Summer is wrapping up, but there’s still time to get in a big motorcycle trip for Labor Day or another long weekend before it gets starts getting chilly again. But your dream trip can easily turn into a nightmare if you aren’t prepared for all the things that can go wrong on a motorcycle far from home. To keep things on the right track, you’ll want to always have a few important items with you that we’ll go over here. None of them are too bulky or expensive, but they will sure go a long way when you need them!
Ten Things You Should Take on Every Motorcycle Trip
- GPS (or a map)
- Spare Cash
- First Aid Kit
- Bike “Survival Kit”
- Rain Suit
- Riding Bag
- Ear Plugs (and Spares)
- Phone Charger
1. GPS Unit
A GPS unit like the TomTom RIDER is an easy way to stay on track without having to stop.
Getting lost is one of the fastest ways to kill a good trip, especially if you’re the group’s navigator. Taking a GPS unit with you is a great way to keep everyone on track or get back on track if you find yourself in some unexpected places. Either leave it on to guide your whole way or only turn it on in emergencies; either way, you’ll be glad you had it.
Check out these GPS units for examples. It’s also always a good idea to take a map of the area you’re going to be riding in as well; electronics can break or run out of juice, but a good ol’ map is a reliable backup.
2. Spare funds
We get so used to the convenience of swiping cards these days that we forget how much can go wrong when, for whatever reason, they don’t work. You don’t want to be stranded with a busted bike out in the country, and find out that Jimbo’s Motorcycle Repair – your only hope of getting back on the road – doesn’t take plastic!
Always have some cash on you when venturing out on your bike; enough for a tow truck or a cab ride back into civilization is a good amount to have handy. An emergency credit card just for motorcycle stuff is also great to keep in your tank bag, just in case.
If your ride goes smoothly, you might want to return your riding cash to the ATM from whence it came; it has a funny way of disappearing from wallets!
3. First Aid Kit
This is a well-equipped kit from BMW Motorrad, but you don’t need something so elaborate. You can easily make your own with a short list of supplies.
Some people say scars are sexy. But getting infections from untreated cuts and scrapes covered in road grime, or having to stop a ride because a piece of gravel decided to kamikaze itself right into your eye – not so sexy. Riding is dangerous and a lot can go wrong out there short of actually crashing your bike, so bring a small first aid kit you can use to treat minor injuries and pains while out on the road.
A good short list of stuff to have with you:
- Neosporin packets
- Eye drops
- Ace bandage (you can also use electrical tape from Bike Repair Kit)
- Nitrile gloves
4. Bike Survival Kit
You can buy a pre-made motorcycle tool kit here, like this Cruz Tools RoadTech M3 Tool Kit…
Just like you might hit something unexpected, your bike might too. And while you may plan your entire trip right down to the bathroom breaks, you can’t plan for when your bike breaks. Bring along a small tool kit with all the essentials for patching your trusty steed up. Most motorcycle tool kits will have the basics while staying small and organized so that they’re easy to bring with you. It might also be a great idea to add a tire repair kit to your bike survival kit, especially if you do any dual-sport or off-road riding.
Whether you’re rocking the kit or your own collection, just remember, duct tape, electrical tape, and zip ties can fix almost anything (at least temporarily.)
…or make your own with tools and supplies just for your bike, like this member from HD-forums.com did.
Let’s face it, we all have alter egos that come out when we’re hungry, as the Snickers commercials so colorfully illustrate. But you don’t want that cranky beast to be the one complaining on your ride when it should be you happily enjoying it instead.
Pack some snacks and plenty of hydrating fluids (no, beer does not count) to keep your stomach sated so you can focus on what really matters. And it won’t hurt to bring a little extra, just in case you do get stranded and have to wait it out for help to arrive, or need to share with a friend stuck out there with you.
6. Light Rain Suit
This Alpinestars rain suit will keep you dry if an unexpected downpour crosses your path; otherwise, it stays in its own stuff sack and doesn’t take up much space at all.
No matter how well you plan your trip based on the weather report, nature has a way of sneaking up on you. So if your parade does happen to get rained on, don’t let it slow you down any longer than it takes to put on this handy BikeBandit.com Two-Piece Motorcycle Rain Suit. It’s inexpensive and lightweight so it won’t weigh you down, but you’ll sure be glad you have one when the rain decides to make an unscheduled appearance.
You can have a motorcycle moment like this one; but without a camera to capture it, nobody will ever know about it! (Photo cred.: Alex Chacon)
Bringing a camera along can immortalize this phenomenal trip you’ve been dreaming about. If you want to record the ride itself take a look at some of our best-selling action cams like these from Go-Pro. If you just want to take some group pics or snap a selfie in front of a landmark, you can probably just use your smart phone (or a digital camera if you’re still using a Nokia from ancient times.)
Either way, just make sure to at least snap a handful of pics while you’re out on your ride; taking photos is one of those things that is easy to forget when you’re in the moment, but you end up really regretting not doing it later. Remember, you can always delete a photo you don’t like – but you can never get a moment back that you didn’t snap a photo of!
8. Riding Bag
A little storage goes a long way on a sport bike or a standard. This Cortech Tail Bag is the perfect solution for part-time tourers.
Where are you gonna keep all this useful gear? You could stuff it all into your 23 pockets (I’m talking to you, ADV/Touring guys), or you could put it all in a convenient, affordable riding bag. If you have locking saddlebags, you already know the deal with motorcycle storage (and probably have a lot more gear than you need in there.)
If you’re on a sport bike or standard, however, you may need a little temporary cargo room for a long ride. Look for a tank bag or tail bag that straps to your bike when you need it, and that you can easily detach and carry with you.
9. Ear Plugs (and Spares)
Click on this banner to read the full story on why wearing motorcycle ear plugs is a lot more important than you think.
Every rider should ride with earplugs. I don’t just mean riders who judge their bike’s badassness in terms of decibels either. I mean every single motorcycle rider. The reason? What beats up on your eardrum while riding isn’t just the noise of your bike, or even of other traffic – it’s actually wind noise that does the most damage to your hearing.
The sound of air rushing past your ears is constant, high-frequency sound, so it tends to go unnoticed – but that’s exactly why it’s so dangerous! It really is the “silent killer” of hearing, as you can read about in my article here. Ride out with earplugs and keep a couple spare sets handy; you might be able to hook a buddy up with a set, or replace one that happened to wiggle out on the road (they do that sometimes.)
10. Phone Charger
That supercomputer in your pocket is nothing but a paperweight without a charge. Keep one of these with you so if it does die, you’ll be back up and running in no time.
My dad used to give me such a hard time about being “glued to my phone,” and tell me about how back in his day they didn’t have cell phones and they were better off for it. Then, he got an iPhone…and let’s just say the tables have turned!
We all know we’re pretty dependent on those magical little devices now, and not just to play Candy Crush saga or surf Facebook. You can make emergency calls, report your destination, or plan a route using GPS on them – all important things to do when you’re out on the open road. But that magical device becomes nothing more than a paperweight when the battery dies!
So bring a charger along with you; worst case, if you get stranded somewhere with a dead phone, you can charge it up and figure out where you are or call for help. It’s a good idea to have both a 12V car adapter and a wall adapter; you never know where you’ll have to charge up.
Got any helpful tips or opinions on group riding? Let’s hear ’em!