How to Pack for a Long-Distance Motorcycle Trip
Traveling long distances by motorcycle is an exhilarating experience. The sights, smells and sounds combine to deliver a unique perspective on the areas you travel. Whether you’re on a dual sport, sport or cruiser, there are some basic steps to take before and during your trip to ensure you set up your bike – and yourself – for the best experience possible.
Here are seven tips to remember.
1. Know the Season
Spring, summer and autumn travel bring about their unique challenges.
In spring, you’ll tend to experience wetter roads, potentially with salt and dirt still on them from winter traffic, along with variable temperatures throughout the day. Spring does offer less tourist traffic in well-visited areas, which can allow you to enjoy a unique and often more genuine experience around some communities and attractions.
Summer will supply you with clear roads and warmer weather but can also bring about higher volumes of traffic, so it’s important to be patient.
In autumn, you’ll encounter brisk weather, less traffic and, in general, more wildlife on the road. In some areas, the weather is much milder and allows for year-round travel. Just keep in mind the weather can always quickly turn for the worse later in the season.
2. Personal Protection
Many riders overlook the value of self-care while on a long trip. Wind, sun and extreme temperatures can affect your overall energy and focus levels, especially on those long days.
Protect yourself by wearing sunscreen on exposed skin, wearing a neck buff or scarf, and using quality protective eyewear and earplugs. Your preparation should also include an inspection of your protective jacket and pants to make sure they’re in top shape. Do the same with your helmet, and be sure to choose boots that offer ankle protection and the appropriate defense for the anticipated weather. These are simple things, but keeping safe and maintaining your senses will certainly help you on your trip.
3. Dress in Layers
Before you set out on any trip, it’s important to understand the type of weather you expect to encounter and bring the proper clothing layers. Wool or synthetic base layers and mid-layers are perfect for those colder days. Try to avoid cotton and down-filled layers if you expect to get wet at all. Down-filled insulation is great when dry, but if the insulation gets wet it takes a long time to dry and becomes a poor insulator. The same holds true for your sleeping bag if you’ll be camping along your trip.
4. Eat Well and Save Energy
Throughout the day, it’s easy to lose energy and become fatigued. That’s why it’s important to keep track of your energy levels, food and water intake throughout the day.
Try to avoid bad eating habits on the road. They can contribute to a lack of focus and energy, which could lead to avoidable mistakes while riding. Instead, try packing healthy snacks that you can eat throughout the day and avoiding large greasy meals that may cause drowsiness. Finally, drink lots of water, even if the weather is not overly hot.
5. Pack and Pack Again
Once you’ve got all your gear together, go over everything and ensure it’s in working condition. Then sort your gear based on the order you’ll use it throughout a typical day. For instance, you’ll likely only pull out your camping gear once a day, so it can be placed in the bottom of your bags or boxes. Your tools, layers and water should be more easily accessible.
With everything sorted, pack your gear in your bags or boxes to ensure it will fit. Then unpack it, and repack it. Doing this will help you become more efficient with packing, help you make sure you have what you need and make it easier to find things when you need them. Nothing is worse than having to pull apart all your gear just to remember where you stashed that extra set of gloves.
6. Tools and TCLOCK
Know your bike and the tools that will help repair it. Although buying a generic toolkit is easy, it’s often not the best solution for many simple mechanical issues that can arise while riding. Think ahead, and check that you have the right tools to fix common issues or handle any short-term maintenance needs. This might include a flat tire, loose chain or loose hose clamps.
Then, perform a full check of your bike. An easy way to remember all the checkpoints is the acronym “TCLOCK,” which stands for:
T: Tires and wheels – Check your rubber to make sure tires are free from cracks. Then ensure your wheels are dent-free and straight.
C: Control levers – Inspect and check for any fraying or cracks on cables and hoses.
L: Lights and battery – Check battery terminals, headlights, brake lights, rear lights and turn signals.
O: Oil levels – Most bikes have an eyeglass to check the engine oil in the reservoir, but some have a dipstick. Make sure the oil is at the correct level. If you’re due for an oil change, Quicksilver offers a series of premium motorcycle engine oils for many types of bikes
C: Chassis – Check your handlebars for alignment and tightness. Then push on your suspension to make sure it is stiff, without soft spots or play. Go over the body of your machine to ensure all bolts are tight.
K: Kickstand – Check that your kickstand and kickstand sensor are working well.
Finally, don’t forget to make sure all grease points are properly greased or oiled and fluids are topped off per the manufacturer’s recommendations. Premium Quicksilver powersports lubricants, including on-road chain lubricant and fork oil, can help you get the job done right so you can ride with confidence.
7. Solo Safety
If you set out on a solo trip, remember to tell people where you’re going and when you plan on being back. Then keep in touch and send updates often. It’s worthwhile to carry a satellite phone or personal locator device in case of emergency. On top of this, carry a proper first-aid kit, and invest some time in learning how to use it before you travel.
Lastly, remember how lucky you are to be able to do something so few people in the world will ever experience. Whether you’re on pavement or off-road, every turn you take will lead you to a new memory that can change your life from there on out. Enjoy the distance away from home, and experience your trip to the fullest.