Some of our favorite rides can take us a long way from civilization. The lack of traffic, nice fresh air, and good roads can make for some of the best motorcycling memories. However, the seclusion we enjoy can suddenly become a big problem if a mechanical problem arises or, God forbid, a crash occurs. Preparing for both mechanical and physical damage before a ride is something that is far too often overlooked. Don’t be the guy who is stranded along some seldom traveled route because you didn’t prepare beforehand.
By far the biggest mechanical failure experienced by motorcyclists is flat tires. Our tires are more susceptible to puncture than car tires because they are thinner. If your riding ever takes you off pavement, the chances of getting a flat can be even greater. Naturally, the first thing you’ll need is a way to repair a punctured tire (or tube). My personal favorite solution is the Genuine Innovations Tire Repair and CO2 Inflation Kit. This kit has everything you’d need to patch a tire or tube, as well as a CO2 inflator that will get you going again. The benefit to CO2 cartridges is they are small and easy to carry, and there is no power required to run them (unlike a pump). The downside is you have to buy cartridges every time you use it. If you would rather have a powered compressor, Slime makes a few Tire Repair Kits and powered tire inflators that you can use as well. If your bike uses tubes, don’t forget to carry some Tire Irons with you as well. Ride-On makes a great tire sealant product you could use as well. Check out the video below:
Unfortunately flat tires aren’t all that can go wrong with our bikes. Having a good comprehensive toolkit is essential should you need to do a roadside repair. The tool kits supplied with bikes from the factory aren’t always adequate, and if you bought your bike used, your kit could be missing tools or missing altogether. Fortunately there are several companies out there that make tool kits specifically for motorcyclists, in handy pouches or bags that pack easily. You’ll need to pick one based on the type of bike you ride and the kind of riding you do, just don’t make the mistake of heading out without a good Motorcycle Tool Set. Also, Duct Tape and Cable Ties can go a long way in getting you home should your bike sustain damage in a crash.
Speaking of crashing, there are things that you should have with you should your ride take a turn for the worse. Motorcycling has its inherent risks, and just like we gear up and prepare our bodies for the worst, we should also have supplies on hand that can help us (or other riders in our group) if we sustain injuries. A first aid kit should come standard with the toolkit on motorcycles, but since it doesn’t, you can pick one up and store it on your bike or in a tank bag. Klim First Aid Kits are a great way to go, as they include a lot in a lightweight, watertight bag.
The last piece of equipment I would highly recommend to any rider is a Spot Satellite Communicator. Many times when you are out on a ride you will be somewhere without cell reception. Imagine breaking down, or being stuck on the side of the road, injured, with no way to contact anyone. Give you and your loved ones peace of mind with the Spot GPS Messenger. Essentially, what the Spot does is uses GPS to pinpoint your position, and you have the ability to send messages saying you are OK or that you need help (basically a substitute for a 911 call when you have no telephone reception). We featured a detailed Review of the SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger on our blog last fall if you want more info.
So where do you carry all of this gear? If you are lucky, your bike has adequate under seat storage to stash some essentials permanently. If not, there are numerous options for tail bags, tank bags, fender mounted bags, handlebar bags, windshield bags, sissy bar bags (and the list goes on). Obviously the type of luggage you would choose will depend on your particular bike and what accommodations it has for luggage. Take a look at luggage that we carry for each type of bike: Sport/Sport Touring Luggage, Cruise/Tour Luggage, Harley-Davidson Luggage.
Ultimately what it comes down to is to always be prepared (Boy Scouts, anyone?). With some basic forethought into where you will be going and all of the difference scenarios you could end up in, you can best equip yourself and your motorcycle for the road ahead.