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TIPS FOR MOTORCYCLE JOURNEYS

Being Safe and self-reliant on the road

rider on a loaded bike with red rock spires behind

Despite my best efforts, sometimes I end up with an overloaded bike.

In addition to my general travel philosophy and tips, for motorcycle trips I have to add a few more items.

Bike Preparation

People with expensive bikes, kitted out with the latest and most expensive farkles, are usually too busy making money and don't have for big trips. Most people that I meed on the road ride whatever they get their hands on, possibly with some basic aftermaket parts.

I fit squarely into the second group. I have never been in a situation when I wished I had a shinier part, more luggage or even more horsepower. But I have been in situations where I wished I had less luggage and lighter, smaller, even cheaper, bike. Bling factor may not be your best ally when dealing with a corrupt cop trying to extract as much money from you as possible and it's definitely a magnet for thieves.

The list of items I like to add to my bikes is fairly short:

I am not crazy about any particular brand and I usually mix and match. I don't believe that the cheapest product will be the best, but I don't believe that the most expensive products will be much better than 2nd or 3rd most expensive ones. Sadly, I have a list of products I bought from famous manufacturers at top price that were complete garbage.

I have had good experiences with Tusk products from Rocky Mountain ATV/MC and they are much cheaper than the competition. Their aluminum panniers were better designed than Happy trail ones and far better than SW-Motech panniers, which were designed to leak (after all, they do want to sell you a plastic bag for $100 to protect your belonging from the water). Tusk now makes even tires and I am not the only who thinks that they are a great value.

As for the super cheap Chinese parts, I don't have much experience other than some broken RAM mounts. For critical parts, I try to stay away from rock bottom prices and manufacturers without history.

I find it rather amusing when my friends invest as much money in after market parts as they paid for their bikes. Then they put 5-6 thousand miles on the bike in a ten year period and start looking for a newer, better bike.

Motorcycle travel, especially to developing countries on other continents, is about survival, not about riding fast and showing off latest parts.

Preparation for the Trip

Motorcycle Gear

On the road

mosquito net over a bed

I simply do not travel without a mosquito net through tropical countries. If backpacking, I carry a tiny, single attachment point net. In this photo, I hung this 4-point attachment net with bungee cords. Mosquito nets are available in most tropical countries, but they may not be as packable as the expensive ones from your home country.

rider next to a motorcycle with rear wheel removed for tire repair

I like to be able to do minor repairs myself.

overloaded motorcycle with a broken bridge in front

For the infamous BR-319, I carried a 20l can of extra fuel. Fuel canisters are available anywhere in the world. I buy a cheap one when I need it and then throw it away when I am done. Some people prefer to carry fancy, expensive fuel containers throughout the trip.