Travel Tips

Clothing

There is a certain "biker look'. The leather jacket, chaps, doorag and so on. You know what I am talking about. But if you are serious about road trips, this is not practical clothing. While leather offers great protection, it has two real problems. It never folds smaller than what you would need a trailer to haul it in, and, once wet, it stays wet for ever and is heavier than lead.

Weather on the road is extremely changeable. Blazing hot to pouring rain within an hour. Here in the south in the fall and the spring, it can be hot as hades during the day and damn cold at night. Layers are the best bet. A light weight windcheater, a medium weight jacket and a rain proof jacket with some weight to it. Not a thin plastic type jacket. These are water proof, but close to a sauna in the rain in summer. Go to you local hardware, Target or Wal-Mart store and go look in the hunting section. There are very good water proof jackets and water proof bib type coveralls that are warm and water proof and made of material so that they will not melt if they touch a hot exhaust pipe. Cloth or light canvas clothing rolls up very small. An invaluable asset when storage space is limited. With these three jackets a combination can be selected that will perfectly fit the current weather. Plus they are priced at Wal-Mart and Target prices and not Harley prices!

Take plenty of socks. If it rains, your feet are going to get wet and a clean pair of dry socks are a lifesaver. Once your feet are cold the rest of your body soon follows, so keep your feet warm and dry.

First Aid

Apart from the usual insect repellent, aspirin, and band aids, don't forget your favorite sunburn remedies. Use it early on in the ride and allow your skin to brown gradually. Its better for it and sunburn can rob you of sleep and add major discomfort to the ride if you allow yourself to get burned.

Tools

A lot of things can be repaired on the side of the road if you have the tools to do it. Stuff coming loose, fuses and the like. In most places in the US you are not that far from an auto parts store and if you have a buddy riding with you, you can get parts that will get you to the next motorcycle dealership for the right parts. But all the parts in the world will not help you if you do not have tools.

The most depressing and debilitating thing is to get a flat tire. Make sure you know whether your tires are tubed or tubeless and carry the right repair kit for them. A repaired puncture without anything to inflate the tire won't do you any good either. So carry a few compressed air cylinders. These are very small (about the size of half a cigar) and can be easily carried. Or get a cylinder pump. You screw out a spark plug and screw in the pump and then start the bike on one cylinder. (More if you have them!) The pump draws in fresh air from outside as the piston goes down, and pumps air into the tire as the piston comes up. As it draws fresh air into the cylinder, you do not get a mixture of gasoline and air pumped into the tire, just clean air. These also have the advantage that as long as you have gas in the tank, you can pump air.

If you think tools are expensive, call the nearest motorcycle dealership from where you are broken down and ask them to come and get you. This expense will pay for a fine set of tools and be worth learning a bit about simple roadside repairs on your bike. Start by ordering a service manual from your dealership, not the manual the bike came with. If you have room, take it with you.

 

 
 

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