What Should I Pack For A Motorcycle Tour?

Tool Roll | GMT Ltd

You have booked, organised and finalised your motorcycle tour and you’re getting all excited, of course you are, you will be joining the many riders that venture out on their bikes to experience what the world has to offer but there is one dilemma that still remains, what kit should you pack?

We are often asked “what kit do I need to bring on the motorcycle tour“, so here is a comprehensive rundown of what you should and what you shouldn’t bring with you on a motorcycle touring holiday

First thing’s first, leave the kitchen sink where it is, you wont need it as the hotels have sinks! Seriously though, many of our clients feel the need to pack everything they think they “may” need and often don’t leave enough room for essentials. If your bike is going to breakdown a 190 piece ratchet and socket set is unlikely to help you out on the side of the road miles from civilisation. Guided Motorbike Tours Ltd tour guides will carry some basic tools, a small tool roll with a small selection of commonly used sockets, spanners, allen keys, adjustable spanner and perhaps a pair of pliers, other than that, that is all you should need, as any other work that is needed to be carried out that requires more tools than this, is unlikely to get the bike mobile again.

We have had clients on tour that have carried, multimeters, a full blown professional socket set and screwdrivers amongst other unnecessary weight bearing equipment. GMT Ltd’s tool kit usually comprises of enough tools to strip half the bike down into bits anyway. You will be surprised how little tools you need to pull the bike apart and in any case, it’s unlikely you will have the ability to repair a burnt out piston ring or wheel bearing if it goes, leave that to the experts, which, are usually only a town or two away!

Tool Roll | GMT Ltd Tool Roll | GMT Ltd

In addition to a small  with some basic tools, we also carry, duck tape (this is a mans best friend), duck tape, carpet tape, gaffer tape, whatever you want to call it is the god of roadside repairs and will fix almost anything. Strong, waterproof (to a degree) and very adhesive, it has been proven to be invaluable in the past, especially when a set of panniers needed to fixed back onto a crashed bike, the tape held two 45 litre box panniers on for over 2000 miles!! We can’t forget zip-ties. Zip-ties are another invaluable piece of lightweight armoury that you can add to your tool kit, a small handful of these will aid in repairing most minor issues, such as; mudguards, foot pegs, radiator housings and brackets and much more.

Tools contained in the tool roll are;

  • Adjustable spanner (large) for wheel removal and larger nuts
  • Pair of long nose pliers
  • Pair of side cutters
  • Ratchet
  • Selection of sockets for common sizes needed for the bike
  • Allen key set
  • Torx set if your bike uses torx bolts
  • Valve removal tool
  • Gator Socket
  • Zip Ties
  • Inner tube patches and repair glue etc
  • Torch (if you break down in the dark!)
  • Wheel nut adapter

Not contained in the tool roll but stored on the bike will also be a multi tool with screwdriver bits and a  to inflate the tyres

Continuing on the tool front, if you run tyres with inner tubes, then a  or spare tubes is a must, a small set of tyre levers and a puncture patch repair kit should get you out the shit if the evil tyre gremlins decide to ruin your day. I was riding in South Africa one year and a thorn 3″ long punctured my tyre. At the time I was running on tubeless, luckily I had a plugging kit and it saved the day! What could have ended up with a night out in the cold desert waiting for recovery was overcome in the space of 15 minutes. The tyre repair kits are great and come with C02 bottles, the mini ones you buy for BB Guns and a valve adapter so you can get enough air in the tyre to get you to somewhere that can do a full repair, highly recommended piece of kit!

ELECTRONICS 

The modern world is full of electronics and unfortunately when they get wet they don’t work, or tend to screw up something else that’s connected to them, like for instance on some bikes, when the 12v USB socket becomes full of water it plays havoc with the bikes electrics and that, is not good!

Phones, tablets, cameras and so on, can draw a lot of power from your bikes battery, depending on the size of your alternator you may not be replacing more charge than you are using. It’s a good idea to find out (Google) what capacity your alternator is, that way you know if you have a 5 amp alternator then plugging in more than two devices, such as a high end mobile phone, a sat nav and a helmet camera, which, may be putting you on the borderline in terms of replacing the juice in the battery. Not ideal when you pull over for a fag or a coffee and then the bike wont start!

