The Ultimate Guide to Must-Have Gear for your Motorcycle Road Trip
Are you planning a two-wheeled adventure? This Ultimate Guide to Must-Have Gear for your Motorcycle Road Trip has all the information, tips, and tricks you’ll ever need.
The motorcycle’s best asset, and one that can’t be replicated by any other transport mode, is the road trip. The feeling of being part of a two-wheeled adventure rather than an observer inside a steel and glass bubble is unique.
Remember, the difference between a good ride and a great ride is the essential motorcycle gear you take along with you.
Here, we’ve split the article into sections. We’ll cover such motorcycle essentials as Clothing, Technology, Tools and Luggage.
The length of the journey, location, and the season will play a large part in your choice of essential motorcycle riding gear.
To allow for a variety of riding conditions, opt for textile cargo-style pants. The pockets are great for keeping documents to hand. Make sure the pockets fasten securely and if not waterproof, keep important paperwork in a sealable bag like the from Oakley – see below.
We also recommend you to go check out our Best 12 Motorcycle Backpacks recommendations right here.
Kitchen Sink Backpack From Oakley
Textile pants should be made from a material that is at least showerproof and offers some abrasion protection. Undoubtedly, they’ll have pockets for body armor, be easy to get over boots, and provide a way for securing the lower leg to fit snuggly over footwear.
The Fly Racing Trek pants fit the bill perfectly. They’re road-trip tough, got plenty of storage and the two lower legs straps not only keep them tight to your boots, but also keep the knee protectors in the right place.
Fy Racing Trek Pants
The same advice regarding practicality, safety, and style goes for jackets. Thanks to technological advances in materials, you can now combine all three.
Motorcycle Crash Helmets
Crash helmets are a consideration when you’re spending many hours per day in the saddle. Safety and comfort are the two major points, but if you can go for a flip-up style lid, all the better.
YEMA YM-926 Flip-up Full Face Helmet
A flip-front or modular-style, safety-approved helmet offers much-needed flexibility in various weather conditions. It also provides the safety element of a chin bar. There are other bonuses for choosing this type of helmet. A drop-down sun visor means no messing around with sunglasses.
If you are more into the retro/vintage looking helmets we have made a Top-10 list here.
Our Best Recommended Footwear
Motorcycle boots are often chosen for a particular style of riding. But don’t be afraid to think outside the box. A good quality tactical style boot has a lot to offer.
For starters, an eight-inch pair will give lots of support to the ankle and lower shin. They’re lightweight with non-slip soles, so if you enjoy exploring on foot, you’re good to go. Make sure they have a pronounced heel so it will locate comfortably on your foot-peg.
Bates GX-8 GORE-TEX
Spend as much as you can on high-quality wet gear
Unless you’re riding through the Sahara, you’re going to get wet, so spend as much as you can afford on good quality wet gear.
One-piece suit or two-piece is up to you. Make sure, though, it’s 100% waterproof and has enough fasteners/drawstrings/straps to prevent it from flapping around. A breathable or vented suit will prevent sweating. Ensure it packs down small and leave a pocket on the outside of your pack/luggage to stow it.
Last but not least, either buy waterproof over-mitts or a spare pair of gloves. Riding with wet hands is miserable, and when your hands get cold, lack of feeling can affect brake and throttle control.
3 Quick Tips for the Long Travel
- Take a spare visor and or cleaning fluid, prescription glasses if needed, and a small bottle of suntan lotion. It’s always a good idea to take a small first aid kit too. In some European countries, it’s the law to carry one.
- Store-bought kits are okay, but you need some band-aids, antiseptic cream, a couple of bandages, and Dermabond glue. The latter is a medical super glue and can keep a large wound or tear held together long enough to get you out of trouble.
- As for tablets, you may need a high-dose Ibuprofen-based tablet for soft tissue swelling, anti-diarrhea pills, and pain killers. Check with a medical professional for more information.
Technology for your Motorcycle Road Trip
Communication and recording devices tend to split the riding community into two groups. Some say all you need is a decent smartphone. And others wouldn’t recommend leaving the house without looking like a one-person production crew.
The overriding factor for a motorcycle road trip is to take only what you can carry. If you intend to rely on your phone alone for directions, photos, and videos, you need to prepare.
You will need a good quality vibration-resistant mount. Check the clamp is secure and fits your diameter handlebars. Go for a mount that has a minimum of four contact points and can swivel 360°. We recommend the Roam Universal Motorcycle mount based on many miles on the road, ratings and price.
Roam Universal Motorcycle Mount
A recharging system such as a USB adaptor wired to the battery will also be required. If you’re happy to use your smartphone, a good tip is to take a firestick with you.
A firestick will let you download photos and videos directly from your phone, which will free up memory and keep your media safe. This device is ideal if you’re heading to an area of poor phone coverage and you can’t upload to the Cloud.
