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

What motorcycle luggage should I use?

There is no right or wrong here and it’s mostly down to personal preference and budget.

Hard panniers

The pannier of choice for the hardcore adventurist – but that doesn’t make them the best choice for everyone! Yes, they are tough, hardwearing, generally waterproof and look cool when they are battered and scratched and covered in tour stickers. But they are also the most expensive form of luggage, add to the width of the bike and can become damaged when you drop it.

Because they generally offer more space inside, you’ll have a natural tendency to use every last millilitre of room, adding to the weight of the bike, making it more cumbersome at low speed and harder to pick up.

Soft luggage

Soft luggage is usually cheaper and comes in a few forms, from throw over bags that you can strap on a seat unit, to fixed luggage that sits on a frame. Although most will state it’s waterproof, in the real world, it isn’t. Wrapping the luggage within in a couple of bin-liners will save you swapping sweaty socks for sopping wet cold ones.

Soft luggage should also mean less weight, a slightly slimmer bike and because they are smaller than hard panniers you’ll have to pack sparingly and only take what you need.

Tank bag

As well as the bolt on bits, a tank bag should be top of your list for touring or adventure. On a 2000-mile European tour last year the tank bag on my Multistrada was probably the handiest bit of kit I took. Most can be removed quickly at a fuel stop and have enough space for travel documents, V5, wallet and phone. They also make a decent pillow if you stuff them with some t-shirts while camping out!

Should I ride with a rucksack?

In my opinion, rucksacks are only to be used for short trips, the extra weight they put on your spine could do some serious damage on a long, off-road tour – not to mention what’d happen if you did take a tumble and landed on bag full of bits! A small and light rucksack though can be helpful, especially if there is a pillion riding with you as they can reach in and grab cash for toll roads or a camera while you’re on the fly.

The most important thing to remember when planning a trip is to not try and cover every eventuality, you’ll just end up overloaded and unable to find anything. Only take the things you know you can use for the jobs you know fix. Anything else is up for the international breakdown cover you have, or a more experienced member of the group.

But most of all; get out there and enjoy it. Motorcycles are amazing. Anyone who disagrees has clearly never ridden one.

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