Adventure Motorcycle Touring: A Survival Guide
There’s something magical about going on a motorcycle tour with your adventure bike (especially if it’s a BMW GS, but maybe we’re biased).
Whether your goal is to reach some remote corners of the world or just revisiting your local trail for a bit of moto therapy, when it’s just you and your motorcycle entirely off the beaten path, all is right in the world.
Until it’s not. So many things can go wrong on a ride, and Mother Nature has a way of reminding us sometimes that she’s in charge, no matter how much money we spent on our shiny GS.
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Punctures, crashes, fuel shortages, food shortages, injuries, the list of potential problems that can plague your ride can go on and on. Of course, for many of us, that’s exactly what makes this so fun–it’s called Adventure for a reason.
Nonetheless, making it home safe is undoubtedly more fun than the alternative, so here we’ve put together some items to keep with you to give yourself a fighting chance at survival should things take a turn for the worst.
We call it the Adventure Motorcycle Survival Guide.
For the bike
- Tubes, a patch kit, tire spoons, basically anything and everything to fix a flat tire. Because inevitably you will get a flat tire.
- A basic tool kit. This one’s obvious, but go beyond what’s in the little tool bag that came with your bike. Figure out the common bolt sizes and pack an extra socket or two.
- JB Weld. Epoxy will work, too. As good as modern engine protection is, we always find a way to drop the bike onto a sharp object NOT protected by an engine cover. It’s Murphy’s Law. Sometimes you can salvage the situation by patching a case cover with some JB Weld or epoxy and continue on your way (or at least your way back home). Sometimes, you’re truly SOL.
- Zip ties. Do we really need to extol the virtues of zip ties? It can fix damn near anything. And if it can’t, you should also bring...
- Duct tape. Along with zip ties, this is the one-two punch of Adventure motorcycling survival.
- Fuel. Carry an extra gallon if you know you’re going somewhere without a gas station around. It’s just common sense.
- Safety wire. When you absitively, posolutely don’t want something to go anywhere.
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For the Rider
- First aid kit. Don’t let potentially minor cuts or scrapes lead to bigger problems due to infections.
- First aid training. It’s not a “thing” per se, but knowing what to do when things really do go wrong could literally be the difference between life and death.
- Hand sanitizer. Your hands are gross at the end of a ride. Wash up a little.
- Layers. Temperature swings happen all too often on Adventure rides. Thermal underwear will really come in handy when it’s cold out. It’s also nice if you have to sleep in the cold, too.
- Scarf. Or another type of neck protection like a gaiter or balaclava. Keeping the neck warm and comfortable is underappreciated when it’s cold out. Whether you’re riding or not.
- Spare socks. Merino wool is a good idea. Dry socks will do wonders for your feet, and the Merino kind are self-regulating to keep your feet warm in the cold and cool in the heat.
- Gloves. You’ve ridden with cold hands before, right? It doesn’t take long to realize you never want to do that again. Fleece inner gloves work well, but even a pair of latex gloves to wear under your riding gloves will go a long way to block some of the cold from getting to your fingers.
These items don’t necessarily fit into the above two categories, but they pack pretty light and are niceties that inevitably are useful or will make you feel like you’re at home, even if you’re on the other side of the world.
- Multitool. You might have a tool kit with you, but there’s something about having a multitool like a Leatherman at the ready if you need it.
- Matches. Waterproof ones, especially. Or any provision you prefer to make fire. Fire has been a necessity for all of civilization. It will continue to be on all Adventure rides to come in the foreseeable future.
- Ibuprofen. Acetaminophen. Tylenol or Advil. Whichever you prefer. Could come in handy for the inevitable aches or pains you’ll experience during your ride. Hopefully, that’s all you need it for.
- Baby wipes. Being out in locations far and wide doesn’t mean you can’t be fresh. Wipe up a little bit and be presentable.
- Hot sauce, if that’s your thing. One of the best parts of riding motorcycles to foreign places is breaking bread with the locals. A fun game to play is testing each other’s mettle by sampling each other’s hot sauce. Then again, you might make enemies instead of friends with this game. Choose wisely.
- Antacid. You’ll need these to recover after playing the hot sauce game. Or, if you’re the winner, you can offer some to your new frenemies.
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And there you have it, the kitchen sink of stuff to bring to survive your next adventure motorcycle tour. Some are absolutely essential, while others, admittedly, are a bit superfluous.
What do you think? Too much? Too little? Chime in with your survival pack and tell us what you bring.