Travel to some of the world’s more remote areas with no cell coverage, and you may want to consider a satellite SOS communicator. In an emergency, these small devices can send an SOS message with your GPS location. These devices work and cost differs wildly, depending on spec, but ranges from $200-$400.
Rig up a Bluetooth system to your helmet, and the world opens up. Talk to your passenger or others in your group. Pair it to your phone for GPS prompts and music or calls, all hands and wire-free.
Sena Bluetooth SMH10-11
…And Why Not Bring A Lightweight Drone?
Whether you vlog regular updates from the road or want some stunning reminders of your road trip, consider a drone. Even with weight and carrying capacity at a premium, folding drones such as the SNAPTAIN SP500 are compact and weigh less than 2-lbs.
Snaptain SP500 Drone
The last item in the tech section is at the opposite end of the scale. When researching your trip, you may be traveling through remote areas with low or no cell signal. In which case, download a map to your phone that works offline.
You could go low-tech and take a map; they don’t run out of battery and are a brilliant back up plan. Even one with basic information will give you waypoints to head for. Just remember to either buy a water-resistant map or pack it in a sealable bag.
Road Trip Tool Kit
Tool kits evolve, or rather, devolve over the years. After many road trips, your tool kit should get smaller. Eventually, you’ll end up with only the bare essentials.
We’re not all born with miles under our belt. For first-time road trippers, the natural tendency is to take too much. While tools aren’t always bulky, they sure can be heavy. All you need is enough gear to get you off the side of the road, not rebuild the engine. The most common problem is a flat tire, and your motorcycle’s type of tire will dictate the repair kit.
- If you are running tubeless tires you will need a plug set.
- If you are running tubed tires, you will need patches, adhesive, and tire irons.
There are compact kits for both, but it doesn’t end there. You should take enough tools to remove both wheels, and don’t forget to take a means to re-inflate the tire. Mini pumps that use your bike battery are excellent. Or buy C02 cartridges designed for the job.
CYPLUS 150psi Portable Rechargeable Compressor
Another route you can go down is tire repair spray that will seal and inflate the tire.
Whichever kit you go for, double-check your motorcycle’s specifications and research ‘how to repair a flat’ video tutorials.
For those of you without a main-stand, check out the BikeMaster Liftstick. This device will get your front or back wheel off the ground in an emergency.
BikeMaster Liftstick For Motorcycles
As for tools, do some homework to see what size spanners, sockets, or hex keys are required. You won’t need a spanner to cover every nut and bolt. A good quality adjustable spanner and set of vice grips will cover most things.
Some bikes use more unique fasteners like TORX bolts (as on Harley’s). For these, you should get the correct size TORX bit and add it to your ratchet screwdriver set.
Once you’ve got your base tool kit together, go through it again and reduce it in size. If you look hard enough, you’ll find tools that can pull double duty. Finally, put them all in a good quality, secure tool roll and stash them in an outside pocket in your luggage.
It is also a good idea to keep a good quality multi-tool in your coat pocket. I never go anywhere without my Leatherman. They are expensive, but you only buy good kit once.
Leatherman Skeletool CX Lightweight
Conventional wisdom dictates that you load heavier items as low as possible in your luggage, but not tools.
Now to a few essential kit pieces that don’t take up much room but can make or break a motorcycle road trip. First is something to carry extra fuel. Here you can go for either a 1-ltr lightweight fuel bottle or something larger like the Giant Loop Gas Bag in 1 to 5-gal versions.
Giant Loop Gas Bag
When fuel stations are scarce, both of these are ideal backups. Remember, even an extra 1-ltr of fuel will get you 10-15 miles down the road.
A torch is essential, and a head torch leaves both hands free. The Everbeam H6 Pro LED fits the bill, has a host of cool features, including SOS mode, and is rechargeable via USB.
Everbeam H6 Pro LED Head Torch
If possible, get all your riding done during daylight hours. If riding at night is unavoidable, you may want to consider a reflective vest. Stopping on the side of an unlit road at night is no joke, and being visible to other road users can save your life.
In some European countries, the law states you must have a hi-vis vest with you at all times. I don’t wear one to ride in, but I carry a mesh hi-vis vest, which I can secure to the back of my luggage if needed.
Continuing with the safety theme, here’s a must-have item that is great for camping. Classed as a survival tool, the Tyger Folding Multi-function Shovel is a hatchet, fire starter, saw, screwdriver, and you can even use it to dig with!
Tyger Folding Multi-function Shovel
As part of your pre-road trip prep, you should also take a spare key for your motorcycle. Keep it in a zipped pocket, or if you’ve got a riding buddy, swap spare keys.
Security on the Road
Huge locks and massive chains are heavy and bulky. On a motorcycle road trip, everything has to justify its place, and a disc lock alarm takes care of business.
