A few weeks back, I wrote an article discussing my method for planning a motorcycle trip. Assuming you now have your trip planned, here are some things we think are necessary/important/useful to take with you on your journey.
Photo: Sherman Thomas
1. Bluetooth Headset
Adding a bluetooth headset to your helmet is both easy and fairly cheap. Adding the ability to have turn by turn navigation or to talk with your buddies when your gas light comes on or when you're looking for a bite to eat when you pull into town is well worth it. On this last trip to Big Sur, a few of us were riding with the Sena SMH 10's. They came in handy when we pulled into San Luis Obispo and we were trying to find our motel and when we passed a nice outlook and one of the guys wanted to turn back and take some photos. We recommend the Sena or Cardo as our favorite brands.
2. Ear Plugs
I never like riding without ear plugs, but they are ESPECIALLY nice for road trips. It's amazing how loud the inside of a helmet can be, and subjecting your ears to that for hours on end can lead to a greater level of fatigue much faster than when wearing ear plugs. Plus, if you're using a bluetooth headset as mentioned above, it helps to diminsh some of the tingy sound of the cheapish speakers. We, at RideApart, all wear Howard Leight Max Lite ear plugs and I actually just ordered another box of 200.
3. Second Pair of Gloves
There is NOTHING worse than soaking a pair of gloves and having a long day of riding ahead of you. Or taking a route back from Palm Springs through Idyllwild and having the temperatures drop from 90 degree to 60 degrees. Anytime I go on any kind of motorcycle trip, I always take a second pair of gloves (usually to fit some other kind of temperature range). Your hands and neck are two of the biggest places where you can control your body temperature and having the appropriate gear for both is very important.
4. A Physical Map
Yes, I know I said I use Google Maps. And it's true, I use online maps whenever I'm planning a trip. That doesn't mean that won't leave me stranded when I make a wrong turn and don't have service, which is why it's important to always bring a physical map. A Thomas Guide is certainly too big and, while you might be fine with a Google printout of a map, we like the best and in this case, that's Butler Maps. Their maps are designed for motorcyclists, by motorcyclists and are the best resource for the best roads for any kind of riding and they include some of the best places to stop along the way.
5. Tool Kit
Motorcycles break. It's part of life and being a motorcyclist (even if you're a journalist and spend most of your time on new bikes). Another part of motorcycling is riding for pleasure, which often includes remote and deserted roads. Combine the two and you have a wonderful recipe for sitting on the side of the road. We take a small toolkit anytime we venture away from our day to day riding, and we recommend you do the same. Ride something that isn't new? That toolkit is as necessary as your helmet. We like the CruzTOOLS Roadtech Kit, but recommend finding one specific to your bike.
I rode to a wedding rehearsal dinner this past Saturday in Topanga Canyon and managed to pick up a decent size nail somewhere between the venue and rehearsal dinner. Guess how excited my roomate was at the idea of driving the hour up to get me? Luckily, someone had a can of fix-a-flat in their car and I was able to limp it to a gas station, fill it completely, and get it home. By the next day, the tire was flat again (it was a real big nail), but it I was able to then use a truck to get it to my local shop. Had my friend's fiance's grandma not had that can, it would have been a huge ordeal. Had it happened on any of our recent road trips, where I was much farther from home and cell services, it would have been a HUGE ordeal. You can find Fix-A-Flat at pretty much any major gas station.
Some places don't accept credit. It's just silly not to keep a decent amount of cash on you should you need gas in some remote area that doesn't take card or need to bribe someone to open early, stay late, or help you out in whatever sticky situation you've gotten yourself into.
8. Battery Pack
If you're reading this and under 30, you probably feel the need to Instagram/Tweet/Facebook every single part of your trip. If you're over 30....I don't know, we're all too immature to act like real adults but I'm sure you have to check in with someone to let them know you're ok or heading home or something. Either way, having your cell phone or bluetooth headset die mid trip is a bummer when you get into a new town and want to yelp the best place for a bite to eat or when you get a flat and didn't take my advice about carrying Fix-A-Flat. Last year, I bought a Mophie Powerstation which, for $100, will recharge my phone 6 times when the battery pack is fully charged. I can go bike camping for a whole weekend and take a zillion photos (number may actually not have been tested) and still have a full battery. I love this thing so much that, when they recently went on sale, I bought the outdoor version. It's one of the first things I recommend to people to buy.
Remember those reasons I gave for carrying a toolkit and Fix-A-Flat? Well sometimes those things happen at night. I bought the Princeton Tec Headlamp because it was cheap and has multiple brightness settings that are easy to use and I highly recommend it. Make sure you have some spare batteries as well.
10. From you, the Readers
I tweeted asking for your suggestions and here is how you responded: A towel, bandana, good book, sense of adventure, rain gear, fishing pole, visor cleaner, a support truck with a spare bike, a hat to hide your helmet hair, a fake mustache, and whiskey (for after you've finished the day's ride obviously).
We miss anything? Share your ideas in the comment section below.