Five great hacks to make your motorbike tour hassle free.
Oops, time for some weight liftin’
Top boxes, tank bags, extra lights and similar all have their special place in the adventure motorcycling scene and serve their purpose well. There are hundreds of online reviews about riding gear, luggage, cushioned seats and the latest tyre technology, all “guaranteed” to make our lifes easier on the road. Of course we’re free to pick, try out and spend cash to our hearts content, just for the fun of it if we choose to do so. However, there are some simple, very affordable extras (some self made) that can make a huge difference to the comfort and quality of our rides especially on a long tour. A few may be obvious to some bikers, others perhaps not so much. Here are five.
1. Tank cargo net.
A normal cargo net (sold in most bike stores), stretched over the tank area just in front of the rider seat. Good for storing gloves, sun glasses, small cameras, maps, pens, hats, bit’s of paper, selfie sticks, any official document needed for border crossings. A cargo net on the tank area secures stuff you generaly want to keep handy both on the go and on a break at a standstill. The cargo net literally turns the tank into a safe dashboard and in many cases is just as good if not better than an bulky tank bag. The cargo net is cheap, practical and only needs three anchoring points on either side of the bike to be stretched into place in a few seconds. Easily removed as well.
Good for securing gloves, sun glasses, small cameras, maps, pens, selfie sticks, hats and more.
2. Colour coded stuff bags
Ever had to rummage through your panniers for what seems like an eternity to find that extra layer of clothing or those paracetamols you need so badly? Worse still, have you had to ask someone else to do it for you?
We all have a method for organising kit on our bikes and most will agree that finding the ideal set up is a constant work in progress with small and great adjustments made throughout time. Colour coded stuff bags are certanly a great way of “filing” kit inside panniers and worth a go for those struggling with organised packing. Stuff bags are reasonably tough, lightweight and cheap when bough in a set. They come in differnt sizes and fortunately in different colours too. To each colour different content can be assigned so, say… red for first aid and medication, grey for clean clothing, green for laundry, blue for chargers, cables, memory cards, batteries and so on. It all helps, especially when looking for stuff in the dark with just the dim, tired beam of a flash light as aid.
Coloured Stuff Bags help keep panniers organized and in order.
3. Salame tool kit bag
There are toolkit bags galore to choose from on the internet, some of which are specially designed for the travelling biker. There are zip bags, roll bags, fold bags with velcro, straps and plastic buckles. However, in most cases once filled with tools these products end up being overly bulky and difficult to store. The question is pretty obvious: do you really need padded packaging for spanners? No, probably not.
The very simple salame tool kit bag in all it’s brilliance.
A cheap storing solution for sockets, drivers and wrenches is the salame tool kit bag, made out of a piece of inner tube (car tyre) around 40cm in length. It’ll pretty much hold everything you need for the road: sockets, spanner’s, allen keys, ratchet wrench, all of it. The ends of the tube can be sealed by rolling, folding and then wrapping the lips with bands of extra tyre tube. The salami bag compacts the size of stored tools to a minimum, prevents them from rattling around whilst also containing tools securely. It’s light, tough, water resistant, cheap and easily replaceable. What more could you ask for?
… it’ll hold all you need, snuggly and securely
4. Extra power socket.
Really a no brainier in todays gadget obsessed world. Smartphones, iPads, and other devices need to be charged to keep in touch with loved ones, picture taking and for those essential apps that aid us on our tours. Most bikes these days come from the manufacturer with at least one cigarette lighter style power socket available, but these 12V outlets are often only powered up when the ignition is engaged. It’s good to have a plug that is permanently live and accessible say … under your seat. Some simple wiring from the bike battery with a fuse will do the trick. Of course a USB adapter is also essential.
5. Large side stand foot print.
Another important, often overlooked improvement that can make a real difference to a motorbike trip is the size of the side stand ground pad. A bigger pad on the kick stand will prevent the same from digging into soft ground, and stop a bike from toppling over with luggage, accessories and an unsuspecting pillion as well. Mud, sand, ice, even asphalt on a hot day all need side stands with big foot prints in order to keep a heavy machine propped up. A bigger stand foot print makes parking a bike an easy, safe, care free ordeal and all it takes is a piece of hard plastic or metal sheet along with an appropriate fastening system. There are even ready-made kits available for certain bike models known to have poor side stand designs.
A larger side stand foot print will make parking any bike an easier, safer and care free ordeal.
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