small can opt)

Bungee nets can hold irregular sized items. Use web type compression straps to squeeze things down and secure as they generally resist loosening and stretching, as bungee cords will.

Spare web straps (compression straps)


Hitting the road! Prep and Groups


Check over the motorcycle completely before the trip!
Tires (Mileage? Condition? Inflate to higher end of the recommended range) Avoid traveling w/ a repaired/plugged tire. Overestimate the wear as traveling w/ a load can reduce mileage remaining
Adjust suspension for the added weight
Battery (fluids, age? fully charged)
Oil, coolant etc.
Supplemental lighting is valuable when traveling in the country after dark.

Unless you are into the "FeButt" get rest! Do some exercise prior to the trip and try to take time to walk or something during the trip to aid the body for long saddle days.

Avoid eating large meals prior to long rides, as it will make you sleepy. Avoid excess caffeine intake.

Riders meeting:


Set the traveling ground rules!

Preferably riders together w/ similar riding styles.
Maintain/ manage space!


Work out hand signals if communication devices are not used. (Need gas, drink, rest room, da' man ahead or spotted)

Make allowances for other traffic that might want to get by or pass the group. Don't try to pass every car on the road together, separate 2-3 bikes in a group w/ space.

Determine when gas stops are needed (fuel range) and gas preferences.
If covering ground keep stop times reasonable. But allow rest time to drink and snack.

If exits off the road are needed or photo ops come up have the leaders pull out w/ plenty of warning and pull out where there is sufficient room for the group.

Learn to read clouds/weather. A solid grey wall ahead and oncoming cars w/ lites wipers on means rain ahead. Scattered showers can sometimes be ignored w/ riding gear.

Consider pairing up riders so they can look out for their pardner' in case of physical or mechanical problems.

Unless covering miles consider secondary roads and a gentler pace. There is a lot more to see on the country roads. Stop now and then for local stuff. Try eating the local "fare", "Main Street cafes", where the locals are eating. Skip the "Mickey D" and the "BK Lounge" (all the chain joints) are the same.

Try something different. Makes for better memories and far more interesting.


 © 2004 NOLARiders

Please feel free to print, share, copy. I just ask that you give credit to NOLARiders.com. Thanks!


© Copyright 2012nolarocks, All rights Reserved. Written For: Motorcycle Road, Track & Trail

About nolarocks

Life long motorbike rider from New Orleans with a passion for riding sportbikes, naked (cafe) bikes, dirt bikes, mini bikes and on and on and on. Throw in some Isle of Man TT racing, short circuit racing, and the glory days of 1950s-1970s English/Irish/Manx road racing and you are getting close. I can't get enough.
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