What to Pack for a Motorcycle Road Trip
A Weekend, One Week, Two Weeks, and Beyond
What to Pack for a Motorcycle Road Trip
Summertime is in full swing, and the road is calling. Weekend rallies, bike nights, bike shows, and other activities abound, and the best way to get there is of course on the motorcycle! Different trips have different requirements, read on for our tips on what to bring along for all kinds of trips.
Starting small: a weekend! Two to four days, and not too far from home, a weekend trip is a great place to start. While there are fewer items to bring along, there are a handful of items that can make or break a weekend of riding. If packing light is the style of choice, some road warriors can get by with one set of clothes and a helmet! For those of us who prefer a little more of the comforts of home on the road, a change of clothes (or two) will help keep things fresh; and a set of pajamas of choice, whether sweatpants and an old tee or a matching set, are always a relief after a long day in the saddle whether camping or in a hotel. Speaking of camping versus hotels: either way, a headlamp is always handy! A phone flashlight and digging in a saddlebag is never fun, and headlamps are a cost effective, simple solution that don’t take up a ton of space. See our blog about moto camping here for more recommendations for camping!
Fresh Socks, Fresh Feet
While some of us can get by packing light, a fresh pair of socks for each can be a lifesaver. Sometimes, the little things (socks) can make the big things (motorcycle road trips) a lot easier!
Weekend trips that aren’t far from home don’t always require a truck’s worth of tools, but it’s still wise to have a small tool roll on hand in case of an emergency. The easiest things to bring: Bungies or tie-downs of choice, duct tape, and zip ties. Trust us, it’s better to have them and not need them! A selection of wrenches and ratchets that fit the bike are always good to have on hand, and fuses, while not always apparent, can become necessary and have the bonus of not taking up a lot of space. It’s the little things that make weekend trips enjoyable, and another important recommendation is visor wipes! Taking a big, juicy beetle to the face of a helmet makes a big ol’ mess, and while a gas station windshield cleaning station works in a pinch, they frequently have all kinds of road grime and other nastiness from the other windshields floating around in that water. Visor wipes are typically individually packed and ready to go; great to have on hand for any ride, not just road trips.
The best tool before a trip, weekend and beyond, is proper maintenance. Regular fluid changes, inspections, maintenance and recall work from Certified Harley-Davidson Service Technicians will keep the motorcycle in tip top shape, and prevent issues on the road. Schedule maintenance with us here!
Laundry on the Go
Ok, the weekend trip has been MASTERED. Feeling confident, feeling rad. A week is a bigger trip to tackle than a weekend though, and while the requirements for packing are pretty similar, there are a few more things that we recommend for longer trips. Clothes, certainly, but a travel size bottle of dish soap can come in handy for washing clothes in a sink if the need arises. Hang to dry (or use a hotel hairdryer in a pinch!) and that sweaty t-shirt is refreshed and good to go!
Pushing hard on the road in hot temperatures? A small hydration backpack can make it easier to stay hydrated while hittin the highway. While sometimes tricky with a full face helmet, sips of water while riding can make the ride easier, and in some environments– think desert– can be a safety precaution as well.
Another handy tip for travelers riding with soft bags strapped to the bike: A steel cable and padlock are highly recommended to deter thieves. While most folks out on the road are kind and helpful, it’s impossible to plan for everyone you’ll come across on the road. Coming back to the motorcycle after a stop to find the carefully packed bag of clothes and tools gone is not a good feeling, and while highly motivated thieves will make off with what they want regardless, taking steps to slow them down can be a make or break on a trip. A cable long enough to loop through the chin bar on a helmet, or through a strap, can be a lifesaver as well.
Upgrades for Comfort and Navigation
A few upgrades to the motorcycle can make the ride more enjoyable too: A taller windshield, or one that directs the wind differently, can make long days on the road easier, and an upgraded seat– or a seat pad, for riders on a tighter budget– make the bike more comfortable as well. Sometimes, there’s some trial and error involved in picking a new windshield or a new seat, but your dealer may have demos available to make the decision easier. Contact us to learn more about seat and windshield fitment and availability for your ride!
After that week long road trip, you’re HOOKED. Road trips forever. Meeting new people, seeing interesting places and beautiful scenery, and enjoying beautiful riding are the just the best. Time to hit the road for two weeks… and maybe more! More tools might become necessary, namely, a tire patch kit. While not every tire is suitable for patching, patching a tire can be a handy skill to get down the road to get a replacement. (Be sure to check manufacturer recommendations.) There are all kinds of kits available, just be sure to pick up the kit that’s appropriate for your ride: inner tubes have different requirements from tubeless wheels! A GPS unit or other navigation system can come in handy as well, especially for remote areas. Smart phones are awesome, and have similar functionality to many GPS units, but losing service out in Wyoming, for example, could put a real snag in the trip. Plus, GPS units– depending on software– can have more than just regular roads for those super adventurous riders.
Weather on the Horizon...
Longer trips also present added potential for adverse weather, from cold to hot, rain and dry, and everything inside, outside and in between. Depending on the destination, riding attire with removable waterproof and insulated liners can be pretty useful, or a packable rain suit for those occasions when the skies open up. Base layers for cold and warm temperatures are handy as well, an insulated baselayer top and bottom will make cold temperatures far more bearable, and moisture wicking baselayers can make the other extreme much more enjoyable. Planning to get REALLY chilly? Heated gear is a MUST. With heating elements powered off the motorcycle’s battery or a battery pack, this gear typically fits under protective motorcycle clothing and actively heats your body. Pretty cool, and super handy for late season mountain passes. For bikes that lack wind protection, heated gear can be pretty useful even when it’s not road trip time.
Extending the riding season is always a plus, and all this road trip equipment can come in handy throughout the riding season. While getting a road trip setup perfected might take a couple of tries, having some extra gear kicking around never hurt anyone! Besides, road trips are better with friends, and loaning equipment is the best way to get them on the road with you.