As Norman Reedus has taught us through “The Walking Dead,” a two-wheeled vehicle can be the ideal way to evade hoards of the undead and human survivors alike. Here’s your step-by-step guide on how to outrun the zombie apocalypse on a motorcycle.
Step One: Choose the Right Bike
In any sort of apocalypse scenario — zombies or no — transportation is going to be a major problem. I recall here the 1998 masterpiece “Deep Impact” in which (spoiler alert) Elijah Wood escapes through gridlocked traffic on a dirt bike.
You and I can learn a lot from Frodo’s choice — a simple, broadly capable, large-capacity dual sport.
In any disaster scenario, you’ll almost certainly be facing horrendous traffic as legions of drivers attempt to flee populated areas in their gas guzzling automobiles. Light, slim, easily-manageable dual sport motorcycles are an ideal lane-splitting tool; they’re capable of easily squeezing through gaps other motorcycle can’t and the tall, upright riding position contributes to both vision and low-speed control.
Now add in something a little more significant than just a traffic jam. An earthquake, perhaps? Those have been known to cause damage to road infrastructure, collapsing bridges, breaking water mains, felling power lines, and this is especially likely during an apocalypse. Suddenly, you need a bike that won’t be fazed by rubble, is capable of easily hopping curbs and which opens up the widest selection of alternate routes. We can’t recommend doing so for liability reasons, of course, but a single-track vehicle may be able to find ways through or over damaged roadways that a four-wheel vehicle never could. A four-inch-wide footprint means a bike can go pretty much anywhere you can walk.
Worst case scenario? A dual sport doesn’t need any roads at all.
Like Elijah, we’d go for one of the 650 cc, single-cylinder dual sports. They’re cheap, widely available, tough as nails and, should you ever be subject to an EMP attack, remember to run on carbs, not fuel-injection.
Step Two: Modify Your Ride
So the above dual sports are basic, cheap and capable. But, because they’re all such old designs, they also leave a lot to be desired by the zombie apocalypse prepper.
Because gas stations will likely be overwhelmed and will quickly run out of gasoline and, because siphoning fuel from another vehicle makes you stationary and therefore exposed, you’re going to want to give your bike a decent fuel range. With the exception of the KLR and its impressive 6.1-gallon capacity, all of the above bikes have tiny tanks and ranges limited to the 100-mile neighborhood as a result. Fortunately, aftermarket fuel tanks for all of the bikes above are widely available and easy to retrofit. We’d start our modifications there.
Next, we’d think about tires. Most of the above bikes come with “80/20” rubber, meaning they’re largely biased towards on-road use. Operating bikes so equipped for off-road can be dangerous and slow. We’d instead recommend accentuating their go-anywhere ability with a good 50/50 or even 40/60 tire. Just keep in mind that you’ll likely be carrying extra weight and potentially putting in big on-road miles.
Which brings us to our next modification: giving your bike the ability to carry stuff. This is a big limitation of many of this style of bike, often their subframes simply aren’t capable of supporting the weight of both a passenger and luggage. Luckily, exposed steel tube frames are easy to modify. Many bike shops are capable of welding on strengthening gussets or, if you know what you’re doing, it’s relatively easy to do so yourself.
You’ll next want to consider luggage. Kriega’s Overlander series is extremely versatile, giving you the ability to load your stuff into soft, waterproof bags, or bolt on Rotopax containers for extra fuel and water. Carrying both would be a good idea. But, hard aluminum panniers give you the ability to securely lock your supplies away, potentially advantageous should you need to leave your bike unattended. During an apocalypse, folks tend to have sticky fingers.
Lastly, you’ll want to fit aftermarket protection parts to the bikes, so they can crash and then just keep on going. Barkbusters should be first on your list, because they protect both the crucial levers and your hands. Next should be crash bars of some kind, protecting the engine and frame.