Quick Tips...Motorcycle Trip Planning
Just a few quick tips for planning motorcycle trips;
When planning a motorcycle trip, some of the first questions you'll want to ask yourself should be how long does it take to get there, how long you plan on being gone, where you intend to go, where will you stay for lodging, and weather conditions, Proper prior planning, having a primary and secondary plan can mean the difference between a good trip and inconvenient one. Having a route mapped out can make a trip much easier. Taking along a GPS and paper maps with directions (from mapping services such as Yahoo maps or Google maps) work well.
Most motorcycles are limited in their storage capacity, so you'll probably need to invest in some type of storage bag. Some options include saddlebags, tank bags and tail bags. While hard bags have more weather protection than soft bags, they cost more, add more weight, and require more involved installation.
I have a list of things that I keep in my larger tank bag at all times.
Key Mechanical Spares & Lubes
Extra fuses, bulbs, spark plugs, a spare key and a *small can spray chain lube. (*depends on length of trip)
Tire Repair Kit
A tire plug kit preferably one which includes C02 cartridges or pump for tire inflation.
First Aid Kit
A small pre-assembled kit, which will ensure that key items are not missing. Kits should be based on type of traveling / adventure is being done.
Gloves (heavy and light)
Knife (pocket, hip etc)
A couple of small microfiber towels for wiping
Small Bottle of Windex
Small roll of duct tape
Memo Pad & Pen
For longer trips I add several other items;
Spare Fuel Line w/hose clamp
Bungee cords or polyester rope
Cable or Disc Lock
12 volt outlet
Can be permanent or portable. I made one so that it is portable. I can remove it when not in use and use my battery tender for my battery charger & portable air pump as well.
Rain Gear (depends on weather)
Larger rain gear is often times in a back pack. Rain Liners are packed and put in the back pocket of my Reflective Vest.
Pre-moistened Toilet Wipes.
Nice to have items I also carry;
Spare Clutch Cable
Lightweight Bike Cover
A nicely secured light weight cover can reduce exposure to the elements (dust, sun, rain, frost, snow, dew, blowing debris, etc)
Using the acronym T-C-L-O-C-S from MSF, you can do a basic inspection of your motorcycle to prepare for your trip.
Make sure both tires are properly inflated, using an air pressure monitor that you bring with you on rides. Check for tread wear, damage and balancing. Don't risk riding on tires that might need replacement; if you suspect a tire will not last long enough for a ride, have it replaced.
Are your cables (clutch, throttle and brakes) and controls intact and working? Are your grips in good shape? All gauges functioning properly?
Make sure your headlights (high & low beam), turn signals, tail and brake lights work. Also ensure your electrical system/battery is working properly.
O: Oils & fluids.
Check everything from engine oil and coolant to brake fluid. If you are close to your next service, go ahead and change it. Also make sure your chain is properly lubed. Repair any leaks and replace any low fluids. Also visually inspect and make sure the radiator and fan are in proper working order.
Ensure that the frame, suspension (shocks and forks), chain, bolts and fasteners are all secure and intact and/or adjusted. A clean chassis will quickly indicate a leak. Cleaning will also remove grease and oils from areas where traction is necessary (foot pegs, tires and brakes).
Make sure the center stand and/or side stand isn't cracked or bent, and that springs properly hold the assembly away from the pavement when stowed. Lube if needed.
Lastly and most important is an assessment of yourself. Your own physical and mental condition will be important to a successful and enjoyable trip. Theres nothing worse than being stuck in the saddle of a bike when youre not comfortable for any reason. Riding a motorcycle on a long trip can be exhausting both mentally and physically. Youll want to be physically able to handle the ride, so you need to be somewhat physically fit. Riding a motorcycle isnt like driving a car. It requires a more physical input and reaction than it takes in a car because you have to physically control yourself and the bike as opposed to simply steering a car. To help avoid mental and physical fatigue, take breaks, stretch, relax and refocus, then get back on the ride and enjoy the ride.