These devices are small, light, and whether you’re camping or glamping, they’ll give you the heads up if someone is messing with your bike. A decent disc lock can cost $50-100, but if you want to go cheaper and lighter, consider a DOWCO Guardian Motorcycle Cover Alarm.
When the pin attached to the lanyard gets removed from the body, this simple device activates an ear-piercing 130-dB alarm. The Guardian is intended as a cover alarm but makes a brilliant portable deterrent.
Dowco Guardian 26038-00 Integrated Motorcycle Cover Security Alarm
You can also rig it up to your tent zip or if you find yourself checked into the Bates Motel, attach it to the door!
Modern, waterproof, user-friendly motorcycle luggage is a godsend.
You can choose anything that meets your needs, whether that’s hard cases, soft throw-over panniers, tank bags, or backpacks.
Horseshoe-style luggage secures well and can be easily removed, plus it has panniers and a top bag all in one. You won’t need pannier brackets as it attaches quickly, and for anyone riding solo, it’s a great backrest. The 65-ltr Dry Bag by ‘Yellow Bag’ has some great features and is waterproof.
See here for more information on the 65-ltr Forte GT Dry Bag
Tank bags are practical. I’ve never found one that suited my gas tank’s shape or attached to my liking, though. If you’re a regular reader of these pages, you’ll know I’m a Kriega luggage system fan. Now, thanks to the Kriega Tank Adaptor, you can combine the two.
Check out our Kriega rucksack review here
With the tank strap firmly attached, you can fit a Kriega 5, 10, or 20-ltr Drypack via quick-release buckles. This arrangement means you can stash all your valuables and documents in the secure and waterproof Drypack.
More information on the Kriega US Tank Strap here:
Find yourself on an overnight ferry, and the 5-ltr bag is roomy enough to take all of the above plus a t-shirt and a toothbrush. This solution eliminates the need to unpack the main luggage.
More Pluses than Minuses
It’s not easy riding a motorcycle. If the weather doesn’t get you, social media browsing drivers will give it a try. Yet, the ticks in the positive column far outweigh the negatives.
Top of the positive column is the motorcycle road trip. The buzz begins when you start to plan the journey and doesn’t stop until long after your return.
Your first two-wheeled adventure may be a little daunting. You’ll overthink it, take too much, and may even forget some important stuff. But the road is a great teacher, and the more miles you put under your wheels, the more you’ll learn.
We live in uncertain times, but when the world calms down enough to explore again, don’t hesitate. Start planning your trip now. What’s more, by reading the must-have gear for your motorcycle road trip, you’ll be ready to rock.
Q: Are Motorcycles good for road trips?
A: There’s no better mode of transport for a road trip than a motorcycle. You have a front-row seat for your adventure, not watching the world go by from inside four wheels.
Q: Which is the best bike for a motorcycle road trip?
A: The best bike for a motorcycle road trip is the one you have. If you hit the blacktop on a road-going whale with a ten-speaker infotainment system, admittedly it’s more comfortable.
I’ve clocked up thousands of miles across Europe and America on everything, from a Honda 125cc trial bike to a 1200 Triumph Streetfighter, and a Harley-Davidson chopper. But for me, the journey and what happens along the way is what’s important.
Q: How long should a motorcycle road trip take?
A: That depends on where you’re going and how much time you have for your motorcycle road trip. It’s up to you, enjoy.
Do’s and Don’ts at a Glance (print and put it on the fridge)
- Do take a good quality rain suit
- Don’t pack it at the bottom of your luggage (keep it handy)
- Do keep your spare clothing in waterproof bags
- Don’t forget to take spare gloves, eye protection or prescription glasses
- Do Invest in good boots, toes don’t grow back
- Don’t keep riding if you get cold and start to feel drowsy, get off the road asap
- Do make your own first aid kit
- Don’t forget to take some way of re-charging your tech gadgets
- Do leave details of your trip and arrange the frequency of your ‘all good’ messages, whether your going around the block or around the world
- Don’t forget a hard copy map as back up
- Do assemble your essential tool kit, then half it and pack it in a pocket on the outside of your luggage
- Don’t forget to take a tire repair kit and spare bulbs
- Do take a small (travel size) chain lube spray
- Don’t travel to somewhere remote and run out of gas, invest in a fuel container
- Do buy an LED head torch
- Don’t forget to keep all your legal documents together on your person and in a A waterproof bag
- Do keep two days riding money plus one credit card somewhere handy and stash the rest in a hidden pocket.
- Don’t forget to check the legal riding requirements If you’re venturing to a foreign country, such as compulsory lights, hi-viz vest or first aid kit. On the spot fines are always heavy
- Do take a spare bike key
- Don’t be complacent about your security; if your bike doesn’t have an alarm, invest in a portable device; even a cheap one will scare off opportunists
- Do invest in decent luggage and make sure its secure
- Don’t overthink it
- Do enjoy the hell out of your road trip, memories are made of this
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