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Oops, time for some weight liftin’

Top boxes, tank bags, extra lights and similar all have a place in the adventure motorcycling scene and often serve their purpose well. There are hundreds of online reviews about riding gear, luggage, cushioned seats and the latest tyre design, all “guaranteed” to make our lifes easier on the road.  Of course we’re free to pick ‘nd choose, try out gear and spend our cash how we feel best. However, there are some simple, very affordable extras (mostly self made) that can make a huge difference to the comfort and quality of our rides especially on a long tour.  Here are five of my favourites.


1. Tank cargo net.

 A normal cargo net (sold in most bike stores), stretched over the tank area just in front of the rider. Good for storing gloves, sun glasses, small cameras, maps, pens,  hats, bit’s of paper, selfie sticks, any official document needed at hand for imminent border crossings. A cargo turns the tank area into the equivalent of a dashboard  and secures  most of the junk you generally want to keep handy both on the go and  at a standstill.  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. Not as bulky as a tank bag it’s easily removed as well.


Tank Cargo Net Cargo Net benefits. 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 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 adjustments made constantly through time. Colour coded stuff bags are a great way of “filing” kit inside panniers and worth a go for those struggling with organising their 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 allocated… 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

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.


Salami tool kit bag closed 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 from 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 are sealed by rolling, folding and then wrapping the rubber lips with bands of extra tyre tube. The salami bag compacts the size of stored tools to a minimum,  whilst also containing them securely. It’s light, tough, water resistant, cheap and easily replaceable. What more could you ask for?


Salami tool kit bag … 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 save a bike from toppling over.  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 foot print makes parking a bike an easy, safe, care free ordeal and all it takes is a piece of hard plastic or piece of metal with an appropriate fastening system. There are even ready-made kits available for certain bike models known to have poor factory made side stand designs. 


Side Stand A larger foot print will make parking any bike easier, safer and care.




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