Advanced Riding

How to get ready for motorcycle adventure

Planning a motorcycle adventure might seem like a minefield, but following some simple tips can help to make more enjoyable and safer

HEADING off on a motorcycle adventure is a bucket list activity for most bikers. But the posts you see on social media showing the beers being downed in the sunset after a long ride only tell 5% of the story. The rest of the journey is hard work, hard riding and a lot of problem solving.

Whether your bike is ready for an adventure (either off or on-road) shouldn’t be another thing to play on your mind. Following some simple steps before you head off, can greatly improve your enjoyment of the trip and your chances of reaching your destination safely.

Pre-trip motorcycle servicing

You wouldn’t take on a marathon if you had the a dodgy stomach – neither should your bike. A quick check of the fluids does not count as a full service. Get it hot and drop the oil, leave it for a few hours to drain and then top it up with the best you can reasonably afford. Draining the coolant while you’re there isn’t a bad shout – at the very least, check the level and top up with coolant to the correct ratio.

The chances are your bike will be carrying more weight than it does on your daily commute or weekend ride so, functioning brakes are a must. If the pads look okay but could do with a change in the next 1000 miles or so – don’t wait. Change the pads before the trip as there is nothing worse than changing some pads in the pissing rain at the side of the French Autoroute! While you’re at it checking the brake fluid level and the lines for any signs of leaking or splitting.

Your chain may last 7k miles bumbling up the dual carriageway to work, but the dust, dirt and double figure days spent hammering along rutted roads will really take their toll. If you can, fix it before you go.

If there are any part that is suspect prior to the ride, either change them or take a spare. The chances are you will have to carry out some basic maintenance on the way and it’s better to have the spares you need and not use them than need them and not have them!

What to pack for a motorcycle adventure?

Tools and spares

It’s important to take a basic but useable toolkit with you, weight and space are normally at a premium so only taking the tools that fit your bike is key. The wheels may need to come out at some point so the sockets to remove the wheel-nuts and Torx head for removing the pinch bolts are a given. A brake bleeder and some spare brake lines are a handy and easy to stow addition. A plug spanner and extension should also be included, helpful if you manage to drop the bike in water and need to clear a stream out of the combustion chamber.

Aside from sockets and spanners, an assorted pack of different size cable ties are a couple of quid from the hardware shop and can help in a multitude of situations, from quick bodges to more permanent repairs. Gaffer tape, a puncture repair kit and some electrical supplies should also be on your list of must take items. Along with an assortment of mole-grips, side-cutters, electrical pliers and crimpers.

Day to day electrical items

Documenting your journey and looking back over the pictures is all part of the deal in the modern world. While your phone is a fantastic Swiss Army knife that can do all – it’s no good if the battery is flat. Take a few USB charging leads and wire up a spare USB port from the battery, just in case the dash-mounted one fails.

While the Google Maps App works well for finding the nearest hotel in town, out in the sticks where a phone’s signal may be compromised, it’s a good idea to have a dedicated Sat-Nav with pre-set locations already loaded on it. If you are riding in a group you can share the route as a GPX file that others can upload onto their devices, helping to ensure you all sing from the same hymn sheet.

Cameras and GoPros are quickly becoming popular with touring motorcyclists young and old. With the quality of the results becoming so good documentary film makers have been using on shows like Blue Planet. If space is limited and your all singing all dancing SLR camera is taking up too much space, you could look at a smaller and more manageable bridge camera. They have most of the features and resolution of an SLR but in a much smaller and cheaper package.

Sadly, trees don’t contain plug sockets so recharging your phone or other electricals when the bike isn’t running means using auxiliary batteries. Try and keep one under your seat on charge during the day and charge your electricals at night. It’s important to keep an eye on Li-Ion (Lithium Ion) batteries; they can expand and eventually catch fire so it’s best to not store them in back packs or pockets.

Head to page two for what luggage to take >>>

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