How to Pack for a Motorcycle Tour

Tour 1There is nothing like life on two wheels, whether you started when you were fourteen or forty. Now, getting around town is one thing, but what if you want to go on a tour? You’re going to need to pack a little extra, for sure, but you’ve got limited space on those two wheels. What should you pack and where are you going to put it? If you think you need to pack more, maybe you should take the car.

The Absolute Essentials

You should already have some of the essentials of motorcycle gear on your ride, such a tool kit, can of Fix-a-Flat, and an air pump. Your basic safety gear, of course, should never be left behind, such as your helmet, glasses, gloves, and rain gear. When packing for a road trip, whether you’re riding 5 days or 15 days, you definitely need the following, in addition to whatever you’re wearing.

  • Clothing – Pack for five days. Pants, socks, and shirts can go for two or three days, but change your underwear every day. Pack two or three shirts, both for variety and layering. Sleepwear is a good addition, unless you sleep au natural. Think synthetics, which compress well, dry quickly, and keep you warm even when wet.
  • Hygiene – Pack for fifteen days. Castile and biodegradable soaps are great, because you can use them to clean everything from your socks to your hair. Plus, they smell great, so they cover any road funk you miss. This is somewhat less important if you’re hoteling it, because they provide hotel soaps and laundry services. Finally, travel size toothpaste, deodorant, and mouthwash are essential, and don’t forget chapstick and lotion for your face and hands.
  • Other – A physical map or a flip notebook are a great way to keep track of directions, and they don’t require batteries or cell service. Speaking of batteries, pack a USB charger and power pack, something with at least 6,000 mAh capacity, which will keep you juiced up for days, even if you can’t find an outlet. If you plan on any night riding, a headlamp is a great idea in case you need to adjust or repair something in the dark. Don’t forget good ole’ cash, because not everyone accepts credit or debit cards.

How to Pack for Your Road Trip

Tour 2When packing your bike for your trip, pack wisely. Keep in mind that you can drastically change the dynamics of the bike, depending on how much weight and where you place it on the bike.

  • Gravity – Usually, the center of gravity is somewhere around the transmission. When you add a passenger – road trips are more fun with two – and rear saddlebags, the center of gravity now switches closer to the rear tire, perhaps even behind the rear axle. The result, of course, is reduced handling. Be sure to distribute weight forwards as well and adjust tire pressure to compensate.
  • Interference – Ensure you don’t block airflow into the radiator or engine area, which could cause overheating. Make sure bags won’t get too close to the tires, chain drive, or exhaust, which could damage your bags, your bike, and yourself. Always attach bags to something solid, not to other bags. Use bungees to keep everything snug.

Why Did You Pack That?

No matter how much you think you need it, chances are you don’t. Camera tripods seem like a great addition to even an avid photographer’s luggage, but chances are it won’t fit easily anywhere and you’ll use it twice and wonder why you bothered. For the ladies, we think you look great, but if you want to look presentable, we understand some of you want your makeup – just cut it down to two or three essential items and thank us later.

When it comes to packing for a motorcycle tour, it could be said that packing less is the best way to go. Stick to the essentials, know the disposables and consumables you can buy on the road, and be ready to do a little laundry. Above all, enjoy the ride.

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