Ideally, use only the devices that are essential, such as your phone and sat nav. Get yourself a battery pack, some of which can also jump start your battery and are very compact, this will charge up anything else you need charging through the day, especially if you are camping. Many cameras these days have the ability to swap batteries so take a couple of spare ones and buy a multi USB charger socket, that way you can charge all your farckles up at night in the hotel or even if you are at a campsite they will usually (with a smile) let you plug it into the socket in the bar area, as you are likely to be spending some time in there, aren’t you! Don’t forget the Travel Adapter plug.

CLOTHES & PERSONAL ITEMS

Where to start!
Some riders have the ability to pack all their requirements into a rucksack and still look dapper each day with a new set of nicely pressed clothes, how do they do it and cram everything into a small motorcycle rucksack like the Kriega range of backpacks? which, I must say, are highly recommended for their longevity and robustness.

There is a nack to packing clothes and rather than explain it, which, is difficult, here is a video of how to compress your clothing and pack it into small areas, keeping it neat and tidy with the minimal of creases.

For the majority of us, men and women, we like to have clean underwear to wear daily, unless of course you have some weird fetish and like walking around in smelly undies! But carrying 14 pairs of pants and 14 pairs of socks for a two week motorcycle tour can have serious implications on the amount of space you’ll use. In most areas you will visit in the world there will be a facility to have your clothes cleaned, that could be a hotel or even a campsite and it doesn’t cost much. An alternative is to buy what you need when you are travelling and just a few items to keep you going, it’s all part of the experience!

So instead of taking a pair of undies for each days travel just take a set for every other day, if you really do need to change daily then grab some washing detergent and wash them yourself in the bath, campsite or a stream even (make sure its bio friendly, we wouldn’t want you killing off the wildlife!) then hang to dry. Often it will dry quickly if you place the wet items between a folded towel and put some weight on it to absorb the moisture then just drape it over your the persons bed you’re sharing a room with… only joking!

Wash kit comes in all shapes and sizes these days and in most supermarkets you can grab smaller sized toiletries specifically for travel that will often last you the duration of your motorcycle tour, very handy for space saving!

Also, take clothes that are suited to the environment and culture of where you are going. A good tip is to try and dress like the locals. I often take just a safari shirt and a dark pair of cargo trousers with zip off legs along with a pair of espadrilles or flip flops, as opposed to my favourite football shirt, white shorts, sandals and white trainer socks, you know who you are!

TOP TIPS
Key essentials when packing your clothes bag is to keep everything in one bag on the bike and ensure it is watertight. I have seen many riders after a long day of riding in heavy rain, open their bag, pannier or whatever and all their clothes are waterlogged. Put the clothes inside a heady duty bin liner, not the ones that tear easily even if you breath on them, but something like a rubble bag (you can get these from supermarkets), which, are tougher and should last the trip. They will keep your clothes dry no matter what you throw at it. Even if you have a watertight pannier, the water can still get in, especially when you open the pannier and all the water pours in or you are fumbling about in heavy rain. Nothing worse than getting out of wet bike gear into damp or sogging civy clothing.

Finally, don’t forget essentials such as diarrhea tablets, pain killers, mozzy repellant, tummy upset pills and so on, this could make the difference between a great day, despite eating something dodgy, and a shit day, pardon the pun!

So, to conclude; 

  • Pack less than you think, you can always grab stuff on the go, such as tshirts, socks etc…
  • Keep everything watertight, especially sensitive electronics like tablets, phones
  • Don’t burn out your alternator charging all your gadgets – get a battery pack instead
  • Use quality panniers, cheap ones are not cost effective in the long run when all your gear pours out of them down the motorway! See here
  • No need to pack a tool chest full of tools, better to have some contact numbers on your phone!
  • Use a quality rucksack to save your shoulders if you intend to use one!

That’s all for now folks, ride safe and enjoy!

 

About Author

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Chris Seagal
Motorcycle tours guide and explorer. RoSPA Advanced Motorcycle Instructor (Gold)

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