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Motorcycle Touring Tips
Mototouring can mean different things to different riders. Depending on the cyclist, touring can be a weekend or weeks of highway travel.
If you’re going on the road, you’ll need a place to store your stuff. Here is an overview of some of the baggage to consider:
Soft bags are a good substitute or complement to hard luggage. It is usually made of cloth, nylon or similar fabric. These panniers can be used with hard or soft panniers.
The advantage of soft luggage lies in their lightness and ease of installation. They are also easy to remove when you arrive at your destination. Some of the downsides are that they can be easily deleted by someone else. They are also less water resistant which means they need to be covered or you may need to wrap everything inside with plastic bags.
Hard saddlebags are usually made from fiberglass or some type of hard plastic. These bags provide better protection by helping to prevent theft and from the elements. Those of you with Harley-Davidson touring models already have some type of hard bag. It is important to follow the loading recommendations, which we will see later. A disadvantage of rigid bags is the cost.
Tank bags, usually made of a soft material, are mounted to the gas tank using magnets or straps. A pad on the bottom will help protect the tank. Usually, softer items are packed in this type of bag due to its location. Many of these bags have card pockets. Tank bags are like the glove box in your car. An advantage of these bags is that they are very easy to install.
THINGS TO TAKE
Deciding what to pack on your trip can be a matter of taste rather than science. There are some essentials that you should try not to do without. Some of them are:
Basic tool kit
Tire pressure gauge
Tire repair kit
Toiletries (we all know what that means)
Credit card/emergency cash, more cash
Emergency contact details.
Medical information (allergy, etc.)
It is important to determine how much stuff you can safely load onto your bike. Check the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) of your bikes. This number is the recommended maximum combined total weight. That means the bike, riders and gear combined. To determine the load capacity, start with the vehicle’s wet weight of the motorcycle, which can be found in the owner’s manual, plus the weight of the fuel.
1. Find the gross vehicle weight. Again, this is the total combined weight of the motorcycle, fuel, fluids, riders, gear, and cargo.
2. Find the weight as shipped from the factory and add six pounds for every gallon of fuel capacity.
3. Subtract the second step amount from the first step amount. The result will be the motorcycle’s maximum load capacity, including riders, luggage, gear, and whatever else you load onto the motorcycle.
Remember to load heavy equipment lower and evenly for more stability. All your stuff can weigh a lot more than you think.
MORE TOUR TIPS
- If you are going to ride with others, share information to avoid doubling up on certain items such as tire gauge and tool kits.
- Bring underwear and socks made of synthetic material, not cotton. They can be rinsed easily in hotels and dried on the shower curtain rod.
- Mail souvenirs home instead of trying to take them with you.
- Always carry sunscreen.
- Bring more cash than stuff. There are some things you can buy along the way. You don’t always have to pack everything.
- Try to take a GPS device. You can find great country roads and shortcuts.
- A hiking bag rather than a Tour-Pak also serves as a backrest.
- Pack clothes in trash bags inside your T-Bag to protect them from the rain.
- Try to have a hotel on the outskirts of a city so you don’t have to deal with so much traffic, especially during morning rush hour.
- If you must do laundry, fill snack-sized zipper bags with detergent. It is cheaper than the laundromat or the hotel and does not take up much space.
Whether you’re hitting the road for the weekend or hiking for weeks, these motorcycle touring tips should help.
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