Packing tools and equipment for motorcycle adventures.
On my first big adventure in 2006, I made the common mistake of packing a whole bunch of stuff I really didn’t need, you know, just for ‘what if’? I had a folding spade to dig my bike out of the dunes in Sudan, a full ¼” socket set, for stripping a machine I wouldn’t have known how to put back together again and a spare tyre that weighed a ton and was really difficult to secure to the bike effectively. All items that frustrated me, made me heavy and I didn’t use them at all!
That was over and above far too many clothes, a vanity case that would made Paris Hilton squeal, pots and pans for food that I didn’t know how to cook and so many spare batteries. Totally ridiculous.
After I threw it all down the road in Egypt (after an unfortunate incident with my Africa Twin which resulted in a broken collar bone) and had to give most of it away to the very appreciative locals, I re-evaluated what I really needed and could realistically work with on the road. My mechanical skill set has grown nicely over the past 14 years however I still pick my fights carefully when it comes to roadside repairs.
What I have become good at is changing tubes and repairing punctures on the trail so for this, I carry the following items with me every time I ride outside of the city:
Now a lot of folk will believe that if they have tubeless wheels they won’t require tubes, equipment or the knowledge of how to use them roadside – simply stick in a ‘worm’ and boom, all sorted right? WRONG! Should you unfortunately cut a tyre wall or even ride the flat tyre off the bead you’re snookered.
You cannot get a tyre back onto a rim with Co2 bombs or a small compressor no matter how hard you try. You’re going to need to install a tube in order to ride again. Sidewalls that have a cut in it that is too big to repair with ‘worms’? Same thing; It’s tube time! So carry the equipment and learn how to do it easily. You’ll appreciate the effort someday soon…
Cable ties, duct tape re-wound around a wrench and a small bottle of clutch fluid are also useful to have with you on tour. Their uses are ten-fold and they take up very little space or weight. A small tub with a good lid of common miscellaneous nuts and bolts is also a Godsend when required.
Regarding tooling, weight versus usefulness is the key here. Sort through your tool bag and leave the items you don’t know the use for at home. The common things you need to remove or adjust, those are the ones you want to ensure you have along for the ride. Rear spring adjusting tool? Ditch it. Wrench to adjust your rear-view mirrors or hand levers. Take them along! See where I’m heading here…
As far as mechanical spares go, I’m not a fan of carrying these along on tour. I’ll carry a spare brake and clutch lever in my tool bag or if we have a chase-vehicle I’ll toss them in there. But if it’s just bikes, I’ll use DHL should I require a new clutch kit or wheel bearing set-up. You see, I’m not sure I want to or even have the skills to be mucking about installing sensitive items on the road away from a workshop. #NotMyStrongSuit.
I much prefer checking the bike out before each tour and relying on preventative maintenance up-front than putting your and the groups enjoyment of the tour in the hands of your poorly maintained motorcycle. Don’t be Kak, rather be Lekker!
Remember, just keep it simple and rely on proper planning and the goodness of others to make your adventure truly memorable…