There's no doubt that motorcycle road trips can be an experience packed with fun. But road tripping for motorcyclists isn't as straightforward as it is in a car. You can't just gas up and drive off to your destination. There's also a major difference between taking a Sunday ride down a local highway and riding hundreds of miles on a cross-state trip.
First-time motorcycle road trips can introduce you to all sorts of new challenges. In fact, a poll of American Motorcyclist Association staff members revealed it can take years of trial and error to learn the best ways to handle a long trip. But it doesn't have to be that way. You can save yourself time and headache by checking out this list of packing tips for your next motorcycle trip from Ryan Jackson of Twisted Road.
Wear the same clothes under your riding gear every day and change into clean clothes at each stop during the night. Until you can't bear it, wear your riding clothes, then exchange them for your off-bike clothing and look for a laundromat.
If you're riding a bike, or you go to an event with a lot of other riders, no one's going to notice if you're wearing the same t-shirt for three days running.
Take half the clothes and double the money you think you're going to need is the general rule. If more clothes are required, buy them along the way.
Keep the Load in the Center
Place heavy stuff down low in the front of the saddlebags to keep their weight close to the middle of the bike. Heavy stuff stored above, or too far back, can influence handling. Pack things that you to get at quickly, such as water, a rain suit, or warm clothing in an easily accessible spot. Put your tools and tire repair kit on the bag floor.
Pack a separate bag for items that go with you to the motel room so you don't waste 20 minutes rooting around for your toothbrush in the saddlebags.
Keep Space in Mind
Changing weather might have you bundled up against the cold to begin the day's trip and shucking out of it as the day warms. Do a trial pack by putting all your foul-weather gear in the saddlebags, then add the rest of your baggage. That way, when the sun comes out, you'll still have space to stow your raincoat, hot gear, and thick gloves.
Make sure your soft saddlebags and tank bags are placed so that they don't interfere with your ability to get on or off the bike or to plant your feet firmly at stops. Expandable tank bags are nice until you fill them with so much stuff that they obstruct your vision. The same applies to expandable saddlebags, which can drop enough to scrape into corners, or touch the exhaust or chain when heavily loaded.
Take a Trial Run
Pack your bike and see if the luggage straps fall loose or rub on the paint for a ride. Take out your foul-weather gear; if it takes longer than a couple of minutes, reconsider how you've packed it.
To see how the extra weight impacts your stopping distance, do some braking exercises, and familiarize yourself with the handling under various conditions. If you have a passenger with you, both you and all of your baggage should be on the dry run.
In the worst cases, a screwdriver tool roll, a few wrenches, some zip-ties, needle-nose pliers, and a tire-repair kit will come in very handy. If possible, it's good to have these tools stored on your bike at all times, but especially when you're a long way away from home.
Have a snack or two ready for those days when you're in the middle of nowhere and still a couple of hundred miles from the nearest diner.
In case you get caught out in colder-than-expected climates, base layers are also nice to have. This can be a form-fit technical base layer, like the Klim Teton, or it can be a t-shirt with long sleeves and a pair of warmer pants that will fit under your gear. Anything that makes it possible to layer up.
Don't forget a few clothes and any ancillary gear changes that are required for your journey. Many riders want a small tent, sleeping bag, or blanket to camp on the way to a destination, and any other necessities you need to be comfortable outdoors.
It's entirely up to you at the end of the day what comes along for the ride. Just be sure to keep the packing list as slim as possible and the baggage firmly anchored.
Don't Forget the Accessories
Once you are all set for your road trip, make sure that you carry all the necessary essentials to avoid any last-minute issues or discomfort.
Accessories such as a tire repair kit, chain oil, wax, GPS mounts, and bungees are important. Make a list of all the accessories you plan to bring and then re-check your list once you've finished packing.
You may also want to take your motorcycle to a mechanic and check all its parts so that during your ride you do not face any complications or problems.
Make First-Aid a Priority
Muscle pain, insect bites, minor injuries due to accidents, and nausea are a few of the problems you may face on your journey.
If you get sick or hurt yourself while on your trip, you'll want to have all the crucial first-aid and necessary medicines at your disposal.
Additional band-aids, bandages, and antiseptic lotions should also be brought so that if you get injured, you have the necessary treatments.
Documents are Your Best Companion
Laws vary from place to place, so bring all documents you might need in case if your day goes sideways. When you head out for a bike ride, documentation like your vehicle registration, driver's license, motorcycle insurance card, and passport should always be there with you.
If you plan to go on a road trip on a motorcycle but do not own one, rent a motorcycle in Las Vegas from Twisted Road. Learn more at twistedroad.com!
Have a tip that was missed? Leave it in the comments below.
About Ryan Jackson
Ryan Jackson is a motorcycle fanatic who has had over 10 years of experience exploring motorcycle road trips in the United States. His dream is to discover more amazing trips around the world in his lifetime.