Traversing across the country on two wheels being among the elements is a magical feeling, something which cannot be experienced being cocooned inside the false atmosphere of a car. As the weekend begins, if setting yourself free is on your mind and you are about to make that call to your boss, give him the good news. Here are the things you and your motorbike will need as you wring your way across many states.
Preparing your motorcycle for the journey is the first thing you need to do. Ensure that it has been serviced, any troublesome parts have been replaced, electrics are in working order and the tyres have good tread, it is a good idea to replace them if the rubber is old but you think it looks just fine. After the bike, ensure your body is in good shape to spend long hours on the saddle.
So lets go through the list of things you will need when you set out touring on a motorcycle:
1) Riding Gear:
- A good helmet that fits well and has some provision for ventilation. Ensure the visor has no scratches, if required replace it. Do carry a tinted visor if you are about to ride for long hours in the sun.
- A mesh jacket with elbow, shoulder, chest and spine protection. Its a good thing if the jacket has a visibility enhancing element as standard, if not, stick some high visibility tape around it.
- A good pair of gloves which fit well, offer knuckle protection and are made of breathable material.
- Riding pants isn’t a compulsion. However, ensure you have knee guards, if possible get some shin guards and invest in good riding boots.
2) Saddle and tank bags:
- Get some good saddle bags which can carry your luggage with ease. Get the ones which are waterproof, are made specifically for the type of motorcycle you own and have some reflective material around them. If you need to carry another bag in addition to these, get a bungee cord which will help you tie your luggage on the back seat.
- A magnetic tank bag is useful to carry things which you need to access quite often during the ride. Things like the bikes documents (ensure you make several copies of the same before you begin), your wallet, a camera, your phone and some knick-knacks can easily fit inside the bag and remain safe.
- Some people like panniers. However, most Indian bikes will require extensive modification to fit a pannier frame.
3) Tool Kit:
- The standard tool kit that comes with your motorcycle is sparsely kitted. Get one which can help in the dis-assembly of most components on your bike. It is a good idea to learn about how your bike functions. Spend some time with your mechanic and try learning how to fix the basic faults yourself before you set out. Get some tips and his number, so if you are ever stranded in the middle of nowhere, you know what to do. Carry a flashlight as you can’t always depend on the moon. The flashlight in your phone will die before you know, if your girlfriend finds you missing for a week and decides to call and check on things.
4) Portable Air-pump / Puncture repair kit:
- Motorcycles don’t come with spare tyres. If you ever experience a flat with no help in sight, a puncture kit will ensure you can plug the leak yourself. A portable air-pump will help inflating the tyre back to its required pressure. Air pumps can either be the electronic types, which are as big as a walkman these days and plug into an electrical socket, if your bike has the provision for one. You may also connect the pump directly to the battery terminals. Manual pumps do the job as well if you are fit enough to pump in the air yourself. If your motorcycle comes with tube type tyres, make sure you carry spare tubes.
5) Additional spares:
- A clutch and accelerator cable, spare bulbs for the main candle and the tail light, spark plugs, a can of engine oil, coolant, spare fuse and some standard sized nuts and bolts. If you feel safe carrying spare brake and clutch levers, do that. In the event of a fall, they are prone to bend or break.
6) Medical Kit:
- Carry antiseptic lotion, some cotton, band-aid, a good pair of scissors and any regular medication that you need. If travelling high in the mountains where the air is thin, carry some diamox which will help with AMS.
7) Hydration backpack:
- Invest in one, it will ensure you don’t have to lug around plastic bottles or stop every time your throat runs dry. If you like, you can mix some glucose powder in the water which will help you stay energized and fresh.
8) Gel seat padding:
- The motorcycle seat usually carries most of the rider’s weight, so it has a significant impact on rider comfort. You won’t notice much while riding around town. However, the original seats can get uncomfortable during long rides. Gel seat padding add to the comfort and absorb a lot of vibrations during a ride.
- Some feel gel pads make them uncomfortable as they are not embedded in the seat and are more of a strap-on kind of an arrangement. Decide if you need one according to your comfort levels and the cushioning on your motorcycle seat.
9) Fuel Canisters
While fuel bunks are in plenty on the major highways across the country, additional fuel is required where bunks are as rare as the oxygen in the air. Get compact sized canisters which can sit in the quick access compartment of your saddle bags. Make sure the lid fits tight and the canister is made of strong material.
10) Spare key, copies of documents and Cash:
Carry your spare key along in case if you manage to misplace the original key. Ensure the motorcycle is insured and the policy isn’t expiring anytime soon. Get a valid PUC, carry copies of registration, your licence and ensure in addition to your cards, you always have cash in hand for emergencies and those places where there are no holes in the wall. Carry a good camera, charger, batteries and some sun protection.
Above all, ensure you ride to your hearts content, have fun and come back with a smile. Do let us know if you feel we missed out on something through the comments section below.