A list of items you should consider bringing on a motorcycle trip
One thing we can say without fear of being contradicted is that the equipment you need for a motorcycle is a lot: listing the item can be as difficult as thinking how to pack and take them with you. Another seemingly trivial consideration is that some of these objects depend on the country of your destination. However, over time I have seen that most of these things are necessary for any kind of trip and for most destinations. Something I think is quite common and of course happens to me on a regular basis is realizing the amount of stuff you forgot to pack before leaving or you didn’t even think of. Then on the way back, realizing ho many items you brought that you never made use of. So I thought it would a good idea writing down thing on a list, in order to be consulted on the eve of each adventure and updated afterwards. Maybe some things may seem obvious, but at least for me it’s useful to have a list of items and reminders to scroll through while packing.
Let’s start from the top, or rather from the piece that’s in my opinion the most important: the helmet. I suggest everyone to bring it, even if it is not compulsory in the destination country or police don’t pay much attention if you are wearing a full-face helmet or a hat. In many places you will not know the roads, you will not know the habits of people while driving and perhaps not even the bike you have rented.
If you are renting a motorbike, you might ask if the dealer provides the helmet, for a fee or not. It is not always like that, but some shops rent it or can even provide one for free. Personally however, I would never go for a ramshackle helmet, with worn and greasy padding, I recommend bringing your own. Put it in your bag or backpack, fill it with clothes, wrap it with a sweatshirt and you’re done.
Make sure the bike has a cigarette lighter socket to connect a phone or navigator. If it doesn’t, I recommend buying one of those sockets that connect directly to the bike battery via clamps or hooks.
Then ask if the bike has the trunks or panniers: how to organize your suitcase may depend on it and your rental shop might provide them or not, as for the helmet. If the motorbike comes with cases, a further problem might be your plane luggage: where would you lea your airplane trolley once you transfer your stuff to the motorcycle’s bags? The dealer may allow you to leave it at the store but if you plan to return the bike to another place this might be more complicated. I suggest you to buy a large duffel bag, a foldable one. For a few bucks I found very good ones that easily fold up and become as big as a wallet.
If the bike does not have bags (unfortunately it’s not uncommon, see above), the idea is reducing your luggage, bring a saddlebag, a tank, or a backpack and a net with hooks in order to secure everything to the saddle. The operation should be feasible without too many complications and avoid being forced to travel with a backpack, something that’s mortally tiresome.
My personal motorcycle equipment list
This is my list of items, I’ve compiled it over time, plus a short list of reminders for things that should be addressed before leaving. I use them when the inevitable moment of the baggage challenge comes. Clearly it’s not meant to be universal but I hope it can be useful to many.
- motorbike pants;
- gloves, boots;
- waterproof pants, waterproof jacket, boot covers;
- thermal vest;
- refreshing tissues – cooling neck wrap or body cooler, scarf or refreshing fabrics. Never tried but if you go to extremely warm places they can be handy to avoid boiling inside your jacket and helmet;
- helmet balaclava;
- thermal socks;
- sunglasses or motorcycle goggles;
- backpack, bag;
- elastic net or elastic cords with hooks to ensure luggage and bags to the bike;
- tank bag, one of those that stick to the gas tank via magnets or strings
- “inflate and repair” foam spray in case of punctures
- chain oil, the rental shop should provide you with some lubricant, it’s in his own interest;
- small repair kit, spare bulbs, fuses, puncture kits, tools (if renting, ask the shop guy)
- cigarette lighter plug, USB adapter, USB cable;
- support for the navigator or mobile;
- maps, is a good idea to download offline maps, that work without needing an internet connection. For google maps: in the menu you’ll notice an “offline maps” option. You can select and download to your phone the needed map tiles so you can use Google Maps on your phone as a navigator without the need for a data line. Another app I’ve tried that provides even better navigation is Here we go;
- wet wipes, these can be found almost everywhere. Useful for cleaning the helmet visor, the windshield, hands, face from dust and mud: a moment of pure relief;
- ear plugs, useful against wind and engine noise. They take zero space, they can make traveling more comfortable especially when you have to sleep with you biking friends (whose snoring reminds someone turning on and off a Harley through the whole night);
- bag collapsible fuel – there are some plastic bags for liquids , flexible. That is to say that empty occupy the space of a notebook. Those specifications for fuel cost, I’ve taken a water, I spent very little, it is not broken, is dissolved, I was useful as an emergency reserve in those numerous areas where “vattelappesca where the next distributor”
- vehicle documents, insurance (valid abroad), keys, spare keys – especially for those who intend to travel across borders it’s necessaryfor the motorbike to have all the right documents;
- driver’s license and international driver’s license – mind the latter if required in the country where you are headed: it might take some time to obtain it
- chain and padlock, lock from disk – you might not need it, but in general it’s a good idea to make life harder to criminals who can ruin at once your holiday and your bank account;
- Camera and helmet camera, we are all working hard for those facebook likes 😉
- hat, after hours boiling inside your helmet, you hair will be worth a cubist art painting. Having a hat can help you get into a bar without scaring the customers. For bald people, basic protection against the elements.
Among other things to remember is to activate the credit card for abroad use: some cards need to be explicitly enabled for use outside of your country. So it is an essential thing to check, in order to avoid headaches and setbacks at motorcycle rental store, as happened to me a couple of times.
Another thing you could find convenient to bring is small emergency kit, mechanical or medical. I usually take the essential with me, I rely on the local mechanics and my health insurance (hoping it will never be needed). If the region you are visiting is particularly remote, desolate and rugged, seriously consider bringing some more emergency equipment.
One last thing: if going to other countries, remember to buy a decent sanitary insurance (as said above) and to register on your country’s website dedicated to citizens abroad.
Traveling by motorcycle is great, let’s make it a smooth and cushy experience!