Having trouble getting everything packed for your next road trip? Here’s how to pack your motorcycle efficiently without having to leave anything behind.
At some point, every motorcycle owner contemplates a road trip, whether it be short or long, city or country. The downside of undertaking such trips on a motorcycle is the lack of space available.
Unlike a motor vehicle, you do not necessarily have luggage space to haul an entire week’s worth of clothing and all the essentials to survive a few days out in the wild. Some motorcycles are better suited for travelling, however, you can’t simply change what you have parked in your garage to suit what you have planned.
Dual-purpose bikes might be the obvious choice for road trips, as they generally come equipped with additional storage like panniers and top boxes, or can be adapted easily to accommodate factory-specific or aftermarket storage solutions. They also offer a more relaxed riding position across a multitude of different types of terrain. So how do you pack a motorcycle if you don’t have any fancy side panniers or top boxes?
Types of luggage
#1: Tank bags
can be purchased as either universal or specific to your bike. They will attach with straps or, in some cases, use magnets to stick directly to metal tanks. Most tank bags have a transparent front pouch that allows you to store a mobile phone, tablet and GPS (or even a regular paper map) for easy viewing while riding. Tank bags are a great choice to house your most valuable items as the bag will always be in full view while riding.
Many riders have told stories of losing top boxes and bags on the back of their bikes and only realising that they have lost valuable items many miles away. Common items that are stored in tank bags are mobile phones, cameras, documentation, cash, credit cards and other essential electronics. These bags also offer great portability as you can easily remove and carry them in your hand if you need to be away from your motorcycle at any given moment.
#2: Day pack
Day packs come in an assortment of styles and sizes. Some of them offer features such as internal water bladders for hydration, and solar panels for device charging. These backpacks allow you to carry extra clothing items you may need in the event of weather changes and are generally reserved for items you may need easy access to.
Common items stored in day packs are rain covers for clothing, multi-tools, puncture repair kits etc. Take care not to overload any backpack as this adds extra strain on your body. The added top weight may also make your motorcycle act differently from what you’re used to.
#3: Motorcycle dry pack
Dry packs are available in different capacities and a multitude of designs; they are soft and will fit snugly on the back of any motorcycle. These bags offer great water-resistant properties so you never have to worry about your valuables being drenched if you end up in a rainstorm. They can also be stacked on top of each other and secured to one another using the existing clips.
To secure loads on the back of your motorcycle, it is recommended to use a product like ROK straps. They offer the benefits of bungee hoops with the combined adjustability of ratchet straps, without any of the metal parts.
When packing your dry pack, always load the heaviest items at the bottom of the bag and ensure that your load is secured on the motorcycle using the recommended tying points. Take care to not have any part of the bags in direct contact with the exhaust as this may cause the material to melt. Also, ensure that any excess rope or straps are tucked away before setting off.
Loading a bike may change its handling characteristics, so pack only essential items. Pack your bike a few days ahead of time and take short rides to get used to the extra load. Always consult your owner’s manual for load capacities, and adjust tyre pressures where necessary. Carry an inventory of what you’ve packed; gear can be extremely expensive, so you don’t want to leave anything behind.
Below is a list of essential items for any motorcycle road trip:
- Head torch/ head lamp
- Multi-tool with pliers
- Basic first aid kit
- Motorcycle with CO2 canisters.
AND THAT'S IT!
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