How do I prepare my bike for travel?
We all know that there is nothing better than travelling by motorbike. Unfortunately, motorbikes directly from the showroom are usually not quite ready for a big trip and there are actually some things that need to be done to them. But what needs to be done? And how technical should I be? Because most of it is easy to do yourself, we have made a list of the things we think are essential for a travel bike!
It sounds very silly, but for us, heated grips are essential! It is not only for driving in winter, but also for driving up a mountain pass in summer with your thin gloves. Your fingers get cold and with cold hands the attention goes to your hands instead of to the road, so stay warm!
This is an endless discussion: whether or not to have a luggage rack? With a lot of luggage we prefer a luggage rack. With a rackless system, all the weight of the luggage is placed on the subframe, which is often a weak point of the bike. A rack reinforces the subframe and ensures that the forces are lower on the bike. It is also very easy to attach bags to a rack! Besides the bags, there are often also possibilities to place a toolbox or extra petrol tank on the inside of the rack.
New chain and sprockets
If you are going to make a really long trip, you want to have as little maintenance on your bike as possible. That's why we always advise you to install a fresh chain and sprockets before you leave. A good chain is sometimes hard to find and weighs a lot. So replace it at home before you leave!
A fall with the bike happens faster than you think! It often happens while lugging the bike around, but it can also happen in the deep sands of the Turkana desert! The last thing you want is for your clutch or brake lever to break. Make sure you always go out with hand guards that have an aluminium backbone and you will never have to bring spare levers with you!
Make extra charging points on your bike
Nowadays, we all have a USB charger on the engine, the GPS is connected to the battery, but then it stops. When you are travelling you often have many more things you want to charge and sometimes even when you are not on a motorbike. Think about your power bank and your camera! That is why we advise you to create extra charging points that are not switched with the ignition. This way you can also use them while camping!
Extra thick tubes
A flat tyre, this happens to everyone once in a while! Luckily you have read the article "How to repair a flat motorcycle tyre" and you will be back on the road in no time! Still, we prefer to drive all day without a leak. An (Ultra) heavy duty inner tube reduces the chance of a puncture massively. The valve tears less quickly, you have less chance of snakebite and if you have a small leak, it will deflate less fast and you will get safely to the side of the road.
A tank bag is ideal. At the tollgate you can grab your credit card and with a nice view you can reach your camera in no time. But a tank bag can also be very annoying! Especially when driving off-road, a large tank bag can restrict your mobility. A small tank bag is in this case a better option. In the end, only a few things are needed at your fingertips.
Extra fuel capacity
In some parts of the world it is just a little harder to get fuel than here. The quality of fuel is sometimes also questionable. If you don't have such a large tank, then it is wise to expand your fuel capacity. This can be done by putting a larger tank on your bike, but you can also take a RotopaX with you. A range of 350km is usually enough!
Mirrors that won't break
As has already been mentioned, a tip over happens really fast. The mirror is one of the most vulnerable parts and often breaks instantly. This is very easy to solve by installing foldable mirrors!
No motorbike is perfect
Every motorcyle has its flaw. At some bikes it is more serious than at others. Make sure you have tackled known problems before you leave on your journey. Once outside Europe, it is sometimes difficult to get parts for a large motorbike. It is a shame to get stuck for a problem that was preventable.
Install a spare clutch cable in advance
A broken clutch cable is a common thing when travelling. Installing a second cable along the original is a small effort and if it breaks, the spare is installed in no time at all. It also saves space in your bags!
Make sure you have a good saddle
When you talk about a long motorbike trip, you often get the reaction: well, you'll get a lot of pain in your ass! And that's right! So make sure you have a good saddle. Saddle pain is very annoying and can cause you not to enjoy the trip anymore. Nothing is more annoying than not wanna ride anymore and having to leave the next day. The pain also makes you less able to concentrate on the road.
We are going on a journey and take as many small roads and as many off-road as possible! Unfortunately it turns out that you drive on paved roads most of the time, even when you look for trails. That is why you have to look for a tyre that performs well on both paved and unpaved roads. In addition, it should also last a long time and not cost too much. In the end tyres remain subjective, but a personal favourite that actually ticks all the boxes is the Mitas E-07.
Make smart use of the space on your bike
We all travel as light as possible, but with a big trip you won't escape full bags. Some things you don't need every day and can be stored somewhere else. Every motorbike has handy places to store things. Some bikes have a space on the saddle or a toolbox, but you can also attach your front sprockets to your skid plate or mount a tool tube on the inside of your luggage rack. We also have clever tips for hiding money, but obviously we don't put that here on the website!
Nothing is as getting stuck due to damage that could have been prevented. Damage to the engine or radiator is sometimes difficult to repair abroad. With crash bars and a skid plate you have protected the essential parts of the engine well.
Secure your number plate!
Most number plates are clamped in a plastic holder. This is not the safest fastening method. A good way to prevent loss is to secure the plate with rivets and large rings. Pop rivets do not shake loose and make it just one step more difficult for theft. The rings prevent the plate from tearing out!
Bring spare tubes, also when riding tubeless
Tubeless or inner tubes, a discussion without end. One thing we know for sure: plugging a tyre is done in no time. But what if your tyre or rim is really badly damaged? Then you can always fit an inner tube. Some manufacturers (such as KTM and BMW) do not fit the valves in the middle of the rim. If you fit an inner tube on these wheels, the valve will tear off immediately. You could drill a hole in the middle of these rims and place a car valve in it. If you want to fit an inner tube, all you have to do is remove this valve.
This point is perhaps one of the most important: is your motorbike well sprung and is damping still good? When a motorbike comes from the factory, it is often a bit lightly sprung. They do this to increase comfort. When travelling, the weight quickly increases due to the luggage, let alone when you are traveling with a pillion rider. If your bike's suspension is too soft, performance quickly deteriorates. That's why it is important to visit a suspension specialist before travelling. We have good experiences with HyperPro!