Perhaps you live in the U.S. and you’re thinking about taking the motorcycle road trip you’ve always dreamed of.
Maybe you’re making your first trip to the States and you’re thinking about renting a motorcycle in San Francisco so you can ride over the Golden Gate Bridge in style on a Harley or an Indian.
Whatever brings you to two wheels, riding motorcycles in the U.S. offers you an enormous spread of remarkable landscapes, ocean highways, and almost every kind of riding you can imagine.
For all beginners, packing for a motorcycle road trip is one of the biggest headaches when you’re not sure what you’re doing, where you’re going, or what you will need.
Rather than bombarding you with a long list of equipment you might not be familiar with, we suggest instead you formulate a simple packing checklist long before you start thinking about booking a flight to the U.S. or renting a motorcycle in Las Vegas.
We’ll now give you 5 insights into packing for your road trip the right way so you have everything you need and nothing you don’t.
5 Road Trip Packing Tips For Beginner Motorcyclists
- Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail
- Take a test ride somewhere for a few hours
- Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize: You Can Buy Almost Anything You Need on the Road
- Consider a Compression Sack
- Some Things Never Change
1) Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail
Rushing in without proper preparation means there’s a strong chance you’ll end up regretting your lack of forethought. Don’t rush the planning stage. Get excited rather than frustrated and you’ll maximize your chances of being fully prepared for all eventualities.
Before you even think about what you’re going to take with you on a lengthy road trip, you’ll need to consider how you’re going to carry it.
Now, many touring bikes come with built-in bags so you have no concerns about luggage. How about if you’re looking at sports motorcycles or any other motorcycle that calls for add-on luggage, though?
Well, you have two main options at your disposal: hard cases or soft baggage. Each has their merits and drawbacks so personalize your decision here rather than seeking a one-size-fits-all solution.
Expandable soft luggage is inexpensive and lightweight. It’s also super-simple to unzip when you need something in a hurry.
Hard cases, on the other hand, give you added security and unrivalled weather protection at the expense of size, weight, and the overall cost.
The primary benefit of independent soft luggage is the way you can just remove it from your motorcycle when you’re ready to retire for the night. This is possible with some hard cases, but by no means all of them.
Now, although you still have a lot of work to do, everyone’s packing list is different so we’ll assume you’ve done your due diligence and you’re all packed and on the road.
Before you leave, though, there’s something you should do first…
2) Take a test ride somewhere for a few hours
Is this your debut multi-day road trip toting luggage?
If so, you’re in for an exhilarating experience, but you should practice riding fully laden before the big day arrives and it’s too late to turn back.
Pack your bike as if you’re heading off on the road trip proper, but instead, take a several hour trip with all your luggage onboard.
Pull over at some stage and check the straps on your luggage have stayed firmly in place. Monitor the load to make sure it hasn’t shifted around. You should also check that nothing comes into contact with the scorching muffler. While it’s important to pack everything you need, it’s equally key not to pack so much that you can’t easily get on and off your motorcycle. Like everything on your looming trip, you’ll need to perform a fine balancing act to get this right.
Use this test ride as the chance to carry out some braking drills. When you’re riding fully loaded, braking distance increases and handling is also impacted.
When you feel confident in all areas, have another.
3) Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize: You Can Buy Almost Anything You Need on the Road
You should make sure, of course, you have plenty of wet weather gear and cold weather gear so you’re prepared for anything.
While warm clothing, wet weather gear, a tool kit, a first aid kit, and a tire repair kit are musts, don’t fall into the trap of wondering, “What if?”
You can’t cater for everything you might need, so keep firmly in mind that you can always buy just about anything required en route.
So, pack your essentials and your sense of humor, but worry about the rest if and when you need to.
4) Consider a Compression Sack
We presume you’ve already made the decision between hard and soft luggage, but don’t overlook how you’re going to contain your gear within that luggage.
Use either a soft bag or a compression sack to keep everything neatly organized within your luggage. The added advantage of doing this is the freedom it gives you to leave luggage on your motorcycle and just take what you need into the hotel room after a hard day on your Harley.
5) Some Things Never Change
Even with meticulous planning, there are some inevitable elements of any road trip that bear some thought before you hit the road.
The weather conditions are always apt to change on a dime. Even in more temperate climates, riding on a motorcycle can expose you to rapid shifts in elevation and weather. You could end up experiencing four seasons in one day, so make sure you’ve packed accordingly and you layer your clothing to make it easier to stay comfy in the saddle.
When you’re assessing how much luggage you can take while still remaining stable on your steed, factor in potential trips down service roads or unpaved stretches of road. Err on the side of caution and make certain your balance is not compromised.
What To Do Next
As long as you have some cash or a card with you, very little else will be a deal-breaker so why not limber up and get ready to hit the road? Stay safe and let us know how you get on!
Interesting Related Article: “4 Benefits of Riding A Motorcycle“